City Council Awards Property Bid Despite SHSU Contention
A July 2 Item article says at the most recent Huntsville City Council meeting SHSU made a late attempt to stop the $650,000 purchase of the Army Reserve Building by Maalouf Properties, LLC, citing needs for expansion of the university’s Army ROTC and various veterans programs:
University Vice President Al Hooten said at Tuesday’s meeting that SHSU anticipates nearly 1,000 student veterans this fall, and that it was critical to have centralized services for this section of the student population. Hooten said the property was included within an area identified in the Campus Master Plan Update, approved by the Board of Regents in February.
The Master Plan does not mention the property specifically, but the development framework plan highlights the area as an additional development opportunity to meet future demands.
Tarek Maalouf was the only one to place a bid with the city by the June 17 deadline. Hooten said the university was unaware of the city’s property sale and “quite surprised to hear that the city solicited bids for this property without notifying the university.”
“I would love to give some of my 57 acres that I have in town to Sam Houston to build an ROTC building,” Maalouf said. “I’m all for it. So please, if it ever becomes a plan at Sam Houston that the city wants to work with, count me in as a developer. I would love it. The problem I have is this property is prime retail property.
“It’s a prime spot for businesses to grow. And as much I support the veterans, I also support small business and people wanting to come to town, open stores, generate revenue and tax dollars for the city. I don’t know why Sam Houston State University has to have prime property for ROTC purposes.”
The Local Government Code did, however, provide a loophole for the university to make its case. Section 227.001 states that a political subdivision may donate, exchange, convey, sell, or lease land, improvements or any other interest in real property to an institution of higher education to promote a public purpose related to higher education.