09/15/16 12:30pm

St. Elizabeth Hospital RFP, 4514 Lyons Ave., Fifth Ward, Houston, 77020

St. Elizabeth Hospital RFP, 4514 Lyons Ave., Fifth Ward, Houston, 77020 The cross still standing above the entrance of the former St. Elizabeth Hospital building can just barely be seen peeking out over the top of the structure in the color photo up top, included with some black-and-white historical shots in the Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation’s recent call for ideas on what to do with the place. The hospital at 4514 Lyons Ave. opened in 1947 and later gigged as a detox center, substance abuse treatment facility and halfway house before being bought by Riverside General in 1995. The structure was renamed the Barbara Jordan Healthcare Facility until it was shut down in 2014 when Riverside wasn’t able to make ends meet (financially or building-code-wise). The Fifth Ward redevelopment folks bought the property in April.

A site plan drawn up by Gensler shows the current layout of the property, including the original 3-story E-for-Elizabeth main building. Some now-doomed subsections and add-ons are shaded in red, and the convent building, which looks like it might stay in the picture if somebody makes a good case, gets just a warning coat of pink:


Rehab on Lyons
07/14/16 4:45pm

1709 Dan St., Fifth Ward, Houston, 770201709 Dan St., Fifth Ward, Houston, 77020

Much of the front of container-composed 1709 Dan St. still sports that distinctive shipping container crimp, though the actual entrance to the 2-box structure has been partially camouflaged behind siding and a gabled-roof-sporting porch. The misalignment between the 2 boxes makes room for a matching patio space in the back of the home, which sits about a block and a half north of the intersection with Lyons St. in Fifth Ward. The house was put together by container enthusiast Build-a-Box (whose website says it’s also working up a 50-unit shipping container apartment complex for the neighborhood).

All the sections of the 2-bedroom, 2-bath structure add up to about 1,228 sq.ft.; the house went on sale last month for $189,995. The crimping has been completely masked on the inside of the house:


Building With Boxes
07/07/16 2:30pm

MIDWAY: GIANT FIFTH WARD KBR SITE WON’T BE CALLED NORTHBANK BUFFALO BAYOU, BUT SOMETHING ELSE MIGHT Former KBR Campus, 4100 Clinton Dr., Fifth Ward, HoustonA representative from Midway tells Swamplot that, while the company has been working on a trademark for the name Northbank Buffalo Bayou, it won’t be used for whatever the company is planning for the 136-acre former KBR site in Fifth Ward (which was recently bought by a Midway affiliate). The name is actually connected to another project floating around on the company’s drawing board — no confirmation yet as to exactly where that development might be located, if it comes to be, but the north bank of Buffalo Bayou seems like a reasonable guess. Wherever the moniker is applied, the US Patent and Trademark Office lists the name as intended for use related to both commercial and residential real estate marketing and construction. Also on the list of things the brand could be used for: wine and food tastings, and presenting live musical performances. [Previously on Swamplot] Listing photo of KBR site: LoopNet

07/05/16 10:00am

Former KBR Campus, 4100 Clinton Dr., Fifth Ward, Houston

Whatever’s in store for the 136-acre former KBR site along the the Ship Channel at 4100 Clinton Dr., CityCentre developer Midway now looks to be involved. Documents filed with the county clerk’s office near the end of May reveal that Cathexis Holdings recently sold the site to KBRN, an entity connected to Midway through a recently minted corporate partnership (and officially located down the hall from Midway’s CityCentre office.)

And might Midway — which also heads the team that turned failed Downtown Mall Houston Pavilions into GreenStreet, and is developing the Kirby Grove park-and-office-building complex along the banks of the Southwest Fwy. in Upper Kirby — have some big office-shopping-residential-and-park-y plans in mind for this vast property, which lies about a mile and a half downstream from Downtown? A couple of clues are out there:


Sold on the Ship Channel
05/17/16 5:00pm

Eado Edge subdivision, Clinton Dr. at Jensen Dr., Fifth Ward, 77020

A reader sends fresh snaps from north of Buffalo Bayou in Fifth Ward, where Urban Living’s long-time cornerside “coming soon” sign at the intersection of Clinton and Jensen has been joined by a more specific banner advertising the planned Eado Edge subdivision. A 2014 replatting created 80 new lots out of the former Standco Industries warehouse complex at 2701 Clinton Dr., which Colliers sold following the oil equipment company’s bankruptcy proceedings a few years prior. The not-yet-townhomes sit across Clinton from the former KBR site bought by Cathexis back in 2012; the currently empty land is also just west of InTown Homes’s Regent Park subdivision.


