Uptown’s public statements on bus project contradict private admissions

Post Oak Boulevard

HOUSTON — The president of the Uptown Management District said earlier this month that his special district’s Post Oak bus project was “on budget” and “fully funded,” but documents obtained by The Texas Monitor show him saying in writing that the project is facing a “shortfall” and that Uptown needs more money for the bus line.

Uptown President John Breeding’s statements, at best, appear to be misleading to the public, when comparing his private letter to his public statements.

Breeding, through a public relations firm Wednesday, declined comment to The Texas Monitor, despite multiple requests.

Uptown is seeking $31 million more for the controversial bus project, records show. A vote for the additional funds is scheduled for Friday.

Uptown is asking for the additional millions for its project putting dedicated bus lanes down the middle of Post Oak Boulevard, one of the wealthiest stretches of roads in Houston. The area is “home to the largest number of couture retailers in the city, including Hermes, Versace, Yves Saint Laurent, Giorgio Armani and Bvlgari,” according to Uptown’s website. High-end eateries are also abundant.

Earlier this month, Breeding made statements to media outlets, including The Texas Monitor, that all was well with the project. Those statements appear to fly in the face of correspondence he wrote to the Houston Galveston Area Council seeking additional funds.

“This funding, if received, will be drawn down and reinvested in the project in order to reduce the overall shortfall,” Breeding wrote.

The additional tax dollars are needed items such as steel light poles, crosswalk lighting, and “sanitary relocations,” according to a cost analysis.

See the letter Breeding wrote to the Houston Galveston Area Council here:

See Breeding’s statement to the media here:

Jim Scarborough lives in the Uptown district and has long been critical of the bus project. He said he believes that Uptown’s ask for additional money is just a play for additional federal tax dollars.

“The bottom line is this: if you are on budget, why do you need $30 plus million?,” Scarborough said. “It’s a bunch of jibber-jabber.”

The project is spearheaded by the Uptown Authority and the Uptown Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone, known as a TIRZ, and is a project that Uptown said would “transform” Post Oak Boulevard with mixed-use development, pedestrian improvements, and dedicated lanes for bus rapid transit.

The cost of the project when it was first proposed three years ago was $196 million.

Trent Seibert can be reached at [email protected] or at 832-828-6119.

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Trent is an award-winning editor and reporter, who has previously worked The Denver Post, The (Nashville) Tennessean, and the San Diego Union-Tribune. Most recently, he was the investigative producer for Houston’s KTRK-TV ABC-13. He was also the editor and founder of Texas Watchdog, a ground-breaking news group that paved the way for this project. Trent is a teacher of journalism skills, and has shown hundreds of reporters and citizen-journalists how to use public records, databases and journalism tools to keep a watchful eye on their own local government.



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