01/07/11 6:46pm

Lookie what an investment group headlined by former NBA star Magic Johnson walked away with after Tuesday’s Harris County foreclosure auction: the Hotel Icon — and probably for less than $27 million, since that was the unanswered starting bid for the 135-room boutique hotel. The building at 220 Main St. Downtown is of course no stranger to foreclosure auctions: Randall Davis and some investment partners brought it home from one in 2002, then redressed it as the Icon. And the building began its life as the Union National Bank. LA’s Lowe Enterprises — also the owners of Austin’s Driskill Hotel — bought the hotel from Davis’s group in 2006, but since defaulted on $46 million of debt. That’s what the joint venture of 2 joint ventures — one of them Canyon-Johnson Urban Funds, part owner of the Marq*E Entertainment Center on I-10 — bought up on the rebound, and at a deep discount, this week. The new owners tell the HBJ‘s Jennifer Dawson they’re hoping to turn over operation of the hotel to “a luxury chain such as The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co. or W Hotels & Resorts.”

Photo: Facilities Online

01/29/09 10:59am

A tidbit from Lamesa Properties, proud owner of that block of Bolsover St. in the Rice Village that was supposed to turn into a grand plaza for Randall Davis’s Sonoma development, but for now is just a fenced-off lot:

Company representative Julie Tysor said that while construction is on hold, the firm is open to ideas for the site to have some “long-term benefit to the community.” For now, plans are under way to make the unpaved area a green space, and the paved area may be used for much-needed Village parking.

Photo of Sonoma Site on Bolsover St.: Miya Shay

01/26/09 12:46pm

“Ronald McDonald will soon have all of his parking spaces back,” writes Swamplot tipster Michele, who also sends in these photos from yesterday. They show the sales office for Randall Davis’s canceled Titan highrise — which hung out in the McDonald’s parking lot on Post Oak for many months — boarded up and readied for its next location and rebranding assignment.


12/31/08 4:11pm

Swamplot mentioned the cancellation of Randall Davis’s Titan condo project in passing yesterday, announcing at the same time that the project had scored the first-place spot in the hotly contested Most Grandiose Development category of the Swamplot Awards for Houston Real Estate. But really, if any 2008 event in Houston real estate deserves its own separate post on Swamplot, this is it.

Davis told the Chronicle‘s Nancy Sarnoff that slow sales convinced him to shut down the 25-story highrise project. There’ll be no rearranging of the deck chairs, no putting the project “on hold,” no “My Heart Will Go On.” It’s all over.

But the Titan will be sorely missed.


12/09/08 12:14pm

From the Swamplot mailbin, questions about the tower Randall Davis got up:

I would like an update on the Cosmopolitan. I drove by and it looks like barely anyone is living in the building. Roughly 20% of the units are either for sale or lease in the building. Given the problems the Titan is having in sales, can anyone provide insight into the viability of the Cosmopolitan. Does anyone live there? How is it?

The last time Swamplot posted a reader’s questions about the Cosmopolitan, the response was . . . underwhelming. Anybody home?

Photo of Cosmopolitan Tower: HAR

11/21/08 1:14pm

What effects have difficulties with bank financing stemming from the global financial crisis had on some of those big new developments planned for Houston? The Houston Business Journal‘s Jennifer Dawson weighs in with a “Where Are They Now?” roundup:

11/20/08 10:28am

Sonoma’s would-be developers try to explain to West U Examiner reporter Michael Reed why the Rice Village retail-and-condo project was put “on hold” only a few weeks after the sales team sent out an email to prospective buyers claiming it had received financing:

Julie [Tysor], president of the Appelt Companies, said in an e-mail response to Examiner questions about the financing, “We had secured a substantial majority of the financing for the south building through the cooperation of some local lenders who have also supported this project since its inception.”

She said a number of factors contributed to the financing falling through, “not the least of which is historical world economic crisis that is unprecedented…”

So what’s going to happen to the site — which includes that block of Bolsover St. purchased from the city — now?


11/14/08 11:04am

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:


10/24/08 10:10am

GO-AHEADS FOR SONOMA Randall Davis’s Sonoma development couldn’t get financing for its first phase, but the condos-and-retail project’s sales team is now saying it has financing for its second phase, planned for the south side of Bolsover St. And requirements for taking over the block of Bolsover between the two projects have been fulfilled: “In an e-mail sent Saturday, sales team member Keith Kaposta said groundbreaking at the Rice Village site was still expected in February following the expiration of Walgreens’ lease on the property at 5313 Kelvin St. In another development, the city of Houston said Tuesday that developer Randall Davis property owner La Mesa Corp. had successfully completed all work that was required by the extended deadline of Oct. 27. . . . [Public Works Department spokesman Alvin] Wright said even if the work covered under the letters of credit was not completed by the deadlines, the city would not get the property back. [West University Examiner; previously]

10/09/08 9:42am

The West U Examiner‘s Michael Reed points out that Randall Davis has a looming deadline to complete some work on the block of Bolsover St. in Rice Village that was purchased from the city:

A condition, passed by the Houston City Council at the time of the sale, specified that some changes to the site of the high-end condo over retail project must be completed within one year.

