Neighborhood of the Year: The Official 2011 Ballot

Please vote for one of these official nominees in this, the second-to-last category of the 2011 Swamplot Awards for Houston Real Estate. It’s for one of the biggies: Neighborhood of the Year. Where’d all the nominations come from? From you!

You can vote for your favorite nominee any or all of 4 ways: in a comment beneath this post, in an email to Swamplot, from Twitter, or in a post on the wall of Swamplot’s Facebook page. Here are the official voting rules. If you want to start a campaign on Facebook or some online forum in support of your choice, go right ahead. Just make sure all the votes get in by 5 pm on Tuesday, December 27th.

Which Houston-area neighborhood deserves to be called this year’s Neighborhood of the Year? Here are the official nominees:


1. Shady Acres. “Home to just-add-water townhome clusters that pop up faster than weeds (in a non-drought year) — but this part of Houston still works, in its own odd way. The addition of the Corkscrew and Hubcap Grill make for a nice after-hours scene. Over on Ella there’s a neat new place called El Gran Malo that serves tasty Mexican bites and margaritas, in addition to stalwart restaurants like Rainbow Lodge, Cavatore, and Tony’s. Not a model of New Urbanism — or of anything for that matter. But Shady Acres — like Houston as a whole — is making it work despite itself.”

“If you thought the townhomes in the Heights were ugly, you need to take a stroll around this neighborhood. Add the lack of sidewalks and street lights plus the parking-lot-like streets (thanks to all the new ‘cool’ places to hang out) and you have yourself a neighborhood that went from modest but livable to urban nightmare.


2. Garden Oaks. “A great mix of young and old. Great churches. Great schools. Big yards. Where else do they have a bike parade on the 4th of July and a Christmas caroling potluck party? There is an active neighborhood association that pays for an extra constable patrol. A maintenance organization that enforces deed restrictions. An active moms’ group that delivers meals for a month after a new baby arrives in the ’hood. Like a small town in the middle of Houston.”


3. Woodland Heights. “Hosts the entire city for the biggest, bestest, funnest holiday party around. The best neighborhood in Houston. If you don’t believe me, ask Stella Sola, the Glass Wall, Liberty Kitchen, BB’s, and all the other restaurants crowding around our little slice of heaven, trying to get in on our action.


4. Westchester. “Is this where west-side outdoorsy types hide? Good-size lots with comfortable older homes, and great access to the bayou trail at Terry Hershey Park.”


5. Eastwood. “Houston’s ‘neighborhood of the future.’ Soon to be even closer to Downtown and other Inner Loop neighborhoods, thanks to planned rail stations on 2 separate lines.


6. The Washington Corridor. “Hey all you naysayers: Development here is going strong despite all the issues (parking, decrepit sidewalks, mean bouncers that tell patrons to go home and change their shoes) that were supposed to doom the area to become the next Richmond Ave. 2011 was perhaps the worst year for commercial real estate in my lifetime and yet you wouldn’t have known it from the rapid gentrification on Washington. The newly paved roads don’t hurt.”


7. Tranquility Park. “The ultimate mixed-use insta-development: work, play, eat, sleep, and recreate — all in the same place! Those Occupy guys and girls have got it going on. Downtown views? Check. Armed security? Check. Short commute? Check. Open-concept living? Check. Easy access to dining, entertainment, and recreation? Check!”


8. Glenbrook Valley. “This year it became the first outside-the-Loop neighborhood to receive historic-district status, and the first historically designated neighborhood in Texas made up of post-World War II homes. Nominated for Swamplot’s Neighborhood of the Year award for 3 out of the last 4 years. Is 2011 finally Glenbrook Valley’s turn?”


9. Upper Kirby. “The neighborhood’s namesake thoroughfare completed an extensive upgrade: Kirby’s now less strip, more sizzle. West Ave brought in the glam. A spectacular transformation in just a few years.”


10. Montrose. “Houston’s food oasis: Where all the grocery stores — and grocery-store shoppers — want to be.”


Time to make your choice! Which of these nominees should be crowned Neighborhood of the Year?

Photos: HAR (1433B W. 23rd St., 219 W. 31st St., 412 Redan St., 14758 Oak Bend Dr., 4317 Bell St., 5807 Washington Ave., 8030 Glenforest Ct., 3077 Sackett St., 304 Sul Ross St. all listed for sale); Swamplot inbox (Tranquility Park)

87 Comment

  • Number 7. No other “neighborhood” made national news this year. All of the other nominees were nominated for doing what they do, year after year.

