Yesterday’s unexpectedacceleration of the parking garage demolition at Corporate Plaza hasn’t stopped plans to continue the ongoing deconstruction at Kirby Dr. and 59. An office worker across Kirby caught video of the narrow remaining slice of the 7-story structure tipping over and collapsing onto the excavator that had been tugging at a spot on the 5th floor.
The video (which also contains running commentary and a few surprised expletives) shows the other excavator and the rest of the demo team gathering as the dust clears to check on the operator, who emerges from the machine unscathed moments later. A Cherry Companies spokesman told CBS that the demolition work would continue as scheduled despite the office park’s attempt to turn the tables.
“Yesterday around 4:30 pm we heard a strange creak, and when we looked across the street, this is what we saw,” reports a Swamplot reader who was at the corner of Knox St. and Schuler in Woodcrest. The unintended lean in the first floor of the westernmost of 2 townhouses under construction on the site was apparently caused by a nudge from a high lift forklift. The 4-story structures at 1305 Knox and 5902 Schuler are under construction by Suca’s Home Builders.
“It’s hard to tell from the picture, but the back of the house has bulged out about a foot as well,” writes reader Matthew, who also reported seeing workers around, in, and on the building today, which he considers “in serious danger” of collapsing.
A truck-mounted crane at work on Mac Haik Realty’s Energy Tower IV on the north side of the Katy Fwy. just west of Kirkwood fell over earlier this afternoon, damaging scaffolding, a portion of the building’s curtain wall on a few lower floors, a fence separating the construction site from the adjacent Don McGill Toyota dealership at 11800 Katy Fwy., and a truck or 2 parked on the sales lot. No injuries have yet been reported. The 17-story, 450,000-sq.-ft. building began construction last August.
COMMENT OF THE DAY: YOU JUST DON’T KNOW “The driver might have been rich. They might been entitled. They might have been drunk. They might not respect traffic laws at all or such sentiment may be situationally limited. They might have a small penis. They might have no patience. They might be narcissistic. They might be egotistical. They might be a dumb-ass. (I will add to this list of possibilities, they might have been distracted, they might have been very tired, or they might have been subject to the influence of prescription medication; and there are in fact many other possibilities, so many that it is nigh impossible to enumerate all of them.)
The construction manager might have abided by recent history and changed protocols; they might have judged their protocols to be adequate. Barricades might not have been erected at all, or properly, or in a manner that would be appropriate for traffic in that location.
What we know for sure is that any combination of these possibilities might have contributed to the accident. Although being drunk certainly increases the odds of having an accident, even drunk drivers are usually responsive to barricades; and yet, I’ve also known a fair number of people that even on their best of days are capable of jumping curbs or driving into buildings.
The fact is, we don’t know very much about what happened. We do not know what the driver did. We do not know what the driver deserves. Even if we were capable of rendering judgment over-the-wires with such limited information, it does not stand to reason that the driver will get what they deserve in the legal system.
This is one of those instances when the commentary on a news item is more tragic than the news item. It exposes the ease with which people spin a tale, assign guilt, and express faith in the powers that be to mete out a poorly-conceived notion of justice. It is an unfortunate tendency.” [TheNiche, commenting on Notorious Wet Concrete, the Scourge of Upper Kirby, Claims the Shiny Red Mustang of Victim No. 3] Illustration: Lulu
The closest thing Houston has to a Bermuda Triangle — also known as various patches of curing roadway concrete known to appear in and around the intersection of Kirby Dr. and the Southwest Fwy. — claimed its third (known) victim over the weekend. It wasn’t a Lexus this time, or a Jaguar, but a bright red Mustang that found itself solidly rooted in the recently poured stew on the westbound feeder road between Greenbriar and Kirby Dr. early Saturday morning.
This photo of a Jaguar F-Type V8 S stuck in a patch of freshly-poured concrete started making the rounds of internet auto-fan sites last Friday afternoon. The earliest online reference appears to be this tweet from SpeedSportLife before noon — but the Houston car publication was apparently just passing on a photo it had no more information about. In several forum appearances readers immediately speculated that the scene had likely taken place in Houston, and on the Houston Reddit board a poster tersely declared that the site was the intersection of Weslayan and 59. But a couple of other commenters help peg the incident location a couple of overpasses to the east:
A reader reports this morning on the aftermath of the blaze yesterday that destroyed the Axis Apartments — from a balcony perch west of Montrose Blvd.: “The firemen are packing up this morning on West Dallas after continuing to fight the fire through the night. I live in one of the townhouses across the street from the fire yesterday. I got home from work in the evening to find my house in good shape, a little smokey and singed and a broken window but otherwise fine. The firemen sprayed down the fronts of the houses to keep them cool.”
