November 13, 2008
A hippie bohemian setback

Oh, noes!

The dream isn't dead, but it is on hold for the time being.

After months of delays related to the credit crunch, the upscale Sonoma condo and retail project planned in Rice Village has officially hit the skids.

The developer said the project is being put on hold due to economic uncertainties and tumultuous credit markets, which has kept it from securing the loan it needs to move forward with the development.

"It's an extraordinarily unusual time," said Julie Tysor, of owner Lamesa Corp. "We just think it's an intelligent thing to just take a breath, which is what many, many developers are doing across the nation."

Last month, residential developers Florida-based Turnberry Associates and Hanover Co. of Houston said they were canceling their respective projects planned for sites in the Galleria area.

Those who put down deposits for units in Sonoma are being notified today that the project is not moving forward. They will have their money returned with interest.

Tysor said the project at Bolsover and Morningside is being put on hold "for the short-term."

"It doesn't mean this development won't occur," she said. "It's an unbelievable site for a development of this nature and we wholeheartedly believe in what we designed. The buyers love the site and lenders love the site."

They just don't love it enough to actually loan the developers the money to build it right now. For sure, that block of real estate won't stay fallow for long. But who knows when those hippie bohemian attorneys will finally be able to call it home.

A portion of Bolsover, a street the developer acquired from the city to build the project, will remain closed.

As part of its contract with the city, the developers agreed to build public parking and a plaza by the middle of 2012.

"Just because we're not coming out of the ground today we have plenty of time to do what's right with this tract of land," Tysor said.

Swamplot, which had noted last month that Sonoma was still expecting financing to come through at that time, says that the Bolsover closure is a done deal.

In another development, the city of Houston said Tuesday that developer Randall Davis had successfully completed all work that was required by the extended deadline of Oct. 27.

A letter of credit through Amegy Bank for the required changes in the amount of $48,692 had been extended from July 27, 2007 and was granted July 24, 2008, Public Works Department spokesman Alvin Wright said.


Additionally, the required plugging and abandonment of the 8-inch water line within Bolsover Street, and the relocation of the existing storm sewer inlets to Bolsover and Morningside Drive have already passed inspection, Wright said.

The condition that the developer "eliminate the appearance of the public street" at the intersections of Bolsover and both Kelvin and Morningside has also been fulfilled, according to the city inspection records.


Wright said even if the work covered under the letters of credit was not completed by the deadlines, the city would not get the property back.

An updated version of the Chron story clarifies this:

Frank Michel, a spokesman for Mayor Bill White, said the city's abandonment of a street for the project has two requirements: one, that developers get utilities in place under the street by Sept. 1, a deadline they met; and two, that they must deliver a pedestrian walkway on the road by 2012.

If they fail to meet the latter deadline, the road will revert back to the city, but not until then, he said.

I never did get an answer to my question from Council Member Clutterbuck's office about this, but I suppose it's moot now.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on November 13, 2008 to Elsewhere in Houston
Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)