Old Sheraton-Lincoln Hotel To Be Torn Down for the Views and Parking Spots

Brookfield Office Properties announced giddily yesterday that the real-estate company has bought the 28-story long-vacant former Sheraton-Lincoln Hotel at 711 Polk St. Downtown — just so it can tear the property down. The once-swank hotel achieved a small measure of fame as the Beatles’ Houston crashpad . . . and was also apparently graced with an overnight stay by Kennedy avenger Jack Ruby. But the building has sat vacant for the last 24 years. Brookfield owns the 35-story office building directly to the northeast (at 1201 Louisiana), which has long offered tenants closeup views of the decaying structure. But it looks like only the building’s underground features will remain:

“Our tenants in Total Plaza will experience views of downtown that they never had before,” announced Brookfield’s Paul Layne, “and access to three levels of below-grade parking.” The company says it has no particular plans for further development of the site once the building is demolished.

In 2007, Omni Hotels and an Atlanta company called Songy Partners announced plans to create an all-suites hotel in the structure, which had been cleared of asbestos in the late nineties. The development was meant to include meeting space, restaurants, and a wellness and fitness center. But the project stalled. More recently, the property was put on the market for more than $8 million.

A few scenes from the hotel’s earlier days:


Photos: Flickr user lunarducati (top); CBRE (aerial view); hotel brochure (all others)

43 Comment

  • Now if they could just take the old Days Inn with it…

    Look, I think it’s kind of a neat building, and it would have been neat to see it rehabbed, but its day has passed.

  • Ditto on the Days Inn. That place needs to be considered under condemnation. It makes Wilshire Village look like a four star resort.

  • Anyone know anything about the Old Central Bank building that has a garage attached to it. Its near the greyhound station, and is between Grey and Webster. It needs to be torn down also, it has been vacant at least for a good 13 years, probably more.

  • What a waste of materials. Oh well, it’s the Houston way.

  • Wasn’t this place a temple / rainbow inn at some point in the 90’s?

  • When buildings become old, decrepit and a public health nuisance, we pursue condemnation.

    When people become old, decrepit and a public health nuisance, we pay an arm and a leg to preserve their miserable existence…preferably out-of-sight, maintained as rapidly-depreciating societal inventory on a shelf somewhere, for all intents and purposes.

    One of these approaches or the other need to change.

  • TheNiche,

    It’s pretty outstanding to equate human life with and old building and how each are treated.

    Do you believe a human life should be judged with value as to whether it should be treated? By that level of measure, no one should be treated for HIV infection since they will only be able to to survive with $15,000-20,000 dollars of medication a year. If they are 30 and live to 80 (which is very much possible now), that would be a great “burden” on society. Is it better to just let them die?

    I weep when we establish human life as a budgetary item. No building or any structure can ever be of greater value than a human life. NONE.

  • I beg to differ. Government involvement in health care should be limited to persons and situations whose economic productivity is sufficient to warrant such expenditure. Healthcare of any other sort, such as for people that have lived beyond their productive lifespan, should be a private matter or one financed by non-profits or religious organizations whose mission is to promote values and morals related to the sanctity of life.

  • That’s pretty sick.

    Back to my example: If some who is HIV positive doesn’t have “value” greater than the medication costs, plus laboratory testing costs, and doctor visit, then they should be left to die?

    This is the rub of why the majority of the US is against the healthcare bill that pass. Human life is not a commodity. If the government would butt out of the healthcare industry, we may still have the healthcare insurance system of the 50’s and 60’s where is wasn’t abused like today. Back then, doctor’s visits and general medical cost were paid by the consumer and the insurance came in for catastrophic situations. Worked quite well until the feds crept into the system.

    Once national healthcare exists, you no longer have a right to your body. It become a budgetary item of government. A panel decides your life worth. How absurd. That means all artists should be denied coverage (no productivity). All musicians would fall in the same category. Babies with defects should be left to die or aborted. Calling that progress is distorted and barbaric at best.

  • Government should concern itself with matters that are of vital importance to the common economic well-being of its citizens; Pareto efficiency is the ideal case.

    And although I would argue that the government should also provide administrative processes and protections to accommodate individuals, non-profits, or religious organizations that would seek to promote their values (for instance, the sanctity of life or the worship of Satan), the government should not overtly adopt or promote those values.

    For instance, I am not claiming that deformed babies should be euthanized, unless the baby is surrendered by its parents to the government. …and even then, it should be humane, the way we would euthanize a defective cat or dog.