  • I’m going to have to go with Garden Oaks…while its still (mostly) there. It and Oak Forest are what West U and Bellaire were: endangered species.

  • Since my neighborhood (Westbury) didn’t make the list, I’ll vote for my next fav
    #2–Garden Oaks

  • #10. And didn’t Montrose just win some “Top 10 neighborhood in the US” award?
    …. actually I see it was a few years back:
    I couldn’t see living anywhere else in Houston personally :)

  • I hate the description of Shady Acres! It’s been my neighborhood for over a year now. And yes, I’m one of those “townhouse people”. It’s wonderful here, an eclectic mix of old and new, neighbors know each other, we have an awesome civic club and – most important for me – incredibly dog friendly place. And where else you can live quietly like in the burbs and *walk* to at least five fab eateries in 15 minutes. Love, love, love the place!

  • Kudos to all the wonderful places; these 10 include awesome candidates – each with merit.
    But, I’m torn between #1, Shady Acres, and #6, The Washington Corridor, as Best Houston Neighborhood, because neither offer a rich and promising quality of life!
    And so they’re ESPECIALLY Houstonian!
    Bah Humbug.
    These areas represent quick turn-over, margin-squeezing development. Hooray for us.

  • As usual, Swamplot shows its over-the-top smug attitude in its description of Shady Acres. Utter nonsense. If Swamplot felt that Shady Acres wasn’t deserving of a nominaton the they should not have included it instead of includig it and ridiculing it at the same time. Swamplot’s credibility is zilch as far as I’m concerned and I’m done you arrogant dickheads.

  • #1 – Shady Acres has grown from The Heights ugly step sister to a thriving neighborhood. It has a great nightlife with BINGO!, Cedar Creek, Gatlin’s BBQ and now the Cork Screw, and Hupcap. And don’t forget Shady Tavern and on the outskirts The Boneyard. Shady Acres has a ton of character and has gone from a neighborhood that was second rate to desirable place to live all in one year.

  • Wow! Why the f*ck even bother nominating Shady Acres with that smug a** description? Meh, I wouldn’t expect anything less of this blog. I’m gonna go smell my own farts now.

  • As a resident of Shady Acres, I of course vote for #1. However the elitist descriptions displayed here annoy me. I live in a small new construction semi custom cottage home that was under 200K. My home price has grown 35% in value in the last eight years. Where else in the Loop can you find such a free standing house under 200K that is walking distance to restaurants, Bingo, groceries and have low taxes, close to major employment and entertainment areas, established civic club, not transitional area and so on. Though my neighbors’ home are close to me, I like my small yard and low market value price. It allowed me to live in the Loop.

  • Montrose for its excellent mix of high and low. We have street people, rich people, dog people, educated people, homeless people, tattooed people—we’ve got it all. You can be entertained without leaving the block. But, we don’t lack for services: great food, tattoos, groceries (up the wazoo), liquors, galleries….and all in a very walkable, tree-lined space.

  • I’ll vote for Westchester. Strange choice out of all the neighborhoods on the westside of town, but anything along that THP strip is vote worthy. All the neighborhoods on the list are great, but the THP neighborhoods have the bonus of park space and good schools k-12.

    It won’t win, because it’s not diverse or ITL-enough.

  • #9 Upper Kirby for my vote

  • I love rhe underdog so #8 glenbrook valley gets my vote. One day i might live there too.

  • Westchester or Nottingham Forest (all the hoods in the area) are the most unappreciated neighborhoods in Houston. You can still buy a very large home in a fairly decent school district for relatively little money. And they back up to Buffalo Bayou and Terry Hershey park. I grew up there in the 60s and truly enjoyed it. Lots of people kept horses along the bayou. And other stuff happened there that we still don’t tell our parents about.

    Of course, I now live in Montrose.

  • Montrose! It’s the neighborhood many of the others are trying to be and it’s getting better all the time.

  • I wrote the first paragraph of the nomination for Shady Acres. Someone else wrote the second paragraph. Swamplot just edits what people write for nominations. My point about Shady Acres is that it is succeeding despite itself. It is the wild west of Townhome/Condo developments in Houston. Developers cram in as many units as they can with a grab bag assortment of architectural “styles”. Public infrastructure is inadequate and public amenities are almost non-existent. When I saw builders racing into this area 6-7 years ago, I thought the neighborhood would be a disaster. But, the addition of some nice places to eat and drink has given the neighborhood an original vibe and made it much more liveable than I ever expected to see. It is nothing like the Heights. It will never be as upscale as Rice Military. It will never have the restaurant scene that Montrose has. But it does have a good energy and a laid back quality that makes it unique and desireable for some who want to live (just) inside the loop.

