Greatest Moment in Houston Real Estate: The Official 2012 Ballot

We now come to the final category in the 2012 Swamplot Awards for Houston Real Estate. We need your help to determine the Greatest Moment in Houston Real Estate of the past year. The official nominees, culled from reader suggestions, are posted below. Which one would you pick to win the award?

Remember, there are 4 ways to vote! And you can vote once using each approved method — that’s 4 votes in all for each award category. Declare your vote in a comment to this post, in an email to Swamplot HQ, in a Tweet, or on the wall of Swamplot’s Facebook page. The complete voting rules are available here.

All votes must be in by 5 pm on Wednesday, December 26th. When you vote, please tell us why you made your choice. We’ll include some of the best explanations for the winners when we announce them next week.

The official nominees for the Greatest Moment in Houston Real Estate of 2012 are . . .


1. Houston’s Real Estate Market Marks Its Comeback. September 21st. It’s not exactly a shocking turn of events to find a monthly report put together from MLS data showing the inventory of single-family homes on the market has dipped below a 5 months’ supply — even though that’s the lowest level it’s been at in more than 10 years. But the data showing lower supply numbers is more evidence that Houston has become a solid sellers’ market. The latest figures show it down to just over 4 months; meanwhile, both sales and prices are up. Average and median residential home prices are increasing steadily too. Houston’s real estate market wasn’t especially hard hit by the downturn, but it’s clearly bounced back from whatever setbacks it did hit, leading the way for much of the rest of the country.


2. Construction Finally Begins on Regent Square? July 11th. Five years after the enormous North Montrose mixed-use development project was announced — and blocks of apartments were torn down to make way for it — GID Development begins construction of the Sovereign, a 21-story apartment tower, on West Dallas St. between Rosine and Rochow. The company claims it’s still committed to building Regent Square, and describes the tower as its first component. The Sovereign appears to have space for a shop or 2 on its ground floor, but this building didn’t appear in early Regent Square master plans; it was depicted only as an unlabeled bystander in later versions. The Sovereign is an apartment project that could stand on its own — in a market where many other standalone apartment complexes are already under construction.


3. KBR Sells Its Former Fifth Ward Campus. November 28th. The commercial brokers hawking construction and military contracting firm KBR’s 136-acre former campus at 4100 Clinton Dr. on the east side of Downtown talked up the potential of the cleared site by the side of Buffalo Bayou, but didn’t have much to say about the buyer when it finally sold last month. And the property’s presumed new owner, Cathexis Holdings, isn’t answering questions about its plans. Cathexis was founded just a couple of years ago and appears to have no experience in real-estate development.


4. Voters Approve Funding for the Bayou Greenways Initiative. November 6th. The Bayou Greenways program will turn stormwater detention projects along the city’s bayous into parks, with continuous trails for running and cycling running along both sides. The new park space and improved drainage and infrastructure included in the plan could attract major new development to areas that have been neglected for decades, and help large sections of the city avoid flooding problems as well. The election victory gave voter approval for $100 million in bonds dedicated to bayou work, but an additional $105 million will need to be raised from private, state, and federal sources to complete the improvements.


5. Grand Parkway Contractors Agree To Rebury Their Ancestors in Concrete. December 1st. The discovery of a rich stash of 10,000-to-14,000-year-old human remains at a known but previously unexcavated archeological site along Cypress Creek in the path of the Grand Parkway threatened to delay or even derail construction of the mall-to-mall prairie highway. But a settlement between TxDOT, the Harris County Historical Commission, and several Native American tribes quickly solved the problem. The road must go on: Construction of the Grand Parkway Segment E will continue; contractors will simply cover the ancient burial site with a thick layer of concrete riprap — preserving the disturbed site for future generations of archeologists to worry about — and then get back to the important business of adding ring roads around Houston. The ancient cemetery may be of limited usefulness to researchers now, though; experts claim that the use of use of heavy machinery to comb through the site has ruined it as a source of historical information.


6. 806 Main St. Comes Out of Its Shell. August 1st. A city council vote to provide help in securing federal funds for the stalled renovation of the 22-story former Samuel L. Carter building at the corner of Main and Rusk Downtown boosts Pearl Hospitality’s $74 million plan to transform the 1910 structure into a 250-room J.W. Marriott hotel. The original stone, terra cotta, and brick facade of the city’s first skyscraper had been covered up with slipcover of marble and glass in a 1960s renovation. Pearl bought the property in 2010.


