Neighborhood of the Year: The Official 2014 Ballot

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:


107 Altic St., Fullerton Place, Second Ward, Houston

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.”


Bayou Lofts, 915 Franklin St., Downtown Houston

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.”


7319 Jaina St., Pine Terrace, Spring Branch, Houston

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.”


2606 mockingbird meadow

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.”


1340 omar st

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.


Google Map Showing Tampico Heights, Houston6. 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.”


8705 Robindell Dr., Robindell, Houston

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.”


6121 Cedar Creek Dr., Briargrove, Houston

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?

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)

The 2014 Swampies

63 Comment

  • TAMPICO HEIGHTS – If for no other reason than to rile up the folks that hate this name.

  • Downtown! When I moved there almost two years ago there was absolutely nothing going on…now it’s an actual destination. I can’t wait to see what it’s like in another two years once those residential towers start filling in.

  • 6. Tampico Heights. Best neighborhood name ever.

  • Number 3, Spring Branch. The nominator is correct; there is a lot of activity, and not all just residential teardown/rebuild. The next Bellaire/Garden Oaks, indeed.

  • Tampico Heights – Simply because of the controversy it caused and the fact that nobody knows where exactly it’s located. (Sorry for stirring this pot)

  • I nominated downtown, but I have to go with Tampico Heights since it was created this year. There can be no other winner. Tampico Heights – the obvious choice – for the WIN!!!

  • Robindell’s got my vote for all the reasons stated. Even some builders are starting to take notice!

  • #2 downtown please. The area continues to improve with more restaurants and other destinations. Light rail expansions scheduled to go live this April will add to the dynamism. We look forward to continuing to support the merchants in the area.

  • Spring Branch is my choice

  • Spring Branch. The next Oak Forest!

  • Robindell is the best. We’ve been there a year. The people are great. It’s convenient to just about everything. The only thing missing is a big HEB.

  • Tampico Heights! The fact that you can go to Refresqueria Tampico and get a Tamarindo ice cone & a cup of mexican corn for under 2 bucks deserves that the neighborhood be named after it. Que viva Tampico Heights carajo!

  • With the abundant number of remodeled bungalows and improvements made to North Main, TAMPICO HEIGHTS is undergoing a major transformation. But what makes it special is that it’s retaining most of the cool latin flavor that defines it (restaurants, farmer’s market, avocado distribution center, etc.) ROBINDELL may still be affordable, but unless your daily diet and shopping list consists of pupusas and used tires, there are sadly no exciting destinations nearby.

  • I’m voting for Robindell! Great neighbors! It’s so close to downtown, the med center, the galleria, and the village!

  • For 2014, I have to give it to downtown. The incentive program was nuanced and effective, as we have witnessed.

    An honorable mention goes to Tampico Heights for pissing off the squares.

  • I have to say Spring Branch. Back in college I used to ride the bus through there and it was a sad run-down looking neighborhood. It looked like it had once been a great neighbirhood before the real estate and oil busts of the 1980s.
    Then when I worked at Northwest Mall, I noticed Cottage Grove and all the former industrial area around there had been infested with townhomes and new development. I saw all the teardown and rebuilding going on in Timbergrove Manor, and read about the McMansion epidemic in Garden Oaks.
    Once those neighborhoods all filled up, Spring Branch would be next. I remember that flea market on Long Point and the other blight along that strip. It was only a matter of time before a renewal started. The next year is going to be an interesting one in Spring Branch and the rest ofnthe neighborhoods listed.

  • I vote for Robindell!

  • Downtown for the win.
    @Carol Kyser, I’m sorry but you cannot be close to the galleria, downtown, the med center and the village when you are on the outside of that whole circle. By your definition, 90% of inside the beltway is close to those destination.

  • As a resident of Eastwood, I’d love to vote for my neighbors up en el Segundo Barrio. Maybe next year.

    Downtown is clearly the winner here. New hotels, new apartment towers, new trains… Downtown Houston is on a roll.

  • Downtown just isn’t a neighborhood yet. It is still a business district. Maybe in 2017 there will be enough new residential downtown that it will actually be a neighborhood. But right now, you can hardly find somewhere to get breakfast on a Saturday downtown.

    I vote for Tampico Heights because this category has never had anything to do with the actual merits of a neighborhood. No one will vote for the really nice parts of Houston because they are either miffed that they bet on another part of Houston that did not do as well or got the boot from the neighborhood when their crumbling garden style apartment complex got read its last rites. So, if the real merits of a neighborhood have nothing to do with winning this category, why not just give it to a neighborhood that doesn’t even exist.


    It’s the only one on the list that could get me to move from the area that I love and a home I restored into my dream of home perfection (Southampton).

  • Robindell! I love living in The Dell for all of the above mentioned reasons!

  • Downtown

    Just a warning – downtown could win every year for the next three years – a number of marquee projects come online in each of the next couple of years and it will be featured prominently for both the NCAA Final Four in 2016 and Superbowl in 2017. As more of the residential buildings get completed, the retail / restaurant / bar scene will keep improving.

    2015: 500 Crawford (apartments at ballpark), Block 334 next to Skyhouse, 1111 Rusk Renovation, the Savoy renovation into a Holiday Inn, Alley Theater Renovation, Sunset Coffee Building

    2016: 609 Main, Marriott Marquis, Catalyst near the ballpark, Nau Center, The Hamilton at the south eastern most corner of downtown, the second downtown Skyhouse, High School for Performing and Visual Arts, convention center renovations, Hotel Alessandra

    2017: 800 Bell Redevelopment, Alexan residential, the Cosmopolitan residential, Marlowe condos, Market Square Tower

  • #7 Robindell.
    Young Home-buyers – snap up those older homes for you will reap the reward when developers come to call in a dozen years!

