Neighborhood of the Year: The Official 2016 Ballot

Voting begins this afternoon for the penultimate category in the 2016 Swamplot Awards for Houston Real Estate: the Neighborhood of the Year Award. A big thanks to everyone who took the time to submit a nomination!

Swamplot Awards for Houston Real Estate Ribbon LogoPlease note: This category is not meant to recognize the Houston area’s “best” neighborhood (whatever that might mean). It’s meant to recognize the area’s Neighborhood of the Year — which affords you, the voter, much more latitude in your choice. It also means that it’s especially important that, as you vote, you take time to tell us why the nominee you’ve selected deserves special attention above all this year’s other worthy contenders.

You can votes 4 times for this category (as is the case with all of this year’s awards) — once each by means of a comment below, an email to the Tip Line, and a proclamation of your affections on Facebook or Twitter.  If you aren’t familiar with Swamplot voting rules, check out the explainer here — and be sure to get your friends in on the action (which ends on Tuesday, December 27th at 5 pm, when voting for all categories will close).

Without further ado, we present the nominees for 2016 Neighborhood of the Year:


1709 Dan St., Fifth Ward, Houston, 77020

1. Greater Fifth Ward. “Where else do residents get tattooed with a symbol of their neighborhood? This area has withstood decades of neglect, but is now bringing in major development for local residents (without severe displacement like what has been seen in some of the other former Wards.) Notable highlights of the area’s ongoing transformation: the revitalization of the Lyons Ave. corridor, the rededication of the Cleme Manor apartments, Midway’s plans to turn the KBR brownfield site into a massive mixed-use complex east of Downtown, restoration of the historic DeLuxe Theater, several updated HISD schools . . . And hardly a single murder in years, despite its sticky reputation as a high-crime neighborhood!”


11102 W Sherwood Gardens Dr., Spring Branch West, Houston, 77043

2. Memorial City. “A major center of outside-the-Loop development in recent years, and one of the few neighborhoods in the city where nearby residents are currently involved in suing the local Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (on the grounds that the zone was formed to fight flooding issues but has allegedly worsened them in the area). The neighborhood legal battle is, in microcosm, a showcase of the many competing interests and forces shaping the rest of Houston: developers, representatives of the opaque TIRZ system, angry disputes over how flooding works . . . all as new projects slowly but surely spread outward into the city’s ever-widening concrete periphery.”


1404 Paige St., East Downtown, Houston, 77003
Eado Edge subdivision, Clinton Dr. at Jensen Dr., Fifth Ward, 770203. East Downtown, AKA EaDo. “Warehouse after warehouse is now under redevelopment into trendy bar after brewery after restaurant, as the townhome farms ready their crop for sale. Meanwhile, the 2-syllable developer nickname has been spreading infectiously beyond the boundaries of anything historically corresponding to the original East Downtown label. Have we reached peak EaDo? Or will the name continue to creep into surrounding neighborhoods until we find ourselves hitting up the next hot bar in . . . um, EaDo Heights?


1111 E 7th 1/2 St, Houston Heights, Houston, 77009

4. The Heights: “Lots of people like to poke fun at the Heights for its culture of complaining (and much of that ribbing is warranted) — but people still want to live here in droves. Because all that bitching has paid off! We have complained about the quality of commercial and retail development in the area for years — now developers have actually listened, and have had great success in the Heights by breaking the strip mall pattern, with interesting repurposing for old buildings and progressive architecture for new builds. We bitched about historic preservation — now landmark status is helping to preserve the Heights Theater and the Water Works. (There was even a bitch-off between those who had been pining for years for H-E-B to open a store in the Heights, and those who did not want to soften the dry restrictions to suit H-E-B’s needs.) We will soon see the fruits of what may have been the nadir of Heights complaining: the Yale St. bridge reconstruction, originally planned to wrap up in 2018, is way ahead of schedule, and will probably be complete in early spring.


