04/26/17 8:30am


Photo of UH-Downtown hike & bike path extension: Marc Longoria via Swamplot Flickr Pool

04/25/17 4:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHERE THAT DAYS INN TOWER FALLS ON THE HOUSTON ABANDONED HOTEL SPECTRUM Former Holiday Inn, Days Inn, and Heaven on Earth Plaza Hotel, 801 St. Joseph Pkwy. at Travis St., Downtown Houston“As much as I would prefer to see a building like this having some kind of economic use or value in its function, as long as it is not inviting of crime or danger, I don’t have issue with a building just sitting there — that is the owner’s prerogative. (Remember the Sheraton-Lincoln hotel? It sat vacant for years, graffiti-less and fully windowed; no one would have given it a second thought driving by.) In the past few months, the graffiti has exploded, and more and more windows are being broken out. I don’t know what happens when you smash a window 300 feet in the air, but I’m pretty sure those pieces come raining down near and around the building and onto the street. The owners need to do their part to keep the building secured to prevent the criminal activity, and prosecute the trespassers and vandals. Otherwise they are no better than the owners of the Southwest Inn.” [tmr, commenting on Downtown’s Preeminent Dilapidated Hotel Tower Now Outfitted To Greet I-45ers with New Nametags, Fewer Window Panes] Photo: Bob Russell

04/25/17 3:15pm

Water Main Strike during Demolition of Town & Country, 10565 Katy Fwy., CityCentre, Houston

Following that recent gentle but firm excavator tipover of the last bits of the Town & Country III mod office midrise near CityCentre, demo work on the broader office complex has moved underground — apparently far enough underground to puncture a water main, a camera wielder on the scene speculates this afternoon. As of 2pm, word from the reader was that water was still flowing, “and has made a nice-sized pool,” filling up the footprint of a mid-demo former underground parking garage structure (and providing lakeside views to parts of Trammell Crow’s CityCentre branch of its Alexan apartment chain.)

fuller sequence of garage take-apart and fill-up over the last few days is laid out below, starting with a rainy Tax Day shot facing the Alexan and the I-10-Beltway-8 tangle:


Lakes of I-10
04/25/17 12:45pm

COULD HARRIS COUNTY SAVE UP SOME FLOODWATER FOR WHEN IT’S REALLY NEEDED? Flooding along S. Braeswood Dr., Meyerland, Houston, 77096Finding a way to stockpile floodwater during years of plenty, commissioner Jack Cagle tells Mihir Zaveri this week, might not only help to make more water available for use during Houston’s drought years. It might also be a way to check the Houston region’s tendency for subsidence (that slow, permanent sinking that can happen when groundwater is pulled out of Houston’s soft clay layers too quickly). Or maybe, Zaveri adds, it could be used to help keep seawater from being sucked into aquifers as fresh water gets sucked out the other side — as long as doing so didn’t accidentally contaminate those same aquifers with junk from the surface. Who knows? Nobody, yet — but the county commissioners have given the $160,000 okay to a study team to shed light on whether it would be possible, feasible, or advisible for Harris County to pump floodwater underground for storage during major storms. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo of Meyerland flooding on Tax Day 2016: Tamara Fish

04/25/17 12:00pm

Preservation Houston 2017 Good Brick Tour Homes

Our sponsor again today: Preservation Houston, letting you know about its annual Good Brick Tour, which takes place this weekend. Thanks for supporting Swamplot!

On the 2017 Good Brick Tour, you’ll get an inside look at award-winning historic homes and buildings. Preservation Houston welcomes visitors with guided tours of 5 privately owned historic properties from noon to 5 pm on both Saturday, April 29, and Sunday, April 30.

Locations on this year’s tour are:

  • The Dentler Building, 1809 Summer St., High First Ward Historic District: Visionary owners transformed a derelict apartment building (1923) into a modern family home.
  • 2219 Kane St., Old Sixth Ward Historic District: Innovative design elements give new life and new uses to a traditional Victorian house (c. 1905).
  • Isabella Court, 1005 Isabella Ave. at Main St., Midtown: one of the few survivors (1929) of Main St.’s 1920s Mediterranean era. Three apartments and the semi-tropical courtyard will be open for the tour.
  • Fire Station No. 2, 317 Sampson St., East End: An early 20th century fire station (1910) has been adapted as a contemporary home with its historic character intact.
  • 309 Sampson St., East End: A classic Victorian home (c. 1895) was rescued and revived with its historic ornamentation preserved inside and out.

