January 07, 2008
Arabia Shrine Center sale finalized

Nancy Sarnoff brings the news.

Homeowners aren't the only ones feeling the sting of rising property taxes.

The owners of the Arabia Shrine Center said mounting tax bills caused them to sell their property.

"It's regrettable, but the ever-increasing taxes just make it prohibitive," said John McDonald, a local official of the fraternal organization, noting that the property's 2006 tax assessment was $108,000. "There was no relief in sight."

Apartment developer Ameriton Properties bought the 7.75-acre site at 2900 North Braeswood between Kirby and Buffalo Speedway.

The sale price was not disclosed, but a source familiar with the deal said Ameriton bid more than $21 million, or $63 per square foot.

That's very interesting, because according to this Sarnoff column back in March, which I blogged about at the time, that's a considerable increase over what was estimated back then:

Creech, of Stan Creech Properties, said the Shriners property could sell for upwards of $45 a square foot, or $11.4 million based on increasing values in the inner city.

That's a pretty hefty increase in nine months, wouldn't you say? Now compare the sale price to the county's appraised value:

The property was appraised at $3.3 million in 2007, according to Harris County tax records.

Appraised at $3.3 million, sold for $21 million. That's about 15% of the sales price. I realize that this still left the Shriners with a tax bill they couldn't afford, and I'm very sad to see them go (and to eventually see yet another apartment complex replace that cool building), but doesn't that huge disparity suggest that something is very wrong with the method by which the county appraises properties? How can they be off by nearly an order of magnitude from what the market can and will bear?

Oh, and one more thing, again from that March column:

The 144,632-square-foot facility that's hosted arts galas, roller derbies and other fundraisers was appraised at $3.5 million in 2006, according to Harris County tax records.

So, sales price nearly doubles, yet tax appraisal goes down. What's up with that?

Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 07, 2008 to Elsewhere in Houston