Hakeem Olajuwon’s Dream for the Jim West Mansion: Flagship Clothing and Furniture Store?

Update: Olajuwon’s DR34M store is now open.

Hakeem Olajuwon hasn’t officially announced what he plans to do with Clear Lake’s landmarked Jim West Mansion, which he bought along with the surrounding 41-acre property at 3303 NASA Pkwy. in 2006. But a teaser website suggests that the former Houston Rockets center intends to transform the oil and cattle baron’s former estate — which served for a time as NASA’s Lunar Science Institute — into a flagship store for DR34M, the clothing line he introduced before a New Year’s Eve Rockets game in 2010, but that hasn’t drawn much attention since.

“The DR34M Spring 2012 Collection will launch online and in our new Houston flagship store,” announces the website at Dr34m.com. It’s illustrated with a photo of the 17,000-sq.-ft. Italianate mansion, which was designed by Houston city hall architect Joseph Finger and completed in 1930 not far from the current site of Houston’s Johnson Space Center. “We are busy designing a new line of clothing, collaborating on a collection of leather bags and accessories and sourcing modern furniture,” reads the brief copy, which is accompanied by Olajuwon’s signature.


Late spring 2012, of course, is a little late to be introducing a Spring 2012 clothing collection; it’s likely that the website has been up in its current state for some time. It was noticed only recently by Galveston County Daily News reporter Laura Elder, who noted in a report yesterday that Olajuwon and his business partners “weren’t immediately available for comment.”

A few more clues hint the website may be a hoax, or at least constitute an unauthorized (or simply ham-handed) attempt to publicize Olajuwon’s plans. The “join our email list” link at Dr34m.com connects visitors to a web domain that otherwise happens to be stuffed with splogs. Likewise, the “Follow us on Twitter” link on the mostly empty website for The Dream Inc. (where you can glean a few more details about the lifestyle brand, for whom Olajuwon apparently serves as Lead Designer) links instead to the tweet stream of a basketball player named Hakeem, but who appears to be somewhat shorter than the 7-ft. former UH star.

But some sort of activity may have already begun at the Jim West Mansion, which had already sat vacant for years before the basketball-star-turned-real-estate-tycoon bought it from the Pappas family. A deed restriction amendment that prevented Olajuwon from subdividing the property expires this year. Look closely at the photo on the DR34M teaser page and you can see a dumpster just to the right of the building. That same dumpster also appears in a photo of the building on the website of Emax General Contractors, which announces that the Houston company “has been given the opportunity to restore the mansion back to its original luster.”

Photo: Emax Construction

23 Comment

  • Mmm. Hmm. Gut those historic interiors! The Galleria is too far for Seabrook hipsters to drive for pretentious clothing and modern furniture. And certainly being a bona fide NBA legend makes you perfectly qualified to design clothing.

  • Who ever advised Dream that this clothing venture would be a good idea should have been fired a long time ago. What a waste of money.

    Dream needs to stick to his real estate investments and not designing clothes.

  • We can’t realistically expect a real estate investor/developer, especially in this region, to buy historic properties for the purpose of restoring them so,unfortunately, I guess a gut and shell sprucing is a win.

  • If this is true, then it is such a shame for such a beautiful property.

  • I hope they simply restore it to its original luster. It’s a beautiful property.

  • sell it on ebay with no reserve and move forward. why would anyone want to drive 38 miles one-way @ $4.25 per gallon of gas online and 45-minutes drive?

  • There has been a lot of activity there recently, it looks like they expanded and re-striped the parking lot.

  • Just a rumor, but last year I heard that a man by the name of H Abercrombie (who lived at the Endeavour) was working on a deal to lease that property to HEB for a store. Supposedly Abercrombie was responsible for leasing the land on West Alabama for the Montrose HEB.

  • I remember when he lived in Pecan Grove.

