01/14/16 10:15am

Construction of Kirby Ice House at 3333 Eastside St., Upper Kirby, Houston, 77098

Down the street from Lamar High School, the would-have-been-Little-Woodrow’s now going instead by Kirby Ice House (“A Neighborhood Pearl”) is setting up shop at 3333 Eastside St., between the parking lot used for the weekly Urban Harvest Farmer’s Market and the Bammel Park townhomes. A post to the establishment’s Facebook page earlier this week shows that the under-construction building has just finished turning an icy blue, and the accompanying caption says that work is moving into “the detail phase”.

The bar’s across-the-street neighbors include nonprofit women’s career services center Dress for Success and the main building of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston — both groups expressed concern about the bar’s location in 2014 after the president of the Bammel Park Homeowner’s Association sounded a neighborhood-wide email alarm. Dress for Success filed a protest of the ice house’s TABC license that July; the license was issued in December of that same year.

A rendering of the building’s exterior shows the ice house standing next to a townhouse-free field:


Ice on Upper Kirby
12/03/12 2:47pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: HOW YOUR TINY NEIGHBORHOOD CAN CAPTURE A BIG SWAMPLOT AWARD “Attention HOAs: Do not send out your end of the year email until the nominations for best neighborhood are in so you can order your members to stuff the ballot box. It keeps the category interesting each year to learn about some small hamlet of a neighborhood that has managed to keep things together through all of Houston’s booms and busts. Otherwise, it would just be an annual Heights v. Midtown grudge match.” [Old School, commenting on The 2012 Swamplot Awards for Houston Real Estate Begin Now]

05/07/12 3:16pm

JUDGE TO HOA: YOUR POTBELLIED NEIGHBOR CAN STAY 60-lb. porcine Spring resident Wilbur Sardo will not be exiled from The Thicket at Cypresswood subdivision — because his presence in the neighborhood does not violate the local deed restrictions, a Harris County judge ruled today. The pig’s attorney, HOA law specialist Mitchell Katine, tells Chronicle reporter Erin Mulvaney that the decision in the lawsuit filed by the animal’s owners marks “the first time a Vietnamese pot belly pig has been recognized as a pet in court.” The neighborhood’s community improvement association had argued that Wilbur counted as livestock, and was therefore prohibited. The Sardo family began an extensive media campaign around its quest to keep Wilbur after receiving a notice from the association last year that it would be subject to fines of $200 a day if it continued to keep their pet at home. [NewsWatch; previously on Swamplot] Photo: iWilbur.com

09/28/11 11:51am

POSSIBLE SCAM TARGETED KATY-AREA HOAS Complaints from 3 suburban homeowners’ associations — including the one for the Estates of Avalon at Seven Meadows gated community west of the Grand Parkway near Fry Rd. in Katy — have been filed against Arrow Community Management, alleging the Cinco Ranch management company misappropriated HOA funds. Arrow’s owner, Taggert Mayfield, received a sentence of 3 years’ deferred adjudication earlier this month after he pled guilty to mishandling $20,000 in HOA funds. Sgt. David Schultz of the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office tells reporter Deborah Wrigley that one new report he’s investigating claims an Arrow-managed HOA is missing about $120,000. The company, which appears to have shut down its operations, had contracts with more than a dozen HOAs in Harris and Fort Bend Counties. [abc13] Photo of Estates of Avalon at Seven Meadows: Keller Williams Premier Realty

09/14/11 12:51pm

WATCHING WHERE YOU PARK IN RAINTREE PLACE A resident of Raintree Place received an email complaint from the community’s property owners association approximately 10 minutes after her parked car was spotted in her own driveway. Dianne Josephs, who rents her home, tells the Houston Press she had been loading up her vehicle with clothing and household goods to donate to wildfire victims. Regulations in the private gated neighborhood of 86 lots inside the Loop at 10 South Briar Hollow Ln. between San Felipe and Post Oak Blvd. prohibit residents from leaving cars anywhere other than in their garages or in a few designated visitor spaces. This isn’t Josephs’s first run-in with neighborhood authorities: “Josephs says her neighbor circles the complex several times a day to report open garages and cars parked in driveways. Once, she reported him for having his garage open, and she says he flipped her daughter off with both hands. ‘I wanna buy it [the house], but the people here are so mean!!’ squealed Josephs. ‘They yell at me and say, “You’re nothing but trouble.”…but I question authority. When I think it’s crazy, I question it.'” [Hair Balls] Photo: Raintree Place

07/13/11 10:50am

SOME PIG The host family of a 60-lb., 8-month-old pot-bellied pig named Wilbur, who resides on Fir Forest Dr. near Big Cypress Dr. in Spring, plans to go door-to-door asking for neighbors to sign a petition that would allow its pet to remain at home. Deed restrictions prohibit owners in The Thicket subdivision from raising livestock. Missy Sardo received a notice from her homeowners association giving her 30 days to find a new home for the pig — after neighbors complained. “‘One of the complaints was that he roots in your backyard, and I said, “So? It’s my backyard,” and he said, “The other complaint was that they smell,” and I said, “He doesn’t smell, they have no sweat glands, they smell better than most dogs who’ve been outside.”‘” At a neighborhood meeting this week, Sardo was told that if 51 percent of the pet’s 250 neighbors sign her petition, Wilbur will be allowed to stay. The pig has already collected close to 1000 friends on his Facebook page. [KHOU 11 News] Video: Wilbur Sardo

