Gray: "In his personal life, [Mincberg]'s a teardown kind of guy"
The Chronicle's Lisa Gray expands on a topic covered on local blogs previously in a column about David Mincberg's plans to tear down an architecturally interesting home on his property:
David Mincberg, the Democratic candidate for county judge, promises that if elected to Harris County's top job, he'll do everything possible to save the Astrodome. But in his personal life, he's a teardown kind of guy.
In April, Mincberg bought an architecturally significant house at 6040 Glen Cove, a few blocks east of Memorial Park, with plans to raze it and build a new house for his family.
The Harris County Appraisal District values the house and its land at $2.8 million, an impressive price for a teardown even in this gilded age. (Mincberg has appealed the appraisal.) But the 1.3-acre property, complete with a turtle pond and ravine, is a significant trophy, and it lies in a neighborhood that's a magnet for expensive new development.
Mincberg doesn't think that his razing the house will faze voters. ``The public sees an enormous disparity between the Astrodome and a house,'' he says.
The Astrodome, he notes, is a beloved, publicly owned icon in a highly visible part of Houston. He fondly remembers watching baseball there as a boy. ``We have to explore every conceivable option to preserve it,'' he says.
At some point, the expensive albatross known as the Astrodome is going to need to be destroyed. Nobody wants to say it, but that's the most likely scenario. As for Mincberg's home -- it's his property, and if he wants to tear down an architecturally significant home to replace it with a McMansion, that's certainly his right. But Gray's contrast of his rationales in each case is interesting, as is her conclusion:
Mincberg says he hoped his family could live in the Crispin house. But he says previous owners neglected the house, and that it's been flooded.
During the option period, Mincberg had it inspected twice. He says his inspectors found termites, foundation troubles, mechanical problems, ``you name it'' - major problems he says render the house unlivable. But instead of leaving those problems to some other buyer, he closed the deal, with plans to tear the house down and build something new on its lot.
Historic buildings often suffer structural infirmities. And fixing them doesn't come cheap. But TLC has revived many an abused old building - and revived a piece of its city's history along with it.
From what I could tell, the Glen Cove house isn't an extreme case. According to Harris County tax appraisers, the house's condition is ``above average.'' Termites may have chewed some of the house's trim, but it's hard to see how they could hurt a steel frame. And the house certainly looks solid, both from the street and in photos that the previous owner used to market it.
I asked Mincberg to share the inspectors' report with me. He declined.
I trust he'd be more transparent in his dealings with the Astrodome.
Does running government "like a business" include transparency? Hmm, that's refreshing to know.