A Swamplot reader writes in with some identifying info about the Katy homebuilder whose Heights Blvd. townhouse construction collapsed into a pile of sticks over the weekend. The collapse of two 4-story structures under construction shortly after the end of Saturday night’s storm didn’t end up injuring anyone, but it did set back construction and marketing efforts for the Madison Park development just south of White Oak Bayou.
The builder of the toppled properties at 103-117 E. 2nd St., in a corral of townhomes built earlier by another developer, is Keystone Classic Homes, an LLC managed by Michael D. Surface. That appears to be the same Mike Surface who found himself in local headlines a couple of years ago, before and after he admitted to a judge that he intended to influence his longtime friend, Harris County Commissioner Jerry Eversole, with approximately $100,000 in cash and gifts. As part of a plea deal, Surface ended up pleading guilty to filing a false income tax return and making false statements to federal officials in connection with that bribery case, which centered around county contracts; in November 2011 he received a sentence of 2 years’ probation, along with a restriction barring him from being able to do any business with federal, county, or city governments for 5 years.
And then there was Surface’s job on the Astrodome.
Prior to the bribery case and other run-ins with the law, Surface served for about 7 years as the chairman of the Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation — the quasi-governmental body that has stood careful guard over the future of the Harris County Domed Stadium ever since the Astros moved downtown. While presiding over that aging structure’s deterioration and eventual shuttering, Surface demonstrated a remarkable ability to make it appear as if he were working hard to solicit a wide range of redevelopment proposals for the retired sports stadium, even though he had set up some curious restrictions that actively discouraged submissions from qualified developers and designers.
Surface left the office in 2007, but his dry-farming approach to soliciting proposals appears to be living on — though in slightly different form. His successor as chairman, Edgardo Colon, hasn’t gone as far as Surface did and actually issue a formal request for private redevelopment proposals from the general public, but he has declared a June 10 deadline for any that might appear on his desk — or that may have been solicited privately — to come in. If Colon can’t find anything the corporation likes in whatever pile he gathers, he’ll recommend to county commissioners that the Dome be demolished.
- Financial, emotional realities color Dome’s future [Houston Chronicle ($)]
- Previously on Swamplot: Comment of the Day: The New Taller Townhomes That Fell Over Next Door, Toppled White Oak Bayou Townhomes Had Already Been Sold, The Heights Blvd. Townhomes That Collapsed Overnight, Astrodome Stewards Announce Deadline for Redevelopment Proposals — Without Requesting Any, A Guilty Plea from the Man Who Kept the Astrodome Empty, The Corruption Trials Behind the Astrodome’s Lost Decade, More Surface Deals Surface, Astrodome Future: Whole Lot Brighter Once You Scratch Surface, The Astrodome Loses Its Surface, Dome Redo: Doomed from the Opening Pitch