Comment of the Day: Screwing the Haves

COMMENT OF THE DAY: SCREWING THE HAVES Cool Squares“Message to the cool kids: If you are really cool, move to a cheaper part of town. The squares who are pricing you out of Montrose will be punished by living exclusively among squares, and the cheaper part of town will be cool. However, if you move and none of that happens then you probably weren’t that cool.” [Memebag, commenting on New Owners to Montrose Apartment Dwellers: Everybody Out by the End of August, We’re Tearing These Places Down] Illustration: Lulu

50 Comment

  • Anyone know how the WInlow Place deed restrictions factor into this? I know that plots with single family homes have to stay as such (hence why there aren’t the level of townhomes in Winlow Place as elsewhere in Montrose), but what happens when apartment complexes are knocked down?

  • It’s already happened, look at the Heights. One Olive Garden away from becoming “new Katy,” but the squares think they ARE the cool kids, when no, they are not.

  • What should have been the comment of the day……..

    I’d really like to know why some people should be targeted for inclusion in a neighborhood if it means that other people are necessarily excluded as a direct consequence of a price control or the much more far-reaching indirect consequences of the market distortions. I’d like to know why somebody has a birthright to live in their neighborhood even if it has transformed into something over time that is other than their neighborhood. It’s quite absurd if you ask me. Cities are not static, and neither are people. Move on.
    If you don’t find yourself where you were yesterday then you shall find yourself elsewhere; and if you do not like where you are today, then there’s always tomorrow; but you aren’t due your yesterdays, and you aren’t due anybody’s tomorrows.

  • Jeff
    The properties on West Alabama & Westheimer are not restricted, even though they are in Winlow Place.

  • @SJP–Have you ever been to Europe? Have you ever been to the Northeast? Jesus, you need to get out more. What are America’s favorite cites? Charleston, New Orleans, SF, Boston, NYC, San Antonio, Chicago. What do all of these have that Houston does not? A sense of history, old great historic neighborhoods and city government that gives a shit and doesn’t like developers plow the city down. I agree this C of the Day isn’t great, but it’s a lot better than your hate letter to the unique neighborhoods of Houston. This is the reason people hate Houston and only live here because they have too–Exhibit A

  • Oh come on now with all the “Montrose is dead” stuff. Just the other day, I saw a guy in sitting in a beat up pickup truck spit in the face of a woman talking to him (appeared to either be a prostitute or drug dealer) and then peal out of W. Main. You can still get a tattoo. You can still by second hand clothes and junky antiques. You can still see a band no one ever heard of at Numbers. The Sunday brunch at Baba Yega is as gay as it ever was. Yes there are lots of awful townhomes and big boxy apartment complexes. But Montrose isn’t dead just because you cannot afford to live there anymore.

  • Alot of the youngsters that typically rent in Montrose are treking east to the cheaper East End area. I’ve noticed a steady increase of them around Eastwood/Second Ward this past year. Hell, even the four plex near me which was in serious squalor and poverity just two years ago, has been totally rehabbed and now houses the typical Montrose type renters in all for units. The East End may not be experiencing much of a construction boom like the west side is but our demographics are rapidly changing due to the west sides increasingly high rental prices.

  • @ Shannon: No, it was a hate letter to the unique neighborhoods of Houston. (They’re all unique and will forever be unique; they’ll just be differently unique than how they were unique before.) It was a hate letter to social engineering specifically by way of rent control. You framed the issue with a proposal for rent control, I responded accordingly. If you had framed it in the context of historic districts or more broadly as the protection of the built environment of Montrose, I probably would have responded with some vague cautionary statement about the devil being in the details or I may not have responded. You wanted to talk about rent control, and I am categorically opposed to rent control.

    And about that desire to be like America’s favorite cities. With the exception of San Antonio, they all have net negative domestic migration. Americans are moving out of them. If they’re the favorites in terms of tourism, that’s fine and all but your priorities regarding municipal policy are backwards. Tourism should exist to serve the constituents, not merely as an ends unto itself. This desire to live in a cool place that you seem to have is profoundly uncool.

  • @shannon Really? “Charleston, New Orleans, SF, Boston, NYC, San Antonio, Chicago” are America’s favorite cities?

    In that case my favorite Houston restaurants are, in no particular order, Tony’s, Oxheart, Da Marco, Underbelly, Uchi, Brennan’s, Red Lobster, and Triniti.

  • @Niche—don’t you ever give it a rest. Look dude, we rarely ever agree. I think you’re wrong like 99.9 percent of the time, I nomally completely disagree with you as I do now. I’m just glad none of your Anna Karinana like tomes made it to C of the Day… Dude go to sleep, you need the rest, night.