The Good Brick Awards are Preservation Houston’s program for recognizing excellence in historic preservation. All the properties on this tour are Good Brick Award winners.

Your last chance to buy tickets online at the special advance rate of $25 per person is midnight on Thursday, April 27. (After that time, tickets will be available for $30 per person at any tour location during the weekend.) Tickets are valid both days of the tour and provide 1 admission to each location.

How about after you buy tix for the tour, you come back to Swamplot and sign up your business to be a Sponsor of the Day? Click here to learn more about the program.



Sponsor of the Day
04/25/17 11:30am

Transmission Line Tower Installation, Westpark Dr., 77081

Transmission Line Tower Installation, Westpark Dr., 77081Bits and pieces of the electrical towers formerly stringing CenterPoint’s transmission lines between 59 and Westpark Dr. were spotted laying around just west of West Loop 610 this weekend, though the feet of at least one of the structures were still standing at the ready. The old towers appear to have been fully relieved of their duties at this point, 3 months or so after the taller, sleeker towers started going skyward. Here’s one of the last full-length portraits featuring both kinds of towers, taken in the final days before the changeover began in earnest:


West Loop Heights
04/25/17 8:30am


Photo of The Station Museum: Russell Hancock via Swamplot Flickr Pool

04/24/17 4:00pm

Proposed Blossom Hotel on Lehall St. at Bertner Ave., Cecil Street Courts, Houston, 77030

1128 Lehall St., Cecil Street Courts, Houston,  77030The little house on the corner with Lehall St. is no longer standing in the would-be shadow of that hotel planned on the 7100 block of Bertner Ave. (seeing as it’s no longer standing at all). Developers with Zhejiang Blossom Tourism Group Houston had originally sketched up a 9-story hotel with a footprint dipping around the holdout corner lot. Adolfo Pesquera notes over at VBX that the latest plans now show a 16-story structure, and an expanded footprint of the site was okayed for commercial use by the planning commission after the property sold.

Here’s a glance back at what the hotel looked like in its earlier iteration, minus a few floors and motarboards:


Sprouting South of Brays Bayou
04/24/17 1:45pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: NO, SPRAWL’S NOT JUST A NUMBER AFTER ALL Illustration of Density, Houston“Only one of the neighborhoods cited on the ‘Houston’s not all sprawl‘ article even comes within shouting distance of what people think of when they say ‘East Coast density’ — and that’s Montrose. Two of the other neighborhoods (Gulfton and Westwood) have the residential density, but they lack the commercial density and the layout of a typical East Coast urban neighborhood. They’re basically a bunch of suburban-style apartment buildings shoved together. Pecan Park achieves its density level by cramming a lot of people into suburban-style single family houses and wasting very little space in between the suburban 5,500-sq.-ft. lots — but while it’s a cute little neighborhood, it too lacks commercial density. So basically, aside from Montrose and a couple other pockets of larger neighborhoods (i.e., northwest Midtown) there’s nothing here which even approaches a dense East Coast neighborhood, and we pretty much are all sprawl.” [Christian, commenting on Grand Central Park’s Official Debut; Houston’s Not All Sprawl] Illustration: Lulu

04/24/17 12:45pm

RAIL CAR OF ‘NONHAZARDOUS’ MATERIAL BLOWS UP BY THE RAILROAD-THEMED HARDY YARDS SITE Fire Fight near Hardy Yards, Near Northside, Houston, 77009Union Pacific gives KHOU the answer to yesterday’s entry in the semi-regular citywide game of what’s-that-mysterious-cloud-of-smoke: a railcar loaded with lithium batteries headed to a recycling plant, which caught fire and exploded early Sunday evening. The blowout happened on a stretch of tracks skirting the southern edge of the former railyard now being redeveloped into the Hardy Yards mixed use area (complete with artsy homages to the land’s brownfield past). The explosion cracked walls and took out some windows at at least one house nearby on Chapman St. south of the tracks, in the strip of otherwise-mostly-industrial properties north of I-10 between N. Main St. and the reincarnating Elysian St. bridge. Nobody seems to have been seriously injured; the exploding batteries themselves are technically considered non-hazardous material, a Union Pacific spokesman notes. [KHOU; previously on Swamplot] Photo of yesterday’s firefight near Hardy Yards: Air Alliance Houston