  • I have been driving past this property my whole life dreaming that it would be restored (I wanted to be the one to do it, not sure where I’m getting those funds). It better not be turned into a retail shop for goofy clothes! So many people would rent it out for events if they just restored it! I would have paid big bucks to have my wedding reception there and so would many people in Clear Lake.

  • There have been construction crews around the house for about the past 3 weeks. Looked like they were painting and maybe caulking the windows

  • Yikes: Clothing,leather bags and modern furniture designed by Hakeem!! Run people , run FROM the store. You’ll be scarred for life.

  • Isn’t this the same guy who bought and destroyed the interior of one of the most beautiful historic bank lobbies in Texas? While I can’t say I have toured all the beautiful old bank lobbies around the state, I can say the Houston National Bank on Main at Franklin could take a person’s breath away before his “renovations”. The ceilings were unbelievable. So sad….

  • this site is surrounded by 270 degrees of non-shoppers. a lake, a largely closed down employment center, another lake(ish) operation to the north, and a nature preserve.

    The only 90 degrees of shoppers here is a largely second home community, with blue collar lake locals.

    This is not a site for ANYTHING retail. Not clothing, not grocery. This is a great spot for a private school, seminary, or hotel and/or events spot.

    Fish don’t shop. Neither do empty buildings.

    There’s a reason almost all of the retail activity revolves around 45 South.

  • That’s a DR34M alright. Dumb.

  • @HTX REZ

    “The only 90 degrees of shoppers here is a largely second home community, with blue collar lake locals.”

    CL a second home community, seriously?

    As to your blue collar reference, check your demographics available at houstontx.gov, the CL area has Houston’s largest concentration of those w/ Bachelor’s Degrees and above.

  • drove by this week, and the front has been partially repainted white with a burgundy trim. Also the windows all look new, like maybe they were replaced.

  • I live down the road in Clear Lake and the Mansion has been part of my life for 40 years. I have been involved in a group that tried to buy it to use as a convention center for Weddings, etc. I sure hope he keeps the design integrety of the beautiful old structure. It is really one of the most beautiful homes in Houston and it should be kept as part of the History of this area. Houston is the only city I’ve ever seen that just tears down and destroys it’s own History.
    My daughter has always had the dream of being married in the Mansion and I have done the History of the West family that built it as have many others who love genealogy, History and beautiful old homes.

  • I am a 27 year old female who grew up in Clear Lake Forest, the neighborhood right next to the West Mansion. That mansion has been a part of my life my whole life. Just reading some of the comments about it being torn down or turned into some grocery store or clothing store makes me want to cry. Hell if I had 11 million dollars I would restore it and preserve it as a historical landmark the way Hakeem should had done. This mansion is a part of Houston’s history, our history shouldn’t that count for something?

  • For the last seven years I have driven or walk passed that beautiful mansion, watching it slowly deteriorate. I’m thankful someone is spending the time and money to restore it for all of us to enjoy, so what if it’s clothes, at least this way we can have an opportunity to see it’s insides. Change can be good for us and our community :-)

  • In 2004 a group of concerned citizens were quietly forming a non-profit for the preservation of JWM. Already worked with Pasadena Hist. Soc., TX Hist. Org. (they had the blue prints), had contacted former employees to provide pics/info to restore. Plan was to start bit by bit to refurbish a section at a time while doing tours, have weddings, ghost tours (yes it’s haunted), lawn tennis and tea, rent for social events to be self-sustaining in order to move forward. Next step was to meet with Papas family to negotiate price and seek grants. I moved to the Caribbean and couldn’t continue with the fight to save the building. It’s a shame to see this magnificent building just sit in pity, and not one preservation group succeeded in preserving it. Coulda, woulda, shoulda, didn’t. RIP.

  • Yup..it’s true..sales by appointment only right now

  • Some of these comment make me sick. I have personally toured the Mansion and it has been restored. It is beautiful. The cloths are really nice. The material they are made with are exceptional and the prices are comparable.
    What ever happened to: If you can’t say something nice don’t say anything. Keep your mouth shut, It doesn’t concern you..