04/01/10 10:23am

Houston’s City Council voted 13-2 yesterday to sell the former Compaq Center to the nation’s largest megachurch for a grand total of $7.5 million dollars. Sure, that’s considerably less than the $22.6 million the city would have received for a 30-year extension of Lakewood Church’s current lease on what used to be homecourt of the Houston Rockets. But the city wouldn’t see the beginning of that income stream for 24 years, and it might be a full 54 years before the city could get the building and those 7 acres of Greenway Plaza land back — presuming either is worth anything at all by then. And really, who’s even going to want to be around this city in 2064?

That $7.5 million isn’t exactly chump change, either. If each of the church’s approximately 43,500 weekly visitors throws a dollar into one of those collection buckets, it’ll take them all of 3 and a half years just to pay the darn thing off!

But did the city even have a choice in the matter?


03/24/10 10:43am

From the Twitter feed of KHOU reporter Alex Sanz, Swamplot hears news that Houston’s city council has postponed a vote on a proposal to sell the former Compaq Center at 3700 Southwest Fwy. in Greenway Plaza to Lakewood Church, for an-appraised-but way-below-assessed-value price of $7.5 million. As Swamplot explained yesterday, the church has more than 20 years left on a prepaid lease for the property and an option to extend the lease for an additional 30 years after that for a little more than $22 million — both of which significantly affect the present value of the property to the city.

Is the postponement of the sale a setback for Lakewood? Why should it be!? Followers of church pastor Joel Osteen, who’s now written 3 books filled with real-estate investment advice, know that he advocates patience — especially in complicated sale or purchase situations. Why wouldn’t he want councilmembers to feel entirely comfortable with the decision they come to?

Here’s how Osteen explains it in a relevant passage from his latest book, It’s Your Time:


03/23/10 11:47am

You might be thinking, “How can I buy me some prime Greenway Plaza real estate from the city for, say $12.50 a square foot?” If, as expected, city council approves the sale in tomorrow’s meeting, that’s the amount Lakewood Church will pay for the Southwest Freeway building it’s currently leasing.

Lakewood took out a 30-year lease on the property — which formerly served as home court for the Houston Rockets, first as the Houston Summit, and later as the Compaq Center — in 2001. Lakewood prepaid the entire $11.8 million lease amount, then spent more than $80 million to turn the former basketball arena into a proper TV-worthy megachurch. But the key to Lakewood’s current real estate good fortune is the lease extension it negotiated: an option to extend the lease for an additional 30 years for $22.6 million.

Since the city likely won’t receive any income (or tax revenue) from the property until the year 2061, city real estate managers think selling the 606,000-sq.-ft. property on more than 7 acres at 3700 Southwest Fwy. to the church is a good idea. The price? A value only net-present-value adherents, real-estate appraisers, and the Lakewood faithful could love: $7.5 million.

Feeling a little inspired by the church’s ability to swing such a deal? It is yet another testament to the remarkable real-estate skills of Houston’s leading property-investment guru, Lakewood Church pastor Joel Osteen. In this passage from his latest book, It’s Your Time, Osteen virtually screams, “GET IN FIRST, BUY LATER”:


08/13/08 8:19am

Your Best Life Now, by Joel OsteenHow did Lakewood Church pastor Joel Osteen and his wife Victoria come by their fancy French home? Osteen explains it all in his first book, Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential:

Early in our marriage, Victoria and I were out walking through our neighborhood one day when we came upon a beautiful new home in the final stages of construction. The doors were open, so we stepped inside and looked around. It was a fabulous home, much prettier than any of the other homes in that community. Most of the other homes around us were one-story, ranch-style homes that were forty to fifty years old, but this house was a large two-story home, with high ceilings and oversized windows providing an appealing view of the backyard. It was a lovely, inspiring place.

When we came out of the house, Victoria was excited. She turned around, looked back at the home, and said, “Joel, one day we’re going to live in a beautiful home just like that!” At the time, we were living in an extremely old house that had experienced some foundation problems, preventing all of our doors on the inside from closing properly. We had stretched our faith and spent everything we had just to buy that home and get into that neighborhood. Thinking of our bank account, and my income at the time, it seemed impossible to me that we’d ever work our way up to a home like the one we had toured.

Joel and Victoria Osteen: clearly fans of new construction. But did they get their dreamhouse?


07/25/08 12:48pm

Joel and Victoria Osteen in Their Home

From a profile of Lakewood Church pastor Joel Osteen by Karl Taro Greenfeld in next month’s Portfolio magazine:

The Osteens, like so many American families during the recent real estate boom, spent the better part of the past decade buying, renovating, and selling homes, and became so proficient in the process that Osteen and his wife were able to skip hiring a contractor for their last renovation and go directly to the subcontractors to complete their mansion. Coming off the boom, during which the average American dwelling doubled in size, the Osteens’ digs are more modest than one might guess. The house is decorated in a rococo style that Victoria has called “French” and Osteen calls “fancy.”

Photo of Joel and Victoria Osteen at home: Randal Ford, Portfolio

01/08/08 4:01pm

Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential, by Joel OsteenThere’s more to the story of the Lakewood Church pastor’s amazing house flip: How were Joel and Victoria Osteen able to unload their townhouse in order to buy that house they made so much money on?

Readers of Joel Osteen’s previous book — Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential — already know the answer. From page 265:

Victoria and I had been married a few years when we decided that we wanted to sell our townhome and buy a house. We put the townhome on the market for six or eight months, but we never had a serious offer. Hardly anybody looked at it, even though we were praying regularly, asking God to help us sell it.

We really wanted the other house, but we couldn’t afford it until we sold our townhome. Finally, we decided to do more than pray. We needed to sow a special seed in faith, believing for that townhome to sell.

There’s more!


01/03/08 12:58pm

Joel Osteen’s Become a Better You: 7 Keys to Improving Your Life Every DayLakewood Church’s Joel Osteen, in Become a Better You: 7 Keys to Improving Your Life Everyday, p. 289:

I remember as a young couple, Victoria and I found a home that we really liked. It was a run-down house but on a nice piece of property. And we knew it was for us. In the natural, it didn’t make a lot of sense. We were leaving a beautiful townhome. Yet we knew that’s what God wanted us to do. So we took a step of faith and we bought the run-down house. The day we closed on it, we were standing in the front yard and a Realtor stopped by and offered us much more than we had paid. We thought, “What’s going on?” We didn’t understand it. Come to find out, they were in the process of changing the deed restrictions in the neighborhood. And several years later, we sold that property for twice as much as we paid for it. That was God causing us to be at the right place at the right time.