Houston Dynamo fan and attorney Eric Nordstrom — who’s also a supporter of a new East Downtown stadium for the soccer team — writes in with a question:
I appeared at Commissioners’ Court this morning on behalf of the Dynamo Supporters’ Alliance to speak in support of county participation in TIRZ 15, which is the last hurdle to clear before the Houston Dynamo can begin construction of their stadium at the proposed downtown location. As you know, this deal has been held up for quite some time as it works its way through the political process. The Dynamo Supporters’ Alliance is dedicated to keeping this issue on the front-burner with our elected officials, especially now that the smoke has cleared from the municipal elections. It is important to us to get the message out about this project for it truly represents a remarkable commitment by the team to expend $60,000,000 of its own capital . . . Opponents often ask why, if the Dynamo want a stadium, don’t they pay for it themselves. The Supporters’ Alliance is dedicated to communicating the message that that is precisely what the Club is trying to do. If the City and County will fix the roads, we’ll build the house.
However, after my three minutes were up, Commissioner Radack asked if I was aware of a project currently under development by Midway Companies to construct a multi-use facility in Precinct 3 with 100% private financing, “a mile from the Galleria” near Westpark. To be honest, I was not aware of such a project, and though our first choice is the downtown location, I am intrigued by the location Commissioner Radack suggests. I’m wondering if any of your readers out there can fill in the gaps.
Rendering of proposed new Dynamo Stadium at Texas and Dowling, East Downtown: ICON Venue Group
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]
The giant inflatable-boat-like structure shown here afloat in an otherwise-empty East Downtown six-pack superblock is the latest rendition of . . . the new Houston Dynamo soccer stadium! The Houston Chronicle‘s Bernardo Fallas has details:
The Dynamo want to have the roughly $85 million, 22,000-seat stadium ready for opening day 2011. They envision an all-round two-level, all-seater venue with 34 suites, 86 concession point-of-sales, a 3,000 square-foot club level and a party deck on the southeast corner.
Loving that subtle “soccer fans on a life raft” imagery? It gets better: The open-air stadium’s playing surface will be a full story underground!
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COMMENT OF THE DAY: SMALL STREET ADDITIONS TO THE GALLERIA AREA “The Uptown TIRZ and District are actively working to build a grid in Uptown. Much of it will be funded by existing and new developments by the TIRZ funds and not from the general taxpayer base. . . . [This map shows] their planned addition of grid style layout to uptown. . . . It’ll take existing private access roads and convert some to public streets.” [kjb434, commenting on Uptown Traffic Grid] Map: Uptown Houston District
LETTING THE TIRZS FLOW Work on public improvements connected to the 4-million-sq.-ft. Regent Square project in North Montrose will begin by October, and work on the actual development will begin by a year later, according to an agreement approved by city council yesterday. GID Urban Development Group, the project’s developers, will be reimbursed for $10 million of its work on public streets and sidewalks through the Memorial Heights TIRZ. What’s next? “[Mayor] White said he generally has shied away from such public-private development efforts, but would continue to review opportunities on a case-by-case basis for distressed properties, such as Sharpstown Mall, and for other major projects already in the works that have been delayed or canceled amid the national economic crisis. . . . The mayor made note of a number of properties to which he hopes to attract developers, including in the Leland Woods TIRZ near Homestead Road and East Little York, the Near Northside TIRZ immediately north of downtown Houston, and in the Fifth Ward TIRZ. Other potential incentive packages may not be administered through a TIRZ, he added.” [Houston Chronicle; previously in Swamplot]
What’s inside that special $10 million life-support package for the Regent Square development City Council is considering?
The reimbursements proposed for Regent Square would be administered through the expansion of the Memorial Heights Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone. Under a TIRZ, property tax revenues generated within the boundaries are frozen at a specified level. As development occurs and property values rise, tax revenue above that level, known as the increment, is funneled back into the zone to pay for infrastructure and capital improvements to help attract further development.
Under the plan before council today, part of the increment will be given back to the specific developer rather than the redevelopment authority that operates the TIRZ.
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