12/09/15 11:30am

Typhoon Texas, 555 Katy Fort Bend Rd., Katy, TX, 77450

No need to evacuate the area, but aerial footage from the developers shows the Typhoon Texas waterpark currently brewing at 555 Katy Fort Bend Rd, just south of I-10 on 43 acres of Katy Mills Mall-adjacent land. Ground was broken on August 20, and the park (pictured conceptually above) is slated to make landfall on May 27, just before the start of Atlantic hurricane season.

Aquatic amusements will include a 1,500-ft. lazy river, facilities for slideboarding (which turns going down a waterslide into a competitive sport), facilities for regular sliding, a 48-foot-tall play structure, and a 27,000-sq.-ft. wave pool. (That’s larger than the one at the New Braunfels Schlitterbahn, for those of you keeping score.) Typhoon backers hope that the park will become a regional draw along the lines of the 3 Schlitterbahns, Spring’s Splashtown, and Astroworld (RIP).

This oddly-soothing drone video captures the sense of calm over the developing theme park:


Suburban Hurricane Hunting
07/01/15 3:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE BUFFALO BAYOU PARK PINCH Barefoot in the Grass“When I see the improvements come on line at Buffalo Bayou, I keep thinking to myself ‘what’s the catch? Are these on loan from another city? Will Culberson make us take them down so he can build a new highway?’ But it is really happening. Buffalo Bayou is really turning into Houston’s Central Park (NY’s version does have a private restaurant right in the middle of it–Tavern on the Green). The nature playground on the east end is getting finishing touches as well as the performance space and snack bar over the old waterworks. The only problem I have encountered is the mud that slides down the banks and accumulates on the trails after a heavy rain. But it is much better than it used to be. Who knows. Maybe this is for real. And maybe people will actually start moving to Houston because it is a nice place to live.” [Old School, commenting on Finding Buffalo Bayou’s Lost Lake and Its ‘Morning Glory’ Hole, Almost Ready for Business] Illustration: Lulu

06/29/15 2:00pm

Houston Police Department Officer's Memorial Guard Post, Memorial Dr., Buffalo Bayou Park, Houston

Here’s the just-completed 250-sq.-ft. Memorial guard post recently completed in Buffalo Bayou Park. It’s right by that spot just south of Buffalo Bayou from Glenwood Cemetery where you’ll always find a cop car or 2, standing guard by the Houston Police Officers Memorial. The sculptor of that 1991 memorial, Jesús Moroles, was killed in an auto accident earlier this month. The new building, designed by Brave Architecture, is meant to allow the off-duty officers posted there to have more of a public presence as they keep an eye on the memorial through the large windows. It will also function as a small visitors center for the memorial.

Photo: José Luis Ayala Vargas

Guard Post
06/09/15 3:00pm


Last week in gay Paris, authorities removed panels from the Pont des Arts that had been weighted down by hundreds of thousands of attached padlocks — installed there since late 2008 by visiting couples (and sure, probably an obsessed stalker or 7) who sought to commemorate their passions with a lockup and a ritual toss of the key into the River Seine below. Meanwhile, hereabouts in North Montrose, the “Love Lock” scene on the Rosemont Bridge over Buffalo Bayou just west of Downtown appears to be just getting started — the Buffalo Bayou Park version appears to be well behind copycat venues in other cities. While crossing the longer section of the bridge yesterday, Twitter user marathonjohn found 20 to 30 locks attached to the pedestrian crossing’s supports. Here are pics of a few of the ritual lockups he spotted:


The Keys Are in the Water
04/08/15 11:45am

REIGN OF NEW EAST END FARMERS MARKET ON THE NAVIGATION ESPLANADE BEGINS THIS SUNDAY navigation-esplanadeLocal veggie standouts Finca Tres Robles and the Last Organic Outpost will be among the 35 vendors on hand on April 12th for the inaugural East End farmers’ market on the Navigation Blvd. esplanade (pictured here), across from the original Ninfa’s. The East End Foundation, the event’s nonprofit sponsor, says it’ll be the first farmers market in Houston to accept electronic food stamps. The market will run every Sunday from 10 am to 2 pm at 2800 Navigation; strolling mariachis will kick of this weekend’s grand opening, to be answered by a few sets from Sister Sister y Los Misters. Also available: meats from Texas T Kobe Beef and Al Marcus’s Grateful Bread. Photo: East End Foundation  

04/02/15 12:45pm

Westheimer Rd. During Cigna Sunday Streets HTX, Lower Westheimer, Montrose, Houston

Lower Westheimer is, of course, one of those select “walkable” areas of Houston, but last weekend’s first corporate-sponsored Sunday Streets made it especially so — even in the absence of a traditional neighborhood festival. The Montrose road was blocked off to automobile traffic from Taft to Woodhead for 4 hours.

