It may have cost $8.5 million, but the city now can safely say that the Water Wall near the Galleria is safe from being razed and potentially turned into another high-rise or shopping center.
Within the past year, that was far from a certainty. Officials with the Uptown Development Authority and the city had been negotiating to buy the 3-acre plot that houses the 64-foot wall and the surrounding park before it was put on the market last year.
Eventually, the land was acquired along with the Williams Tower by a subsidiary of Hines Interests, one of the Houston-based companies that originally helped develop it. Hines has agreed to sell the wall and park to the city. The deal still requires approval from City Council.
"I'm sure the number of Houstonians and tourists is over a million who have visited the water wall, had dates and picnics and many weddings," Mayor Bill White said. "This is now a landmark of the city and if we waited to make an offer until the land was sold and bulldozers came in, the taxpayers would have to pay an exorbitant amount to preserve it."