- 6814 Covington Dr. [HAR]
COMMENT OF THE DAY: HOUSTON, THE CITY OF LITTLE DOWNTOWN SUBURBIAS “Why not have a ‘little suburbia’ in the area? I mean, let’s stop fighting it and sail [with] the wind. Now I know I’m being a little tongue and cheek, but is there nothing more ‘Houston’ than to have a completely market driven transplant of the suburbs right next to downtown? We can even market it w/ such features as ‘the sidewalk to nowhere’ and the ‘stripmall, strip.’ Maybe even use it to advertise Houston to the rest of the country: “Close to work with suburban sprawl; yes, you CAN have it all!” Heck, we’ll just reboot the Virginia Slims campaign w/ big box stores and the skyline in the background!” [DNAguy, commenting on Texas City Buc-ee’s Opening Sooner Than Expected; The Rush To Destroy Rice’s Menil Legacy] Illustration: Lulu
The homes depicted in the teevee version of The Astronaut Wives Club may turn out to be a bit more landlocked than the actual Space Age family spreads they’re modeled after. Location scouts for the upcoming ABC mini-series, which will be based on the book by Lily Koppel, appear to be steering clear of the actual Clear Lake-area neighborhoods the original 7 astronaut families lived in — and pushing west instead. Real estate agent Robert Searcy tells Swamplot the location scouts who contacted him were looking for a neighborhood with original-looking mid-fifties-era houses. So he passed info around to owners he knew about, letting them decide if they wanted to open up their homes to teevee crews: “They also contacted Houston Mod,” Searcy says:
“Apparently [the site scouts] are most interested in what they loosely described as ‘mid-range’ homes of the era, not updated. I got them in a few houses in Glenbrook Valley and a couple in Meadowcreek Village, including the Mackie & Kamrath one over there, but I think some of the mods were a bit too grand for what they are looking for. They seem to be most focused on Willowbend right now. So if you live in Willowbend in a non-updated house, don’t be shocked if you get a note on your door!”
A JOLT TO STRIP CENTERS EVERYWHERE Radio Shack announced this morning that it plans to close up to one-fifth of its U.S. stores. News had leaked earlier this month that the
Dallas Fort Worth-based electronics chain had plans to close about 500 “underperforming” locations. This morning’s announcement brings that number up to 1,100, but no specific stores have been identified for shuttering. There are more than 80 Radio Shack locations in the greater Houston area. [Wall St. Journal] Photo: News92FM
In which the much-noted Bullock-City Federation Mansion on Lovett Blvd. receives its much-anticipated permission for demolition:
Just add performer (or pastor) and this former church building with studio-friendly sound and light system will be ready to roll. Or rock. The 1985 property on a residential street is set within Depenbrook Allen, a Near Northside neighborhood located off Quitman St. near I-45. Re-listed last week, the former home of Ministerio Zoe Vida now has a new asking price of $169,900. Previous price points ranged from $245,000 (at its initial listing in May 2013) to the $175K it had reached by December, when it went on a quick winter break.
The portion of the newly tolled Grand Parkway between U.S. 59 and US 90A (and a little further north, to FM 1464) quietly opened to traffic last Thursday. Segment D of the third or fourth ring road around Houston (depending whether you count the Hwy. 6 and FM 1960 combo), which extends about 18 miles from the Southwest Fwy. to I-10, has been open since 1994 — but mostly as a sleepy divided double-lane highway with a super-wide grassy median. The new tollway redo is being opened in spurts. The Fort Bend County Toll Road Authority, which controls this portion of Segment D, expects to have the complete stretch of tollway open between the Southwest Fwy. and the Westpark Tollway open by the end of April. When it opens, 7 automated toll booths will line that stretch.
Photo: Fort Bend County Toll Road Authority
Note: Story updated below. Midtown Auto Care, at 2519 Wroxton St., is still open for business.
The Eighteenth Cocktail Bar is the latest bar to die at at 2511 Bissonnet St., just east of Kirby Dr. Previous short-lived tenants at that location included the Antique Bar and a reprise version of the Gallant Knight. But this will likely be the last of the dying breed — at least in the property’s current incarnation. An LLC run by the owners of local Tex-Mex restaurant chain Escalante’s purchased the property late last year — along several neighboring parcels. Add those lots to the office building at 5311 Kirby, which the same entity has owned for a couple years, and you have about an acre and a half of land surrounding the Chevron station at the corner of Kirby and Bissonnet, with frontage on Kirby, Bissonnet, and Wroxton.
The DWI defense specialist whose enormous “Do Not Blow” billboard presided over Washington Ave early this decade (in the words of the Houston Press) “as the enormous and bespectacled eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg looked out on The Great Gatsby‘s Valley of Ashes,” has just purchased the long-vacant 11,604-sq.-ft. wedge-shaped former car lot at 2019 Washington Ave in the Old Sixth Ward. Attorney Tyler Flood (shown standing his ground on the lot, at left) plans to build a 6,700-sq.-ft. 3-story building on the corner of Washington and Henderson — with a café space on the first floor, lease space on the third floor, and his own law firm on the second. He’s hired Element Architects to design the building, which should look something like this:
Swamplot’s Daily Demolition Report lists buildings that received City of Houston demolition permits the previous weekday.
Here’s where we’ll start our unhouse collection:
COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHAT SHOULD A NEW BUILDING IN A HISTORIC DISTRICT LOOK LIKE? “There’s good and bad in historic preservation. The best historic preservation differentiates between neighborhoods and buildings. At the neighborhood level, there are strict strict controls on lot subdivision, building heights, setbacks, tree preservation, and sidewalks – so that new construction fits in the urban fabric. In Paris, France, you can design a totally new and modern building on a boulevard, as long as it continues the street wall and meets the mansard roof setbacks of its neighbors. (At least, it’s how it was 20 years ago when I was studying architecture in Paris.) For certain historic buildings, there are strict requirements for style and color and all of that. But it doesn’t extend through the whole historical neighborhood. Unfortunately, the differentiation seems lost here in the States. In other cities (New York in particular) they strictly control the details of any building that gets built in a historical district. It’s a real pain in the ass for the architects, and expensive for the owners.” [ZAW, commenting on Tiny Starkweather Becomes Houston’s Second Outside-the-Loop Historic District] Illustration: Lulu
Readers are reporting to Swamplot that the end appears nigh for the 1906 Bullock-City Federation Mansion at 411 Lovett Blvd. in Montrose. Salvage and demolition crews have been at work there for much of the week, removing wood floors and gutting other pieces from the fancy interior. Portions of the garden (see photo at left) have been torn up to disconnect sewer lines. The new owners have reportedly said they have plans to build townhomes on the site once the existing building is demolished.