12/02/16 5:45pm

JUSTIN YU TO CLOSE OXHEART, SPEND SOME TIME IN THE HEIGHTS Oxheart, 1302 Nance St., Warehouse District, Downtown HoustonNext in the line of succession for the corner spot at 1302 Nance St. currently occupied by Oxheart: . . . well, something else. So says James-Beard-ed chef and owner Justin Yu, who announced today that the restaurant will close on its 5th birthday in mid-March — to reopen with a new name, a redone interior, and former Oxheart sous chef Jason White at the helm in the kitchen. Eric Sandler notes that Yu will eventually be splitting his hours between the yet-unnamed redo of the Nance space, wine and whiskey bar Public Services in the Cotton Exchange building on Travis, and whatever he’s doing with Bobby Heugel over on Yale St., in the former home of Dry Creek Cafe. [CultureMap; previously on Swamplot] Photo of 1302 Nance St.: Ken L.

12/02/16 4:30pm

We’ve come to the eighth and final category for this year’s Swamplot Awards for Houston Real Estate. So far this week we’ve opened up nominations for Favorite Houston Design Cliché, Best Demolitionthe “Where Are They Now?” AwardBest Industrial Incident, Special Achievement in Parking,  The Houston High Water Award, and — just this morning — Neighborhood of the Year.

Here’s the last one — and perhaps the most sweeping of them all: What was 2016’s Greatest Moment in Houston Real Estate?

Covering the real estate moments that make, change, and define the city is the whole point of Swamplot. So tell us: What real estate happenings from the past year stand out above the others? Was it something Swamplot wrote about? Or did we miss something that you think takes the real estate cake? Your nominated moments need not have taken place within city limits — but they should include sufficient Houston-ish qualities to be deserving of the award.

For this same category last time, the top spot went to the unexpected salvation and restoration of the Weingarten Mansion. The 2013 winner was Urban Living’s failed lawsuit against its own former customer, and in 2012, the award went to voter approval of funding for the Bayou Greenways Initiative.

We’ll need your help to pinpoint this year’s most award-worthy moment. Add your comments to this post or send us an email describing the moments you’d like to nominate — and don’t forget to tell us why. If you need to jog your memory, browse back through the site. And if you have any questions about how to make a nomination, you’ll likely find the answers here.

Now nominate away! As with each of the other categories, you’ve got a week to send in your top picks — so make sure you get your entries in by midnight on Friday, December 9, when the window to submit your choices will close for good.

The 2016 Swampies
12/02/16 1:45pm

CITY WANTS TO CREATE HISTORIC DISTRICT TO PROTECT WHAT’S LEFT OF FREEDMEN’S TOWN HISTORIC DISTRICT Following last month’s sudden brick relocation incident, Mayor Turner has announced a plan to make a plan to create a “cultural district in Freedmen’s Town — one that would preserve historic churches, schools, and homes,” as Andrew Schneider describes it this week. A section of the Fourth Ward roughly bounded by W. Gray, W. Dallas, Genessee, and Arthur streets has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places since 1985 as the Freedmen’s Town Historic District — but that national designation didn’t provide much local protection to the area’s architecture, and many of the buildings listed in the district’s nomination form to the register have since been demolished. Archi-historian Stephen Fox told Claudia Feldman back in February that a city of Houston historic district designation, however, would be different; Fox noted that “it might require gerrymandering to pick up the proper concentration of historic buildings. But it could be done.” [Houston Public Media and Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo of Freedmen’s Town Historic District sign: Freedmen’s Town Preservation Coalition

12/02/16 12:00pm

Downtown Houston Skyline

Our sponsor on Swamplot today is Houston’s own Central Bank. Thank you for the continuing support!

Central Bank has 4 (central) Houston branches available to meet your business or personal needs: in Midtown, the Heights, West Houston, and Post Oak Place.

Central Bank believes that change is essential to its success; the company actively pursues the latest in service, technology, and products. Central Bank aims to know its customers personally and to be their primary business and personal financial resource. The bank’s staff values relationships and strives to be available when you need them.

To learn more about how Central Bank can meet your banking needs, please call any of the following Senior Vice Presidents: Kenny Beard, at 832.485.2376; Bonnie Purvis, at 832.485.2354; Gary Noble, at 832.485.2366; or Ryan Tillman, at 832.485.2307. You can also find out more on the bank’s website.

Some great Houston businesses are sponsoring Swamplot. You should too

Sponsor of the Day
12/02/16 11:45am

We’re almost done introducing the categories in this year’s Swamplot Awards for Houston Real Estate. So far, we’ve opened nominations for Favorite Houston Design Cliché, Best Demolitionthe “Where Are They Now?” AwardBest Industrial Incident, Special Achievement in Parking, and  The Houston High Water Award. If you haven’t done so already, there’s still time to put in your own suggestions for each of these.

This next category can get pretty competitive: Neighborhood of the Year. Past winners have come from all over the greater Houston area — the last honoree was Downtown, while the 2009 winner was . . . well . . . Galveston. (Robindell snagged the second place spot, last time.)

What qualifies a neighborhood to pick up that coveted “of the Year” designation? That’s for you to decide. When you make a nomination, be sure to say why your pick is especially award-worthy. You can submit your nominations — along with convincing explanations as to why your nominee should win — in the comments below, or in an email, by midnight on Friday, December 9. (If you’re just joining us, please consult the official rules for nominating.) Now tell us, who are this year’s contenders for Neighborhood of the Year?