  • As a resident of Brooke Smith, I’ll vote for the mythical Tampico Heights.

  • ROBINDELL! Everything said about this neighborhood in the article is true. My family and I moved here from Uptown earlier this year and we absoluetly love it!

  • Gotta go with Little Tampico, the heartwarming, feel good story of 2014. A neighborhood grows up neglected and ignored, unsure of where it belongs or even its real name. Along comes an slick outsider who helps her discover her true identity and her real name. For the first time, she is the center of attention, but soon all the fame and attention is too much for little tampico! She denies her new identity and longs for the day when she was just “that area you drive through when going to White Linen Nights.” But as the spotlight fades we see little tampico has now grown and is coming to accept who she is. She is a Heights now. She is… “Tampico Heights.”

  • my vote goes to spring branch

  • Downtown – Because no residents are doing online petitions to win this competition

  • #7 Robindell gets my vote. This neighborhood is full of neighbors who look after each other and their properties. We are known to mow other’s yard when they can’t do it. The July 4th parade is a big hit with free swim afterwards. Easy access to the Braes Bayou trail for biking or walking makes for great exercise. We also support the neighborhood eateries and love animals as many neighbors have taken in strays until the owner is found.

  • Please pardon me for asking, but what is JCC that is so near Robindell? And another question please, is it so difficult to spell out a name, completely?

  • The Heights. Neighborhood changed a lot in 2014, and has so much anticipated growth for 2015.

  • ROBINDELL! Everything said about this neighborhood in the article is true. I moved here 5 years ago, have watched it change and I love it. It is a fantastic, dog walking, ice cream truck, 4th of July parade, kind of a place to live!!!!!


  • Downtown is my vote for neighborhood of the year.

  • I’ll go with Robindell. It’s close to my neighborhood, and I’m all in favor of any kind of accolades for the hidden gems in southwest Houston.

    @Karma: JCC = the Jewish Community Center on South Braeswood, also called The J.

  • #6! Let the name live on!

  • TAMPICO HEIGHTS – Let’s help this name stick!

  • My vote is for downtown. After so many false starts over the years, downtown is finally getting a critical mass of residents that brings sustainable retail like grocery stores, pharmacies and other amenities that allow downtown residents to run errands in their own neighborhood instead of having to get in a car.

    Interesting that only one person has mentioned the Heights so far. It was great for a hot minute, but is now well on the way to becoming an expensive, gingerbread-trimmed copy of (name any Houston suburb).

  • Downtown has had a good year. It gets my vote!

  • Downtown. I don’t think many have considered it a neighborhood until recently. That says that perception is changing.

  • Robindell. Definitely Robindell. Just to be clear, though, when we say Robindell are we talking just about Robindell itself, or the whole Robindell- Braes Timbers- Braeburn Terrace agglomeration of neighborhoods? I vote for it either way….

  • Tampico, but only because there was no option for “Stuck-up Whiteville” Heights.

  • Downtown!!!

  • Spring Branch!

  • My vote is for Robindell! I’ve lived there since 99 and have seen it change and it’s going to keep changing. The neighbors try to help each other out and there is an active Facebook page where people share info on everything that goes on in the area. They actively support local businesses…especially restaurants. It’s a great place to live.

  • I vote for Robindell!! This little, conveniently located pocket is a tightly-knit community with a very active HOA that really works hard to build the community with monthly dinners, parties by the pool, and a Fourth of July parade.

  • Robindell is the best neighborhood. I am a native Houstonian and have never lived in a neighborhood is more friendly and accomodating as Robindell. I have many, many friendly, helpful neighbors. A real small town feel.

  • Robindell should definitely win again, as it did in 2009. I’ve lived in the neighborhood, or “addition,” as it’s officially called, for almost 30 years. We are like a small town in the middle of the city–not an expensive Bellaire, just an affordable, neighborly small town. We have an active civic club that meets monthly, a monthly newsletter and yard of the month award, a Facebook site with daily postings (people watch out for potential crime and wandering pets), a shared pool, a low crime rate, and a GREAT location. In the three decades here, I’ve worked in the medical center, Bellaire, downtown, Clear Lake, Sugar Land, and Westchase. The only times I have ever faced rush hour traffic on the freeway, I’ve gone against traffic–NO gridlock ever. It’s easy to meet your neighbors, and I have known and still know some of the original residents, who moved into their brand-new houses in the mid-1950s. And all this time, the neighborhood has maintained its property values and personality. Our deed restrictions and architectural control “rules” are strict enough to help us maintain the integrity of the neighborhood but not so strict that we look like cookie cutter suburbia. We are truly a hidden gem.

  • Robindell is sweet, but I vote for Tampico Heights precisely because it does not exist.

  • I vote for Tampico Heights :p

  • Downtown gets my vote.
    Wtf is robindale? I’ve never heard anyone talk about that place before these comments. How many of you non robindale people ever heard someone talk about wanting to move there? No. People talk about wanting to live in the heights. Or Montrose. Or west U.
    As one poster said, they have an activic civic group and Facebook page. No doubt! What do you want to bet that if you went to their FB page there would be a plee to come and swamp (see what I did there?) this site with votes.

  • Spring Branch because it is a great example of Houston’s lasses-faire business and zoning policy. McMansions next to ranchers and “townhouse farms” and Houston isn’t Houston without two-stepping cowboys and Korean BBQ

  • Robindell is #1. We currently own a modern mid-century home in Robindell. We have lived here for 4 years and love it. It is a quiet neighborhood with a community pool, dog park, paved walking trail to Braes Bayou, community facebook, great neighbors, and convenient to many areas of Houston.