ExxonMobil’s Humble Gift to the City?

EXXONMOBIL’S HUMBLE GIFT TO THE CITY? What will happen to its well-shaded 44-story downtown headquarters building at 800 Bell St., once ExxonMobil decamps for the new campus the oil giant is building at Houston’s northern reaches? The company “has not announced what will happen to its downtown building,” writes longtime real estate reporter Ralph Bivins about the iconic 1963 tower that houses at its top the storied Petroleum Club. “One of the most interesting rumors we’ve heard about it is that Exxon Mobil will donate the building to the City of Houston for municipal offices. You know, we can’t sell it, so let’s just give it to Annise Parker instead.” [Culturemap] Photo: Flickr user lc_db

30 Comment

  • Don’t give it to the city. It’ll sit empty and decay while costing the taxpayers millions of dollars a year while we spend even more money on silly studies on what to do with it. Like the Astrodome.

  • Ralph Bivins gets The Scoop again! Hey, maybe XOM can buy the Astrodome and use it for an oil storage facility?

  • I read the link trying to find out why they can’t sell it but it was just the story author being witty.
    So why can’t they sell the building?

  • Why can’t they sell it? why not just rent it out?

  • @ricemilitaryboy

    The city could have to commission at least three studies to decide whether or not they should even accept the building as a gift. There’s not a single brain in any decision maker down there at city hall.

  • I agree that giving it to the CoH is not the appropriate choice.

    The only question I have is whether the tear down would cost more than a comparable piece of unimproved land downtown???

  • the building is about to be listed for sale

  • They’ll donate it and yake a tax write-off. Oh……wait! They don’t PAY ANY TAXES!!!

  • @ Hdtex: That Exxon doesn’t pay taxes is inaccurate. Exxon paid right at about a million dollars in property taxes on this building last year.

  • Exxon’s intranet (available to employees) says it’s on the market. The email/posting went out over a week ago. There is a commercial broker, I can’t remember who. The building has asbestos and will likely be demolished.

  • I love the Humble Building. It’s a beautiful piece of 1960s modern architecture. Of course, I also love the Wortham Tower on Allen Parkway too.

    The biggest issue with the Exxon Bldg is that it isn’t connected to the tunnel system.

  • Time to turn off MSNBC Hdtex….oil companies pay more in taxes than just about anyone.

  • Demolition strikes me as unlikely. The building was extensively renovated not too long ago, and asbestos remediation isn’t automatically necessary as long as the friable asbestos is not disturbed.

    Besides. Its not like this is a prime downtown block. Its surrounded by surface lots What would someone replace this block with? The highest and best use is what it is.

  • Turn it into residential.

  • put it on ebay.com

  • full of asbestos..will need to be a demo….the land is worth a small fortune…

  • Maybe Tilman will buy it an turn it into a roller coaster with slot machines that pays wins in fried Landrys catfish.

  • Im glad I had the opportunity to work in this bldg for 5.5 years back in the 90’s. I worked shift work and would see all the oil folks coming in for the evening to go to the Petroelum Club. The view from that club is something. Went to a couple of events at it. But i did always think it was the ugliest bldg downtown!

  • This is one ugly building!

  • One of the most architecturally interesting buildings in the Houston skyline, before the banal glass boxes. The fins serve to keep the building cool (a giant radiator, I suppose). I’d welcome either residential or office re-use. It’s currently occupied and serves Exxon well. Why wouldn’t someone else love it as much?

  • why would asbestos necessitate a large building like that being torn down. By that logic 2016 Main, Houston House, hell even the Empire State building should be torn down at once

  • This is Houston’s version of the Capital Records Bldg in LA (Welton & Beckett Associates). Very, very beautiful architecture; that should have no problem finding new tenets.

  • asbestos doesn’t become an issue unless it’s disturbed, making demolition a dumb choice in my opinion.

  • This is one of my favorite Houston mods. I hope it’ll be preserved.

  • Even when this building was new, it always seemed rather graceless and reminded me of a stack of razor blades. I still hate it.

    But, since Houston never seems to demolish such nasties even after they’re abandoned (witness the Holiday Inn/Days Inn/Maharaji Tower), I guess I should just hope that the people who like it are right, and it will someday in the future be recognized as a mod masterpiece.

  • marksmu turn off Faux News and do some research….
    – Exxon pays a lower tax rate than the average American. Between 2008-2010, Exxon Mobil registered an average 17.6 percent federal effective corporate tax rate, while the average American paid a higher rate of 20.4 percent.

    – The company paid no taxes to the U.S. federal government in 2009, despite 45.2 billion record profits. It paid $15 billion in taxes, but none in federal income tax.

    – The oil giant uses offshore subsidiaries in the Caribbean to avoid paying taxes in the United States.

    – Exxon is sitting on $11 billion cash on hand as of September 30.

    – Exxon spent nearly $13 million on lobbying expenditures in 2011. The company gave nearly another $900,000 in federal campaign contributions. 92 percent of contributions went to Republicans.

    – Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson made $29 million in 2010 (according to the latest records): He made $2.2 million in salary, a $3.4 million bonus, and stock awards valued at $15.5 million.

  • I know this a few days late and all but had to respond to Hdtex’s screed.

    “– The oil giant uses offshore subsidiaries in the Caribbean to avoid paying taxes in the United States.”
    LOL. I’m sure they have some office somewhere in the Caribbean, and I’m sure they get some tax benefits. To think this is a substantial amount is beyond ignorant though.
    This isn’t a bank or even an offshore drilling company that gets to choose where it is taxed. Profits are taxed in the country where the oil is extracted. Do you have any idea how much money ExxonMobil will make in Iraq? About $1/barrel. The rest is taxes and oil sharing.

    Or go tell Russia that you wish to have your income from Sakhalin Island taxed in the Cayman Islands. See what happens. The exercise would be equally futile in any number of other countries – Venezuela, Nigeria, Kazakhstan, etc.

    “– The company paid no taxes to the U.S. federal government in 2009, despite 45.2 billion record profits. It paid $15 billion in taxes, but none in federal income tax.”
    Do you have any idea why the conspiracy theory website you use keep citing data from 2009? You know, since it’s already 2012 and all?

    If you can’t figure it out, it’s because this is the only year where no federal income taxes were paid. And why were none paid this year? Because ExxonMobil, like many other oil companies, had no net profits in the U.S. in 2009 because oil prices were so low. Many producers and/or refiners LOST money. Of course the government doesn’t require you to pay taxes on income that doesn’t exist.

  • Both of you are wrong, corporations do not pay taxes, they collect taxes from people for governments. But what does this have to do with an old building of subjective ascetics?

  • Ben, by the same wonderful logic, one could say that individuals don’t pay taxes. They receive their salaries from companies, so the companies are paying the salaries and the income taxes for each individual. But it would be equally silly to make this argument.

  • Third party radio equipment that was installed on the roof of the building has been removed because the building is “on the market.” It may be getting more serious now?