- 109 Welch St. [HAR]
Here’s the current scene along the north side of Drew St., where the acre-plus of emptied land previously planned for development as the Pearl on Helena now hosts a Morgan Group for sale sign. The block bounded by Helena, Drew, Albany, and Dennis streets was marked a few years back as another addition to Morgan’s string of Pearl midrises; the Helena site’s application went dark during the variance request process in mid-20014, but the land was cleared of its former hospital and mansion occupants near the end of that year.
Morgan Group currently has a Pearl in Greenway Plaza, with another getting polished up on Washington Ave near T.C. Jester; a planned Pearl on Smith (at the site of the former Social Security office right across Smith St. from the Pearl on Midtown) appeared to have been removed from the company’s immediate focus in 2014, only to resurface in renderings the following year as part of an apartment-midrise-grocery-store complex containing a Whole Foods.
Wholesale changes could be coming to East Montrose next summer, if all goes according to the grand lower-Fairview plans of restaurateur-turned-developer Fred Sharifi. The stated goal for his latest development — planned along 3 blocks of Fairview stretching from Taft to Genesee — is to bring a little more diurnal activity to the area, better known for its narrow, potholed streets and vibrant nightlife. That nightlife seems likely to dim, as the new plans call for the eventual extinguishing of Meteor, a mainstay of Houston’s drag community.
“We are not going to have any bars in the neighborhood,” Sharifi recently told Mark Boyle of KPRC, apparently classifying his own Max’s Wine Dive on Fairview at Taft as either beyond the neighborhood or not a bar. Sharifi’s other nearby holdings on Fairview include Gratifi and Cuchara, the Mexico City-style restaurant with rule cards for kiddos.
A 5- or 6-story parking garage perched atop 10,000 sq. ft. of office and retail space (labeled “E” in the rendering below), is proposed for the Meteor site at 2302-2308 Genesee St.:
Here are views of a couple of holes that appeared at the eastern edge of East Montrose after last week’s flood. The sizable tire-grabber at the corner of Hyde Park Blvd. and Mason St. shown here was decorated by nearby residents who repurposed the cones and barricade from a nearby construction site, explains reader Brittanie Shey.
OUTLASTING THE HOUSE OF SATAN DOWN THE STREET When you live in the same house at the corner of Welch and Crocker streets for 94 years, you see a lot of Montrose pass by. For example, Nell Stewart tells the Montrose District website, there was the “meticulously restored” Victorian on Welch St. (pictured here) that later became a Church of Satan: “‘How do I know?’ she asks. ‘It said so on a sign in the yard.’ Though raised a proper churchgoer, Stewart nevertheless was intrigued by her new neighbor. ‘He did nude weddings,‘ she says. “And he trained his children well. They went to Wharton Elementary and they would threaten the other kids if they wouldn’t give them their lunch money. They said they would turn them into black cats.’ Along the wraparound front porch, the Satanist installed a collection of outsized nude photos. The Satanist had moved in prior to her mother’s passing, and though Stewart would have liked to take a look at the nudes, when she went out walking with her elderly mother she was always steered in the opposite direction. ‘She refused to walk there,’ Stewart says. ‘I would have been interested. I just had the sense, this is not my world here.’” Though it later turned somewhat dilapidated, the house was recently renovated: “Today, when Stewart looks across the street, the house appears much as it did when she was a little girl almost a hundred years ago.” [Montrose District; Part 1] Photo of 903 Welch St. (before renovation): NuHabitat
Update, 5/22: Swamplot has now confirmed that the tree was a Chinese Tallow, not an oak, as neighbors, and Swamplot, had originally reported.
Oh, those East Montrosians and their continuing tree battles. Here’s a photo of the street tree that once stood in more more leafly fashion in front of the property at 501 W. Drew St. The gentle warning tape wrapped around it appears not to have made much difference to the chainsaw operators who cut off its limbs last week, though. Had the tape been attached by a tree-hugging neighbor? Not exactly:
The city has extracted $225,000 from the owners and contractors of a Bellaire developer who extracted two 100-year-old Live Oak trees from public property adjacent to 2 separate Inner Loop redevelopment sites over the summer. That’s a little less than half of the amount the city originally sought. The settlement ends the lawsuit it filed in October against Signature City Homes owner Barry Gomel and the demo contractor he hired to remove the 36-inch-diameter specimen pictured above at 1704 Blodgett St. (the home was torn down in July); it’ll also allow the developer to proceed with construction of the 4-townhome development it had planned for that location. The second tree was next to a bungalow Signature demolished at 801 Bomar.
