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Freemasonry Watch

Taxes force Arabia Shrine Center to sell

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Houston Chronicle

Taxes force Shriners to sell

Jan. 11, 2008

Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle

Homeowners aren't the only ones feeling the sting of rising property taxes.

The owners of the Arabia Shrine Center said mounting tax bills caused them to sell their property.

"It's regrettable, but the ever-increasing taxes just make it prohibitive," said John McDonald, a local official of the fraternal organization, noting that the property's 2006 tax assessment was $108,000. "There was no relief in sight."

Apartment developer Ameriton Properties bought the 7.75-acre site at 2900 North Braeswood between Kirby and Buffalo Speedway.

The sale price was not disclosed, but a source familiar with the deal said Ameriton bid more than $21 million, or $63 per square foot.

Ameriton, a subsidiary of Englewood, Colo.-based Archstone-Smith, could not be reached for comment.

The sale drew a handful of high-end apartment developers, including Simmons Vedder, ZOM, Finger Cos. and Hanover Co. Bids ranged from $16.9 million to $22 million, according to the source.

The Shriners are leasing back space in the building until the end of next month, at which time they will move into a new home.

The 4,000-member group whose membership has been declining has been looking for a location during the past six months, though it still hasn't secured a spot that meets its criteria of up to 75,000 square feet plus parking for at least 150 cars.

The ultimate goal is to build a new center, McDonald said.

Located along Brays Bayou, the facility is comprised of 144,632 square feet.

The property was appraised at $3.3 million in 2007, according to Harris County tax records.


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