10/28/14 1:45pm

Goode's Armadillo Palace, 5015 Kirby Dr., Upper Kirby, Houston

The Goode Company 4-restaurant fiefdom on Kirby Dr. near Westpark is planning another expansion. Plans submitted to the city show the local chain is seeking to expand Goode’s Armadillo Palace with additional covered patio space, a new courtyard facing Bartlett St., and covered walkways connecting them — all on the current parking lot directly across the street from Goode Company BBQ. In addition, a new Goode’s Armadillo Palace General Store is planned for the far eastern end of the site, with a raised covered porch in front of its entrance facing Bartlett St. The single-story structure housing the store, according to the documents, would be built in a “traditional German country style.”


Moving Around the Corner
10/28/14 12:00pm

WHY DARLING HOMES SMELL THAT WAY ScentAir ScentWaveJust where does that Houston new-home smell come from? The cookies the sales agent baked in the oven just before you arrived? The formaldehyde holding together the OSB and MDF? The VOC-laden paints and finishes still off-gassing indoors? An errant breeze from the Ship Channel? Well, sure, but also, it turns out, from liquid aroma cartridges squirted out by the motion-detector-equipped ScentWave (pictured above right), which shoots out a “clean and crisp . . . sweet floral” aroma to woo potential buyers and passersby who’ve stopped to sniff out a model home display. Reps of Texas’s Darling Homes, now owned by Taylor Morrison, install the ScentWave wafting device strategically in every one of the company’s model homes. The exclusive sign-here-now fragrance the homebuilder employs was whipped up for that purpose by the ScentWave’s distributor, a North Carolina company named ScentAir. That Darling Homes scent isn’t available for purchase, reports the HBJ‘s Paul Takahashi, but the ScentAir website lists a matrix of “euphoric, invigorating, restoring, refreshing, relaxing, or restoring” olfactory options (from a total 1,600 available off-the-shelf) to “blow your customer’s nose’s mind.” [Houston Business Journal; ScentAir] Photo of ScentWave: ScentAir

10/28/14 8:30am


Photo of Buffalo Bayou Park: Marc Longoria via Swamplot Flickr Pool

10/27/14 3:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: SCHOOL CHOICE School House“. . . You have hit upon an issue that is at the core of not only the perception of school quality but also a prime driver of the residential real estate market, especially in the suburbs (and thereby a driver of retail and office markets as well). In my admittedly qualitative, non-scientific observation of the dialogue surrounding schools, the general public perception of school quality is not nearly driven as much by teaching methods, administrative / management styles, or teacher qualifications, as by the demographics of the students themselves. In the greater public’s mind, affluent demographics = good schools, with the demographics being the more independent variable (though there’s obviously a feedback loop as more affluent home buyers will be drawn to schools with already affluent students). Private schools are obviously not as related to real estate (with Strake Jesuit as an example), but the perception issue seems as relevant. To put the issue another way, is a student from an affluent household likely to perform worse academically if he/she attends a school with less affluent demographics? My sense is, many people seem to think so and make school enrollment decisions accordingly. Perhaps this assertion is justified by empirical data and experience, I don’t know.” [Local Planner, commenting on How The Woodlands Has Gone Astray; A Suitable Houston Honor for the Inventor of Air Conditioning] Illustration: Lulu

10/27/14 1:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY RUNNER-UP: ANOTHER REASON WHY WE GIVE THANKS ON THANKSGIVING Thanksgiving Costume“If the Pilgrims had landed on the Island of Doom (Cabeza de Vaca’s name for Galveston) the Karankawas may well have simply eaten them. So the first Thanksgiving would consist of long pig festooned with buckle hats.” [Memebag, commenting on Houston’s Baby Boomer Housing Shortage; Cooking Up a Third Coast Thanksgiving] Illustration: Lulu

10/27/14 12:00pm

THE NEWEST PLACE TO GO DOWNTOWN Public Restroom, Tranquillity Park, Rusk and Smith Streets, Downtown HoustonA reader writes: “Until this morning I had never noticed this public restroom (really just a port-o-john with a thoughtfully labeled enclosure around it) downtown next to Tranquility Park at the corner of Rusk and Smith. Everybody knows that Swamplot is Houston’s most trusted source for breaking news about the city’s top cat 5 dump hotspots, so I figured I’d send y’all this update. I definitely feel sorry for whoever has to maintain this facility, but if the city has decided to provide a refuge for the park’s inhabitants in an attempt to discourage the use of secluded downtown doorways or parking garage stairwells, then I think it’s a great idea.” Photo: Swamplot inbox

10/27/14 11:00am

Mod McDonald'sLast week, after a vote of the State Securities Board, Texas became the lucky 13th state to allow equity crowdfunding. Jumping the gun on nationwide rules authorized in 2012 but still not put in place by the SEC, the new statewide setup will allow companies to raise up to $1 million a year through approved “portals,” or crowdfunding websites. Any Texan will be able to invest up to $5,000 per company, but qualified investors (individuals with assets of more than $1 million — minus their home — and $200K in annual net income) will be able to invest any amount.

Unlike donation-based crowdfunding efforts popularized on sites such as Indiegogo and Kickstarter, portals operating under the new rules will turn subscribers into owners of the projects they invest in. The rules, which go into effect next month, apply to any type of company investment, from restaurants to local businesses to real estate — as long as the investors are Texas residents, the companies are Texas companies, and the crowdfunding website is based here. A Houston beta site hoping to begin offering stakes in “corporate backed single tenant leased properties” — such as the dummy McDonald’s Net Lease portrayed in the image above — has already been announced.

Photo: Investpeer

May We Take Your Order?
10/27/14 8:30am


Photo of the East Downtown: Russell Hancock via Swamplot Flickr Pool

10/24/14 3:00pm

NUHABITAT’S ASKING-PRICE HISTORIES ARE BACK IN ACTION NuHabitat Price Tracker Screen ShotHome listing sleuths who’d been relying on historical asking-price data from NuHabitat (when most other consumer-facing MLS sources keep that info hidden) will be relieved to hear that the feature has been restored. Company founder Jeff Burke tells Swamplot the disappearance of the data from NuHabitat’s Price Tracker, which users began noticing last week, was inadvertent; an update pushed out earlier today brings it back. For logged-in users (only), NuHabitat’s Price Tracker provides histories of sales prices as well as details of former asking prices for properties currently on the market, in most cases even if they’ve been yanked over to a new MLS number. (Click on the dollar-sign logo underneath a property listing to see it; the screenshot above shows data for this Cambridge Green property featured on Swamplot last week.) A better dashboard for tagging and setting up alerts on multiple properties should be available to consumer users within a week or so, says Burke, following improvements in the “swipeability” of property images on mobile devices, which went live last month. [NuHabitat; previously on Swamplot]

10/24/14 1:30pm

OAK FOREST BERRYHILL STILL ON ITS WAY Berryhill Baja Grill Under Construction at 43rd St. and Ella Blvd., Oak Forest, HoustonIn the course of providing an overview of Houston’s commercial permitting process likely to open further the eyes of any wide-eyed I-wanna-open-a-restaurant newbie, Betsy Denson provides a quick sorta-update on the current status of the long-delayed Berryhill Baja Grill on the site of a former gas station at 1201 W. 43rd St., even though franchise owner Park Blair isn’t commenting publicly: “Some conjecture that it was an encroachment issue or something similarly major that has caused the delay at Berryhill on Ella. The restaurant applied for a building permit in 2011 and construction has been sporadic for the last two years. Their last approval for a restaurant addition was in February of 2014 and from the looks of things, they will open in the near future.” [The Leader] Photo: Betsy Denson