Hark, a Fence!

HARK, A FENCE! Six years ago the Aga Khan Foundation purchased and demolished the Robinson Warehouse at the corner of Allen Parkway and Montrose Blvd., announcing plans to build a new Ismaili Cultural Center in its place on the often soggy 11-acre site. With the exception of the appearance last year of a construction trailer for the assembly of the Rosemont Bridge over Buffalo Bayou across the street, though, there’d been no action there since. Until this week, that is, as several readers have reported: Fence posts are going up around the lot, from Allen Parkway all the way back to and along West Dallas. “I am wondering if this is actually a sign of construction on the center or if they are just tired of people parking/running dogs on the property,” writes one correspondent. “I will be on the look out for Port-A-Cans.” Photo: Swamplot inbox

30 Comment

  • I have no idea what is going up there, but I hope that it doesn’t block the sidewalk going up to Allen Parkway. I, and I’ll presume lots of other people, take that to jog at Buffalo Bayou Park.

  • If the Allen Parkway sidewalk gets blocked, where will that guy do his rush hour rollerblade dancing? (Man I wish I knew what he was listening to on his walkman).

  • They will need very serious drainage,or perhaps they are building on stilts

  • Haha rush hour rollerblade guy is a trip. As soon as he sees you he’ll start dancing. But think about next year’s summerfest or 4th of July that lot easily was parking half of the people attending, it’s going to be even more crowded. I hate that they’re not doing more with that prime parcel of land..

  • It is probably just a matter of time, but I am pleasantly surprised that no conservative talk radio wing nut has made it their mission to start a crusade (literally and figuratively) over this proposed center. I actually think that it could be a great resource in a city where so many in the energy business travel to and do business with countries where Islam is the predominant religion. And it would also be a great for the many Muslims who live in Houston. Maybe the Tolerance installation across the street is doing the trick.

  • omg, i love rollerblade guy!

  • Old School, give them time. Personally, if I was a Muslim, I’d pick a suburban location in Sugerland.

    This location is so in your face that every wingnut in a 5 county area will get tanked up and cruise to the Montrose to bash Muslims instead of homosexuals.

  • As a militant atheist socialist, I am more ticked off that this prime taxable property has been taken off the tax rolls for the worship of a made up entity.

    I choose logic

  • The “tolerance” statues were donated by the same guy who owns the property you are talking about. If you put 2 and 2 together, the statues will be kneeling towards the new worship center. They were donated for a reason…

  • Any news on the Ashby hi-rise? It’s been eerily quite. Are they moving forward?

  • Well one thing that’s interesting is that I see that they successfully re-applied for a tax exemption. HCAD had removed it after they didn’t build anything swiftly enough the first time. So I’d guess that something’s up.

  • It is an odd place for any specific worship center. I would be more open to it as well if the building downtown that was turned in to an Islamic Center was being utilized in a way that didn’t destroy the historic details of said building…..but that is another story…. I guess I am just sick of areas being held hostage by building, land owners who decide a church sounds good right here which will prevent liquor license’s or other forms of retail from being attracted to the buildings area out of pure respect…… Let’s be honest. those of us raised in the South could care less where you build or what you worship as long as it fits in to the neighborhood… What Lakewood and this new Islamic Center seem to be ignoring are the many Historic Churches in the inner-loop that need people…..buildings that are already there are being torn down because they don’t have anyone coming to worship any God, so the question is why build there when you are needed in many places around Houston? Why ignore the fact that Mega Churches have gutted the hearts of many neighborhoods by closing smaller churches? Why must ever Man of God want to be the only Man of God recently? We need many shepards, many voices willing to fight for the good in our neighborhoods not another preacher looking to make his mark on our city or make a name for himself…….in East Texas we call the taking the Lord’s name in vain……

  • Attracting worshippers to your church/synagogue/temple/mosque/P’Jem is a sales job like any other in the end, and Osteen is the best salesman in town.

    He’s a smoker, too.

  • Religion can be lucrative and profitable…and tax free. Nice business case.

  • Aga Khan, let me rock you
    Let me rock you, Aga Khan

  • people can build what they want, where they want. i don’t care if they’re worshipping cats on site, this BS about the property taxes is ridiculous.

    i don’t agree with, but understand that if a religious group or education group buys a piece of dirt and operates it, they are not subject to property taxes.

    i do NOT agree with these groups tying up the dirt, not constructing anything within a reasonable period of time (24 months if it ain’t done, the tax man comes) after that, and enjoying the loophole of carrying dirt without cost.

    if i put together a multi-family super fund tomorrow, and we approach them with a ridiculuos offer for the dirt, and they sold it to me — are they subject to paying full market taxes for the entire time they carried that dirt with their exemption? I certainly hope so, but wouldn’t be surprised to hear not.

    religious/education tax exemptions are very un-american to me.

  • A good argument for the institution of a Land Value Tax.

  • The Aga Khan Foundation has focused on the completion of the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto which will open next year. So more than likely the Cultural Center, which will not be a mosque, will begin sometime next year. As for the suggestion they “take it to Sugar Land” they already have. The Tom De Lay types see the Ismailis as some sort of cult. The rational types see them as a progressive and very peaceful sect within Islam. The Aga Khan is a direct descendant of the Prophet Mohammed. The fundamentalists do not particularly like the Aga Khan. But then our fundamentalists don’t either. And no doubt when ground is broken they will all be on the radio screeching about the Muslim invasion. So much for tolerance. But then they aren’t real big on tolerance. And proud of it.

  • HTX Rez: “if i put together a multi-family super fund tomorrow…
    If you do that, please call me, kthxbye :)

  • Matt,

    Why do you think it is likely that the culture center will begin next year after the completion of the building in Toronto? The last I heard, after Toronto is finished, AKF was going to decide whether to build in LA, Paris, or Houston (I believe they own land to build in all three cities, but can’t recall for sure).

  • I forgot about that awesome warehouse that was on that corner. I had always hoped someone would find a way to reuse the building. New construction bites.

  • Aha judah!
    I knew there had to be a relationship between those statues and that parcel. It would otherwise have been impossibly random. IMHO

  • When the Aga Khan announced that the center would be built in Houston several years ago he said it would follow completion of the museum in Toronto.It will serve as more of an “embassy” than anything else. And be connected to the foundation, the university, and the development network.

  • @ HTX Rez: When the Foundation failed to build a religious facility on the site within three years the first time around, they were back-assessed for all of the property taxes due for three years including penalties and interest.

    It was a whopper of a tax bill. They’ve paid far more than their fair share at this point. And if they were to fail to build something by the end of 2014 (for any reason), it may happen a second time. So yes, there is sometimes justice in taxation. It doesn’t happen often, but it happened here.

  • How will this be different from the center in downtown at Main/Franklin/Travis?

    I banked there in the late 60s when it was Franklin Bank. It had a beautiful lobby.

  • Yes @ PYEWACKET2, that’s a cool bldg.

  • I hope it’s a huge Islamic center with lots of bold red arabic script on the front. Then I hope fundies get all worked up about it, so I can taunt them relentlessly. Yes, this will be excellent.

  • They now have the SWPPP sign up, silt fences installed, and they have something staked. If they are starting the construction of the Islamic town center I’m very surprised how smoothly its going.

  • There is a construction trailer and a storm water discharge permit posted. I can’t figure out what they are doing though. There is a crew of guys out there watering the property on the weekends (for a while now) without any ground being broken. I was secretly hoping for an awesome park there but it sounds like there are other plans in the mix.