HOUSING AUTHORITY: OUR FLOODED CLAYTON HOMES DEVELOPMENT WAS GOING TO BE DEMOLISHED ANYWAY A new statement from the Houston Housing Authority provides a little more background on its decision to demolish 112 of the 296 units at the authority’s Clayton Homes low-income housing neighborhood just east of Hwy 59 at the northern tip of EaDo. The homes were deemed “uninhabitable” after flooding from Hurricane Harvey triggered mold and other health concerns: “HHA decided demolition was the best course of action for the damaged units since the entire property is located on land acquired by eminent domain and will face eventual demolition for TxDOT’s I-45 freeway extension. When the remainder of Clayton units are demolished in a few years, the remaining residents will either be relocated to another public housing unit or receive HCVs.” Housing Choice (formerly Section 8) Vouchers — along with moving assistance and payments — are also being provided to residents of 82 out of the 100 units at another Housing Authority development, Forest Green Townhomes at 8945 Forest Hollow St. in northeast Houston, which the authority today announced had also been rendered unlivable by the storm. [Houston Housing Authority; previously on Swamplot] Photo of pre-Harvey Forest Green Townhomes: Forest Green
HOUSING AUTHORITY READY TO DEMOLISH MORE THAN A THIRD OF CLAYTON HOMES AFTER HARVEY FLOODING 112 of the 296 apartments at Clayton Homes have been deemed “uninhabitable” by its owner, the Houston Housing Authority, which is now seeking to demolish them. The affordable-housing complex tucked between Hwy. 59 and Buffalo Bayou north of Runnels St. in the northwest corner of the East End was flooded after Hurricane Harvey; subsequent investigations conducted by local researchers led by the New York Times and by the authority found numerous health and safety problems in the residences, including festering mold and high levels of E. coli. Submitting a demolition request for those units allowed the authority to receive and distribute “tenant protection vouchers” that will allow their residents to relocate to any voucher-accepting unit in the city, a spokesperson for the agency says: “Since Hurricane Harvey caused extensive damage to many of HHA’s public housing properties, housing options within HHA’s public housing program are now exhausted, which is why residents are receiving vouchers.” The agency says it is also helping Clayton Homes residents not eligible for the vouchers as well to find new homes — with relocation assistance services and one-time payments — and that it is refunding rents collected for periods when homes in the complex were uninhabitable. Photo: Apartments.com
The partially ruined former Jefferson Davis Hospital nurses quarters at 1225 Elder St. — until very recently in the running for a spot on the National Register of Historic Places — was recommended for demolition at last week’s Harris County Commissioner’s Court meeting following a public hearing the day before. The building, tucked west of the elevated freeway tangle where I-45 splits from I-10 near Downtown, would have joined the nextdoor former Jefferson Davis Hospital itself on the historic registry — instead, it looks like the structure will finally meet meet the ‘dozers after its long slow decline, accelerated by damage from a fire in 2013 that lead to last year’s semi-collapse.
