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 . . .
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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?
- How To Vote in the 2012 Swamplot Awards for Houston Real Estate [Swamplot]
- Swamplot Awards Ballots 2012 [Swamplot]
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)