03/01/11 9:25am

SOUTHMEADOW’S $315 FORECLOSURE FIGHT Why does the West Airport Homeowners Association take up a half page of its newsletter each month with lists of fees for various legal costs associated with policing deed restriction and other violations? Because fee collection and enforcement appears to be a major focus of the organization. An attorney for Southmeadow resident William Castellon claims the HOA — which is operated by a company called Randall Management — has run up $75,000 in legal fees fighting lawsuits over a $315 annual maintenance fee it claims Castellon failed to pay, though Castellon says he did. (A second check sent by Castellon for the same payment was returned.) The HOA filed suit against Castellon, seeking to foreclose on his home near West Airport and South Gessner. Last fall, after Castellon sued back, a jury ruled in his favor and awarded him more than $40,000. But the HOA is now attempting to reverse the decision. Fox 26 reporter Randy Wallace’s calls to the HOA’s law firm, Gammon & Associates, were not returned. [MyFox Houston]

11/02/10 4:48pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: AN UPDATE FOR POTENTIAL CONDO INVESTORS AT PINE VILLAGE NORTH “the HOA has financial and legal problems. it’s operating month-2-month; no reserves. even though our assessments are supposed to cover exterior repairs of our units, you may never get your units repaired, unless you do it yourself. many of the units have serious plumbing problems. if the HOA is dissolved, PV may become a free-for-all; it’s almost that now. if you’re willing to risk all of that, then go ahead and buy, otherwise, don’t.” [Marina Sugg, commenting on Pine Village North Open House Welcome] Photo of Pine Village North: HAR

05/10/10 10:53am

STUCK IN THOSE NEIGHBORHOOD SAND TRAPS The Ohio investor who bought up 3 Houston community golf courses over the last decade, then sold the one in Quail Valley to Missouri City a couple of years ago, is running into a few obstacles in his attempts to sell the other 2 to developers: “The latest roadblock came with a jury verdict late last year that would prohibit the use of the land that once served as the Inwood Forest Country Club for any purpose other than a golf course. . . . The Harris County jury found that the Inwood Forest golf property contained an ‘implied reciprocal negative easement,’ [Inwood Forest homeowners association member Julie] Grothues said. In plain English, that means that an owner of the course is bound to keep it as a course even though the original deed has no such restrictive covenant. The lawyer for the homeowners association argued that the course was an essential component of the neighborhood, and that allowing it to be cut up for development would irrevocably change the character of the community and the value of the homes.” Is Mark Voltmann’s game going any better at the shuttered Clear Lake Golf Club? “The deed for the Clear Lake property contains a restriction preventing owners from using it for anything but a golf course or recreational facility until 2021. Voltmann has filed suit to try to bust the deed restrictions. In theory, success could translate into a big payday, as a portion of the property has good commercial potential. But the Inwood verdict is looming. If it stands up, homeowners could use the same argument to stymie him again.” [Houston Chronicle; listing]

02/01/10 10:03am

A loyal Swamplot tipster alerts us to a copy of a letter that appeared on a neighborhood email list late last week. The letter is signed by Mark Thuesen, president of the condominium association at the 2520 Robinhood at Kirby condos. Loyal Swamplot readers, of course, will recognize that name — Thuesen is one of 3 condo residents named in a lawsuit by the owners of Hans’ Bier Haus, the little outdoorish bar that’s next door to the 16-story Rice Village residential tower. The lawsuit claims that Theusen and 2 others attacked patrons at the bar several times, throwing beer cans, bottles, and eggs at them from above, as well as spraying performing musicians with water.

Unsurprisingly, Thuesen does not specifically mention those allegations in his letter, which we presume is meant for fellow condo residents. But he is kind enough to include a copy of the temporary injunction handed down by Judge Patricia Hancock last week, which specifically prohibits Theusen [sic], 2 codefendants, and all residents of 2520 Robinhood from “throwing any sort of object whatsoever” or “intentionally running or pouring water or any other liquid upon” Hans’ Bier Haus.

