By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
The house lines the city's most prestigious street: Lazy Lane. It features a pair of two-story wings joined by a 30-foot-high rotunda. Lush grass and tall pine trees surround what will probably be about 20,000 square feet. Kinder insists he doesn't know how many square feet it contains. "It'll be a nice house," he says. "We'll enjoy it, I'm sure."
Real estate people estimate the cost of building the mansion, to be finished around the end of the year, at $10 million to $12 million. It's almost directly across the street from the entrance to Bayou Bend, the swankienda built on the banks of Buffalo Bayou by heiress Ima Hogg.
The land the Kinders will soon occupy was once owned by former county judge Roy Hofheinz, the legendary real estate magnate and promoter best known as the driving force behind the building of the Astrodome.
Kinder himself is a promoter, a man who thinks big and has brought a different business model to Houston. And like Hofheinz, he's erecting a giant monument to his own success, a fillip to his ego. It's been largely forgotten that in 1975, ten years after the Astrodome was finished, Hofheinz lost control of his empire and was forced to sell out.
Today, Rich Kinder sits atop his own empire. His palace is nearly complete. It only remains to be seen how long his reign will last.