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HOUSTON-The Houston City Council has tabled a vote for two weeks on the Lakewood Church proposal to take over the Compaq Center. Officials are awaiting a market value assessment from two independent appraisals, in keeping with a city ordinance. It marks the second delay in two weeks.

Lakewood Church’s lease, if approved, runs for a maximum of 90 years–a deal that’s being challenged in the courts by Ft. Worth-based Crescent Real Estate Equities Co.Jane Page, Crescent’s senior vice president of asset management and leasing, says the REIT is “pleased” with council’s decision to delay its vote until Dec. 19. “That allows us two weeks to put forth our view that the Lakewood lease is not in the best interest of Houston taxpayers,” she says in a prepared statement. “We believe the process which has led up to deciding the future of the Compaq Center was not a fair and legitimate one.”

Crescent filed against the city in July, charging the church lease violates deed restrictions from the early 1970s by the site’s donator, the late Kenneth Schnitzer. The restrictions required the property to be used as a municipal sports arena for the first 25 years. For the next 30 years, uses were restricted to an arena, offices, library, post office, retail, banks and savings and loan associations.

Two weeks ago, Federal Judge Kenneth Hoyt dismissed Crescent’s initial filing, saying it was premature to allow the case to proceed since the city and church had yet to reach a final agreement. Crescent is appealing.

Crescent contends the city’s RFP should have offered the building for sale as well as lease or “any other method of disposition that might maximize the return to the city by widening the pool of interested bidders. Preferential treatment should not be given to Lakewood, Crescent, or anyone else,” according to the lawsuit. Crescent is pushing for the city to issue new RFPs for the center’s takeover.

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