Protestors rally to save apartments from demo in wake of I-45 expansion project

Wednesday, June 22, 2022
Protestors rally to save apartments from highway demo
"Tearing down housing for a highway is not any reason to tear down housing," Michael Moritz said as he stood outside the apartments.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The Texas Dept. of Transportation's plan to expand I-45 through downtown may be paused for a federal review, but TxDOT says they will be moving forward with the demolition of the Lofts at the Ballpark Apartments.

And this has a group of Houstonians very upset.

"Tearing down housing for a highway is not any reason to tear down housing," Michael Moritz said as he stood outside the apartments.

The three-building complex outside PNC Stadium was purchased by TxDOT in 2021 for their plans to widen I-45 through downtown.

They have since relocated all tenants and now plan to demo the buildings.

But their nearly $9 billion highway expansion project is now on hold as the Federal Highway Administration reviews it.

"Because they're investigating civil rights violations with the proposed infrastructure," Moritz, with the group Stop TxDOT I-45, said.

He says as part of the required environmental impact study, TxDOT reported they would tear down only one of the apartment buildings, removing 165 apartment units from Houston's housing market, but now Moritz says it appears TxDOT plans to demo all three buildings, more than 370 units in the heart of east downtown.

"So they lied to us about how many units they would tear down right here."

TxDOT addressed their plans for the demo through Twitter saying in part,

"Vacant buildings such as these have attracted illicit and illegal activity which would be burdensome to the city, local communities, businesses in the vicinity and potentially exposes TxDOT to an array of liabilities," Moritz said.

TxDOT says demolition of the buildings would not be violating the Federal Highway Administrations' pause on the project.

"It's very clear that they're not acting in good faith of the pause," Moritz contests.

The Lofts at the Ballpark are located along bus and Metrorail lines, in the heart of EaDo and minutes from downtown.

The group, Stop TxDOT I-45, says they are holding on to hope that the apartments will be saved, the I-45 expansion project canceled, and new life inside Lofts at the Ballpark.

"These are valuable apartments for the city. They were touted as the new urbanism when they were originally built in the early 2000s and now TxDOT has decided they're not worth anything," Moritz said.

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