Video footage of the event from a DJI Inspire 1 piloted by Adam Brackman shows rare scenes of introduced free-range human bipedal and bi-pedal activity in not-so-native habitat — from a few new angles:


Straight Up from the Street
03/03/15 1:00pm


As site prep starts on the long-awaited renovation of Main Street Theater’s signature building at 2540 Times Blvd. in Rice Village (top), a recent donation by a renewable energy retailer has enabled the local theater company to add a rooftop solar array to the work scope. Although not intended to power the spotlight on stage, the installation is expected to handle a good chunk of daytime electrical use, theater sources say. Descriptions of the future solar installation mention a 64-panel array on the roof and this sun-seeking companion:


Panel Discussion
01/23/15 1:00pm

Proposed Brian Patterson Sports Performance Clinic, Rice Stadium, Rice University

It’s been notoriously difficult to fill Rice Stadium — ever since those darn Houston Oilers came to town. Even President Kennedy couldn’t do it when he came by in 1962 to introduce a little mission to the moon he had cooked up. About 8 years ago, giant logo-bearing tarps were planted over the seating areas in both end zones, reducing the capacity (though not permanently) from 70,000 to 47,000.

But the latest planned changes appear to be following a 2-fold strategy to help fill the place: First, Rice University’s new $31.5 million Brian Patterson Sports Performance Center will knock out the stadium’s entire northern end zone — including more than 11,000 seats. Even better, the mostly brick building will have a giant glass wall on the side facing the playing field, which will offer spectators tired of watching the game shaded views into 2 levels of weight rooms. If they can get the scheduling right, with gridiron and pumping-iron action running simultaneously, fans will have the opportunity to enjoy 2 attractions at once. Likewise, flexing athletes will have a pretty good view of the field — and fans, if they’re out there — while they’re working their muscles.


Watch Them Pump and Watch
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!


11/06/14 10:00am

GOLFERS APPEAR TO HAVE WON GUS WORTHAM Gus Wortham Golf Course,  7000 Capitol St., East End, HoustonIt might not have sounded quite so explicit to all onlookers, but the Chronicle‘s Mike Morris declares yesterday’s city council vote a death knell for plans to build a botanical garden on the site of the Gus Wortham Golf Course. The vote was taken in support of city efforts to come to an agreement with the Houston Golf Association for a plan to renovate the 106-year-old course at Lawndale and Wayside in the East End, which the nonprofit would then operate. But, writes Morris: “If the city cannot reach terms with HGA, the mayor said, she will seek proposals from private golf operators rather than hand the site to the botanic garden backers, as previously planned.” The HGA will need to meet designated fundraising targets — likely $5 million of a possible total $15 million renovation cost — for its plan to proceed. Mayor Parker and councilmembers appeared eager to steer the group pushing for a city botanical garden 6 miles southeast, to the Glenbrook Park golf course outside the Loop along Sims Bayou, just east of the Gulf Fwy. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo: PGA

10/31/14 12:15pm

Headed to that spooky Halloween “party” at 3015 Fuqua St. tonight all the kool kids are daring each other about today on Twitter? Here are a few things you should know about what might rank as one of Houston’s eeriest properties still standing, one complete with both its very own murder and a ghost video.

Our chilling tale begins in early February 2008, when the property was last on the market. Back then vandals held sway at the decrepit 11,640-sq.-ft. mansion in Minnetex Place. Was it Swamplot’s showcasing of the home’s skanky indoor pool, 5-acre lot, decorative graffiti, and grand, red-carpeted staircase that made it move? It had languished on the market for 7 months, but just 2 weeks later, the property sold — to an entity controlled by a pair of Houston investors. They snagged the 1950 mansion for just $265,000 — greatly reduced from its original $451,900 listing.

Since then, visiting vandals have been joined by a new, possibly otherworldly tenant.


Fuqua’s Ghost?
10/17/14 11:15am

Tinder Guys Posing with Art, Houston

Why are so many of the men featured in the Tinder Guys Posing with Art Tumblr posing with art that’s in Houston? Maybe it’s because the website’s creator and curator, Sally Glass, is based here. Scroll through the entries Glass has been posting since April and you’ll not only find available men on Tinder who’ve staked out positions in and around some of the city’s more prominent sculptures and paintings, you’ll also find a handy guide to the works they favor:


Local Screenshots
10/13/14 2:15pm

Proposed Building for Saturn V Rocket, Rocket Park, Houston

The Saturn V rocket originally planned to boost a never-happened Apollo 18 spaceflight has been lying on its side near the corner of Saturn Ln. and 2nd St. and aimed at Lake Jackson since 1977. An air-conditioned, metal-framed structure was built around the Smithsonian-owned hulk 10 years ago to protect it from the elements, but it makes it difficult for visitors to appreciate just how hulking the rocket is. And recently the new structure has begun to look a bit dilapidated as well. Unprompted by any government agency or basketball team, San Antonio architect Brantley Hightower has been floating a proposal to wrap a more permanent structure around Houston’s most prominent rocketship — one that would restore the drive-by view of its full length (above) that the existing enclosure ruined, and make it clear just how big the Saturn V was:


Houston Rockets
10/06/14 1:30pm

iFLY Indoor Skydiving Facility Under Construction, 9540 Katy Fwy., Spring Branch, Houston

A mere half-dozen readers have written Swamplot to ask about this strange multi-story steel-framed structure that’s been going up next to the Lowe’s on I-10 between Blalock and Bunker Hill — or its twin on the site of the former Casa Elena restaurant across the freeway from The Woodlands at 26824 Interstate 45 North. And we’re guessing a few more of you are curious as well, but just haven’t had the time to send in your photos and speculation. Capitalizing on the freeway mystery, the company behind the structure has set up a website at GuessWhatThisIs.com. (With indoor-skydiving facilities in 9 other U.S. cities already, iFLY has been through the drill before.)


Indoor Skydiving