Making the Exxon Building Disappear; Rice Goes Shopping in Rice Village


Photo of Hermann Park Centennial Gardens: Marc Longoria via Swamplot Flickr Pool


24 Comment

  • Galveston sure deserves those millions from BP from all that oil that washed up there… Oh wait, something is wrong with that statement.

  • Parking lots can never be made pleasant, they can only be made less terrible. We really need to get the parking requirements down in this city, they’re some of the worst in the country and it really hurts any potential pedestrian life we might have.

  • perhaps there is, but BP sure owes this country and the gulf coast billions for their continued violations of safety policies and sound reasoning that has resulted in the deaths of many many people and nearly crippled an entire industry for years. if they owe us money it’d be dumb to let it all go to the rest of states and for Texas/Galveston not to take it.
    average price for a Houston home is pretty meaningless at this stage considering the number of cash buys and lack of first time buyers. anyone know if the flippers are still causing a lot of this churn or if they’re all starting to move on to the next hot markets already?
    and I can agree on the need for more affordable housing in Houston, but I’m not just not familiar enough or have seen enough to find any methods I like of doing it. in general though, I feel we’re putting the cart before the horse on this one as we’ve long since been socializing the benefit of raising children while privatizing the cost. if we could focus on making this country more affordable for families in general then we wouldn’t have to be so concerned with a dearth of families being able to afford to live in inner cities or near major economic centers. families should be able to locate near city centers since they can reap the greatest rewards from being located near the best infrastructure and amenities, but the market will never be able to provide for such. i’d still much rather distort our tax codes rather than our housing market though. I’d agree best to look to Toronto on this since Canada has been ahead of the curve on many social issues and is very close in size to Houston in economic activity.
    if anyone has any doubts look at the recent SAT scores that were released. Texas’ scores were abysmal and we should all be ashamed. Our state has long festering issues in adequately providing for families that will continue to make it a hallmark for income segregation. basically put, the locals are dumb since we’re not adequately providing for them and we will continue to have to import the education and workforce that we need. know this won’t be simply solved with school funding, but it has to start somewhere and this has been broken for as long as Perry has been office.
    this also shows why I will never agree with light rail. even at our current rate of expansion we’re decades away from being able to reach the suburbs or areas for those who most need it and can least afford the high cost of transportation in this city. rail should only ever be built with rail revenue. all sales tax proceeds should be reserved for bus routes only.

  • I read that lengthy “Why we need affordable housing” and I didn’t see a single reason of need, only a bunch of reasons of WANT. That whole blogs read more like the Daily Worker with thinly veiled aura of faux-journalism.

  • @joel
    We get it. You are a socialist, higher taxes and more government is Houston’s answer to all of the poor’s problems.

  • @ HeyHey

    If Joel’s a socialist, so is the Texas Supreme Court who constantly rules that our school financing system is unconstitutional.

  • I find it kind of sad that Austin is way ahead of Houston on the affordable housing game. I wish Houston had a program like SMART in Austin, the program literally was a god send for me as a broke student at UT. Luxury 1br apartment in central Austin for $600, doesn’t get better than that.

  • Hmmm, I went to UT as well and I can assure you I didn’t get a 600 dollar a month luxury apartment, that’s fucking ridiculous. I had to live in the Sig Ep house or with 3 other guys at The Croix. Let’s see you get a cheap public university tuition and you get a rent controlled luxury apartment. Ok, what?
    Oh and I really hope that Exxon Building desecration falls thru.

  • Robert, has it occurred to you that setting up students with luxury apartments isn’t a good use of limited resources?

  • @Robert, although I”m sure it was nice to receive the benefit (I would have taken it myself too) but it’s wasn’t free, it cost someone money, the society, the taxpayers, landlords who have to compete with subsidized housing, etc.
    The underlying issue is that without the subsidy, your housing problem would have been solved on it’s own, you might have had to move a little further out, driven a scooter, had roommates, taken a part time job, searched for more scholarships, etc. So there exists 100 ways where the “affordable housing” problem would have been solved on it’s own without any cost to 3rd parties.

