Articles by

Christine Gerbode

07/18/17 5:15pm

Currently listed for an undisclosed amount on CBRE’s website: a 10.69-acre chunk of the former Union Pacific railyard brownfield property previously sketched up for future conversion to the Hardy Yards mixed-use development. The section up for grabs appears to snuggle up to the west against a piece of land owned by Metro, whose Burnett Transit Center and light-rail Red Line are elevated above that semi-catching segment of N. Main St. tunnel; the parcel extends east to the new-ish segments of Fulton and Leona St., likely not too far from the spot where that rail car full of lithium batteries blew up back in April.

On the other side of the site, meanwhile, the Residences at Hardy Yards apartments are under construction, per photos from the Zieben Group published back in May:

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Near Northside Reallocations
07/18/17 2:45pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WAITING IMPATIENTLY FOR THE TRENDY DEVELOPER NICKNAMES TO SPREAD NORTH “The dumbest is ‘Near Northside’, separating it from the actual Northside, which no one understands unless you live there. So you have to tell people ‘Acres Homes’ (which it is not at all) or say ‘behind the Fiesta’ or ‘behind Gallery Furniture on 45 North.’ What other point of reference is there — across the freeway from Dago’s? Basically I’m waiting for gentrification to name my hood something that gentrifiers can easily recall.” [Robin, commenting on Comment of the Day: When They Move the Neighborhood To Sell the Home] Photo: Dago’s Tatt00 & Piercing Studio

07/18/17 1:15pm

That excavator (pictured above) spotted poking around outside of the former House of Deréon Media Center last week may have disappeared at the end of its brief staredown with a larger than life representation of Beyoncé Knowles and the Destiny’s Child crew — but the structure still looks to be on the chopping block after all, if the demo permits issued yesterday are any indication. Group 1 Realty, an arm of the auto chain that owns nearby Advantage BMW alongside the Pierce Elevated, bought the land last fall from Mathew Knowles; the company also looks to have been snapping up a smattering of other properties in the immediate vicinity since at least early 2015. 

Photo: Jordan

Demo Crews To Get In Formation
07/17/17 3:45pm

THE ROCKETS ARE SUDDENLY UP FOR SALE A surprise announcement from Houston Rockets owner Les Alexander today: he’s selling the team. The Rockets moved to Houston back in 1971 from their original short-lived home in San Diego, where they were reportedly named for the team’s proximity to the plant where General Dynamics was working on the Atlas program. Alexander bought the franchise for some $85 million back in 1993, just before the Rockets earned Houston its first championship win and the nickname Clutch City; management made some noise about moving everybody to Kentucky around the end of the 90’s, possibly to add urgency to the push to secure city funds for a new stadium (which became known as Toyota Center). The Rockets were appraised at $1.65 billion by Forbes this past February.  [NBA.com via KHOU; previously on SwamplotPhoto: Russell Hancock via Swamplot Flickr Pool

07/17/17 2:46pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: IS ‘ONE BIN FOR ALL’ TOO BIG TO SUCCEED IN HOUSTON? “Seems to me this innovative program steps on the toes of so many entrenched industries (and their political, financial and criminal associations.) Too big. If he could start in small communities, gain popular support and a groundswell of political goodwill, it would be better for success — but I suppose small-scale would not be at all economically viable.” [movocelot, commenting on Here Come the Pizza Chains; The Rise and Fall of One-Bin Recycling; previously on SwamplotPhoto of recycling bin in the Heights: Charles Kuffner

07/17/17 11:15am

Having a little trouble navigating through that 5-bedroom house at 4302 Colony West Dr., packed full of a dizzying array of odds, ends, puppets, paintings, and plants? Never fear — here’s a walkthrough of the property, which has been an object of fascination for well over half a dozen Swamplot readers this morning (several of whom laud the home’s potential as a horror movie setting). That sentiment is fueled at least in part by the full spread of mannequins and large dolls dispersed throughout the various settings of the home (from front yard to back, floor to ceiling, and in various states of undress). Let’s start with the lone capped figure standing guard at the gate to the 2-acre property, just listed for $1.275 million:

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Hanging Out by Jones Creek
06/30/17 1:30pm

You might not immediately gather, from the pastoral setting in the rendering above, that this is a view of what’s planned for the former Berger Iron Works property, tucked around back behind the Walmart at Yale and Koehler streets in the section of Katyville last rebranded as Washington Heights. (The footprint of the land is marked as a little blue rectangle in the map above.) The new name Riverway Properties is applying to the retail-redo-to-be appears to be Bonner Heights (presumably after Bonner St., which runs along the quiet western front of the property). Here’s how the 2 buildings on the site could be split up for leasing:

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Ironworks Rework
06/30/17 10:30am

We only count 1 basketball court, 1 stuffed elk head, and 3 faux finishes in the 9.74-acre setup at 17020 Cypress Rosehill Rd. —previously kinda-sorta-abandoned by Anna Nicole Smith (the listing agent tells the Chronicle’s Fernando Ramirez) during some part of the bankruptcy proceedings that followed her billionaire husband’s death (and the news that she might not inherit). But maybe the relatively tame suburban stylings aren’t so surprising, given that the property has been de-vandalized, remodeled, and expanded by the current owners since the home’s last sale in 1998 (years before Smith’s death, the posthumous Supreme Court ruling, and the debut of the opera cataloguing a few of the more storybook-scandalous aspects of her life).

