Update: Dave Cook with Cushman & Wakefield confirms that the Alliance Residential Group is the winning bid for the old Heights waterworks, a two-acre site between West 19th and West 20th streets. He said that the bid amount will not be made public until the purchase is voted on by City Council.
The company has announced a public meeting at the Heights Fire Station at 107 W. 12th St. at Yale on November 29 at 6:30 p.m. to share with the public their plans for a mixed use development. The announcement for that meeting says that “per statute, the city can only accept the highest bid for sale.”
According to the company Linkedin page, “Alliance is one of the largest, private U.S. multifamily companies with 35 regional offices throughout the nation” and is a “a fully-integrated company focused on the development, acquisition, construction and management of residential and mixed-use communities in the United States.”
More details as they become available.
A real estate mystery will soon be solved. Back in May, the City of Houston put the old Heights waterworks up for sale. Now Dave Cook with Cushman & Wakefield, the firm that had the listing, says that the city has made a decision but has not yet announced it.
Whoever comes out the winner no doubt has big plans for the space – and paid a lot for it. In Preservation Houston’s description of the two-acre site between West 19th and West 20th streets, it lists the 750,000-gallon brick reservoir building from 1928 that’s on the National Register of Historic Places, as well as an 1939 Art Deco pumping station built by the Works Progress Administration and a 1949 pumping station.
Preservation Houston notes that the decommissioned water plant is a City of Houston protected landmark, which means it cannot be demolished, but a certified rehabilitation of the historic structures could qualify for city preservation incentives with the approval of the Houston Archeological & Historical Commission and City Council.
It also said in May of 2016 that it had been in contact with Texas Historical Commission, which indicated that the block containing the waterworks could also be designated a National Register historic district. Preservation Houston said that if the designation were carried out, an approved rehabilitation or adaptive re-use could qualify for both state and federal preservation incentives. They forwarded the sale information to developers who might be interested in the project.
The possibilities abound with the site. An underground reservoir which was in operation at the same time as the Heights waterworks is now a very popular visitor attraction. The Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern is open to the public for tours which regularly sell out.
According to Cook, there was a lot of interest in the Heights property, which is no surprise as it sits at the west end of the mail commercial street in the Heights on 19th St. Between the new offerings on 19th, like the Heights Theatre and Bryan Danna’s development at 19th and Shepherd, and the spate of new restaurants along Shepherd, there is a development boom, punctuated by the potential H-E-B on the old Fiesta site.
Land this valuable won’t be cheap. Although Cook is mum on the asking price, the nearby Heights Theatre, which also has landmark status, might offer some clues. HCAD listed the appraised value for HEIGHTS THEATER LLC at $637,094. However Swamplot reported that the asking price for the theatre was $1.9 million, compared to the $1.3 million that the owners wanted the first time they put it up for sale in 2008.
The Heights theatre was only .15 of an acre, while the waterworks offers a 2-acre tract along with a nearby 1.8 acre second tract.
Once the deal is announced, the sale still has to be approved by the City Council, as it is a city owned property. Cook said that the whole process moved more slowly with the property due to the unique nature of its structures and the requirements to get it ready for sale. He estimates that the announcement from the city will come in the next few weeks.