10/17/17 3:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHAT YOU’RE SEEING AND SMELLING IN FLOODED APARTMENTS “I have a question regarding the apartments in Kingwood. There is a statement in the letter from the apartments indicating that there is a clear difference between mold and mildew. I understand it as they are both one and the same when it comes to interior livable spaces. If it smells and-or is visible you have a problem irregardless of the classification of mold or mildew. Is this not correct? Is there a legal distinction per Texas Law? Can someone please chime in? Thanks.” [It Smells, commenting on The City That Will Be Building and Rebuilding Forever; Houston’s Long Amazon Odds; The Latest Poke Place] Illustration: Lulu

10/16/17 2:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: A SIMPLE QUESTION ABOUT BUYING A HOME IN HOUSTON “I’m in the market for a new place. Where can I find if the house was flooded or is otherwise in a compromised zone? It appears in Harris County such information wasn’t recorded or readily available. Thanks.” [Sparta, commenting on What Makes West Houston the Bermuda Triangle of Real Estate Disclosure] Illustration: Lulu

10/13/17 11:00am

COMMENT OF THE DAY: A BETTER IDEA FOR WHAT TO DO WITH THE SPACES UNDER FREEWAYS IN HOUSTON “. . . This gave me an idea. That land under freeways isn’t good for retail or anything inhabited. But it could be a perfect place to dig down and create auxiliary stormwater detention facilities. Yeah the water will be filthy, like your friends bikes usually are, but floodwater usually is. And as auxiliary detention they would only be used in extreme rainfall events (once or twice a year during so-called ‘hundred year’ storms).” [ZAW, commenting on Comment of the Day Second Runner-Up: Things To Think About Before You Start Planning Under-Freeway Developments] Illustration: Lulu

10/12/17 1:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: JUST CHECKING IN ON HOW EVERYONE’S KITCHEN COUNTER MAINTENANCE PROGRAM IS GOING “I keep hearing that you’re supposed to re-seal granite countertops once a year. Does anyone actually do this?” [Angostura, commenting on The Rise And Decline Of America’s Granite Countertops Obsession] Photo: MS International  

10/12/17 12:45pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY RUNNER-UP: HOW ABOUT A DO-OVER FOR UT’S HOUSTON CAMPUS PROPOSAL? “I’d be steaming mad if I were UT right now. I don’t see how everyone can align with A&M, but UT asks for everyone to come together after they get the land and everyone tells them to leave. Why didn’t the city/UH/politicians suggest a similar model for UT? They should now move forward with their initial plans. It would be great for the city.” [Innerlooped, commenting on Houston’s Record Rental Levels; The Neighborhoods Hit Hardest By Harvey; A Debris Removal Progress Update; previously on Swamplot] Map showing location of proposed 300-acre UT Houston campus: Houston Public Media  

10/12/17 12:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY SECOND RUNNER-UP: THINGS TO THINK ABOUT BEFORE YOU START PLANNING UNDER-FREEWAY DEVELOPMENTS “One conclusion I’ve made about the U.S., compared to European countries, is that we don’t use space efficiently. We’ve got all these open ditches, grass patches . . . along our roadways. So this Tokyo solution appeals to me. But while I haven’t traveled extensively, I feel that selling/renting under-highway space to retail smacks of third-world. Would Houston ever go for that? There is so much filth that washes off roadways and would filter into/onto these shops. A friend has his bike storage cage under the apartment driveway. It’s just a drive! yet the bikes always have a greasy blackness on them. Ever park in an airport garage for more than a couple days? Your car is filthy. Maybe it’s just me, but I wouldn’t/couldn’t eat a taco made under the Pierce Elevated.” [movocelot, commenting on Midtown Sears Closure Nets Rice 9 Acres near the Wheeler Transit Center] Illustration: Lulu

