More Time for Dome Plan? Emmett Says Enough is Enough

An investor group that wants to turn the Astrodome into an upscale hotel and convention center is expected to ask for another three months to finalize its plans, a request that's not sitting well with Harris County's top elected official. Houston Public Radio's Jack Williams has the latest.

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The Astrodome Redevelopment Corporation was originally given exclusive rights by Harris County Commissioners Court to come up with a plan for the Dome back in 2006. The latest extension for submission of the plan, granted late last year, expires Tuesday. If the Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation board agrees, ARC will have at least another 90-days to finalize its vision for the Dome. Harris County Judge Ed Emmett says enough is enough.

"This has been going on and on and on and there are still unresolved issues. The financing is supposed to be in place and that's supposed to all be done by January 29th. This has been lingering for a long time and what I want to do is give Astrodome Redevelopment Corporation every opportunity to redevelop the Astrodome under terms of the letter of intent and the agreement they have with Harris County, but there comes a point at which you say you've had long enough?"ξξξ

The Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation has been negotiating with ARC, the Houston Texans and the Livestock Show and Rodeo, trying to resolve serious concerns about tenant rights at Reliant Park under ARC's plan. The Harris County Attorney and budget office are also reviewing the financial and legal aspects of the plan. Sports and Convention Corporation Executive Director Willie Loston says those issues have slowed the process.ξξ

"The letter of intent is expiring, that's A. The B is that, until, if you will, the county attorney and the budget office have an opportunity to scrub this deal and come to an opinion, ARC is somewhat in limbo."ξξ

The Astrodome Redevelopment Corporation would like to transform the Dome into a $450 million, 1000-room hotel and convention center. ARC's Don Henderson says the latest extension request is not an indication the plan is in trouble.

"The deal that we're trying to put together is as strong if not stronger than it was a couple of years ago and we're in a situation right now where we have also taken on additional investors that are ready to make this deal happen. We just need to make sure that the rights of the Texans and the rights of the Rodeo are protected when we bring this whole package together."

Henderson says ARC will officially make the extension request at tomorrow's Sports and Convention Corporation meeting.ξ

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