05/13/15 1:30pm

Conrad Sauer Detention Basin, Energy Gateway District, Spring Branch, Houston

Here’s a purty watercolor-filtered drawing that shows how a portion of the concrete-lined Conrad Sauer Detention Basin extending north from the I-10 feeder road between Gessner and Conrad Sauer Dr. is supposed to look after MetroNational and TIRZ 17 upgrade it into a grassy, bike-lane-crossed area with park space that improves on its current ditch functions. It sits directly across the little ol’ Katy Fwy. from MetroNational’s ‘Death Star‘ HQ; the normally secretive company reveals a tiny bit about its plans for the area around the detention basin, lining the northwest corner of Gessner and the outbound I-10 feeder, in a variance application that’s scheduled to be discussed and possibly voted on in a planning commission meeting this Thursday.

MetroNational is calling the cleared 24-acre site (shown below) the Energy Gateway District.

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From the Death Star to You
03/25/15 2:00pm

HOW THE 610 LOOP EARNED ITS PRESTIGE Traffic on West Loop, Galleria, Houston“I’ve heard 610 called a lot of things, but never ‘prestigious,'” writes a Swamplot reader who is curious to learn how the phrase “the prestigious 610 Loop” nevertheless came to appear in Wikipedia — in the entry for Hines’s gated Somerset Green complex, now under construction on 46 acres of an old industrial operation at 7002 Old Katy Rd., just east of the Houston Design Center. Ah, but such is the value of Wikipedia’s references and external links sections: The source of the phrase turns out to be Hines itself. A press release that predates by a couple of years the billboards now seen advertising the 500-home development along a few (less-prestigious, no doubt) Inner Loop highways still bears the implicit declaration in its headline: “Hines to Develop 46-acre Planned Community Inside Houston’s Prestigious 610 Loop.” And so it is. [Wikipedia; press release] Photo of the 610 Loop: PINKÉ (license)

02/12/15 2:45pm

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You might want to grab a spoon to dig into this 2001 neo-Victorian on a big corner lot in the Bellewood (spelled Bellwood in some places) neighborhood of Spring Branch. Its frothy paint pairings with chocolate- or vanilla-stained trim would be right at home in an ice cream shoppe. The pier-and-beam property last changed hands in June 2012, at $765K. Its listing last week has a $1.15 million asking price. There’s an open house scheduled for Sundae afternoon.

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Lots of Lot
01/20/15 4:30pm

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hr3096737-28 at 300Note: The original version of this story misreported the home’s asking price. It is being offered at $749,900.

Blue. Red. Green. Orange. Were it not for the Dublinesque color rotation on the doors of a 4-pack of eco-friendly contemporary homes in Spring Branch’s Melody Oaks neighborhood, might owners accidentally enter the wrong one? Unit 1 — the bluesy one (top) that shores up one end of the lookalikes — is back on the market. Its listing by the owner-agent over the weekend has a $789,900 $749,900 price tag attached. That’s up, uh, somewhat from its purchase price in April 2013: $484,950.

The team at The ODD Group, (aka Open Design &  Development, and including Royce/Eagleton Architects), is behind these “urban cottages” (above) proliferating in a newly minted “pocket community” tagged Janak Place. It’s located north of Westview Dr. between Wirt Rd. and Antoine Dr.

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Urban Cottage Cluster
11/19/14 3:00pm

sueba-1300-n.post-oak-site

1300-n-post-oak-sueba-signcloseup Here is a close-up view of an upcoming apartment complex that eastbound Hwy. 290 travelers might see to the west as they enjoy that new short-cut to I-10. Sueba Development’s Residences at North Post Oak is going up at 1300 N. Post Oak Rd. a little north of Awty International School and a smidge south of the Hempstead Hwy. and the creaky remnants of Northwest Mall. This project is almost catty-corner to another Sueba development — the North Post Oak Lofts, at 1255 N. Post Oak, tucked away behind Prince’s Diner.

