02/13/17 5:00pm

houston-isd-outline

A letter up on the website of the Texas Education Agency — addressed to the HISD Board of Trustees and dated to last Thursday — provides what the state organization says is a preliminary list of the high-value Houston properties that might be detached from the district and tacked onto Aldine ISD. The transfer is the proposed response to last fall’s election by HISD residents not to authorize that payment of over-the-per-student-cap property tax revenue to the state for redistribution to other districts. Campaigners had hoped the “no” vote on the resolution would cause the Legislature to look at reforming the state’s education funding scheme (which the state high court raised an eyebrow at last year, but left in place).

On the same day the letter was issued, the HISD board voted to call a new election on the recapture/detachment question; the TEA has also set a lower figure for the district’s initial required payment to the state, in light of the fact that HISD doesn’t collect some potential property tax revenue because of homestead exemption rules. The letter tallies up the marked-for-snagging properties at more than $8.024 billion in total assessment value, and includes the Galleria, the Williams Tower, a slew of downtown office buildings, the CityWestPlace complex near Beltway 8, and 2 refineries. The list itself mentions only addresses and parcel numbers, connected mostly to the buildings below and a number of their associated parking garages:

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Election Rerun
02/13/17 2:30pm

UNIDENTIFIED CHEMICAL STENCH, HAZE DRIFTING ACROSS TOWN OFFICIALLY NO CAUSE FOR CONCERN Albemarle Corporation Facility, 13000 Bay Park Rd., Pasadena, TX, 77507Suggested and mandatory restrictions on hanging around outside were issued by the Memorial Village area’s fire department and by Katy ISD respectively for a while this morning, in response to the acrid odor and haze blowing in some 40 miles across the city from somewhere near the Ship Channel. The Houston emergency response folks say that their monitoring has turned up no air quality red flags, but that anyone who can avoid the stink should probably do so just in case. The particular origin and composition of the odor also still seems to still be up for debate this afternoon: The Albemarle facility at 13000 Bay Park Rd. (shown above) called into the CAER hotline this morning to report that they might be releasing natural gas odorizer throughout the day as their gas facilities got worked on, and LyondellBasell’s Sheldon Rd. facility also sent a message to the CAER line that they would be conducting flaring today in response to a “unit upset,” but no official suspects have been named by the city.  The extent of the odor’s inland spread is notably broader than last month’s quickie Valero tank overfill stench incident in Manchester: KHOU reports that some of its viewers on the southeast side of town started calling in about the smell around 10 am, and that “by 11 a.m. the smell and an apparent haze covered most of downtown Houston and the west side, with some reports from as far north as Bush Airport.” [KHOU; previously on Swamplot] Photo of Albemarle facility at 13000 Bay Park Rd.: April R.  

02/13/17 12:00pm


Loam AgronomicsToday on Swamplot our sponsor is Loam Agronomics — here to promote the company’s new CSA program for Houston. Thanks for the support!

Houston residents have already begun signing up for Loam Agronomics’ brand-new CSA program, which means they’ll start receiving weekly deliveries of fresh, locally grown vegetables in March! (CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture.) If you’ve been looking for a way to get a regular supply of fresh-from-the-local-farm produce for your household, or if you like the idea of eating food that hasn’t been shipped thousands of miles, but is picked at peak ripeness nearby and available to you in 48 hours or less, then this program is for you.

The first crops are growing now on a 40-acre portion of a 288-acre agricultural site the company has acquired in Richmond. And you can participate! When you become a member of the Loam Agronomics CSA, you’re purchasing a weekly “share” of vegetables from the company and supporting the production of local food in your community.

Loam Agronomics is a project of the same people behind Edible Earth Resources, the local gardening firm that’s been transforming some high-profile urban lots in Houston into attractive edible gardens. Loam Agronomics will serve much of the same community, but at a larger scale.

If you’ve got questions about the CSA program or the operation and standards of the farm, take a look at the answers to the FAQ posted on the brand-spanking-new Loam Agronomics website.

Loam Agronomics offers:

  • Drop sites across Houston
  • Pickups on Thursdays and Saturdays
  • Signups available any time
  • Cooking and storing tips
  • Community events

. . . all for just $30 per week.

To join other families who’ve been signing up, all you need to do is select a convenient drop site; fill out a member information profile; and choose a payment plan (4-, 12-, 26-, and 52-week plans are available, some with discounted rates) — all of which you can do from this page on the Loam Agronomics website.

Don’t miss out on a great way to connect with a large audience of potential Houston customers. Become a Swamplot sponsor!

Sponsor of the Day
02/13/17 10:00am

2 Tiel Way, River Oaks, Houston, 77019

2 Tiel Way, River Oaks, Houston, 77019The remodeling permit issued last fall for 2 Tiel Way (shown above in its previous listing portrait) was augmented by a demolition permit at the end of January, as Diane Cowen reports in this weekend’s Chronicle. The 1960s house (designed by Karl Kamrath, like a few others of the not-yet-demolished original houses on the street) was bought last July after a 10-month stint on the market; Cowen writes that the new owners had planned to restore the home, but structural issues including uncovered termite and water damage boosted cost estimates to around twice the likely cost of a rebuild.

