04/15/14 4:30pm

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Spaces are configured in unusual ways in this 1992 contemporary home in Spring Branch’s Shady Villa Annex neighborhood, located south of Westview and east of Antoine near Spring Valley. The home’s deep setback on a double lot, for example, puts outdoor amenities like a pool and grotto on the side and gives the stone-and-steel exterior’s towering stairwell a twist of wood-and-glass finishes.

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Twists and Turns
04/15/14 1:15pm

Near Northside Residents Holding Tampico Heights Signs, Houston

A dust-up begun in the comments section of a Houstonia magazine article has blossomed into a mini-campaign to squash a recently coined neighborhood nickname. Two websites have now been created to document the curious internet history surrounding the recent appearance of the name Tampico Heights, and to demonstrate residents’ steadfast opposition to Heights name creep.

“From talking to dozens of Northsiders, it is not a name that anyone has heard used for the neighborhood,” a reader tells Swamplot. So the reader (lightheartedly signing emails as the Tampico Heights Redevelopment Authority) created a timeline site, documenting usage of the term “Tampico Heights” — in a manner that might make the founders of the OED proud — “in hopes that people who write about our neighborhood, or any neighborhood, make a practice of talking to residents, and not inventing things from google searches.”

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Battling ‘Heights’ Creep
04/15/14 11:15am

Park Place Baptist Church, 4105 Broadway St., Park Place, Houston

Park Place Baptist Church, 4105 Broadway St., Park Place, HoustonThe owners of the Park Place Baptist Church building and campus just south of the Gulf Fwy. at 4101 Broadway St. have put the 8.694-acre property up for sale, with a list price of $3.9 million. The building, which also serves as a sixties-mod landmark at the freeway exit for mod-home bastion Glenbrook Valley (not to mention Hobby Airport), has been home to the church since the building was completed. But the congregation no longer owns the facility. In 2002, the property was deeded to the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, which is based in Dallas. The campus currently serves as the Seminary’s J. Dalton Havard School for Theological Studies.

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Park Place Baptist
04/15/14 8:30am

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Photo of Kids Kastle: elnina via Swamplot Flickr Pool

Headlines
04/14/14 3:45pm

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One of the contemporary townhomes with courtyards in a 7-property subdivision dubbed West Lane Place was under contract last month but returned to the market a week ago with an asking price of $575,000 — $10K higher than the previous listing. The listing identifies the townhome’s designers as some form of the firm once known as Wilson, Morris, Crain, and Anderson — also known as the architects of the Astrodome. Courtyards, it says, are by landscape firm McDugald-Steele. The 1982 property is tucked between Afton Oaks and the railroad right-of-way east of Newcastle.

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Steel Away
04/14/14 2:45pm

DEEP INSIDE THE BOOMING MARKET FOR HOUSTON HUNKER BUNKERS AND PANIC ROOMS Safes R Us Fort Knox Vault RoomThe Houston area is Atlas Survival Shelters’ best market in the U.S., the California company’s owner tells Houstonia‘s Peter Holley. But who buys the sort of underground bunkers outfitted with a mud room, bunk beds, a kitchen, and a separate escape hatch Atlas markets? That’s a secret, because bunker buyers don’t like to talk about what they’re prepping, and often mask their identities from the security-hawking companies themselves. Holley figures out the contours of the survivalist boom, though: “For several years Houston has been in the throes of a frenzy of domicile defense, with many homeowners throughout the region spending five figures or more to turn their suburban abodes into veritable fortresses, employing elaborate and perhaps dangerous methods in the process. Meanwhile, for companies that sell panic rooms, freeze-dried food, weapons, secret passageways, safes, spy equipment, and booby traps, business is booming, especially in and around the Bayou City.” A bit cheaper than a dedicated 10-ft.-by-40-ft. underground shelter-in-a-pipe is the $20,000 Fort Knox vault room (a version of which is pictured above on a new-construction site), “a Porta-Potty–size walk-in vault that has been in high demand for several years, especially in Houston, according to Safes R Us owner Eric Bristol, whose store is located off the East Freeway,” Holley writes. “He noted that a single room weighs 20,000 pounds and is encased in harder concrete than the type used to construct highways. Walk inside, swing the 1,300-pound door shut, and you might find that feelings of impenetrability are hard to separate from feelings of panic. ‘My daughter can’t be in here more than a few seconds before feeling claustrophobic,’ Bristol said, pulling a lever and sealing the tiny room during a visit to the Safes R Us showroom. ‘But I’ve sold hundreds of these things over the last few years because people are worried about rising crime, and they know that you’d need a tank to break open one of these babies.’” [Houstonia] Photo: Safes R Us

04/14/14 12:15pm

Proposed Condo Tower at 3615 Montrose Blvd., Montrose, Houston

The developers hoping to build this 12-unit condo building on the former site of the River Cafe at the corner of Montrose Blvd. and Marshall St. are requesting a variance from the city so they can scooch the project’s blank-wall parking-area front 15 ft. closer to Montrose Blvd. than city rules ordinarily allow. And if they don’t get their way, they’ll make the 7-story structure even bigger, the variance application threatens. That would mean fencing off the building’s front; putting the parking garage on 2 floors instead of one, and adding “additional living floors . . . making the building much taller than others adjacent.”

A submitted site plan prepared by Element Architects shows the existing right-of-way reduced by 5 ft. along Montrose Blvd. in addition to the setback requirement, to allow for future widening:

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At Variance
04/14/14 10:30am

Vacant Lot at 411 Lovett Blvd., Former Site of Bullock-City Federation Mansion, Montrose, Houston

Demolition of 411 Lovett Blvd., Avondale, Montrose, HoustonA bulletin board with a request for “comments” went up last week on the fence fronting the now-vacant site at 411 Lovett Blvd. in Avondale, where the 1906 Bullock–City Federation Mansion was torn down earlier this year (see photo at right). Yes, the metal fence along Lovett Blvd. is still standing. Passers-by have been adding their thoughts.

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Suggestion Box
04/14/14 8:30am

astrodome facade

Photo of the Astrodome: Paul via Swamplot Flickr Pool

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