July 08, 2007
Astro Weeds

Apparently, the site of the former AstroWorld has become an overgrown eyesore that has attracted the city's attention.

This week, the city gave the owners 30 days to clean up the former AstroWorld location or possibly face fines up to $1,500 as well as a cleanup bill.

Angel-McIver Interests, a Conroe-based land development company, bought the site for $77 million in 2005 from Six Flags Inc. when the property value rose and attendance began declining.

"It's been too wet to mow," said Michael McIver, president of Angel-McIver. "As soon as the weather clears up, we will mow it." He added that the property has been mowed twice since his company bought it.

This week, an inspector from the Houston Police Department's Neighborhood Protection Corps left a notice on the north entrance fence that said the owners are in violation of the "neighborhood nuisances" article in the city's Code of Ordinances.

The code exists to keep up appearances but, most importantly, to keep pests away, according to Jodi Silva, a spokeswoman for the corps.

"When you have high weeds, you are making a breeding ground for mosquitoes, and snakes can live in there, and rats," she said. "It's just a potential health hazard."

I've mentioned this before, but it bears repeating: The nuisance value from letting a piece of land become a breeding ground for vermin is very high. I'm in favor of just about any reasonable measures to fix such a situation.

A good question: How long should we expect that lot to sit empty?

Dismantling of the park rides began in early January 2006, with selected pieces of nostalgia later offered for bid. Richard and Nancy Foisner, of Kingwood, paid $500 for a railroad crossbuck sign.


McIver said the company thought about leasing the property for parking, but the costs of paving it outweighed the gains. "The short-term use was not economically feasible," he said.

When the company acquired the property, officials said a mixed-use transit-oriented development was planned. It would include residential housing, offices, shops and a hotel, with the light rail being rerouted through the property. The company expects to release specific plans Aug. 1.

So after more than a year and a half of lying fallow, we'll get some idea of what the timeline might be. I know this sort of thing is not uncommon (it's also been since January of 2006 that the old Ed Sacks Waste Paper site was demolished, with no signs of any action since then), but it still feels weird to me. What was the rush to demolish in the first place?

Anyway. There's a nifty sidebar on the now-unused bridge over the South Loop, which was the first ever privately-owned overpass over a highway in the US. And on a side note, does anyone else find all of the Six Flags ads that have been running on local teevee to be a bit disconcerting? You'd think they'd be a bit more clear about the fact that you have to go to Dallas or San Antonio to use those Six Flags tickets they're pushing.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on July 08, 2007 to Elsewhere in Houston

I think I may have to call "Neighborhood Protection" on the Ed Sacks site, as, like the Astroworld site, it's starting to get overgrown.

On the fourth, I walked down to the Montrose bridge to watch the fireworks, and the weeds on the terrace was so tall it turned a sidewalk into a narrow path - and with the foot traffic in the area, that wasn't good.

Posted by: Michael W. Jones on July 8, 2007 10:48 AM