We are getting closer to a Dynamo Stadium deal.
The city of Houston has offered more than $15.5 million to buy five downtown blocks that could be the future site of a soccer stadium for the Houston Dynamo.
The City Council will consider the deal Wednesday, but is expected to delay approval for at least a week.
The purchase price assumes the land is worth $49 per square foot, almost four times the assessed value of $12.50 per square foot set by the Harris County Appraisal District.
The five blocks are owned by various corporate entities controlled by former Councilman Louis Macey. To acquire a sixth block, owned by a different company, the city has offered to swap a nearby block it already owns.
The six-block tract is between Texas and Walker streets on the north and south, and Hutchins and Dowling streets, just east of U.S. 59 in the "warehouse district." The area recently has undergone some loft-style residential development.
The land will be used for a Dynamo stadium only if the city can reach an agreement with the soccer team owners, said Andy Icken, deputy director for Public Works and Engineering.
"They identified this tract of land as one in which they would be interested," Icken said Monday. Negotiations with the team are continuing. Mayor Bill White has said he does not want public funds used for the actual stadium construction.
City officials are not saying what the land's ultimate use will be. They have conceded that a soccer stadium is one possibility, but also have mentioned a new police headquarters, affordable housing or mixed-use development. The city also could sell the land if nothing works out.
That uncertainty troubles District C Councilwoman Anne Clutterbuck.
"Anytime we are spending taxpayer dollars ... I think we need to have some more clarity as to what it's for," she said. "I'm a firm believer that we shouldn't use property tax dollars to fund stadiums."
"My preference is to get a stadium," said Councilman James Rodriguez, whose District I contains the tract. If a soccer stadium does not materialize, Rodriguez said the purchase still is a good deal.
"We're in the driver's seat," he said, "We're extending the boundaries of downtown."
"I think it's a good price," said Dan Nip, chairman of the East Downtown Redevelopment Authority, which operates Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone 15.
That TIRZ eventually may pay the city back for the purchase of the land, said Robert Fiederlein, the mayor's TIRZ adviser.
I think there's a lot of potential for good in this deal. This is a great location for a soccer stadium. I love that it's transit-friendly (maybe a bit too friendly). It may make great financial sense for the city. But all of this depends on the details, and we don't have those yet. I look forward to seeing the final plan, and I hope it lives up to all this potential.Posted by Charles Kuffner on February 19, 2008 to Other sports