PEARLAND, CITY OF 3 WALMARTS Ahead of this weekend’s local runoff election, the Christian Science Monitor delves into the rapid growth and demographic shifts in the “dumbbell-shaped suburb” of Pearland — and how a few candidates for municipal office are approaching it: “Its diversification is largely a result of [Houston’s] inexorable sprawl . . . where residents keep moving farther out in search of lower-density living.” Pearland now ranks as the nation’s eighth-fastest-growing city, but Houston’s only second-most-diverse suburb, where, writes Simon Montlake, as many as 75 languages are spoken in local schools, but residents refer to the eastern-most Walmart in town as the “white Wal-mart” — “because of who shops there – and who doesn’t.” At a forum held in the Bella Vita Club at the center of the age-restricted Bellavita at Green Tee community off Scarsdale Blvd. just east of the Golfcrest Country Club, a middle-aged woman wants to know how candidates plan to draw together what she sees as the “two cities” of Pearland. “Pearland is solidly middle-class,” Montlake notes. “A starter house costs $140,000, and median household income is $97,000, much higher than in Houston. But newcomers rushing to downtown jobs barely brush shoulders with the mostly white retirees who tee off on the golf course weekday mornings or the older families that work and play near home.” [Christian Science Monitor] Photo of Bella Vita Club: 55places.com
The city of Pearland’s Odor Task Force is hosting a meeting on February 8th to give some updates on the saga of the Shadow Creek Ranch stench, the Chronicle‘s Margaret Kadifa reports. The map above shows industrial sites noted by the TCEQ in the vicinity of the master-planned community during the environmental agency’s long-running search for the source of the odor. Early last summer the come-and-go smell was finally officially linked to emissions from the slowly rising Blue Ridge Landfill, which sits across FM 521 from the subdivision, just outside the Pearland border in Fresno, TX. The agency says that 81 investigations had been launched in response to more than 1,900 complaints from the neighborhood, as of January 1st; TCEQ started sending enforcement letters to the landfill in October, and a class action lawsuit on behalf of area residents was filed in November.
Map of industrial sites and air sampling locations around Shadow Creek Ranch: TCEQ
Blue Ridge Mountains
Ralph Bivins tells Swamplot that lots of dirt is being shoved around on the foreclosed former site of the WaterLights District project, west of 288 and just south of the Beltway where all those heads of former heads of state used to hang out. Pearland’s Ivy District is now being planted on the site instead: plans for the $300-million development include a multifamily complex, condos, a senior living community, townhomes, office buildings, and room for retail.
Part of the project’s funding will come from the EB-5 visa program, which allows wealthy foreigners and their immediate families to immigrate to the US in exchange for a necessary investment expected to create at least 10 jobs. Sueba USA and Beijing-owned American Modern Green are developing the site; American Modern’s parent company Modern Land of China has worked on projects in China (including Steve Holl’s twisty Linked Hybrid in Beijing) and Vancouver, but the Ivy District is its first US venture.
American Modern Green bought the land straddling the Harris-Brazoria county line back in late 2012 following the 2010 foreclosure. Here’s the breakdown of what will go where, per the current plans on the Ivy District’s website:
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Planting in Pearland
Exxon marks the spot for Ronnie Killen’s latest foray into the Pearland meat market: A burger joint, going in a derelict Exxon station at the corner of S. Main St. and Broadway St. and sharing a busy intersection with Whataburger and folksy Pearland institution the Busy Bee Cafe.
Killen had teased readers of his social media sites earlier this month with snapshots of the gas station, but on Friday, he at last confirmed it as the future home of Killen’s Burger on the Killen’s Barbecue Facebook page:
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How’d all this open land find itself around this deep-on-the-lot bungalow-like listing? This 2008 property is far from the higher density cottage communities in Houston Heights and its hinterlands. Rather, it’s in Pearland’s Colonial Estates, a neighborhood located west of Cabot Cove Lake and south of Magnolia St. The big-roofed home and just-plain-big garage (above) share an acre and a half fronting a straight-shot country road. Views from the front porch go deep, wide, and high (top). The recent listing asks $348,000.
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Watching From Afar
Even before hitting the courtyard pool, an Asian-inspired home in Pearland’s Green Tee Terrace golf community takes a dip with its pagoda-style roof — and hand-dipped gold leaf panels on the living room ceiling (top). Could the distinctive 1982 property be too distinctive for the area? In a series of successive listings, its price has kept dropping. Last week, the stately home popped back up on the market again, this time seeking $699,000. In its initial listing back in 2011, the asking price started at $1.2 million and was whittled back to $895,000 over a 2-year period. A 6-month interim listing in September 2013 found no takers at $800,000 or at the $750,000 reduction in December. Back in 2005, it sold at $614,000, down from a 1999 sale for $649,000.
Attention to detail is one of the property’s hallmarks; so are shoji screens in many of the rooms . . .
