08/05/16 4:30pm

3715 N. Main St., Norhill, Houston

3715 N. Main St., Norhill, Houston

Workers have begun attaching wire netting to the façade of the 4,344-sq.-ft. retail-turned-office building at 3715 N. Main, which county records indicate was built in 1940 and a nearby resident believes once served as a post office for the adjacent neighborhoods of Norhill and Brooke Smith. The netting is in advance, it appears, of a new stucco or stucco-like overcoat for the brick-front structure.

The Iglesia de Restauracion, an affiliate of El Salvador-based pentecostal ministry Mision Cristiana Elim Internacional, bought the building last fall; previously it served as the law offices of voting-rights attorney Frumencio Reyes. In stuccoing the structure, the neighborhood church will be following the pattern established earlier with the successive stuccovers of its own main sanctuary building, the former North Main Theater across the street at 3730 N. Main.

Here’s how that movie theater, which was built in 1936, once looked:


Famous Beige Overcoat
10/28/14 2:45pm



Somewhere within this recently renovated and expanded shingle-sided double-decker home in Brooke Smith lies the 1926 single-story version it sprang from. Can you find it?


Porches and Roof Pitches
05/22/14 11:15am

Map of Suggested Tampico Heights Location, HoustonA funny thing happens in Pooja Lodhia’s teevee report on the whole Tampico Heights dust-up. Yes, she gets Jim Badger, the creator of the Tampico Heights website, to come on camera, and she notes that his renaming project was meant as a sort-of joke. But more interesting: She finds a couple people who claim that the inside-the-Loop neighborhood west of I-45 and east of North Main St. should be called Northside.

They aren’t wrong.


Tampico Heights or Northside West?
05/12/14 1:30pm

TAMPICO HEIGHTS RISES AGAIN, THIS TIME IN A BUMPER STICKER CAMPAIGN Bumper Sticker Mentioning Tampico Heights, North Montrose, HoustonIn a setback for the upstart movement to rename Brooke Smith and portions of East Sunset Heights east of N. Main St. and west of I-45, the appearance of the name “Tampico Heights” on Google Maps got shut down late last month by a couple of eagle-eyed citizen editors who noted that the name was “being used by a small group of residents to try and encourage the adoption of the name for this neighborhood, much to a larger group’s displeasure.” The newfangled designation has now been removed. But pro-Tampico campaigners have taken to the streets — or at least the shopping-center parking lots: A reader sends Swamplot this photo of a Tampico Heights bumper sticker spotted on a Chevy TrailBlazer parked in front of “Party” Kroger on Studemont St. over the weekend. [previously on Swamplot] Photo: Mel

04/25/14 12:45pm

‘TAMPICO HEIGHTS’ IS NOW A THING ON GOOGLE MAPS Google Map Showing Tampico Heights, HoustonNear Northside residents who didn’t want their neighborhood to be called Tampico Heights have been successful in their campaign to keep the new name out. But it looks like Tampico Heights may be settling in as a new neighbor. A reader reports — and a quick online search confirms (see screen capture at left) — that Google Maps has now begun applying the new name Tampico Heights to area maps. Northside Village has been spared the Heights creep: The Tampico Heights name appears to have been applied to inner-loop neighborhoods Brooke Smith, East Sunset Heights, and portions of Sunset Heights west of I-45 and east of North Main, and not to Northside Village or the Near Northside, which lie east of I-45. That’s a more reasonable spot for a Tampico Heights to land anyway, since it incorporates the Tampico Refresqueria at 4520 N. Main St. and Tampico Seafood & Cocina Mexicana, at 2115 Airline Dr. [Previously on Swamplot]

04/02/14 11:00am

Buildings at Nestor Topchy's Residence, Brooke Smith, Houston

Buildings at Nestor Topchy's Residence, Brooke Smith, HoustonLocal art guide Robert Boyd takes himself and readers on a photo tour of the outbuildings surrounding Nestor Topchy’s home “just south of the North Loop,” catching readers up on a few of the structures the artist has built since (or salvaged from) his residency at the legendary TemplO (earlier, Zocalo), the 6-acre arts commune he ran on a rented former truck depot at 5223 Feagan St. in the West End from the late eighties into the early aughts. And he finds much to impress, including the glass-walled tin-roofed structure pictured here, which Topchy pieced together from steel windows and doors salvaged from buildings in Houston and Argentina, and which fronts a pond on the acre-plus property. Topchy calls it the Crescent:


Art Is Where You Make It
04/01/14 10:30am

HCAD Econ Misimprovement ClassificationA reader whose new property tax assessment is feeling pressure from all the construction nearby in Brooke Smith writes in with questions about HCAD’s “economic misimprovement” classification. That’s the label HCAD often applies to older houses in neighborhoods where similar structures are being torn down and replaced with new construction. (It’s “an adjustment to the dwelling to limit the remaining building value as the land value increases.”) Writes the homeowner: “I was wondering if my fellow co-readers would have any information about filing your home as an economic misimprovement and how to do so with HCAD. Also, are there any disadvantages of doing so?”

