10/20/14 12:00pm

By now, most of us have probably been tricked once or twice by an incredibly realistic rendering of a building that we thought was an actual photograph. Here’s something that might do the reverse: If after several viewings, you still suspect this fly-through of the 10-month-old city park forged out of the former Bethel Missionary Baptist Church at 801 Andrews St. in the Fourth Ward might have been created at least in part with modeling software, you should be excused. But it’s actual aerial footage from Seventh Ray Films, using a DGI Phantom 2 quadcopter — with a fair amount of post-production work to achieve a more “cinematic” look.

Video: Seventh Ray Films

Can Your Drone Do This?
08/27/14 12:00pm

707 Saulnier and 707 Robin Streets, Fourth Ward, Houston

Two separate apartment buildings, one 8 stories tall and the other 5, will be going up at the far east end of the Fourth Ward, just over the Gulf Fwy. from Downtown. The building bounded by Saulnier, Crosby, Heiner, and Robin will cover the entire 1.136-acre block, which is currently a surface parking lot (see photo above), and bear an address of 707 Saulnier St. The (presumably taller) building one block to the south, labeled 707 Robin St., will take up the vacant two-thirds-of-an-acre L-shaped portion of the block bounded by Robin, Crosby, Heiner, and Andrews.

Developer Alliance Residential (the same company behind the Broadstone complexes at Main St. and West Alabama in Midtown and next to the new SkyHouse downtown, as well as other complexes in the Houston area) doesn’t appear to have announced the project publicly, except to let neighbors know that construction will begin on September 8th and will shut down portions of the surrounding streets for the duration of construction, which is expected to last through October 2016.

A Swamplot reader sends these pics of the sites:

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Fourth Ward
07/31/14 3:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: A BRIEF ANNOTATED HISTORY OF ALLEN PARKWAY VILLAGE’S DIRTY NEIGHBOR Drawing of Allen Parkway Village Apartment, Fourth Ward, Houston“Wow, I never knew there was a waste incinerator right in the Fourth Ward. Here’s a handy timeline: Post-Civil War: Freed slaves construct their own neighborhood in the Fourth Ward. 1917: Camp Logan Race Riots are sparked off when a Houston policeman beats a black soldier in the Fourth Ward. 1920s: Gillette incinerator is built (PDF) right in the Fourth Ward. 1944: San Felipe Courts (today’s Allen Parkway Village) were built next to the incinerator. They were originally intended as public housing for the city (following a New Deal movement for public housing in the 1930s) but ended up being handed over to the defense department to exclusively house white WW2 veterans (PDF). The other motivation was to ‘clean up the slums’ along Allen Parkway for passing commuters. 1964: San Felipe Courts are desegregated following the Civil Rights Act and renamed to Allen Parkway Village. 1970s-90s: Developers advocated for APV’s demolition arguing that the public housing’s costs didn’t reflect the land’s ‘highest and best use.’ Meanwhile, the housing deteriorated due to neglect by the Houston Housing Authority and HUD. Residents organized and protested demolition leading to APV’s rebuilding in 1997. Today: The city can now cash in by selling a plot of polluted land next to APV now that the Fourth Ward is gentrifying.” [Carpetbagger, commenting on The Best the City Can Get for Gillette; Not Jus Donuts’ Extreme Cakeover] Illustration: Lulu

05/19/14 10:45am

Gillette St. Property at Hopson St., Fourth Ward, Houston

Remediation work is beginning on the 10.52-acre now-cleared lot along Gillette St. between Allen Pkwy. and West Dallas St. The Coastal Water Authority purchased the land, which includes the (now-former) San Felipe Park, from the City of Houston in January. These photos, sent in by reader Jimmy Hollowell, show the view from a balcony at the Ashton at West Dallas apartments, looking east along Hopson St., toward Allen Parkway Village and downtown, from just south of the Federal Reserve Bank. “The green tarping on the fence, dumpsters, and offices is new” as of last week, Hollowell reports.

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Between the Fed and APV
04/04/14 11:00am

O'Neil St. Community Garden, Sutton Square, Fourth Ward, Houston

The vacant lots shown here at the corner of Bailey and O’Neil streets will soon become a community garden for the Fourth Ward’s Sutton Square neighborhood. The properties, which measure 12,000 sq. ft. in total, sit behind the office building on West Gray purchased last year by an energy-startup accelerator program (at center and left in the photo above) and relabeled the Surge Shack.

