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 Villas 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]

04/22/14 8:30am

chevron building

Photo of Chevron building at 1400 Smith: Russell Hancock via Swamplot Flickr Pool

04/21/14 3:30pm

Future Site of Micro Center, 5205 S. Rice Ave., Uptown Crossing, Houston

The 3.5-acre field at the corner of S. Rice Ave. and Westpark shown here, where the Wald Relocation Services complex stood until 6 years ago, will be the site of the new Micro Center store later this year. The site plan for the Uptown Crossing shopping center intended for this location shows a big-box store set way back in the right distance, at the end of a new curvy street-drive thing cut through to it from S. Rice, across from Sam’s Club. That’s the most likely spot for the 32,000-sq.-ft. building Micro Center is planning. Micro Center sold off its larger 47,759-sq.-ft. West Loop location to Amegy Bank earlier this year. Here’s a rendering of the new, terrifically brown-and-boxy big box Micro Center:


Big Computer Box in Field
04/21/14 1:15pm

Jaguar Stuck in Concrete at Buffalo Speedway and Southwest Fwy., Greenway Plaza, Houston

This photo of a Jaguar F-Type V8 S stuck in a patch of freshly-poured concrete started making the rounds of internet auto-fan sites last Friday afternoon. The earliest online reference appears to be this tweet from SpeedSportLife before noon — but the Houston car publication was apparently just passing on a photo it had no more information about. In several forum appearances readers immediately speculated that the scene had likely taken place in Houston, and on the Houston Reddit board a poster tersely declared that the site was the intersection of Weslayan and 59. But a couple of other commenters help peg the incident location a couple of overpasses to the east:


Stuck in Traffic