FEBRUARY 27, 1987/MONTROSE VOICE 17
Activity Center Seeking
Proposals for Building
By Sheri Cohen Darbonne
Members of the board of Montrose
Activity Center are considering leasing
a building for use as a community center, and have submitted a request for
proposals to several leasing agents and
building owners in the area, board
member Dwayne Wells announced at a
public meeting Monday, Feb. 23.
May Be Linked
to Other Blazes
Two suspects are presently being held
in Harris County Jail in recent arson
cases involving vacant buildings in the
200 block of Westheimer.
Both are being questioned about other
Montrose fires, investigators reported.
In the most recent fire, William James
Johnson, described by arson investigators as a neighborhood vagrant, was
arrested Monday, Feb. 23 shortly after
he allegedly started the blaze at 127
Johnson is believed to be involved in
other arsons, Investigator David Fuller
Fuller said Johnson, 26, had been
picked up for questioning in connection
with past arson cases and has been seen
at the scene of several Montrose fires.
Houston Fire Department is investigating six arsons "right in a row"
involving abandoned buildings on
lower Westheimer, he said.
The majority of these fires are
believed to have been set by transients,
Neighbors and witnesses indicated
Monday's fire was the result of a "territorial dispute" among vagrants in the
area, he added.
Meanwhile, arson investigators are
still trying to determine if a man suspected of starting a recent fire that destroyed a house 203 Westheimer is also
responsible for any other fires.
Butch I_ewis ofthe HFD central arson
division said 28-year- old Robert
Eubanks, who used the alias Roger
Nance, confessed to setting other lower
Westheimer fires, but investigators
aren't sure how reliable his information
is or whvrh fires, if any, he may be connected with.
"We're trying to backtrack on everything he's told us," Lewis said.
Eubanks allegedly told investigators
CA. Russo and Buddy Cox, who interviewed him Sunday, Feb. 15, after
Eubanks called HFD to confess to the
Feb. 9 arson, that he had set several
other fires in the area.
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Call 529-8490 and
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Week's Newspaper of
Wells said the board decided to pursue
the option of leasing after concluding it
might not be possible to raise the money
needed for a down payment on the outright purchase of a building under current economic conditions.
MAC had previously announced a
preferred plan to buy a facility.
Wells noted that conditions are presently favorable for renters, and that the
board will be especially seeking lease
proposals carrying an option to purchase in the future.
"Purchasing is still our long-term
goal," he said.
The request specifies lease space of
10,600 square feet net usable area, with
a desired expansion option of 3000 additional square feet.
It also asks that the lessor bear the
cost of building the space out to fit the
needs of non-profit organizations subletting space, as well as providing utilities and janitorial service.
Because two key Montrose non-profit
groups, the Montrose Clinic and Montrose Counseling Center, have agreed to
move into the center, providing their
conditions are met, specific modifications tailored to their needs are included
in the proposal, Wells said.
A clause is included in the request
allowing for evaluation of individual
provisions that cannot be met by a
"This is our ideal, but we're not limiting ourselves to anything," Wells
Proposals will be received until
Wells said the board expects 6-10
"bona fide" proposals.
An earlier projection of the center providing rental space to local organizations for as little as 50 cents per square
foot may now be "unrealistic," Wells
Geb Branda suggested that allowing
lessees to absorb the cost of building out
their own spaces would help to keep the
rental costs down.
But Wells said he felt leaving that
responsibility with the individual
organizations was not in keeping with
the original concept of providing a center for community use.
In addition to the clinic and counseling center, 28 organizations have
expressed an interest in the center,
although none of them has made a commitment to move in, Wells pointed out.
The request for lease proposals provides for a 90-day period for the board to
determine its response.
Wells said the time will be used to seek
community approval and obtain a firm
commitment from groups planning to
move their offices.
A discussion of potential names for
the facility drew some debate after
Wells noted one ofthe potential tenants
had included a clause in its list of condi-
tions that the center's name not include
wording that would deter non-gays
from using its services.
The condition was requested by the
Montrose Clinic because of its high
volume of non-gay clients, Wells said.
The clinic and Montrose Counseling
Center, described by Wells as the center's "core," will be the facility's largest
But Jack Valinski expressed frustration at what he called a "trend" toward
avoiding the words "gay" and "lesbian" in group names and community
"We don't need a center to expand
closets," Valinski said.
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