They’re gone, but not forgotten.
Our second category of the 2013 Swamplot Awards for Houston Real Estate aims to determine what was, exactly, this year’s Best Demolition?
Thanks to your help, we’ve compiled a list of potential candidates. With some more help — in the form of your votes — we can pick the winner. Before you vote, ask yourself this: Should this category commemorate the best act of demolition, the removal that produced the best results, or the best building that happened to be torn down?
The voting rules for this year’s Swampies are posted here, but they’re not that complicated: You can vote in this category through each of 4 methods: in a comment below, in an email to Swamplot, on Twitter, or on Swamplot’s Facebook page. If you’ve got a favorite candidate, start a campaign! And don’t forget to add why you’re voting for that particular nominee. The polls close for all categories at 5 pm on December 27th.
Without further, um . . . adieu, let’s knock out the nominees for Best Demolition of 2013, shall we?
1. Kelly Village Apartments, 1119 Grove St., Fifth Ward. It took a Komatsu to finish the job that Hurricane Ike started. On June 4, the city ceremoniously demolished 63 damaged units of the Houston Housing Authority’s 333-unit Kelly Village Apartments. The structures had been vacated — but were not exactly empty. One mother wrote a letter to the Housing Authority requesting that something be done “as drug dealers and thugs made themselves at home in [the] vacant buildings.” In place of the cleared apartments adjacent to I-10, the city is building a 3-acre park.
2. Reliant Astrodome ramp towers, ticket booths, berms, and accoutrements, Reliant Park. What a long, strange story it’s been. The big kaboom was heard last weekend, but work had begun months earlier. County commissioners approved the demolition of the helical ramps surrounding the Astrodome — along with berms, ticket booths, electrical equipment, and exterior ramps — back in August, when it looked like the Harris County Sports and Convention Corp.’s plan to turn the long-vacant structure into a single-story exhibition space called the New Dome Experience might meet with voter approval. And demo work, which county judge Ed Emmett labeled “improvements” to the structure, began before voters even had a chance to vote on the bond proposal that would have funded the building’s renovation. A few days before election day, Reliant Park held a sale and auction of the Harris County Domed Stadium’s interior furniture, selling off seats, turnstiles, signs, and dugout benches. Next up: carving out the asbestos. If the county does end up with a plan to reuse the structure in some way, there’ll be less of it they’ll need to renovate.
3. Baptist Temple Church buildings, Rutland and 20th streets, Houston Heights. To raise money for repairs in 2008, the Heights’ Baptist Temple Church sold some of its property to Walgreens, which set up shop next door. This year, to fund additional work, it stuck to the same formula. In May, the Heights church was able to sell 2 of its oldest buildings — its original sanctuary, built in 1912, and a larger sanctuary built during the 1940s — to developer Braun Enterprises, who promptly demolished them to make way for a new retail center. By sacrificing its older unused buildings, the Baptist Temple Church was able to fund a $3 million renovation of its remaining 65,000-sq.-ft. T.C. Jester Building on 20th, adding a new 300-seat sanctuary and updating classrooms and offices.
4. Randalls Flagship #1013, 1407 S. Voss Rd., Memorial. How neatly this once-happenin’ grocery store stepped aside: When news came that a Trader Joe’s was headed to Voss and San Felipe, it didn’t take very long before more news came — that the Randall’s located right across the street was closing. And then the building was demolished — to make way for a new Whole Foods Market.
5. Fiesta, 3803 Dunlavy at West Alabama, Lancaster Place, Montrose. The Susanne takes it down: Once Wilshire Village across the street completed its transformation from old apartment complex to the sparkling new H-E-B Montrose Market, it was time for this 1962 grocery store to turn into — a new apartment complex. But it took some time. Survey stakes showed up around the market and the shops in the attached strip center back in November 2011. But the store didn’t shut down until the following July, and it wasn’t until a year later that the demo was completed. Developer Marvy Finger is planning an 8-story “Mediterranean style” structure, called The Susanne, for the site.
6. Cafe Adobe, 2111 Westheimer Rd., Upper Kirby. The hot-spot Tex-Mex restaurant stood at the corner of South Shepherd Dr. and Westheimer since 1981 — until it didn’t anymore. Hines bought the property last year, with plans to construct a 215-unit apartment complex on the site, which sits just behind Kirby Dr. The restaurant remained open until Mother’s Day; it was torn down in August.
7. Foley’s, 1110 Main St., Downtown. Early on the morning on September 22, Downtown lost its only department store. The 10-story 791,000-sq.-ft. building that took up the whole block bounded by Main, Travis, Dallas, and Lamar was detonated in a giant cloud of glorious dust. The 66-year-old brick almost window-free box had been designed for Foley’s by the now-oft-demoed Kenneth Franzheim as a model of modern retail efficiency; it became a Macy’s in 2006. Hilcorp plans to build a 23-story headquarters building for itself in its place.
Which one of these ghosts of Houston past deserve to be remembered forever as the Best Demolition in 2013? You tell us!
- How To Vote in the 2013 Swamplot Awards for Houston Real Estate [Swamplot]
- Swamplot Awards Ballots 2013 [Swamplot]
Photos: KHOU (Kelly Village Apartments); Mike Acosta (Astrodome); Charlotte Aguilar/The Leader (Baptist Temple Church); Allyn West (Randall’s); Candace Garcia (Fiesta, Cafe Adobe); Christof Spieler and Jim Parsons (Foley’s)