Feature Photo (above): A pedestrian bridge over Willow Springs Bayou at Fairmont Parkway connects an undeveloped 100-acre tract east of the waterway to the Pasadena Convention Center grounds. Image: Google Streets.
by Adolfo Pesquera
Pasadena (Harris County) — The Pasadena City Council entered into a Memorandum of Understanding at its Tuesday regular session that proposes a public-private partnership for a $350 million mixed use resort and master-planned community.
The MOU shown to council Feb. 19 proposes working toward a development agreement that would include some type of public contribution that could include public infrastructure improvements, tax abatements and the use of city property.
The private sector lead party is a relatively unknown Houston-based firm called HEPTA CAPITAL LLC. The company, for all practical purposes, is one person–Perry Ewing, a financial management expert whose background is primarily the raising of capital for major corporations in the energy industry.
While Ewing does not claim any background in real estate development, the MOU appears to tie Colliers International into the deal, although it does not specify their role. Colliers International is a Canada-based company with offices in Sugar Land and their expertise is in acquisition, management and marketing of real estate properties.
The property under consideration, as identified in the MOU, is the 232 acres owned by the city that is southeast of the intersection of Fairmont Parkway and Red Bluff Road. However, roughly half of that real estate is home to the Pasadena Convention Center, Municipal Fairgrounds, and the Pasadena Livestock Show & Rodeo facilities.
This limits most or all of the proposed development to a 100-acre tract of undeveloped land that is across Willow Springs Bayou, east of the Pasadena Convention Center site.
The City of Pasadena owns 232 acres of land to either side of Willow Springs Bayou. Image: Google Earth.
The MOU states that HEPTA Capital is considering the construction of a resort consisting of a mid-luxury resort hotel, an indoor and outdoor water park, an adventure island with a multi-tiered waterfall surrounded by a crystal lagoon, a life wellness center, and several open-to-the-public restaurants. Access to these facilities are not to be limited to registered guests, but open also to the general public.
“In addition, HC plans to build a master-planned, mixed-use project that may include retail, entertainment, commercial and or residential components,” the MOU states.
HEPTA Capital’s commitment, referred to as “intentions,” will be to begin construction within 36 months of the effective date of the MOU, and to invest a minimum of $350 million in real and personal property during the first three years of construction.
Ewing also intends to invest at least $1.25 million of HEPTA Capital’s funds over the next 12 months to get through the due diligence process. This includes financial and marketing studies on the feasibility of a resort project and the grander mixed-use, master-planned development, as well as the drafting of preliminary concept designs and a site plan.
For its part, the city will put together an economic incentive package that could include public infrastructure improvements, impact fee waivers, a Chapter 380 agreement, and tax breaks on local and state taxes.