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.

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03/06/09 3:33pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WELCOME TO WESTWOOD GARDENS “The neighbors are starting to join together to remove the graffiti. Not many kids are on the blocks but they do range in age from babies to happy teens. You can see them outside at times with their parents, riding scooters, riding bikes or just playing around. The neighbors even have indoor small pups, not those that you see on the news that maul on people or those that are seen used to fight. They are small well cared for happy dogs. Never without being on a leash when they are outside. A few neighbors have been seen flying small model airplanes. Everyone is friendly. Try it, if you see any one of the neighbors outside just wave and you will get a smile and a wave back. Hopefully one day we see you, if so Welcome to Westwood Gardens where you are Not just a Neighbor, Your Family!” [We Are Family!, commenting on Westwood Gardens Still Life: A Photo Tour of Half-Built Houston Homes]

01/16/09 10:48am

So where are all the half-built homes? That question, asked by a Swamplot reader last week, prompted a slew of comments from other readers eager to identify pockets and neighborhoods in and around Houston where construction has come to a halt because of problems connected to the nationwide housing-market collapse. (As well as a few where construction stopped for reasons of a more local nature.)

Swamplot reader subprimelandguy suggested looking at Northwest Houston:

You need to go to the suburban areas, particularly the non master planned communities between the Beltway and Highway 6 / 1960. The most aggressive one is actually inside the Beltway near West Road and Gessner - a former Royce Homes (go figure) development called Westwood Gardens. It is a bombed out poster child for the subprime fiasco.

Then late yesterday, subprimelandguy sent in photos!

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