Swamplot Street Sleuths: Calling the Kettle

Got an answer to any of these reader questions? Or just want to be a sleuth for Swamplot? Here’s your chance! Add your report in a comment, or send a note to our tipline.

  • Galveston: Watercolor artist Don Springer, who makes a habit of rendering area oddities, wants to know more about the Galveston Kettle House on the San Luis Pass between Pirates Beach and Pirates Beach West he painted a few weekends ago. “I know that it was not the radio station KUFO which once broadcasted from the foot of the Flagship (That flying saucer is now a house on West Beach).” He passes on a story he heard from “credible sources” that the half-water-tower turned house was the home of a landscaper who recently passed away, but asks, “Can you use your unlimited resourses, connections, and talent to determine the history of this landmark before it rolls off into the sunset?” Readers? He’s talking to you.
  • Montrose: Chronicle tech guy Dwight Silverman wants to know what’s going into the building at 1721 Waugh, just south of the Commonwealth split; at about the same time, another Swamplot reader sends us this recent pic of what looks to be a refacing job on the building:


A “before” view, from when the building was on the market, last year:

  • Montrose: Just a half-mile to the south, a reader sends in photos of construction work taking place on California St. “in the previously vacant lot between Waugh and Commonwealth, behind the Westheimer shopping center that includes Radio Shack and Scoot. It appears to be something of substantial size, or they have to put in utilities, because the ground has been dug out several feet deep on a large part of the lot.” The pix:

Yes, that’s everyone’s favorite, the Tremont Tower, in the background of that last photo.

  • Houston Heights: Another reader sends in pix (below) of some of the action on the giant block bounded by Rutland, Nicholson, 25th, and 26th streets: “Neighbors are clueless about all the demolition, digging, hauling at the National Flame and Forge and the Foundation Steel and Wire sites. No sign of soil remediation, so maybe this will be the next Walmart site? Any Swampers know what’s up?”

  • Gulfton: After dropping off some recycling at the Westpark Recycling Center, another reader gets curious about the two “pretty dilapidated” 6-story office buildings with attached parking garages nearby perched on the 59 feeder at 5821 Southwest Fwy. At the top of the western tower is a sign that says “City Mortgage”:

    A google search tells me there was a company called City Mortgage that was defrauding hispanic homeowners through a debt-reduction service. The courts got to them in 2005. Not sure if it’s the same company, but the building stands there, forlorn and rather scary-looking with those mirrored windows.

    Photos taken from the Westpark side:

Painting: Don Springer. Photos: Colliers (1721 Waugh) and Swamplot inbox (all others)

13 Comment

  • Such a nice watercolor!! I keep looking for Alice.

  • The demo permit for the National Flame and Forge site was issued about 10 weeks ago and is getting close to completion. Last I heard (from a builder too small to take advantage), the land is being offered for about $8M (around $30/sf).
    All indications are that Foundation S&W has ceased operations, and the temporary building on the NW corner of 26th and Rutland has a sign on it saying that it’s available, but I haven’t heard anything further.
    And a demo permit was issued today for the HISD building on 17th St.

  • The Montrose building at 1415 California is the new Legacy Community Health Services clinic. The 215 Westheimer and 3311 Richmond clinic operations will be moving into the new building, as well as adding a lot more services. The big hole that was dug is for the elevator. Pictures, progress, and the history of the property can be seen here on the construction blog.

  • The California building is the new Legacy clinic. Gensler did the design, but I’m not sure who is building it.

  • I remember seeing an advertisement for a foreclosure auction featuring those buildings on Westpark. I think it was about a year ago. I remember thinking how ironic it was that a mortgage company’s building would be in foreclosure, so I would like to know the story behind it.
    To me, those buildings appear to be the product of someone who got too wrapped up in the oil boom development hype in the late 1970s. They have always been in a bad location – too far removed from the other suburban office developments in Galleria and Sharpstown. Plus, access from 59 can be difficult. Their fate was sealed when the ’80s oil bust hit and the surrounding Gulfton area rapidly deteriorated.

  • Z and ‘stina, thanks for the info on Legacy.

    It’s good they get to move out of there other two facilities that are getting cramped.

    For those that don’t know, Legacy Community Health Services was and is a leader in HIV/AIDS treatment since the earliest days of the fight.

  • RE the HISD building, demolition has already begun; there was warning tape up about asbestos last week and guys in space suits working there. It was for sale by a commercial real estate company ?last year?

  • A quick HCAD search reveals the owner of the National Flame and Forge (NFF) site to be something called NFF Realty, LLC. Looks like the Burnitt family (NFF owners) have decided to develop the property on their own, or at least sell it on their own. Just a guess.

  • The HISD site was purchased by Sullivan Brothers.

  • RE the HISD site purchase-thanks that’s interesting, and, personally, I like the Sullivan Brothers development up around 24th and Nicholson. Hopefully they will do something similar.

  • I like what the Sullivan Brothers have built in the Heights too. Actually, I like looking at the Sullivan brothers. But I digress…

  • It really would be hilarious and quite karmic if Walmart decided to build right in the middle of the Heights on the old NFF site.

  • My best guess looking at lot maps is that the kettle house is on the lot with the GCAD property ID R122905. The GCAD website gives an owner’s name and address (in Pearland). Maybe Don could verify by writing to the owner, and let us know what he finds out?
    Here’s a Google Maps street view link: http://tinyurl.com/254jmqn