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The financial crisis and the Astrodome Hotel

Financial crunch may stall effort on Astrodome hotel. Boy, nobody could have seen that one coming.

Before the financial markets tightened, Astrodome Redevelopment Co. was prepared to put up $150 million in equity — much coming in the form of historic tax credits given for preserving the iconic building once known as the Eighth Wonder of the World.

But the company likely will be required to raise as much as $225 million in equity because loan standards have become stricter during the credit crunch, said Astrodome Redevelopment president Scott Hanson.

“It’s clearly more difficult to get credit at this stage,” Hanson said.

[…]

Edgar Colon, chairman of the Harris County Sports and Convention Corp., which oversees Reliant Park, said progress continues to be made, and he is hopeful that Texans and rodeo’s concerns can be addressed.

The county will let those discussions continue until the end of March before deciding whether an impasse has been reached, he said.

So we have a new deadline, of sorts. I’m not sure how much that means any more, given how long this has dragged on. At last report, the Texans and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo had easied their opposition a bit to the Astrodome Hotel concept, for which a lease agreement had been reached in May. Also still out there is the Astrodome as movie studio, which presumably would also be affected by the credit crunch.

The Dome is hardly a top-notch facility these days. It was closed in July after the Houston Fire Marshal’s Office found that its sprinkler system lacked enough water pressure and cited the building for nine code violations.

SMG-Reliant Park, which manages the complex, and other Reliant Park companies moved more than 40 employees out of offices at the Dome, and it has been sitting empty since.

No events will be held in the Dome at the upcoming rodeo because of its building code violations, said rodeo chief operating officer Leroy Shafer.

On the bright side, maybe that means it’s costing less to maintain the Dome, since presumably the air conditioning hasn’t been turned on since then. Gotta find your positives where you can these days.

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