Pearland Heads Cut Off: The WaterLight District’s Giant Presidential Bust

President Heads above Mud at Presidential Park and Gardens, Waterlights District, Pearland, Texas

The property intended to be home to the Waterlights District — the proposed mixed-use shopping and eating extravaganzorama in Pearland — has been posted for foreclosure by its main creditor, Amegy Bank. The 1.9 million-sq.-ft. development was to feature condos, luxury apartments, office buildings, retail space, restaurants, 2 hotels, a conference facility, a “water wall,” and a Venice-like “Grand Canal.”

The site, off the Shadow Creek Pkwy. exit on the west side of Hwy. 288, has been marked for more than 2 years now by a curious semicircle of David Adickes sculptures, a preview of the development’s Presidential Park and Gardens. That park was to feature giant white busts of all 38 U.S. Presidents. But unlike Adickes other presidential suite, I-45’s Mount Rush Hour just north of Downtown Houston — in which each of the sculptor’s busts rests on its own podium — in the Waterlights grouping the 7 Presidents moved to the site appear from the freeway to be buried in the earth up to their chests, somehow managing to keep their heads above the often-times-soggy land around them. Yes, it was the perfect marker for a freeway-side development buried in debt and treading quicksand just to keep itself afloat:


Boardwalk and the Spectrum LP purchased the 48-acre site in February 2007 for $5 million in cash and a $10 million bank loan, [executive director David] Goswick said. That translated to $10 per [usable] square foot.

“Today, the same property is only worth $4 (per square foot) to $4.50 per square foot, or approximately $5 million,” Goswick said.

. . . in February 2009, the bank rejected the developers’ request to extend the loan for another year and later increased the interest rate to 18 percent, from the previous 7.5 percent, he said.

Will someone be able to bail these Presidents out before they’re, uh . . . entirely submerged?

Oooh. Maybe that’s the wrong terminology to use here. Ultimate Pearland reporter Robert Stanton continues:

Goswick’s partner, Richard P. Browne, director of planning and development at Boardwalk at the Spectrum LP, put it bluntly in an e-mail.

“When Amegy Bank’s parent bank (Zions Bancorporation) receives over $1.4 billion in (federal Troubled Asset Relief Program) money and can borrow money at 1.5 percent, then turn around and charge 18 percent, it is a sin and a shame. The numbers don’t work anymore.”

Browne added, “Unfortunately, the banks stopped lending to everyone and we ran out of time.”

Photos: Imelda Bettinger [license]

14 Comment

  • Oh, man. I really hope Adickes got paid for these up front!

  • “The site, off the Shadow Creek Pkwy”

    You can’t access this off of Shadow Creek Pkwy.

    It can only be accessed off of the SH 288 feeder roads and the proposed (probably not anymore) access roads behind the Bass Pro Shop that’ll tie into Beltway 8.

  • @kjb434: It’s off the Shadow Creek Pkwy. exit, no?

  • You got me. It’s off the new Shadow Creek Parkway exit that is up by the Beltway. The old exit ramp wouldn’t give access to it.

    It’s a little off since the site is in Pearland but still in Harris County since it lies north of Clear Creek.

  • I just hope the Bass Pro Shop stays open, that place is great!

  • wow. in 2007 lenders doing 66% debt on raw land. raw land that looks flood prone. wow.

  • JPSivco,

    All the land is in the floodplain. Studies have been performed and approved by local agencies to remove the land from the floodplain by proper fill and mitigation basins. Conveyance analysis was also performed.

    I reviewed a lot of the work because of potential development to the north of this project near the Bass Pro Shop and the Beltway. All of this area to west of Kirby is in the City of Pearland and part of a special district they are managing.

    Waterlights was supposed to be the big anchor to the well over 2000+ acres of future development.

    I’m guessing the City of Pearland is going to do some more work to get other investors in to develop now.

  • It would please me no end to see Adickes’ work sink into mud.

  • I wish someone would get all of the presidents back together! They are very sad now. A kind donor,say perhaps the magnanimous Landed Gent who always boasts of his splendor here on Swamplot, should cut a deal for the Wilshire Village property and foster the development of a Presidential Park.

    I’m sure it’s like a buy 20 get one free sort of deal, so maybe we could get that nifty telephone too.

  • Browne’s numbers never worked for this project, and I don’t care what he says to the contrary. He’s not a numbers guy. There are things he’s good at; land planning is one of them, development is not.

  • More ‘pie in the sky’ brought to you by David Goswick. He managed to bring down his own (once) viable company and it appears he’s now assisting others to do the same. You’ll find his photo next to the dictionary definition for “snake oil salesman,” which he also uses to slick back his seriously thinning hair.

  • Good riddance! I’m sure the whole thing was just a marketing ploy to get people to buy an overpriced crappy cookie-cutter house in a pretend “community”.

  • re: JPSivco: I don’t mean to start a rumor, but having read it it has been in the back of my brain for some time now
    ( ) that many of Southeast Texas’ art holdings are going to be stored south of Reed Road by 288.

  • The Goswicks are major thieves and deserve all the punishment they get. They’ve screwed many designers out of money over the years and hopefully people will eventually stop investing in their crackpot schemes.