02/09/16 10:30am

Vehicle Recovery for Operation Submerge, Gulfgate, Houston, 77023

If you are the owner of the bottom half of a red Ford Ranger left in Brays Bayou near Wayside Dr. some time in the last 20 years, your vehicle may be waiting for you in HPD’s impound lot. The pilot program intended to test out a procedure for fishing out the 127-or-so vehicles mapped beneath the surface of a few of Houston’s waterways reeled in its 20th and final car over the weekend before the $49,500 project grant ran out.

The removals started near the Wayside bridge over Brays Bayou in late January, then moved upstream of the crossing of Lidstone St. on the 29th; last Friday, operations jumped down to Sims Bayou to score a few final sets of wheels. Harris County Flood Control District, which oversaw the fishing trips, tweeted that project executives will now meet to discuss future removal plans and compare notes on the process, which involved divers from Saltwater Salvage submerging to attach giant yellow floaties to the sunken vehicles:


Stirring Up Mud in Gulfgate
01/28/16 10:45am

Sunken Vehicle Removal from Brays Bayou at S. Wayside Dr., Gulfgate, Houston, 77023

A 1987 Buick Regal was pulled from Brays Bayou yesterday, as a $49,500 pilot program to remove about 127 vehicles thought to be sunk along the bottom of several of Houston’s major bayous revved up. Divers working at the crossing of S. Wayside Dr. attached bright yellow floaties to the sedan to help it swim to the surface before it was lifted onto the shore, where police identified it as reported stolen in 1998. Mike Talbott of the Harris County Flood Control District expects that crews will be able to remove some 20 to 25 cars before the money runs out.

The Buick is one of the drowned cars mapped by Texas Equusearch in 2011, as the nonprofit used a sonar-equipped boat to look for a missing woman in a Black Dodge Avenger (later found in a retention pond off Old Galveston Rd.). Assistant Chief Mark Curran of HPD told ABC 13 that most of the cars at the bottom of Brays and Sims Bayous were probably joyridden and then dumped. Stolen vehicles have been found in other Houston-area water bodies, including that 1985 Fiero uncovered in 2011 during the extended drought which brought down Lake Houston water levels.

Floating yellow containment booms spanned the waterway downstream of yesterday morning’s operation to catch any oil or gasoline that might leak from the vehicles during the removal process:


Nice Catch Under Wayside Dr.
05/05/15 4:45pm

Woodridge Plaza Shopping Center, 6969 Gulf Fwy., Houston

Woodridge Plaza Shopping Center, 6969 Gulf Fwy., HoustonKing Dollar, Pizza Hut, Sherwin-Williams, Sun Loan, Mini’s Cleaners, Ruchi’s Taqueria, Schlotzky’s, Tiendo Rio Lempa, Denny’s, Hairtex & Nails, Nancy’s Cake Designs, Nationwide Insurance, Edible Arrangements, Todo Jewelry, Video Square, V Star (pictured here), and all of the businesses in the Woodridge Plaza shopping center at 6969 Gulf Fwy. — they’re all going away. The Houston Community College System wants to expand its Southeast College East Side Campus onto the 5.7-acre property to its south, on the north side of I-45 near Gulfgate. A reader who isn’t involved in the legal tussle, but who’s looked through the records on the county clerk’s website, describes the back-and-forth as laid out in the documents: “It looks like the special commissioners valued the shopping center at $12,500,000. Both the landowner, Compass Investors Group LLC, and HCCS objected and are seeking a trial for a higher, and a lower valuation, respectively. Texas Capital Bank is owed about $3.5 million on a mortgage on the property and also intervened. The landowner lawsuit is in Cause number 1043516 in County Court 4. HCCS also filed condemnation actions against all the tenants (cause 1057330 in County Court 4).”

Images: Moseley Commercial

The Taking of Woodridge Plaza
09/23/14 10:15am

Fire at Spanky's Homemade Pizza and Bar, 7210 South Loop East, Gulfgate, Houston

A fire that broke out in the kitchen of Spanky’s Homemade Pizza early this morning did considerable damage to the structure, reports Click2Houston’s Courtney Gilmore. But if you’re wondering about the “kitchen staff wanted” sign posted outside, or how owner Frank Roache could possibly declare on camera that the restaurant, which has been open on the South Loop feeder road at Woodridge only since 1976, would be “back up and running in about 6 weeks,” here’s a little background:

The much larger Gabby’s Bar-B-Que next door to Spanky’s at 4659 Telephone Rd. closed down earlier this year.


Scooting Over to Telephone Rd.
01/29/14 4:45pm

Violin Man Don Luis Cruz at Woodbridge and I-45, Gulfgate, Houston

Don Luis Cruz, also known as the octogenarian violinist often found trilling and harmonizing with Gulfgate traffic, passed away yesterday at Pasadena’s Bayshore Medical Center, having reached the age of 90. He was a daily fixture at the intersection of Woodridge Dr. and the Gulf Fwy. feeder road until the summer of 2012, when he was beaten by a man in a wheelchair over the money in Cruz’s violin case. “Over the years,” writes the Chronicle‘s Craig Hlavaty, “crooks targeted The Violin Man for his tip money, bike, moped and even his amp. After each incident, however, Cruz would ignore his family’s pleas and head back out to his corner.” This video feature on Cruz’s string habit aired on Telemundo in 2011:


09/11/13 11:10am

Just about a mile as the trash floats along Brays Bayou from that sylvan site in Idylwood where the Houston Parks Board is considering building a parking lot, more work of the flood-mitigating Project Brays is underway. Here, near the intersection of Wheeler and Old Spanish Trail, the Harris County Flood Control District is widening the channel to help the bayou along, an act that will necessitate spending about $4.2 million to build a new 2-lane bridge.

According to the HCFCD, the existing bridge on Wheeler — shown in the photo here — isn’t nearly big enough and will need to be demolished. The new bridge, to be built during the next year or so, will extend Lidstone St. up and over the bayou to O.S.T., connecting the Gulfgate and Fonde Park neighborhoods just southeast of the Orange Show. Once the bridge is complete, more hike and bike trails will be installed.

You can see a project map and more photos after the jump:


03/13/13 11:15am

Just outside the Loop on Telephone Rd., Frank’s Grill — or Rank’s Rill, as Hurricane Ike rendered the standalone greasy spoon’s sign — will be closing and moving south about a tenth of a mile into the larger suite shown here in the recently completed strip center on Telephone and Fairway. The strip center replaced a car dealership and a body shop. There’s no date set for Frank’s move, but an employee tells Swamplot that it should be happening in about two months.

Photos: Allyn West

08/05/10 1:50pm

The subdivision
for this home on Meineke St. on Houston’s southeast side carries the intriguing name of “Freeway,” but most of you will just call it Gulfgate. It’s only a block south of the South Loop, and Gulfgate Center is just a mile to the east. The home is listed as the official address of All Purpose Plastering, but the for-sale listing has been plastered on MLS for only a couple of days.

The 3-bedroom, 1-bath house was built in 1960 and measures a little more than 1,000 sq. ft. But look what you can fit inside: