07/27/10 11:42am

WHERE THE ROYCE LAND WENT The Bryan farm-lending coop that ended up with 618 acres near Tomball after the collapse of Royce Builders has finally sold the property — to the Caldwell Companies, a land development and investment firm. Royce had planned 1,261 home lots in Cypress Lake Crossing, which is northeast of the intersection of Telge Rd. and Boudreaux and only a couple miles north of the sprawling Cypress home of former Royce president John Speer. (Speer’s Royce-built compound off Telge Rd., pictured above, now serves as the home address of one of his new ventures, Vestalia Homes.) “Bill Heavin, a land broker at Grubb & Ellis Co., says Royce Homes had completed quite a bit of development work on the tract, such as soil and water testing and the establishment of Harris County Municipal Utility District #416. Royce Homes began seeking an investor or joint venture partner on the large tract in late 2006 or early 2007. . . . the asking price was $30,000 an acre, or $18.5 million.” [Houston Business Journal; previously on Swamplot]

11/24/09 11:32am

Channel 2 investigative reporter Amy Davis sends a KPRC newschopper to buzz the 80-acre Cypress party pad estate of former Royce Builders president John Speer. More than a year after we featured the innumerable builder upgrades of that Mack-Daddy mansion on Swamplot, it’s still sitting on the market — for the same $9.8 million.

Meanwhile, less than a mile to the west, sales aren’t going so well either in former Royce Homes subdivision Grant Meadows:

“Houses are in disrepair. Fences are in disrepair,” explained homeowner Matt Adams. “The whole neighborhood’s been left in ruins.” . . .

Royce stopped paying the bill for the street lights in Grant Meadows in July 2008.

Reliant recently switched them off, and told homeowners they must pay the $14,000 owed before they can turn them back on.

“It’s pitch black out here at night,” said homeowner Evit Byrd, who planned to retire in Grant Meadows with his wife. “You can’t see anything.”

But there’s some good news: Speer has been building again! His new company, Vestalia Homes, which Speer founded 3 weeks after he closed down Royce, is busy constructing and selling homes a little closer to FM 1960, in a subdivision called the Lakes of Cypress Forest.


01/19/09 11:01am

Nothing new this time; Swamplot’s latest Openings and Closings report is just a list of old places going away:

  • Going: There’s nobody home at Washington Ave. coffeehouse The Daily Grind, reports Jason Bargas at Houstonist:

    A peek through a window facing the parking lot yielded a dining area devoid of tables. The cash register was no longer on the corner of the bar yet a ceiling fan twirled overhead. An industrial looking extension cord hung from the rafters perhaps indicating an intention to use power tools. But, no signs or bulletins indicated a remodel in progress nor a closing of the business.

    Signs or no, the restaurant’s most recent spate of online publicity renders a closing less than surprising. One comment on the Houstonist post notes a rumor that the coffeehouse will be reopening “next to Rudyard’s.”

  • Going: A poster on HAIF notes that the On the Border restaurant on the feeder road of the Northwest Freeway in Cypress appears to be toast: “Lights out, nobody home.”
  • Gone: And there will be no more Frock shopping: The Frock Boutique on Greenbriar near Westheimer closed late last year, but owner Marianne Mayeux says she will come to you.

Got the scoop on other retail openings or closings in your area? Send your tips to Swamplot!

Photo of The Daily Grind: Katharine Shilcutt Gleave