  • I agree with TheNiche about Garden Oaks and Oak Forest.

  • I’ll have to give my vote to #1, Shady Acres. As Old School said, our neighborhood is becoming livable despite itself. It is also seeing an uptick in construction activity since the developers have been displaced from the new historic districts in the Heights. Since we don’t exactly have many old homes worth saving, the new construction is more or less welcome. And the eateries that are popping up are a nice addition, since businesses have discovered a few people with disposable income have moved in. Now if HEB would just expand and remodel their store on 18th street…

  • #8 Glenbrook Valley

  • I give my vote to Glenbrook Valley. Large, affordable homes and yards with a nod to midcentury modern design. Newly designated as the first post-war historical district in Texas. Close proximity to downtown with access to major highways. A very active neighborhood association. And the gays. We all know what the gays do to a neighborhood. Remember Montrose?

  • Glenbrook valley has to be the best. If you love “Mad Men” this place is for you. It’s just sooo sexy, with its midcentury modern feel, huge lots, great neighborhood association, and it’s new designation as a historical district. Lots of professionals from U of H, San Jacinto College, the medical center and NASA call this place home. The locals gather at and support the local bars and restaurants. You should see all the Christmas displays at this time. So festive!

  • Glenbrook Valley. If nothing else it has provided more good entries for swamplot than any of the others.

  • #8 – Glenbrook Valley! We survived the negative mud slinging and erroneous news stories. We are still here, decorating for Christmas, mending fences and looking out for each other.

  • #10. Montrose will lasts be the best hood in the city!

  • Gkenbrook Valley

  • Glenbrook Valley

  • #8 Glenbrook Valley

  • #8 Glenbrook Valley. “Swanky is as swanky does.” – Forrest Gump (…sort of)

  • Urban nightmare? We have sweet, sweet dreams in Shady Acres.

    I came across this article through the Shady Acres Civic Club, as I am not an avid “Swamplot” reader. I think people who read your description should understand that it is completely false. So, an urban nightmare is having a detached single-family home with a backyard, trees hundreds of years old, a nice sidewalk to walk the dog, and a home price that has increased since 2008? That is an urban nightmare? You must have some really bad dreams.

    On top of that, as residents of Shady Acres we don’t sit through horrible traffic, we can walk to restaurants and other establishments (that aren’t franchises) and still enjoy a “small-town” feel within a large city.

    I used to work for that “builder who came in 6-7 years ago” and if it wasn’t for that builder you wouldn’t be able to enjoy Cedar Creek, Hubcap or any other of the “new great places” you mentioned. Maybe you should thank them for helping your city’s home value rise rather than decrease.

    How about you move to Cypress or Katy…because you obviously don’t value city living.

    Merry Christmas!

  • I know these neighborhoods have “understood” boundaries rather than anything official, but does anyone have a Mao that might have these various neighborhoods colored in? I honestly have no idea where most are and haven’t even heard of many of them before this ballot

  • Mao/map. Gus, get user logins with edit ability :)

  • #8 Glenbrook Valley Houston best and swankest hood.

  • Glenbrook Valley! Great stylish homes, huge lots, wonderful friendly neighbors, historic designation, and a fantastic, active civic club! We fled Montrose to live here and never looked back! Goodbye ugly new town homes and McMansions, hello swanky atomic ranches!

  • Garden Oaks gets the vote. Homes on market an average of 6 days and getting 101% of listing price according to Realtor friend.

    Put offers in on 6 homes there before buying recently in Spring Valley.

  • Love, love, love me some Glenbrook Valley!

  • whaaaat? no love 4 da eastwood?

    #5 fool… ba lee dat.

  • #8 – yes, it is time, it is time

  • Montrose is where it’s at! It has been deemed by the American Planning Association as one of the country’s top 10 great neighborhoods for actually playing the the part in what many areas are still striving to achieve: mixed use living. If you want culture, diversity and true representations for what a neighborhood should truly represent, Montrose is the hands down winner.

  • Montrose! It is the complete package from highrise condos to the wooded neighborhoods of remodeled bungalows. Here’s a Houston neighborhood that is walkable to the very best restaurants and shoutable to Houston’s favorite museums and parks.

