04/24/14 12:00pm



Little White Oak Bayou meanders by the back of a property (and so do a couple of uh, hikers in the background of the top photo) located east of N. Main St. and about 3 sidewalk-lined blocks from the Metro rail station at Fulton St. Is the Northside property located in De Noyles, as indicated in the listing, or is it Booth North Main, as recorded by HCAD for all addresses on the block? The listing’s all-cap message is all about redeveloping the acre-plus lot of land, not the 1960 home that sits on it at the end of a long driveway (above). A month ago, the asking price dropped to $1.1 million. Since January (and in a previous listing dating back to September 2013) it had been sitting at $1.6 million. But even that was down a bit from someone’s expectations: In 2008, a six-month listing’s asking price kicked off at $2 million.


Mind the Gap
04/24/14 10:45am

ST. PHILIP PRESBYTERIAN IS NOT FOR SALE Saint Philip Presbyterian Church, 4807 San Felipe St., Uptown, Houston“The enduring themes of conversation here include traffic and real estate,” intoned Pastor John Wurster in his Easter Sunday sermon in front of the blue tiled chancel wall in the sanctuary of the St. Philip Presbyterian Church, which is sited on a prime slice of Uptown land at 4807 San Felipe St. “The real estate conversations seem to happen exclusively with those outside of the church. These are the people who call expressing an interest in buying the church property. I explain that we’re not looking to sell. Of course, you are. Everyone is willing to sell at some point. Just tell us what that point is. No, really, we feel like this is where God has called us. This kind of theological talk tends to bring no response beyond bafflement, as if it’s not possible that one could be in a place and not be willing to leave it if the price were right, as if it’s not possible that decisions and actions might be motivated by something besides money.” Saint Philip’s congregation merged with Central Presbyterian Church a few years ago, shortly before that congregation sold its Richmond Dr. facility to the Morgan Group. Central Presbyterian was torn down for apartments in 2011. [St. Philip Presbyterian; previously on Swamplot] Photo: church member Jeromy Murphy

04/24/14 8:30am

allen parkway sunset

Photo of Allen Pkwy. sunset: Russell Hancock via Swamplot Flickr Pool

04/23/14 4:15pm

514 Villa Dr., Villas by the Sea, Seabrook, Texas

514 Villa Dr., Villas by the Sea, Seabrook, TexasWelcome to lovely Villa by the Sea, the quaint Mediterranean-themed gated McMansion development off Todville Rd. in Seabrook that just happens to be built on the grounds of the former mansion where owner, trailer-rental mogul, and child predator Bill List was shot by some angry houseguests back in 1984. That last detail about the neighborhood’s history, apparently, was unknown to Nir Golan, who recently signed a lease to rent the house pictured above. The 4,550-sq.-ft. seaside home at 514 Villa Dr. was built in 2006 on a section of the land where part of List’s absurd 34,000-sq.-ft. mansion itself once stood, facing east toward Galveston Bay.

Golan says his Realtor didn’t tell him about the homesite’s history, but that he simply can’t live there now that he knows what happened. “People say that they wouldn’t come to my house as a guest,” he tells KHOU’s Jacqueline Crea. Crea reports that the homeowner has agreed to terminate Golan’s lease, but won’t return the deposit; he tells her he had no obligation to disclose any information about the Todville mansion. (Law professor Gerald Treece, who appears in the story, seems to agree on the disclosure issue.) Golan plans to sue to the current owner to get his money back, he tells KHOU.


Spooked by a Bit of Seabrook History
04/23/14 12:30pm

Strip Center, 1901 N. Shepherd Dr., Houston Heights

For months, local ice cream shop Fat Cat Creamery has been the only business open in the recently expanded and redone strip center at the northeast corner of N. Shepherd Dr. and 19th St. (It’s over around the left side in the photo above.) But now there’s a sign up announcing that Smoothie King is headed for the spot a couple doors down from it along 19th. And there’s more to this sugar rush: It appears a donut shop is headed for a space next door to Fat Cat in the same center. A buildout for Hugs and Doughnuts, from the folks behind the H-Town StrEATs food truck, is now going on in Suite 4 of the 8,000-sq.-ft. center at 1901 N. Shepherd, a source tells Swamplot.

