06/21/16 8:00am

310 W. Saulnier St., Alden Place

Swamplot’s Daily Demolition Report lists buildings that received City of Houston demolition permits the previous weekday.

Another 1920s home goes down on that old Houston street named for Theneuille-to-Houston tanner Piere (Peter) Saulnier, and some other little pieces of Houston crumbling away in today’s report.

06/20/16 5:00pm

12930 Memorial Dr., Memorial Plaza, Houston, 77079

A perennial contender for the dubious honor of Houston’s gaudiest mansion may be trying to shake its claim to the title. The mansion at 12930 Memorial Dr. is back on the market this month for at least the sixth time in 5 years — and back down to an asking price of $1.5 million, after a 2014 upward jump and subsequent slow decline. Ownership of the house was traded back and forth between Costello family members until an April sale to an entity called Triple Gate Investments; the new sellers seem to be aiming for a more understated presentation. In this round of listing photos, all but a few of the house’s 11,760 sq. ft. have been stripped of furniture, chandeliers, and giant high-heel statuary, allowing distraction-free contemplation of the colorful interior.

Even the apply-your-own-head wildlife has been reset to its original state:


New Management
06/20/16 1:45pm

Former New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, 1221 Crockett St., First Ward, Houston, 77007

The Texas Revolution-themed southeast corner of Goliad and Crockett streets looks to be getting blanked out to make way for more townhomes in the increasingly formerly industrial section of First Ward between Sawyer St., Washington Ave., and White Oak Bayou. Chris Andrews  noted the planning commission application asking  the city to chop up the land beneath the former New Hope Missionary Baptist Church buildings into 7 smaller pieces. Also probably getting chopped up into smaller pieces: the structures themselves, which the city’s archaeological and historical commission says may have been among those designed by 1940s African-American church architect James M. Thomas.


Remember Goliad Grove
06/20/16 12:00pm

Clock and Construction at Main St. and Texas Ave., Downtown Houston

Realty News Report LogoSwamplot’s sponsor today is Houston’s own Realty News Report, an online publication covering commercial and residential real estate markets in Texas. Thanks for the support!

If you’re hungry for Houston real estate news — and gee, if you’re reading Swamplot, it’s likely you are — you should be reading Realty News Report. But . . . who are we to judge?

Realty News Report’s editor, Ralph Bivins, came back from New Orleans earlier this month loaded down with an unprecedented 5 awards — 2 golds, a silver, and 2 bronzes in various categories — in the National Association of Real Estate Editors’ 66th annual Journalism Awards. What for?

“This writer covers Houston real estate like a glove,” the panel of expert judges from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism wrote of Bivins’s work. “Whether he is writing about new building construction methods, the future of the Astrodome, or the acquisition of the land and the building of a new campus of ExxonMobil, he gives readers new insights into area real estate. He is a must read.

Bivins’s competitors for the NAREE awards were journalists from the Wall St. Journal, Bloomberg, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other well-known publications. Before founding Realty News Report, he covered real estate for the Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News for decades.

To keep up with the Texas real estate scene, you’ll want to check out the Realty News Report website — regularly. For a free trial subscription to Realty News Report’s weekly newsletter, send an email to RealtyNewsReport@gmail.com.

Swamplot readers sure do appreciate Swamplot sponsors! Get in on the action by becoming a Sponsor of the Day.

Sponsor of the Day
06/20/16 11:30am

COMMENT OF THE DAY: A GUESS AT PROPER ETIQUETTE FOR OUT-OF-FASHION DEED RESTRICTIONS Reading“My old neighborhood – two houses ago – should be very worried as well. Right before I got there, some people had tried to rewrite the deed restrictions. Some other people blocked the rewrite. Which basically meant that the old restrictions – from the 1950s – were still in force – or were they? Half the regulations were either moot (who has a garbage incinerator in their back yards nowadays?) or illegal today. But more importantly: the restrictions were supposed to have been renewed in the 1970s and again in the 1990s, but it’s not clear they ever were. I wound up basically following the practical rule that whatever the county clerk has on record is in force whether it makes sense or not, so long as it is not rendered illegal by some other law. But I am not a lawyer, and I know that approach probably would not hold up in court.” [ZAW, commenting on Comment of the Day: Garden Oaks Question Marks Raise Question Marks CitywideIllustration: Lulu

