Real Estate / High-Rises

Houston Suburb’s Landmark Tower to be Torn Down After 20 Years of Neglect

Long-Awaited Demolition to End the Strange Saga of the Pasadena Skyscraper

BY // 06.18.19

What was once a beacon of Pasadena’s faith in the future is now a battered symbol of the past. The towering (by suburban standards) skyscraper known as the Pasadena First State Bank Building will come crashing down, and with it a compelling piece of the city’s history will fall too.

The abandoned structure could be demolished within the next 60 days.

The 12-story tower at 1001 Southmore, hovering 10 stories above all the other buildings in Pasadena, was constructed in either 1962 or 1963 by Houston-based architects MacKie & Kamrath.

The glass headquarters were undeniably modern for the time. The tower was built in a bright time of transition, moving forward into the Space Age and all that came with it. It became an icon of the changing times, celebrated in the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce’s logo.

The neglected skyscraper has felt the wear and tear of the past 20 years, sold off by its original owners and ignored ever since.

In 2005, the City of Pasadena issued a demolition permit for the building, but it was unsuccessful. Private investor KT Realty Development swooped in, purchasing it in the hopes of one day finding a way to preserve the landmark.

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In the years since, it has become clear that Pasadena First State Bank will never return to its former glory. No repairs were made, and code violations and citations piled up.

The bank went from boarded-up eyesore to hazard, as the fountain went dry, as asbestos and mold crept in and vandals made their mark on the walls. The power was cut off a decade ago.

In the summer of last year, the city came after KT Realty Development with a lawsuit, insisting that they tear down the building or reimburse the City of Pasadena.

KT Realty Development disagreed, and sold the tower to Pasadena Economic Development Corp. in October of 2018. The EDC has been prepping for the inevitable demolition, taking pains that everything will be done safely in advance of the implosion.

As the EDC shuffles the past off the scene, one has to wonder: What will spring up in Pasadena First State Bank Building’s place? Another landmark in the making?

Or something decidedly more commercial — a mixed-use development, or, perish the thought, a parking garage?

Currently, that area of Pasadena is undergoing a beautification project, with a public green space planned for where the Old City Hall now sits, and the Macroplaza Mall is destined for a new fate as Pasadena Town Square Mall.

This comes at a time when more and more historical buildings in the Houston area are falling by the wayside and falling to the earth, from Pasadena to Montrose to Downtown.

Things may be sacred — but they’re not necessarily safe.

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