12/11/18 10:45am

A Swamplot reader writes in to report that the JCI Grill across I-45 from the Home Depot near Gulfgate Mall is now closed. No need to get too close in order to tell; the electronic sign fronting the feeder road gets the message across to highway drivers as shown above. Behind it, you can see the new ramp TxDOT’s been working on to connect 610 eastbound to I-45 northbound — as well as the shadow it’s cast on the restaurant’s parking lot.

A flyer posted on the building says the construction was in part what inspired the closure:

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The Dog Days Are Over
08/30/17 4:45pm

HOW IT LOOKS FROM THE DRY SIDE OF THE BAYOU Chronicle features editor Lisa Gray says her Meadowcreek Village home escaped water damage during the flood, but it was close — and many others weren’t so lucky: “Berry Bayou — the middle of which forms my back property line,” she writes, “received more than 45 in. I’ve seen it in national weather-nerd articles where people are marveling how fast a bayou can rise. My husband says we were half an inch away from the bayou coming out of its bank in our back yard. He sent a graph, showing that on Saturday night, at the monitor I can see from my back yard, it was literally at bank level. But the water broke first on the other bank, into the yard of one of my favorite people in the neighborhood, and up and down the yards on that side. Lots of houses flooded. ‘Dry privilege’: That’s the headline of the essay I ought to write.” [Previously on SwamplotGraph of Berry Bayou water levels at Forest Oaks Blvd. on August 26th and 27th: Harris County Flood Control District

03/10/17 11:15am

Meadowcreek Park Basketball Pavilion, 5333 Berry Creek Dr., Meadowcreek Village, Houston, 77017

Demolition of Meadowcreek Park Basketball Pavilion, 5333 Berry Creek Dr., Meadowcreek Village, HoustonThe arched pavilion in Meadowcreek Park that was knocked down in 2015 has officially been replaced, after a few years of neighborhood-city back-and-forth to push for the new structure’s design to look a lot more like the old one. The court, pictured up top complete except for the addition of the hoops and backboards to the posts at the opposing ends, got a ceremonial fabric snipping yesterday evening, Lauren Meyers tells Swamplot. This version of the structure appears to lack the thin vertical bars that closed off one side of the original, as visible both in the mid-act demolition portrait above and in this shot from the 1970s: 

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What’s Old is New Again
02/08/17 5:00pm

3003 Dover St., Berry Court, Houston, 770173003 Dover St., Berry Court, Houston, 77017

Technically, that’s just $499,423, cash sale, only — but you get the idea. The former Monta Beach Boy Scout Lodge at 3003 Dover St. was build in 1937 and converted into a 2-bedroom house in the early 1950s. The 1,400-sq.-ft. home sits a few blocks from the east-facing armpit of I-45 South and the 610 Loop, on a 21,600-sq.-ft. property backed up against a drainage channel leading to Sims Bayou. The home was featured by the Chronicle in 2007, after the current owner (turned current listing agent) redid the wiring and chinking between logs; that article is now featured prominently in the listing, too, with a few other write-ups:

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Pining Near Sims Bayou
12/05/16 2:30pm

8153 River Dr., Park Place, Houston, 77017

8153 River Dr., Park Place, Houston, 77017A few readers were curious about the detached backyard room densely strewn with drawings of clowns and other cartoonish figures that made an appearance as Swamplot’s Home Listing Photo of the Day late last month. If you were waiting for more info on the property to make an offer, you’re too late — the place is already listed as under contract, along with the interior furnishings. Here’s a few more shots of the leftover memorabilia in the space, formerly known as Tootsie’s Birthday Hut:

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Hanging Around Out Back
11/10/16 5:15pm

Meadowcreek Village Park, Houston, TX 77017
Meadowcreek Village Park old pavilion structure

Members of the area civic club send some shots of the now-demolished basketball pavilion and its under-construction replacement at Meadowcreek Village Park, off Forest Oaks Dr. south of Patterson Elementary. The arched structure shown above, designed in 1961 by partial River Oaks Shopping Center architect R.H Brogniez, was originally constructed from wood (which got some repairs and lamination in 1997, but was in pretty bad shape by the court’s closure in 2014).

