05/22/14 11:15am

Map of Suggested Tampico Heights Location, HoustonA funny thing happens in Pooja Lodhia’s teevee report on the whole Tampico Heights dust-up. Yes, she gets Jim Badger, the creator of the Tampico Heights website, to come on camera, and she notes that his renaming project was meant as a sort-of joke. But more interesting: She finds a couple people who claim that the inside-the-Loop neighborhood west of I-45 and east of North Main St. should be called Northside.

They aren’t wrong.

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Tampico Heights or Northside West?
05/12/14 1:30pm

TAMPICO HEIGHTS RISES AGAIN, THIS TIME IN A BUMPER STICKER CAMPAIGN Bumper Sticker Mentioning Tampico Heights, North Montrose, HoustonIn a setback for the upstart movement to rename Brooke Smith and portions of East Sunset Heights east of N. Main St. and west of I-45, the appearance of the name “Tampico Heights” on Google Maps got shut down late last month by a couple of eagle-eyed citizen editors who noted that the name was “being used by a small group of residents to try and encourage the adoption of the name for this neighborhood, much to a larger group’s displeasure.” The newfangled designation has now been removed. But pro-Tampico campaigners have taken to the streets — or at least the shopping-center parking lots: A reader sends Swamplot this photo of a Tampico Heights bumper sticker spotted on a Chevy TrailBlazer parked in front of “Party” Kroger on Studemont St. over the weekend. [previously on Swamplot] Photo: Mel

04/25/14 12:45pm

‘TAMPICO HEIGHTS’ IS NOW A THING ON GOOGLE MAPS Google Map Showing Tampico Heights, HoustonNear Northside residents who didn’t want their neighborhood to be called Tampico Heights have been successful in their campaign to keep the new name out. But it looks like Tampico Heights may be settling in as a new neighbor. A reader reports — and a quick online search confirms (see screen capture at left) — that Google Maps has now begun applying the new name Tampico Heights to area maps. Northside Village has been spared the Heights creep: The Tampico Heights name appears to have been applied to inner-loop neighborhoods Brooke Smith, East Sunset Heights, and portions of Sunset Heights west of I-45 and east of North Main, and not to Northside Village or the Near Northside, which lie east of I-45. That’s a more reasonable spot for a Tampico Heights to land anyway, since it incorporates the Tampico Refresqueria at 4520 N. Main St. and Tampico Seafood & Cocina Mexicana, at 2115 Airline Dr. [Previously on Swamplot]

04/02/14 11:00am

Buildings at Nestor Topchy's Residence, Brooke Smith, Houston

Buildings at Nestor Topchy's Residence, Brooke Smith, HoustonLocal art guide Robert Boyd takes himself and readers on a photo tour of the outbuildings surrounding Nestor Topchy’s home “just south of the North Loop,” catching readers up on a few of the structures the artist has built since (or salvaged from) his residency at the legendary TemplO (earlier, Zocalo), the 6-acre arts commune he ran on a rented former truck depot at 5223 Feagan St. in the West End from the late eighties into the early aughts. And he finds much to impress, including the glass-walled tin-roofed structure pictured here, which Topchy pieced together from steel windows and doors salvaged from buildings in Houston and Argentina, and which fronts a pond on the acre-plus property. Topchy calls it the Crescent:

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Art Is Where You Make It
04/01/14 10:30am

HCAD Econ Misimprovement ClassificationA reader whose new property tax assessment is feeling pressure from all the construction nearby in Brooke Smith writes in with questions about HCAD’s “economic misimprovement” classification. That’s the label HCAD often applies to older houses in neighborhoods where similar structures are being torn down and replaced with new construction. (It’s “an adjustment to the dwelling to limit the remaining building value as the land value increases.”) Writes the homeowner: “I was wondering if my fellow co-readers would have any information about filing your home as an economic misimprovement and how to do so with HCAD. Also, are there any disadvantages of doing so?”

Some background: “I bought my home in 2012; my property taxes from 2011–2012 increased by 40 percent. I prepared a thorough protest, but the ARB essentially denied my protest by comparing my home to the new homes/heavily remodeled homes in the neighborhood.”

More:

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Exceptions Misimprove the Rule
03/28/14 11:15am

WHERE SKINNY RITA’S WILL BE SQUEEZING IN ON NORTH MAIN 4002 North Main St., Brooke Smith, HoustonContractor-turned-Realtor-turned-fraud investigator-turned-restaurateur Randy Bower and the team behind Ruggles Green plan to open the first of 2 Skinny Rita’s Grilles in the space at 4002 N. Main St. on the triangular block bounded by Walton and Melwood in Brooke Smith that’s been home to Rico’s Cantina, Rico’s Luchadores, and more recently the Frida Kahlo-themed La Casa de Frida and Frida’s Cucina later this year. Skinny Rita’s Grille is meant to be a “farm-to-table” Latin restaurant. “Skinny Rita’s food is rustic, healthy, and ‘sexy to the bone®’ as are our drinks and décor,” reads the text on the restaurant’s dummy website. A rooftop patio will feature long views of Downtown. A second Skinny Rita’s is apparently being planned for Kemah. [Previously on Swamplot] Photo: Skinny Rita’s Grille

03/14/13 1:00pm

Redo work on a 1920 cottage with a watching-the-world-pass porch spun off a mini-me houselet in back (above) and an airy, matching carport. The property, located a few blocks west of I-45 — between the Near Northside and the Heights — listed last Friday with an asking price of $399,000. The property had last changed hands in November 2012, for $119,500. But that was in its pink period (at right); it had first listed last March, for $150,000.