7121 Edmont Ln., Acres Homes, Houston, 77088

Rendering of NoLo Studios5. Acres Homes. “Acres Homes is being set up as another great frontier for artsy folks inside the Beltway. The neighborhood (known for its huge lots and its vehicle-equine traffic encounters), is, for example, the future site of NoLo Studios (the high-end artist housing project by Francois de Menil, which advertises itself as ‘a creative community in the woods’, rather than ‘a creative community in a historically black neighborhood founded during World War I’). “


Flag Man by 3400 Montrose, WAMM, Houston, 77006

Montrose Management District marker, W. Dallas at Montrose6. Montrose. “Long before the recent showdown in the years-long scuffle between the neighborhood’s not-entirely-popular management district and some of its taxed constituents, the Montrose area had already become one of the most visible battlegrounds of Old Houston and New Houston. Drag clubs are being replaced by parking garages for hip co-working space; eccentric junk shops are fleeing west as townhouses close in; the Westheimer building that once housed leather bar Mary’s now houses an artisanal coffeehouse that closes at 5 pm. Can a neighborhood keep its soul without keeping its grimy dive bars (or its step-into-the-back-room erotica shops)? Right now Montrose, more than any other neighborhood in Houston, is fumbling for the answer to that question.”


Downton Skyhouses

7. Downtown. “Sure, Shell and Exxon have left, and there’s a lot of empty office space. But the transformations of the Market Square, Discovery Green, and Skyhouse areas of Downtown signal pretty significant progress away from the after-hours ghost town that Downtown used to be. I guess time will tell if all that new residential and convention-center-related construction was a bad investment — but if it holds on, it’ll really change the character of our downtown. Downtown could win every year through 2017 because of its incredible ongoing transformation. The energy and new development is setting up an incredible background for the Super Bowl next year (which I think will blow people away — both visitors and local folk who have generally avoided the area).


There you have it! Which nominee deserves to be this year’s winner? You tell us — voting begins now!

Images: HAR (1709 Dan St., 11102 W. Sherwood Gardens Dr., 1404 Paige St., 1111 E. 7th 1/2 St., 7121 Edmont Ln.), FdM:Arch (Nolo Studios), Montrose Management District (Montrose signage), Garrett Robles (Skyhouses), Swamplot inbox (all others)

The 2016 Swampies

42 Comment

  • #4 – Heights. The fun never stops!

  • #7, because where else has more taxpayer money been wasted in 2016?

  • This is a Superbowl year for Houston, and Houston seems to have prepared well for it. Unsurprisingly, those efforts have centered on downtown, especially around Discovery Green and the convention center. This is also a year during which high-profile projects that had been initiated in the last boom cycle are coming to fruition. For these reasons, I think that downtown should take it.
    An honorable mention goes to 5th Ward over what may be the single most transformative project in Houston once it gets going, but 5th Ward can have its year when Midway breaks ground. I’m also looking forward to something eventually happening on the former Superfund site on Baer Street and at Hardy Yards.

  • We’re ready to “Be Someone” and vote Heights for Neighborhood of the Year!

  • #1 for sure. Development at a slow steady pace, minimal displacement, lots of great upcoming projects… if they every get started. We still have not seen much of anything on Hardy Yards of late or how the Hardy Toll Road extension will divide the Northside section.

    No way on #4 Heights. It is a neighborhood in constant strife. The bitching is so tiring especially if you live here. Most of it is from new unfriendly and unneighborly residents who want to bring their deed restriction protections with them from the suburbs. Definitely not an inclusive neighborhood for all residents as many continue to be displaced.

  • #7
    The residential component has been a long time coming. I’m hopeful this time the redevelopment sticks ( unlike the late ’90’s when things were looking up, only to have Mayor Stupid let all the streets be torn up at once).

  • 7 – The changes are phenomenal.

  • Difficult choices, but let’s go with number 6, for old time’s sake. Just pleased to see my neighborhood not in the spotlight! We are doing just fine, move along, nothing to see, hey, go check out these other wonderful places that deserve your attention. . . . . . . .

  • This really is the year for the Heights. Not mentioned above is the fact that the neighborhood is getting a couple of new preschools and doctor’s offices. This is because people are now coming to the Heights to start a family instead of moving away as soon as the first baby arrives. This will drive long term growth in the neighborhood and make current property values seem like a bargain five to ten years from now.

  • #1 Gets my Vote. Midway’s contribution with ‘East River’ be huge and transformative for years to come and Buffalo Bayou here does look more River than Bayou. Bonus: f you haven’t yet visit the new Neighborhood Bar “The New Potato” on Clinton, you are missing out.
    BTW: The “EADO Edge” Photo in option #3, actually is in this neighborhood, not in East Downtown. So, this is the front line of the EADO Creeps.