10/06/17 4:45pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: DON’T SAY I DIDN’T WARN YOU ABOUT THE WHOLE MOLD BUSINESS “So for homeowners you just cut the sheetrock, and rebuild all of the stuff at 3 feet and go down the road? My feeling is that every house that flooded has some trace of E. Coli and mold. Pretty soon you’ll see mold lawyer commercials suing every contractor that worked in these places. Doctors will soon get in on the action too. Hell, back in 2000 when mold lawsuits were born my framer had a magnetic door sign for ‘mold testing and remediation’ in the back seat of his pick-up. Get ready for it again.” [Sporey McGee, commenting on Housing Authority Ready To Demolish More Than a Third of Clayton Homes After Harvey Flooding] Illustration: Lulu

10/05/17 1:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE LAST MESSAGE OF DOWNTOWN’S ENTOMBED WESTERN UNION BUILDING “. . . Soon after I moved to Houston, I had money wired to me at this Western Union building (this would have been November of ’81). Didn’t make much of an impression on me. I think the façade had been stripped off, and the office itself was shabby. I started work at HL&P in February of ’82, and our offices looked directly across the street to the construction site. The ‘big pour’ for the concrete foundation slab was quite an event. Starting very early on a Sunday morning, a seemingly endless parade of mixer trucks crept down Louisiana Street. Obviously, most of the block had been excavated, and the lot where Western Union sat (well, sits) was supported by a series of diagonal beams. After seeing the engineering required to save that lot, the lower ‘banking hall’ design for that side of the building makes sense. While construction continued, the south side of the WU was given a fresh coat of paint with a large graphic proclaiming ‘A Gerald R. Hines Project‘ (or some such thing), which doubtlessly is still there, virtually unseen for 35 years.” [BigTex, commenting on Comment of the Day: Inside the Western Union Building Buried Inside the Bank of America Center Downtown] Photo of banking hall interior, looking toward the Western Union building’s south wall: Bank of America Center

09/28/17 2:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: YOU SHOULD GET FLOOD INSURANCE EVEN IF YOU LIVE OUTSIDE ANY DESIGNATED FLOODPLAIN “Consider the following: 1.) Houston as a whole is a low-lying area. 2.) FEMA Flood Maps are outdated; this is not a new revelation following Harvey. 3.) Flood insurance for Zone X is cheap (I pay $425/year for $200k building/$80k contents coverage) 4.) Your house is outside of both the 1% and 0.2% flood plains (i.e. Zone X). Given those four conditions alone, buying flood insurance should be a no brainer for anyone that owns property in Houston, particularly if you’re even *near* a 100- or 500-year line. And after this event, which has made it quite clear that the models that determine what a 0.2% and 1% event is are inadequate, not getting flood insurance wherever you are in this town makes no sense at all. Heck, it doesn’t even take a Harvey to flood your ‘never been flooded house’ – all it takes is a blocked storm drain, a collapsed drainage ditch, poor lot grading, or any number of other non-“biblical” localized catastrophic events. Hopefully more people will realize this now, but it’s very sad that so many didn’t until 40-50 in. of rain fell over the entire county in less than 48 hours. [meh, commenting on Suing the Army Corps for Reservoir Releases; A City App for Debris Removal; 30 Years of the GRB] Illustration: Lulu

09/28/17 2:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY RUNNER-UP: WHAT PEOPLE IN KATY DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT FLOODING “We live in a house close to 99 in Katy. We have lived in this area for most of the last 10 years — in two different houses. I can tell you that each time we bought there was no mention, that I recall, of being inside of a potential bowl of water from the Barker reservoir. Nor were we mandated by mortgage companies to require flood insurance. We are MILES from the dam itself and never considered it. None of our neighbors did. Imagine our shock to wake up days after the storm to suddenly learn we were in a mandatory evacuation zone. Fortunately our house was far enough west, and high enough, that we didn’t take any damage. Many of our friends and neighbors weren’t so lucky. As we eventually learned, hardly anyone had flood insurance. We didn’t. It’s not that we weren’t in a 100 year flood plain, I don’t think we’re in the 500 year either. I have since purchased flood insurance (Fool me once, etc). But I do think there is a case to be made against some agencies. What we’re learning now about lack of prudence between developers, ACOE, and Fort Bend County seems to be at least a little suspect. Some of these neighborhoods perhaps should have never been built. Additionally, the flood zone maps seem woefully out of date and do not take into account the further upstream development. I get it — many people are going to point the finger at the homeowner and either their lack of planning or insurance. Fair point. But this event caught a lot of people off guard and I believe exposed a lot of problems that still need to be addressed.” [HaventFloodedYet, commenting on Suing the Army Corps for Reservoir Releases; A City App for Debris Removal; 30 Years of the GRB] Illustration: Lulu

