The city of Houston held a yard sale of sorts last week, dusting off some possessions it doesn’t use anymore and offering them for sale or swap to its neighbors.
In this case, City Council approved selling or swapping almost $2 million worth of city streets and utility easements. That won’t correct the more than $100 million budget deficits city officials project for the next five years, but it’s not peanuts.
The first example came in Manchester, where council abandoned and sold several streets and easements to the adjacent Valero refinery for $1.4 million.The oil giant already owns the blocks immediately surrounding its facility, and the move will let the company assume the intersecting streets onto its land as part of a plan to build an office building, warehouse, security building and to add parking farther away from the central plant.
The second example also comes from the east side, around Houston ISD’s Milby High School. The city agreed to abandon and sell parts of five streets and a sewer easement in and around the school campus for $431,000.
Rather than pony up that cash, HISD is instead giving the city a 7.5-acre tract next to Clinton Park valued at $443,000. The site, which sits about three miles north of Milby just east of Loop 610, had been home to the defunct Clinton Park Elementary.
Such transactions are commonplace at the council table, and city officials have ramped up efforts to jettison useless easements and strips of city land in recent years amid repeated budget crunches. It’s somewhat less common for the dollar amounts to rise into the millions on the same meeting agenda.
Councilman Robert Gallegos, whose district includes both sites, said he hopes the land swap can be beneficial for the neighborhood.
“Now that the city is taking over these 7.5 acres I hope this is a partnership that maybe the city and County Commissioner (Rodney) Ellis, we could work on hopefully making a community center,” Gallegos said. “There’s a desperate need for a community center in that community.”