02/04/13 1:30pm

If Beyoncé still wants this deeply discounted Piney Point Village mansion for her mother, she might have to bring back Sasha Fierce and grab a paddle: It’s going up on February 19 for auction. The 21,640-sq.-ft., 4-kitchen rental property near Briar Forest was listed as recently as January 3 at $5.9 million — and, says the website of California-based auction house Premier Estates, that’s just where bids will start.

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12/20/12 3:50pm

Seen any images floating around of the new building Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts is planning for the northwest corner of the Bissonnet and South Main, next to the Cullen Sculpture Garden? Well then, this watercolor-and-charcoal “concept sketch” for the building by architect Steven Holl from a year and a month ago may interest you. It’s going up for auction tomorrow — as part of a fundraiser for the nonprofit Architecture for Humanity. Holl was selected from a group of 3 finalists this past February, beating out LA design firm Morphosis and Oslo’s Snøhetta for the MFAH commission of a new structure to house 20th- and 21st-century art.

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11/26/12 11:48am

No bids yet on the sleepy sombero man in front of the hacked cactus removed from the sign in front of the former Felix Mexican Restaurant at the corner of Westheimer and Grant last year. And no bids on the other formerly east- and west-facing portions of the popular sign, which the space’s new owner, Uchi, put up for auction separately on eBay early this morning. The starting bid for each disassembled segment is a hefty $1,500, but Uchi doesn’t appear to be in this game for fish money. Proceeds are promised to the LULAC National Scholarship Fund; the former restaurant’s namesake, Tex-Mex pioneer Felix Tijerina, served as LULAC’s national president for 4 terms. The “Orders To Go” flyer from the original sign hasn’t shown up in any online auction yet.

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10/21/11 7:26pm

Have a look around this little 25,637-sq.-ft. castle on a 5-acre lot at the edge of the Champions Golf Course. The master suite alone measures 3,000 sq. ft. Construction began in 2005, but last year the property was taken over by the lender, Encore Bank, before the final touches could be completed — like the elevator connecting the 3-car underground garage to the rest of the house. The MLS listing announced the bank planned to auction the home by November 5th to the highest bidder. But it was scooped up before then — for $3.5 million — by someone who could truly appreciate its fine marble and plaster finishes: the founder of a drywall contracting company and his wife. Wayne and Karen Martin tell the Chronicle‘s Nancy Sarnoff they plan to finish the home and landscape it with “European-style” gardens and reflecting ponds. “There’s a lot of history in that place. It’s phenomenal,” Martin tells Sarnoff.

But they don’t plan to move in.

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10/06/11 7:11pm

Charged with providing affordable public housing, the Houston Housing Authority is pulling out all the stops. All 171 remaining houses from its failed “scattered sites” public housing program intended for low-income families will now be offered . . . to the public. At auction. Included: the home shown above, sporting a Hurricane Ike-era blue roof tarp. Plus: 3 vacant lots! Where did all these amazing properties come from?

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02/17/11 1:52pm

In separate moves on Tuesday and Wednesday night, Cherry House Moving rolled pieces of this sold-at-auction stray house from its longstanding freeway-side location in the parking lot of the police station downtown to a new home opposite the corner of Sabine and Lubbock in the Old Sixth Ward. First though, the former home of woodworker Gottlieb Eisele was chopped down the middle and decapitated. Architect and housewrangler Kirby Mears, who snapped the above photo of Tuesday night’s journey down Sabine St., says that’s not a problem, because he’d already planned to replace the structure’s bungalow-style roof — which was built in the 1920s after a lightning strike — with a gable roof meant to match the 1872 original. One exception: The home’s new roof will feature lightning rods.

Both halves of the house are now sitting on steel beams and wheels at the new site, Mears reports. “We are in the process of determining exactly where it will go. As soon as it is set on a foundation, the new roof will begin. Drying it in is our first priority.” Here’s his preliminary drawing of the new Sabine St. elevation:

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12/01/10 12:56pm

How about another go of it? The auction of the 1872-vintage former home of Gottlieb Eisele, now a vacant and dilapidated former HPD office surrounded by parking lots and the Gulf Freeway, ended last night with no bids. But today it’s back on the block, with a brand-new item number and a new closing-gavel time of 8 pm tonight. For a minimum bid of $1,000, the opportunity to partially demolish, jack up, repair, move, restore, and then register this property can be yours.

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11/30/10 4:50pm

Why isn’t there an address given in the auction listing for the “1872 Bungalow Cottage” near the former police headquarters at 61 Riesner the city is trying to get rid of? Because the streets it used to be on have all faded away. The home is tucked almost under the Gulf Freeway at the eastern edge of the surrounding city parking lot. Museum of Houston director (and GHPA staffer) Jim Parsons tells Swamplot the home is all that’s left of an old residential area at what used to be the eastern tip of the Sixth Ward. According to Parsons, the original address was 34 South, and later 22 Artesian Place. Now it isn’t visible from any street.

The final deadline for bids is 8 pm tonight.