  • I just read swamplot to laugh when @TheNiche crushes @Shannon in the comments thread, everyday! Hahaha

  • I don’t read Swamplot to see who’s perceived as “Crushing” whom, I read it to laugh and learn. I actually usually agree with @Shannon, at least he has passion and seems to care about Houston’s future, which is more than I can say about most on these threads. Swamplot seems to have a lot of bullies, like @Dream, which is unfortunate. Swamplot usually moderates for civility, which I appreciate.

  • The point about net negative domestic migration is valuable. Rent control is idiotic and bad for the poor.

  • every city Shannon rattled off as great historical american cities are by and large horrid places for anyone living in the bottom 80% income range. there is a strong correlation there that many economists have learned from and this is a topic best left to the experts, not swamplot posters. except for charleston and san antonio i guess, but those were obvious pet choices.

  • what’s really going to bake @Shannon’s noodle is the fact that the cute little enclaves in those other towns that are ‘old great historic’ neighborhoods are completely different than they were 20, 50, 100 years ago. yeah, the buildings may be the same on the outside as they were long ago, but the demographics, the drive, the pull of the neighborhoods themselves have changed drastically.
    I mean, even in a town like Houston, where the government doesn’t care about the people, 30 years ago montrose may have contained the spirit of what you are trying to save in the place, but 60 years ago it was what it is becoming, in that there was nothing weird or unique about it. The Heights too, I mean, it was born as the first suburb on the edge of a much smaller Houston, why not let it grow back into a suburb complete with the trappings of what we consider today as traditional suburb, such as an olive garden?

  • I guess I’m a square. I just bought in the Heights and did so because it has all the conveniences – close to everything with nice homes and decent sized lots, but not out of the city. A place to raise my family. I didn’t drive anybody who couldn’t afford it out. I paid a lot for the convenience.

  • This is a struggle in every growing city in the country. The New Yorker recently had an article about this fight in San Francisco – artists vs. Silicon Valley:

  • Well, worth mentioning that I should be in the East End by Christmas so I guarantee you its gonna be cool over there. Cold really.

  • This is what happens in a hot market with no zoning. In some posters minds, it is perfectly okay for a 30+ story office tower to go up in Vermont Terrace and say fie to those neighbors who dare to moan about it all the while making an homage to Gerald Hines. Yet, when an “affordable ” multi-family structure is leveled for a larger scale multi family building, albeit at a different price point, the anger turns towards the property developer-oh they are greedy. Or our government-oh they don’t care. Or the new residents-oh they are douches, hipsters, yuppies, guppies, suburbanites, etc…..if zoning were intact,
    one could argue that these low rise garden apartments and duplexes and fourplexes would not be as valuable because they could only be replaced with a similar type property. Or to change the land use (zoning), one would have to ask for a zoning board/planning commision for variance and the neighbors could voice their opinions and attempt to sway the commissioners. Unfortunately, that just isn’t the case here in Houston so until we as a community are ready to put zoning to the voters again, we don’t have alot of good choices. You live where you can afford it. Period. If the Bohemian Utopia Era of Montrose is over according to some, so be it. There are still many rundown areas (like much of Montrose was) that could use an infusion of energy to start the seeds of another neighborhood revival. People change, neighborhoods change, times change, the world changes.

  • Argue with Conde Nast, it’s their list. It’s ridiculous to argue that cites like NYC, Boston, SF are not more desirable to Houston for the vast majority. Sure these cities are losing people to places like Houston, but not because Houston is favored, it’s only because of jobs. Frankly, most would prefer to live almost anywhere else but here. One of the few things newcomers do like is inner city neighborhood’s like Montrose and that’s because in rote Houston, it’s somewhat unique. I’m simply saying that I hope some of the uniqueness is preserved on it’s way to becoming Rice Military. No doubt Third Ward is becoming home to some of the displaced and it’s cool that RT is turning around, but even there I hope some of the more affordable housing is left for seniors, young professionals etc. I totally agree with ripping down or rehabbing crime and drug infested complexes, but when they rip down cool Garden Apartments full of seniors, young professionals, etc, I’m sad because it changes the fabric of an area. Houston is unique in that because of no zoning you can (or could) live in an affordable garden apartment really close to neighborhoods that are very desirable, you don’t see that a lot in other cities. It was inevitable that this would change, but it’s happened so quickly and it’s like all the cool old affordable garden apartments (the nice ones) were torn down in a day. I’m all for change, but maybe give us time to adjust.

