07/02/09 4:07pm

A reader fills us in on the toll the nationwide downturn has taken over the last year on EDI Architecture, once one of the largest architecture firms in Houston. EDI, which specialized in multifamily projects, had more than 120 people on its highrise team not too long ago — plus an additional 80 employees in New York, California, and Angola offices.

As of June, the reader reports, the firm was down to fewer than 30 employees, total.


05/08/09 10:05am

What’s a struggling mall to do these days? How about turning off the air conditioning . . . and hosting a comic-book convention! Robert W. Boyd reports from the scene:

Despite a great location [on Highway 6 between Westheimer and Richmond] and not bad interior, West Oaks Mall is plagued with vacancies. And unlike malls like Memorial City Mall, West Oaks is not able to hide the gaps. . . .

West Oaks needed to occupy its empty stores (even if temporarily), or at least cover them up. And it needed to get people in the mall who could at least potentially patronize the remaining stores. So that’s where Comicpalooza came in.


04/29/09 9:53am

Enjoy your spring, everyone! Armed with a few pointed charts fueled by the latest data from HAR, Swamplot’s spreadsheet-wielding correspondent writes in again, this time with comments on March’s residential real-estate market report:

The Realtors always speak breathlessly of the “Spring Selling Season” with an almost religious reverence. Well it shows in the data. Home sales are 60-100% higher in the warm weather months. Prices are 10-20% higher, too. . . .


04/01/09 12:37pm

AND WHAT ABOUT THE RIVER OAKS SHOPPING CENTER? His company’s stock down more than 70 percent since last year and the 2009 calendar wiped clean of all new development projects, Weingarten Realty president and CEO Drew Alexander tells analysts and investors the REIT is gonna survive. The key to the survival? An increase in cash on the balance sheet and a continued ‘focus on tenants that sell basic goods and services,’ Alexander commented. Those tenants include grocery stores, dry cleaners, quick-serve restaurants and value chains such as Ross, Marshall’s and TJ Maxx.” [Globe St.]

03/19/09 1:38pm

The fog cuts both ways: Reader Stephen Cullar-Ledford sends in this view looking back at Downtown, taken from the AIG American General building on Allen Parkway yesterday morning.

. . . Along with yet another economy/fog/building metaphor, ripe for the captioning:


03/18/09 12:01pm

Reader Mary Ellen Arbuckle sends in a few shots of the beleagured AIG American General building on Allen Parkway, which she snapped earlier this morning from a perch on the 36th floor of the KBR Building Downtown. “Could this be forefogging?” she asks.

It might be a bit tough for anyone see a way through this mess. Do things look any better if you take the long view?


03/10/09 5:59pm

YOUR CHANCE TO BE IN THE FORECLOSURE SPOTLIGHT KHOU-TV reporter Dave Fehling is trying to find people who might have interesting perspectives on how foreclosures are affecting various local neighborhoods — for a Channel 11 teevee news story he’s putting together. Can any Swamplot readers bail him out? Or maybe just point him in the right direction? Send Fehling an email (link at the bottom) with your sobering story. But really, if you’ve got something truly juicy to tell, we’ll want to hear about it too! [Swamplot inbox]

03/09/09 1:10pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE CUSHION DEFLATES “Houston’s economy has diversified since the 80’s, but we’re still largely an oil & gas town. High energy prices ($145/barrel last summer) kept a lot of cash pumping into the Houston economy and cushioned us from much of the RE downturn faced by the rest of the country. At the same time, plant expansions and engineering contracts (refineries, chem plants, etc) were also experiencing record upswings and that boom has dropped significantly over the last 6 mos. The big cushion factors to our local RE market, oil/gas/petrochem have all dwindled down significantly, and that drop has occurred only recently. I seriously doubt the impact of those downturns underpinning our local economy has been priced into the Houston RE market to any significant extent. RE problems will not be limited to subprime loans by any stretch IMO.” [Mook, commenting on Those Wet and Wild Houston Mortgages: 18 Percent Now Underwater, 7 Percent More Still Paddling for Air]