Houston

Apartments near Minute Maid Park set to be demolished

The Lofts on the Ballpark are already fenced off and demolition seems imminent regardless of a federal pause on the I-45 enlargement project.

HOUSTON — Activists with Stop TxDOT I-45 marched in opposition to TxDOT’s I-45 expansion project in downtown Houston Tuesday night time.

The controversial plan to widen I-45 is on pause whereas the Federal Highway Administration investigates the project’s impression on low-income and minority communities. Despite the pause, TxDOT seems to be shifting ahead on a significant demolition — sparking backlash in the neighborhood.

“Houston is not ready for what this project will bring,” Michael Morris stated.

The Lofts on the Ballpark are already fenced off and look to be prepared to be torn down. The flats near Minute Maid Park now sit vacant. TxDOT bought the property and helped relocate residents elsewhere. All of it occurred earlier than the feds ordered a pause on the project due to an ongoing civil rights investigation. It’s why TxDOT says it is prepared to transfer ahead.

That’s not sitting nicely with Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee.

“They were only supposed to take 165 units,” Jackson Lee stated. “They’re taking 375.”

Jackson Lee was again in Washington Tuesday night time attempting to cease the demolition. Back in Houston, protesters marched, working to do the identical.

“If TxDOT tears down these buildings this week or any week, that sends a message that TxDOT doesn’t care about the concerns of the community,” Morris stated.

Activists stated there is no want to demolish any buildings till after the feds conclude their investigation. They stated it would show the I-45 enlargement project negatively and disproportionately impacts Black and brown communities.

“Tearing down dense housing next to transit for a highway is a complete opposite way we should be going as a city,” protester Kevin Quist stated.

TxDOT has not particularly answered when the flats will really come down, however they did ship on this assertion:

“TxDOT acquired this property after the property proprietor requested superior acquisition and we got here to settlement on phrases for acquisition in June 2021. As of May 2022, all tenants have been efficiently relocated in compliance with 49 Code of Federal Regulations Part 24 – Uniform Relocation Assistance (URA) Regulations. Delaying demolition presents important public well being and security considerations and would require resources to maintain the buildings secured.

“Vacant buildings such as these have attracted illicit and illegal activity which would be burdensome to the city, local communities, businesses in the vicinity and potentially exposes TxDOT to an array of liabilities. TxDOT has consistently been responsive to and respectful of FHWA’s terms and conditions regarding the NHHIP “pause” and demo of this property is NOT in conflict with those terms, neither in rule nor spirit.”

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