HOUSTON – R. Allen Stanford, the convicted mastermind of one of the largest Ponzi schemes ever, had certain tastes in interior finishes.
Stanford’s predilection for dark paneling and dark granite is not a match for today’s office market.
So while Mr. Stanford resides in a federal prison serving a 110-year sentence, some changes have been taking place in his former Stanford Financial headquarters building, 5050 Westheimer, across the street from The Galleria in Houston.
A lot of the heavy paneling and black granite has been replaced and the four-story building has been altered to make it feel more light and airy, says Paul Coonrod of Stream Realty, which is leasing the property. New lighting, new landscaping and new elevator cabs help make the 71,000 square-foot building more appealing. The building’s garish monument sign is gone.
No longer does the building feel like a dark, outdated cave.
After Stanford’s empire unraveled, Black Forest Ventures of The Woodlands bought the Stanford Financial building in 2010 for $12.2 million.
The Keller Williams Metropolitan Realty leased a full floor of the building, but other tenants were slow to come. Showing the building was not easy for leasing brokers.
Potential tenants recoiled when they saw Mr. Stanford’s accouterments. His private bathroom had black granite floors, a black granite shower and a black toilet. His first floor office had a back door, for quick and easy exits.
So the building owner decided to redevelop and modernize the building and those improvements have just been completed.
The top two floors of the building, 19,000 square feet each, are cleaned up and ready to lease, Coonrod says. Without gaudy finishes, the building has a lot better chance of getting a tenant soon.