02/09/16 11:30am

Scaffolding on the Williams Tower, 2800 Post Oak Blvd., Galleria Area, Houston, 77056

A more senior representative of the Williams Tower’s property management office wrote in yesterday with a correction to Friday’s note about the recent return of the rotating spotlight at the top, after another employee told Swamplot that the beam had been off while a new bulb was being hunted down. In fact, the source tells Swamplot, the entire beacon fixture has been replaced, as part of a redo of the tip of the tower itself.

The current work on the top started in November 2014 and includes the replacement of the “apex roof” (consisting of the sloping panels directly beneath the beacon, and the vertical panels directly below those, above the start of the glass skin). The above photo shows those vertical panels missing late last spring as the swap was underway. The new spotlight turned on in late December, and final touches to the roof should be done by March, if the weather cooperates.

Here’s what the roof looked like back before the work began:

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Spotlight on the Roof
02/09/16 10:30am

Vehicle Recovery for Operation Submerge, Gulfgate, Houston, 77023

If you are the owner of the bottom half of a red Ford Ranger left in Brays Bayou near Wayside Dr. some time in the last 20 years, your vehicle may be waiting for you in HPD’s impound lot. The pilot program intended to test out a procedure for fishing out the 127-or-so vehicles mapped beneath the surface of a few of Houston’s waterways reeled in its 20th and final car over the weekend before the $49,500 project grant ran out.

The removals started near the Wayside bridge over Brays Bayou in late January, then moved upstream of the crossing of Lidstone St. on the 29th; last Friday, operations jumped down to Sims Bayou to score a few final sets of wheels. Harris County Flood Control District, which oversaw the fishing trips, tweeted that project executives will now meet to discuss future removal plans and compare notes on the process, which involved divers from Saltwater Salvage submerging to attach giant yellow floaties to the sunken vehicles:

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Stirring Up Mud in Gulfgate
02/09/16 8:30am

spring-valley

Photo of Spring Valley: Russell Hancock via Swamplot Flickr Pool

Headlines
02/08/16 3:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: A TALL TALE OF A THIRD WARD 6-PACK Townhomes“I’m one of those townhouse dwellers in the Third Ward, and one of my six-pack neighbors got around the problem of obstructed views in a literal sense: She built an observation deck on top of her house that’s only accessible by a ladder. Good for views . . . bad for late-night, outdoor drinking.” [Evan, commenting on Comment of the Day: Jockeying for Position in Houston’S Vertical Future] Illustration: Lulu

02/08/16 12:00pm

New Signal at Dunlavy St. and Allen Pkwy., Buffalo Bayou Park, Houston, 77019

The metal arm of a future traffic signal is now reaching out of the ground across a few westbound lanes of Allen Pkwy. at the intersection with Dunlavy St. The new crosswalk will protect foot traffic on the way to bayou-side party-venue The Dunlavy and to the Adath Yeshurun Cemetery next door.

The stoplight fits into the larger plans to revamp Allen Pkwy., in part intending to dial down the road’s speeds from not-quite-freeway to next-to-a-park levels. The redo also aims to make it simpler for both cars and people trying to make their way to all the new park infrastructure and improvements along Buffalo Bayou.

A drawing from early last year shows the plan view of the finished intersection at Dunlavy:

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Crossing Over
02/08/16 9:30am

TEXAS A&M WEIGHS HOUSTON EXPANSION AS UT COLLECTS LAND FOR ITS PLANNED CAMPUS UT Houston Campus Site, Buffalo Lakes, HoustonFollowing the University of Texas’s recent start on buying up that land in southwest Houston for a proposed campus of yet-ambiguous-purpose, Texas A&M is now sizing up the city as well, writes Benjamin Wermund of the Houston Chronicle. A&M president Michael Young suggested that those watching the university’s plans for the Houston area “stay tuned” as the school weighs strategy. UT’s November announcement that it would buy around 300 acres at W. Belfort Ave. and Buffalo Spdwy. triggered responses from University of Houston supporters including Texas senator John Whitemire. Whitmire’s December letter to UT chancellor Bill McRaven cited fears that a new UT Houston campus would pull resources and top-tier faculty away from U of H, in part due to the structure of the state’s Permanent University Fund allocations (which go only to UT and A&M campuses). Young, however, suggested that backlash over UT’s ongoing purchases south of Reliant was premature (as, perhaps, was UT’s broadcasting of its plans): “I guess I’m a little confused about the spat at the moment, because I don’t know that UT has really said what they’re going to do,” Young told the Chronicle. “So far it’s a land deal, and I must say an amusing one, because I didn’t know you announced you were going to buy property before you actually bought it.” [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Conceptual rendering of UT Houston campus: Houston Public Media

02/08/16 8:30am

amegy-bank

Photo of Amegy Bank’s new headquarters: elnina via Swamplot Flickr Pool

Headlines
02/05/16 4:15pm

Williams Tower, 2800 Post Oak Blvd., Galleria Area, Houston, 77056

Update (2/9): The entire beacon fixture has been replaced. See this story for details.