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IS HOUSTON A MELTING POT, A SALAD BOWL, OR A BBQ KOLACHE? Chron food critic Alison Cook frames the new Killen’s barbecue brisket-filled kolache from Peña’s Donut Heaven & Grill in Pearland (pictured above at 11601 Shadow Creek Pkwy.) as a mere restaging onto a dinner plate — or in a to-go bag at least — of the larger metropolis’s cultural blend: “Mixing and matching has become our culinary birthright. In the nation that is Texas, Houston — with its port and its flourishing economy and its early influx of international immigrants — has been the leading edge of this trend.
Whereas 20 years ago, the advent of a huevos ranchero kolache at the Kolache Factory attracted a bit of delighted surprise, now the reaction to Peña’s idea of stuffing the TexCzech bun with Killen’s sanctified brisket is more along the lines of ‘What took you so long?‘
Indeed, just hours after the brisket kolache was announced to the world, kolache baker extraordinaire Victoria Rittinger was already riffing further on the idea.” [Houston Chronicle] Photo: Peña’s Donut Heaven & Grill
COMMENT OF THE DAY: ENJOYING THE FRUITS OF COMMUTING “I spend a lot of time and money commuting from Pearland. I have done so since 1990, so I’ve seen the average time double since I moved out there. It could be true that over 30 years or so I’ll spend as much or more money on gasoline and travel costs as I would have spent on a closer-in place. But you know what? I got a screaming deal on a house I really like. My house payments are way lower than in-town rent and I would never be able to qualify for an in-town mortgage. I have a car I love and I’m a maintenance freak who does a lot of my own mechanical work myself. I haven’t had a car payment in nine years. Anse’s 45 minutes each way? That’s me. That’s an hour and a half of very rewarding music listening, podcasts, audiobooks, you name it, enforced each day. And all that cultural stuff that is ‘easier’ close in? You know, restaurants, bars, movies, plays, concerts, festivals, etc.? It’s all doubled or more than doubled in price since the ’90s. In the very, very long term, like a normal lifespan, it might be cheaper to live closer. But on a day-to-day basis, for a lot of us, it’s simply not affordable, and if it were borderline affordable, it wouldn’t be worth it.” [marmer, commenting on Comment of the Day: The Lies Houston Drivers Tell Themselves] Illustration: Lulu
A fire to one of the pits at Central Texas Style has forced the Pearland barbecue joint to shut down — but only for a few days. The older of their two pits, reports the Houston Chronicle, got a little carried away late Tuesday night, though Pearland Fire Marshal’s spokesperson Sparkle Anderson says the damage appears to be minimal. Since the fire, updates to Central Texas Style’s Facebook page suggest they hope to be back up and smoking at 4110 W. Broadway by Thursday or Friday.
Photos: Central Texas Style BBQ (storefront); Facebook (fire)
It “only” took 987 days to sell her Pearland home, Jenny Lawson announces. But did the Bloggess — and now bestselling author — shirk on that “No Zombies — sort of” guarantee she had offered on her single-story David Weekly model in Southern Trails back in 2010 when she first put it on the market? “In the middle of signing all of the paperwork,” she writes, “I mentioned to Victor that we should probably disclose that we buried that-guy-I-couldn’t-remember-the-name-of in our yard years ago and Victor looked at me like I’d lost my mind. Probably because you’re not supposed to say that in front of realtors. Then Victor told me to be quiet, but I mentioned that we’d probably go to hell for not digging the guy back up. Then Victor explained that I was talking about a saint I’d buried upside down in our front lawn to help sell the house and the realtor looked at us like we were insane because apparently she’s not Catholic. And technically neither are we, but at the time we were pretty desperate to sell the house and I was willing to bury just about anyone in the yard to stop having to pay two mortgages.”
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FUDDRUCKERS GROWING INSIDE LUBY’S Seven months after converting a Luby’s takeout room on the I-10 East Fwy. into a Fuddruckers Express drive-thru (shown in the photo at left), the company behind the 2 chains is building its first-ever combo restaurant from scratch, Catie Brubaker reports. Construction will begin next month on a new 12,000-sq.-ft. Luby’s-and-Fuddruckers hybrid on a 2-acre site at 11023 Shadowcreek Pkwy., at the northern end of Shadow Creek Ranch in Pearland. This time the Fuddruckers will be a bit bigger, though, taking up a full 2,500 sq. ft. of the building, plus an additional 1,000 sq. ft. of shared kitchen-and-storage space. Expected opening: August. [Real Estate Bisnow; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Luby’s
STRIP MALL LIFE Late last month undercover detectives arrested 3 women working at the Touch of Class Spa in the strip center at 8201 Broadway in Pearland on prostitution charges; 2 male customers found on site during the sting operation were questioned and released. Last week, a fourth woman, suspected of running the operation, was also arrested. After an intensive investigation that included poring over the massage parlor’s in-house video surveillance system, police officials concluded that the spa workers were not being held against their will: “However, surveillance video revealed the women actually lived and worked at the spa 24 hours-a-day, using their massage tables as make-shift beds.” [Pearland Journal; Pearland Today] Photo: Pearland Journal