F-82 1119 Commerce Street

F-82 1119 Commerce Street

Last Modified: 08/23/2020 05:42 AM

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May 19, 2020 - Harris County Commissioners Court approved updates to project details in the 2018 Bond Program List. Update corrects project title to "Demolition of 1119 Commerce Street and Slope Stabilization along Buffalo Bayou"; funding information also updated to reflect engineers estimate and pending construction bid.

March 24, 2020 - Harris County Commissioners Court awarded a $4,525,876 contract for the construction of this project, which includes the demolition of the building.

January 28, 2020 - Harris County Commissioners Court approved this project to be advertised for competitive sealed proposals

A Community Engagement Meeting for this project was held on Tuesday, June 4, 2019 at the University of Houston-Downtown. Download Meeting Presentation (June 4, 2019)

Public comments for inclusion in the Community Engagement Meeting summary for this project will be accepted until June 18, 2019. Submit comments through the Comment Form link above.

ADVISORY - 8/21/2020

The demolition of the building structure at 1119 Commerce Street is complete.  Beginning the week of August 24, 2020, crews will begin work to construct pilings along the roadways and the banks of Buffalo Bayou to ensure the stability and strength of roadway foundations and bayou banks.

Residents and individuals accessing areas in the immediate vicinity of San Jacinto and Fannin Streets, may encounter a high volume of construction noise associated with this critical stabilization project.  Crews will follow City of Houston Noise Ordinance regulations for working hours.  Work is expected to last for several days, weather dependent.

Motorists and pedestrians are encouraged to follow all directional and safety signage.

Project description

The Harris County Flood Control District purchased the property at 1119 Commerce Street in 2010 with the intent of improving stormwater conveyance along Buffalo Bayou through downtown Houston. Following an architectural and structural evaluation that concluded the building on the property is in poor condition, structurally unsound and unsafe for occupants, the Flood Control District terminated leases with building tenants and is exploring options for demolishing the building. Demolition of the building, which is located between Fannin and San Jacinto streets on the south bank of Buffalo Bayou, is expected to occur no earlier than Spring 2020.

Background

The Flood Control District purchased the now-vacant property in connection with a future project to soften a sharp bend in Buffalo Bayou east of its confluence with White Oak Bayou. The goal of the project would be to increase stormwater storage and carrying capacity of Buffalo Bayou through the downtown area.

As part of its planning process, the Flood Control District commissioned both a required environmental/historical assessment of the property, and an architectural and structural evaluation by a team that included an architect, structural engineer, and geotechnical engineer. Original portions of the existing 21,246-square-foot concrete frame and red brick commercial building were constructed in 1924 for the Texas Packing Company, a sausage-making, meat-packing, storage, and distribution company that closed in 1989. Today, the original building consists of two stories plus an elevator penthouse at the front or street level, and three additional sublevels down to the bayou. A later addition was made to the west side of the building in 1930.

A 2013 report by SWCA Environmental Consultants concluded that the original structure, although altered over time, qualifies for listing (individually and as part of an historic district) in the National Register of Historic Places, as well as for state and city historic recognition. This opinion was confirmed in a 2016 re-survey of an earlier unsuccessful effort to create an Historic Warehouse District in downtown Houston.

However, the 2015 architectural and structural evaluation found the building to be in poor condition, and noted “widespread damage” of the building’s structural frame, due in part to repeat flooding over 90-plus years. During Memorial Day 2015 and Tax Day 2016 storms, for example, all levels of the building below street level were flooded for several days. During Tropical Storm Allison in 2001, all levels below street level were flooded for several weeks. The result is major deterioration of the sub-levels and foundations of the building. Cement in concrete columns and floor slabs is spalling off, exposing structural rebar, and leading to rust. Most structural steel beams on the lower levels are 95 percent rusted, according to the evaluation report.

Because of this deterioration, the evaluation concluded that the building is unsafe for occupants. It estimated a cost of between $5 million and upwards of $10 million to partially or fully salvage the building, a step that also would prevent needed flood risk reduction work. The report recommended full demolition as the best option.  Based on this information, the Flood Control District terminated leases with tenants in the building in 2016. With public safety as the driving factor, the Flood Control District plans to proceed with full demolition.

In a project review letter dated August 26, 2016, the Texas Historical Commission (THC) state historic preservation officer confirmed that the Flood Control District has satisfied its responsibilities under the Antiquities Code of Texas and is authorized to proceed with demolition. The THC also encouraged the Flood Control District to consider alternatives to demolition. The mission of the Flood Control District does not include historic preservation, however, so any salvage operations would not be paid for with Flood Control District funds.

Update

Construction activity continues on Commerce Street. A controlled demolitiion to remove the building is complete, debris is being removed, and pilings are being put into the ground to ensure the stability of the surrounding streets and the bayou bank. Please visit this page regularly for more photos and updates as the project progresses.

workers framing support beamsWorkers were framing support beams for the removal of walls. This was done to guard against a collapse of the walls during removal of the above floors of the building. Great care was taken not to compromise surrounding structures.

workers framing support beamsMachinery was used to remove the building slab and adjacent sidewalk. This was done to prepare for the sloping green space and bike path which is being constructed by Houston Parks Board (in coordination with the Buffalo Bayou Partnership) once final construction on this project is complete.

workers framing support beamsWorkers removed debris from the interior of the building before demolition. This was done to minimalize the amount of dust and debris displaced during the demolition process into the surrounding environment.

The Harris County Flood Control District has a significant number of flood damage reduction projects occurring all over Harris County as part of its on-going Capital Improvement Program (CIP), Operations and Maintenance, and the 2018 Bond Program. Click the Project ID on the Map to learn about projects’ details. Some early-stage projects are not highlighted on the map. The map will be updated when projects advance or when more information becomes available.


COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT MEETING 

A Community Engagement meeting for this project was held June 4, 2019.