Here it is: the official ballot for Neighborhood of the Year. This is the next-to-last category in the 2014 Swamplot Awards for Houston Real Estate, a list of candidates culled from your nominations.
Newcomers to the Swampies, please take note: This category is for neighborhood of the year. That doesn’t necessarily mean best neighborhood — but it could! With your vote, you’re not only helping Houston to figure out who the winner of the Neighborhood of the Year is, you’re also defining what Neighborhood of the Year should even mean. So please explain your vote as you cast it.
Votes in this category can take the form of a comment below this post, an email, or a post on Facebook or Twitter. You can vote all 4 ways so long as you follow the voting rules. For your votes submitted as Swamplot comments or emails, however, you’ll want to have joined the Swamplot email list, because they won’t be counted if you’re not signed up for it. (You can get on the list through this link or by adding your email address to the box at the top left of this page.)
The nominees for the Houston area’s 2014 Neighborhood of the Year are:
1. Second Ward. “This neighborhood has seen tremendous change over the past couple years. Neat projects, such as the Navigation esplanade work, the renovation of Guadalupe Park, the East End Hike and Bike Trails, and the restoration of shotgun shacks off York are transforming the area. There is a surprisingly decent, and growing, variety of restaurants. The vibe of the neighborhood is definitely changing for the better. Events and festivals are not uncommon on weekends. The East End Management District has definitely shown commitment to make it into a better place. There are other great neighborhoods in Houston’s East Side, such as EaDo and Eastwood, but the Second Ward is the next rising star.”
2. Downtown. “As recently as a year or 2 ago, there wasn’t a whole lot going on Downtown on a weekend evening — at least not outside the Theater District. There are now at least as many lively spots as there were during Downtown’s previous renaissance in the late nineties. With the reconstruction of Market Square, the new bars on the 300 block of Main, and the transformation of a number of surface parking lots into hotels and residences, one can see actual pedestrians all the way from the Theater District to Discovery Green on weekends.”
3. Spring Branch. “It’s the next West U/Bellaire/Garden Oaks/Oak Forest. So many homes are being torn down and rebuilt at a steady clip. On December 31 the neighborhood will look entirely different than it did on January first of this year. Not only have the smaller builders moved in for teardowns but so have some of the larger builders. Other larger builders are developing new townhome groupings. At the very least, vote for this neighborhood because the K-Mart-turned-New Flea Market and the Walmart Supermercado are gone. By the end of next year Long Point will have most of its old roadbed replaced and every major intersection will have the round brick roadway.”
“There are now some large projects taking over large tracts that will be building houses in the half million dollar range where there have previously been low rent apartments. Previously, the nicer stuff was south of Westview, but new development is pushing up to Long Point. The area has good access by I-10, and it’s not far from The Galleria or Memorial City. I doubt we’ll recognize the place in 5 or 6 years.”
4. Springwoods Village. “This up-and-coming neighborhood of mysterious origin has mushroomed spontaneously into existence and has served as the basis for developing the Grand Parkway; for housing speculation; and for a significant uptick in prices throughout north Harris and Montgomery counties. This in turn has been used as justification by other land developers to develop dozens of other neighborhoods all throughout the area. Maybe the pace of investment has gotten a bit out of hand, but in 2014 it should certainly qualify for consideration as Neighborhood of the Year.”
5. Houston Heights. “The Heights just keeps getting better every year and has an unlimited upward trajectory. There are currently maybe 1,250 to 1,500 multifamily units in various stages of development here — by Trammell Crow, Greystar, JLB Partners, and whoever is planning the development on the site of Freedman Distributors. This growth has finally caused the other retail shoe to drop in the Heights. Braun and Revive have a number of projects under development. The old Pappas distribution center is rumored to be on the verge of having a developer announce a new mixed used project for that site. And even after all that goes up, there are still huge opportunities for redevelopment with a number of big lots sitting idle or crying out for redevelopment (city water treatment facility on 19th; old Flame and Forge site on 25th; Death Kroger strip mall on 20th; thrift shops on 19th, and so on). In the Heights, the best has still yet to come.“
6. Tampico Heights. “It was a neighborhood that seemed to appear out of thin air — but once it did, boy did it get people riled up. After an initial appearance in Houstonia magazine, the Tampico Heights name took on a life of its own, popping up on Google Maps and bumper stickers. Among Tampico Heights’ greatest publicists were Near Northside residents who hated the name that had somehow found its way to their side of I-45 and wanted its use stamped out — and then, of course, a contingent that appeared bent on getting a rise out of the name-change protesters by enshrining it further. The whole kerfuffle appears to have died down; whether the nickname will fade away or live on isn’t quite clear yet.”
7. Robindell. “So many young home buyers are snapping up homes in Robindell because where else can you find mid-century modest homes, mature trees, a neighborhood pool and dog park, and an active civic club and neighbors — just 7 minutes outside the Loop? Home prices are starting to reflect it, too. Back in 2009, when it won the Swamplot Award for Most Underappreciated Neighborhood, you’d have been hard-pressed to find a Robindell home for more than $180k. The past year has seen homes selling for as much as $300k — one was even priced for over $600k (though it didn’t sell). If you drive across the street, homes are selling for hundreds of thousands more. N. Braeswood ends at Robindell’s southern doorstep. The JCC is 3 minutes away. And you’re 3 minutes from the best bagels in town: New York Bagels and Deli on Hillcroft.”
8. Briargrove. “Briargrove is where it’s at! And where so much new will be: the upcoming Shepard Ross place called The Del; Randy Rucker’s new Bramble; plus a new Whole Foods right across from Trader Joe’s; and a new H-E-B down the street on San Felipe.”
One of these fine candidates will be crowned Neighborhood of the Year for 2014. Which one should it be?
- How To Vote in the 2014 Swamplot Awards for Houston Real Estate [Swamplot]
- Swamplot Awards Ballots 2014 [Swamplot]
Photos: HAR (107 Altic St., 915 Franklin St. Unit 2J, 7319 Jaina St., 2606 Mockingbird Meadow, 1340 Omar St., 8705 Robindell Dr., and 6121 Cedar Creek Dr., all listed for sale); Google Maps (Tampico Heights)