  • I like this comment of the day. It’s basically what I’ve been saying all along. People need to discover new, affordable neighborhoods. Stop holding places like Midtown and Montrose and The Heights to be the only places you can live if you consider yourself cool. Stop whining about how you can’t afford the rent any more in those places. Take a chance on EADO or Eastwood or, dare I say it, Sharpstown.
    But you’ll say “real estate is all about location, location, location.’ True. But it’s also true that cities are dynamic. Neighborhoods are built. They get dated. People move out. They become slums. Slums are discovered by urban pioneers. The former slums become hip, edgy places to live. People who are less and less hip and edgy move in. The neighborhoods lose their character. People who assume any neighborhood will always be a slum are really just flat wrong. It’s something everyone should keep in mind.

  • The Montrose I remember used to be filled with titty bars. Bring them back, I say, and put an end to this discussion.

  • Please note there is a marked difference in gentrification and douchification. For example Washington avenue and most of Rice Military was gentrified starting around 2000-2005, around 2010 it began it’s descent into douchington Avenue. Montrose was gentrified even in the late 1990’s, now is rapidly douchifying with stucco monstrosities, built cheaply replacing well built brick homes and destroying the fabric of neighborhoods. Let Montrose go the way of the BMW set, those who think conspicuous consumption is somehow cool, when their stucco shoeboxes decline and fall apart they’ll be the first ones to jump ship and run tail tucked between their legs back to Katy, the Woodlands, Spring, and god forbid Friendswood. The shame is that Montrose where once eclectic, eccentric, and historic is now stucco conformity land occupied by delta bravo suburbanite types, or those who moved here for high paying energy jobs. One doesn’t need gum to see a bubble.

  • LMFAO—yet another chance for ZAW to push fucking Sharpstown. Give it a rest dude! Do you really think the bohemian types who fell in love with Montrose will pick SHARPSTOWN? They picked Montrose because it was close to the museums and it had old cool bungalows, not just because it was old and shitty. They could have picked other areas that were run down but they chose Montrose for a reason. These people will go to Third Ward maybe, but Sharpstown? they’d rather a baptist seminary in Jasper. cm totally agree. And please sell that house ZAW, so you’ll STFU about Sharptown every second of every day. You should work to get it incorporated and run for Mayor….oh wait you don’t live there anymore, you abandoned it for greener pastures down the road…typical

  • @jT: Having zoning which preserves moderate-to-low-quality 1950s-60s era garden apartments in no way assures that those types of places would remain affordable. If the demand for the neighborhood is there, the rents would be jacked up regardless, and owners would find ways of turning them into granite-and-stainless abodes for the trendy and well-paid.

    I agree with all the others who have said the starving-artist-bohemians and middle-class one-offs will have to start finding other neighborhoods that may be regarded by the overall market as still less than savory. East End (probably too late for much of the 2nd Ward – townhouses popping up daily – so go east of York), 3rd Ward/RT/MacGregor, southwest side/Richmond Strip, Spring Branch, etc. The Northside might have been one of those places but I think it’s gonna go the way of the 1st Ward in the near future.

  • Man. All this discussion about what Montrose is, really is making me nostalgic for what it was. You know, before people made it what it is today, or even what it was 5 years ago, or 10 years ago.
    I remember many a night spent drinking pint after pint in the ale house, where now is a strip mall. You want to talk about losing character? Demolishing a couple of 1960s boring old apartments ain’t it. Demolishing a 100+ year old farm house that had such a rich history as that did (go ahead, look it up there’s an old article on HP). Just for a big box store, that I’m sure people like Shannon visit regularly.
    The ale house is only one small sliver of the full story, and to be shocked about Montrose turning into The Montrose at this point…
    Montrose, hip, cool, badass montrose that people still want to be a part of, it has been dying a slow death for 15 years now. I can’t believe there are still people who wake up, see a crappy apartment complex get bulldozed and think that it can be somehow stopped at this point, it boggles my mind.
    Don’t worry though, The Montrose has been rising from the desecrated corpse. You can go to the convenient ATM where the ale house used to be, you can order a not so great coffee where Mary’s used to be. You can still buy antiques at 50% higher prices than you used to, you can order crappy tacos where you used to catch a movie, you can also sit down at a quiet restaurant where you used to be able to be beaten to a bloody pulp just for not liking girls.
    But hey, weep for the apartment complexes that are being demolished, it’s just the last husks of a shell that served only to remind people what Montrose really was before it became The Montrose.

