Heaven on Earth Sells Again

Former Holiday Inn, Days Inn, and Heaven on Earth Inn, St. Joseph Parkway at Travis, Downtown Houston

A reader points us to the latest rumor swirling around HAIF: The long-vacant, 31-story shuttered hotel on St. Joseph Pkwy. between Travis and Milam downtown finally sold . . . 3 weeks ago! To . . . somebody!

The hotel was built in 1971 as a Holiday Inn and later converted to a Days Inn. In 1992 an organization affiliated with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (yes, the one the Beatles consulted) purchased the by-then-rather-shabby structure for $2 million and renamed it the “Heaven on Earth Plaza Hotel.” The irony was not lost on city officials, who shut the building down in 1998; it’s remained (at least officially) vacant since.

If news of a sale sounds familiar, it should be. As Houston Press reporter Craig Malisow wrote last year in a feature on the Holiday Inn and two other vacant properties downtown, the hotel sold in 2004:

The Maharishi people sold it for $8.5 million to a group of investors that included a Colorado Springs outfit called LandCo. Michael Raider, a Houston native who works for LandCo, told the Houston Business Journal in 2005 that the property would be slated for apartments or condos.

Another LandCo guy, Don Nicholas, told the Houston Chronicle in 2004: “An ugly duckling downtown will become a swan.”

Unfortunately, the swan kicked the bucket when the investors defaulted on the $8.5 mill, and the hotel went back to the yogis.

Better luck this time?

Photo: arch-ive.org

3 Comment

  • I noticed alot of noise and music coming from the building last week as I walked by… this is great news.

  • Interesting. The Landco guy’s plan was to convert the building to rental apartments with the requisite condo exit plan.

    The building has some major base building issues to over come, with 2 and 3 being the biggest obstacles to most buyers:
    1. All switchgear and pumps, including the centerpoint transformers were flooded out in Allison. CP pulled the transformers from the vault located underneath the first floor jump ramp and refused to put them back until they were located above grade. ALL the water-jockey pumps which were located (with the switchgear) in the basement were flooded also.
    2. The structure is only 8′-8″ floor-to-floor, with 8″ slabs. 8′-0″ ceilings are the best you will ever do on this building. Brave souls have looked at removing floors to increase ceiling height, (or even better, adding double height spaces to the ends of the building) but the cost is ridiculous.
    3. The structural engineer (Joe Colaco) put a column at EVERY Room demising wall. 12′-6″ on center. This makes for a lot of columns and a tough layout.
    4. Truckloads of asbestos to abate.
    5. Many other code issues too numerous to mention.
    Surprisingly, though, given the rising costs of commodities and construction, there may be a ‘right deal’ out there for this building. (lower price boutique suite hotel or small apartments) This is based mostly upon the approx. 400 parking spaces in the garage that they get in the deal. Maybe Metro bought the building as they have major parking problems with their headquarters.
    Best of Luck.

  • High energy prices are bring 8′ ceilings back in vogue. Perhaps the Inn’s time has finally come…