06/05/17 10:15am

That cluster of demo work along Liberty Rd. lately appears to be clearing the way for the boxy flock of yet-unbuilt townhomes drawn out above, one of which is now listed on HAR for a smidge below $270,000. The homes are shown as a set of 12 in the listing, with the development’s baker’s dozen rounded out by a new retail structure filling the southwest quarter of the block. (Not shown: the former Lucky 7 supermarket building at the corner with Des Chaumes St., which went up for lease a couple of times over the past few years.) (Also not shown: the gate around the development, as mentioned in the listing.)

Both the proposed retail spot and the townhomes are shown with rooftop hangout spaces (or at least are described as able to have a rooftop patio added, for a price bump). The homes themselves, the listing also notes, can be tweaked to include a downstairs kitchenette to give them that special Air-BNB flavor.


Popping Up in Fifth Ward
09/09/16 11:15am

Hardy Yards sign, Burnett at Main St., Near Northside, Houston, 77026

Hardy Yards sign, Burnett at Main St., Near Northside, Houston, 77026The letters strung out under the Red Line overpass at Burnett St. and N. Main to label the area as Hardy Yards are now back in place once again, Chris Andrews notes. After a few ups and downs earlier this year the letters were removed altogether for a bit; they’re now back in place, standing on what appear to be some slightly buffed-up legs. The ones shown above are on the north side of Burnett; here’s the southern companion piece, with the stairs leading to the Burnett Transit Center visible on the left:


Knocked Down, But Up Again
04/04/16 10:00am

Hardy Yards sign, Burnett at Main St., Near Northside, Houston, 77026

The recent restoration of the Hardy Yards district sign’s upright stature and youthful good looks appears to have been short-lived — Christopher Andrews found the H sprawled flat on its back over the weekend, with a few of the other letters also looking less than fully vertical in the late-night shot above (peering east down Burnett St. from the corner with N. Main under the light-rail overpass). Metro says it’s on the case, again.

Photo of Hardy Yards signage: Christopher Andrews

N. Main at Burnett
03/30/16 4:30pm

Hardy Yards sign, Burnett at Main St., Near Northside, Houston, 77026

Hardy Yards sign, Burnett at Main St., Near Northside, Houston, 77026

The second A, R, and D of the signage at the intersection of Burnett St. and N. Main are now back in action (up top) beneath the Red Line light-rail overpass. The letters have been patched up and sent back to their assigned places above a freshly-repaired concrete planter, following an unfriendly run-in (or -into) near the end of January (pictured second, with the A dramatically sprawled backward onto the mulch).

The sign, marking the intended redevelopment of the former Hardy Rail Yards into a mixed-use complex in Near Northside, was added as part of the street and infrastructure work that’s been going on at the 43-acre brownfield site. Some of that work is visible in the site plan for the property posted by landscape architecture and planning firm Design Workshop: 


Near Northside
02/03/15 1:15pm



For those who consume real estate like potato chips, here’s a 6-pack of homes in Kashmere Gardens that share a gated driveway on the north side. Identical in design, each home within the complex hit the market last week at $52,600. Although the tenant-occupied properties are located a block and a half south of the East Loop near Lockwood Dr., the banks of Hunting Bayou prevent direct access to the feeder road.


All in a Row
04/15/14 1:15pm

Near Northside Residents Holding Tampico Heights Signs, Houston

A dust-up begun in the comments section of a Houstonia magazine article has blossomed into a mini-campaign to squash a recently coined neighborhood nickname. Two websites have now been created to document the curious internet history surrounding the recent appearance of the name Tampico Heights, and to demonstrate residents’ steadfast opposition to Heights name creep.

“From talking to dozens of Northsiders, it is not a name that anyone has heard used for the neighborhood,” a reader tells Swamplot. So the reader (lightheartedly signing emails as the Tampico Heights Redevelopment Authority) created a timeline site, documenting usage of the term “Tampico Heights” — in a manner that might make the founders of the OED proud — “in hopes that people who write about our neighborhood, or any neighborhood, make a practice of talking to residents, and not inventing things from google searches.”


Battling ‘Heights’ Creep
02/12/13 11:45am

At 2020 Hardy St., this building dates to 1900. Previous owners the Espinosa family managed rental properties from here; it’s also been home to the Monte Carlo Lounge and pool hall and a grocery. The 5,000-sq.-ft. building, lying about 2 miles north of Downtown in the Fifth Ward, was bought in early January by 2011 Good Brick Award winners David and Bennie Flores Ansell, who have spent the past month sweeping and clearing out the interior — which came to them unbidden with cases of unopened tostadas, garbage bags of discarded mail, shelves stocked with ’80s perfume, sunglasses, and self-help videos, broken billiards trophies with tattered replica baize, etc. They hope to have the building transformed into offices and apartments by this summer.


