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The Midtown arts deal

I have three things to say about this.

A nonprofit group plans to build a community arts complex in Midtown with the help of up to $6 million in reimbursements from the city.

The Houston City Council this week approved a tax reimbursement deal and the $2.5 million sale of 3400 Main, currently a parking lot, to the Independent Arts Collaborative, a group created to run the facility.

The 90,000-square-foot facility will include a performance theater, rehearsal spaces, offices and classrooms, as well as make it easier for various arts groups to work together, said Emily Todd, a board member of the collaborative.


The Independent Arts Collaborative has raised $250,000 for a down payment and has financed the rest through the International Bank of Commerce. Ensemble/HCC Partners, a partnership that owns two adjacent blocks and of which developer Bob Schultz is a managing partner, is guaranteeing the loan.

The collaborative must now raise the estimated $22 million it will cost to build the project, on the block bounded by Francis, Travis, Holman and Main.

The group’s deal with the city, also known as a 380 agreement, requires the collaborative to raise at least $10 million for design and construction of the project. At least 25 full-time workers must also be employed by the building’s tenants.


The collaborative intends to deed the finished building to the city. It would then be maintained by the collaborative and managed by Houston First — recently created by the merger of the city’s Convention and Entertainment Facilities Department and the existing government corporation that runs the city-owned Hilton Americas.

According to the agreement, the city believes the project, along with new retail and parking garages on two adjacent blocks, will attract tourism and more development to the area.

Bob Schultz, who developed some of 3600 Main and the site of four businesses on 3700 Main, plans to build office space, retail and some residential units on 3500 Main and the rest of the 3600 block of Main.

1. Now this is what I call a good use of a 380 agreement. It’s helping to facilitate a deal that wouldn’t have happened otherwise, in a location where the development in question will fit with and benefit existing and future neighbors. More like this, please.

2. Clearly, Houston First is going to be about more than just managing the Convention Center. I wonder where else it will turn up. I also wonder if it was essential to this deal, or if it could have happened with the old setup.

3. Revenue from the sale of 3400 Main was part of the fiscal year 2011 budget. Good to see they got it done before the June 30 deadline. Swamplot has more.

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