August 18, 2005
The Astrodome Village

I'm not sure what surprises me more - that there's a plan to turn the Astrodome into a make-believe village of things that mostly don't exist in Houston (the reason being in some cases that we've bulldozed them to build something more modern), or that the Astrodome Redevelopment Corp got nearly a half-billion dollars in funding to make it happen.

An investment company has obtained financing for a $450 million project that would transform the Reliant Astrodome into a 1,200-room convention hotel with a winding indoor waterway, county officials said Wednesday.

The county, which owns the 40-year-old landmark that once was called the Eighth Wonder of the World, has yet to greenlight the project. But by obtaining financing and providing renderings and economic studies , the investment company convinced the Harris County Sports & Convention Corp. that its plan is viable.

"If they can get it financed, that goes a long way toward saying that it can work," said Willie Loston, director of the Sports and Convention Corp., which oversees Reliant Park.

The developer's proposal calls for nine acres of the Astrodome's interior to be reserved for trees, walkways, mill wheels and the waterway, which would be plied by tourist boats similar to the ones on San Antonio's River Walk.

Astrodome Redevelopment Corp., the investment company, said the project's theme would be the Best of Texas, and it would feature buildings that evoked the state's past. A building designed to look like a historic Texas courthouse would be at the interior's center.

"It literally would be a village under glass," Loston said.

Truly, I am at a loss for words.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on August 18, 2005 to Elsewhere in Houston | TrackBack

Somehow I envision a half completed project where the investors make out like bandits, walk away from it and the public is left to clean up the mess.

Posted by: Vernon Guy on August 18, 2005 10:26 AM

"If they can get it financed...."

I'm sure Harris County will be more than happy to contribute. And we'll ultimately pour more money down that rat hole than it would cost to 'doze it.

Posted by: Charles M on August 18, 2005 10:33 AM

Just the other day, I was thinking "Why don't we have any hotels inside of run-down old sports facilities?"

And then it hit me. Because the voters aren't getting screwed into subsidizing that kind of wasteful idiocy.

I still think it should be turned into a prison for people who come up with these idiotic ideas.

Posted by: Laurence Simon on August 18, 2005 10:55 AM

" convinced the Harris County Sports & Convention Corp. that its plan is viable."

Is that supposed to serve as some sort of benchmark?

Posted by: ttyler5 on August 18, 2005 1:57 PM