11/14/14 2:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: HOW REAL ESTATE TRAILBLAZERS REALLY CAN BURN UP THE TRAIL Burning Up the Road“There are very real consequences for having a NIMBY-smashing attitude for developers. Yes, the developers usually get their way, but they often end up ruining it for the next guy. Ashby developers will get to build, but the next guy might not because of the high-rise buffering ordinance that passed in the wake of the Ashby uproar. 380 agreements flowed like a river to Walmart and Kroger, but community uproar has meant that only Costco has since been able to get a similar deal despite some healthy opposition in city council. And there has only been one 380 agreement in 2014 outside of the downtown urban living initiative (which does require first floor space to be retail ready). There are a whole host of development regulations that have their root in NIMBY activism: drainage detention, tree ordinance, and parking minimums, to name a few.” [Old School, commenting on Comment of the Day: Don't Let the Locals Get in the Way of Your Project] Illustration: Lulu

11/14/14 1:00pm

TILMAN FERTITTA SEES AND SMELLS A NATIONWIDE REAL ESTATE CRASH, STARTING IN HOUSTON fertitta-bloombergLandry’s CEO and purported Shiloh Club irregular Tilman Fertitta ladled out a deep bowl of bear stew from the teevee-front kitchen of his restaurant empire Wednesday, telling Bloomberg TV viewers that he smells a national real estate crash on the order of what happened in 1986, and volunteering that he “can see it in Houston right now.” He prefaced these comments to hosts Erik Schatzker and Stephanie Ruhle with a survey of the “crazy numbers” he is seeing in real estate valuations and transactions: “You are seeing it in New York probably more than anywhere else; but you are seeing it in Texas; you are seeing it in California. And . . . history always repeats itself as we always know, but I think it’s going to repeat a little sooner this time. You can just see it coming. There are so many cranes everywhere.” What’s the trigger? ”If oil stays in the 70-something dollar range — where it is right now — you’re gonna see it in Houston first,” he said, adding that it might take an oil price of $50 a barrel to bring on a “total crash” like the one in the eighties that knocked Houston off its feet for a good decade. Fertitta continued his jeremiad with a few complaints about inflation, which he sees as “huge,” no matter what Ben Bernanke has to say to the contrary. [Bloomberg TV; previously on Swamplot]

11/14/14 10:00am

Rendering of the Marlowe, Proposed Condo Tower at 1211 Caroline St., Downtown HoustonYesterday the Downtown Management District approved funding under the city’s downtown living initiative for Randall Davis’s planned downtown condo tower. But before Swamplot could receive any additional entries in the impromptu design competition for the project initiated by a reader, the developer appears to have gone ahead and dropped a view of his own proposal. Here, in all it’s blanc-et-noir-ish splendor, is an actual rendering of the Marlowe as its developer intends it. The 100-unit building is shown hovering over a Photoshop-white blanket atop an aerial map of the block bounded by Polk, Caroline, Austin, and Dallas streets, across the street from the House of Blues at the eastern end of GreenStreet, the renamed Houston Pavilions.


The Marlowe
11/14/14 8:30am

The Arrabella Apartments, 1009 Brittmoore Rd., Spring Branch, Houston

Photo of the Arrabella, 1009 Brittmoore Dr.: elnina via Swamplot Flickr Pool

11/13/14 5:00pm



Colors a-blazing and juxtaposed vibe big time within a 2004 townhome in Crosby Place that popped up on the market a week ago. Its location is in the cluster of brightly painted townhome developments on the eastern edge of the Fourth Ward near Midtown. On listing day, the metal-clad property appears to have briefly flirted with a $330,000 asking price but reverted to its original $324,900. Today, fresh listing photos brought in crisper staging of the space . . .