Some background: “I bought my home in 2012; my property taxes from 2011–2012 increased by 40 percent. I prepared a thorough protest, but the ARB essentially denied my protest by comparing my home to the new homes/heavily remodeled homes in the neighborhood.”



Exceptions Misimprove the Rule
03/28/14 11:15am

WHERE SKINNY RITA’S WILL BE SQUEEZING IN ON NORTH MAIN 4002 North Main St., Brooke Smith, HoustonContractor-turned-Realtor-turned-fraud investigator-turned-restaurateur Randy Bower and the team behind Ruggles Green plan to open the first of 2 Skinny Rita’s Grilles in the space at 4002 N. Main St. on the triangular block bounded by Walton and Melwood in Brooke Smith that’s been home to Rico’s Cantina, Rico’s Luchadores, and more recently the Frida Kahlo-themed La Casa de Frida and Frida’s Cucina later this year. Skinny Rita’s Grille is meant to be a “farm-to-table” Latin restaurant. “Skinny Rita’s food is rustic, healthy, and ‘sexy to the bone®’ as are our drinks and décor,” reads the text on the restaurant’s dummy website. A rooftop patio will feature long views of Downtown. A second Skinny Rita’s is apparently being planned for Kemah. [Previously on Swamplot] Photo: Skinny Rita’s Grille

10/15/13 11:05am

Looks like MAM’s House of Ice will be opening inside this 780-sq.-ft. former paint supply liquor store at 1040 W. Cavalcade — just in time for winter! This spot is a bit east of where the sky-blue dessert trailer usually parks at Rutland and 20th. Why here? The owners explain to Eater Houston that they “‘tried really hard not to go into a strip center because [they] wanted to have green space’ so that families could go out, extend blankets on the green and enjoy the outdoor picnic tables.” HCAD records show that this new lot comes in at 3,500 sq. ft.

Photo: Eater Houston

05/29/13 3:45pm

An email sent out by the owners of re:HAB says that the bar will have to close and leave its Houston Ave. location by July. (A landlord issue, apparently.) But the email also says a new spot has been lined up — at 1658 Enid and Link Rd. in Brooke Smith — and that it could open as early as August “if everything goes according to plan (yeah right).”

So we’ll take things one day at a time, then. The bar first opened in the renovated (and repainted) former Houston Ave Bar spot along the Spring St. hike and bike trail. This new location is just a few blocks north of the renovated D&T Drive Inn on Enid and about a mile east of the proposed site of Town in City Brewing Co. on W. Cavalcade. The email goes on to describe this building as “nestled on the banks of ‘Little White Oak Bayou,’” explaining that you’ll be able to get to re:HAB this time “by car, bus, bike or kayak.”


03/14/13 1:00pm

Redo work on a 1920 cottage with a watching-the-world-pass porch spun off a mini-me houselet in back (above) and an airy, matching carport. The property, located a few blocks west of I-45 — between the Near Northside and the Heights — listed last Friday with an asking price of $399,000. The property had last changed hands in November 2012, for $119,500. But that was in its pink period (at right); it had first listed last March, for $150,000.


07/12/12 2:11pm

One of the reasons Brookesmith resident Vicki Scarpato bought the 1890 cottage on Archer St. pictured above last year was because of the 2009 Modern addition at the back: “I love the mix,” she says. Her home is next door to the modern structure architect Jeromy Murphy designed for his family and not far from the Cordell St. shipping-container house — all in a neighborhood that she calls “an interesting mix of beautiful new modern, Victorian cottages in various states of repair, and only a very few instances of three-to-a-lot townhouses.” Here are some pics of the back:


02/09/11 10:18am

CHANGING WITH THE TIMES ON NORTH MAIN “The Heights could certainly use a great drag revue,” concludes Katharine Shilcutt in her survey of the not-so-new restaurant at 4002 N. Main in Brookesmith, across Walton St. from Shipley’s Donuts: “Linda is the chef here at La Casa de Frida, a family-run place that’s been run by the same folks for 30 years on North Main. It was formerly Rico’s Cantina, then — for a very brief period last year — Rico’s Luchadores. That Mexican wrestling-themed concept didn’t pan out, so the family has now switched gears to a Frida Kahlo-decorated Tex-Mex cantina that offers Italian and Chinese food on the menu in addition to college ‘club’ nights on Fridays and drag shows on Saturdays.” [Eating Our Words] Photo: Swamplot inbox.