Photo: Re:Vive Development

Hugs and Donuts
04/23/14 11:15am



Beneath the glulam arches of a 2004 contemporary home designed by Houston architect Scott Ballard, living spaces line up in an open floor plan (top) with double-stacked windows fore and aft. The east-west property in First Montrose Commons near the HSPVA campus was listed last week, but recently upgraded its listing photos. It carries has an asking price of $1.22 million.


Let’s Roll
04/23/14 10:15am

TURNING THE FERAL HOGS OF BARKER AND ADDICKS RESERVOIRS INTO PORK CHOPS FOR THE NEEDY J&J Packing Co., 35602 West Hwy. 90, Brookshire, TexasYesterday county commissioners approved a 1-year contract yesterday with Brookshire’s J&J Packing Co. (pictured at left at 35602 W. Hwy. 90) to slaughter and butcher feral hogs found damaging sports fields and other facilities in and around West Houston’s George Bush Park and Congressman Bill Archer Park and turn them into meat for area food banks. Harris County precinct 3 employees will now be responsible for trapping the hogs and transporting them to the Brookshire plant for processing. “The plan is to trap the varmints in four, 4-acre fenced structures — two in each park — where they can survive for up to several weeks, having grass, water and room to move around,” writes Kiah Collier. “The larger traps will be more effective than smaller ones employees have been using, [Precinct 3 special activities coordinator Mike] McMahan said, because the pigs do not realize they are in a trap and are less likely to panic and warn others. ‘Pigs become very aware of those situations very quickly,’ McMahan said. ‘Pigs are very smart animals.’ But a wildlife disease biologist tells Collier that similar plans tried elsewhere have turned out to be very expensive, and that there are disease risks: “It’s great publicity while it works,” says Brian Mesenbrink with the Texas offices of the USDA’s Wildlife Services, “but the minute something goes wrong, the minute somebody gets sick, there’s going to be all hell to pay. No one thinks about that going into it. They just see the fuzzy and warm side of it.” [Houston Chronicle ($)] Photo: J&J Packing Co.

04/23/14 8:30am

former downtown macys

Photo of Hilcorp building construction at former Downtown Macy’s site: Marc Longoria via Swamplot Flickr Pool

04/22/14 1:15pm



Layers of lacquer lend some extra shimmer to the glossed interior of a 1978 contemporary home located in Raintree Place. The gated community of 86 homes — built in a variety of styles over a 20-year period — lies east of the West Loop near the end of Post Oak Blvd. The reflective residence was listed last week with an asking price of $975,000.


Polishing Silver
04/22/14 10:00am

HOW THE BEER CAN HOUSE GOT ITS BEER, AND OTHER ESSENTIAL STORIES OF ENSHRINED HOUSTON WACKINESS Painting the Town OrangeSomebody oughta write a history, you’ve probably thought at some point, of the singular, weird art treasures like the Orange Show, the Beer Can House, the Flower Man‘s house, and okay, maybe Pigdom and TemplO and Notsuoh — that give Houston legitimate license to call itself funky. But it took a relative newcomer — writer Pete Gershon moved to Houston in 2005 — to conduct all the interviews and get these and other stories down on paper. Gershon’s new book, Painting the Town Orange: The Stories Behind Houston’s Visionary Art Environments, weaves together tales of the creation and preservation of these and other unique urban places, giving a detailed view of the thinking (and in at least one instance, drinking) that put them together and drew others to them. Sections on Grace Bashara Green’s stuffed-to-the-gills house at 414 Avondale St., David David Smalley’s Miniature Museum at 1406 Welch, Dolan Smith’s Museum of the Weird, and Bill Davenport’s 11th St. junk shop art studio on 11th St. were cut from the manuscript before it was published, but posted separately on the art blog The Great God Pan Is Dead. [Brazos Bookstore]