EaDo Creeping North
04/08/16 12:30pm

Shopping Center planned at 3519 Clinton Dr., Fifth Ward, Houston, 77020

Shopping Center planned at 3519 Clinton Dr., Fifth Ward, Houston, 77020

A reader notes a notice on the formerly-barred now-boarded front window of the building at the corner of Bringhurst St. and Clinton Dr. The sign tells tale of an application to the TABC to sell mixed drinks at the spot, late at night, under the name of The New Potato. The restaurant space, formerly Taco Loco prior a late-2000’s stint as Nina’s Cafe, sits a block east of the Harris Machine Tools facility, a block south of a field of townhomes, and a block north of the 136-acre former KBR site, tagged a few years back for use as a helicopter landing spot.

The bar-to-be’s current grey-and-white color scheme came about back in 2013. Here’s a peek back in time at the the bright orange Taco Loco days, followed by the turn-of-the-decade Nina’s yellowing:


Clinton at Bringhurst
12/15/15 10:00am

Deluxe Theater, 3303 Lyons Ave, Fifth Ward, 77020

No fewer than 11 pairs of scissors reached to cut the ribbon in front of Fifth Ward’s DeLuxe Theater at 3303 Lyons Ave. as it formally reopened yesterday. The 1941 movie-theater-briefly-turned-art-gallery, which has sat empty since 1973, will now host plays, classes, and other community and art events put on by Texas Southern University; TSU jazz students performed at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The original facade and marquee have been restored and updated:


Now Playing Off 59
05/07/15 4:15pm

Mural by Wiley Robertson, 3301 Cline St., Fifth Ward, Houston

A couple of brick walls adjacent to the Lower Fifth Ward home of online retailer Spectrum Audio are now graced with a mural meant to pay tribute to an earlier Upper Fifth Ward audio enterprise. Peacock Records, founded in 1949 by Don Robey, captured recordings by Big Mama Thornton, James Booker, Little Richard, and other jazz and gospel artists at its studio at 2809 Erastus St. — now the home of Charity Baptist Church. A couple miles to the southwest at 3301 Cline St., artist Wiley Robertson painted a version of the record label’s Peacock logo — adjacent to another of his signature “Love” murals:


Sounds of the Fifth
03/31/15 4:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: HOW THOSE NEW FIFTH WARD DRIVEWAYS CAME TO REACH ALL THE WAY INTO THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET Townhomes Under Construction, 400 Bayou St., Fifth Ward, Houston“Here’s how you get to this point. (i) Neighborhood gets built with gravel streets, ditch drainage. (ii) City goes in and widens most of the streets in the neighborhood in the 1960s. 40′ asphalt, curb and gutter. Baron St. misses out on the neighborhood-wide repave because it has a railroad track in the middle. (iii) Railroad track gets abandoned, trackbed gets paved over, no one ever improves Baron. (iv) Townhome developer comes in and wants to put in a driveway. Houston Infrastructure Design Manual says any culvert in City right-of-way has to be 24″ minimum. Developer’s engineer knows if he touches that old 60s curb inlet he’ll have to replace it to current spec, better to match the flowline and save eight or ten large. Culverts go in and look huge because 24″ on top of the existing flowline is above the crown of the road. (v) Swamplot readers are confused because the 60s-era curb and gutter doesn’t match the existing right-of-way.” [Purple CIty, commenting on Here’s One Way To Get Extra Long Driveways for Your Fifth Ward Townhome] Photo: Swamplot inbox

03/31/15 3:15pm

Scene of Auto Accident at Baron St. and Bayou St., Fifth Ward, Houston

Townhomes Under Construction, 400 Bayou St., Fifth Ward, HoustonAs a cautionary demonstration of the hazards of the kind of wacky old-roadway-meets-new-driveway construction found in front of a set of under-construction townhomes at the corner of Bayou and Baron streets in the Fifth Ward, the accident pictured here doesn’t quite hold up to extended scrutiny. Sure, it might be tough for a vehicle to stay on the asphalt when a stretch of roadway suddenly disappears and new concrete driveways stretch across it (as illustrated in the second photo above). But here the damaged Escalade appears to have crashed into a stationary hazard on the opposite side of the street.