Here’s an amazing sequence of views of the same section of the 5-story apartments JLB Partners was building at 2400 West Dallas, from before the fire:
This video uploaded to YouTube by Karen Jones shows a construction worker seemingly trapped on a fourth-floor balcony of the blazing Axis Apartments in North Montrose yesterday afternoon. According to a construction supervisor working on the neighboring Finger Properties apartment complex who spoke to a Houston Chronicle reporter, the fire started on the northeast corner of the L-shaped structure’s roof. Jones doesn’t identify her filming location in the video, but it appears to be taken from an upper floor of a low-rise office building along Rylis St. in the American General complex. That would mean the imperiled worker was on a balcony facing north, and that the rescuing fire worker was on a ladder truck in the parking lot immediately west of the Magnolia Cemetery.
A passer-by sends this photo showing the scene this morning at the site of the Chateau Tenscaffolding accident that took place a few days before Christmas. The plank-covered Mercedes is gone, but the neighboring apartment building at 2233 Welch St., still wearing its recent quoined stuccover, doesn’t look much worse for the dust-up — does it?
A reader who happened to be on the scene Saturday morning when scaffolding collapsed on the side of the Chateau Ten condo building going up at the corner of Spann and Welch streets just south of River Oaks sent Swamplot these photos and a report shortly after the incident. The Randall Davis development is under construction behind the empty lot on San Felipe on which Hines is planning to build a 17-story office tower:
“I did not see the collapse, but I heard it . . . It sounded like an explosion — power went out immediately.” The correspondent reports running out to find scaffolding for the 6-story building down, “completely covering a house (and Mercedes) and scaffolding bits were dangling from power lines. I called 911. I don’t think anyone is hurt.”
What could have caused this construction accident?
It looks like these 4-story townhouses are filling out a bit here on the corner of E. 2nd and Heights Blvd., where in late April their stick-frame precursors fell over in a wind-aided collapse. Fortunately, no one was hurt, though the garage doors of several finished and already occupied neighboring units were damaged. Keystone Classic Homes is the builder of this 8-pack located just south of White Oak Bayou.
The builder of the toppled properties at 103-117 E. 2nd St., in a corral of townhomes built earlier by another developer, is Keystone Classic Homes, an LLC managed by Michael D. Surface. That appears to be the same Mike Surface who found himself in local headlines a couple of years ago, before and after he admitted to a judge that he intended to influence his longtime friend, Harris County Commissioner Jerry Eversole, with approximately $100,000 in cash and gifts. As part of a plea deal, Surface ended up pleading guilty to filing a false income tax return and making false statements to federal officials in connection with that bribery case, which centered around county contracts; in November 2011 he received a sentence of 2 years’ probation, along with a restriction barring him from being able to do any business with federal, county, or city governments for 5 years.
And then there was Surface’s job on the Astrodome.
COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE NEW TALLER TOWNHOMES THAT FELL OVER NEXT DOOR “Just to add a little clarification here. I live in one of the already existing structures there. They have been there since 2008 and have fared quite well during storms since being constructed. The ones that collapsed had started being built about 5 or 6 weeks ago. They were being built by completely different builders. There were two frames up. Each were four stories tall. The crazy thing was how tall they were. The second story on the new construction was taller than the third story of the ones that had already been there. They were however a completely different design than the already existing ones. In any event the weather wasn’t that bad. I was awake when they collapsed and actually saw the second one fall after the first hit it. Scary. Regardless of wind sheathing, that should not have happened. Someone could have been seriously injured or worse.” [Mike, commenting on The Heights Blvd. Townhomes That Collapsed Overnight]
There’ll be a — um — slight delay in the move-in date for the purchasers of the brand-new Madison Park townhomes at 111 and 107 E. 2nd St., just south of White Oak Bayou. Yes, it appears that the 2 stick-framed structures backing up to Heights Blvd. that toppled violently Saturday night — an hour or so after a not-exactly-fierce storm passed through the area — were in fact among the 4 that developer Keystone Classic Homes had been claiming on its website and in a construction-fence-mounted banner were already sold. Their listing in MLS provides perhaps a more conservative assessment: A bank of 4 townhomes — including 111 and 107 — were listed as “pending,” usually an indicator that a contract has been accepted by the seller but that no closing has yet taken place.
If you happen to be the lucky buyer on hook for one of these addresses — presuming you still want in — how much time will the weekend’s rack-and-rumble set you back?