12/19/14 5:30pm

We’ve reached the end of the line. Here’s your final ballot, for the final category of this year’s Swamplot Awards for Houston Real Estate: the award for the Greatest Moment in Houston Real Estate.

An annual fixture in the Swampies since the very first go-round in 2008, this award aims to honor the events that stand above all the rest. The nominees came from your suggestions. Your next job: pick the winner! Vote in this category by adding a comment below — or by sending us an email, or posting your preference on Facebook or Twitter. We hope you’ll include an explanation for your preference, to make the whole thing more fun. You can vote up to 4 times in this category — once using each method — as long as you follow these rules. A reminder: We’ll only be counting votes submitted via the first 2 methods from voters who’ve signed up for the Swamplot email list. (If you haven’t done so already, you can join it through this link — or the box at the top left of this page.)

And now please welcome the official nominees for Greatest Moment in Houston Real Estate, 2014:

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The 2014 Swampies
12/19/14 3:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHY IS ANYONE LIVING THAT CLOSE TO A REFINERY? Refined Homes Near Refinery“Tax policy should probably discourage residential habitation in neighborhoods near the Houston Ship Channel and encourage people to move away from them. As such, giving existing residents or residential property owners a tax cut in order to reward them for residing there or maintaining and leasing housing to other people would be extraordinarily counterproductive and stupid. Manchester in particular is a neighborhood where the City or State government should seriously consider its options with respect to eminent domain. There’s nothing quite like it anywhere else in the region. Even the furthest north residential bits and pieces of Pasadena are better isolated from refinery activities and more integrated into their city than is Manchester.” [TheNiche, commenting on Baytown Buc-ee’s Is Here; Goodbye Mission Burrito, Hello Überrito Mexican Grill] Illustration: Lulu

12/19/14 2:30pm

WHICH A&M BUILDING HAS GOVERNOR PERRY’S NAME ON IT NOW? texasam-academic-building-rick-perryTwo days of “deep reflection” after telling the Bryan-College Station Eagle that he would be honored to have Texas A&M’s iconic Academic Building renamed “The Rick Perry ’72 Building,” Governor Rick Perry decided to decline the proposal by the A&M Board of Regents before it ever came to a vote. “I have informed the board of regents of my decision to politely decline this honor,” Perry said at a graduation ceremony last night, hours after the vote was supposed to have taken place. “And I do so because there are places on this campus, like our most cherished traditions, that transcend any one individual. They are bigger than any one of us and they represent our shared heritage. I want the Academic Building to be called the Academic Building in 2114, 200 years after it was built.” Perry’s announcement came after 2 days of intense, mostly negative reaction to news of the proposal, including a resolution against the renaming from the student senate, a petition signed by 7,000 students in opposition to same, and an editorial in The Battalion, A&M’s campus paper, which reads, in part: “The absurdity of the idea goes well beyond the irony of putting Perry (and his well-documented sub-2.5 GPA) on A&M’s academic hub, which in 2014 celebrates its 100th birthday. The regents shouldn’t name the Academic Building after the governor. Not because he’s not qualified, but because no one is.” Which is not to say that some other campus edifice might not soon bear the Perry name, as the editorial acknowledges: “Perry might deserve campus recognition, but give him something — anything — other than the Academic Building.” [Bryan-College Station Eagle] Photo: Texas A&M

12/19/14 1:00pm

washington-ave-walmart

Here’s a map a reader sent yesterday apparently showing the location of “Walmart Neighborhood Market #3450,” on Washington Ave, just east east of Midway Cos. newly acquired Archstone Memorial Heights apartment complex at 201 S. Heights Blvd. (A different Walmart map shows it in the same spot.)

 

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Mystery Walmart By The Heights Walmart
12/19/14 11:30am

riviana-silos-exterior

Under the sign of the merry Mahatma, workers are sweeping out what stray grains of rice may linger within the 38 silos at the old Riviana Foods complex at 1520 Sawyer, which last contained the cereal crop in 2008.

They are prepping for its new purpose as the Silos on Sawyer, a 79,000 sq.-ft. art space and the latest addition to the Deal Company’s pre-existing Spring Street Studios, Winter Street Studios and Silver Steet Studios complex in the heart of the State of Texas-recognized Washington Avenue Arts District.

Reader Noah Brenner ventures inside, camera in hand:

riviana-silos-interior1

A total of 55 workspaces are now available for lease, along with 20,000 sq.-ft. set aside for flexible buildouts such as restaurants, galleries or retail.