The city initially planned to replace the structure with something else, but received a string of requests from neighborhood residents to keep and repair the original design. Instead, the replacement pavilion (designed by M2l Architects) will look a lot like the original, but done in steel:

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Mod Sports Court Redo
08/19/16 1:15pm

LyondellBasell flare plume on August 18, 12000 Lawndale St., Pasadena, Houston, 77017

Yesterday’s entry in Houston’s recurring game of what’s-that-mysterious-black-cloud was brought to you by LyondellBasell’s Pasadena refinery at 12000 Lawndale St. (the same one that caught fire back in early April). The shot above was taken from an overpass near the junction of Loop 610 with Hwy. 225, though for parts of the afternoon the trail was visible from at least 7 miles away at the Hilton Americas building downtown. A LyondellBasell spokesperson tells Swamplot that flaring was triggered just before noon after a Calpine facility sending steam to the refinery lost power, reportedly due to a lightning strike. The company sent a message to the East Harris County Manufacturer’s Association’s emergency response info hotline stating that observers “may notice a bright orange flame, black smoke or a rumbling noise,” but that it was no big deal, and no one in nextdoor Manchester or Deer Park needed to do anything like leave or tape their windows shut this time.

Photo: Michael Muguerza via t.e.j.a.s.

Pasadena Smoke Signals
04/08/16 3:15pm

Fire at LyondellBassell Refinery, 12000 Lawndale St., Houston, 77017

News choppers milling around the LyondellBasell refinery at 12000 Lawndale St. this morning, just west of the 610 bridge over the Ship Channel, caught some shots of billowing black smoke and flames at the facility, which have since been put out. The company reports that heavy fuel oil and cleaning fluids burned after a Coker unit caught fire around 10AM for reasons yet unknown.  The Houston fire department suggested until about 11:15 that folks please stay indoors and try not to let in any fumes in nextdoor Manchester, as well as south and west as far as Park Place Blvd. and Broadway St.; students at nearby Chavez High, Deady Middle School, and Rucker Elementary were also included in the shelter-in-place fun.

After burning for about 2 hours, the fire was put out just before noon — not nearly as speedily as yesterday’s fire at the ExxonMobil refinery in Baytown, which started around 4:40PM and was out by just after 5. That fire’s cause is also unknown; no injuries were reported in either incident.

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Booming on the Ship Channel
01/13/16 4:00pm

Renderings of Houston Botanic Garden at Glenbrook Park Golf Course, Glenbrook Valley, Houston, 77017

Bright and shiny renderings from the recently-released master plan for the Houston Botanic Garden show that design firm West 8 is aware of the challenges involved in straddling a world-class park across Sims Bayou, on the site of Glenbrook Park Golf Course just across I-45 north of Hobby Airport.  The Dutch firm, known internationally for unusual bridges and unconventional landscape design, has planned for many of the Garden’s displays to flood at will; the shores of Sims Bayou on the Garden’s property will also be resculpted. And to combat Houston’s just-shy-of-year-round heat, shade trees would be preserved or planted throughout the park, including the towering cypresses depicted in the bayou-side wetland gardens shown above (parts of which will be explorable by kayak).

Meanwhile, the more formal garden spaces planned for the park are shown with their own built-in shade (complete with custom ceiling fans): Colonnade structures (like the ones picture below) will ring each of the major collection gardens, which are designed to be “entered, enjoyed, and contemplated from the comfort of the shaded perimeter”:

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Glenbrook Valley Garden
01/13/16 10:00am

Renderings of Houston Botanic Garden at Glenbrook Park Golf Course, Glenbrook Park, Houston, 77017

Now available: Dutch landscaping and design firm West 8’s master plan for the Houston Botanic Garden, complete with preliminary renderings of the future-former Glenbrook Park Golf Course (south of Park Place Blvd between I-45 and Galveston Rd.). The drawings include details of the so-called Botanical Mile walk-and-drive-way (shown above posing in Downward Dog over Sims Bayou): an arboreal bridge along the single-file parade of exotic trees is intended by the designers to serve as a new symbol for the city of Houston, better known currently for its general aversion to being outdoors.

