Nominations Are Now Open for the 2013 Neighborhood of the Year

We’re almost done introducing the 8 categories in this year’s Swamplot Awards for Houston Real Estate. So far, we’ve opened nominations for Favorite Houston Design Cliché, Best Demolition, Best Houston Transplant, the Ground-Floor Retail Award, Houston’s Least Recognizable Neighborhood and Houston’s Most Recognizable Neighborhood. If you haven’t done so already, please add your own suggestions for each of these.

The next-to-last category is Neighborhood of the Year. What exactly makes a neighborhood a neighborhood of the year? That’s what we’d like to know: As you make your nomination, explain what makes your selection uniquely worthy of this distinction.

As with all “neighborhood” categories, entrants need not be located strictly inside Houston’s municipal boundaries. Swamplot tries to track the idea of Houston as it regularly travels outside the city limits. (Back in 2009, the winner of this award was . . . yes, Galveston.)

You can submit your nominations — along with convincing explanations as to why your nominee should win — in the comments below, or in an email, by midnight on December 11. If you’re just joining us, please consult the official rules. So tell us, who are this year’s contenders for Neighborhood of the Year?

The 2013 Swampies

14 Comment

  • No nominations yet??

    I am voting for my neighborhood, Brooke Smith (two words), but not just because it’s my neighborhood. Here’s why:

    Since I’ve moved in over a year ago, the changes in the neighborhood have been astronomical. I’ve gotten to know some of my neighbors (just by walking the dog!), and they themselves can’t believe how things have improved for the better. I chatted with two gents (neighbors, really) who were watching their girls play outside. They kept remarking just how much better the neighborhood has become vs. when they were kids and still can’t believe just how much it’s changing. When taking pics for my property protest, which I lost, I got to chat with another man, who was looking forward at the constant growth (although he himself wish it could come faster).

    I love how it’s also diverse (working class, young professionals, families/couples/singles), and it’s easily walkable/bikeable to the Heights and Woodland Heights.

    Although Brooke Smith is still rough around the edges, numerous older properties have been purchased by developers/investors who are working with the original bones and maintaining a similar aesthetic to other homes within the neighborhood. Thankfully, the formerly unbridled 3 story townhouse tsunami has been contained, and the focus has redirected onto SFH floor plans that aren’t built to the lot lines. Also, many original owners have also taken a hand into repairing and fixing up their homes. Montie Beach Park is flourishing with their active Civic Club, and it’s awesome to go to the park, and see people partaking in classes, basketball/soccer games, and kids playing with their families.

    Additionally, the City has been working on repairing Airline and North Main, and City improvements are always welcomed. Brooke Smith is also centrally located, and it’s so easy to hop onto the freeway and get to other areas/Greater Houston area/surrounding cities very quickly.

    D&T Drive Inn opened this year, and it’s brought in a bunch of new faces into the neighborhood. I love how it’s within walking distance, and it makes me happy to see that people are actually coming into my neighborhood for drinks and a bite to eat with their family and friends. And really – where else can you get 24 hour donuts (Shipleys) and Mexican food (Teotihuacan) at 9:30PM on a Monday night? (On the nights where I need a backup plan, I got Whataburger!)

    HCAD agrees with me since they raised my property taxes 43%. :( (I wish I was joking.)

    I love the Heights, Woodland Heights, Montrose, even MPCs like Meyerland, Westbury, and Kingwood – they’re definitely all nice neighborhoods – but seeing how this neighborhood has grown within the past 3 years, especially after winning Most Improved Neighborhood in 2010, my nomination for Neighborhood of the Year goes to Brooke Smith.

  • I would have guessed this category would have at least twenty nominations by now. Are residents getting smart, and not wanting to call attention to the good thing they have going on, lest it be spoiled by newcomers?

    So I’ll throw one out, even though it is not the neighborhood in which I live: Oak Forest. 2013 seems to have been a “tipping point” year for OF, where the residents have come together to cause good things to happen, rather than just watching while others controlled the action. It may be that the long time residents have awakened, or that there are now enough new residents with new homes to have triggered a critical mass. Fundraising efforts have occurred, security programs implemented – things you have seen next door in Garden Oaks for years. The quality of Oak Forest Elementary, and the improvements occurring at Black Middle School don’t hurt a bit. OF seems to have a good present, and an excellent future.

  • I think it’s between Eastwood/East Downtown and Oak Forest. Both neighborhoods have seen a lot of attention this year for good reasons. Great neighborhoods for everyone (families and singles alike), decent housing stock, new construction, new businesses moving in, close to inner-loop attractions, and still mostly affordable (Oak Forest has appreciated a lot this year though). Eastwood/EaDo (I hate calling it that) has light rail coming in and the Dynamo Stadium. Oak Forest has a ridiculously active Homeowner’s Association/Facebook page (now with SEAL security, hah!), large lots, great and improving schools, and TC Jester Park. They say Eastwood is the “new Montrose”. Of course I’m partial to Oak Forest … but it’s only fair to nominate outside my neighborhood too.