    My comment was in reference to the entire piece. BP owes the citizens in perpetuity, subsidized housing, more education spending, more subsidized public transport. I do agree with him that it is fun to daydream about spending other peoples money.

  • The Not-of-It (what it?) article did not once mention rent control, but that’s what these schemes always boil down to. Then when developers refuse to put up money-losing buildings, we get Cabrini-Greens. But, it’s density!! And the residents have to use mass transit!! Perfect.

  • I’m sad to see 800 Bell go. That was my favorite building downtown. I love the sun shades.

  • The Exxon desecration seems iffy. I don’t see them doing it without some pre-leasing between now and March. Also, Hines and Skanska will finish their better-located towers well before Shorenstein and probably grab whatever tenants are out there.

  • It wasn’t really a use of limited resources. Austin gave the developer a tax break in return for a certain number (maybe 20-40 out of 300+) of units to be given to those of lesser means and this is done all throughout Austin. We also see this being done all throughout the country . It’s a great program and Houston should be doing the same because the city of Houston is essentially giving away free money to developers for nothing in return. I do not get that tha .

  • Robert, TANSTAAFL. Austin giving a rich developer a tax break meant that they took more taxes from others, including the poor.

  • Spoonman, what do you think about the developers that get taxbreaks to build more residential units downtown? And who is that money taken from? Only the rich?

  • What a baseless comment spoonman. How on earth does a developer getting a tax break mean that poor people get taxed more? Everybody’s tax rate remains entirely dependent on their income and the value of their home

  • TexasEX: Also against that. But the solution to wrongheaded programs is not “I gotta get me some of that.”

  • @Robert, you have to take the math it’s logical conclusion, if the city gives tax breaks to developers it means they collect less money overall than they would have if they charged regular rates. Since taxes only go up over time and district needs more money, they raise tax rates for EVERYONE … including the poor.

  • I’ve seen how the sausage gets made in Austin’s affordable housing programs. It ain’t pretty. I prefer not to comment further on this except to point out the obvious, that the whole premise about luxury apartments being subsidized is absurd. It has to be among the least effective tools in the toolbox.

  • Common,
    On the contrary, it’s also logical that through the tax breaks, we bring more people to live in an area and they bring their spending power/higher rents which contributes to the tax base. I can see how the tax break is effective in the long run, but I’d prefer that the city require an immediate benefit like affordable units which would bring more middle class/lower class people to the inner loop thus making a more dynamic community. I’d say the SMART program in Austin is a great program and it’s a travesty that Houston doesn’t have anything like it. Also the city of Houston is loaded and the only time they significantly increase taxes is under voter approval like a new stadium or the HISD bond.

  • Robert,
    On the contrary, lower taxes for favored groups/activities necessarily mean higher taxes for unfavored groups/activities in order to maintain the same level of services. For your example, new development bringing in new economic activity is, almost by definition, at the very least exactly offset by lower economic activity of those now paying higher taxes than they would have otherwise had to if tax rates had been lowered instead. Or, if tax rates wouldn’t have been lowered, then everyone is suffering from the lower level of govt. services (e.g. parks). This is not even considering the cost of administrating incentives programs, or the other likely inefficiencies that come up when spending other peoples money on pet projects. In the story below, you will find the tale of a Non-Profit affordable housing program that found out that complying with official affordable housing programs tripled the cost of constructing affordable housing.

    Economic development incentives, other than low taxes or high levels of government services, are almost always net negative in terms of the actual economic growth of the region as a whole.

  • Robert, Houston doesn’t lack affordable housing in the Inner Loop. As many others have said time after time, just because it’s expensive to live in Montrose and the Heights doesn’t mean the Inner Loop isn’t affordable. Denver Harbor is in the Loop!

    If you want subsidies to live in the trendiest parts of town, you’re just a looter.

    Finally, many of these programs that subsidize affordable units end up costing a lot of taxpayer money per unit. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in one project I recently saw in Philadelphia, which is pretty outrageous given that builders can deliver an actual house in Houston city limits for $120,000.