According to the master plan document, the Botanical Mile will stretch along the western side of the garden and serve as the main entrance: visitors will enter the park from Park Place Blvd. and drive the length of the property to the parking lots, in the process crossing onto and back off of the large island created by a meandering limb of Sims Bayou:

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Rooting Over Glenbrook Valley
01/04/16 10:15am

Glenbrook Golf Course, 8205 N Bayou Dr., Meadowbrook, Houston, 77017

As the clock ticked over into 2016, Houston Botanic Garden and the Houston Golf Association each had something else to celebrate: both groups met end-of-year 5-million-dollar fundraising goals required by agreements with the City to carry forward their respective plans for 2 east Houston golf courses. The golfers raised enough money to move forward with preservation and renovation of Gus Wortham Golf Course, at 7000 Capitol street (south of the Houston Ship Channel Turning Basin, where Wayside meets Polk). Houston Botanic Garden had initially pushed to add some color to the oldest greens in Texas and redevelop the Brays-Bayou-side space as a public garden.

That garden is now planned instead for above-pictured Glenbrook Golf Course, a semi-maintained set of greens-turned-greenspace along Sims Bayou north of 45 from Hobby Airport (just outside the southeast corner of the Loop).

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Teeing Off in East Houston
06/03/15 2:00pm

Demolition of Meadowcreek Park Basketball Pavilion, 5333 Berry Creek Dr., Meadowcreek Village, Houston

Crews tore down the Mod basketball pavilion in Meadowcreek Park on Monday. Its structure had been declared unsafe last August. The pavilion and community center at 5333 Berry Creek Dr. were built in 1961, following a design by Raymond Brogniez — the architect of the River Oaks-Lamar Shopping Center and the Sylvan Beach Pavilion.

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Coming Back in Steel
01/21/15 12:00pm

CITY COUNCIL APPROVES BOTANICAL GARDEN ON GLENBROOK PARK GOLF COURSE, GUS WORTHAM COURSE RENOVATIONS Glenbrook Park Golf Course, 8205 N. Bayou Dr., HoustonCity council voted unanimously this morning to give the go-ahead to plans to renovate the Gus Wortham Golf Course north of Idylwood, and allow the group that had previously attempted to turn that location into a botanical garden to develop a facility instead on the current site of the 18-hole Glenbrook Park Golf Course, along Sims Bayou on the north side of the Gulf Fwy. south of Loop 610. The long-term lease agreements are victories for the operating organizations behind both efforts, but the garden group clearly got its second choice; an Inner Loop garden on site of the oldest golf course in Texas would have had better access to public transportation including the new light-rail line, and would have been surrounded by less freeway noise. If the Houston Golf Association fails to raise $5 million for the Gus Wortham redo before the end of this year, it’s possible the split could be rejiggered; the Houston Botanic Garden Board is being given until the end of 2017 to raise $20 million for its efforts. [Previously on Swamplot] Photo of Glenbrook Park Golf Course: Houston Golf Nut

01/05/15 12:15pm

2042 Forest Oaks Dr., Meadowcreek Village, Houston

2042 Forest Oaks Dr., Meadowcreek Village, Houston

Juxtaposed “before” and “after” pics (recreated above) of the 1963 used-to-be-Mod house at 2042 Forest Oaks Dr. in Meadowcreek Village have garnered a mere 1002 comments (so far) on a Facebook Mid Century Modern fan page. Many of the comments decry the roofing and landscaping changes made to the home, explaining that the renovator doesn’t appear to “get” the style of the original. Others wonder whether some sort of Photoshop trickery might be involved. But a few commenters note that the home, whose Houston Mod open house was featured on Swamplot in 2012, was a foreclosure, that many of its modern features had been altered before its most recent sale, or that the 4-bedroom, 3-bath, 2,650-sq.-ft. home appears to be much more livable in its current state.

Unfortunately, the earlier listing included only a few additional photos, making direct before-and-after comparisons of the extensive changes made to the home’s interior — including the addition of laminate floors and granite countertops — difficult. The home was listed for sale in mid-December for $210,861. Pre-renovation, it sold in March of 2013 for $78,000.

Remuddling