News

Plans to demolish iconic La Mafia recording studio for Houston highway expansion

A planned Houston highway expansion project would demolish the iconic recording studio for the Grammy-winning group.

Oscar De La Rosa and Armando Lichtenberger Jr. of La Mafia work in their Houston studio.
Photo: Facebook/La Mafia

The iconic recording studio where Tejano supergroup La Mafia recorded countless hits and albums and hosted iconic singers like Selena, José Feliciano, Marc Anthony, and Duran Duran will be demolished for a highway expansion project by the city of Houston and Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT).

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El Diario reports studio co-owners Óscar de la Rosa (vocalist) and Armando Lichtenberger, Jr. (keyboardist, accordionist and producer) are sad and in low spirits, because several months ago the Grammy-winning group was notified that the land where their Urbana Recording Studio is currently located is part of the planned expansion for Highway 45 North, the highway that leads to Dallas.

The Houston Chronicle reports the I-45 project’s toll on local property owners would be unprecedented for TxDOT in Houston, potentially relocating hundreds of families and businesses. Estimated to cost at least $7 billion, the project will rebuild I-45 from downtown Houston north to Beltway 8, and change how it connects with other downtown freeways.

“They have been talking about this for about five years, but suddenly we received the official letter from the State asking us for permission to come and take photos of the studio and make an estimate of the value,” Lichtenberger told El Diario. “They have been talking about this for about five years, but suddenly we received the official letter from the State asking us for permission to come and take photos of the study and make an estimate of the value.”

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According to La Mafia, they will receive the first offer from the state of Texas for the property soon but the group is worried that the history of the recording studio and type of business will not be taken into consideration for the property’s value.

The studio opened in 1994 as Houston Sound Studio and the first album recorded by La Mafia was the Grammy-nominated Vida. The studio evolved into Urbana Recording Studio in 2004.

La Mafia plans to fight for the true value of the studio that has been the group’s home for 26 years.

“The houses that used to be worth $50,000 are now worth $400,000. The price has risen a lot,” added Lichtenberger.

La Mafia received a Latin Grammy nomination for the album Live In México, which was recorded live in Monterrey and is competing for Best Tejano Music Album next month.

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