  • “Houston is unique in that because of no zoning you can (or could) live in an affordable garden apartment really close to neighborhoods that are very desirable, you don’t see that a lot in other cities. ”

    Why do you think that is? Housing is a supply-and-demand market. Replacing these 73 apartments with 373 apartments ultimately helps keep overall housing prices at a reasonable level. The alternative, rent control and building restrictions, tends to work out very well for the wealthy and/or those lucky enough to score a rent controlled apartment, but tends to be terrible for the middle class, who have been pretty much completely displaced from places like NY and SF.

  • @shannon

    Cool ethnic eateries that are the best in the city, check.
    Cool mid century modern homes, check.
    Short commute to every major employment center in the city, check.
    In the westerly path of gentrification, check.
    Large Hispanic population that does not resist said gentrification, check.

    The sad reality is that sharpstown will undoubtedly gentrify way before the trae because of demographics. Yuppies avoid primarily black neighborhoods. The same can’t be said for Latino neighborhoods, case in point the Heights. The increasing home values in sharpstown point to that and at some point the area will start to look like westbury, it is inevitable.

  • Seriously, when you start talking about SF as a place that does housing right you know you’re off the rails.

  • Good comment cm.
    Shannon, lay off ZAW. You mention Southampton about as much as he mentions Sharpstown.
    And for what it’s worth, Stevens and Pruett were broadcasting their morning show from “the heart of THE Montrose” long before most of you moved to Houston. Putting an article in front of Montrose is not something that came about in the last few years.

  • @Robertrulez: I don’t know about non-gentrification of Black neighborhoods (*coughcough* Fourth Ward). Look at Washington DC, major gentrification of what were predominately Black areas within the District going on. Even here, the townhomes are creeping into the 5th Ward and 3rd Ward. Midtown and Museum District were also on the border with Black neighborhoods. Frankly it’s probably easier to gentrify them when they’ve been heavily abandoned, and certainly if they’re lower density and/or renter-dominated, there’s just less resistance. Sharpstown has OK mid-century homes (and I mean really just OK) but is balanced by enormous low-income immigrant apartment complexes that are really well-occupied, for the most part, and will dominate the population of the area for a long time to come, and thus the public life including retail. That’s a different kind of challenge for gentrifiers.

  • Just because some djays called it “The Montrose” umpteen years ago does not make it sound any less ridiculous. So now if you will pardon me, I need to go meet a friend in The Briargrove.

  • @Shadyheightster, I’m free, white, and over 21, I’ll do and say what I please. I don’t talk up Southampton at every second and I don’t have a house to sell. I really have no idea what you’re talking about. Go back to your granola and cabbage water.

  • JT, Montrose had a uniqueness and meaning that certainly “Briargrove” never had, your lack of knowledge on this point and obtuseness in relation to the history of the neighborhood makes YOU look ridiculous. Everyone who knows anything about Houston knows what Montrose represents. When you said you lived in The Montrose everyone knew what you meant. It was the epicenter of the gay community and its stuggles, it’s special to us. For you not to get that is not only “ridiculous” but pathetic and sad.

  • Oh please Shannon you are so clueless it is laughable. First everyone on this board who reads with any regularity knows way too much about you. Case in point, you regaling us with that heady days of Creole on Yorktown blather.
    How many times did you use the word “I”? Only a narcissist thinks everyone lives and dies over being privileged enough to read one of your day in the life of Shannon missives. Secondly I live in Montrose and have spent a great deal of time there in the past 25+ years, so I suppose I “know what that means”. If you don’t have enough nuance to understand the Briargrove joke, well some people get it and some don’t. Only two people I know say The Montrose and it sounds stupid to me -so get over it. Adding or subtracting “the ” hardly is tantamount to all of the drama you have assigned to it.

  • Studz, Dream Merchant, Mary’s, Texas Junk, Lankfords, Ruggels, Felix, Record Rack, Cactus, Trader Joes, Niko Nikos
    The list just goes on an on. Things are changing and have been for as long as I can remember, mostly for the better. I think losing that tired old Cuban restaurant and getting Roost in it’s place was a win for the Montrose.
    Welch, Hazard, Elmen, Vermont, Park, Converse, Crocker, West Pierce, Winston, those are streets that I rented on at different times since 1988. I love the Montrose and always will, happy that I was able to eventually buy a house and quit being a tenant but I miss moving around. It must really suck to be a renter right now! I agree with ZAW on Sharpstown and 3rd ward coming on strong.


  • Your answer and your uncivil and person diatribe say more about you than it does me dude. “I” pity you. The fact you have lived in “The Montrose” for 25 years and have the attitude about the neighborhood you do make you all the more pitiable.

  • And dude if you go apoplectic after you read anything I write then maybe you should skip my posts or spend less time on Swamplot. You seem to rheorically chase me all over the site. For someone who claims to despise me you sure engage me a lot. My advice for your own health is spend less time reading my comments and do some Yoga.