    So anyway, to bring this full circle… When something becomes old and decrepit or a public health nuisance, we pursue condemnation. My staph-infected grandfather in the late stages of dementia, the old Savoy apartments, and Osama Bin Laden are each perfectly good examples to draw from, each in their own rite.

  • Ha! You Republicans always love to bring Osama into things. Or Saddam. They’re usually interchangable, no?

    And by the way, how did we go from talking about tearing down a dilapidated, abandonded building downtown to talking about euthanizing babies….?

  • 1986, If the modern constituency of the Republican party is comprised by people like kjb and myself, then our country is in better shape than I would have thought! Wow, I’d feel positively warm and fuzzy inside.

  • Here’s hoping for a nice implosion demo in the coming, cool months conducive to outdoor viewing!

  • What a waste of asbestos abatement. More deep seeded envy of MCM by the prevalence of the baby boomer Post Modernists. When my generation comes to power we will be sure to demo the Williams Tower or the Pennzoil Place just to spite them while they raise their fists at the clouds in their beige geriatric care centers.

  • The Old Central Bank building still has asbestos, a couple of years ago our firm looked into remodeling it but you can’t do much with 8 foot ceilings and the cost of asbestos remediation was through the roof. Speaking of that, while I was on the roof I almost fell through the rotting asphalt.

  • Ha! Commonsense, that happened to me, too, when I was up there several years back. The old Cork Club could’ve made such a wonderful comeback as the “13th Floor” (at least, that was what I was going to call it). It’s such a neat building, but the stubborn owner is as as much of an impediment to something being done with it as any of the deferred maintenance. And code enforcement would be a bear to deal with, particularly where that parking garage is concerned.

  • @TheNiche: I’d say your grandfather isn’t the only one in the late stages of dementia here. What’s your excuse?

  • I don’t know, what’s yours? Do we need an excuse to express ourselves? That’s a frightening thought.

  • That building’s been an eyesore for awhile, and I’m sure when the real estate market picks up again, Brookfield will sell the land and make a nice profit.

  • I walk past this building everyday. Hopefully tearing it down will get rid of the stench of urine that eminates from it.

  • I guess I was the only one who found The Niche’s analogy of old buildings and old people amusing yet telling of our priorities/ Some of y’all take things waaaaaaaaaay too seriously!!!

    Kjb34, must every topic topic fall back to:
    a) Hooray for unbridled capitalism and/or
    b) The insiders look into the gay community.
    Chill bud, you don’t want to become Matt Mystery’s heir apparent in the stridency department.

  • Congrats JT! You figured me out.

    The funny thing is, had I shifted the order of the first and second paragraphs, I’d have probably been attacked as a preservationist. It’s funny what rhetoric will do to people.

  • Ahem, back to the building…
    ‘The only thing to remain will be the underground parking.’
    Something will have to go on top, will be interesting to see what happens.
    The building was an eyesore and it makes sense to capitalize on views from an existing class-A building rather than save an old shell. It’s also a lot cheaper.

  • cross – you’re thinking of the building on St. Joseph. http://www.glasssteelandstone.com/BuildingDetail/2764.php

  • Will the old hotel be blowed up, or de-constructed?

  • Kjb34,

    I seldom agree with your positions because they are always so blindly based on your one-sided choice of stats, facts, and evidence, and usually promoting the mantra that business can do no wrong – ever, BUT I usually respect your points of view because you express them coherently and Lord knows – consistently. I often think that you are flat-out wrong on the issues, but a good sparring partner nontheless.
    However, your statement regarding healthcare, “It become a budgetary item of government. A panel decides your life worth.” is forcing me to reconsider.
    Government Death Panels? Seriously? I never took you for a Palinite.
    Newsflash: Death panels have existed for as long as insurance companies have existed. Every insurance company has a division, department, or group whose job is to decide if your treatment is worth paying for. When they decide that it’s not; it’s their job to find any way possible to deny payment for treatment.
    I quit my job at Blue Cross many years ago because I sat next to a cubicle of these people who spent most of their day digging into every detail of paying customers’ lives trying to find dirt, a missed dotted “i”, or an uncrossed “t”, any excuse or “reason” to deny coverage to seriously ill people whose treatment was deemed to costly to the Blue Cross bottomline. Their search was almost always about trying to find some contractual red flag, almost never based on medicine. It was disgusting. Daily.
    I nearly literally vomited one day listening to a team of people frantically trying to find a way to deny a heart surgery that was needed immediately, and laughing about the prospect of the patient, the paying customer, dying before the treatment was approved – as a solution to the problem. He did. Die. Problem solved. The government had nothing to do with it.
    Too many Americans are completely ignorant of the reality of some of these issues, willing to believe whatever soundbite fits their pre-conceived notion of what should be true in order to satisfy their own political ideology.
    I didn’t expect you to be one of them.

