Real Estate Rumblings

$60 million for an old high school: High bidder jumps at the chance to make the mega buy

$60 million for an old high school: This bidder jumps at the chance

Trustees with the Houston Independent School District unanimously voted to accept a $60 million offer from St. Thomas High School for a coveted piece of Inner Loop property, ending a half-year bidding war that pitted education against real estate development.

The all-male Catholic school — which sits directly next to the 11-acre plot at Memorial and Shepherd — has had its sights on the property for a major campus expansion. During a final bidding round of earlier this month, St. Thomas topped competitor ELK Mountain's offer by an impressive $11 million.

 "The HISD land has been proudly used for education for 85 years . . . We'll continue the tradition." 

The lot currently maintains HISD's High School for Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice, which now will lease the land until it moves to a newly-constructed building in the next two years.

"It's an amazing opportunity that will move us into a whole new historical era," St. Thomas communications director Nick Tammaro tells CultureMap. The school has no plans to demolish the property's permanent structures, choosing instead to repurpose existing buildings to accommodate an ever-growing number of enrollment inquiries.

When St. Thomas moved from downtown Houston to its current site in 1940, officials worried the school was too far from the city. Tammaro says, today, the location is ideal for a student body living in 130 different zip codes.

"The HISD land has been proudly used for education for 85 years . . . We'll continue the tradition with our mission to educate a wide cross-section of kids regardless of ethnic or socioeconomic background," he notes.

Formerly known as A.V. Dickson, the ELK Mountain investment group recently purchased the Bayou Park Apartments directly east of St. Thomas with a plan to develop a 26-acre luxury complex.

During the early bidding, the private firm maintained slightly higher offers that the high school, which will not pay property taxes due to its religious affiliation.