County Judge torpedoes Astrodome Redevelopment extension

Earlier in the week, Anne Linehan noted County Judge Ed Emmett's opposition to granting the Astrodome Redevelopment utopians yet another extension of their exclusive redevelopment rights to the decrepit dome stadium.

It therefore came as no surprise that Emmett's view prevailed (as reported by the Chronicle's Bill Murphy):

A company's bid to reinvent the Astrodome as a convention hotel suffered a major setback Wednesday when a county board refused to give it more time to negotiate a lease and finalize a loan.

Entrepreneurs from Astrodome Redevelopment Co., aiming to transform the building once known as the Eighth Wonder of the World into a 1,300-room, $450 million hotel, say their quest isn't over.

But the decision made Wednesday by the Harris County Sports and Convention Corp.'s board drops the development company's exclusive right to strike a deal, allowing the county to entertain other proposals to find a second life for the venue.

"It's really up to them whether it is the death knell," said County Judge Ed Emmett, who made a rare appearance before the board to ask it not to give Astrodome Redevelopment more negotiating time. "They still can move forward."

The sports corporation's board refused to extend the negotiating period on a 4-0 vote. Board members declined to discuss the vote in detail, saying there are confidentiality provisions in the letter of intent that limit what they can divulge.

[snip]

The Dome's future rests with two bodies. The sports corporation will review options and vote on a plan. Commissioners Court gets final say.

[snip]

With the letter of intent set to expire Jan. 29, county attorney Mike Stafford notified Commissioners Court that it would be appropriate to grant a 90-day extension because county financial experts hadn't finished analyzing the deal.

Emmett, however, urged the board Wednesday to deny the extension.

"There is no financing package that has been presented to the county," he said. "We are in a circumstance that this has been going on for years. There comes a point at which you can't just keep granting extensions."

Kudos to Judge Emmett for exercising some leadership on the matter and getting the county out of what has been an unproductive holding pattern.

Both Murphy's story and Jessica Willey's reporting for KTRK-13 emphasize that nothing precludes Astrodome Redevelopment Corporation from finally putting together a solid proposal and moving forward, but the group will no longer enjoy exclusive rights to do so. So, if the Astrodome can possibly be rehabilitated into a useful property, now is the time for all interested parties to move forward with their proposals. If not, we hope the management plants plenty of trees around the new parking lot (blogHOUSTON likes trees).

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Posted by Kevin Whited @ 01/25/08 08:27 AM | Print |

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