  • Glenbrook Valley,,,best neighbors!

  • Montrose is Houston’s best neighborhood.

  • Glenbrook Valley!

  • Montrose gets my vote. Where else can you get such diversity! Great place to live because of the location and the beautiful homes. You can walk to dinner from almost all of the homes.

  • Garden Oaks!

  • Looks like the Glenbrook HOA sent out an email.

  • MONTROSE…Houston’s number one neighborhood for food, proximity to work, diversity, and probably the only true walking neighborhood in Houston!!!!

  • As happened with Idylwood last year.

  • Montrose is great close-in, walkable community with some of the best restaurants and shopping in the city.

  • #6: Eastwood: Not only is this neighborhood a hidden gem within the loop, the residents are doing their best to restore the homes to their original glory. Furthermore, the folks living there are an eclectic, multi-cultural, affirming and supportive blend of people representing all that makes Houston the great city it is.

  • Eastwood! and if it doesn’t win, 5 years from now it will have won at least a couple times!

  • Definitely Glenbrook Valley. The Mad Men architecture and the best neighbors in Houston.

  • Montrose is the best! I can walk to the best restaurants and coffee shops. It’s quiet and my neighbors are great!

  • Montrose.

  • Eastwood has the greatest neighbors and the houses are fantastic. When I moved to Texas from another state I never imagined I would find a ‘hood as welcoming as Eastwood. Thank you, housing gods, for finding me a place to call home.

  • Glenbrook Valley !

  • Garden Oaks, our little village in town.

  • Glenbrook Valley

  • Glenbrook Valley.

  • Glenbrook Valley. Great homes, great neighbors (with exception of the one that went on every news station that would let her and called her neighbors racists, forgers, and liars).

  • Faboulous homes and great parties. #8 Glenbrook Valley ROCKS!

  • My vote: Garden Oaks.

    Woodland Heights is burning bright, but perhaps too fast. Montrose has already peaked and much of what made it great is slowly being razed/updated/flipped for more high density housing.

  • Glenbrook Valley is a wonderful diverse neighborhood.Best value for your money.

  • MONTROSE! And I know I asked before, but does anyone have a map of where these places are? I’ve never even heard of many of ’em

  • #8 Glenbrook Valley! Our little paradise of a neighborhood!

  • #10, Montrose. One of the most walkable neighborhoods in an unwalkable city. With all the new restaurants popping up, this neighborhood is constantly improving.

  • Coolest homes, best buys, and greatest neighbors. #8 Glenbrook Valley should win, hands down!

  • #8 Glenbrook Valley runs circles around all the other neighborhoods.

  • I’ve lived in Glenbrook Valley since I was eight weeks old. It’s the best neighborhood in the city.

  • #2 – the Garden Oaks secret is out!

  • I vote Montrose, but if this were instant runoff voting then Tranquility Park would be my 2 vote.

  • Montrose

  • Your description of Shady Acres is an absolute joke, as is this site. Let the market and success of local businesses do the talking. Your blogs are a joke.

  • Gosh, if there was a category for most bitter neighborhood, Shady Acres would get it hands down. Too bad voting stopped at 5:00 or we could nominate it.

  • What a bunch of whiners!

  • I think the bitter person is the one who wrote the caption for Shady Acres. I don’t care if it wins the neighborhood of the year award or not, and I respect peoples opinions. I just think it’s lame how the author put it up for neighborhood of the year and then makes a big deal about how awful it is, as compared to the brief reasonable descriptions of all the others. It just seems very obvious they are bitter about it, maybe the ex that dumped them is from Shady Acres.

  • You mean “winers” because we enjoy taking strolls to our local Shady Acres wine bar. :)

  • #10 … love that Barnaby’s

  • Glenbrook Valley…potential at its best!

  • Glenbrook Valley its time!!! Go number #8!!!

  • The good and the bad of places like “Glenbrook Valley” is mostly only people from their know where it is. I’ve never even heard of it, though I’ve only been in Houston a few years. Ask most people from Katy if they’ve heard of Montrose and most will say yes. As them if they’ve heard of 1/2 the others on this list and they’ll say ‘eh?’. Does anyone have a neighborhood map so we can see where some of these places are?
    Oh, and my vote is for Montrose :-D

  • I wouldn’t live anywhere that WOULDN’T horrify any self respecting soccer mom from Katy.