7. Asia Society Texas Center Opens. April 12th. Completed at the end of 2011, Japanese architect Yoshio Taniguchi‘s first new freestanding U.S. building was kept under wraps for months before its official 4-day-long unveiling ceremony. Now that it’s open to the public, the neighborhood has warmed to the building’s cool spaces.


Those are the candidates! And now comes your great moment — to make your choice and vote. What’ll it be?

Images: HAR (chart) GID Development (Sovereign); Candace Garcia (Sovereign, 806 Main St.); HFF (KBR campus); Houston Parks Board (Brays Bayou plan); Brett Sillers/OffCite (Grand Parkway); Paul Hester (Asia Society)

27 Comment

  • #1 1. Houston’s Real Estate Market Marks Its Comeback – hands down. I bought my first home this year, and I can’t even believe how unbelievably cutthroat it was on SFHs inside the loop (that’s where I was looking). Properties that were listed on the weekend had multiple offers and a contract come Monday. I never would have expected so many people clobbering each other over the sale of a property (for instance; 1345 Beverly where the buyers engaged in a bidding war). My mom’s property that she purchased over a year ago was appraised at 40% higher than what she paid. Watching Houston turn into a seller’s market these past few months has been mind-blowing.

  • #4 the Buffalo Bayou Greenway HUGE benefit to almost every Houstonian with more than half the funding raised from private sources. Projects like this elevate the entire city.

  • #1…on my block the last 2 houses to sell had firm offers within 8 hours of listing. And developers are getting loans and putting up detached homes, townhomes, and “luxury” apartments at the fastest clip I’ve seen in years around here.


  • #4 Bayou plan. This will have longer and greater total impact on the city than the other candidates.

  • Number 1. If not for Houston’s real estate market coming back, numbers 2, 3, 6 and arguably 4 are on the list.
    (Actually, the robust Houston economy is the real story. It’s the reason for #1. But, since that’s not an option, I vote for #1.)

  • Sorry; I meant to say, “If not for Houston’s real estate market coming back, numbers 2, 3, 6 and arguably 4 would not be on the list.”

  • #5. The Grand Parkway is the best thing that could happen to Houston, and we’re not going to let a few dead bodies stand in the way of progress.

  • #4 Bayou plan.

  • #1: I’m blown away at the pace of building in Houston (at least inside the loop). I can drive a 2 mile radios from my house and see 10 new large projects. And as others have pointed out, SFHs (in the right locations) are snapped up in days.

  • #4. Transforming the unsightly bayou into a true city treasure will have a lasting benefit for decades to come.

  • 4 – Bayou Greenway

  • #4 – the market will come and go with the oil money, but the parks and trails should outlast everything else on this list..or at least they should

  • #4 I can only imagine he benefits to residents and potential tourists alike this project will yield.

  • #4 Bayou Greenway Initiative.

  • #4. I still hope they can do something with the underground cisterns.

  • #4 is not the same thing as the Buffalo Bayou revitalization (it appears many people don’t get that). I think the voter initiative is a great deal. The Buffalo Bayou revitalization is great as well in theory, but the execution has been horrible (e.g., it should not take more than 3 years to pave a 4.5 mile loop; no need to run off wildlife; why not complete sections instead of leaving exposed re-bar out for coming up on a year in multiple places; etc.). So, if we are saying #4 is the BB Revitalization, then I vote for any of the others but that. If 4 is truly the voter initiative, then I vote for it.

  • @htownproud: The pace of the Buffalo Bayou work is a function of the funding and financing available and of trying to minimize closures of the bayou. It could all get done in 6 months if the entire park was closed and a few million dollars more were spent on the project. Also, the vegation removal has been designed at eliminating invasives, which had all but taken over the bayou’s banks. There is also work being done to stabilize the banks by widening parts of the bayou and eliminating some of the cliff-like banks. That will give the bayou greater storage capacity, provide easier access to the water and eliminate the danger of having the banks collapse under someone’s feet.