The 2016 Swampies
12/02/16 11:15am

Uncle Bob's Storage, 5700 Washington Ave., Washington Ave, Houston, 77007

Los Dos Amigos Mexican Restaurant, 5720 Washington Ave, Woodcrest, HoustonThe old Wabash Feed & Garden building on Washington Ave. may still be sorting out its current relationship status, and missing the company of Los Dos Amigos  and Premo’s Grocery (knocked down across the street last year) — but at least it’s no longer the only property on the corner with an out of date sign (as pictured in the shot above from a reader). The new Uncle Bob’s Self Storage across the street, which replaced Premo’s and Los Dos Amigos, is already waiting on a branding swap-out — the storage company acquired Life Storage in July and decided to take the new name, simplifying its box-of-boxes logo in the process. The 6-story storage midrise is set toward the corner with Malone St. where Premo’s stood, while Los Dos Amigos got the parking-lot treatment:


All Boxed Up
12/02/16 8:30am


Photo of Aris at Market Square: Marc Longoria via Swamplot Flickr Pool

12/01/16 5:30pm

This morning we opened up another category for the Swamplot Awards for Houston Real Estate. That brings the tally up to 5 so far — Favorite Houston Design Cliché, Best Demolitionthe “Where Are They Now?” AwardBest Industrial Incident, and Special Achievement in Parking. Here’s the last new category for today: the High Water Award.

This award is meant to honor contributions to flooding and flood drama in the Bayou City — or gee, maybe there’s some even more compelling form of high water here we should take note of? What deserves the spotlight for its role in the Houston flooding story? It could be an event, a place, a symbol, a lawsuit, a myth, or a something-else-entirely; we’re looking for nominees that capture a key element or instance of the city’s relationship with excessive water. Whatever you choose, just be sure to explain yourself when you send in your picks.

To float your nominees for this award, leave a comment below with your suggestions (and your rationale). You can email it to us, too, but all nominations for this category are due by midnight next Thursday, December 8. (More on how to nominate can be found by clicking here.)

The 2016 Swampies
12/01/16 4:15pm

Big Tex Montrose, 1810 Richmond Ave., Dearborn Place, Houston, 77006

richwood-market-freaky-foods-west-viewThe doors opened last week at that 4-story 100,000-sq.-ft. storage facility that has replaced the boarded-up Shell Food Mart just west of the corner of Richmond  and Woodhead — itself a makeover of the 24-hour Richwood Market, known back in the day as Freaky Foods (affectionately or not). The 4-story building started going up next to King Cole Liquor some time after the nearby trees got cleared out about a year ago (with the city’s OK, Annise Parker said at the time).

Big Tex has since widened the sidewalks and added some new baby trees in a series of landscaped rectangles along Richmond; the company’s press release also says there’s gonna be an Art Wall.

Photos: Big Tex Storage via Urbannizer (panoramic of Big Tex at 1810 Richmond Ave.), Swamplot inbox (2014 shot of 1810 Richmond Ave.)

Boxes on Richmond
12/01/16 2:30pm

San Jacinto Memorial Green, 1300 HolmanSt., Midtown, Houston, 77003

That tiny replica of the San Jacinto Monument near San Jacinto and Holman streets is surrounded these days by the landscaping of Houston Community College’s San Jacinto Memorial Green, the green-space-turned-parking-lot-turned-back-to-green-space next to the adjacent building that once housed San Jacinto High School. A reader sends an early-evening out-the-window shot of the park, which is scheduled to formally open on Saturday.

That shot faces Holman St., with Caroline St. visible to the northeast and lined up with the green space’s lit walkway; most of the lawn seen to the left of that path was paved parking lotbetween the 1980s and 2014. The photo is taken from the former San Jac high school structure itself (now employed as part of HCC’s Central Campus, and referred to as the San Jacinto Memorial Building by the time of its 2012 addition to the National Register of Historic Places):


Remembering Asphalt Gone By
12/01/16 11:45am

Yesterday we opened up 2 more categories for the  Swamplot Awards for Houston Real Estate. So far we’ve got Favorite Houston Design Cliché, Best Demolitionthe “Where Are They Now?” Award, and Best Industrial Incident. Category number 5, opening this morning for nominations, is the Swamplot Award for Special Achievement in Parking. 

What has advanced the culture of parking in Houston? Has a game-changing garage or surface lot made waves on the scene? Or maybe you’ve noticed some less tangible contributions — perhaps serving to inspire new approaches to vehicle accommodation, or encapsulating a particular Houston parking zeitgeist.  Feel free to give this category any twists you think it deserves — just be sure to explain yourself when you send your picks our way.

To submit your nominees for this category, give us the what and why in the comments below. Or you can email us, instead— just do it by midnight this Thursday, December 8. More guidance on how to nominate can be found here.

The 2016 Swampies
12/01/16 11:00am

Montrose Management District boundaries

Montrose District Bike Houston Bike Rack, Montrose, HoustonA judge in Harris County’s 333rd district court signed off on a decision this week siding with the plaintiffs in a lawsuit alleging that the Montrose Management District has been illegally levying taxes within its boundaries (shaded in blue above). Per state law the district only needed 25 signatures from would-be affected property owners to form in 2011; the case went to court back in 2012 after around 988 other property owners within those boundaries signed petitions to shut the district down.

The court’s freshly filed judgement document says that the formation of the district required the initial sign-on of 25 property owners who would be subject to the taxation by the new district; the court ruled that although the district did have 26 signatures, 3 of those folks weren’t actually taxed for all of the years the district has been in operation — dropping the number of valid signatures down to 23, and rendering the basis for the district’s authority moot. The judge also says the district must now pay back the money collected so far — around $6.59 million.

Map and photo: Montrose Management District

Taxing Outcome