Seems like forever ago preservationists were fighting to save the Harwood K. Smith-designed office building at 2505 Turtle Creek Boulevard -- which, at 8 a.m. on a Sunday morning in April 2008, was bulldozed out of existence. As you may recall, Canadian developer Great Gulf Homes bought the property with the intention of building a boutique hotel. But in the 17 months since demolition, nothing's been developed on the site, save for a lush lawn and a for-lease sign bearing Newt Walker's phone number.
I hadn't noticed the sign till this morning, so I called Walker to ask what was up: Did GGH still plan on building a hotel, or had the economy cratered their aspirations?
"The family that bought the property did so during the peak of the market, and then the market collapsed," Walker tells Unfair Park. "Nobody is doing new hotels unless the city makes it happen. Look at the St. Regis." He's referring, of course, to the high-end hotel once scheduled for planting on the Katy Trail that also has been delayed till who knows when. How long ago the spring of '08 now seems.
"The family that owns the property is financially strong," Walker says. "They'll stay on it till the market comes back, at which point they will pursue the development plans they originally had." He says the rental sign refers to a 15,000-square foot building on the property, which he hopes to lease to a short-termer from whom he can make some rental revenue to cover property taxes.
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"Great Gulf Homes, they have a lot of money, they love the site, it's very unique -- there's a park on three sides -- and they plan on developing when the market comes 'round. But they're realistic," Walker says. "They know it's not going to happen in a year. I don't know if it's three years from now. But I'm gonna get some kind of revenue from the existing building, which is nondescript but very pleasant."