A two-story office building and warehouse complex was demolished in 2012 to make way for the project.

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Spring Branch East Redo
11/11/14 11:30am

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Here lie the remains of the New Flea Market, the most recent occupant of a strip mall site at 8315 Long Point Rd. that once was home to the  Spring Branch K-Mart. Workers are scraping an 8-acre parcel of the larger site at the corner of Hillendahl Blvd. to make way for the Village at Spring Branch, a 100-home David Weekley development offering three-story townhouses and garden and patio homes ringing a pool and cabana. Blue-light specials will be offered around $400k; premium buys will go on sale at $700k. Retail — and the tiny, historic Hillendahl Cemetery (captured below in an old photo) — will remain along the Long Point frontage.

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What’s New Is Old
11/06/14 4:00pm

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Supermercado de Walmart, 7690 Long Point Rd., Spring Branch, HoustonHouston’s (and America’s) first Walmart grocery store named and designed to cater to Latinos shut its doors at the end of last week. Supermercado de Walmart opened 5 years ago in Spring Branch in a converted 39,000-square-foot Neighborhood Market-style store at 7960 Long Point Rd., amid a fanfare of mariachi music and a smorgasbord of free food and drink samples. Those days are long gone: A reader sends in a pic (at right) of the far more offhand sign taped to the glass door. 

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Spring Branch Supermarket Shutdown
10/07/14 10:45am

Blalock Woods Apartments, 1111 Blalock Rd., Spring Branch, Houston

Developers have become very interested in Spring Branch, notes a Swamplot tipster. The latest evidence: the recent sale of the Blalock Woods Apartments (pictured above), just north of the Katy-Fwy.-side 99 Ranch Market at 1111 Blalock Rd. The new owner of the townhome-style complex is a group put together by investment and apartment-development firm Stanmore Partners. The property changed hands on October 1st; on the same date, residents of the Spring Branch apartment complex received a brief letter saying Greystar Management Services will be taking over management of all 316 units. The letter didn’t reveal the name of the property’s new owner, and didn’t say anything about shutting down the place, but a source tells Swamplot that no new leases are being written, and that a “departure deadline” of June 2015 is being planned.

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New Homes or Apartments?
10/06/14 1:30pm

iFLY Indoor Skydiving Facility Under Construction, 9540 Katy Fwy., Spring Branch, Houston

A mere half-dozen readers have written Swamplot to ask about this strange multi-story steel-framed structure that’s been going up next to the Lowe’s on I-10 between Blalock and Bunker Hill — or its twin on the site of the former Casa Elena restaurant across the freeway from The Woodlands at 26824 Interstate 45 North. And we’re guessing a few more of you are curious as well, but just haven’t had the time to send in your photos and speculation. Capitalizing on the freeway mystery, the company behind the structure has set up a website at GuessWhatThisIs.com. (With indoor-skydiving facilities in 9 other U.S. cities already, iFLY has been through the drill before.)

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Indoor Skydiving
09/29/14 4:15pm

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Over in the Brighton Place neighborhood in Spring Valley, a 1979 contemporary quietly observed its shift into middle age this year. The property has kept its bones but also updated some of the padding. It’s been listed since mid-September for $729,900.

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Wraparound Pool
09/08/14 1:30pm

2050 Jacquelyn Dr., Hillendahl Acres, Houston

2050 Jacquelyn Dr., Hillendahl Acres, Houston

Or might it be the city’s finest home auto repair garage? It’s all a question of emphasis in this brand-new Hillendahl Acres (just south of Hammerly Blvd., east of Wirt Rd.) residential listing: The car-repair shop, known to customers for more than 20 years as Palm Motor Company, sits in the back of the almost-half-acre lot and has room for more than a dozen neatly parked cars. The home sits nearer to the street and contains 2 bedrooms. All this (minus the cars) could be yours for the $750,000 asking price. Care for a tour?

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Palm Motor and Hearth