“What I would say to the people of Westbury and those who have been here a long time is, don’t sell. Don’t leave. Stay because steps are being taken to make the area a lot more resilient and a lot more sustainable,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said.
Houston City Council approved the $3.4 purchase of a former Shell Oil Co. facility to serve as the site for the new detention basin on Oct. 16 and Mayor Sylvester Turner closed the sale with Shell executive Keith Probyn at a ceremonial signing Oct. 31. The property is adjacent to a park and network of detention basins known collectively as the Willow Waterhole, just southwest of the I-610 Loop.
“When I was president of the Westbury Civic Club, I met a man who had flooded 12 times. It was shocking to me that nobody could fix this problem,” former Westbury Civic Club President Becky Edmonson said. “When we found out that Shell was going to be vacating the property, we realized that 28 acres would be a Godsend.”
As a part of the sale contract, the city of Houston will lease the site back to Shell while it clears out the property over the next 16 to 18 months. Over that time period, Houston Public Works will conduct engineering studies and draw up a formal proposal for the detention basin to be presented to both Houston City Council and the Harris County Flood Control District, Public Works Director Carol Haddock said.
The $3.4 million transaction only included the purchase of the land for the detention basin. Construction costs will likely be shared between the city of Houston and the Harris County Flood Control District, Haddock said.
The site will also include the Levitt Pavilion, a performance space that was originally proposed along South Post Oak Boulevard but conflicted with a potential extension of the Fort Bend Tollway.