- 2046 Park Grand Rd. [HAR]
Former Houston Rocket Hakeem Olajuwon quietly opened the doors this past week of a brand-new flagship store for his new clothing line, DR34M. It’s conveniently located just off NASA Pkwy., inside a mansion built during the Depression by a Texas oilman — used later for more than 20 years by NASA for its Lunar and Planetary Institute.
The 17,000-sq.-ft. Italianate mansion by the Clear Lake shore was completed in 1930 by Houston city hall architect Joseph Finger for Jim West, whose family sold it to Humble Oil when he died in 1941. Since then, it has been owned by the Pappas restaurant family and Rice University. And in 1969, during the Apollo missions, the nearby Johnson Space Center moved its moon unit here; it stayed until 1991.
Olajuwon, who has made a lot of investments in Houston-area real estate since his 2002 retirement from the NBA, bought the West Mansion in 2006. He had plans to subdivide the sprawling 41-acre estate to sell off to developers, according to news reports. Later reports indicated the mansion would be razed, or that a retirement village would be built around it. But since early this year, workers have been making extensive renovations to the building, inside and out:
Update: Olajuwon’s DR34M store is now open.
Hakeem Olajuwon hasn’t officially announced what he plans to do with Clear Lake’s landmarked Jim West Mansion, which he bought along with the surrounding 41-acre property at 3303 NASA Pkwy. in 2006. But a teaser website suggests that the former Houston Rockets center intends to transform the oil and cattle baron’s former estate — which served for a time as NASA’s Lunar Science Institute — into a flagship store for DR34M, the clothing line he introduced before a New Year’s Eve Rockets game in 2010, but that hasn’t drawn much attention since.
“The DR34M Spring 2012 Collection will launch online and in our new Houston flagship store,” announces the website at Dr34m.com. It’s illustrated with a photo of the 17,000-sq.-ft. Italianate mansion, which was designed by Houston city hall architect Joseph Finger and completed in 1930 not far from the current site of Houston’s Johnson Space Center. “We are busy designing a new line of clothing, collaborating on a collection of leather bags and accessories and sourcing modern furniture,” reads the brief copy, which is accompanied by Olajuwon’s signature.
Wood shingles, gingerbread trim and a taste of a wraparound porch lend Victorian flavoring to the exterior of this new listing in the Brook Forest neighborhood of Clear Lake.
One more reason to get excited about the possibility of another Depression: It could save the Jim West Mansion in Clear Lake!
Two years ago, a real-estate company controlled by former Houston Rocket Hakeem Olajuwon bought the mansion with plans to subdivide its 41 acres for sale to developers. At one point, the mansion seemed about to be razed. At another, it seemed likely to become the centerpiece of a luxury complex for retirees.
But as of yet, no deal has solidified. And that’s where [Clear Lake schoolteacher Linda] Sansing finds a strange upside to talk of a new Depression: With credit tight, it seems unlikely that a for-profit developer will swoop in.
Great! But . . . will that make raising money for preservationists to buy the property any easier?
Linda Sansing’s nonprofit group, Preserved in Time, aims to raise $100,000 in earnest money, so it can make an offer on the mansion and some of its grounds. She figures that, ultimately, the group will need $11 million to buy the mansion and some of its land. Some of that money could come from opening the mansion to the pubic for rentals and tours. Some could come from grants. But she knows she has a long way to go.
Video: Preserved in Time
Just west of Pine Brook in Clear Lake — and draped loosely around the Bay Oaks Country Club and Golf Course — is our latest tour venue: Bay Oaks! Here’s a preview of four neighborhood open houses open this weekend:
Location: 14418 Lofty Mountain Trail
Details: 5 bedrooms, 3 1/2 baths; 3,538 sq. ft.
The Scoop: 1990 Georgian-like home across from golf course. Windows have simulated keystones and shutters, thin sashes. Kitchen recently overhauled. Listed for a little more than 3 weeks; price dropped $4.9K today.
Open House: Sunday, 3-5 pm
More Bay Oaks fun below!