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A real estate Cinderella story is unfolding in downtown Houston.
Once upon a time, downtown's trophy properties attracted the lion's share of attention from would-be purchasers. Today, it's the ugly-duckling buildings that interest prospective buyers.
The credit crunch, real estate woes nationwide and fears of a deepening recession are curtailing buyer interest in higher-priced downtown properties. But the same factors, coupled with a significant drop in asking prices, favor unconventional uses for unconventional buildings bought at bargain-basement rates.
At least four of these older buildings have found potential buyers and have been put under contract in recent weeks. A fifth may be redeveloped by its owners.
The Cinderella properties are scattered throughout the northern part of the Central Business District. Three of them -- The Sam Houston Hotel, the Nabisco-Purse …