HOUSTON - KHOU 11 News was given exclusive access to an abandoned downtown building Thursday that has been forbidden to the public for nearly two decades.
Partners of SFK Development, Inc., who have owned the former Days Inn for 5 years, said they wanted viewers to see the current conditions of the building and view the work efforts being made to clean up the property.
City officials met with the owners of the 801 St. Joseph Parkway building Tuesday to discuss alleged safety issues and blight that has persisted at the vacant building since 1998.
City officials say they are requiring the owners to secure the property, remove all of the windows and broken glass, remove exterior graffiti and hire a 24-hour security guard for the building.
“If you are owning a property, it is that property owner’s responsibility, not just because we say so, but because the state of Texas says so,” said city neighborhoods department director TaKasha Francis.
All of this must be completed within the next three weeks, Francis said.
The city confirmed it will possibly pursue citations and liens if the changes are not made within that time frame.
One of the owners said they would not be able to afford a round-the-clock security guard because it would cost nearly $500,000 a year.
The former hotel has been designated a dangerous building by the city.
KHOU 11 News found work crews cleaning up glass and removing windows Thursday from some of the building’s gutted 30-floor property.
A contractor and an 8-person crew escalated their work on the building this week following the meeting with the city, boarding up exterior windows, cleaning glass and debris from the surrounding streets and even building a brick wall to deter trespassers.
He said they are beginning to clean the graffiti from the exterior and will be placing large cinder blocks at the entrances to the property.
The contractor told KHOU 11 News if work progress continues at this rate, the building will be completely gutted and cleaned by the end of the summer.
SFK Development, Inc. owners say they are nearly 90 percent finished with a hotel development plan for the building.
They say the project is expected to cost $85 million dollars and are still seeking financing for the project. They also say they would like to have the city assist them with financing so that they can move forward at a greater pace and hopefully attract more investors.
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