Metro to build the Danger Train Hotel
Since the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, Texas can't make any money on the transit portion of its name, it has decided to go into real estate development, thereby becoming the Metropolitan Property Development and Transit Authority of Harris County, Texas.
Last April the Chronicle's Nancy Sarnoff reported that Metro was looking for a developer to partner with in order to build a mixed-use development on top of its Texas Medical Center transit center. Today we learn that Metro is ready to go forward with the project:
The Metropolitan Transit Authority said it will form a joint venture with Houston-based Transwestern Commercial Services to build a $105 million real estate development above the Texas Medical Center transit center at Fannin and Pressler.
The multi-use project, which is expected to break ground mid-to-late 2006, will include a 175-room hotel, 30 condominiums, 168,000 square feet of medical office space, a 15,000-square-foot wellness center and 35,000 square feet of retail space.
This is bad. Harris County taxpayers are going to get soaked on many levels, from the usual incentives and tax breaks that will have to be given to get the project underway, to the bonds that Metro will sell to fund the project. See this comment for more thoughts.
Metro can't even do a passable job at its stated purpose for existence -- transit. What in the world makes Metro officials, Metro board members and Mayor White (who effectively controls the whole thing) think Metro can successfully become a real estate development company? It's really quite astounding.
And I hope our local media takes a hard look at the details. Let's not forget that Metro Board Chairman David Wolff runs his own real estate development company, and in fact a Houston Business Journal story from last January pointed out that Wolff helped come up with this idea.