01/24/12 10:23am

WHAT LURKS INSIDE THAT SCARY, SCARY HOUSE ON ELYSIAN ST. Oh, what will they think of next to scare you away from the Fifth Ward? “I thought I read something odd” while driving by the “abandoned mess” at 1919 Elysian St. north of Lorraine St., reports reader Robert Searcy, who sent in these pix. “So I had to circle the block to see if what I thought I read was really what I read . . .” [Swamplot inbox] Photos: Robert Searcy

09/12/11 12:04pm

Something was missing, it turns out, in this brand-new home Mayor Parker turned over to Mary Porras in a “housewarming” ceremony on August 4th. Built by a contractor hired by the city, the single-story replacement house at 4005 Lila St. in the Fifth Ward had no insulation, an inspector from the state’s General Land Office discovered about a week later — after Porras had already moved in.


10/28/10 2:12pm

Budget considerations ended up cutting the number of floors in the new ambulatory care center the Harris County Hospital District is about to build at its LBJ General Hospital campus north of 610, but the district is still calling the planned 3-story building a tower. A groundbreaking ceremony for the Ambulatory Care Tower (the low building shown in the center of the rendering above), a single-story connecting building that will link it to the existing hospital, and a similarly towering 3-story parking garage took place yesterday at 5656 Kelley St. on land owned by the district, portions of it the site of condemned housing lots.

Also claiming tower status, but with the extra credentials of 2 additional floors (with what looks like a little elevator cap at one end for good measure): the separate Ambulatory Care Tower the district is building on a former surface parking lot next to the hospital administration building at 2525 Holly Hall west of Almeda, closer to the Texas Medical Center. That building (pictured below) will house specialty clinics now located at Ben Taub as well as a radiation therapy center. A new 9-level parking garage serving both buildings opened last month:


05/03/10 9:37am

CASH FOR KASHMERE GARDENS A few residents of Kashmere Gardens are fighting Harris County Flood Control District plans to buy and demolish 40 homes in the upper Fifth Ward neighborhood: “The $175 million Project Hunting will widen and deepen a half-mile stretch of the bayou and create a 75-acre stormwater detention basin. The district plan purports to remove 5,000 homes from a 100-year flood plain. The engineer-speak means those homes currently face a 1 percent chance of flooding each year. The 1 percent happened to at least some neighborhood homes during Allison and Hurricane Ike. It also happened, according to district information, in 1979. And 1980. Again in 1983. And again in 1989, 1993, 1994, 1997, 1998, 2006 and 2007. But a group of holdouts does not believe that. Their homes flooded only during Allison, they said. The real numbers the district is acting on have dollar signs in front of them, residents said. Houses in their neighborhood can sell for as little as $30,000. ‘(The district) wants to go cheap because they consider Kashmere Gardens as poor, poor people,’ neighborhood resident Deborah Butler said. District officials insist the buyouts are about protecting residents, not cutting corners.” [Houston Chronicle; map]

02/10/10 11:04am

More than 700 of the abandoned or problem properties documented and written up by the Houston Police Dept.’s Neighborhood Protection Corps over the last 3 years belong either to the City of Houston or Harris County agencies, reports 11 News reporter Jeremy Rogalski. Approximately half of those properties are located in 4 not-so-fancy Zip Codes — 77016, 77026, 77028, and 77051 — three of which are in the northeast area of the city.

One piece of the problem: those tax-delinquent properties the county puts up for public auction:

. . . if they don’t sell, it becomes the county’s obligation to maintain them. But [Harris County Facilities & Property Management Chief Administrative Manager Jim] Lemond admits, the county can’t even check them all.

“We have two inspectors whose primary function is to do many other things and not this,” Lemond said.

As for the violations the city writes, there’s another problem: The county claims for years, the city never told it about the violations.

“No that’s not acceptable. Obviously that’s not acceptable,” Lemond said.

He added that his office was puzzled when the city did send over a packet of violation notices in June 2009.

“What are these, and where did they come from and what’s this all about,” Lemond recalled of his reaction.

But Montecella Flaniken, Assistant Director of Field Operations with Neighborhood Protection Corps, maintains the city had been routinely e-mailing the county of violations all along.

Graphic: KHOU.com

11/19/09 12:49pm

THIS TIME, FOR THE DEVELOPERS Two proposals out of Mayor White’s office earlier this year — one to pay down the consumer debt of homebuyers, the other to give $5,000 bonuses to Realtors representing buyers in 8 revitalization areas — didn’t get very far. But City Council approved the latest version yesterday: $620,000 in construction subsidies from the TIRZ Affordable Housing Fund for 10 homes — 4 in Trinity Gardens and 6 in the Fourth Ward. The participating builders and CDCs are to be chosen by the city’s Housing and Community Development Director. “The developers may sell the homes after they are used for at least a year as models, but the net proceeds must be reinvested in the same community.” [Houston Chronicle, via Swamplot inbox; details on page 200 here (PDF)]