  • All the insane political rhetoric aside, doesn’t demolishing the building require asbestos abatement anyway? Whether the building’s torn down or not, that cost is coming out of someone’s pocket. No matter how you put it, it is the STUPIDEST thing to demolish a building to make a surface parking lot.
    I have longingly looked at that building for a very long time, hoping to do something cool with it. I obviously don’t think it’s an “eye-sore”, but that is a matter of taste, which is entirely subjective. Nevertheless, we’ve witnessed several complete transformations of older buildings in this city… enough to render discussions on a failing roof meaningless. A drastic transformation that comes to mind is the twin buildings on the West Loop at Post Oak Park.
    The stench of urine… really? That’s a reason to tear down a building??
    If the building has unsalvageable structural integrity issues, then the discussion is moot. If a feasibility study reveals that it’s best to remove it for the “public’s safety and welfare”… moot. On the other hand, however, if the sole reason for tearing the building down is to help a speculative developer get a bigger payout at the expense of the environment (consider new construction impact vs. renovation), and the sensible nurturing of the city’s urban fabric (however little there is), then I believe it’s a terrible mistake.
    I am NOT a “preservationist” and I couldn’t care less that the Beatles stayed here. I just hate to see perfectly good opportunities discarded over short term financial gains for a few at the expense of sustainable growth and urban development.
    It pains me to put it like this, but I think we could learn a lesson from our neighbor to the north: http://www.mercdallas.com/building.aspx
    Let me make it clear, though, that THE LAST THING we need are more “luxury” anythings. We do not need more beige fondant covered atrocities like the ones at Kirby and Westheimer; we do not need the post-modernist horrors of the Manhattan, Metropolis or Empire; nor should we condone unsustainable neighborhood killing point loads in a mid-rise area like the Kirby tower, the River Oaks tower, the old River Oaks and Lamar towers, or the proposed Ashby Highrise. Can’t we just do the right thing? Obviously not, but here’s wishing.

  • wow, i guess i now know how to derail a conversation: bring up and/or incorporate health care into the conversation then sit back and watch the chaos

  • John,

    Difference between a government panel and a private insurance panel making the decision is your choices.

    Under a government panel, you have no choice. Once you are denied the procedure you have no recourse other than travel out of the country or getting black market healthcare.

    When a private insurance denies coverage, you still have the ability to get that procedure, you just have to pay out of pocket for it. It’s a big difference.

    Medicaid, Medicare, and the VA health system deny the most care and procedures to it’s enrollees making private insurers practically saints. Also, you sign a contract with a private insurer knowing what they will or won’t cover. The public health system is pretty much a moving target.

  • Alex,

    If you read through the discussion and the post you would know that the build has had the asbestos removed years ago. The purchaser has bought the building asbestos free. No abatement will be needed.

  • Also, from the sound of things, the tower will be painstakingly disassembled, but the parking garage will remain. It will not be a surface lot.

    The stench of urine will likely remain, as well.

  • In the early 1990s, the old Rice Hotel was literally a urinal for the homeless. Should we have torn that one down too?

    John- Your Blue Cross story is a very real one and I appreciate you sharing it with the lot. It’s too bad folks like you (with common sense) don’t have the $$$ of Blue Cross or Murdoch to spread the truth rather than the industry lies that 1/3rd of Americans fall for hook, line, and sinker.

  • I hate to totally throw this thread out of whack but when I hear libertarian-types talk about how “it’s different” because “all you have to do is pay for it,” I seriously have to shake my head. I realize that when one looks at the world through the lens of a freshmen level economics class, this kind of stuff seems logical. I used to think that way as well after my first year or so into my undergrad economics degree. Everyone is perfectly rational. No externalities. Perfectly efficient markets.

    And then I opened my eyes, entered the real world and found out that the world is a lot more complicated than the free market, libertarian-types like to preach. People are irrational. Markets are not always perfectly efficient. Externalities come into play. Individuals value things that seem to libertarian-types to have little, to know rational value. Some of those things are fairness, community and social consciousness.

