All our hopes for the old Sheraton-Lincoln Plaza in downtown ended with the New Year, because in 2009, the hotel -- the Beatles slept there during the band's one and only trip to Houston in 1965 -- was supposed to be renovated and re-opened as a luxury hotel. (Swamplot has some nice pictures from the hotel's heyday.)
According to a a 2007 story:
A downtown building vacant since 1988 will get a $100 million face-lift and be turned into an Omni luxury hotel. Songy Partners acquired the 28-story Sheraton-Lincoln Plaza tower at 711 Polk and Louisiana in a joint venture with Omni Hotels for $15 million. The redeveloped hotel will have about 450 suites, fine dining restaurants and more than 30,000 square feet of meeting space...
The renovations are scheduled to begin in late 2007, and the hotel is expected to be open by mid-2009.
More than two years later, it doesn't look like much work has been done at all.
"Omni is not involved in the project," Caryn Kboudi, a representative for Omni Hotels, told Hair Balls. "I believe Songy still is."
Kboudi said she didn't know exactly when during the last two years that Omni walked away from the project and added, "It probably wouldn't be something that I could communicate. We usually don't talk a lot about our deals and our development."
The Harris County Appraisal District lists the owner of the building as Downtown Houston Hospitality LP, which is based out of Atlanta, the same place as the Songy corporate headquarters. That could be a sign that Songy still owns the property, but it's impossible to say, because no one from Songy has returned our phone calls or e-mails.
The building is appraised at about $9.8 million, almost $2 million less than 2008 and more than $5 million less than Songy paid for the property, according to the story from 2007.
The Sheraton-Lincoln opened in 1962, and, according to the people over at houstonarchitecture.com, it closed in 1986. "The Hyatt Regency bought the building for expansion in 1998 and planned to connect it to the Hyatt with a skybridge. They got as far as gutting the Sheraton interior to remove asbestos, but the expansion fell through because of the weak economy. It has been a vacant shell ever since."
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The Songy and Omni's redevelopment of the vacant building was also supposed to fill a void in downtown Houston's number of hotel rooms. A vice president from a consulting firm working with Omni on the project was quoted in the 2007 story as saying, "Clearly, there's a need for new hotels. Downtown Houston is underhoteled by a large number, and this is the kind it needs -- a large, full-service hotel."
A representative at PKF, the firm that worked with Omni, hasn't returned our phone calls.
As soon as we hear back from Songy about the reason the project stalled, or never was started, we'll update this post. We imagine it has something to do with the current economic climate or something along those lines.