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07/12/12 2:11pm

One of the reasons Brookesmith resident Vicki Scarpato bought the 1890 cottage on Archer St. pictured above last year was because of the 2009 Modern addition at the back: “I love the mix,” she says. Her home is next door to the modern structure architect Jeromy Murphy designed for his family and not far from the Cordell St. shipping-container house — all in a neighborhood that she calls “an interesting mix of beautiful new modern, Victorian cottages in various states of repair, and only a very few instances of three-to-a-lot townhouses.” Here are some pics of the back:

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02/09/11 10:18am

CHANGING WITH THE TIMES ON NORTH MAIN “The Heights could certainly use a great drag revue,” concludes Katharine Shilcutt in her survey of the not-so-new restaurant at 4002 N. Main in Brookesmith, across Walton St. from Shipley’s Donuts: “Linda is the chef here at La Casa de Frida, a family-run place that’s been run by the same folks for 30 years on North Main. It was formerly Rico’s Cantina, then — for a very brief period last year — Rico’s Luchadores. That Mexican wrestling-themed concept didn’t pan out, so the family has now switched gears to a Frida Kahlo-decorated Tex-Mex cantina that offers Italian and Chinese food on the menu in addition to college ‘club’ nights on Fridays and drag shows on Saturdays.” [Eating Our Words] Photo: Swamplot inbox.

02/16/10 4:16pm

Sure, it’s a big break when local architects and designers get their work published in Dwell, but who knew that an appearance in the modern design magazine might ultimately be seen as just a stepping stone on the path to even greater fame? That’s right: With the recent appearance of the Unhappy Hipsters blog, Dwell‘s design stars will at last be able to reach a much wider circle.

Most photos on Unhappy Hipsters are taken from the magazine. But yes, the captions are changed — just a little bit — so that the work shown can reach a larger and perhaps more appreciative audience.

Already, two teams of Houston designers have been featured on the blog. A reader writes in to report that the photo above, showing the owners of Numen Development’s shipping-container house on Cordell St. in Brookesmith, was featured in a recent Unhappy Hipsters post. Except instead of the original caption from Dwell, which described the front porch, the species of grass on the lawn, and the bent-steel shade above, we have this:

Not on the grass, Sweetie. Never. On. The. Grass. See how much fun Daddy is having?

Who else is appearing on Unhappy Hipsters?

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01/08/10 4:08pm

Architect and Swamplot reader Jeromy Murphy sends in a construction update on the house he and his wife — also an architect — are building for themselves at 502 Archer St. in Brookesmith, “not too far from the container house.” How’s the family project going?

Lori and I designed it together, proving that a husband/wife architecture team can succeed (as long as the husband just agrees to everything his architect wife wants).

One of those design decisions that came so easily: the 8-ft. Isis Big Ass Fan that’ll hang from exposed rafters on a porch overlooking a new retaining wall. The fan isn’t installed yet, but you can see the rafters in this photo:

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09/28/09 9:00pm

The Swamplot Price Adjuster needs your nominations! Found a property you think is poorly priced? Send an email to Swamplot, and be sure to include a link to the listing or photos. Tell us about the property, and explain why you think it deserves a price adjustment. Then tell us what you think a better price would be. Unless requested otherwise, all submissions to the Swamplot Price Adjuster will be kept anonymous.

Location: 1005 Cordell St., Brookesmith
Details: 2 bedrooms, 1 bath; 980 sq. ft. on a 5,000-sq.-ft. lot
Price: $229,900
History: On the market for 3 months.

Why does the nominator of this bungalow think it’s overpriced?

Okay, then: What would be a better price for this home?

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09/04/09 12:26pm

SECRET POWERS OF THE CORDELL ST. SHIPPING-CONTAINER HOUSE The Brookesmith home of Kevin Freeman and Jen Feldmann — fashioned from shipping containers by Numen Development’s John Walker and Katie Nichols — meets a national audience in the pages of the latest issue of Dwell: “The meat distributor [across Cordell St.] begins loading trucks as early as 5:30 a.m., but the couple imagines themselves as hipsters living in New York City’s meatpacking district, and that makes it okay. . . . The corrugated steel of the container that houses the master suite becomes a textured wall for writing messages in the home’s entrance. ‘When we were furnishing the house, I thought, “Oh no! Our fridge isn’t magnetic for Eli’s artwork,” but then I realized the whole house is magnetic,’ Feldmann says. ‘We’ve become magnet connoisseurs,’ Freeman adds.” [Dwell; previously in Swamplot]