Next door, the 4-story hospital structure (built in 1924, and replaced by 1938 with another Jefferson Davis Hospital where the Federal Reserve building now stands on Allen Pkwy.) cycled through various modes of use and disuse until its early 2000’s restoration into the Elder Street Artist Lofts, which serve as low-rent apartments and studios for artsy types. That redevelopment, of course, involved carefully digging around the dozens of unmarked graves turned up on the surrounding land, which beginning in 1840 had served as the second city cemetery (and as the final resting place for a hodgepodge likely including Confederate soldiers, former slaves, victims of the 1860s yellow fever epidemics, people who died in duels, Masons, and a variety of others). The hospital’s name is still carved above the lofts’ entrance:
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First Ward Fire Damage by HFD
COMMENT OF THE DAY: FOR WHOM THE TRAIN ROLLS “. . . The few large cities that you’re referring to, where central living expenses are far higher than Houston, all provide far more extensive mass transit options. I know I have multiple transit options after midnight in other large cities — not so for Houston. For those without reliable transportation and non-office hours, the availability of Park and Rides does not solve or address accessibility issues.” [joel, commenting on Grand Central Park’s Official Debut; Houston’s Not All Sprawl] Illustration: Lulu
WOULD IT BE EASIER TO BRING THE ‘HIGH OPPORTUNITY’ AREAS TO THE AFFORDABLE HOUSING, INSTEAD? Yesterday Mayor Turner announced a few more details of a plan to redirect federal and local money toward some of the city’s low-investment areas, starting with Acres Homes, Gulfton, Second Ward, Northside Village and Third Ward, writes Rebecca Elliott for the Chronicle. The “Complete Communities” plan, Elliott notes, was mentioned in the city’s response to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which sent the city a letter in January finding that the nixing of that Briargrove mixed-income housing project was racially motivated. That letter instructed the city to move forward after all with the cancelled project (or one like it, in a different ‘high opportunity census tract’). A city lawyer wrote back, telling HUD that part of Houston’s plan to address the Department’s concerns is to “transform previously neglected neighborhoods into neighborhoods HUD would define as ‘high opportunity.’” Yesterday’s details didn’t include a price tag or timeline; Turner did mention possible partnerships with private groups and developers. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Image of previously proposed apartments at 2640 Fountainview Dr.: Houston Housing Authority
Bethany United Methodist Church recently posted some FAQs and answers about its plans to put a senior living development on its property, a reader in the area tells Swamplot. The land is south of the intersection of Linkwood and Bevlyn drives, and may be one of the 4 potential adult active-living housing projects Stream Realty mentioned to Paul Takahashi back in April, as the church’s website says the project’s developer is currently working on the Solea Copperfield senior living complex in Northwest Houston (just south of Birkes Elementary on Queenston Blvd.). The website also notes that 51 of the 101 living units would be rented out to folks with a household income between 33,000 and 45,000 at below-market rates.
The church’s main entrance is about a third of a mile from that set of lots stretching from Buffalo Spdwy. to Main St. where some stirrings were seen in July; a drawing submitted as part of a variance request put in for that land calls that project Traditions Buffalo Speedway Senior:
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Plans Maturing in Braeswood Place
Update, 7/20: The renderings and description have been removed from both LAI’s website and the online portfolio website where they were previously displayed. At the request of the architect, Swamplot has removed the images as well; this article has been updated.
A glassy sphere shown in a rendering
currently previously displayed on the website of Colorado-based LAI Design Group looked to be part of a design for a nonprofit workspace and affordable housing thinktank called the Coleman Global Center. An attached description of the project doesn’t didn’t specifically identify the location of the rendering (beyond noting that project is “in Houston”). But another rendered view of the project (posted to porfolio site Behance) showed the bubble right across Dowling St. from the almost-finished new community center at Emancipation Park (and its easy-to-identify reflection pool) at the corner with Elgin. And Leah Binkovitz’s May interview with state representative Garnet Coleman and a set of collaborating Third Ward nonprofit directors ambiguously highlights that particular corner as playing an important role in plans to shift how gentrification unfolds in the neighborhood.
Compare the rendering below (which shows the bubble building in place) to architect Phil Frelon’s angled aerial rendering of Emancipation Park (included further below):
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Lovett has been dropping a few crumbs regarding the selection of restaurants and shops that will fringe the parking lot of the retail development planned for the former Fingers Furniture warehouse site on Cullen Blvd., across I-45 from the University of Houston’s main campus. No anchor tenant for the site has officially named (though talk of Walmart has made its way to several tipsters in the Eastwood Civic Association this spring, along with assurances that the marker memorializing the former site of Buffalo Stadium’s home plate will likely be preserved).
