10/27/14 12:00pm

THE NEWEST PLACE TO GO DOWNTOWN Public Restroom, Tranquillity Park, Rusk and Smith Streets, Downtown HoustonA reader writes: “Until this morning I had never noticed this public restroom (really just a port-o-john with a thoughtfully labeled enclosure around it) downtown next to Tranquility Park at the corner of Rusk and Smith. Everybody knows that Swamplot is Houston’s most trusted source for breaking news about the city’s top cat 5 dump hotspots, so I figured I’d send y’all this update. I definitely feel sorry for whoever has to maintain this facility, but if the city has decided to provide a refuge for the park’s inhabitants in an attempt to discourage the use of secluded downtown doorways or parking garage stairwells, then I think it’s a great idea.” Photo: Swamplot inbox

10/27/14 11:00am

Mod McDonald'sLast week, after a vote of the State Securities Board, Texas became the lucky 13th state to allow equity crowdfunding. Jumping the gun on nationwide rules authorized in 2012 but still not put in place by the SEC, the new statewide setup will allow companies to raise up to $1 million a year through approved “portals,” or crowdfunding websites. Any Texan will be able to invest up to $5,000 per company, but qualified investors (individuals with assets of more than $1 million — minus their home — and $200K in annual net income) will be able to invest any amount.

Unlike donation-based crowdfunding efforts popularized on sites such as Indiegogo and Kickstarter, portals operating under the new rules will turn subscribers into owners of the projects they invest in. The rules, which go into effect next month, apply to any type of company investment, from restaurants to local businesses to real estate — as long as the investors are Texas residents, the companies are Texas companies, and the crowdfunding website is based here. A Houston beta site hoping to begin offering stakes in “corporate backed single tenant leased properties” — such as the dummy McDonald’s Net Lease portrayed in the image above — has already been announced.

Photo: Investpeer

May We Take Your Order?
10/27/14 8:30am

east-end

Photo of the East Downtown: Russell Hancock via Swamplot Flickr Pool

Headlines
10/24/14 3:00pm

NUHABITAT’S ASKING-PRICE HISTORIES ARE BACK IN ACTION NuHabitat Price Tracker Screen ShotHome listing sleuths who’d been relying on historical asking-price data from NuHabitat (when most other consumer-facing MLS sources keep that info hidden) will be relieved to hear that the feature has been restored. Company founder Jeff Burke tells Swamplot the disappearance of the data from NuHabitat’s Price Tracker, which users began noticing last week, was inadvertent; an update pushed out earlier today brings it back. For logged-in users (only), NuHabitat’s Price Tracker provides histories of sales prices as well as details of former asking prices for properties currently on the market, in most cases even if they’ve been yanked over to a new MLS number. (Click on the dollar-sign logo underneath a property listing to see it; the screenshot above shows data for this Cambridge Green property featured on Swamplot last week.) A better dashboard for tagging and setting up alerts on multiple properties should be available to consumer users within a week or so, says Burke, following improvements in the “swipeability” of property images on mobile devices, which went live last month. [NuHabitat; previously on Swamplot]

10/24/14 1:30pm

OAK FOREST BERRYHILL STILL ON ITS WAY Berryhill Baja Grill Under Construction at 43rd St. and Ella Blvd., Oak Forest, HoustonIn the course of providing an overview of Houston’s commercial permitting process likely to open further the eyes of any wide-eyed I-wanna-open-a-restaurant newbie, Betsy Denson provides a quick sorta-update on the current status of the long-delayed Berryhill Baja Grill on the site of a former gas station at 1201 W. 43rd St., even though franchise owner Park Blair isn’t commenting publicly: “Some conjecture that it was an encroachment issue or something similarly major that has caused the delay at Berryhill on Ella. The restaurant applied for a building permit in 2011 and construction has been sporadic for the last two years. Their last approval for a restaurant addition was in February of 2014 and from the looks of things, they will open in the near future.” [The Leader] Photo: Betsy Denson

