HISD Looking for Cage Match in Eastwood

What’s happening with the old Rufus Cage Elementary School on Telephone Rd., just north of Lawndale? Some roof repairs, and . . . a possible sale? “Now we actually have some people that have interest in the property, but our concern is that the interest is in the land, not necessarily in the building,” HISD trustee Juliet Stipeche tells abc13’s Cynthia Cisneros. The Eastwood school, built in 1910, closed in the mid-1980s and is currently used as a storage facility by the school district. An organization called the Rufus Cage Educational Alliance is trying to find a public use for the building and its 1.021-acre site. A deal the school district had negotiated to sell Cage to Historic Houston fell through long before the nonprofit’s recent financial difficulties. Nine other school properties are listed for sale on the HISD real estate website.

Photo: Candace Garcia

8 Comment

  • Historic Houston had everything it needed to purchase the property a minimum of four times. HISD kept changing the agreed upon price or requesting update information, needed because they or HUD dragged the process out until the submitted information was old. HH kept paying for appraisals and other reports over and over again. This dates back to February 2005. This time it seems like things are moving along well under Ms. Stipeche and the team of community leaders she’s pulled together. The HISD reps we are working with give us great hope that they will follow through and not put us in the quagmire again. Now just to get our part done! Join us at Historic Rufus Cage Educational Alliance.

  • It’s probably a good thing that Historic Houston never closed the deal. Otherwise, Cage might have seen a worse fate than it faces now. Or not.

    Did Historic Houston want to rehab the building or gut it?

  • HH wanted to rehab, and then renovate the building using one of the four original classrooms for their offices. One room would have been a community meeting room. The other two would be used for lease to education groups, from which they had plenty of interest. (One room in the existing configuration is being used as several offices, they are very large.) HH would primarily have used the storage buildings which had been added more recently. Those existing buildings which were added to the site would have held more than their leased space did. There were numerous grants available that would have helped. A complete renovation may not have occurred by this time, but the costs associated with acquiring and protecting the building very likely would have been met, and transfer to another non-profit group would have been easy. At a minimum, the additional damage from not repairing the roof would have been prevented. Recently HISD has taken steps to prevent further damage. We also discovered there is a “guard cat” when it sprang from it’s hiding spot in the dark building. “Startled” doesn’t adequately describe the visitors response.

  • What is so special about this building that HISD shouldn’t be working on its deficit by selling it to the highest bidder, whatever their intentions?

  • Per Ms. Stipeche, the sole bid is under 300K. That would hardly help the HISD deficit.

  • Re:Spoonman, if HISD accepts the tendered lowball offer for the Cage property, the amount will be a tiny drop in the bucket toward the budget deficit.

    Apparently, you aren’t aware that Houston is notorious for destroying historic buildings in the name of progress. Or perhaps you really don’t care a rat’s rear end about architectural preservation?

    That’s okay.

  • 300K means 6 teacher’s salaries. Just because something won’t solve your whole problem doesn’t mean it isn’t a good step.

    And no, I don’t particularly care about architectural preservation. Why should I?

  • I’m all for architectural preservation, just don’t force me to pay for it with my money.
    The problem is most good intentioned preservationist want to employee the government via power to arrest and jail to force others to pay for their desired structures.