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.”
- Does Olajuwon have plans for mansion? [Galveston County Daily News]
- DR34M Spring 2012 Collection Coming Soon [DR34M]
- Volunteers determined to rescue, restore area mansions for future generations [Houston Chronicle]
- Jim West Mansion [Preserved in Time]
- Hakeem Olajuwon launches new DR34M clothing line [NBA]
- Previously on Swamplot: A Very Long Look at the Jim West Mansion
Photo: Emax Construction