Redevelopment Brawl at the Sharpstown Mall

REDEVELOPMENT BRAWL AT THE SHARPSTOWN MALL Developer and former Sugar Land mayor David Wallace now says his firm’s $350 million proposal to redevelop the Sharpstown Mall — approved in early July by the Southwest Houston TIRZ over the objections of the mall’s owner and manager — isn’t likely to happen: “R.D. Tanner, a partner in the firm, resigned from the TIRZ board the day his company [Wallace Bajjali Development Partners] submitted its vision for the mall. The board voted to support his firm’s bid that same day. The board is tasked with overseeing the site’s redevelopment and distributing up to $20 million of public money to assist in that effort. The mall’s owner and manager — whose own redevelopment plan was rejected by the authority in May — filed suit last week, alleging that Tanner and the TIRZ board’s subsequent requests for information were “a subterfuge” to obtain “confidential, proprietary information” they could use to make their own bid. The allegations highlight a widespread problem in Houston: that developers on TIRZ boards are often able to make decisions about tax abatements — and the use of public dollars for economic development — that ultimately benefit themselves or their projects, according to Craig McDonald, director of Texans for Public Justice, an advocacy organization that promotes openness and accountability in government.” [Houston Chronicle]

9 Comment

  • This points out the problem with tax-increment reinvestment zones. They are sometimes used to literally steal land and property at less-than-market value and it will be interesting to see what the owners of Sharpstown Mall will be “offered” before the TIRZ declares eminent domain and condemns.

    Everyone should have learned from what happened in Fourth Ward. Including the Attorney General’s Office.

    Hopefully the owners will prevail in court. If they don’t, beware of buying anywhere that might be considered “blighted” because a TIRZ may come along and steal your land and property. Which is what Houston Renaissance and the Fourth Ward TIRZ did in Fourth Ward.

    And of course these are friends of Bill White. Without doubt the most corrupt mayor we have ever had.

  • I don’t like Bill White either matt.

  • I in general like TIRZ’s, but this is a perfect example of the abuse that can happen within a TIRZ.

    There are a lot of examples of TIRZ’s that run great and do a lot of good for their districts.

    Hopefully, the TIRZ can get past this and actually look forward for re-development of Sharpstown Mall. Even going the direction of Gulfgate would be welcome at that location.

  • The majority of the Sharpstown regions is ruined by residents of the old apartment complexes. There are lots of residents of single family homes in the area that would like the place cleaned up.

    The same thing could be said about Gulf Gate. That whole area has changed now that the place was converted into a land of big box stores that would pay for security in the parking lot.

  • Here’s something interesting to note in the article: Tanner’s company DOES NOT OWN THE MALL.

    I can understand rejecting the OWNER’S plan, but how could the approve a NON-OWNER’S plan – in one day. Tanner does not even own the mall.

  • Tanner does not even own the mall.

    But Tanner WANTS to own the mall. And now will. Thanks to his good buddy Bill White. Who according to one report admits he is “personally involved” in this.

    Everyone should have woken up with Houston Renaissance and Fourth Ward. Using public funds to enrich private developers who then use part of the funds to seize property under threat of eminent domain really isn’t a good idea.

  • Matt,

    Another good point to add to yours about White is that he was essentially empowered by the Kelo decision in the Supreme Court which pretty much lets a government entity to take ANY property for ANY reason.

    Prior to Kelo, the case against Tanner’s action would be a lot easier if after his planned was approved eminent domain was pushed upon the current mall owners.

    Currently, the owners of the mall don’t have much recourse other than to have a jury stop the whole deal because it just looks wrong.

    Any of you legal types have an opinion on this? That’s how I’m seeing this play out.

  • I too generally favor TIRZ implementations. They, like the rest of any government interventions, must be done openly and fairly and in the process weed out and expose predatory desires by those who want to become involved.

    Community redevelopment is the ultimate goal of all TIRZ creations. Honesty in that process is a must. Sharpstown has gone through more than its share of disappointments over the last 20 or so years. Its TIRZ was initially conceived in 1993 in an attempt to address the massive inequity between the areas development, i.e., owner occupied residents versus apartments and the general lack of proper maintenance and screening of tenants by those apartment owners. To assist those owners, security elements, traffic analysis, and beautification concepts were initially considered crucial to the area’s long term redevelopment. Individual profitability is always an issue that needs to be considered as is the risk that goes along with that potential.

    Obviously in this mix was serious consideration of the area’s then most visible commercial concern – The Sharpstown Mall.

    Since this situation has hit the court system, it would be greatly beneficial to all concerned to have a few public meetings and publishing of facts (versus fiction) on the conflicting proposals and let the community decide which may be best for its future.

  • While it would be nice to see the mall revitalized as a mall, I realize that malls are a dying breed and that redevelopment into something like Gulfgate is probably more realistic and more practical for the area. As a Sharpstown resident, it would be nice to see a nice, full-service grocery store and a Target as part of that mix, so it wouldn’t be necessary to drive to other parts of town just to do basic shopping. Chain retailers seem to have abandoned the Sharpstown area.