03/31/15 4:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: HOW THOSE NEW FIFTH WARD DRIVEWAYS CAME TO REACH ALL THE WAY INTO THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET Townhomes Under Construction, 400 Bayou St., Fifth Ward, Houston“Here’s how you get to this point. (i) Neighborhood gets built with gravel streets, ditch drainage. (ii) City goes in and widens most of the streets in the neighborhood in the 1960s. 40′ asphalt, curb and gutter. Baron St. misses out on the neighborhood-wide repave because it has a railroad track in the middle. (iii) Railroad track gets abandoned, trackbed gets paved over, no one ever improves Baron. (iv) Townhome developer comes in and wants to put in a driveway. Houston Infrastructure Design Manual says any culvert in City right-of-way has to be 24″ minimum. Developer’s engineer knows if he touches that old 60s curb inlet he’ll have to replace it to current spec, better to match the flowline and save eight or ten large. Culverts go in and look huge because 24″ on top of the existing flowline is above the crown of the road. (v) Swamplot readers are confused because the 60s-era curb and gutter doesn’t match the existing right-of-way.” [Purple CIty, commenting on Here’s One Way To Get Extra Long Driveways for Your Fifth Ward Townhome] Photo: Swamplot inbox

03/31/15 3:15pm

Scene of Auto Accident at Baron St. and Bayou St., Fifth Ward, Houston

Townhomes Under Construction, 400 Bayou St., Fifth Ward, HoustonAs a cautionary demonstration of the hazards of the kind of wacky old-roadway-meets-new-driveway construction found in front of a set of under-construction townhomes at the corner of Bayou and Baron streets in the Fifth Ward, the accident pictured here doesn’t quite hold up to extended scrutiny. Sure, it might be tough for a vehicle to stay on the asphalt when a stretch of roadway suddenly disappears and new concrete driveways stretch across it (as illustrated in the second photo above). But here the damaged Escalade appears to have crashed into a stationary hazard on the opposite side of the street.


Dude, Where’s My Road?
03/30/15 1:30pm

Townhomes Under Construction, 400 Bayou St., Fifth Ward, Houston

How did these townhomes under construction on the northeast corner of Bayou and Baron streets in the Fifth Ward come by their extra-long, tongue-like driveways? It’s not exactly clear, but the reader who sent these pix of the project and its rather prominent culvert-leaping flatwork thinks the answer might have something to do with a willingness to build well past the property line — or at least a lack of familiarity with where the property line actually is. The orange complex across the street, in the background of the photo above, is the Kennedy Place Apartments. Here’s a view of the townhomes from that side, looking east:


Just Add Street
01/06/15 1:30pm

Variance Sign for Living Green, MDI Superfund Site, 3617 Baer St., Fifth Ward, Houston

Signs have gone up around the former metal foundry site at 3617 Baer St. in the Fifth Ward indicating that a hearing is scheduled for this Thursday to get city approval for the latest rejiggering of homesites on the 35-acre tract. Developer Frank Liu of Lovett Homes, InTown Homes, and a few other local builder brands plans to put a total of 538 homes (down from 589) on the EPA-monitored property, known as the MDI Superfund Site after the last owner of the metal-casting operations, Many Diversified Interests, which shut down in the early 1990s (previously, the plants were owned by TESCO). The property, which lies just south of I-10 about 2 miles of east of downtown, was listed on the EPA’s list of priority Superfund sites in 1999, after tests showed the soil and groundwater was contaminated with lead and other hazardous metals.


Living Green
12/23/14 3:15pm


A teaser website is now up and more work is underway on the Residences at Hardy Yards, touted as a component of the Near Northside’s very first mixed-use development. The apartments — “part of a comprehensive, mixed-use redevelopment of the Hardy Rail Yard site,” per city documents — are going in on 5 acres of the long-neglected former Southern Pacific and Union Pacific rail yard near the corner of N. Main St. and Burnett St., 2 blocks north of I-10, hard by the new MetroRail line, and just east of UH-Downtown. 

Earlier this month City Council approved a performance-based loan of $14,500,000 in federal hurricane relief money to the Houston and Financing Corporation-created entity HY FS LLC to build a 350-residential unit development on part of the 49-acre recently guerrilla-gardened property.

One condition of the loan: that 179 of the total of 350 one- and 2-bedroom units be affordable:


Tracks To Flats
11/12/14 12:00pm

Proposed Community Park at Kelly Village Housing Development, 3118 Green St., Fifth Ward, Houston

Signs are now up along the feeder road of the East Fwy. near Gregg St., a reader tells Swamplot, announcing an impending construction project on the site where last year demolition crews removed 63 units belonging to the Kelly Village Apartments that had been left to decay after sustaining damage from Hurricane Ike. Scheduled to go up soon in its place is the $800,000 freeway-side park illustrated above, which was announced last year. The 3-acre site near the confluence of I-10 and Hwy. 59 will include a playground, jogging and walking trails, exercise spots, and a community garden.

