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Houston Maritime Museum
Harris County
Houston City Council
by Jim Guidry with photos courtesy H-TV
Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Houston City Council today voted to approve an ordinance relating to the development of a new convention center hotel to be located on Walker Street within 1,000 feet of the George R. Brown Convention Center.  Listen

“We just made history folks,” said Council Member James Rodriguez, who represents the downtown area where the hotel will reside.  “It’s another great day in the city of Houston, another positive day for our community and we’re going to create a lot of jobs for this community and our city.”

At a news conference following the meeting, developer Ira Mitzner said it has been a rigorous process getting to this point  Listen

“We’re excited because as a company based here in Houston, a family company based in Houston for the last 30 years, we get to take some of the expertise that we have learned and honed in other locations and bring it home to our home city of Houston.”

Mitzner said the new hotel, which will enhance the downtown convention center area, will feature a sky river in the shape of Texas, “the first Lazy River in the world, on top of a 40,000 square foot ballroom”.

Council Member Michael Sullivan cast the only vote against the hotel.

Sullivan and Helena Brown cast the only votes against the creation of a new parking benefit district within the Washington Avenue Corridor.  Listen

Council Member Ellen Cohen, who represents the area, thanked her fellow council members for supporting the parking district.

“I really appreciate your interest, your questions,” she said.  “I think it challenged us to come together to put together a pilot project that, while not perfect, I think is in the right direction.”

The city council voted unanimously to confirm Mayor Annise Parker’s appointment of Marvin J. Hamilton to the Independent Police Oversight Board, where he also will serve as chair.

The city council voted unanimously to designate Tax Reinvestment Zone 24 in the eastern portion of the Central Business District in cooperation with Harris County Commissioners Court. Listen

Three citizens spoke at a public hearing on the TIRZ, seeking inclusion of the Warehouse District in the zone to foster development in their area.  Members of the city council were sympathetic to the request, but suggested that they should seek inclusion of TIRZ 3, which is still in the planning stage.

City Controller Ronald Green and Finance Director Kelly Dowe made their monthly reports to the city council regarding the current financial status of the city. Listen

Several items were tagged, or delayed for one week, by individual members of the city council.

Council Member Jerry Davis tagged two recommendations from the Director of Public Works:

  • Approval of final contract amount of $5,392,363.11 and acceptance of work on contract with Angel Brothers Enterprises, Ltd. for an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act project; and
  • Approval of a final contract amount of $1,824,082.24 and acceptance of work on contract with Texas Reexcavation, L.C. for wastewater collection system rehabilitation and renewal.

Sullivan tagged four items:

  • An ordinance authorizing a $4,450,000 agreement for professional legal services between the City of Houston and Zuckert Scoutt & Rasenberger, LLP for specialized aviation legal Services for the benefit of the Houston Airport System;
  • An ordinance authorizing a $1.4 million agreement for professional legal services between the City of Houston and Kaplan Kirsch & Rockwell, LLP for specialized aviation legal services for the benefit of the Houston Airport System;
  • An ordinance authorizing a $1,875,000 contract between the City of Houston and Intervistas Consulting LLC for professional aviation consulting services for the Houston Airport System;
  • An ordinance appropriating $2,182,000 out of HAS Consolidated 2001 NONAMT Construction Fund and $16,748,000 out of Airports Improvement Fund as an additional appropriation for construction phase services for the design building agreement between the City of Houston and MICA Corporation for exterior way-finding roadway signage at George Bush Intercontinental Airport/Houston; providing funding for engineering testing services and for contingencies; and providing funding for the Civic Art Program.

Sullivan cast the only vote against ad valorem tax exemptions for 16 designated historical sites.

All other agenda items were approved, but Brown voted against several:

  • A $251,398 contract with HLK Auto Group, Inc. for utility vehicles from the State of Texas Procurement and Support Services contract through the State of Texas Cooperative Purchasing Program for the Houston Police Department;
  • Amendments to several ordinances to increase the maximum contract amounts for various contracts for HIV/STD Services related to Social Marketing, Health Education/Risk Reduction, Counseling, Testing and Referral Services, and School-Based Program between the City and several contractors;
  • An increase in the maximum contract amount in a contract between the City and Memorial  Hermann Healthcare System for Implementation of routine HIV screening services
  • An amendment to a contract between the City of Houston and Child Care Council of Greater Houston  providing up to $153,000.00 in additional Community Development Block Grant Funds for the continuing implementation, oversight and delivery of a Child Care Program;
  • An ordinance  authorizing reconstruction of sixteen single family homes and providing $999,213 of Community Development Block Grant Funds and $394,3770 of Community Development Block Grant (Disaster Recovery) Funds for the reconstruction projects;
  • A contract  between the City of Houston and DLA Piper LLP (US) for legal services related to regulatory compliance in the context of Medicare, Medicaid and/or other federally funded health care billing;
  • A municipal setting designation ordinance prohibiting the use of designated groundwater beneath a tract of land containing 64.75 acres at 5425 Polk Street; and
  • A municipal setting designation ordinance prohibiting the use of designated groundwater beneath a tract of land containing 4.504 acres at 1216 Houston Avenue and 1300 Dart Street.
Mayor Parker wore a New England Patriots jersey throughout the meeting, having lost a friendly bet on Monday's game against the Texans.



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