- 500 Seawall Blvd. #1408 [HAR]
OYSTER TYCOONS FIGHT OVER BAYBOTTOM TERRITORY AS REEFS RECOVER FROM FLOODING More action is expected next week in the Galveston County courtroom hosting part of the ongoing underwater real estate fight involving some of the biggest names in the local oyster fishing industry, writes Harvey Rice. At stake: oyster rights on 23,000 acres of subsea land leased out in 2014 by the Chambers-Liberty Counties Navigation District — including some areas already leased out to other fishermen by Texas Parks and Wildlife. The move spurred several lawsuits, first from the lessee’s industry competitors and (former) friends, and later from the state of Texas itself; the issue has since worked its way to several appeals courts, one of which stopped the case from being moved to Chambers County. And even the oysters themselves have faced a dramatic few years, Rice notes, between the recent Houston–area flooding (which sent enough freshwater runoff to the coast to drastically alter the bay’s salt levels) and the stretch of drought before that (which let salinity get too high). [Houston Chronicle] Map of oyster habitat in Galveston Bay: General Land Office
Down in Galveston, seafood-slash-southern-focused Harborside Mercantile is opening up for a preview this evening, after clearing some liquor licensing hurdles that set back the planned December startup. The restaurant, located at 2021 Strand St., is a collaboration between Richard Craig (whose 3-wheeled Hubcap Grill will be getting a 4th location inside IAH) and Joshua Martinez (owner of The Modular foodtruck and the former Chicken Ranch).
The Strand, buoyantly styled as the “Wall Street of the South” in the 19th century, was battered by fires, the Civil War, and numerous destructive hurricanes before sinking out of prominence and settling into life as a warehouse district; historical restorations in the 1960s paved the way for the district’s eventual resurgence as a tourist destination.
Photos: Harborside Mercantile
More Gorey than gory in its trimmings, a Queen Anne Galveston home — sporting a slight witch’s hat steeple atop a shingle-sided upper room — popped up on the market just before Halloween. It’s a double-lot property located on a corner 7 blocks from the beach on the East End of the island city. Was it around for the Great Storm of 1900?
BUILDING A MONUMENT TO GATED FLOOD CONTROL AND TOURISM Protecting the Ship Channel during an Ike-like (or worse) storm surge has led some to propose a big dike, others a big gate. But UH professor of urban planning Tom Colbert doesn’t see why we couldn’t trouble ourselves to make such protection a real sight to see too: “Colbert likes the idea of . . . connecting the Centennial Gate and its levees to the proposed Lone Star National Recreation Area, undeveloped land that would both attract ecotourists and slow floodwaters,” reports the Houston Chronicle’s Lisa Gray: “I remembered one drawing I’d seen in [Colbert’s] PowerPoint show: Happy tourists, paddling kayaks past the Hartman Bridge, on one of the byways out of the big ships’ path, waterbirds and wetlands all around. Colbert motioned southeast, toward the Ship Channel’s mouth, toward Barbours Cut, the other possible location for the floodgate. There, he said, the levees would cross the channel’s water, connecting the Ship Channel’s artificial islands — made from dirt dredged from the channel — to the shore. Enough room could be left on top of the levee for a hiking path or even for car access; for the first time, it would be possible for people to get to the Atkinson Island Wildlife Management Area — a bird mecca on manmade land — without a boat. You could even, he notes, build a tourist destination atop one of those islands: He proposes a monument to Houston, the gateway to North America, the place where nature meets industry. In some drawings, just to give people the idea, he plunks the Statue of Liberty atop a Ship Channel island.” [Houston Chronicle ($); previously on Swamplot] Photo of Fred Hartman Bridge: Chuck Wilkson
SOME REAL-LIFE OCCUPANTS FOR GALVESTON’S LONG-ABANDONED BREWERY? The endangered historic Falstaff Brewery that once harbored a bunch of scared architecture students in a horror flick might become a real refuge for Galvestonians looking for cheap housing — or so Culturemap’s Tyler Rudick seems to think, divining a hint about Dallas developer Matthews Southwest’s plans for the property from the very title of the rep he interviews: “Company officials are unable to reveal the full details until a purchase is finalized,” cautions Rudick. “But [we] spoke with current project leader Scott Galbraith, whose position as Matthews Southwest’s vice president of affordable income development suggests the company’s larger plans for the complex.” Perhaps, but Galbraith is also quick to point out that Matthews Southwest is keeping its options open while studying the site; previous environmental investigations have found plenty of asbestos in the 313,000-sq.-ft. building and soil contamination around it. [Culturemap; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Candace Garcia
GALVESTON HISTORICAL FOUNDATION CLOSES ON BISHOP’S PALACE With the Moody Foundation’s $1.5 million donation as a nice starter, the Galveston Historical Foundation was able to raise the rest of the $3 million it needed to buy the 1892 Bishop’s Palace from the Catholic archdiocese and keep it open as a museum. Designed by Nicholas Clayton for Col. Walter Gresham, the 17,420-sq.-ft. Victorian mansion at the corner of 14th and Broadway had housed clergy since 1921 before the foundation opened it up for tours. The Houston Chronicle reports that the archdiocese plans to use the windfall to renovate the St. Mary’s Basilica, also in in Galveston, while the foundation “plans to restore the roof, the front of the building and do repainting [and] other general repairs” to the Palace. [Houston Chronicle ($); previously on Swamplot] Photo: Galveston Historical Foundation
UNLOADING GALVESTON’S BISHOP’S PALACE The Galveston-Houston Archdiocese has put up for sale the 1892 Bishop’s Palace, a.k.a. Gresham’s Castle, at 14th and Broadway. The price? $3 million. But the archdiocese isn’t going to let just anyone buy the 17,420-sq.-ft. Victorian clergy digs-turned-museum — at least not for a while: “The Galveston Historical Foundation has an exclusive right until the end of this month to raise . . . the money or the archdiocese can open the sale to all comers,” reports the Houston Chronicle. Foundation director W. Dwayne Jones tells the Chronicle that they’ve already raised $2.3 million. And why the sale? “Jones said the archdiocese has been looking to get out of the museum business for a while. ‘They are in the business of saving souls.'” [Houston Chronicle] Photo: Galveston Historical Foundation