A site plan from December (shown above, with north angled roughly toward the top right corner) shows several pad sites along the feeder road marked up as QSR (presumably Quick Service Restaurant). A later sketch now up on Lovett’s website as well adds more clues, however — including a cryptic label on what could be the first Starbucks to venture into the East End:
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Cullen at I-45
A teaser website is now up and more work is underway on the Residences at Hardy Yards, touted as a component of the Near Northside’s very first mixed-use development. The apartments — “part of a comprehensive, mixed-use redevelopment of the Hardy Rail Yard site,” per city documents — are going in on 5 acres of the long-neglected former Southern Pacific and Union Pacific rail yard near the corner of N. Main St. and Burnett St., 2 blocks north of I-10, hard by the new MetroRail line, and just east of UH-Downtown.
Earlier this month City Council approved a performance-based loan of $14,500,000 in federal hurricane relief money to the Houston and Financing Corporation-created entity HY FS LLC to build a 350-residential unit development on part of the 49-acre recently guerrilla-gardened property.
One condition of the loan: that 179 of the total of 350 one- and 2-bedroom units be affordable:
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Tracks To Flats
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)]
One day before an exhibition of design-competition entries at the Architecture Center Houston Downtown closed last month, the Rice Design Alliance and the Houston chapter of the AIA held a groundbreaking ceremony at 4015 Jewel St. in the Fifth Ward. The winning entry of the $99K House Competition, designed by Seattle architecture firm Hybrid/ORA, will be built on that site by contractor D.H. Harvey and sold or auctioned through the Tejano Community Center.
The competition, held early this year, was meant to produce a prototype for “sustainable, affordable” homes of 1,400 sq. ft. or less that could be built on lots made available through the city’s Land Assemblage Redevelopment Authority. The Jewel St. site was donated by LARA.
The exhibition featured 66 selected entries to the competition, out of a total of 184 submitted. Images of those entries are included in the exhibition catalog.
Swamplot featured one kudzu-wrapped competition entry back in February. Beginning tomorrow, we’ll feature a few other entries received in response to a general request for Swamplot-ready versions recently sent to the participant email list that was conveniently added to the competition website.
(Note to competition participants who somehow didn’t receive a request from us: If you’d like to send in your entry, please email Swamplot and we’ll send you a list of requirements.)
Update: Entries in this series are now on this page.
Photo of 4015 Jewel St.: Jonathan LaRocca [license]
Row House CDC has completed a second group of 8 duplexes for low- to moderate-income residents — on Francis St. between Dowling and Live Oak. That’s just north of the growing Third Ward campus of Project Row Houses, the CDC’s sister organization. At least 6 units are still available, reports Robin Foster in the Chronicle:
The units range from 700 to 900 square feet; 10 are family-sized with three bedrooms and 1½ baths and six have two bedrooms and one bath.
[Row House CDC executive director Alain] Lee said funds for the project were stretched to allow the builder to frame-in back porches. If additional money can be found, the porches will be finished as part of a courtyard envisioned for both the new and original housing complexes, he said.
All 16 duplexes were based on designs by students in the Rice Building Workshop at Rice University.
Photo of Francis St. duplexes under construction: Flickr user b2tse; photo of original duplexes along Division St.: Row House CDC
This is the best image we’ve been able to find online of the 25-story apartment tower about to go up at the site of the former Ed Sacks Waste Paper Co. at 440 Studemont, just north of Memorial Dr.
And it makes you wonder: Do these out-of-town developers really know what they’re doing here? First they give the project a name — “Legacy at Memorial” — that makes it sound like a funeral home, in a town where death is already a major industry. Then . . . they think Houston residents will stand for 15 percent of the units in the combination highrise-lowrise development being marketed as “affordable housing.” But weirdest of all . . . it looks like they forgot to give their building a theme!
Memo to Legacy Partners and your California retiree funders: Your tower is going up against some aggressively themed competition. When renters can go next door and feel like they’re in Italy, or go down the street to get a little stucco taste of New Orleans, or cross Allen Parkway for a full-fledged Beaux-Arts Alamo resort revival, just who do you expect is going to want to want to live in an apartment that looks like . . . a building in Houston, Texas?
More on the tower that forgot to put on its clothes and makeup . . . after the jump.
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