TxDOT to demolish 375 Lofts at the Ballpark housing units during pause of I-45 expansion

Tuesday evening, residents, community leaders, and members of “Stop TxDOT I-45″ walked from the Graffiti Wall to the Lofts at the Ballpark to affix a banner to the construction fences and give remarks to raise awareness that TxDOT is moving forward with demolition while the project is paused by the federal government and under investigation for alleged civil rights violations.

HOUSTON – Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee visited the location at Graffiti Wall Tuesday to discuss TxDOT’s plan to move forward with the demolition of 375 housing units, disregarding the federally mandated pause on the expansion of I-45.

Lee said she has asked the Federal Highway Administration to continue to investigate TxDOT’s I-45 design. She accused the company’s design of being discriminatory by not presenting any input from the impacted communities. Lee wants to continue the pause until the investigation has been fully completed.

TxDOT released the following statement regarding the lofts at the ballpark:

Delaying demolition of the Lofts at the Ballpark presents significant public health and safety concerns and would require resources to keep the buildings secured.”

Tuesday evening, residents, community leaders, and members of “Stop TxDOT I-45″ walked from the Graffiti Wall to the Lofts at the Ballpark to affix a banner to the construction fences and give remarks to raise awareness that TxDOT is moving forward with demolition while the project is paused by the federal government and under investigation for alleged civil rights violations.

“Stop TxDOT I-45″ released the following statement before the event:

“In the last two weeks, fences went up around a three-building, 375-unit, transit-connected housing facility called Lofts at the Ballpark. In spite of outcry from the community, opposition from local leaders, and the Federal pause, TxDOT is moving forward with demolishing usable housing. If the Federal government demands meaningful changes of TxDOT, it is possible that this demolition will not be needed. Houston cannot afford to lose 375 transit-connected affordable housing units while housing costs and evictions soar. Only one of the three buildings slated for destruction is within the footprint. Shockingly, the project’s final environmental impact statement only includes the demolition of 165 units, undercounting the total destruction at this location by 210 units. Demolition at this time is premature and wasteful, and TxDOT’s undercount was a lie. The destruction of these units is a failure on the part of both TxDOT and the city. It is within the purview of TxDOT and the Houston Housing Authority to use these units to house Houston residents while the Federal government investigates allegations of civil rights violations. The continuation of the project, in its current design, is not a sure thing while the FHWA investigates. Demolition is unnecessary at this time. The Federal Highway Administration letter that paused all activity for the I-45 Expansion references new activity and likely does not outright bar TxDOT from destroying units obtained during early acquisition, but it nonetheless demonstrates TxDOT’s disregard for community concerns. Community members are unclear on what is and is not allowed and what this demolition means for the pause. Residents who live further north along the freeway are worried what this means for their homes. Early acquisition is a process by which TxDOT purchases property from willing sellers before the completion of its environmental review process. Stop TxDOT I-45 supports banning early acquisition. It is used as a tool to chip away at communities, drives wedges between potential community allies, and contributes to the inertia that allows dysfunctional highway expansion projects to continue in the face of informed, organized opposition. The destruction of these buildings is the first tangible example of TxDOT bulldozing their way past the concerns of Houstonians and the FHWA. TxDOT is paving over much needed housing for a freeway project that will not relieve traffic, will not make roads safer, and will make flooding, air quality, and noise pollution worse.”


About the Authors:

Award-winning journalist, mother, YouTuber, social media guru, millennial, mentor, storyteller, University of Houston alumna and Houston-native.