This is it, folks. We’ve reached the final ballot in the final category of the 2016 Swamplot Awards for Houston Real Estate: the award for the Greatest Moment in Houston Real Estate.
What makes something great? This award aims to honor the event this year that stood out above all the rest. Is that a Houston real estate happening that made the city a better place? Or is it something that left its mark on the local landscape in other ways? It’s up to you to decide who gets this award, and what it means — so be sure to explain yourself when you cast your ballots!
You can vote by adding a comment below, or by email, Facebook, or Twitter. And you can vote using all 4 methods — as long as you follow these rules. Tell us which of the following nominees represents the greatest moment in Houston real estate — and then tell us why.
Here they are — your 2016 nominees:
1. Oil Prices Slip Below $27 per Barrel, January 20th. “The oil collapse set the tone for the coming year in Houston real estate (and, perhaps, a few years to come) more so than any other event. All year, low oil prices were seen rippling through the Houston market, from cancelations of planned luxury condo developments to the flood of office sublease space in the Energy Corridor; from headquarters reshufflings and departures of big players in the energy industry, to the economic hurt that trickled down.”
2. Midway Snags the KBR Site in Fifth Ward, May 18th. “The KBR days at the campus centered at 4100 Clinton Dr. were followed by teardowns, industrial cleanup, helicoptering, and years of sitting around before CityCentre developer Midway finally struck a deal on the down-low this spring for a joint venture on the site with its previous buyer, William Harrison. Now, the 147-acre property on Buffalo Bayou is purportedly headed toward a total redevelopment as a mixed residential, commercial, and entertainment district with another New York-flavored moniker: East River; Midway claims the project will ‘shift the center of gravity of Houston’s urban core toward the east.’”
3. The Mecom Fountain’s De-Restoration Is Reversed, May 29th. “It’s a great coming together story: Preservationists raise a fuss over the installation (apparently only accidentally okayed by the Texas Historical Commission) of limestone panels (which may have caused structural damage). Mayor Turner eventually reverses course on the city’s original ‘let’s just see how it turns out’ position, and asks TxDOT to stop adding panels. Then some members of the mayor’s transition team launch a private crowdfunding effort to help pay for the de-Tuscanization and subsequent restoration of the fountain to Midcentury-ish glory, as well as to replace the grant money originally spent on the limestone skin.”
4. Ashby Highrise Damage Award is Overturned, June 30th. “Wrapping up the latest chapter in the ongoing saga of the Ashby Highrise, an appeals court not only upheld the 2014 decision that the highrise planned for 1717 Bissonnet could be built, but overturned the previous ruling that the developer would have to pay the suing neighbors. The appeals court declared that no damages could be owed for something caused by the building’s construction, since it hasn’t actually been constructed yet. (The judge didn’t say, however, that the neighbors couldn’t sue again later, if the place does finally go up).”
5. Mayor Turner Nixes Affordable Housing Project Planned for Briargrove, August 1st. “The project would have been the first public affordable housing project in a ‘high-opportunity’ area. The project also would have required the Houston Housing Authority to knock down one of its own office buildings to make space for the apartment complex in Briargrove — where some vocal residents didn’t want the apartments built. For some, the whole saga raised lots of questions about NIMBYs, schools, and Houston’s post-lawsuit compliance with Federal Fair Housing standards; others saw it as marking a shift in power in City Hall. Either way, it led to the resignation of the Houston Housing Authority’s chairman, after Mayor Turner implied the agency’s leadership would be replaced as soon as was feasible.”
6. County Gives Go-Ahead To Turn the Astrodome’s Playing Field Into a Parking Garage, September 27th. “This year the county got the ball rolling (and some of the cash flowing) on its new plan to convert the Astrodome’s main below-ground-level floor into a 2-story underground space for cars to hang out (and maybe reminisce about Billy Jean King, Elvis, or the Oilers). It’s a rare case of preservationists getting excited about the creation of a new parking lot, and finally opens back up the possibility of someone actually using the remaining portion of the 8th Wonder of the World for something, at some nebulous future date.”
7. The Heights Votes To Loosen Dry Zone Restrictions, November 8th. “The closure earlier this year of the Fiesta on N. Shepherd Dr. set in motion a series of events that led to the alteration of the 1912 alcohol sales prohibition laws still operating in much of the Heights (as mapped above). At the urging and petition-collecting of a campaign funded at least in part by H-E-B, the city of Houston revived the ancient boundaries of the city of Houston Heights for the sake of a local option election on this year’s ballot. That option passed handily, making it legal to sell beer and wine for carry-out-only purposes (like, say, a grocery store might do). The neighborhood-wide prohibition on drink-it-now sales is still in place, for now — though just as effective as before.”
A big round of applause, please, for all of this year’s hard-working contestants. Now tell us: Which of these moments was the greatest? Voting ends for this and all other categories on Tuesday, December 27th at 5 pm. Get your votes in now!
- How To Vote in the 2016 Swamplot Awards for Houston Real Estate
- Swamplot Awards Ballots 2016 [Swamplot]
Images: LoopNet (KBR listing photo), NASDAQ.com (WTI graph), Harris County (Astrodome plans), Houston Housing Authority (2640 Fountainview Dr. rendering), Houston Heights Beverage Coalition (Heights Dry Zone map with corrected H-E-B location), Mike Bloom (Ashby Highrise site work), Buckhead Investment Partners (1717 Bissonnet St. rendering), Swamplot inbox (all others)