HOW TO GET MORE HOUSTON NEIGHBORHOODS TO SUPPORT THE DOWNTOWN DYNAMO STADIUM DEAL It’s easy! Just start talking about an alternative plan for a stadium in some other area of the city. Neighborhood groups will be very supportive. Hey, it worked for Bellaire! “The [Bellaire City] Council voted 6-0 in favor of a resolution calling on the three parties to close a deal on a stadium just east of U.S. 59 near the East End. It also asked the dealmakers not to support a recently emerged proposal to build the stadium along Bellaire’s northern border.” [Houston Politics]
Will the Houston Dynamo get to build their stadium in East Downtown — or off Westpark, near the Galleria? So far, the odds are . . . neither. The final go-ahead for building a soccer stadium on the EaDo site will require county commissioners to formally join the new East Downtown TIRZ (boundaries shown outlined above). But they can’t vote on that proposal until commissioner El Franco Lee puts that decision on the agenda. So far he hasn’t done that — and he apparently won’t talk to the press or constituents about his intentions.
Meanwhile, over in Bellaire, city officials are rushing to put in some “stop-gap” zoning changes to the Research and Development District at the northern edge of the city. Most of the site of Midway Companies’ proposed Dynamo Stadium development there lies within Houston city limits, but a small portion on the east side is apparently in Bellaire’s RDD.
What sort of zoning changes are being discussed? Instant News Bellaire‘s Angela Grant explains:
The new Comprehensive Plan envisions the RDD as a mixed-used urban area that includes residential, retail and offices, along with METROâ€™s future light-rail station. But as the zoning codes are currently written, developers could construct car lots, warehouses or other things that conflict with the â€œurban villageâ€ idea. . . .
The main change would be that developers wishing to construct residential, commercial or mixed-use buildings would need to go before the city in a planned development process to have their ideas approved before moving forward. The city would get a chance to review the plans, consider whether they conformed with the Comprehensive Plan, and reject any developments that did not.
Map showing outline of TIRZ 15: Gensler (PDF)
DYNAMO STADIUM: WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES THE LOCATION MAKE? “Talk to Houston Dynamo CEO Oliver Luck, and you get a much different view of the depth of Bellaire-area stadium proposal by the Midway Companies thatâ€™s taken on a life of its own in the past week, largely due to the buzz phrase, ‘privately funded.’ ‘We have not been presented a plan by the Midway Companies,’ Luck said. ‘I canâ€™t say whether thereâ€™s “no public money” involved. ‘We (the Dynamo) wonâ€™t talk to the city or county about this deal â€” we have pushed that responsibility to Midway. We know what our conditions are, and basically, itâ€™s replicating the financial structure of the downtown deal. Thatâ€™s sort of a threshhold question. If they can do that, weâ€™ll go ahead. If they canâ€™t, it wonâ€™t happen.’ Under the East Downtown (a district now known as EaDo) deal, the Dynamo would pay about $60 million with the city of Houston and Harris County each guaranteeing about $10 million through a special tax reinvestment district.” [West University Examiner; previously on Swamplot]
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