The property, “income-generating equestrian operation” and all, is up for sale now for $2.842 million. Also new, since Smith’s departure: a modest backyard sports complex (including a gym building, multi-use court, and putting green). Make the full circuit:

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Room to Horse Around
06/29/17 11:00am

THE BRAND NEW LAURENZO’S ON BAGBY ST. IS ALREADY CLOSED Not to be outdone by the sudden departures of the last 2 occupants of the retail spot tucked below the parking garage at 1910 Bagby St., the Laurenzo’s offshoot which opened in the space this past January has now closed indefinitely, a passing reader reports. The eponymous Laurenzo family announced the spot around the start of this year, telling Greg Morago of the Chronicle that they had originally been approached to put an El Tiempo in the space by Landmark Hospitality (the folks behind borderline barbecue breastaurant The Republic Smokehouse & Saloon, which previously occupied 1910 Bagby). The space, just outside the elbow of the Pierce Elevated, sits directly across the street from the former Boyscout office that briefly hosted glitzy steakhouse Mr. Peeple’s (also a Landmark project). [Previously on Swamplot] Photo: Swamplot inbox

06/28/17 3:00pm

The latest of Gensler’s renderings of that midrise parking garage planned atop the recently evacuated location of nightclub and drag venue Meteor shows the structure rocking a swath of greenery in place of the decorative bicycles pictured across the facade in earlier drafts. Cara Smith reports in the Houston Business Journal this week that the garage is one of the projects that Gensler is “future proofing” — that is, designing with an eye to an eventual decline in Houston parking garage needs, whether spurred by the rise of self-driving cars or other shifts in transportation patterns. The firm was featured by Web Urbanist last month in an article discussing some of its other current garage projects, some of which are being outfitted with conversion-minded utility hookup spacing, as well as ceiling heights suited to something other than car stacking; modular features like easy-to-tack-on facades and removable ramps are also in the mix.

There appear to be 6 retail spots in the foot of the garage that will be ready for tenants before such time as the rest of the garage might hypothetically be repurposed (along with a slew of other spaces in the development, per Edge Realty’s leasing flier):

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Prepped for Obsolescence in Fourth Ward
06/28/17 12:45pm

BOBCAT TEDDY MAY BE HEADED TO JIMMY’S ICE HOUSE A new business name has just been registered  for the White Oak Dr. address of Jimmie’s Place, which claims to have held the spot for some 75 years (though under the variant Jimmy’s for at least part of that). The actually-used-to-sell-ice ice house was sold early this year to serial redeveloper Braun Enterprises, with some sideline speculation that an up-to-code remodel of the 1940s space might prove prohibitively expensive. But city records show an electrical plan review process kicked off in March; the name Bobcat Teddy’s Ice House was registered for the spot early last week.  [Previously on Swamplot] Photo of Jimmy’s at 2803 White Oak Dr.: David Richmond/Houston Ice House

06/26/17 12:00pm

What wonders wait in the secret rooftop garden that appears to be peeking over the edge of the highrise at 801 Saint Joseph Pkwy.? Reader and city sleuth Rachel Dvoretzky spotted a handful of leafy protrusions from the former hotel, Vedic school, and ambiguous combination thereof, most recently converted to a Days Inn prior to its slide into further dilapidation. The ever-changing graffiti veneer presented to passing Pierce Elevated drivers has seen some changes since April, too:

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Between Heaven and Heaven on Earth
06/26/17 10:45am

A stolen Dodge Durango was the first car pulled out of Brays Bayou earlier this month as Harris County Flood Control and friends resumed work on removing some of the 100-plus sunken vehicles previously discovered gently rusting below the surface of a few of Houston’s major waterways. (The Nissan Maxima above was next in line.) Last year’s test run of the removal setup snagged a total of 20 cars out of Brays and Sims bayous; the contracts signed earlier this year for a new round of vehicle fishing budget for a catch of around 65 vehicles from the 2 bayous, depending on size and how much of a fight each one puts up. (Texas Equusearch did note back in its 2011 survey that at least one big rig is lurking somewhere in the watery depths, and some of the cars are more filled with mud and debris than others.)

The county says the new car count was up to 13 by the time work crews paused last week to let Cindy pass; a county worker also snapped photos showing off some of the haul, which has so far included a range of more and less easily identifiable makes and models including a Nissan Frontier, a Jaguar, a Ford Mustang, a Ford Bronco, an Eagle Talon, and others:

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2,000-Pounders