  • @Shannon. Exactly what is my attitude about Montrose? As a homeowner there by choice, it stands to reason I have no issues with it or anyone in it. Not using “the” is hardly an affront to the gay struggle anymore than saying Oak Lawn or West Hollywood or DuPont Circle, etc…..There’s that narcissism again thinking I chase you all over the board. Just like The Niche, awp, Doofus et al do but only speaking for myself, you spout off ALOT of misinformation and think everyone should lap it up like treacle. And apoplectic–there is all that drama again. An Eyeroll is closer to truth. As for my uncivilness, please go back and read some of your posts. I’m sure you were raised with white gloves and party manners perhaps you should use them sometime.

  • Trying to define “cool” is decidedly not…..

  • Why do you care, JT? It’s like the stalk me all over the site, then go on and on about yourself and your opinion of me that you feel trumps all and then call me the narcissist. I was one of like 10 posts that was taking about living in garden apartments in the mid 90’s and I gave my own account. None of them feel your wrath for their narcissism. You obviously have a personal issue with me, so simply skip my posts, you’d be doing me and everyone else a favor, believe me. I don’t live my life wondering about somebody who calls themselves The Niche (WTF) and like a care about the opinion of someone calling themselves “Doofus” (I think the name says it all). I like architecture and I love Houston so I enjoy giving my opinion on both. Just because some don’t agree with nor like my opinion doesn’t make it invalid and incorrect. I’m not always right nor am I always with it

  • Montrose ain’t dead, It’s just changing and you are scared! Long live Montrose.

    To everyone all heart broken that they are losing the charming affordable housing in Montrose. I guarantee that if you owned a small 10 unit garden apartment complex and you could charge market rate for your units that you would. You would not subsidize, lose money by choice, or install some rent controls so you could minimize your return on investment. If your 1 bedroom is worth $1400 a month but you decide, “he used to be an urban animal in the early 80’s and he had this cool band so I’ll just charge him $450.” Not gonna happen ever! So why don’t you and all friends from the complex or drinking buddies from West Alabama Ice House quit bitching and pointing fingers and put your money together and go buy a property so y’all can point fingers at each other when you get a $25k tax bill in January every year.


  • @localplanner

    You have a good point regarding DC but the cultural dynamics between the northeast and the south are very different. It’s important to note that the fast gentrifying areas of Houston are mostly hispanic. The townhomes you speak of in the 5th ward are east of 59 which is primarily Hispanic at this point. EADO and the 2nd ward are also heavily Hispanic. The third ward may be at the beginning stages but the reality is that it is a longgg way off. You can not compare the single family areas of the trae with Sharpstown because the latter is far more upkept. I hope the best for both areas but I honestly believe sharpstown has a far better chance because IMO, it has way more to offer than most neighborhoods.

  • I feel like maybe the bar has been raised for bohemianism since the heyday of Montrose and its surrounding areas – as if a place and a time could ever be truly preserved anyway.

    If they were really serious about creating these types of experiences anew in a modern style, I might suggest replicating the Bagby model of streetscape somewhere else and on a larger scale. Maybe the East End?

  • The city has more tools than ever to mitigate development. Selectively applied across time, is there a way to use these tools to do gentrification “right” – now that we have (seemingly) seen several examples of it done “wrong” ?

  • It seems a lot of the new urban pioneering is in historically Black areas, like First Ward, Third Ward, and Riverside Terrance (Third Ward) so I think you’re not all together correct on the hypotheses that black areas don’t get gentrification like Hispanic areas. It seems if the area is desirable for whatever reason it will get gentrified if the market demands it reguardless of the ethnic demographics of the areas and of course I completely disagree with you on Sharpstown.

  • Regarding this struggle to define the new bohemians…I would submit to you that the following link contains some wisdom that is more broadly applicable than to mere music festivals. But wherever one falls in the spectrum, it seems to me that one of the defining characteristics of this group of people is that they should build up an outcast or misfit identity, value it, and yet still be incredibly judgmental of wide swaths of people.

  • And here’s an article about gentrification from a San Franciscan’s perspective. Same thing is happening out there that’s happening in Montrose…

  • Thinking it over, I sadly don’t think Houston would be competitive for any of the groups mentioned in that article. I say forget “bohemianism” – and even forget “creative class” – the city, if it’s aiming to land anyone at all, may as well aim to land these guys ->

  • We need to take some of the techies off San Francisco’s hands and bring them here.

    Tech people over 30-35, women, and large unsexy old-guard tech companies may benefit from what Houston has to offer (albeit each in their own way). So I say why not?