The crossing of Yale St. over White Oak Bayou is open again as of yesterday, beating that initially announced estimated reopening date by close to a year. The new structure should reduce the chronic weight anxieties of those using the crossing, which has been subject to various pounds-per-axle limits for years.
And what of the original 1931 Yale St. bridge bricks, and their fundraising Friend group? The online component of the crowdfunded save-the-bricks campaign launched last year fell short of that $100,000 goal by more than a bit, but the organization says that pretty much all of the bricks are still being preserved — most of them were just bought by someone else, for incorporation into a not-yet-officially-announced “art-centered mixed use project in First Ward.” Boulevard Realty, headed by Bricks and Fountain Friend and instigator Bill Baldwin, also recently posted a photo purportedly showing the incorporation of some of the bricks into new segments of the White Oak Bayou greenway trail, something the crowdfunding effort helped pay for:
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White Oak Crossing
Fungal sculptor Bill Davenport sends this photo of the Giant Mushroom Forest on Studewood south of W. Melwood St., showing the central toadstool freshly decapitated. His explanation for the un-making of his own work: the middle sculpture, originally designed for only a year-long Austin stint back at the turn of the decade, was crumbling and unstable, and had to be demolished last Sunday. “I’m sad to say the other two are not far behind,” he adds.
Davenport is now crowdsourcing funds to put toward restoring the trio and getting them in shape for a longer-term gig. The 3 giant mushrooms (not to be confused with the 3 giant mushrooms that sprung up down the road by Inversion Coffee House a few years ago) currently reside in front of Urban Harvest’s Tiny Mushrooms community garden.
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Shrooms and Stones in the Heights
HOW YOU CAN HELP HOUSTON’S FIRST FULL-TIME HUMAN TRAFFICKING COFFEE SHOP COME TO LIFE Been looking for a good coffee shop somewhere around the Heights where folks can get together and discuss Houston’s role as a major hub for human trafficking? Where caffeine-hunters can experience moments of genuine outrage — then find themselves drawn toward information sessions, group discussions, planning meetings, and double espressos — knowing that all profits from their chatting and coffee-drinking habits will go toward charitable stuff like providing classes and counseling for survivors of human trafficking? If so, then you’ll be happy to learn about A 2nd Cup, which opened as a part-time “incubator” project a couple of years ago. Now the nonprofit, led by former junior-high science teacher Erica Raggett, has begun work on a buildout for a permanent, full-time home — in the Vineyard Church of Houston’s Storehouse storefront at 1111 E. 11th St., just east of Studewood St. (pictured above, right next door to longtime late-night cop favorite Andy’s Café). A 2nd Cup’s backers are trying to raise an additional $100,000 toward the effort on Indiegogo now. [Indiegogo] Photo mockup: A 2nd Cup
Last week, after a vote of the State Securities Board, Texas became the lucky 13th state to allow equity crowdfunding. Jumping the gun on nationwide rules authorized in 2012 but still not put in place by the SEC, the new statewide setup will allow companies to raise up to $1 million a year through approved “portals,” or crowdfunding websites. Any Texan will be able to invest up to $5,000 per company, but qualified investors (individuals with assets of more than $1 million — minus their home — and $200K in annual net income) will be able to invest any amount.
Unlike donation-based crowdfunding efforts popularized on sites such as Indiegogo and Kickstarter, portals operating under the new rules will turn subscribers into owners of the projects they invest in. The rules, which go into effect next month, apply to any type of company investment, from restaurants to local businesses to real estate — as long as the investors are Texas residents, the companies are Texas companies, and the crowdfunding website is based here. A Houston beta site hoping to begin offering stakes in “corporate backed single tenant leased properties” — such as the dummy McDonald’s Net Lease portrayed in the image above — has already been announced.
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With an entertaining, droll video (see above), a close-to-Downtown location already picked out, and a “first ever in Houston” concept, the fundraising effort for the Press Start Bar seemed to have a lot going for it. Alas, the Kickstarter game plan for the planned console-videogame-themed nightspot has failed to reach its high-score goal. After 30 days on the crowdfunding platform, the crew garnered $18,483 in pledges from 81 different backers. That’s impressive for a first try at the controls, but a bit shy of the stated $50,000 its founders said they needed to secure the proposed location — “off Rusk and St. Emanuel” (between the 59 overpass and BBVA Compass Stadium) — obtain building permits, and get started with TABC licensing, to be able to serve craft beers and Pokemon-themed cocktails, among other menu items.
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A CROWDFUNDING CAMPAIGN TO KEEP THE WICHITA ST. MYSTERY HOUSE UNDER RENOVATION FOR ANOTHER 30 YEARS OR SO A former city librarian is channeling the don’t-stop-the-renovating spirit of Charles Fondow in her bid to raise enough funds to purchase the seminal Houston DIY-contractor-hobbyist-visionary’s remarkable former home in Riverside Terrace. “Help us raise the funds to buy it outright so we can complete the additions in our own time,” writes Virginia Verner in the promotional copy for her crowdfunding effort on website GoFundMe. Keeping the whir of power tools going appears to be one of the goals: “Current plans are to repair necessities first, inhabit the front house, and over time work to complete the unfinished bits. Events for repair and recreation will become a fixture in this abode.” The homeowner Verner hopes to replace in the 4,861-sq.-ft. expansion and renovation project at 2309 Wichita St., just 5 houses east of the Hwy. 288 feeder, worked consistently at his creation for 31 years before passing away in 2011. Perhaps paralleling the sincere, hardworking, but perenially underfunded Fondow, Verner has set the fundraising goal for her effort at $150,000 — the exact asking price for the property, which appeared on the market last Friday for the first time since its foreclosure in 2011. No mention is made how renovations might be funded after the acquisition. As of this morning, the website indicates she’s received pledges for 0.1 percent of her goal. [GoFundMe; previously on Swamplot] Photo: HAR