Thuesen does, however, draw attention to the now-famous incident on December 13th of last year, in which Hans’ Bier Haus co-owner Bill Cave stormed into the condo lobby and dragged the concierge by his tie into an elevator — on a quest to turn off the water that was spraying onto bar patrons and musicians from a hose connected to the patio of an upper-story condo resident:


12/08/09 4:08pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: ENDEAVOUR RESCUE PLAN “Original asking prices for the 80 unit tower ranged from $425k to $2.5 million. After all the hype about sales, it looks like the developer was only able to sell 36 units. Now Regions has unloaded 44 units for an average price of $216k plus back taxes and interest. OUCH! And what can we read between the lines of this comment? ‘The group also said it would pay normally budgeted homeowner assessments for 2010 for any condo owner current on their assessments for 2009.’ It sounds to me like MANY of the 36 original buyers are behind on their maintenance fees. Wonmore is trying to incentivize them [to] get current by offering to pay all their fees for 2010??? That sounds like an awfully big incentive? Are they trying to solve an awfully big problem? When condo associations go broke, look out below. . . .” [Bernard, commenting on Wonmore in Bankrupt Endeavour]

11/09/09 2:47pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHERE O WHERE HAS OUR SUBDIVISION’S BUILDER GONE? “Does anyone have any information of OBRA HOMES bankruptcy? I am also in TimberMeadows and a few of us are trying to organize a meeting this coming Sunday, Nov 15th at 6 pm to see about hiring an attorney to contact OBRA Homes. Any info will help. Thanks.” [Miguel, commenting on Obra Homes Secret Hiding Place Revealed!]

12/27/07 11:31am

Lake at Crown Oaks, ConroeThe charms of gated acreage near Lake Conroe: large, wooded lakefront homesites, plus only a 25 minute commute . . . to The Woodlands! Oh, and if we’re talking about 1400-acre Crown Oaks in Montgomery County, lots of lawsuits, too!

Last year, the Crown Oaks Property Owners Association, along with individual homeowners, sued Affiliated Crown Development LTD, citing poor structure of the two manmade lakes in the development, located outside Montgomery.

But so much has happened since then: After new board members decided the developer would finally work with them to solve the lakes’ problems, the property owners association dropped its suit this fall. But now two groups of 10 individual homeowners have hired separate legal teams to continue their lawsuit against the developer. And in turn, the developer is now suing the engineering and construction firms it hired to build the dams on both lakes.

But there’s even more lawsuit fun:

“The POA tried to get out of the suit as a plaintiff, so my group has also sued them,” [homeowner attorney Kevin] Forsberg said. “The individuals were not satisfied. … Even though the POA started working with the developer in the hopes that the lakes would be fixed, nothing has actually been done.”

What’s it like to build your home on a lake that doesn’t bother to show up? Thanks to the amazing power of the internets, you can experience all the highs and lows of manmade-lakefront real-estate investing yourself — from the comfort of your own computer! Watch videos and read details of the whole dam story . . . after the jump!


11/02/07 10:38am

1342 Rutland Lofts, Houston Heights

Just what is it about cheaply built condos in Houston that attracts so much, uh . . . “bank interest”? According to HCAD, of the fifteen condo units at 1342 Rutland in the Heights, only six have non-bank owners — and that includes the three owned by Freddie Mac, the “1342 Rutland Lofts Council,” and an investment group. Fortunately for buyers, the financial institutions appear to have no desire to hold onto the condos for corporate housing: eight of the units are on the market, and four more are due to be auctioned off at the huge REDC foreclosure extravaganza at the Reliant Center on November 17th.

(Special bonus for foreclosure bidders: the same auction features four units from Swamplot favorite Tremont Tower!)

Sure, there’s a downturn, and maybe a few problems with some nasty mortgages, but why do so many foreclosures concentrate on a few ugly buildings?

HAIF poster Kirzania provides a few clues:

from the inspector’s findings it would appear the second level of condos was added to the top of a pre-existing building. However, the first level was not reinforced for the second story. The walls were bowed on the first level and there were evident issues of structure problems. My understanding was there wasn’t a problem with the foundation itself, but the frame of the building.

The HOA itself sounded like it was barely staying afloat; the banks owe the HOA $$$$$ for past dues but these funds are being held up in bureaucratic nonsense. I would very much reconsider even stepping foot in this place.

Let the bidding begin!

06/08/07 9:30am

Fountain Hills Ct, Blue Creek Ranch

Channel 26 news reporter Isiah Carey’s Insite blog features scans of a scalding memo distributed recently to residents of the Blue Creek Ranch subdivision, near Highway 249 and Beltway 8. The memo scolds four residents by name (and address) who “wish to make the neighborhood a ghetto” and urges residents to attend a Blue Creek Homeowners Association meeting at Doss Community Center last Wednesday night, with this gentle rejoinder:


Way to increase attendance at neighborhood meetings!

Among the attendees: reporter Vicente Arenas from Channel 11 News, who asked association president and memo author Tamika Harris exactly what she meant by the term “ghetto.” Maybe he hadn’t read the memo carefully enough:

The Ghetto Agenda:

The memo ends with what appears to be an invitation to some sort of real-estate duel:

. . . PUT UP or SHUT UP. If you lose, you move. The Board challenges these women to sign a legally binding contract where each side agrees to put their house up for sale and move if they lose at the Special Meeting. This Board is willing to put their money where their mouths are. Ellen, Lorraine, Patricia, and Wendy are you? We are waiting to hear from you to set a time to sign the contract.

No word if this strange challenge was accepted, but after an election, Harris did survive the meeting as board president.

Photo: View from 13426 Fountain Hills Ct., on HAR