03/20/15 12:00pm

Rendering of Village of River Oaks, 1015 S. Shepherd Dr., Shepherd Curve, Houston

Give the lawsuit filed by 7 residents of the costumed Gotham and Renoir Lofts buildings along the Shepherd Curve just south of West Dallas St. some credit. News of the legal action has spurred the defendant to do something it previously hadn’t: release to the public an actual rendering of the 8-story senior living facility it’s about to construct between the 2 Randall Davis condos, once it finishes clearing away the remains of the RR Donnelley printing company building at 1015 S. Shepherd Dr. And here it is, showing almost exactly how Bridgewood Property’s Village of River Oaks will look a few years from now — when you view it from Google Street View, that is.


Google Street View Rendering
11/14/14 2:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: HOW REAL ESTATE TRAILBLAZERS REALLY CAN BURN UP THE TRAIL Burning Up the Road“There are very real consequences for having a NIMBY-smashing attitude for developers. Yes, the developers usually get their way, but they often end up ruining it for the next guy. Ashby developers will get to build, but the next guy might not because of the high-rise buffering ordinance that passed in the wake of the Ashby uproar. 380 agreements flowed like a river to Walmart and Kroger, but community uproar has meant that only Costco has since been able to get a similar deal despite some healthy opposition in city council. And there has only been one 380 agreement in 2014 outside of the downtown urban living initiative (which does require first floor space to be retail ready). There are a whole host of development regulations that have their root in NIMBY activism: drainage detention, tree ordinance, and parking minimums, to name a few.” [Old School, commenting on Comment of the Day: Don’t Let the Locals Get in the Way of Your Project] Illustration: Lulu

11/07/14 10:00am


Here’s the sign that a reader says went up earlier this week along the south side of the Heights hike-and-bike trail just south of the Freeland Historic District, at the ends of Frasier St. and E. 5th 1/2 St. Does the promise of “future development” mean that another developer is taking a turn trying to develop the 1.4-acre parcel of land where a proposed 80-plus-unit condo project known variously as Emes Place or Viewpoint at the Heights stirred up a fair amount of neighborhood opposition when it was last in the news a couple of years ago?


08/22/14 1:30pm

Brewery Incubator and League of Extraordinary Brewers Brewpub, 907 Franklin St., Suite 150, Downtown Houston

“Never would a game of strip Twister be so badly regretted,” writes Lucrece Borrego in announcing the sudden closure of her innovative Downtown food-business incubator turned brewery-incubator business on the ground floor of the Bayou Lofts building at 907 Franklin St. An eviction notice the two-time startup-startup starter was handed by an attorney representing her landlord as Borrego was cooking for a steak-night “bottle share” event last Friday cited several reasons for the termination of her lease, most of them focusing on items encountered in a common-area hallway outside the business: empty beer kegs and boxes (Borrego says they were left after deliveries), “personal items” (likely including a motorcycle, a source tells Swamplot) — and a live game of naked Twister.

“Indeed,” Borrego writes, “I had agreed to host a naked game night: a completely private event that takes place at bars all over Houston regularly. We covered all the windows and had someone working the door. Only one thing went wrong.


Downtown Brewery Startup Space Evicted
07/21/14 11:15am

Rendering of 2229 San Felipe TowerA new lawsuit filed last week against the developers of the 2229 San Felipe office tower currently under construction between Shepherd and Kirby is a bit different from the one that a group of neighbors initiated against the same party back in February, a reader notes. The plaintiffs in the new lawsuit are the owners of a River Oaks home directly across the street from the construction site, and they appear to have studied the ruling issued in the Ashby Highrise lawsuit carefully. (Back in May, Judge Randy Wilson ordered the developers of that building to pay neighbors $1.2 million to compensate them for “lost market damages,” but denied their request to halt the building’s construction)

Unlike their neighbors who sued before them, the residents of 2237 Stanmore Dr. are not seeking to prevent or delay the construction of Hines’s neighborhood office tower. Instead, it appears they are only seeking compensation for both public and private “nuisances” created by the 17-story building, including pollution, noise, and ground vibration during its construction and the resulting loss of sunlight and rain on their property. The building’s vaunted peepage opportunities don’t please them either:


Pay Up
07/18/14 1:45pm

Did the tiny bench-and-planters installation now parked in front of a Heights mattress store strike a nerve for some Swamplot readers? Judging from the comments section for some of Swamplot’s coverage of the project, that certainly does appear to be the case. But it looks like the PR firm charged with promoting the city of Houston’s first officially permitted parklet is set on tapping that nerve as if it were a gold mine. The video above, just posted to YouTube by the Black Sheep Agency, shows purported actual Heights residents performing dramatic readings of Swamplot readers’ more entertaining comments about the parklet, which now blocks access to what was formerly a single angled, head-in parking space in front of the firm’s client, the New Living Bedroom store at 321 W. 19th St. (New Living paid for construction of the parklet and is responsible for maintaining it, according to an agreement with the city, which considers the effort a pilot program.)


Tempest in a Heights Parking Space
06/23/14 11:45am

M+A Architecture Studio, 5910 Grace Ln., Houston

CES Environmental Services Trucks, 4904 Griggs Rd., MacGregor Terrace, HoustonFrom a top-floor perch in their tiny, handcrafted, award-winning live-work compound at 5910 Grace Ln. (featured a while back in Dwell magazine), architect Mark Schatz and designer Anne Eamon had front-row seats to the ongoing smelly, toxic, and deadly shitshow that marked the over-the-back-fence tenure of CES Environmental Services, in its facility at 4904 Griggs Rd., just a mile and a half south of the UH campus. Among the joys they were able to plug their noses and record was this tableau from July 2009: “In the first photograph [Schatz] took of the scene unfolding below him, shot like all the rest with the eye of an architect, perfectly framing the site, the tank farm is to the left, and a worker races from the right to the warehouse, which has a smoking hole blown through the roof. In a subsequent photo, oxygen tanks are wheeled in. Then the oxygen tanks fall over. Then a forklift shows up, and a crew starts setting the oxygen tanks upright. All this time, while they go through this Three Stooges routine, their co-worker is lying inside the warehouse covered in burns. You can see the back of a metal cylindrical tanker truck in the photos. [Schatz and Eamon] learn later that the fatally burned worker had opened the hatch on the tanker and switched on his flashlight to peer in. A spark from the flashlight set off a flash fire.”


Toxics by Design
06/16/14 12:30pm

Protestors Outside Houston Permitting Center, 1002 Washington Ave., Downtown Houston

“Since there are no TVs at the new fancy permitting center that show the soap operas while you wait, this will have to do,” a tipster quips. And yes! There does appear to be a bit of excitement today at the Houston Permitting Center at 1002 Washington Ave. on the west side of Downtown. The tipster tells us that the pictured protestors shown outside the building are “upset about an inspector and their garage in their backyard.” According to one of the protestors, Channel 11 is “supposed to cover it,” the tipster says.

Photo: Swamplot inbox

They’ve Got Your Number, David Crawford
06/05/14 10:30am

Kenan Ince Performing Rice, Ashby at Cafe Brasil, 2604 Dunlavy St., Montrose, HoustonRice U. math Ph.D. student, Boulevard Oaks resident, and poet Kenan Ince has been making the rounds of local open-mic nights with his brief ode to the as-yet-invisible but still-ominous spectre looming over 1717 Bissonnet St. known as the Ashby Highrise. The poem, entitled Rise, Ashby, begins with an epigraph clipped from a Swamplot story about the lawsuit that was filed by a few of the 21-story apartment tower’s Southampton and Boulevard Oaks neighbors last year. A video of Ince’s recent performance at Montrose’s Cafe Brasil (seen at left) has been posted on Youtube; you can read the poem — with its original, towering typography intact — below:


Rise, Ashby
05/22/14 11:15am

Map of Suggested Tampico Heights Location, HoustonA funny thing happens in Pooja Lodhia’s teevee report on the whole Tampico Heights dust-up. Yes, she gets Jim Badger, the creator of the Tampico Heights website, to come on camera, and she notes that his renaming project was meant as a sort-of joke. But more interesting: She finds a couple people who claim that the inside-the-Loop neighborhood west of I-45 and east of North Main St. should be called Northside.

They aren’t wrong.


Tampico Heights or Northside West?
05/12/14 1:30pm

TAMPICO HEIGHTS RISES AGAIN, THIS TIME IN A BUMPER STICKER CAMPAIGN Bumper Sticker Mentioning Tampico Heights, North Montrose, HoustonIn a setback for the upstart movement to rename Brooke Smith and portions of East Sunset Heights east of N. Main St. and west of I-45, the appearance of the name “Tampico Heights” on Google Maps got shut down late last month by a couple of eagle-eyed citizen editors who noted that the name was “being used by a small group of residents to try and encourage the adoption of the name for this neighborhood, much to a larger group’s displeasure.” The newfangled designation has now been removed. But pro-Tampico campaigners have taken to the streets — or at least the shopping-center parking lots: A reader sends Swamplot this photo of a Tampico Heights bumper sticker spotted on a Chevy TrailBlazer parked in front of “Party” Kroger on Studemont St. over the weekend. [previously on Swamplot] Photo: Mel

05/08/14 3:30pm

Man Defecating on Sidewalk, Woodland Heights, Houston

An enterprising Woodland Heights resident set up a camera in a tree in front of her home in order to capture images of the man who had been repeatedly pooping on the sidewalk and driveway of her residence and other homes in and around the 500 block of Byrne St. And . . . success! The animated image above, culled from surveillance footage provided to HPD and Channel 2 reporter Jennifer Bauer, shows the perpetrator in the act and its immediate aftermath — though, fortunately, the foreground leaves tastefully shield our view from most of the nastiness.

Bauer, though, provides helpful commentary:


The Poop on the Street
05/07/14 1:15pm

Yard Signs in Near Northside, Houston

Yard Signs in Near Northside, HoustonA couple of weeks after a flyer was distributed to residents near a lower section of the Near Northside north of Hogan St. and west of Main suggesting they oppose an application for minimum-lot-size restrictions in the area, a bunch of properties there have begun sporting signs that announce their residents’ support for the initiative, a reader who goes by the name Triton informs Swamplot.

And Triton sends along this on-the-street report:


Vote Yes or No
04/29/14 1:00pm

Map on Minimum Lot Size Flyer, Near Northside, HoustonSwamplot reader Triton reports receiving a flyer urging people to oppose a minimum lot size designation for the area just north of Downtown shown in the map at right. The authors of the bright yellow flyer, written in English on one side and Spanish on the other, identify themselves only as “a group of very concerned property owners in this neighborhood,” but the text doesn’t include the names of any organization or individuals — only a Quitman St. return address and a phone number. “If you are within the marked boundary of the map below we want to inform you that there is a minimum lot size application currently being processed by the city of Houston,” the flyer reads. It encourages readers to oppose the application, because (it claims) “your land will potentially decrease in value,” and “it scares investors away.

Here’s the text portion of the flyer:


Bright Yellow Concerns
04/15/14 1:15pm

Near Northside Residents Holding Tampico Heights Signs, Houston

A dust-up begun in the comments section of a Houstonia magazine article has blossomed into a mini-campaign to squash a recently coined neighborhood nickname. Two websites have now been created to document the curious internet history surrounding the recent appearance of the name Tampico Heights, and to demonstrate residents’ steadfast opposition to Heights name creep.

“From talking to dozens of Northsiders, it is not a name that anyone has heard used for the neighborhood,” a reader tells Swamplot. So the reader (lightheartedly signing emails as the Tampico Heights Redevelopment Authority) created a timeline site, documenting usage of the term “Tampico Heights” — in a manner that might make the founders of the OED proud — “in hopes that people who write about our neighborhood, or any neighborhood, make a practice of talking to residents, and not inventing things from google searches.”


Battling ‘Heights’ Creep