What’s Getting Thrown Out the Window at the Abandoned Days Inn Downtown?

Former Heaven on Earth Plaza Inn, 801 St. Joseph Pkwy., Downtown Houston

Former Heaven on Earth Plaza Inn, 801 St. Joseph Pkwy., Downtown HoustonWill all the gawkable dark mystery disappear from Downtown once the last few long-abandoned towers standing get cleaned up or knocked down? Maybe, but in the meantime we have these latest events to consider, around and about the former Heaven on Earth Plaza Inn at 801 St. Joseph Pkwy. (at Travis), which was operated by an organization affiliated with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi for most of the nineties (before the city shut it down, in 1998).

A couple of readers have reported seeing some recent activity in and around the 31-story building, which was built as a Holiday Inn in 1971 and later converted to a Days Inn — before taking a different spiritual path:


Last week, a reader spotted a small yellow crane on the roof, and noted that the windows on the building’s side had been taken out. And yesterday another reader noted that more windows were open and “construction workers were throwing items out the windows.” The photos above show the scene.

Photos: Swamplot inbox

Falling to Earth from Heaven on Earth

24 Comment

  • Rumor on the street is that Rice University will convert what was originally a Holiday Inn to
    off-campus student housing. $15,000.00 per unit subsidy from Downtown Mgt. District.

  • Just tear it down already.

  • Rice rumor is nonsense. Rice has PLENTY of room on campus to build a student housing tower if needed. No way they invest the money needed to convert this building only to have their students live so far away from campus in the worst part of downtown/Midtown.

    Rice could put out an RFP tomorrow and have 10 proposals to build an on-campus housing tower by the end of the month. They could lease the land to the developer rather than sell. The whole project would cost the school zero dollars out of pocket. In fact, they would make money; AND have a brand new building they can help design; AND it would be on campus.

  • Wow. I hope they keep it. Such a useful structure. I hope that the Rice University Legend is true!!!


  • Yeah, no WAY Rice wants this shit pile. They are on the Cambridge model, where the students live in their college, so why on Earth would this prestigeous, wealthy university want with some dilapidated old Days Inn–get real.

  • Bernard & Jaybird,
    I’ve always thought that a “student housing” complex in this part of downtown (or farther SE) would be a great idea. The complex would have 12mo leases (Aug. 1 – Jul. 31) and would only rent to students. Think of all the students from TSU, UH, Rice, HCC Central, nursing/med school in TMC, and South TX Law that could use affordable housing in a good location. Anyone have the capital to fund my idea? Haha.

  • Rice rumor is true and is confirmed. You hear it here 2nd!

  • The unconfirmed report that I received several months ago was that the same group that was redoing the Savoy into the a Holiday Inn was taking on this project as well.

  • I thought Rice owned this property….

  • This seems way too far away from Rice campus to make any sense for them. I don’t see it.

  • Last I heard this building was supposed to be renovated into a budget hotel. I’ll believe it when there’s a sign up and you can walk in and rent a room.

  • Having this building, the Savoy and the Central Square Plaza building renovated at the same time might be a sign of the apocalypse. What next? Repurpose the Astrodome into the world’s largest indoor park?

  • I have no idea if Rice has any plans for this building, but there is a precedent or two here. Despite what Shannon said, Rice currently has off-campus housing for graduate students at three locations: two on Shakespeare (http://campushousing.rice.edu/rva/ and http://campushousing.rice.edu/msa/) and one on Bissonet (http://campushousing.rice.edu/rga/).

    It used to have grad housing on the corner of University and Main where the BioScience Research Collaborative currently is. In this case, Rice bought an old motel, the Tidelands, and turned it into student housing. (It was jokingly referred to as the “Gradlands”).

    It may have changed since I was an undergrad a million years ago, but back then no grad students lived on campus and about 1/4 of the undergrads lived off campus as well. Essentially, you could expect to stay in your college (the dorms on campus) for three of your four years.

    That said, this property seems a long way from the Rice campus. Rice’s other graduate student apartments are within walking distance. At least the light rail station is very close by, making public transit to Rice pretty easy. I guess I could see it being student housing for grad students, medical students, nurses and maybe the occasional undergrad who can no longer find a cheap place to live near campus (such places used to be plentiful).

