Sold: Jim West Mansion

Houston real estate tycoon and former Houston Rocket Hakeem Olajuwon has added one of the crown jewels of Houston area real estate to his growing list of holdings. He's bought the historic Jim West mansion on 41 acres of prime property on Clear Lake. Houston Public Radio's Jim Bell reports.

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The West mansion is that large Mediterranean style estate next to the Johnson Space Center. It was built in 1929, and it's passed through several owners since then, including Rice University, NASA, which made it the home of the Lunar Science Institute until 1991, and most recently the family that owns the Pappas restaurants.

Now Hakeem Olajuwon owns the house and 41 surrounding acres, and Barbara Cutsinger of the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership says he's expected to resell the land to developers who've been trying to get their hands on it for years.

"It would not surprise me to see an office building. It would not surprise me to see a hotel. Even though it's not right on the water, it's a beautiful beautiful view."

No one has actually lived in the house since the West family moved out in 1941. It's been sitting empty since 1991 and its future is uncertain. Cutsinger says she's hoping for the best.

"I haven't heard of anyone who wants to get rid of the house."

The West mansion is a Texas Historic Landmark and it's on the National Register of Historic Places, neither of which will save it from demolition if that's what a developer wants to do, but Cutsinger says she can't imagine that because it's been part of the Clear Lake area landscape for so long. Jim Bell, Houston Public Radio News.

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