The block was sold in August of last year so that Davis could use it as part of his Sonoma mixed-use development. Since then, Davis has run into problems finding financing, and the project has changed considerably. He now wants to build the smaller second phase — on the south side of the street — first. But the Walgreens currently on that site has a lease that won’t be up until January.

What needs to get done by the end of October?

The plugging and abandonment of the 8-inch water line within the street, and the relocation of the existing storm sewer inlets to Bolsover and Morningside.

The developer is “required to eliminate the appearance of the public street” at the intersections of Bolsover and both Kelvin and Morningside.

09/09/08 12:25pm

Demolition on Bolsover St., Rice Village, October 2007

Having torn down an entire block of buildings in the Rice Village for a condo project the company can’t get financed, Randall Davis has a better idea: Why not demolish the buildings on the other side of Bolsover — so they can build the second phase instead?

The Chronicle‘s Nancy Sarnoff reports that Davis and company have been unable to get a $100 million construction loan for the Sonoma mixed-use condo development he’s been marketing for a couple of years. Hey, that’s no problem! Just move on to the next project, and double down on the demo:

Now they’re negotiating for a $70 million loan with 40 percent equity to build the smaller second phase of 85 units.

“Hopefully they’ll respond positively since we have so many sales,” said Davis.

The sales, however, are for the first phase of the project, which has been 50 percent pre-sold.

And the second phase is on the south side of Bolsover, where Walgreen’s has a lease until January.

After the jump: marginal views of phase two!


08/18/08 11:47am

Plaza on Former Bolsover St., Sonoma, Rice Village, Houston

“Sonoma is mystery,” proclaims Randall Davis near the end of an excruciatingly long promotional video posted at the project’s recently updated website. Part of the mystery, of course, has been when — or whether — construction might actually begin on the 7-story condos-shops-and-parking Rice Village layer cake. Since the buildings on the site were demolished and the block of Bolsover between Kelvin and Morningside was fenced in last fall, not much has happened.

Nancy Sarnoff has some details on the delay:

Sonoma, an upscale condo and retail project planned in Rice Village, was supposed to break ground in April.

The land has been cleared to start building, but the developers have a loan commitment for just half of what it will take to build it.

“We’re ready to put a shovel in the ground,” said Julie Tysor, president of Lamesa Corp., owner of the project. “The speed of the changing lending markets wasn’t really anticipated by any of the people involved.”

Rendering of Sonoma: Ziegler Cooper Architects

06/18/08 9:43pm

Giant Fountains on Parking Garage, Cosmopolitan Condominiums, Post Oak Blvd., Houston

A reader sends photos of some recent construction on the garage podium beneath the Cosmopolitan tower and asks:

What are those three giant urinals affixed to the east exterior wall of Randall Davis’ latest glass-clad erection, the one on Post Oak where James Coney Island used to be? . . .

Where is the Colossal Statue of Constantine when you need him? (Well, he’s in Rome, but that’s no help to Post Oak Boulevard!)

Sure, there’s the vaguely Roman theming going on with the marketing for Davis’s next tower across the street, the Titan. But these new constructions might be something much more contemporary . . . think Marcel Duchamp by way of Claes Oldenburg: The big fountains!

Below: the Colossal Head of Constantine . . . and the Colossal Heads of the Cosmopolitan, on display!


06/12/08 1:56pm

The Cosmopolitan Condo Tower, Post Oak Blvd., Uptown, Houston

A reader has questions about the Cosmopolitan, Randall Davis’s tower-on-a-box on Post Oak:

What’s going on with this building? My wife and I looked at this last month as they were closing out and only had 2 units left, with the agent (surprise) saying they would be sold out shortly. Now there are 4 units on MLS. Are these from the builder or resales? There are only 80 units in the building–I wonder if some speculation is going on as I heard that Randall Davis offers sizable discounts to his employees, who bought several of the units at the Cosmo at a discount and are now trying to flip them. Is this Houston or Miami?

Hey, 4 units for sale out of 80 doesn’t sound too bad. On the other hand, it looks like one of the available units on MLS is, in fact, the Miami.

Cosmo buyers, readers . . . any comments?

Photo: HAR

02/26/08 8:36am

Still from Video of The Titan, Randall Davis’s Proposed Condo Tower on Post Oak Blvd., Uptown, Houston

If you’re looking for clues to help you figure out what the McDonald’s on Post Oak is gonna look like when it gets rebuilt, the flashy new website for the Titan doesn’t help much. There’s a video that shows Randall Davis’s latest theme-heavy condo tower from all sorts of dramatic angles, but it never answers the question most of us have been asking since the project was announced last fall: How, exactly, is the drive-thru gonna fit next door?

Davis told the Houston Business Journal last September that the new McDonald’s would be a “long, skinny building” facing Post Oak, between the Titan and the new Alexan Post Oak apartments directly to the north. In the new video, though, there are no Golden Arches, and camera angles artfully block the most direct views of that portion of the building site.

There’s no mention of the McDonald’s on the Titan website. There is, however, a welcome second confirmation that another fine food establishment will be built down the street at Boulevard Place:

A newly planned Whole Foods Market, only half a block away, places hard to find gourmet items at your fingertips.

Okay, so it’s just advertising copy. But it’s recent!

After the jump, more views of the Titan — none of which show where the real Big Macs are gonna live.