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Harris County
Houston City Council
by Jim Guidry with photos courtesy H-TV
Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Houston City Council today voted 15-1, with Michael Sullivan opposed, to authorize  an economic development agreement with OMB Houston, LP for the development, construction and operation of a mixed-use residential, retail and commercial development at 4444 Westheimer Road, “including the expansion of Bettis Street and connection between Mid Lane and West Creek, green space, Westheimer Road improvements, signalization sidewalks and other frontage improvements including pedestrian access, water and wastewater lines, burial of electric utilities and off-site storm water upgrades that will serve a larger area”.

OMB intends to invest approximately $275 million to redevelop the property into a mixed use project that will include 279 apartment units, a parking garage, a movie theater, and 350,000 square feet of retail and 65,000 square feet of office space.

“The city proposes to reimburse OMB 100 percent of the city’s portion of the incremental increase of its sales and use tax revenues generated at the property,” explained Chief Development Officer Andrew Icken in the staff report.  “The city will retain the increase in ad valorem taxes generated.”

"It is important that the city of Houston use it's economic incentives judiciously," Sullivan said to Guidry News Service after the meeting. "We should be careful in how we hand them out. These are taxpayer dollars, or forgiveness of taxes that come at the expense of others. While I pride myself on being a private sector, pro-business advocate, the success of this project clearly did not teeter on the city's incentives."

The city council voted 15-1, with Sullivan opposed, to authorize an economic development agreement with Centerpointe Hotel Partners for the development of a complex of hotels.

The city council voted unanimously to submit a few proposed “housekeeping” amendments to the City Charter to the voters on the November election ballot. Documents

The proposed amendments are “to repeal various sections that are obsolete or have been superseded by state and/or federal law and to remove obsolete references to party primaries and partisan elections, to address the impact of current election laws and procedures and to recognize the existence of council districts in initiative, referendum and recall processes.

Council Member Jack Christie suggested that the city council should consider major revisions of the charter.  Listen

“These are good riddance of deadwood that doesn’t belong there,” Christie said. “I encourage updating the charter this way.”

“Clearly there is a lot of stuff in the charter,” Mayor Annise Parker said.  “The charter is very old.  I would liken this to just pruning it a little bit.  In order to make substantive changes you’d have to have a charter commission and a long and formal process.”

The city council voted unanimously to confirm the mayor’s appointment of Jeffrey Nielsen and Deborah A. Yocham to the Lake Houston Redevelopment authority Board of Directors and Reinvestment Zone Number 10 Board of Directors.

Members of the city council each made nominations to the new Public Safety Advisory Committee Board of Directors. Listen

“As you know we have revised what was the Police Advisory Committee into the Public Safety Advisory Committee, recognizing that the interrelated nature of so much of the work that our first responders do, recognizing that citizens wanted an avenue into the fire department just as they do into the police department, and into actually our homeland security issues as well,” Parker said, explaining that the members of city council can participate with her in making appointments to the committee.

Helena Brown nominated Ross Dos Santos; Jerry Davis nominated Ramona Tolliver; Ellen Cohen nominated Pat Nicholls; Wanda Adams nominated Manson Johnson; Sullivan nominated Nick Crnkovic; Al Hoang nominated Sandy Reyes; Oliver Pennington, who was absent, presented his nomination of Frank Jones through Melissa Noreiga; Ed Gonzalez nominated Blake Masters; James Rodriguez nominated Johnny Sessums;  Mike Laster nominated Samuel Burton; Larry Green nominated Lovella Hayes Dickson; Stephen Costello nominated Teri LaRosa; Andrew Burks nominated Vivian King; Noriega nominated Beverly Jo Cage; C.O. Bradford nominated Robert L. Crane; and Christie nominated Art Pronin.  The city council voted unanimously to close the nominations.

The city council voted 15-1, with Brown opposed, to amend the City of Houston Citizen Participation Plan for the Consolidated Plan to add information relating to the Economic Development Initiative/Section 108 Program.

The city council voted 15-1, with Brown opposed, to submit a request to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development to amend the city’s Economic Development Initiative Grant Agreement to add certain program activities and permitted use of funds.

The city council voted 15-1, with Brown opposed, to approve an agreement with the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston to provide a grant of $675,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds for construction of the St. Monica Food Pantry at 8421 West Montgomery Road.

The city council voted 15-1, with Green opposed, to increase the maximum amount in a contract with Phonoscope, Inc. for high-capacity, fiber circuit services for the Information Technology Department to $615,933.08.

The city council voted 15-1, with Sullivan opposed, to designate the Meldrum House at 2411 Stanmore Drive as an historic landmark.

Only one item was delayed for one week by use of the city council tag rule.  Sullivan tagged a proposed $685,000 contract with the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau for professional protocol services.

All other agenda items were approved unanimously, with Pennington absent. Agenda

The city council held a public hearing on a proposed amendment to the project plan and reinvestment zone financing plan for Reinvestment Zone Number 21, the Hardy/Near Northside Zone. Listen

City Controller Ronald Green and Finance Director Kelly Dowe updated the city council on the current financial status of the city. Listen

Mayor Parker held her regular news conference following the city council meeting. Listen


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