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11/29/10 5:51pm

THE SELLOUT CROWD AT PALISADE PALMS A Florida real-estate developer who bought up 17 condos in the Palisade Palms towers on Galveston’s East Beach at low, low pre-construction prices 5 years ago was finally able to unload 10 of them at an auction earlier this month, taking what he describes as “a 40 percent haircut. Mark Shapley tells the HBJ‘s Jennifer Dawson he’s “done in Galveston,” even though he’s still stuck with 3 units in the 287-unit development. (He’d already sold 4 others). Only 50 people showed up to Shapley’s sales event — less than one-tenth of the draw of a June auction where the buildings’ original developer was able to get rid of 27 units. And Shapley sold his units for much less too: from $170,500 for a 1,044 sq.-ft. 2-bedroom to $742,500 for a 2,659-sq.-ft. penthouse. [Houston Business Journal] Photo: Palisade Palms

11/08/10 4:35pm

“I’m sure there are a 100 foreclosure auctions a day in town,” says a neighbor of this expanded and tarted-up house on 8th 1/2 St., “but this is the only outwardly visible one i’ve seen in the Heights.” Main clue for our tipster that the usual sales process wasn’t working: the Auction.com signs now posted “on every possible surface.” The 3-4 bedroom home is still listed on MLS for $359,000, but bidding will start at $139,000 in Wednesday’s live event at the Intercontinental Hotel near the Galleria. The home — vacant for about a year but painted twice during that time, we’re told — fell into the hands of Fannie Mae in July, and was listed for $369,000 at the beginning of August. Next door: 2 vacant lots that face Studewood, listed for sale the old-fashioned way.

10/07/10 12:25pm

What galls jailed billionaire Allen Stanford even more than having to sit through the court-ordered sell-off of his entire hard-earned real estate portfolio? It’s that it’s all happening in a down market! Stanford’s lawyers have been arguing in court that liquidating the accused huckster’s properties while real-estate prices are depressed isn’t such a smart idea. A good $9 million of the $12.2 million the folks behind the Black Forest Cafe are paying to buy the clunkily ornate former Stanford Financial Group headquarters building at 5050 Westheimer across from the Galleria, for example, will go to pay off the property’s mortgage and back interest. What’s the guy gonna have left to live on once he’s acquitted of all those ridiculous Ponzi scheme charges? But an attorney for the receiver managing the sales says he’s just trying to save money for the estate. Next Stanford property on the block: The former Stanford Aviation hangar (above) at 100 Jim Davidson Dr. near Sugar Land Regional Airport, at an auction this week.

Photo: Loopnet

05/24/10 11:20am

How’d that foreclosure auction go for the humongous early-eighties brick house on Harold St. in Montrose used in recent years as a party pad and chainsaw test site?

Let’s just say that the auction listing is gone, the property is back on MLS — and the price has been cut another $45K. But unlike the sudden, swift, and unexplained felling of the mature street trees surrounding this property, the chopping of the list price has resulted from a series of 6 hacks, from $644,900 last October to $469,900 just last week.

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04/30/10 12:11pm

17907 Elk Valley Circle, Ponderosa Trails, Houston

Missed out on putting in a bid on that pinkish coke palace up in Ponderosa Trails that went up for auction in March? Of course you did, because it didn’t sell. So now the 5-bedroom, 8,024-sq.-ft. mansion at 17907 Elk Valley Circle will be back on the virtual auction block again this May 18th to 20th— starting at the same $471,250 minimum bid.

Alas, the 2.54-acre property will be available “for inspection” just once, for a couple of hours on May 12th — by special appointment only. There’s a “Waiver, Release & Indemnity Agreement” you’ll have to sign to participate. And no, the former owner won’t be available to answer your questions about maintenance — Daron Odell Jones is still serving a 13-year prison sentence for cocaine possession with an intent to distribute.

According to law enforcement officials, Jones led a drug empire supplying the Mobile, Alabama, area and had ties to a violent Mexican drug cartel. (If he hadn’t cooperated with authorities, pled guilty, and forfeited this home, a small car collection, and some snazzy jewelry, he might have received a longer sentence and faced more serious charges.)

What distinguishes this druglord’s lair from all the lookalikes and wannabes builders have been putting up all over Houston?

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04/21/10 2:45pm

A reader with a longstanding appreciation for the party house at the corner of Harold and Graustark in Montrose writes in to provide a little background on the property for Swamplot readers. After sitting on the market since at least last September — and working its way down $130K to an asking price of $514,900 — the mammoth early-eighties brick in-town home with 4 bedrooms, 4 full- and 3 half-baths, and 4 staircases is now nearing the end of an online foreclosure auction. Who will end up with this 9,111-sq.-ft. prize?

The house is large and an odd mixture of no expense spared features (marble floors throughout, wood floors cut on bias, acres of woodwork…) and typical early 80’s tract home construction techniques. Design features include the dance floor off the master bedroom (complete with freestanding bar and speakers in the wall!), brass banisters on the winding marble staircase, scads of quick exit staircases and mirrors on the ceiling of every shower.

Oooh! Can we see any of that in the pix?

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03/18/10 9:58pm

Yeah, there are lots of very large homes in Houston that kinda look like some drug lord’s mansion. But how can you find one that’s truly authentic? Here’s one way: Look for a property that’s been put on the market by actual U.S. marshals!

Like this 5-bedroom, 4-bath pinkish-brownish stucco crib at 17907 Elk Valley Circle in Ponderosa Trails. It sits on a 2.54-acre lot on a quiet cul-de-sac just south of Cypress Creek near Kuykendahl, and comes complete with the requisite pool and patio, hot tub, double-height porte-cochere, and 4-car garage.

Sure, it sorta looks like it might be the home of a drug kingpin, but so do a lot of other big homes in town built since, say, 2000. What’s this one’s pedigree?

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