02/21/12 11:46am

HOW HARRIS COUNTY STARVED THE ASTRODOME It’s not that county officials weren’t looking for some big new thing to do with it, argues Cynthia Neeley. The big problem was they stopped taking care of it while they waited for the sports stadium’s grand new future to arrive: “Let’s add up just a few things: $18.8 million for the lease buy-out, $517,000 for repairs to qualify for temporary occupancy for the Rodeo, $3,210 for that final inspection and permit, $50,000 for a workshop to study future use of the Astrodome, $50,000 more for consultants to study the workshop study; grand total is $19,420,210. . . . Does it bother anyone else that . . . the Sports & Convention Corporation spent that whopping amount and we still have a building doing nothing? And that millions upon millions of potential revenue have been lost? And that whatever grand plan is in its future is going to cost us millions more? In 2007, the year before Astrodome was closed, there were only seven events in the building for a paltry annual net income of $103,596.  Did anybody see ads that the Dome was available for lease for private parties or events? Were there promotions or incentives publicized? Did anyone know that you could have rented the field for a bar mitzvah? (Someone actually did, for a reported $15-18,000.)” [Culturemap; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Jeff Balke

02/01/12 4:22pm

REPAIRS DONE, WEDGE AS IT WAS The Swamplot reader who noted a color change in the panels at the top of the WEDGE International Tower at Louisiana and Bell St. downtown last week informs us that they’ve since been returned to their original appearance, and submits this pic from a perch at the Tellepsen YMCA a couple of blocks away to prove it: “Presumably, as one of the commenters surmised, they were just running through some routine maintenance.” We now return to our regularly scheduled Swamplot programming. Photo: Swamplot inbox

04/07/11 4:43pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHY’D THEY LET THE ASTRODOME ROT? “. . . It doesn’t have to just sit there and waste our tax dollars, but unfortunately taxpayers are letting that happen by not pressuring the county to take immediate steps towards making it useful. Instead of doing nothing while waiting on what it will be in its grand ‘next life’ they should be getting it up to code, bit by bit, step by step so that it can be used, or at least parts of it be used – like maybe just the field – to start bringing in revenue. Before the doors closed permanently, a family paid around $18,000 to rent the field for a bar mitzvah. Don’t know how much director/producer John Lee Hancock paid to lease it for his movie Friday Night Lights (Sport & Convention Corp. wouldn’t tell me) but it wasn’t chickenfeed. If the county had been doing stuff like this all along the building would still be inhabitable and probably be at least paying for itself. It certainly would be a lot more attractive to potential investors. Taxpayers need to be pro-active and tell their commissioners to start fixing it up NOW and not wait another month or six months (at $300,000-400,000 a month) or a year! They should put that money to work and not down the drain. Taxpayers should show up at Commissioners Court and insist that the process to get the building operational, even in some small way, should start NOW.” [Cynthia Neely, commenting on How To Demolish the Astrodome: No Dynamite, Please]

09/21/10 2:20pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: KEEPING UP APPEARANCES “It’s basic human nature. Everyone likes to build. No one likes to maintain. I would concur that Houston shows its human nature unashamedly; however, I would posit that that only makes the places that make a concerted effort to cover it up somehow…less human.” [TheNiche, commenting on Swamplot Street Sleuths: Giving 59 a Light Twist]

07/01/10 10:57am

WHY SCOTT GERTNER’S SKYBAR IS LEAVING THE MONTROSE SKY Gertner says he’s now interested in opening up a new club somewhere near the Galleria. A company out of Waco called FH Properties bought the 10-story office building at 3400 Montrose that serves as a podium for the Skybar in February. After that, the bar owner and Grammy nominee tells the Chronicle‘s Joey Guerra, everything went downhill: “About five months ago, the building was purchased in auction. We tried over the past months to work out a new lease, but they kept putting me off saying they didn’t know what they were going to do. I started to see that the building was being neglected — even to the point that my staff would walk the entire four-story parking garage and lobby to clean it ourselves after the nightclub was closed — wipe the windows, clean the elevators, everything that my prior lease included that was the responsibility of the landlord. Big, orange, neon City of Houston stickers started to appear on all doors listing the permits were outdated. We had several visits from the fire marshal about the building and even thought they were going to shut it down two weeks ago. Nothing like closing us down on the second biggest holiday of the year. Skybar was always one of the best venues to view fireworks on the fourth of July.” [Peep; previously on Swamplot]

05/14/10 10:20am

THANK YOU FOR LEAVING YOUR PLACE FOR THE BANK IN SUCH GOOD CONDITION “We mowed the lawn this weekend, so we’re giving it to them in nice shape.” — Dougal Cameron of Cameron Management, leader of an investment group that delivered the freshly LEED-certified and entirely vacant 12-story 2000 St. James Place office building just south of Tanglewood to Wachovia Bank (now a part of Wells Fargo) in a sparsely attended foreclosure ceremony earlier this month. Minute Maid moved out of the building in February 2009 — about a year and a half after Cameron’s investment group bought it; the building has had no tenants since then. [Houston Business Journal]