The rotating spotlight on top of the 64-story Williams Tower in the Galleria area has been back on for a few weeks, following an autumnal hiatus. According to a representative of the tower’s property management office, the beam stayed dark during difficulties finding the correct kind of bulb for the fixture. A reader sent a report this week from a bedroom window overlooking the Galleria area:

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Twinkle, Twinkle, Giant Bulb
02/05/16 3:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: KEEP CALM WHILE WAITING FOR FINAL GRADES ON MULTIFAMILY HOUSING Housing Grades“Yup. I saw another apartment crisis coming in Houston, and true to form, it’s here. . . . If you managed to keep your job, you’ll find that you can now afford a better apartment for the same rent due to concessions. But it could be a terrible, awful thing for older Class D apartments and the neighborhoods around them. Tenants in Class B apartments will find that they can now afford a Class A apartment, and so on down the line. The Class D apartments that lost their good tenants to Class C apartments will have nowhere to turn. Crime on the property will skyrocket as they give up on what little tenant screening they had. Maintenance will be deferred even more as they try to control the financial bleeding. Worst case scenario, the two problems will feed each other until the complexes are totally derelict and need to be condemned. Granted, this is just a worst case scenario. The damage could be limited to only a handful of complexes. Fingers are crossed.” [ZAW, commenting on Houston’s Multifamily Problem; River Oaks District Apartments Open for Business] Illustration: Lulu

02/05/16 1:45pm

BUILDING AROUND 1 CEMETERY AND POSSIBLY OVER ANOTHER IN CYPRESS’S ALDEN WOODS Site Plan for the Alden Woods Development, Huffmeister Rd., Cypress, TX 77429 “I said to the county attorney’s representative, this looks like the spot, this looks like a cemetery,” University of Houston anthropology professor Ken Brown told ABC 13’s Ted Oberg, discussing a visit two years ago to the land currently being developed as the Alden Woods subdivision. Darling Homes is developing the 70-acre tract off Huffmeister Rd., just north of the intersection with Maxwell Rd. in Cypress, into a gated community of 3,000-to-5,000-sq.-ft. homes with interior courtyards. Brown investigated another old cemetery on the land for the Harris County Historical Commission; neighbors took him to a site on the other side of the project area rumored to be the burial ground of the slaves held by nearby landowners (some of whom are thought to be buried in the graveyard Brown was sent to check out). The landowner’s cemetery got legal protection from development with the help of the county attorney’s office and still sits in a forested area in the subdivision. The slave cemetery site was not further investigated archaeologically, despite the alleged presence of an employee of the attorney’s office on the site with Brown as he identified groups of east-west-oriented depressions which “[suggested] family type plots within a cemetery.” A statement from the Harris County Attorney’s Office to ABC13 says that the office will now work with the subdivision’s developer to investigate the site. [ABC13] Alden Woods site plan: Darling Homes

02/05/16 12:00pm

410 Emerson St., Westmoreland Historic District, Montrose, Houston

Bedroom, 410 Emerson St., Westmoreland Historic District, Montrose, Houston

Please welcome today’s sponsor: This house at 410 Emerson St. in Montrose. Thanks for supporting Swamplot!

Patrick Banks with Coldwell Banker United has listed this colorful 1905 Victorian. Located within the Westmoreland Historic District in Montrose, the 2-story, 3,541 sq.-ft. home has 3 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms — and much more.

You’ll find original ornamental Victorian architectural elements throughout. Many of the original windows, with their unique glass patterns, are intact. Three 4-ft.-by-8-ft. sliding pocket doors connect the living room to the dining room and first-floor study. The study and first-floor sitting room both feature original corner fireplaces.

The second floor includes a kids’ play area with floor-to-ceiling shelving. A cozy reading nook connects to the child’s bedroom (pictured above); inside, a petite “Alice in Wonderland”-style door leads to a large closet. The large second-floor master suite features a vaulted ceiling, a private sitting area, and a private screened porch. The 9,375-sq.-ft. lot has covered parking for 2 vehicles, a tree house in a live oak and a large separate art studio in the back yard.

Check out more details about 410 Emerson St. on the property website; an extensive walk-through video is also available. Or see it all in person on Valentine’s Day: An open house is scheduled for Sunday, February 14th, from 2 to 5 pm.

Got a special someone you’re trying to reach among Swamplot’s more than 100K monthly readers? Becoming a Sponsor of the Day on this site is the perfect way to send a not-at-all secret message.

Sponsor of the Day