The house was torn down to the slab and fireplace late last month, and some of the interior redwood paneling and light fixtures were salvaged. The new home designed for the site will purportedly mimic the old one to a significant extent — here’s a rendering from Robertson Design, the architecture firm of the new owners’ son:

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Theseus’s Ranch
02/13/17 8:30am

eado

Photo of East Downtown: Russell Hancock via Swamplot Flickr Pool

Headlines
02/10/17 5:45pm

JUDGE EMMETT ON THE NEW PLAN TO REIN IN THE NEW ASTRODOME PLAN Proposed Astrodome Parking Garage PlansHere’s the statement judge Ed Emmett’s office just released to FOX26 in response to this afternoon’s news of District 15 senator John Whitmire’s about-to-be-filed bill to require a Harris County voter okay on that plan to turn the Astrodome’s bottom into a parking garage: “It’s frustrating that while the Astrodome stood vacant for more than 15 years, very few people stepped forward to offer real solutions. But now that we on Commissioners Court have finally arrived at a way to preserve the Dome as a revenue-generating asset for the people of Harris County, Sen. Whitmire’s legislation risks derailing that solution. The Astrodome is a paid-for asset that needs to be used for the benefit of the overall NRG Park complex. Creating more than 8 acres of covered usable space along with 1,400 indoor parking spaces will generate revenue that will allow the county to maintain NRG Stadium and the rest of the complex.” The bill could potentially shut down the parking garage plan, if county-wide support can’t be mustered to support the project; demolition plans, on the other hand, are now subject to review by the Texas Historical Commission, as of late last month’s State Antiquities Landmark designation. [FOX26; previously on Swamplot] Astrodome parking plan schematic: Harris County Engineering Department

02/10/17 4:45pm

Urban Bricks Pizza Co., 5650 West Grand Parkway South #100, Richmond, TX 77407

The finishing touches have been applied to the first Houston-area outpost of Urban Bricks Pizza Co., in time for the location’s end-of-January grand opening. The Boerne-based pizza place has squeezed in next to Zesty Cleaners and James Avery in the newest piece of the growing strip center puzzle known as the Shops at Bella Terra, itself sandwiched between the Lakes of Bella Terra and Parkway Lakes subdivisions south of the EZ TAG-only intersection of Westpark Tollway and the Grand Parkway. The most recent add-on to the center is near the bottom left corner in the detention-pond-spangled siteplan below:

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Lakeside Pizza Views
02/10/17 2:45pm

Former City of Houston Code Enforcement Building, 3300 Main St., Midtown, Houston, 77002

Those Swamplot commenters who’ve been taking particular and unabashed pleasure in the long, slow demise of the former city code enforcement office at 3300 Main St. may also enjoy the shot above of the flooded pit spotted recently where the Mod office building once stood. Reader Diaspora (who sent in the photo late last week) suggests the site as potential competition for the folks behind the Houston Needs a Swimming Hole campaign, which Kickstartered a feasibility study a few years ago (and also passed around an illustration of an optimistically blue-watered bayouside beachfront, shown below):

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Lakes of Main St.
02/10/17 12:00pm

Downtown Houston Skyline

Sponsoring Swamplot today is Houston’s own Central Bank. Thank you for the continuing 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.

Central Bank believes that change is essential to its success; the company actively pursues the latest in service, technology, and products. Central Bank aims to know its customers personally and to be their primary business and personal financial resource. The bank’s staff values relationships and strives to be available when you need them.

To learn more about how Central Bank can meet your banking needs, please call any of the following Senior Vice Presidents: Kenny Beard, at 832.485.2376; Bonnie Purvis, at 832.485.2354; Gary Noble, at 832.485.2366; or Ryan Tillman, at 832.485.2307. You can also find out more on the bank’s website.

The secret to reaching Swamplot readers? Swamplot’s Sponsor of the Day program. Find out more here

Sponsor of the Day
02/10/17 11:00am

CITY LOSES LATEST APPEAL ON 2010 DRAINAGE FEE ELECTION City of Houston Public Works Project MapThis week the state’s Fourteenth Court of Appeals upheld a 2015 ruling calling for a new election on the ReBuild Houston drainage and road-fixup fee. As in another local case involving charter invalidation and large sums of collected assessment money, the city is mulling over further appeal options, though the case’s last trip to the Texas Supreme Court didn’t go in the city’s favor. The Chronicle‘s Katherine Driessen also writes that the fund’s future is now murky: the decision doesn’t stop the city from collecting the fee for now, since that collection was authorized through another city ordinance — it may, however, remove restrictions on how the money can be used. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Map of past, ongoing, and planned drainage and street projects: ReBuild Houston interactive map

02/10/17 8:30am

castle-court

Photo of Castle Court: Marc Longoria via Swamplot Flickr Pool

Headlines