Real Estate Adventures of the Texas Senate Candidates

Trying to pin down where Ted Cruz and Beto O’Rourke stand before casting a ballot this afternoon? Here’s a last-minute rundown: O’Rourke, the out-of-towner, slapped his trademark black-and-white signage in August on the concrete OST building shown, picking up where the Encore Theatre — a venue focused on works by black playwrights and casts — left off inside. The structure shares a wall with a back-door bar dubbed Speak Easy, a 1,000-sq.-ft. outfit that’s been around off Conley St. for over a decade.

Cruz’s team on the other hand, has been holed up on the seventh 12th floor of the Phoenix Tower (shown above) in Greenway Plaza, off Buffalo Spdwy. near 59. He’s a longtime fan of tall Houston buildings: In 2008, he and his wife Heidi bought a condo on the 19th floor of the Royalton at River Oaks — shown below — which then became ground zero for sightings of the couple, as well as a choice spot for the occasional protest. They sold it last July a few months after picking up a $1.6 million house in River Oaks proper.


Though perhaps less involved with high-end and high-rising Houston property himself, O’Rourke’s got real estate ties in El Paso through his wife’s side of the family. Her father, billionaire Bill Sanders, pioneered new ways to divvy up properties among investors in the ’70s and ’80s, leading Texas Monthly‘s Debbie Nathan to dub him the “godfather of the REIT” for his creative contribution to the national real estate scene. Modeled off mutual funds, real estate investment trusts allow investors to get in on portfolios of big-time income-producing properties without having to buy or manage any of them on their own. In El Paso, a REIT Sanders helped found in 2006 eventually pieced together a $50 million collection of Downtown property — according to the El Paso Times — including the city’s 18-story Chase and 21-story Wells Fargo buildings. It then sold some of them off to focus on apartments, but hit a speed bump when an investor stopped stopped short of buying $20 million worth of shares in that new venture, leaving plans for an expensive housing development in limbo and the 2 parties tied up in court.

Photos: Swamplox inbox (O’Rourke HQ); Phoenix Tower (42 Floors); The Royalton River Oaks (

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