Primary Residence
11/13/14 2:45pm

ONE MAN’S THRIVING GAYBORHOOD IS ANOTHER’S MONTROSE VALUE-ADD PORTFOLIO montrose-value-add-portfolioWhat is the Montrose Value-Add Portfolio? ”48 apartment-units, 13 townhomes, 1 quadraplex and 5 rental homes with 8-units that include 2 garage apartments; for a total of 73 units, 67,960 rentable square feet, with a land tract of 2.09 acres.” Writes a reader who came across the listing: “This is where I live. I love the phrase ‘The Montrose Value Add Portfolio,’ it practically screams ‘knock it down!’ So much for my old gayborhood!” The properties are all within walking distance of the MVAP’s listed address: 409 Stratford St., a stone’s throw from the always-hopping cluster of bars and clubs on Pacific St. to the north and but a little farther from Numbers and Indika to the south. No asking price is indicated in the marketing materials. [Loopnet; brochure (PDF)] Photo: Transwestern.

11/13/14 1:45pm

DON’T Y’ALL GO WORRYING ABOUT THE FALLING PRICE OF OIL NOW Trees and Oil Storage Containers Near San Jacinto Monument, HoustonHouston real estate reporter Ralph Bivins has been watching all those tanking oil prices:Prices for West Texas Intermediate oil, over $107 per barrel in June, has fallen sharply, dropping below $80 a barrel this fall,” he writes. “WTI closed at $77.18 per barrel Wednesday and dipped even lower on Thursday morning.” But the worst prediction of doom and gloom he’s able to scare up comes from Matthew Deal of commercial real-estate valuation firm Deal Sikes & Associates, who eventually admits that “if oil prices fall precipitously and a significant number of oil rigs are mothballed this winter, Texas real estate markets would be impacted by late 2015.” Otherwise, Houston property prices and demand are supposed to emerge not-so-scathed. And Deal’s partner Mark Sikes says way-out suburbanites have it made: Even though a drop in local job growth is likely to cause demand to dwindle for urban redevelopment sites and land slated for commercial development, he says, “suburban land for new residential communities has plenty of price support because the single-family market has tight inventories. Builders have not yet caught up with the residential boom.” [Realty News Report] Photo of San Jacinto Monument: Andrew Wiseman [license]

11/13/14 12:30pm


XO Communications Building, 2401 Portsmouth St., Upper Kirby, Houston

XO Communications Building, 2401 Portsmouth St., Upper Kirby, HoustonA grand total of 26 trees (some of them shown in the top photo of the above before-and-after sequence) surrounding 4 sides of the XO Communications building at 2401 Portsmouth St. just west of Kirby Dr. were felled over the weekend. That’s more than 4 times the number of trees turned to mulch in the overnight removal of street trees surrounding the Kirby Dr. Wendy’s just a few weeks earlier. Does the axing of the XO trees along Portsmouth, Park, Revere, and Norfolk streets in Upper Kirby count as another illegal tree massacre?


Goodbye Oaks, Hello Japanese Blueberries?
11/13/14 8:30am

Nieman Marcus Interior, Galleria, Houston

Photo of Nieman Marcus: Russell Hancock via Swamplot Flickr Pool

11/12/14 4:00pm

LAST CALL FOR THE BONEYARD DRINKERY Boneyard-bye-byeIt wasn’t the first Houston ingesting establishment to be permitted by the city to allow canine companions and their owners to co-lounge on its patio (that honor belongs to the now-shuttered Ziggy’s on Fairview) but with its attached 7,000-sq.-ft. dog park, the Boneyard Drinkery lived up to its reputation as the quintessential outdoorish hangout where panters, drinkers, and occasional barkers all could coexist in relative harmony. And now, after 4 years, it’s closing. A note posted to the Boneyard Facebook page indicates the property at 8150 Washington Ave. is being sold, and the bar and park will both close on November 30th. “Due to the size of property needed for this concept,” reads the note, “and the outrageous increase of property value in Houston over the last few years, we will not be relocating.” [Facebook; Photo: Boneyard Drinkery via Facebook]

11/12/14 3:00pm


A drive-by berm at curbside and greenery at the entry off a circular driveway double screen a 1965 Briargrove home from its San Felipe location across from Briargrove Elementary School, west of Fountainview Dr. Once past the privacy plantings, however, window walls let in the light and the sights. A recently updated kitchen freshened the property, which emerged from hiding a week ago and has a $799,ooo asking price.


Nature Preserve