City Council approves Skyscraper

The Houston Chronicle reports that the Houston City Council, in their weekly policy meeting this morning, has unanimously approved a tax abatement for Chevron in order for them to build a fifty floor Skyscraper.

The tower, which would be fifty floors, would grace the corner of Louisiana and Pease Streets: right next to the old Legion of Evil Enron Headquarters. The abatement, a standard procedure in the lead-up to the construction of a downtown skyscraper, gives Chevron some tax incentive to construct the large tower. As the Chronicle article explains:

City officials have said the total value of the abatement will be 10 percent of the firm’s property taxes on the new tower in its first year, projected to be $2.7 to $2.95 million. The company also will get $12 million from the Texas Enterprise Fund, run by Gov. Rick Perry’s office. Program rules required city participation, though a Perry spokesman said the deal still may have gone through even with a veto in Houston.

Critics of the deal have noted Chevron has had plans for the tract at 1600 Louisiana for years. The firm, which reported a first-quarter profit of $6.2 billion, announced it would buy the tract — which is next door to the former Enron towers, which the firm also owns — five years ago, saying the purchase would allow “flexibility and options for the future.”

I have argued for a while that 50 floors is not all that tall of a building to get all worked up about. However, the real future of downtown is not in simply tall buildings, not in the quality per se, but in the quantity. Downtown Houston is experience a construction boom. As my friend at Texas Leftist explains, this is something unseen since the 1980s.

All that being said, the City Council took a good step today in approving the tax abatement. At 50 floors, this definitely won’t shake up the skyline in any noticeable way, but it will be another pretty building to look at on my commutes downtown at some point in the future. I’ll end with a rendering:

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