  • #1 and #3 have pictures from 5th ward. So I’ll pick #1.

    Eado’s edge has been a neighborhood marketed in lower 5th ward much to everyone’s displeasure in the area. Also, shout out to the murder map statistics!

  • #1 The most popular neighborhood for over 180 years!

  • 5. Acres Homes is about to see some pretty major changes.

  • #4 HEIGHTS!!!

    Texas Children’s is coming, Bernie’s burgers, HEB, new preschools, Heights Theater reopened, 19th street is evolving and maturing, Black and White shut down, added the juice place on White Oak, hell, the Heights is so awesome that even Terry Fisher can get away with building huge, ugly, out of proportion, litter strewn construction site, eyesore buildings on Yale and people will buy it. Drops the mic. . . . . .

  • Even having lived there for years, I hope Montrose gets 0 votes. I know it will mean nothing to them but it would be Ironic for all the face MMD is trying to save (side note: do they have faces?).
    My vote is for 7- Downtown. #NeverHeights

  • I want to say Acres Homes, but the semi-rural lifestyle they’ve enjoyed for over 100 years is about to be destroyed by new and more expensive development. A shame, really. That said, I vote for Fifth Ward!

  • Greater Fifth. Downtown as runner up.

  • #3. I have to go with EaDo for 2 reasons.


    1) is that I was just there the other day and saw the construction of the new East End village and it looks very nice and near completion. They have had a very transformative year, and with Karbach selling out to InBev they are arguably home to Houston’s best microbrew (not counting Saint Arnolds which isn’t exactly Micro). Maybe it’s a bit early, maybe next year is the one where it really fires off, but it looks to me that it is the most rapidly and heavily changing area in Houston at the moment.


    Reason 2 for voting for it is because so many people on here just fundamentally hate everything about EaDo and that should be reason enough for it to win. If they win they need to rename it to “EaDo Heights”

  • #1 – Greater Fifth Ward

  • 7 – Downtown

  • Eado is the up and coming Montrose.

  • #1 is #1. #4 is #last.

  • I’ve always loved EaDo, or East Downtown, even before it became so trendy. Those old warehouses and what they might have been originally always intrigued me. Now it’s home to a new kind of urban farming – townhouses. It’s great to see the eclectic mix of old warehouses cozied up next to a townhouse farm. with the odd remnant of the former Chinatown that once inhabited the area. Montrose? C’mon! Really? Montrose hasn’t been the Montrose since the proliferation of townhouses and mattress hawkers. I’d give downtown an honorable mention quicker for keeping its character intact even with the new residential developments going up around the neighborhood.

  • Memorial city is the best of all these options but it isn’t as trendy or up and coming, unless you count city centre as part. Midway has very good design ideas and makes great facilities, but, as others will learn, is not a good neighbor. Midway has earned every bit of its bad boy rep in memorial city. They are expanding city wide and their problems will also. Memorial city has proximity to excellent schools and houses with yards. It is safe. Restaurants are overall not as trendy as the heights but lots of great options. The mall is for the masses and not really a part of daily life. I understand why it will not win but it deserves a vote. Lastly, “memorial city” is a trademark owned by metronational. Old timers who live there consider it Spring Branch.

  • I’m a Height-zer and can see voting that way–the neighborhood has kept its upward trajectory despite the oil slump–but I’m going with Downtown 7. The transformation has been substantial and ongoing and the number of available units is getting downtown to “neighborhood” status. The addition of the new rail line help to unite downtown with UH. The convention center re-do compliments Discovery Green. Lots of plusses. I vacationed in downtown for

    Would love to see White Oak Bayou naturalized at least to the North Loop.
    Its merge into Buffalo Bayou could be more of a focal point.

  • #7. Downtown living as a viable and popular choice so be a game changer for Houston as a world-class city

  • Number 7. Downtown continues its impressive trajectory in helping make Houston a tourist destination.

  • #1 – it’s potential is great and there has been little displacement. Would love to see this neighborhood get some positive attention for once.

  • #7 I want to go downtown after dark now

  • #7. The heart of Htown.

  • #4 The Heights will forever be rototilled and re-tilled. Though the crops of townhome farms sprouting up around it, and that HEB (AKA, The Fiesta HEB) will change it’s complexion (yet again).

  • Greater 5th!

  • #1 So much potential.