06/20/16 11:00am

TEXAS SUPREME COURT: FLOOD CONTROL AGENCY DIDN’T CAUSE WHITE OAK FLOODING BY NOT CONTROLLING IT Harris County Flood Control District map of White Oak Bayou watershedOn Friday the state’s highest court reversed course on a class-action lawsuit filed by White Oak Bayou-adjacent homeowners flooded by turn-of-the-century storms including Allison, writes Mike Morris. Gabrielle Banks previously reported that some 200-plus families living along the upper reaches of bayou between Jersey Village and Houston Rosslyn Rd. had been asking for a collective $85 million or so to make up for flood damage and property devaluation they say was caused by the agency not completing some planned detention projects that haven’t gotten expected federal funding. The court decided last fall that the plaintiff’s case was strong enough to warrant a juried trial — at which point more than a dozen city and state government bodies filed letters asking it to please reconsider. Friday’s ruling came down in favor of the flood control agency, though the 4 dissenting judges wrote that the organization knew approved upstream development would lead to flooding without the planned projects, and therefore caused flooding by not requiring enough mitigation. The ruling could impact the similar lawsuit recently filed by a group of Memorial-area homeowners against the city and TIRZ 17, though in that case the group Residents Against Flooding is asking for flood control-related action rather than money. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Map of White Oak Bayou watershed: Harris County Flood Control District

06/20/16 8:30am


Photo of Rice University: Russell Hancock via Swamplot Flickr Pool

06/17/16 4:45pm

FRESHLY SOLD HANS’ BIER HAUS SHUTTING DOWN IN 4 WEEKS Hans' Bier Haus, 2523 Quenby St., Rice Village, HoustonThe little beer garden and bocce court at 2523 Quenby St. announced its planned July 15th closure this afternoon, following 21 years of fond but fuzzy memories (give or take a few neighborly physical and legal altercations with inhabitants and employees of the nextdoor condo tower at 2520 Robinhood). The news also follows this week’s sale of the property by a legal entity connected to Hans’ partner Paul Kellogg, conveying the spot to one JSS Texas Holdings. Hans’ announcement says that plans to celebrate the bar’s last month in action will be announced soon. [Previously on Swamplot] Photo of Hans’s Bier Haus:  Swamplot inbox

06/17/16 3:45pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: GARDEN OAKS QUESTION MARKS RAISE QUESTION MARKS CITYWIDE deed-restrictions-qm“One of the Chronicle articles also mentioned the judge’s concern that GOMO and its bylaws were not ‘properly formed.’ Does anyone know the procedure for ‘properly forming’ a homeowners association and writing bylaws? I’m wondering about the HOA where I live.” [Gisgo, commenting on A Judge’s Answer To Some of Those Tiny Garden Oaks Question Marks]

06/17/16 1:00pm

22427 High Point Pines Dr., Spring, TX, 77373

22427 High Point Pines Dr., Spring, TX, 77373Capital-R Realtor Jessica Arnett brought a price-reduced 4-bedroom house in Spring into the national spotlight this week by dressing up in a panda suit throughout the property’s listing photos. While there’s more than one way to panda to potential buyers, this particular tactic has been tried before: Arnett reportedly says the idea came from a British home listing from last month, in which the seller did roughly the same thing.

Arnett has already received calls from other real estate agents asking where to obtain a panda suit. But the stunt itself may be endangered — the British seller has already reversed course on bearing it all, and the photos in his listing have been replaced with more standard fare.  And Arnett readily admits that this kind of marketing likely doesn’t have much room to grow and multiply — while the Houston Chronicle reported earlier this week that she was open to the possibility of using the suit a sparing once or twice a year, her tone had changed by the time she spoke to Realtor.com’s Judy Dutton:


Endangered Salespitch in Spring
06/17/16 12:00pm

Downtown Houston Skyline

Today’s sponsor of this site is Houston’s own Central Bank. Swamplot appreciates the continued support!

Central Bank has 4 (central) Houston branches available to meet your business or personal needs: in Midtown, the Heights, West Houston, and Post Oak Place.

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Thinking about become a Swamplot sponsor? Here’s some basic information about the program

Sponsor of the Day
06/17/16 11:30am

Starbucks at 13339 West Road, Houston, TX 77041

Northwest Houston Starbucks, 2016A Stand-alone Starbucks is now open at West Rd. and N. Eldridge Pkwy. in the parking lot of the Raceway gas station on the southwest corner. The new building appears to be the first Starbucks to encroach into the area bounded by 290, Beltway 8, Hwy. 6, and I-10 — though it still skirts the perimeter of the area. (Roughly half of that region is occupied by the Addicks Reservoir). The coffee shop joins Hot Donuts in the salon-rich strip center across West Rd.; nearby probable non-competitors include the ITEX Piping International and Berlin Packaging facilities.

Images: Randolph Wile (photo), Starbucks (map of area locations)

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