February 25, 2004
Chevron buys Enron building

ChevronTexaco will buy that grand monument of riches-to-rags excess, the new Enron building. They'll move some 500 non-Houstonians (from New Orleans, Midland, and San Ramon) into it, as well as employees from their other downtown locations.

A couple of points of interest to me:

1. The picture of the building is taken from Smith Street, even though the official address of the tower is 1500 Louisiana Street. The circular walkway that you see connects it to the original Enron building, the one that had the crooked E in front of it, at 1400 Smith. That building was put up for sale in August.

2. The new building was bought by Intell Management for $102 million in 2002. The story doesn't mention a price tag, but I'd bet Intell did not make any money off this sale.

3. The two buildings that ChevronTexaco own downtown, which will be sold off as part of this deal, are the Chevron Tower near Two Houston Center and the downtown mall, and the architecturally interesting Texaco Heritage Plaza, which is about a mile west of the Chevron Tower. I've had the opportunity to visit each building as part of my job. THP has some excellent views out its west-facing windows. I've said it before and I'll say it again - I wish there were some more observation decks in a couple of our downtown office buildings. I'm pleased to note that there is at least one, which I need to check out one of these days.

UPDATE: Here's the full story from today's front page, which among other thing tells me that Texaco Heritage Plaza is not owned by ChevronTexaco. Oops. Still no word on the purchase price, but we do have this tidbit:

The investors who bought it for $102 million at a bankruptcy auction, New York-based Intell Management & Investment Co., tried to distance the building from its history by calling it 1500 Louisiana, but it still was commonly called the Enron Building.


The sale price was not disclosed, but Intell President Gary Barnett said in a release, "Kudos to them for acquiring a trophy building at a fraction of its cost."

At the time of the Intell purchase, many said $102 million was less than half of what it would cost Enron to complete the unfinished tower.

ChevronTexaco also will get a break from the city: It will pay taxes on the building's $80 million base value, the mayor said. The company is expected to add $45 million in improvements.

Make of that what you will. The story also notes that while Intell tried to call this the "1500 Louisiana building", everyone still calls it "the Enron building". Get used to it, ChevronTexaco - I still call our city's tallest structure "the Transco Tower", and you'll never hear me utter the words "Reliant Astrodome".

Posted by Charles Kuffner on February 25, 2004 to Enronarama | TrackBack

Actually, the Transco/Williams Tower is not the tallest building in Houston. That would be the Chase Tower.

It is strange to me that ChevronTexaco is still going to keep its Fournace offices open, despite this new space.

Posted by: kevin whited on February 26, 2004 7:55 AM

I could swear I've read that Transco/Williams is the tallest, but I guess not. It's still Transco to me regardless. :-)

The Fournace location is where CT has its servers and network equipment, or at least that's where it was when I last visited a few years ago. That's way more expensive to move than cube-dwellers, so it makes sense to me that it will stick around.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on February 26, 2004 8:25 AM

What I had always heard is that the Transco/Williams Tower is the tallest building outside of a central business district in the U.S.:


Posted by: Kyle on February 26, 2004 8:45 AM

I can't even stop calling the Summit the Summit, never mind the Astrodome or the Enron building. And Barad Transco will always be Barad Transco, with the Eye swinging around at night.

The new Enron building wasn't the Enron building for decades--it will eventually change names. Or so I'm sure the new owners would like to think ...

Posted by: Ginger on February 26, 2004 11:37 AM

Yep, Chase Tower (f/k/a Texas Commerce Tower) is the tallest.

You should go up to the observation deck. It's a nice view, especially at night. They also have a small exhibit on the building's construction (if you like architecture) and on the Joan Miro sculpture at the tower's base.

Posted by: Kenneth Fair on February 26, 2004 5:54 PM

Actually White may have promised CVX too much too soon on the tax abatements. Harris County was not closely consulted as was even his own Houston City Council about granting the abatements to a company already with a strong presence in Houston, even thou HQ'd in suburban San Francisco.

CVX management is threatening to back out without the tax abatements already "promised". White is looking pretty foolish jumping the gun for a good sound bite/press announcement.

Posted by: "Bamba" Bambadeli on March 10, 2004 5:32 PM

Actually... not only is the Transco Tower not the tallest building in Houston, it's not even the second tallest. Chase is 1,000ft tall and First Interstate Bank Plaza comes in at 972ft. Transco is 'only' 901ft tall. See this URL for more: http://architecture.about.com/library/bltall.htm

Posted by: Brian Myers on November 2, 2005 6:03 AM

Transco IS the world's tallest building *outside of a central business district* or "suburbs".

See: http://architecture.about.com/library/bl-johnson-transco.htm

Posted by: Edith on November 3, 2005 7:35 AM