City to raze old motel

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The old Rooms 4 Rent motel downtown will be demolished “down to the dirt” and used as a lot for city functions following action taken Sept. 15 by the Sealy City Council.

It took action on four agenda items to get the agreement through, but the low-rent housing that has been deemed a “substandard, blighted, and nuisance structure” is slated to be demolished in January.

The project has been spearheaded for the Sealy Economic Development Corporation by Main Street Director Kimbra Hill. She said the current occupants should be vacated by the end of November with asbestos abatement starting in December, followed by demolition in January.

The city council authorized the Sealy EDC to spend up to $200,000 for the asbestos abatement of the building. City staff will provide in-kind demolition services to tear down and remove the building, pad, and paved parking lot until all that remains is a bare lot.

“We are removing everything; we’re taking it down to the dirt,” Hill said.

The building is currently owned by Ben Barless, who is selling it to John Wilson, who also owns the Sealy Professional Building. In exchange for the city’s investment, Wilson has agreed to let the city use the lot for five years.

“We can use that lot for a lot of public events,” said Robert Worley, director of the Sealy EDC.

Worley explained that the lot could be sold before the five years are up, but only to a buyer approved by the Sealy EDC board of directors and approved by the city council.

Condo conundrum

In other action, the council discussed a problem with the Evlyn Court condominiums on Schmidt Road. The first building was constructed on an elevation about three to four feet too high, causing a flooding risk to neighboring properties.

“We went out there, my staff did and myself … just eyeballing it, it was very apparent that the elevation of the property was higher than what we had agreed to on the drainage and grading plan,” said Warren Escovy, assistant city manager and planning director. “The engineer is saying it’s around three or four feet higher. The problem with that is you could have an immediate situation where you’re flooding your neighbors.”

He said the city is considering two options.

“One is having the current engineer design something for Evlyn Court that actually makes sense,” he said. “But we’re also going to look at doing an emergency measure to protect the neighborhood that will probably include putting in drainage swales on both sides.”

No other action was taken related to the condos.

Upcoming meetings

The city council will hold a special meeting online Wednesday at 6 p.m. to conduct a public hearing to receive comments on the proposed 2020-2021 budget. The council is also expected to discuss possible amendments to the budget. The meeting can be accessed at https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87959493173. To attend the meeting via teleconference, call one of the following numbers: 1-669-900-6833 or 1-346-248-7799, Meeting ID: 879 5949 3173.

The council will meet in person on Thursday, Sept. 24, at the W.E. Hill Center. A workshop will be held at 5 p.m. to discuss tree preservation and landscaping, drainage, drainage fee increase, and Main Street parking.

A special meeting will follow at 6 p.m. to adopt the 2020-2021 budget, the tax rate, and to hold an executive session about the purchase, exchange, lease, or value of real property.

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