Photo: Allyn West
Is the weight of the holiday season and its accompanying festoonage taking a toll on this updated 1929 home in East Montrose? Or was the polished-up property just under a lot of pressure (top) during its listing photo-op? The 3-bedroom, 2-and-a-half-bath property popped up on the market Sunday with a straight-up $840,000 price tag.
Also making an appearance in this morning’s Demolition Report: the crumbs of East Montrose’s short-lived but storied MuffinMan restaurant. Back in the wacky late summer of ’10, the four-square-turned-duplex at 2310 Converse St. played host to what proprietor Jason Perry modestly claimed to be “the greatest penis shaped muffin restaurant Houston had” (Note: Perry’s description referenced the shape of the muffins, not of the building or its rooms; a 6-ft. sign he posted on the front lawn announced to his neighbors his earnest contention that a “four inch muffin is better than an eight inch cock.”)
KNOCKING THE TREES AROUND PEGGY SHIFFICK PARK The duplex at 720 Bomar St. adjacent to East Montrose’s tiny Peggy Shiffick Park is back on the market, a week and a half after its prospective purchaser, developer Vinod Ramani of Urban Living, scaled back his plans to build 3 townhomes on the site (pictured at left) to just 2, and just a few days after backing out of the deal altogether. Some neighbors concerned the planned 3-1/2-story townhomes would clip a large portion of the branches and roots of the park’s signature oak tree had opposed 2 variance requests Ramani had submitted for the project. In the meantime, both Urban Living and neighborhood groups were alarmed to discover that city-contracted workers had severed the main roots of large trees on the property at the corner of Bomar and Crocker earlier this month while installing sewer-line connections. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Image: Urban Living
Those are some pretty hefty tree branches cutting across the front of the duplex listed for sale at 720 Bomar St. in East Montrose. And they’re from a pretty hefty tree — a giant oak that sits on the next lot over, a 3,500-sq.-ft. plot now known as Peggy Shiffick Park. A “for sale” sign appeared in the duplex’s front yard a few weeks ago, a reader tells Swamplot. “Rumors then started flying that the property had been bought, before it went in to the MLS system, by a builder (it is now pending in MLS) and that the existing grand old home on the property, which had been converted to a duplex and has been empty for years, will be torn down and townhomes built.”
Part of its roof already lopped off and broken free from its brick-fireplace anchor, about half of the 1910 duplex at the corner of W. Drew and Crockett in East Montrose made a break for it last night. A Swamplot reader on the escape route sends in these photos of the scene:
Do you remember the MuffinMan? Or maybe you’ve been trying hard to forget it? Well, the home of “the greatest penis shaped muffin restaurant Houston [ever?] had” — aka the yellow 1940 American foursquare at 2310 Converse St. just north of Fairview — is now in foreclosure and was listed for sale last week. Sadly, the listing photos show almost no signs of those few whirlwind months in the fall of 2010 when would-be restaurateur Jason Perry operated a notable Montrose after-hours spot on the premises — without bothering to obtain any of the necessary city or state permits. No signs, that is, except for that painted “Muffin Man” insignia still emblazoned on the front of the home’s upper story.
PEDEN WATER MYSTERY What’s with the water flow on Peden St. just east of Montrose Blvd.? An “avid” Swamplot reader writes: “A cluster of my neighbors . . . have received CoH water bills for the past 4 months that are much higher than average. As you know, the City helpfully advises we ‘check for leaks.’ No leaks. Check. I’ve tested the water meter with controlled withdrawals. The meter itself seems fine. Check. As best as we know from our individual habits, none of us have significantly changed our water use patterns, even in this hot, hot summer. Much of my flora is dead or dying. Check again. Can you or any of your readers suggest any steps we might take to find out what’s going on here, fight the Water Dept and these absurd bills? I thought of hiring a civil engineer, but my Google search didn’t find anyone that seemed to fit the ‘water’ bill. Can you help?” [Swamplot inbox]
“Sometimes I look back and wonder WHAT WAS I THINKING,” writes Jason Perry in a press release he sent to local media outlets announcing the closure of his late-night and after-hours establishment near Montrose and Fairview — and its coming reincarnation as a perhaps quainter little bistro. “Did I really open a penis shaped muffin restaurant, did I really spend more than half of a million dollars on a restaurant that promised to toss peoples salad[?]”
Housed in a 1940 foursquare at 2310 Converse St., the MuffinMan, which opened only a few months ago, actually promised customers a bit more than that. Perry’s possibly NSFW farewell-to-muffins press release explains it best: