05/11/17 4:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: RICE VILLAGE PARKING METER PUSHBACK PUSHBACK “Don’t understand the hostility about parking meters. Visited the Briar Shoppe recently, easily found a spot to park, and it cost me a buck. One (1) dollar ($). Took a credit card, no change needed. There’s something else going on here.” [Gisgo, commenting on The Rice Village Plans To Remake Amherst St., Lure Shoppers Into an Alley] Photo of Rice Village parking meters: Matthew Landry

05/10/17 1:00pm

DOWLING ST. NOW BEING EMANCIPATED The folks at Project Row House posted this snapshot of a new street sign along Emancipation Ave., née Dowling St., which is getting its shiny new labels affixed in the leadup to this year’s Juneteenth festivities. (That’s when the name change will officially take effect, and when majorly overhauled Emancipation Park is once again planning to reopen, as well.) This particular set of signage is at the corner with Francis St., across Dowling Emancipation from the Tiny Treasures house, the crumbling remains of the Beauty Box, and the former site of the Flower Man’s toxic-mold-filled arthouse; the new signs look to have started going up along the road last week.  Photo: Project ROW House

05/09/17 3:45pm

SWAMPLOT IS HIRING AN EDITOR There’s still a little time to throw your hat into the ring for that full-time editor job Swamplot has been advertising. Love diving in to the wets and dries of Houston real estate? Think you can write quickly and well while sifting through a flood of stories, photos, and tips from all corners of the city? Maybe you know somebody else who fits the bill? Now’s the time to check out the posting here and drop us a line (or pass it on to a special someone, so he or she can get in touch with us).

05/09/17 11:30am

THE LATEST PIECE OF THE HOW-TO-STOP-HOUSTON-FROM-SINKING PUZZLE Work is underway on a large pump station to help send water from the Trinity River down to Lake Houston by way of a 26.5-mile-long series of pipes and canal from northeast of Dayton, TX, roughly following the southwesterly trace of Luce Bayou. Dylan Baddour writes in the Chronicle this week that the goal of the transfer project is to beef up the Houston region’s surface water supply; that’s partially in response to longterm cutbacks around town on groundwater pumping, which Harris, Galveston, and some other nearby counties have gradually shied away from in the wake of the creeping post-WW2 realization that pulling up groundwater unchecked was causing the area to sink. To the northwest, Baddour writes that folks have also been running into salt and sulfur in deeper wells, drilled as shallower water wells have started to run dry. Engineer Michael Bloom tells Baddour that the full series of structures and upgrades, which also includes a massive expansion of the water treatment plant near Lake Houston, is currently the largest water project in the country. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo of existing canal near Lake Houston: Coastal Water Authority

05/08/17 4:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHERE ARE ALL THE HOUSTON POST-DEMO FRIDGE STEALS? “The appliances in [2311] Bartlett are brand new. So — when people in River Oaks, West U., etc., tear down a house that has very recently been updated, where do the appliances go? Do builders recycle them? Do they put them up on Craigslist? Seems like there should be some good bargains on high end appliances from these teardowns and remodels.” [Old School, commenting on Daily Demolition Report: How Braes Was My Valley] Photo of Houston appliance mural: Peter Lucas

05/05/17 5:15pm

SOUTHWEST FWY. MIDRISE AUDI SHOWROOM TO GET A DEALERSHIP NEIGHBOR ON THE STAHLMAN LUMBER LAND Another car dealership is planned for the 2.4-acre Stahlman Lumber property right across US 59 from the 7-story Audi dealership (shown here) at the crotch of southbound Shepherd Dr. and Greenbriar St. The former lumber business’s property was sold in January. Dylan Baddour writes in the Chronicle that details on what the new dealership will look like (or what kind of cars will be on offer) are scant for now, though a VP of Sonic Automotive (the same company that planned the Audi midrise and its freeway-eye-level-showroom) says more info on the “big, beautiful” design will be released by the end of the year. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo of Audi dealership at 2120 Southwest Fwy.: Audi Central Houston

05/05/17 4:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: AN ALTERNATE ROUTE FOR CLEANING UP DOWNTOWN’S IMAGE  “Well, if the problem is defined as ‘Pierce Elevated drivers see blight’ — then one solution is to get rid of the blight; another is to get rid of the Pierce Elevated. It’s probably obvious by now which is more likely to happen.” [_,  commenting on Downtown’s Preeminent Dilapidated Hotel Tower Now Outfitted To Greet I-45ers with New Nametags, Fewer Window Panes] Photo of former Days Inn: Bob Russell

05/04/17 3:45pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WILL THE BAYOU CITY PLEASE START ACTING LIKE IT? “Is the new business going to incorporate the bayou, or keep its back turned to it? Would be nice to see the trend continue of businesses along the bayous turning around and accepting the existence of a recreational green belt and trail network in its backyard, rather than using that as the side for the dumpsters.” [Superdave, commenting on Sixties Ex-Dry Cleaning Spot To Be Made Over as a Brays-Side Wine Bar] Photo of Brays Bayou at Stella Link Rd.: Frank Karbarz

05/02/17 5:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE 2 TYPES OF WILLING LONG-TERM HOUSTONIANS This data doesn’t surprise me at all — not because Houston has high quality of life (as a lifelong resident, we don’t), but rather because of the demographics who live here. I’d bet that a sizable majority of Houston residents fall into 1 of 2 categories: Older, settled people who have already made their choice and are unwilling to change, OR transplants from vastly more difficult situations in places like Central America, Vietnam, or the economically depressed parts of the Midwest. Houston looks pretty good when you compare it to third world type (or barely better than) living conditions — not so good when you compare it to more desirable U.S. cities. I’d be willing to bet that these numbers would change substantially if you narrowed the criteria to the “young, educated professionals” which every city wants to add to their workforce and tax base. These people demonstrably prefer to live in places like Austin, Denver, Portland, or Seattle, or (if they can afford it) Boston, NYC, San Francisco, or D.C.” [Christian, commenting on Houstonians Do Actually Want To Live Here; Freedmen’s Town Brick Fix Goes WrongIllustration: Lulu

05/02/17 1:30pm

ALDI TAKING THE YOGA COLLECTIVE’S SPOT IN GARDEN OAKS; OTHER NEW TENANTS IN THE WORKS Betsy Denson confirms this morning that an ALDI will be that “something bigger” taking over the endcap space in the N. Shepherd Dr. shopping center north of 38th St., once the Yoga Collective is booted out. (The German grocery chain will also take over that long-empty vacuum shop space next door). Hartman Management rep Danny Morales also tells Denson that a few more large tenants are likely headed to the strip center, and that just under 5,000 sq. ft. of new freestanding space is currently under construction.  The space marked for ALDI is right across Garden Oaks Blvd. from the Sears complex that Weingarten previously had its eye on. [The Leader; previously on Swamplot] Photo of 3839D N. Shepherd Dr.: Yoga Collective

05/02/17 11:24am

HOUSES FOR 800 TO HIT THE PINE CREST GOLF COURSE GREENS What’s the current count on defunct and ailing Houston golf courses being put to new use? Add another to the list: Meritage Homes is now planning to redevelop the former Pine Crest Golf Club’s 121 acres of links into a bundle of houses big enough for 800-or-so residents. The land, due north up Gessner Rd. from Memorial City Mall in Spring Shadows, will take the name Spring Brooke Village; MetroNational has been hawking the property since late 2015, around the same time as Conroe’s Wedgewood golf course hit the market. [Houston Business Journal; previously on Swamplot] Photo of 3080 Gessner Rd.: LoopNet

05/01/17 4:45pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: TRACING OUT THE BOTTOM LINES ON HOUSTON’S HISTORIC DEMOS “‘The excuse is always that the structure would be too expensive to update and bring up to code.’ Your fight is with the city and their code requirements. If it wasn’t so costly and time consuming to ‘save’ this house, that would likely be the better choice for the owner. If they make something too much of a pain, the property gets knocked down. The result is a newer, ‘safer’ house, which is good — but at the cost of knocking down a lot of old cool buildings.” [Cody, commenting on Daily Demolition Report: Second to NunIllustration: Lulu

04/27/17 2:45pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE MARCH OF PROGRESS, AS PERFORMED BY HOUSTON MIXED USE PROJECT PLANS Rendering of Tianqing Group/DC Partners Allen Pwky. Mixed Use Site, Allen Pkwy. at Gillette St., Fourth Ward, Houston, 77019Rendering 1: Shiny multifamily tower, midrise condo and office buildings, multilevel retail center with parking neatly concealed in above- and below-ground garages tucked under the buildings. Sleek architecture looking like something on Vancouver Island or in Dubai. Rendering 2: [Single] midrise office building and 6-story stucco apartment complex with hats. Big parking garage with a 2 story retail strip center wrapped around one side. Rendering 3: 4-story ‘Houston wrap’ apartment complex. One-story strip center with big parking lot. Final rendering: Large strip center with big box anchor and acres of parking. Architecture identical to retail center recently built in Pearland. [Old School, commenting on New Gleaming Mixed-Use Visions of a Former Fourth Ward Incinerator Brownfield] Outdated rendering of mixed-use development planned along Allen Pkwy.: Tianqing Group

04/27/17 10:15am

EARLY VOTING OPEN NOW FOR HISD’S SPECIAL MAY 6TH ‘YOU SURE YOU WANNA DO THAT?’ ELECTION houston-isd-outlineEarly voting opened this past Monday and goes through next Tuesday, May 2nd, if you don’t wanna wait for the official May 6th election day to weigh in a second time on HISD Prop. 1. The ballot question, as Andrew Schneider notes this week for Houston Public Media, addresses the same funding recapture proposition that didn’t pass in November (meaning HISD voters opted not to send the state of Texas some $160-ish million in property tax money, as required under the current state education funding system.) The state responded in the spring with a list of $8 billion worth of skyscrapers, malls, refineries, and other properties it could pluck from HISD’s boundaries if the district doesn’t pay up; it also dropped the amount potentially owed this year down to $77.5 million as a nod to potential HISD revenue lost to the city’s homestead exemption. [Houston Public Media; previously on Swamplot] Map of HISD and surrounding school districts: Texas Education Agency District Locator

04/26/17 4:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: HOW HOUSTON GOT ITS SPRAWL, AND OTHER TALES OF PSEUDOZONING Illustration of Oversized Parking Lot“Blame our city’s efforts at ‘planning’ in lieu of zoning. In the early 70’s, due to insufficient wastewater infrastructure, the city enacted a ban on apartment buildings of more than 4 units inside the Loop (driving much of apartment development to Uptown and Meyerland) and enforced a 5000-sq.-ft. minimum lot size. This gave rise to the Montrose 4-plex (of which there are still some examples remaining), but put a cap on residential density inside the loop. Then in the 1980’s, we got 25-ft building setbacks, followed by mandatory minimum parking requirements. This added a cap on commercial density to go with the cap on residential density. The rest is history: for the next couple of decades, the car became the focal point of the built environment, and we became the low-density city we are today. With repeal of some of the more retrograde density caps we’re starting to get some residential density, but setbacks and parking minimums are still getting in the way of the necessary commercial density needed for real walkability.” [Angostura, commenting on Comment of the Day: No, Sprawl’s Not Just a Number After AllIllustration: Lulu