10/24/14 11:15am

4601 Roseneath Dr., Riverside Terrace, Houston

4601 Roseneath Dr., Riverside Terrace, HoustonThis yellow 2-story at 4601 N. Roseneath Dr., which has been on the market since April, popped up in a new listing earlier this month sporting the same $850,000 asking price. It sits on a 1.2-acre lot below Brays Bayou, just south of the University of Houston campus. Since 1994, the 1937 property has been the home of Earnest Gibson III, the longtime president of Riverside Hospital. Earlier this week, a federal jury convicted Gibson, his son, and 2 others of various conspiracy charges in connection with a $158 million Medicare fraud scheme centered around patients at the hospital. All are scheduled to be sentenced next February.

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10/24/14 8:30am

Home at 502 Archer St. by Homeowners & Architects, Brooke Smith, Houston

Photo of home at 502 Archer St. (on AIA Home Tour this weekend): Ben Hill

Headlines
10/23/14 5:15pm

MAKING THE CASE FOR HOUSTON MURDERS Murder & Mayhem in Houston: Historic Bayou City Crime“Houston and New Orleans stand alone as the creepiest cities on the Gulf Coast,” declare Mike Vance and John Nova Lomax. “With its pervasive voodoo ambience, sprawling cities of the dead, air of genteel decay and long history of murder and mayhem, New Orleans is undeniably a spooky town. Fright is a cottage industry there. Having said that, Houston is not far behind. Houstonians just don’t celebrate death and the past the way New Orleanians do.” Their new book, Murder & Mayhem in Houston: Historic Bayou City Crime, attempts to resurrect lesser-known crime stories that have “slipped into the recesses of this city’s gargantuan memory hole, with chapters on the Todville Mansion murder, the Heights House of Horrors, and the Wig Shop Murder. “Local histories have tended to gloss over this city’s dark side,” they write in the book’s preface, “choosing instead to cite the ever-increasing tonnage coming and going from the Houston Ship Channel, the scientific wonders of NASA and the Texas Medical Center, the financial feats of powerful banker-developers like Jesse Jones and the gargantuan deeds of the great oil men. That’s important history to record, but that’s only half of Houston’s story. It’s high time the dark side comes to light.” [The History Press; Amazon]

10/23/14 3:15pm

4004-Montrose-43C-01

4004-Montrose-43C-02

Next on the docket at the Court at Museum’s Gate on Montrose Blvd., a 2-story condo (top) in the 1985 postmodern property (above) presents in its listing earlier this week an unstaged interior — and a $325,000 asking price. It was on the books for $319,000 earlier this year, but that listing terminated in May, prior to a flip-minded reboot. Soon to hit 30, the 49-unit complex appears to be revamping one condo at a time . . .

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Plaza Entry
10/23/14 12:00pm

Cabela's Store in Buda, Texas

Cabela's Store in Allen, TexasWhat should League City expect with the first Houston-area Cabela’s, set to open in a year’s time near the Big League Dreams Sports Park off the Gulf Fwy. and Big League Dreams Pkwy.? All the wonders of wildlife and its stalkers brought indoors, for your perusal and entertainment. That means vast arrangements of deceased but realistic-looking animals mounted in museum-like displays, a “gun library” where you’ll be able to check out the latest in classic, antique, collectible, or just plain hoard-able firearms, an indoor archery range, a fudge shop, and other tourist attractions. Plus, for local flatlanders who may never have seen one, an actual mountain replica. All displayed as it should be, in a big-roofed, fully air-conditioned space not far from Kohl’s and H-E-B.

At 72,000 sq. ft., the store will only be one-third the size of the chain’s behemoth in Fort Worth, but it’ll be bigger than the outposts in Waco and Lubbock. A company press release says the store will feature log construction, as well as other outdoorsy-store mainstays such as metal roofing, wood siding, and stone add-ons.

Photos of Buda (interior) and Allen (exterior) stores: Cabela’s

Outdoors Indoors