Putting the cart before the horse
Uptown has bought only eight properties for their controversial plan to tear up and widen Post Oak for that exorbitantly expensive and unwanted bus lane project.
Just 8 of the 39 properties needed.
So why is the Mayor and City Council silent as Uptown announces plans to tear up the trees and medians on Post Oak between San Felipe at 610 this July, before they even own most of the property they need for the project?
Take a closer look at the few real estate deals cut and you might figure it out.
Maybe it is just a big fat coincidence, but most of the payouts so far have gone to financial interests of Uptown Board Members.
The whole deal smells. Uptown officials push the project, convincing the feds and state to use grant money, then they are the first to get to the bank.
The latest deals involve Uptown Board Member Steve Lerner, the President and CEO of Redstone Companies. Uptown records show he is the contact for the two latest right of way properties to close. Uptown paid $726,000. That is $65,000 more than it first said the properties were worth. Of course, Uptown has tried to keep it all secret, fighting release of real estate records.
And the committee set up by Uptown to make sure that all these cozy real estate deals were fair, did not even keep records of when they met, or what they did.
Among the first to cash in was Kendall Miller, the Uptown Chairman. He’s also the real estate developer who was put on Mayor Turner’s team to decide future transit. Huh?
Ask yourself why Uptown is rushing to start tearing up the road before they even own the properties? Lawsuits are certain over damages.
Ask yourself why Uptown would want to create Galleria Gridlock on a torn up Post Oak Road right before the Super Bowl, destroying the sales tax base of the exclusive retail area?
Ask yourself why Uptown is being allowed to spend all this money when the City has to layoff folks?
Ask yourself why Uptown has decided to put aside projects to fix the Arboretum, which tens of thousands enjoy, so they can create bus lanes and buy special buses to replace the buses that are often empty on Post Oak now?
It is simple. A big fat conflict of interest. It is insane to allow the Uptown Board to vote on a deal that most of them will make money. All these developers get taxpayers to pay for utility improvements, buy their land at premium prices, and taxpayers get to swallow the public debt. Sweet deal. For them.
Uptown is putting the cart before the horse, but they are doing it on purpose. Once you start tearing up the trees, you might as well do the rest!
Construction 4-pager 6.24.15