Uptown has only completed a small fraction of the controversial real estate deals needed to tear up and widen Post Oak Blvd. A review of the only six transactions show most of them have links to officials on the Uptown Board.
Uptown fought for months to keep any of their completed real estate deals secret, after promising a transparent process. We now know on five of the deals, Uptown created records detailing the identity of owners of the property being bought with tax money. Purchase agreements or real estate contracts were signed before the money changed hands.
The owner of a vital stretch of property along Post Oak Blvd at San Felipe wanted to keep his real estate deal with Uptown a secret. It was a deal for 2189 square feet.
Uptown says it did the $606,000 real estate deal based only on an appraisal approved by the Uptown Right of Way Committee, so identifying the owner wasn’t necessary. Dolcefino Consulting has filed a criminal complaint alleging the committee has no records of when it met, or what it approved. Uptown lawyers know that violations of The Texas Open Meetings Act could void the real estate transactions.
In the meantime, Dolcefino Consulting will be exposing the real estate money trail. In our view that’s what this transit project is really all about.
Based on Uptown’s own records, Dinerstein Companies didn’t even own the property when it was appraised for the bus project. It was owned by Edens. In case you are keeping track of this growing maze of conflicts, one of the members of Uptown’s Board is Chad Braun. Braun is managing director for Edens, Braun didn’t file any documents detailing any potential conflicts in the Uptown bus
project, but there is little doubt that Edens knew two years ago some of their land would be sold to Uptown for the project.
So here is the question. We know Uptown paid 606,000 dollars. We know Dinerstein companies deeded the property in return, but we don’t know who eventually got the money. Was it Dinerstein companies, or did Eden make the right of way deal part of their deal to sell the property?
It matters. Here is one of the reasons why.
Uptown is a management district but has been silent on the planned skyscraper on the Dinerstein property right on the corner of San Felipe and Post Oak, even though the traffic study used to justify the project has been exposed as questionable, to say the least.
Uptown knows the Vantage Dinerstein Property will build this massive building just ten feet from the Cosmo Condominiums. Still silence.
Is there a connection? The Dinerstein property is among the first to be sold for the right of way project that so many Uptown officials will personally benefit from.
That’s why the District Attorney should investigate the conflicts of interest. That is why the Mayor should halt this real estate game before any more taxpayer money is spent.
Spending tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer money for a bus project when the City of Houston is 160 million dollars in debt doesn’t pass the smell test.
You can track developments in our Uptown investigation on www.saveuptown.com.