More action in the ongoing battle over the Washington Ave. Spec’s: Responding in kind to the lawsuit filed against his company by the Harris County District Attorney in March, the owner of Spec’s has filed his own complaint against the city of Houston and Harris County.
The new countersuit claims that by granting the store permits, the city had agreed to allow the Spec’s at the Washington and Westcott roundabout to sell alcohol — even though the property was less than 1000 ft. from Memorial Elementary School. According to a city ordinance, only establishments earning more than half their revenue from food sales are allowed to sell alcohol within 1000 ft. of a school.
Spec’s owner John Rydman says the city agreed to issue the permits to sell alcohol at the store
even though the proximity to the school was noted on the application. He said he renovated a building and entered into a five-year lease at a cost of $2 million based on the assumption that the permits were valid. . . .
In a previous interview, Rydman said he knew of the potential problem and would not commit to build out the property or to sign a lease unless the city agreed to a variance. When the permits were granted, he said he thought all obstacles had been cleared.
The Harris County Attorneyâ€™s office contends that the granting of the permit was a simple error â€” and Specâ€™s officials knew it.
Meanwhile, a Swamplot reader writes in with a few pointed questions about the roles of the building’s owner and leasing agent in the dispute:
It seems strange Spec’s only is mentioned in this matter. In addition to property improvements, a $2.5 million lease is indicated; perhaps the actual owner of the property was involved with the initial agreement to operate this establishment within 1000 feet of an elementary school! The property has had many tenants. Obviously, the owner of this parcel was ecstatic to realize such a viable occupant.
- Specâ€™s sues to keep Washington Ave. store open [Houston Chronicle]
- Washington Ave Specâ€™s: Too Close for Southern Comfort [Swamplot]
Photo of Spec’s, 6010 Washington Ave: Trip to the Outhouse