  • To those that think that Rice would never allow their students to live in such a place, note that Rice owned a rather sleazy hotel at, I think it was near the intersection of Main and University. They “converted” it to graduate housing before eventually bulldozing it.

    I dated a guy who lived there. I think it had the same carpeting as when it was a hotel… might have had some of the same furniture.

    I think it was called Palms II? or Sands II? something weird.

  • The building is owned by some Middle Eastern doctors in Clear Lake. Not Rice. unless the building sold very recently, and the transaction hasn’t been recorded. http://www.wysk.com/index/texas/houston/76lln4r/sfk-development-inc/officers

  • According to HCAD, that building is currently owned by something called SFK Development, Inc. CorporationWiki associates these names with that entity:

    Nadeem Nasir, Nam Developments Lp, Nam Investments LLC, Manzoor Hasan, Beaumont Medical Center Hotel, LLC, Midtown Plaza Inc., Medical Center Hotel S.A., Inc., Care Hospital, Inc., A. Saeed, M. Hasan, Hemonc Physicians Enterprise, P.A., Sahba Q. Nadeem

    Definitely not owned by Rice, unless the sale went through so recently, HCAD hasn’t recorded it. The ownership of the Savoy looks different – HDT Hotels LLC and 1616 Main Street Inc., both with a registered agent named Nupenbhai Patel. I am no expert on names, but I always thought “Patel” was (upper caste) Hindu, and the names associated with the old Days Inn all seem to be Pakistani – so I’m guessing there’s no connection between the 2 groups.

  • It seems someone who is also on HAIF is pushing hard here with the RICE rumors. There are multiple posts saying the same thing on HAIF – hey Freshman in HS in West U; it’s not going to happen BRA.

    If it does may an alternative lifestyle mayor take office in Tyler, TX>

  • It is an ideal location for graduate student housing. The structure seems solid and with a new exterior skin and brand new interior decor, it should be quite an attraction for graduate students of Rice, UH, UT, medical students, nursing students etc. With the train line and Metro just near by it is as good as at being at a walking distance. This area of downtown is changing very rapidly and will soon match with other upscale area of the city. …… So why not …… Rice go for it!!

  • As many others have posted, nothing about this screams Rice. Sure its just off the light rail that goes by Rice, but so are a multitude of other buildings. Buildings in much better shape, and with much easier conversions. What would be the point of this building anyway? Grad student housing? Really?? Even though it would easily be the farthest housing for grads? If that was the intention it would be much more likely Rice would throw up a building just outside the med center towards the dome rather than buy some building down town. There’s just not much affiliation to downtown for Rice. They call it a bubble for a reason.

    Under no circumstances would it be undergrad off campus housing. First off, as someone else mentioned, Rice is on the Cambridge system, meaning student housing is like Hogwarts. Students are placed in a college (house) and they stay in that college all four years even if they don’t live in that college all four years (wands are given out in the second year). There is absolutely no circumstances where they would establish, what would be effectively, an off campus college. It would completely void the system. Secondly, the entire point of having students live off campus one year out of the four, beyond being able to guarantee freshman beds, is to have the students learn to live on their own…sign a lease, get water/electricity, etc.

    If this IS a Rice project, its an investment, not housing for students. Just like the Johnson Space Center land donated by Rice, or the pecan orchards, or the west Texas oil fields.

    If this is grad student housing however, I’ll proudly eat owl while on a call to alumni relations.

  • @Houstonia, the old Graduate Student housing was in the Tides II, formerly associated with the Tidelands Motel, which was in the same general area.

  • HAIF thread on the Tides II and Tidelands:

    A picture showing a representative sample of one of the Tidelands/Tides motels:

  • You want to really transform downtown? Tear this building down, tear the Savoy building down, and continue to tear down Central Plaza…. And while they’re at it, go ahead and tear down the Greyhound and El Expresso Stations, and the Mcdonalds on Gray st.

  • Maybe Habib is the one pushing this assine rumor that Rice will rehab this pile of shit for grad housing. This is beyond stupid, it’s obviously never going to happen, so why are we arguing with these shills on this thread. Just tear this dilapidated pile of trash down. I’d rather look at a parking lot. It’s a disgrace the condition these “Dr.’s” have allowed this building to get into. They should be fined heavily.

  • I heard Howard Hughes was living in it.