09/27/17 4:45pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: INSIDE THE WESTERN UNION BUILDING BURIED INSIDE THE BANK OF AMERICA CENTER DOWNTOWN “The Western Union building is only 2 stories. It is completely intact, tar and gravel roof included. The 3rd floor Mezzanine of the BOA building was built clear span over the top of the old WU building. The windows you see on the outside are for the mezzanine. As for the ‘gap’ between the buildings, you can walk/crawl around most of it. Some areas between the buildings are big enough that you could set a desk in there, some are tight enough to induce panic. There is basically nothing left from WU in there, but there were still some curious old artifacts last time I was in there. I worked for the building for a while, and led a few of the tours of architects/designers when this project was in the concept phase.” [ProFixer, commenting on For Its Next Trick, Bank of America Center Will Completely Digest the Secret Building It Swallowed 35 Years Ago] Photo: Mary Ann Sullivan

09/27/17 4:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY RUNNER-UP: WHAT IT TOOK TO BRING THE MACY’S AT THE GREENSPOINT MALL BACK TO LIFE “I drive by Greenspoint Mall daily and it’s quite unusual to see the ‘beehive of activity‘ at the former Macy’s from it’s recent use as a shelter. I haven’t seen that many cars outside the building since the early ’80s! Ironically, the ‘For Lease’ sign still hangs prominently on the west wall.” [Native Houstonian, commenting on Sheltered in the Greenspoint Mall Macy’s; What the EPA Hasn’t Tested; Vacating the 100-Year Floodplain] Photo: Judahdavis

09/26/17 3:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHAT’S FLOWING TOWARD HOUSTON’S EAST END “The entire East End except for a handful of homes near the bayou in Idylwood drains well and doesn’t flood. Allison, Ike, Harvey . . . nada. The steady drip drip of people moving over here might become a real flood now though.” [Dana-X, commenting on High and Dry in EaDo; Theatrical Shelter at the GRB; Elevated Before Harvey, Just in Time]

09/25/17 4:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: BEHIND THE ‘EVERYBODY OUT’ ORDER AT 2100 MEMORIAL “I’ve volunteered there and can tell you the entire ‘sub-basement’ electrical/fire control room was completely submerged. I assume that entities receiving government rent subsidies must meet current NEC (nat’l elect code) standards on renovations/repairs. . . . Thus, if entire elect/fire control room is gutted/replaced then all rooms’ receptacles, fixtures, elevators, laundries . . . etc. must be replaced to meet current NEC also. I doubt you can ‘scab on’ new equipment to decades old equipment on a major renovations. Would you trust it? You can’t make this type of systemic overhaul while residents stay in their unflooded upper floor apts. Unfortunately, for their safety they must be moved ASAP. The existing lights and limited A/C are being run off of generators. You can’t run a hi-rise indefinitely on generators. God forbid a fire breaks out or an elevator fails due to faulty electrical system. Help is needed now finding affordable & safe housing, transport, and followup assistance. Hard enough in ‘normal’ times but that much more difficult post-Harvey.” [Steve, commenting on Residents of 2100 Memorial Senior Highrise Now Have 5 Days To Move Out of Their ‘Uninhabitable’ Apartments] Photo: 2100 Memorial

09/22/17 2:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: FLOODING IMPROVEMENTS “I have flooded twice in my home, once with 1 in. and then again in 2015 with about 6 to 8 inches. We rebuilt higher, and didn’t flood in Harvey, but I still wonder if I did the right thing. Basically I can say flooded, raised, didn’t flood — perhaps that’s a better story? Or even a better story is not near a major bayou.” [Bob Jones, commenting on When ‘Never Flooded’ Doesn’t Work] Illustration: Lulu