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Granaries To Galleries
12/19/14 10:00am

Here it is: the official ballot for Neighborhood of the Year. This is the next-to-last category in the 2014 Swamplot Awards for Houston Real Estate, a list of candidates culled from your nominations.

Newcomers to the Swampies, please take note: This category is for neighborhood of the year. That doesn’t necessarily mean best neighborhood — but it could! With your vote, you’re not only helping Houston to figure out who the winner of the Neighborhood of the Year is, you’re also defining what Neighborhood of the Year should even mean. So please explain your vote as you cast it.

Votes in this category can take the form of a comment below this post, an email, or a post on Facebook or Twitter. You can vote all 4 ways so long as you follow the voting rules. For your votes submitted as Swamplot comments or emails, however, you’ll want to have joined the Swamplot email list, because they won’t be counted if you’re not signed up for it. (You can get on the list through this link or by adding your email address to the box at the top left of this page.)

The nominees for the Houston area’s 2014 Neighborhood of the Year are:

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The 2014 Swampies
12/19/14 8:30am

skyline window

Photo: Bill Barfield via Swamplot Flickr Pool

Headlines
12/18/14 4:38pm

BIG NEWS ON WASHINGTON AVE memorial-heights-apartments-studewood300Archstone Memorial Heights, that 556-unit apartment complex at 201 S. Heights on 23.4 acres of Washington Corridor land (seen here pre-renovation 2 years ago), has been sold. The buyers? Midway Cos. and the Lionstone Group. Midway is perhaps best-known locally for its mixed-used CityCentre development and the Hotel Sorella. [RE Business Online] Photo: Charles Kuffner

12/18/14 2:00pm

bella-terraza-exterior

That opulent Italianate edifice at 2840 Chimney Rock Rd. that formerly housed the Bella Terraza (later Villa Rinata) reception hall has been sold by former uneasy business partners and willing courtroom foes Stephen Montieth Clarke and Harris L. Kempner III, but the property at 2840 Chimney Rock is still generating litigation. This time around, Clarke’s attorney Brantly Harris is suing Kempner’s attorney Robert E. Bone.

The suit has but one, well, Bone of contention, but it’s a wee bit knotty:

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Courts
12/18/14 10:45am

BEN KOUSH: ADDING A 4-STORY ‘GAS TANK’ TO THE ALLEY’S ROOF NOT MY IDEA OF PRESERVATION 10-alley-theater-houston-archpaperCiting it as epitomizing Houston’s ineptitude in historic preservation, architect and former Houston Mod president Ben Koush soundly lambasted a May rendering of the Alley Theatre’s ongoing renovation by Studio Red, of Summit-into-Lakewood transformation fame. Koush saves most of his bile for the planned gridded fly-loft rising 4-stories above the theater’s roofline. “The original building evoked a castle,” Koush writes. “In the drawing, the new fly loft looks looks like a gas tank or grain storage bin dropped atop that castle. One can only wonder why Studio Red’s insistent design was not more restrained. Studio Red has since pulled the rendering from its website, calling it “a terrible fisheye view of the fly loft that completely distorts what it will look like.” Distorted or not, the fly loft’s metallic appearance will contrast with Ulrich Franzen’s Brutalist concrete design, and Koush contends that such an essential alteration of the Alley is not the sort of project that groups like Houston Mod and the Texas Society of Architects should be lauding. [Gray Matters; previously on Swamplot] Photo: The Architect’s Newspaper.

12/18/14 8:30am

sunset coffee building

Photo of the Sunset Coffee Building: Marc Longoria via Swamplot Flickr Pool

Headlines
12/17/14 5:05pm

KemahTxJimmieWalkerRestaurantCASTRO-&-MCKEOWN-copy

With the U.S.-Cuba cold war finally melting away, it’s as good a time as ever to point out a few key sites from Fidel Castro’s trip to the area, and those associated with Houston’s Robert Ray McKeown, the machinist-turned-international businessman-turned-peripheral figure to the JFK assassination. McKeown was also Castro’s best buddy on Galveston Bay, and a man who claimed to have met Lee Oswald in San Leon and sipped beer with Jack Ruby at Jimmie Walker’s Edgewater Restaurant in Kemah.

The story begins in Houston in 1950. McKeown, then 39, was a machinist with his own shop in Pasadena. One day his ship came in: an inventor approached him with a plan for a machine that could clean coffee better than any other before it. McKeown built the machine, and apparently several more, and the two men went into business. McKeown trolled the coffee ports of Latin America for sales, which eventually lead to him moving to Santiago, Cuba during the administration of president Carlos Prío Socarrás, who would become a friend.

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Cold War Picaresque