Rendering: Houston Housing Authority

A Park at Kelly Village
08/19/14 4:45pm



Surreal artwork and rustic structural components left exposed seem to meld into a single composition within the Fifth Ward home and studio of artist Bert Long Jr., who died in February 2013. Fifteen years ago, the attached double-shotgun row houses had been painstakingly renovated (and combined) as the year-long thesis project of Brett Zamore, then a Rice University graduate architecture student. Long, who grew up nearby and was returning to Houston at the time, bought the property near the end of its transformation but before an art studio was added — for $30,000 $70,000 — and lived there with his wife, artist Joan Batson. The mixed-use property is located in the Pinecrest Court neighborhood near Wheatley High School, east of Waco St. and south of I-10. It was listed for sale this morning, with an asking price of $200,000.


Home and Studio
01/23/14 10:30am

DeLuxe Theater, 3300 Lyons Ave., Fifth Ward, Houston

And look — all it took was a little uh, clearance from the city. You can see the working arm of the excavator inside what used to be the innards of the DeLuxe Theater at 3300 Lyons Ave. in this photo from this morning sent to Swamplot by a reader. Long the focus of various repurposing plans, the shell now appears ready for its latest renovation project.


Innards Out
10/08/13 12:00pm

A reader sends these photos of the dirt that’s been moved at the corner of Meadow and Baron, where a rep from Urban Lofts says a new pack of townhouses will soon stand. (Presales haven’t yet begun.) West of Jensen and just a few blocks north of the former KBR property, the site bumps up against Swiney Park; it’s catty-corner from another 30 Urban Lofts townhouses on Sydnor, all of which have sold.


09/19/13 1:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: ROLLING OUT A NEW PIECE OF THE FIFTH WARD “Did y’all know that Montrose used to be within the 4th Ward, or that Midtown and EaDo used to be mostly within the 3rd Ward? The neighborhood that the original commenter referred to (south of I-10, west of Bringhurst) needs to be rebranded because it actually is different in character and is affected by different factors than what exists north of I-10. And I really hate to say that because it’ll pick up some cliched cutesy-ass name at some tremendous expense to the community in consulting fees. But as I can see from the comments on this thread, the results would amply compensate for the expense and embarrassment.” [TheNiche, commenting on Comment of the Day Runner-Up: Throwing Out Some Numbers on the Fifth Ward] Illustration: Lulu

09/17/13 11:45am

A reader sends in photos of a purty sunset lighting up this building’s “new paint and wood” in the Fifth Ward, right across Clinton Dr. from the former KBR site and its improved dirt. And what’s all this paint and wood gonna be for? A pizza place? Taco stand? The reader can only speculate: “Keep asking the construction folks when they are around but they don’t know. If you notice on top of the building they added a brand new ventilation/AC system, so we hope something starts soon.”


08/16/13 2:30pm

Here’s a short documentary, uploaded at the end of July, about a group of Fifth Warders doing “guerrilla gardening” — as one shovel-wielding fella describes it — on a bit of the Hardy Yards, that 50-acre patch of former Union Pacific rail yard off Burnett St., just north of Downtown.

Video: Aprill Renee

07/29/13 2:00pm

Swamplot reader Robert Meaney sends some observations along with these photos from the Fifth Ward of the 136-acre former KBR industrial property, sold a little more than a year ago and most recently designated for use as a private helistop: “I know they have been excavating for some time to get the contaminated soil out of the area. Currently they are scheduled to be finished digging up the lot by [December of] this year and according [to] the KBR manager I talked to on site the land will be up to commercial and residential standards.”

Photos: Robert Meaney

06/05/13 11:25am

MOM’S LETTER LEADS CITY TO RAZE DERELICT FIFTH WARD HOUSING Yesterday, this Komatsu finished the job that Hurricane Ike started, taking out 63 damaged units of the Houston Housing Authority’s Kelly Village Apartments at 1119 Grove St. in the Fifth Ward — and at least one of the residents is happy to see ‘em go: “Lacrecha St. Jules,” who wrote a letter to the Housing Authority requesting that something be done, reports the Houston Chronicle, “spent plenty of sleepless nights worrying about her four children as drug dealers and thugs made themselves at home in [the] vacant buildings. . . . ‘It was dark, and there were rapes back there . . . It was a bunch of negatives, and I just wanted to turn it into a positive.’” North of I-10 and east of U.S. 59, the apartments, which showed up in yesterday’s Daily Demolition Report, date to 1930; the city says it plans to build an $800,000, 3-acre park in their place, with room for a jogging trail and garden. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo: KHOU via Facebook