Bless the budget

The Compaq Center is born again: Lakewood Church set to own Rockets' old home

The Compaq Center is born again: Lakewood Church set to own Rockets' old home

Lakewood Church in Houston

The City of Houston may soon relieve some of its budget woes with the sale of the Compaq Center to Lakewood Church for a cool $7.5 million.

Celebrity pastor Joel Osteen signed a 30-year lease in 2001, making a lump $11.8 million pre-payment. Lakewood, which fills its 606,000 square feet with more than 40,000 congregants each week, had an option to extend its lease in 2031 for another 30 years with monthly payments of more than $750,000 a year.

Although some people think Houston is offloading the property on the cheap, city documents say the sale price nearly reflects the present value of future lease payments and the residual land value of the seven-acre chunk on the Southwest Freeway. Lakewood has done a number of big-dollar renovations to the former home of the Houston Rockets to make the building fit the church's needs.

Proceeds from the sale would go directly into the city's general fund, which has a nearly $12 million budget shortfall for this year. City Council will vote on the proposed sale Wednesday.

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