03/23/15 1:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHAT THE HOUSE MEANT House with Flower Bed“My great-great grandparents purchased the land mentioned in the above article when there were just a few houses on the street, and the street was not yet paved. They built this house and 3 generations of my family lived together under its roof at one time. My grandparents met working at the movie theater that used to stand in the Village Arcade. My grandfather was an usher and my grandmother was a concession girl. He used to sneak her out of her bedroom window for dates when she was 15 and he was 16, a few years before he joined the Navy to fight in WWII. My great-grandfather planted rose bushes in front of his daughter’s bedroom window to stop her from climbing out. When my grandparents were first married, they lived in the house with her parents and grandparents. My parents lived in the house after they got married, and I lived my whole life on Chaucer until I got married. My grandfather remained in the house long after his wife passed, and himself lived there until he passed away early last year. All of my best memories were set within those walls, all the family meals, holidays and birthdays. Driving past the muddy, empty lot felt like looking at someone’s usual armchair after they’ve passed away and expecting to see them sitting there, right as rain. Seeing those beautiful bone-colored porcelain bricks trampled under tire tracks . . . It took the air out of me. I hope that by sharing this history, people will understand that sometimes, a house is more than just 4 walls and a roof; this house was more than just a location and a parcel of land. Sometimes, it is the root that anchors us to our past, to our identity, to our origin.” [B Ferguson, commenting on Two Home Demos Mark Rice University’s Continuing March into Rice Village] Illustration: Lulu

03/23/15 11:00am



Windows have been replaced in a 1979 Shadowbriar home, its listing earlier this week at $375K proudly declares. But . . . where are they? Walls of solid brick and a deeply sloping roof appear to seal up the façade curbside (top); the deck out back has just a few panes by the French door access. What windows there are, however, appear to be heavy lifters:


The Mortar Shell
03/23/15 10:00am

JUST A BUNCH OF GUYS HANGING OUT ON THE ASTRODOME ROOF Visitors to Astrodome Roof, HoustonAstrodome security wasn’t the tightest during the Rodeo of 2012, it appears. That’s when builder Russell Hancock snuck inside the unused stadium and sent photos of some of the sorry scenes he found there to Swamplot — sparking a spate of media interest in the long-ignored venue. But Hancock wasn’t the Astrodome’s only unauthorized visitor that year. Brewskies in hand, 4 dudes with cameraphones also snuck into the structure, though it appears they spent much of their time exploring the structure’s peripheral spaces. Over this past weekend, one of the 4 posted an album of pix from their years-ago nighttime venture, the stars of which are the explorers themselves; with blanked-out faces, they’re seen hanging out in locker rooms, hiding in ice machines, operating the scoreboard controls, and pretending to tend bar in an upper-level suite. The highlight, though, is clearly the roofwalk: “After walking around on the top floor,” the anonymous poster writes, “I decided we should try to find our way onto the roof. Not kidding at all — the first door I opened, what looked like a closet door, had a ladder in it. So of course we climbed that shit. It went up about 15 ft. to a hatch that wasn’t locked. So we popped our head out and there was the roof. To the Astrodome. It was surreal. We started to climb up the sky lights to try to get to the top, but about 20—30 ft. up we realized that was probably not the best idea.” [imgur] Photos: Astrodome713

03/23/15 8:30am

Biscuit Paint Wall on Biscuit Home at 1435 Westheimer

Photo of Wall at Biscuit Home, 1435 Westheimer Rd.: Russell Hancock via Swamplot Flickr Pool

03/20/15 1:30pm

Casa Grande Mexican Restaurant, 3401 N. Main St., Houston

The sign up at 3401 N. Main St. across from the Hollywood Cemetery leaves little doubt as to who the owner of Casa Grande blames for the Mexican restaurant and dance club’s shuttering. The 18-year-old establishment, which took over the by-then-long-abandoned site of the former Stuarts Drive-in, shut down last month, after several years of slow business. A sign at the entrance (pictured) now reads BANK CLOSED.


No More Dancing
03/20/15 12:00pm

Rendering of Village of River Oaks, 1015 S. Shepherd Dr., Shepherd Curve, Houston

Give the lawsuit filed by 7 residents of the costumed Gotham and Renoir Lofts buildings along the Shepherd Curve just south of West Dallas St. some credit. News of the legal action has spurred the defendant to do something it previously hadn’t: release to the public an actual rendering of the 8-story senior living facility it’s about to construct between the 2 Randall Davis condos, once it finishes clearing away the remains of the RR Donnelley printing company building at 1015 S. Shepherd Dr. And here it is, showing almost exactly how Bridgewood Property’s Village of River Oaks will look a few years from now — when you view it from Google Street View, that is.


Google Street View Rendering
03/20/15 8:30am

View East Along Walker St. at San Jacinto St., Downtown Houston

Photo of Walker St. at San Jacinto, Downtown: El Kento via Swamplot Flickr Pool

03/19/15 2:15pm



If the 4 city lots this 1954 mod rancher property in the heart of Brookshire occupies aren’t enough space, adjacent properties are available, the $249K listing says. Located 2 blocks south of U.S. 90 (about 10 minutes west of Katy), the single-owner property appears to have stayed true to its times:


Land, Ho
03/19/15 1:15pm

Dallas St. Streetscape Improvements, Downtown Houston

Chopped Trees on Dallas St. Near Milam St., Downtown HoustonIf you’ve been waiting to see what changes are coming to Dallas St. after the street-tree-chopping event earlier this month, here’s your scoop: the Downtown Redevelopment Authority is redoing the streetscape from Milam St. to Discovery Green with hopes of identifying Dallas St. as an actual shopping district. The plan was hatched back when one of the buildings facing Dallas was Downtown’s lone remaining department store, but it’s still going forward with the Macy’s out of the picture (actually, its former site is just behind and to the left of the view in the rendering above).

Instead, the repaving and re-treeing plan is intended to allow a bit more pedestrian activity and street parking for the remaining retail — including the entire northern flank of GreenStreet, the Houston Pavilions redo — and encouraging more to move in.

The changes will shrink the number of car lanes on the one-way street from 4 to 3, but add a parking lane to its north side.


Tree Chopping for Street Shopping
03/19/15 11:00am

Midtown Superblock, Houston

Midtown Superblock, HoustonA couple of Swamplot readers are reporting action on the scene of the Midtown Superblock, the uninterrupted-by-cross-streets acreage stretching between Main and Travis St. south of McGowen and north of Anita, where a Camden Property apartment complex (at the northern end) and a park with underground parking (at the southern end) are planned. In the view at top taken from somewhere high above the backside of Downtown, you can spot demo crews at the end of the grassy field making strip center history this morning out of the former home of Escobar and Thien An Sandwiches at 2905 Travis St.

Meanwhile, the first signposts of some fresh chain-link fencing appeared along Main St. closer to McGowen., as seen in the second photo, taken a couple of days ago.

Photos: Swamplot inbox (overhead view); Robert Boyd (fence)

Strip Center Teardown