  • I love the swampies, but this category is played out. It is the same thing every year. Everyone knows that the best neighborhoods in town are places like Montrose, Heights, GOOF, and Rice/West U, but won’t admit it because these neighborhoods are just too expensive for the average resident to be able to afford. Then comes the parade of “no really, my neighborhood is nice” nominees by people who have put their bet on the up and coming areas, but are not willing to admit that their neighborhood is just not their yet. Eastwood/Eado always chime in, even though much of the area is still pretty run down and industrial despite some very strong redevelopment activity. The tail coat neighborhoods like Westbury, Brooke Smith, and the few sprigs of Spring Branch where lot value hasn’t hit $400k trumpet how they are a great deal with all the benefits of their big brother neighborhoods without conceding things like lousy 50s housing stock, proximity to ever expanding highways and huge clusters of old garden style apartment complexes teaming with humanity just down the street. And the winner is always the odd little neighborhood in the City with the most followers on its HOA facebook page who flood the results.
    So, I am going to nominate The Woodlands. Why? Because without The Woodlands, real estate prices in Houston would be like inside the beltway in DC. The Woodlands has done an excellent job at luring away many a million dollar home buyer from Houston. The Woodlands has also done a great job at building up enough arts, entertainment, and “culture” to keep people busy on the weekends instead of coming down to Houston and taking 15 minutes to parallel park (even with the assistance of a spotter who jumps out of the car and violently waives instructions to the driver) and buttering their tortillas before making their fajitas at Tex Mex restaurants (I have actually seen this and it still haunts me to this day). The key to Houston emerging from being nothing more than a typical southern city with a hollow core that is nothing more than a 9-5 business center and sprawling suburbs is to have somewhere for people to live who cannot deal with the hustle, bustle and diversity of a thriving metropolis. The Woodlands is just that place.

  • I agree with Old School. Even down to the buttering of tortillas. But I’m also gonna give a shout out to the Almeda Road/Binz folks who are at least trying to keep a high-rise out of their hood, and the folks with the beautifully restored historic house over there who haven’t sold out yet.

  • I agree with a lot of what OldSchool said. I just haven’t seen any neighborhoods improve dramatically this year over 2012. There’s still a lot going on in construction/new businesses in Third Ward/Eado/Eastwood/Oak Forest/Shady Acres/Sixth Ward/Westbury.
    I wish Old School had nominated Norhill though. You made a compelling case yesterday when talking about how it’s one of the few, maybe only, Heights neighborhoods to have escaped the scourge of New Charlestorleans new constuctions home, humper house additions, and the light industrial/garden apartments that infiltrated the area in the ’60’s and ’70’s. It even has sidewalks and a park! Deed restrictions and historic district status have helped it keep the original look, and attract the type of buyer who wants/appreciates that look.

  • “Everyone knows that the best neighborhoods in town are places like Montrose, Heights, GOOF, and Rice/West U, but won’t admit it because these neighborhoods are just too expensive for the average resident to be able to afford.”

    Couldn’t (or shouldn’t) affordability be a component of what goes into this award? Maybe, maybe not. It’s not that well defined. Of course Woodland Heights or West U. are, by most accounts, nicer than say, Eastwood or Idylwood. But the fact that I can afford a similar home in the latter places should hold some weight in the comparison.

  • I’d like to nominate the Shepherd Park area (which would encompass Shepherd Park Plaza, Candlelight Plaza, and Shepherd Park Terrace). Neighbors with the GOOFers, but still somewhat more affordable. All three have great neighborhood organizations, and you can’t beat the holiday lights! There are teardowns and new builds happening even in Shepherd Park Terrace – much sooner than anyone probably anticipated – as people are priced out of the GOOF.

  • I’m Mexican (born-in-Mexico Mexican) and I used to butter my tortillas all the time.

  • Germantown historic district, within the woodland heights. They successfully protected their neighborhood from a big, bad developer and did it without drawing the flame and wrath of the swamplot and HAIF haters.

  • The Old Sixth Ward. Feels like a true neighborhood. Small town vibe in the heart of the 4th largest city in the US. Community with real friendshipo that’s unbeatable. (People actually hang out on their porch here…weird I know.) Great food (beavers, Catalina coffee, and others coming soon) entertainment (Theater district not even a mile away) within walking distance. Soon to be right off the new East Line light rail. Just off of the huge buffalo bayou undertaking. Can’t beat it. Period. OLD SIXTH WARD. Boom.

  • Great neighborhood for the last 38 years