THE LEGENDS OF REAL ESTATE AWARDS 2016 – Ralph Bivins, editor of Realty News Report, has selected the most significant people, projects, deals and ideas of the Houston real estate market for 2016. These aren’t necessarily the largest or the first. But the deals point to future trends, potential gold mines, noble visions and notable accomplishments.
LEGEND: HOUSTONIAN OF THE YEAR – Ed Emmett, Harris County Judge
Harris County Judge Ed Emmett is a visionary leader who has worked tirelessly to save the The Astrodome – a landmark representing the accomplishments in engineering and entrepreneurship that symbolize Houston’s can-do spirit.
In the 1960s, Houston became Space City, a city of dreamers, achievers and leaders like President John F. Kennedy, who challenged the nation to put a man on the moon. With NASA’s new Mission Control innovating on the southeast side of town, the Astrodome was perfect stadium for Space City, which was poised on the launch pad of greatness.
The world’s original air-conditioned domed stadium, the Astrodome was baptized in its first game by Mickey Mantle who hit the Dome’s first home run on April 9, 1965 with President Lyndon Baines Johnson in attendance.
The Dome was recently designated as a “State Antiquities Landmark” by the Texas Historical Commission.
With this historical designation, the Astrodome joins the Alamo and the State Capitol as protected landmark buildings. Now, the 52-year-old stadium cannot be demolished or altered without the approval of the state commission.
The Dome has been sitting vacant for years, after the Astros and the Oilers decided the historic stadium didn’t suit their needs and financial ambitions.
In recent years, some Houstonians pushed for demolition of the empty, old Astrodome – which was once called the “Eighth Wonder of the World.” The demolition cost was expected to be over $30 million.
With threats from the bulldozer crowd looming, Judge Emmett led an effort to extensive study and planning to redevelop the Dome, which sits next to NRG Stadium.
The $105 million Dome redevelopment plan approved by the county last year will transform the underground levels of the Astrodome into two levels of 1,400 below-grade parking spaces. The 500,000 SF floor inside the Dome can be used someday for exhibits or entertainment.
The plan is a sustainable plan. Tearing down 52-year-old buildings, turning them into concrete rubble is not sustainable. Finding a new use is the right thing to do. The Astrodome can a useful structure for another hundred years – or longer.
Currently there are short-sighted elected officials and other negative organizations who are trying to extinguish Judge Emmett’s vision for a repurposed Dome. The greedy forces of Bob McNair’s Houston Texans football team and the Houston Rodeo – want the public funds to be spent on their county-owned facility – the NRG Stadium, instead of redeveloping the Dome. But why put more gold-plating on NRG Stadium, which worked just fine for the Super Bowl a few days ago.
Without a doubt, Judge Emmett will stand firm. He is a great leader and a man of vision who understands that the Astrodome represents the soul of our city. Redeveloping this great structure will be a great thing for Houston and develop a deeper sense of the importance of historic preservation. The wrecking ball claimed too many of our historic buildings over the years. Thank God for the public servants who strive to save them. Realty News Report is pleased to name Harris County Judge Ed Emmett as a Legend of Real Estate – Houstonian of the Year.
Feb. 14, 2017 Realty News Report Copyright 2017