- 15807 Seven Springs Dr. [HAR]
HERE COME THE HARVEY LOW BALLERS Outsiders moving into town to buy up homes from distressed owners for pennies on the dollar in the wake of local catastrophe is a proud and longstanding Houston tradition: It keeps the city’s reputation for real-estate shenanigans intact, even as oldtimers mellow. It’s how Sir Allen Stanford got his illustrious start! Plus: Investments that must be recouped can help keep zombie neighborhoods that maybe-shouldn’t-have-been-built-there-or-that-way-in-the-first-place alive. But you don’t have to be a wet-carpetbagger to get in on the fun: Reporter Prashant Gopal heads to the Redneck Country Club on Airport Blvd. in Stafford for a well-attended pep talk by local trashed-home recycler Eddie Gant, then follows local real-estate agent Bryan Schild as he drives through neighborhoods looking for deals: “One of Schild’s prospects is Joseph Hernandez, a disabled U.S. Army veteran married to a housekeeper. The couple are living in a hotel and saving money by eating only two meals a day. Schild has made them a painful offer. If they walk away from their two-bedroom house, worth $127,000 before Hurricane Harvey, Schild will pick up the mortgage payments, paying nothing else. Although he says he sympathizes with the Hernandezes’ plight, he thinks the offer is fair because he figures the home is now worth less than its $65,000 mortgage. Hernandez is in a bind. He didn’t buy flood insurance because his house wasn’t in a high-risk area. He can’t afford to rebuild, and he’s been told he’s eligible for only $23,000 in federal assistance. If he turns over the deed, he’s looking at losing the entire $60,000 in equity he had before the flood. ‘It’s blurry, what’s coming,’ he says. ‘We’ll probably have to sell to an investor, and that’s not good. We were forced out.’” [Bloomberg BusinessWeek] Photo of Hernandez’s home in Bear Creek Village, before it flooded: HAR
STUFF YOU PROBABLY SHOULD KNOW ABOUT THE ADDICKS AND BARKER RESERVOIRS Lived in Houston for years but still coming up to speed on how the Addicks and Barker dams are supposed to work — just as the reservoirs reach to their highest-ever levels? This brief explainer from Kiah Collier and Neena Satija of The Texas Tribune Al Shaw and Lisa Song of ProPublica should overfill you with info: “As of now, the Army Corps says there’s enough excess water in the reservoirs that some of it will flow around (not overtop) these auxiliary spillways. . . . The Army Corps can’t say exactly what areas might experience additional flooding, but local officials listed 53 subdivisions in the Addicks watershed and 40 in the Barker watershed (shown in brown in the map above) at high risk of flooding. Jeremy Justice, a hydrologic analyst at the Harris County Flood Control District, said two subdivisions near the Addicks reservoir—Twin Lakes and Lakes On Eldridge—are particularly vulnerable to flooding from the Addicks spillway. Those homes ‘probably should never have been put there,‘ he said.” Thousands of homes around the reservoirs have now flooded — some because they’re close to rising bayous, and some because of bad neighborhood drainage, they write. “But many are flooding because they are in an area that the Army Corps actually considers to be inside the reservoirs. (See map.)” [Texas Tribune; ProPublica version with links; previously on Swamplot] Map: ProPublica
A reader caught the view above during a lunchtime bike ride into the Barker reservoir yesterday. The shot shows the nearly submerged stop signs on the currently-closed road barricade where Barker Clodine Rd. merges into the hike-and-bike trail system running throughout much of the reservoir (which stretches between I-10 and the Westpark Tollway just west of Hwy. 6). The Corps of Engineers has been releasing water from both Barker dam and its sister reservoir Addicks across I-10 since Thursday — but the level behind the dams continued to rise for a few days as additional water drained into the basins from the surrounding watersheds, faster than that water could be safely released downstream into Buffalo Bayou.
Both Barker and Addicks reservoirs’ levels finally began dropping on Saturday — though both started filling again briefly on Sunday as water from later-in-the-week storms trickled east from the surrounding watersheds. Below is an up-to-date look at Barker reservoir’s change in storage since the Tax Day flood, per USGS measurements:
The Army Corps of Engineers will begin releasing water from the Addicks and Barker dams later this evening; nonetheless, water levels in the reservoirs are still expected to rise high enough to cause street flooding in the Bear Creek subdivision north of Clay Rd. The Corps also notes that nearby residential areas should anticipate that wildlife inhabiting approximately 26,000 acres of forested land in the 2 reservoirs may flee the rising water and enter nearby neighborhoods. That wildlife may include the feral pigs previously targeted by Harris County Precinct 3’s trapping-and-foodbanking program; sightings of animals such as deer, coyotes, and bobcats have also been reported in the reservoirs.
Harris County Flood Control District has published a list of streets that could be impassible for days or weeks due to flooding, as well as a few maps (one of which is shown above). Here’s the other map below, highlighting in pink the streets south of Addicks Satsuma Rd. and Langham Creek expected to get water when the level in Addicks reaches 103 feet:
12 hours after the Courtyard by Marriott under construction at the corner of Park Row and Barker Cypress burst into flames, fire crews are still dumping water on the building, a reader reports. Here’s a post-conflagration view of the soaking going on at Texas Western Hospitality’s hotel project. The 135-room, 4-story hotel on a 5.2-acre site at 18010 Park Row Dr., next door to the West Campus of Texas Children’s Hospital, had been scheduled to open in October. No injuries have been reported.
Photo: Brian Walz
And now, a new 5-story apartment complex that’s outstanding in its field. Which is directly across I-10 from BP headquarters, and just south of the Addicks Reservoir. The reader who sent in this photo (showing the building at 13710 Park Row Dr. right in the center of the image) dubs it “Houston’s loneliest apartment complex.” But not for long — right?
There’s a rather bold new plan for 2 of the Houston area’s major parkland reserves hiding in an image included in an almost-final draft of the West Houston Mobility Plan being prepared by the Houston-Galveston Area Council for submission to TxDOT. A new roadway connecting Briar Forest Dr. to Highland Knolls Dr. through the heart of 7,800-acre George Bush Park is shown in a proposed major-thoroughfare plan for the area. (See segments in blue in image above.) A segment of Baker Rd. is also shown linking to the new parkway. And north of I-10, a similar major roadway is seen connecting Hammerly Rd. to Patterson Rd. — through the Addicks Reservoir.
What’s there to say, really, about this 1979 snout-front home in almost-to-Katy Westlake Forest — beyond the sort things any visitor would notice? That the single-story 4-bedroom, 2-bath, 1,944-sq.-ft. home is well-appointed? Well-watered? Or well, absolutely stuffed with greenery? It went up for sale last week for $135,000. But is the home’s interior landscaping included?