Dude, Where’s My Road?
03/30/15 1:30pm

Townhomes Under Construction, 400 Bayou St., Fifth Ward, Houston

How did these townhomes under construction on the northeast corner of Bayou and Baron streets in the Fifth Ward come by their extra-long, tongue-like driveways? It’s not exactly clear, but the reader who sent these pix of the project and its rather prominent culvert-leaping flatwork thinks the answer might have something to do with a willingness to build well past the property line — or at least a lack of familiarity with where the property line actually is. The orange complex across the street, in the background of the photo above, is the Kennedy Place Apartments. Here’s a view of the townhomes from that side, looking east:


Just Add Street
01/06/15 1:30pm

Variance Sign for Living Green, MDI Superfund Site, 3617 Baer St., Fifth Ward, Houston

Signs have gone up around the former metal foundry site at 3617 Baer St. in the Fifth Ward indicating that a hearing is scheduled for this Thursday to get city approval for the latest rejiggering of homesites on the 35-acre tract. Developer Frank Liu of Lovett Homes, InTown Homes, and a few other local builder brands plans to put a total of 538 homes (down from 589) on the EPA-monitored property, known as the MDI Superfund Site after the last owner of the metal-casting operations, Many Diversified Interests, which shut down in the early 1990s (previously, the plants were owned by TESCO). The property, which lies just south of I-10 about 2 miles of east of downtown, was listed on the EPA’s list of priority Superfund sites in 1999, after tests showed the soil and groundwater was contaminated with lead and other hazardous metals.


Living Green
12/23/14 3:15pm


A teaser website is now up and more work is underway on the Residences at Hardy Yards, touted as a component of the Near Northside’s very first mixed-use development. The apartments — “part of a comprehensive, mixed-use redevelopment of the Hardy Rail Yard site,” per city documents — are going in on 5 acres of the long-neglected former Southern Pacific and Union Pacific rail yard near the corner of N. Main St. and Burnett St., 2 blocks north of I-10, hard by the new MetroRail line, and just east of UH-Downtown. 

Earlier this month City Council approved a performance-based loan of $14,500,000 in federal hurricane relief money to the Houston and Financing Corporation-created entity HY FS LLC to build a 350-residential unit development on part of the 49-acre recently guerrilla-gardened property.

One condition of the loan: that 179 of the total of 350 one- and 2-bedroom units be affordable:


Tracks To Flats
11/18/14 11:45am

Auction Items from Houston International Festival

Auction Items from Houston International FestivalComplete the grounds of your Jamaica Beach canal-side palazzo with an actual-ish Venetian gondola! Bond with the family in the back yard while reconstructing a long-dismantled mockup of one of Ethiopia’s famed rock churches, the Great Wall of China, or the Sydney Opera House! (See photos above.) Restore a toppled statue of a Thanksgiving turkey in pilgrim attire to its former pride, and watch the neighbors turn green with envy when your work crew trundles it out to the front yard every November. Or add serious gravitas to your estate gateway through the addition of a giant clenched fist (the iFist?; pictured at right) or mini-obelisk!

All these items and more from the now-ended 27-year run of the Houston International Festival will hit the auction block at 9 am this Saturday in a warehouse at 3811 Clinton Dr.

Here are more pics of some of the choicest lots. Everything must go!


11/12/14 12:00pm

Proposed Community Park at Kelly Village Housing Development, 3118 Green St., Fifth Ward, Houston

Signs are now up along the feeder road of the East Fwy. near Gregg St., a reader tells Swamplot, announcing an impending construction project on the site where last year demolition crews removed 63 units belonging to the Kelly Village Apartments that had been left to decay after sustaining damage from Hurricane Ike. Scheduled to go up soon in its place is the $800,000 freeway-side park illustrated above, which was announced last year. The 3-acre site near the confluence of I-10 and Hwy. 59 will include a playground, jogging and walking trails, exercise spots, and a community garden.

Rendering: Houston Housing Authority

A Park at Kelly Village