"Thank you for calling the Tennessee Titans. If you know your party's extension, please dial now."
Maybe you're like me. Maybe you've seen it and wondered what the hell it was doing just sitting there.
At 6737 Southwest Freeway you'll find an abandoned car dealership. For years, as I drove on 59 South toward my mother's office, I passed the dealership. Three cars in a showroom. Another car in the lot, where a security guard sat.
At night, the lights turn on, illuminating the emptiness.
It wasn't until I started working at the Houston Press a few weeks ago that I ever had an outlet to investigate the property. Who owned it? What are their plans for it? Hell, why not at least lease it rather than just let it sit there?
Finding information about the lot, which consists of a few buildings and a lot of empty parking spaces, consisted of me raising my eyebrows out of intrigue and me raising my eyebrows out of confusion.
It started easily enough. I found the appraisal number for the lot by searching for the address -- the address I found via Google Maps; Google is God -- and learned the owner of the property and how much it is worth.
According to hcad.org, the property has been owned by KSA Industries, Inc. since at least 2006. That's as far back as the records go on the website. In that time, the 227,924-square-foot lot has increased in appraised value from $2.63 million to $3.69 million. KSA industries has a Houston address and 713 phone number, so I called.
"Thank you for calling the Tennessee Titans. If you know your party's extension, please dial now," a polite computerized voice said.
Confused, I did some more searching. KSA Industries, Inc. was owned by the late Bud Adams, the man who moved the Houston Oilers to Tennessee.
So that solved that problem, but still I didn't know what the property was doing in its current state. Why are there three cars in the showroom, including an Army jeep? Why is the electric bill getting paid?
I drove out to the dealership. It was the first time I ever saw it from a perspective other than that of my car as it whizzed down the freeway. As I peered into the glass of the showroom, I saw ceiling tiles missing. Of the tiles that were there, their white outsides were peeling, giving way to a urine-yellow colored inside. Pieces of brown, antiquated furniture was stacked on top of each other.
I talked to Roland Itoje, a security guard for the lot. He told me the lot is watched at all times, by one person, in eight-hour shifts per guard. He told me about the drunkards he sees wandering the lot. He told me about the time he saw someone walk right in front of the showroom and shoot a BB through the window.
"It's a lonely job," he said.
Itoje told me the lot had only been abandoned for one and a half years, but I knew this was wrong. I've passed it for more than a decade. He told me he had worked a lot of different jobs since coming over from Nigeria, and his uniform told me that he worked for a third-party security agency. I figured he was misinformed.
Finally, after my fifth call to a different KSA Industries, Inc. phone number that I found, I spoke to a human. All it took was choosing the human resources extension over the executive one. From there I got the direct line of the man in charge of 6737 Southwest Freeway, Blu Whipple. He's the assistant general counsel for the Titans.
On my third call to him, I got ahold of Whipple. He told me he was in a meeting. I said I'd call back, and told him that the nature of my call was that I was curious about the abandoned car dealership. He cut me off.
"We don't talk to the media about our properties," he said.
Another dead end about a lot full of empty space.
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