What was this year’s Best Teardown? That’s the third category in the Swamplot Awards for Houston Real Estate. And the official nominees are now in the (soon-to-be-demolished) house!
The voting rules for this year’s Swampies are posted here, but they’re not that complicated: Add your vote in the comments, or more privately in an email to Swamplot. Start a campaign in support of your favorite candidate, if you like. Plus: This year readers can vote on Twitter by following these simple instructions. (It’s a free extra vote!) The polls close for all categories at 5 pm on December 28th.
The nominees for Best Teardown of 2009 are . . .
1. The Savoy Apartments, 1616 Main St., Downtown. “For its sheer brick-dropping squalor and decay. A city emergency order forced owner Michael Nassif to demolish Houston’s first-ever highrise apartment building in early October — 6-inch-thick encrusted pigeon-poop deposits, asbestos, and all. Can we nominate this one for a teardown award if it would’ve come down on its own anyway?”
2. 1212 Hyde Park Blvd., Montrose. “A spectacular but badly neglected large Tudor Revival home from the 1930s, on a double lot on the corner of Van Buren. Gone in a cloud of dust, and ready for redevelopment.”
3. Fire Station 33, Fannin and South Braeswood, Braeswood, and Fire Station 37, 3828 Aberdeen Way, Braes Heights. “Last of the small Fifties Modern fireboxes, replaced by brand-new stations with more of a storybook look. Shouldn’t someone have opened an ice house in one of these?”
4. Wilshire Village Apartments, 1701 West Alabama St., Lancaster Place. “How can you summarize the ongoing real estate soap opera surrounding Wilshire Village? Architect Eugene Werlin’s 1940 garden apartments were left to rot slowly for decades, as the Montrose complex’s eccentric owner got better and better at fighting off the scores of would-be tenants who were regularly begging for a chance to move in and fix up their own units. The fire station was always just down the street, but the Fire Marshal didn’t step in to declare the property a hazard until after the purported new owner decided to evict everybody, early this year. Today the partnership that owns the property is in bankruptcy, the 8-acre lot is for sale, and the complex’s classic structures have been safely stored in a landfill. So much neglect, and if you talk for five minutes to the folks who used to live there, you’d understand it was so needless.”
5. 405 W. Friar Tuck Ln., Sherwood Forest. “Robert Mosbacher commissioned this huge sorta Louisiana Plantation, sorta American Georgian estate from famed Houston Architect John Staub in the early 1960s; later, it served as developer Giorgio Borlenghi’s crash pad. Four years after its most recent renovation, it became one of Houston’s favorite $5 million teardowns. Why didn’t they just dredge it in salmon colored stucco and add a turret or two?”
6. 314 E. Friar Tuck, Sherwood Forest. “Neuhaus & Taylor’s 1970 home for developer Kenneth Schnitzer had no gift-wrapping room. So clearly it needed to be torn down. It’s the kind of thing that’s happening all over Memorial: There just aren’t enough Midcentury Mod enthusiasts in Houston who have $3 million to spare. I wonder what type of Spanish fusion will replace this beauty?”
7. 1514 Banks St., Ranch Estates. “Karen Lantz’s piece-by-piece Ranch House deconstruction demo project. She got support from the anti-teardown and pro-green crowd for donating building materials, and support from investors and the property-rights obsessives for making a choice that was economically beneficial to her. For one brief, shining moment, it seemed like everyone on this site actually agreed on something.”
8. Compass Bank Building, 2200 Post Oak, Galleria. The Redstone Companies tore down the 7-story light Brutalist concrete office building to make way for two giant mixed-use developments that’ll be in pole position for the Uptown Light Rail Line. The building was imploded in February, but there’s been no on-site action reported yet on the planned replacement, appropriately called The Perennial.”
So . . . what’ll it be? Which one of these smashing contestants wins the year? Let’s hear your vote!
- How To Vote in the 2009 Swamplot Awards for Houston Real Estate [Swamplot]
- How To Vote a Second Time in the 2009 Swamplot Awards for Houston Real Estate — Using Twitter [Swamplot]
- Swamplot Awards Ballots 2009 [Swamplot]
Photos (top to bottom): Sarah McLean (Savoy), fortbendtomontrose (1212 Hyde Park), Lauren Meyers (fire stations), Jim Parsons, from GHPA’s Houston Deco (Wilshire Village), HAR (405 W. and 314 E. Friar Tuck), Karen Lantz (1514 Banks St.). Video: tofu713.