    In the health care system of the libertarian-types, if one is screwed over by your insurance company for a technical or clerical error, it’s no problem because you are “free” to pay for the procedure on your own. Of course, many people who are afflicted with long-term diseases (like cancer), have been out of work for awhile and probably lack the financial means to pay for the procedure themselves. So, their option in this libertarian-style health care utopia is well, death. Despite the claim of “freedom,” for probably +95% of the population, it doesn’t matter if a government rejects their procedure or a private insurance company rejects their procedure. The outcome is the same – DEATH.

    Anyway, great post John.

  • Thanks John.

    I was unfortunate enough to be diagnosed with a well-known disease. First off, I’ve been lucky to be stable and haven’t filed any claims and have continued to work hard and be a “productive” citizen.

    I can’t get health insurance outside my job without the health care bill. And my drugs cost more than $2,200 a month, so I can’t afford them. And over the last 12 years, my pre-existing has sent my small company’s plan into the dumpster with what is now going to be a $600 per month premiums and a $5,000 deductible per person. It’s been going up 25-30 percent a year, every year since my diagnosis. And I haven’t made any claims.

    Conservatives say “sucks to be you,” you should have planned better. I did. I payed into the for-profit insurance system for years before I got sick. Had long-term disability for years that was dropped because my company couldn’t afford to insure me anymore and I can’t afford it now either. So someday bankruptcy is what I have to look forward to, if my disease progresses. But don’t worry guys, your taxes will be paying for my “lazy” rear if and when I get worse and stop being a productive member of society.

    But, oh, no, that’s right, they want to cut that too because I’ll cost “their” SS money. SS needs to go away.

    I should be forced to beg for charity.

    How would you feel if this was you or a close family member?

    I hope you guys never get really sick and find out what the for-profit insurance industry is really like. I’d take paying taxes, spreading the costs among all taxpayers so everyone can get care and the government running it any day. Like our “socialist” military, our fire departments, our police, Medicare…

    And keep going with the story that you are against it because you’re scared the guberment is going to kill grandpa! The government (ie Medicare) sure as heck didn’t kill mine when they did every unnecessary procedure possible to try to save him for more than three months when he was 90 years old. If he had had private insurance, they would have denied his care and let him die while the appeals process was underway.

  • Also forgot to mention our policy had a $2 million dollar lifetime limit. One cancer diagnosis can wipe out a $2 million limit. Thanks to that healthcare bill, that’s been eradicated.

  • Sucks to be you. No, really, no matter what amount of money is spent on it by someone other than yourself. It still will indeed suck to be you. It isn’t fair, but until gene modification becomes viable and inexpensive, there really isn’t any hope that we might be able to make nature less unfair. We can only respond to it.

    Clearly the two extremes would be undesirable. We don’t want government to be completely uninvolved in healthcare. We don’t want complete 100% on-demand coverage of every conceivable medical procedure from conception to death. There is some percentage of all our economic resources that makes sense to devote to healthcare, and it must be acknowledged that that takes away from resources that are allocated elsewhere, whether to business investment or leisure. And out of a finite healthcare budget, we can only strive to do the very best with what we’ve got.

    I don’t claim that anything even remotely resembling the status quo is an appropriate treatment of healthcare. Private insurance and government are each highly ineffective. I don’t see that changing. But if it did, I’d like to hope that healthcare expenditures would be allocated to people with a productive future before those without it, and I’d hope that the process would be as dispassionate and fair–both to the afflicted and the taxpayer–as possible.

  • Thanks for your post John, it warms my heart to know there are people like you out there. Quitting your job over an issue like that takes balls. I could never work for a for profit health insurance company either.

  • Unfortunately this is just the tip of the iceberg, as baby boomers age the pressure on the system will be crushing. The figures on Alzheimer’s patients alone may be enough to cause a total collapse. Hopefully assisted suicides will be allowed to end the suffering that is late stage Alzheimer’s.

  • John, if that happened in August of 1997 it might have been my father.

  • The Obamacare bill wipes out lifetime insurance limits, but it does not eliminate yearly limits.

  • That Sheraton-Lincoln Hotel postcard pic sure is nice.
    Wouldn’t it be great if structures always looked so sharp & the sun always shown so bright?

  • movocelot, ain’t it the truth?

  • When is demo scheduled? I see they are removing the glass. I’m not sure I would want to park in the garage after a building had fallen on top of it. Call me silly :)