Sonoma in Translation: Not Gonna Happen

Rendering of Proposed Sonoma Development, Bolsover St., Rice Village, Houston

Last month, a Sonoma sales rep told the West U Examiner that the project had secured financing — which turned out to be condo-sales-speak for “Maybe if people think we’re definitely going ahead we can still sell units and somehow find a way out of this mess.” Now Nancy Sarnoff reports in the Chronicle that the developer of the condos-and-retail complex slated for what used to be Bolsover St. in the Rice Village has told her that the project “is being put on hold ‘for the short term.'” This appears to be developer-speak for “We’re toast.”

Was the problem just “economic uncertainties and tumultuous credit markets”? After developer Lamesa Corp. and partner Randall Davis pulled their switcheroo, deciding to start with the project’s second phase because they couldn’t get the more grandiose first phase financed,

they went back to the market and were negotiating for a $70 million loan with 40 percent equity to build the smaller second phase of 85 units.

At that point they had nearly 70 buyers who had put down deposits. More than half were interested in the second building.

Translation: Almost half their buyers bailed.

There’s good news for the trashed 2-block section of the Village Sonoma leaves behind, though:


Demolition of Buildings on Bolsover St. for Proposed Sonoma Project, October 2007

The Walgreen’s might survive!

Also, a spokesman for Mayor White tells Sarnoff that there’s a tiny chance the city could get Bolsover St. back from private ownership: if the owners somehow fail to build a pedestrian walkway on the street — by 2012!

And some reassuring words from Lamesa’s Julie Tysor:

“This partnership is here for the long term,” she said. “We believe in Rice Village. It’s arguably the finest redevelopment site in Houston, and we will continue to do what’s right for the community.”

Translating that statement is left as an exercise for the reader.

Rendering of Sonoma: Ziegler Cooper Architects; photo of October 2007 Bolsover demolition: Jackson Myers

5 Comment

  • I’m rooting for the Walgreen’s on Bolsover to survive. Their pharmacy is one of the last surviving small and SANE pharmacies around. I’m all for the development, but leave my little Walgreens!

  • Maybe they should just asphalt the site and make it paid-parking.. It works for downtown when they tear something down.. and they make money!

  • Or maybe they could use the lot to store all the now illegal giant inflatable gorillas.

  • I just wish they could put Universal Fabrics back where it used to be on bolsover, instead of the tiny closet on Times blvd it currently occupies.

  • How about the city and developers of Rice Village buy back the property and put in a smaller scale 2 story shops and lofts above development, that surrounds a big plaza park with fountains – you know something that would actually be “world class” like Lincoln Road in Miami Beach.