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Growing in Sutton Square
02/06/14 11:00am

Map of Site at 1701 Allen Pkwy., HoustonHaving completed demolitions of facilities it owned on the property, including its fleet maintenance facility at 801 Gillette St., a couple of public works buildings at 812 Gillette, and a former HPD SWAT substation at 1500 W. Dallas, the city has now listed for sale the 10-1/2-acre swath of land along Allen Pkwy between the Federal Reserve building and Allen Parkway Village. The land includes San Felipe Park at 1717 Allen Pkwy., which fronts Houston’s premiere waterfront roadway opposite Buffalo Bayou Park. Also included, apparently: Land underneath 3 streets that extend into the property: Hopson St., Bailey St., and Golf Link Pl. The listing from Cushman & Wakefield says bids are due March 14th.

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San Felipe Park and All
09/05/13 2:30pm

IN PRAISE OF CARNEGIE VANGUARD’S MIXED-USE PARKING GARAGE What does HISD have to show for that $805 million approved in 2007 for new school construction and renovation? MaryScott Hagle reviews the results at Lockhart, Herod, and Peck elementaries and gives props to RdlR Architects for the design of Carnegie Vanguard High School at 1501 Taft — though she seems most taken with the parking garage, which was, she writes, “originally planned for one story that grew to two when the City of Houston offered to pitch in, in exchange for community access to the school’s ball fields on the weekends. . . . Furthermore, the garage itself is dual-purpose: when the academic day is over and the students who park on the garage roof go home, the Carnegie tennis team takes over for practice.” [OffCite] Photo: HISD

08/13/13 3:30pm

Here’s a pair of renderings of 4 new townhomes about to be built in the Fourth Ward. The site is 2 blocks south of W. Gray, near those side-by-side lots where that 5-story apartment complex Dolce Living has been proposed to go in beside a row of vacant shotgun houses.

If you look closely at these renderings, you can see at least one more remnant of the past: The remains of the brick storefront of a dry cleaner’s that opened here on the corner of Genesee and W. Webster in the 1930s; it appears that what was the store’s main entrance has been incorporated into the design and widened into a 1-car garage. Says Tim Cisneros, whose firm worked on the townhomes: “[The storefront is] being left as a part of the neighborhood ‘commercial archeology.’”

Renderings: Cisneros Design Studio

04/24/13 10:00am

Maybe they’re not ready for tenants to move in, but these Fourth Ward shotgun houses seem to have avoided demolition and potential displacement to find a new home in Freedman’s Town. Originally located on Victor St., just a few blocks south of this formerly vacant lot at 1414 Robin St., the 3 houses weren’t doing much at the rear of the site of the proposed 5-story mixed-use Dolce Living development. A rep from the Fourth Ward Redevelopment Authority says that the houses were donated to the authority by the owners and will be preserved and renovated into low-income housing; designs for the new bathrooms and porches are already underway, the rep says.

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01/28/13 4:15pm

A City of Houston rep tells Swamplot that 3 of the 10 Freedman’s Town shotgun houses on Victor St. between Gillette and Bailey will be relocated in the Fourth Ward. (The photo shows a shingle-stripped one up on a trailer and ready to go.) A permit to demolish them was granted in 2011, but the city rep says that the owners have since agreed to donate some of the houses to the Fourth Ward Redevelopment Authority, which says it has plans to move them to a lot they own at 1414 Robin and rehab them into low-income housing. Swamplot reported this morning that the West Gray lot where the rowhouses are now located has been pegged for a 5-story mixed-use midrise called Dolce Living.

Photo: Chris C

01/28/13 10:00am

A pair of West Gray lots — nearly vacant save their seen-better-days Freedman’s Town rowhouses in the back — have been put on notice as the proposed site for Dolce Living: that’s 5 stories and 176,344 sq. ft. of 1- and 2-bedroom apartments, with some street-level retail to sweeten the deal.

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08/27/12 5:50pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THOSE KIDS “. . . Let me be clear. I know exactly where I live and knew where I was moving to 8 years ago. And contrary to what assumptions have been made, I love where I live and am proud of where I live. I love the history behind it. There are great people who live in all parts of this neighborhood all the way down the street to where crack is being sold. When I read this article the first thing that pops into my head is ‘park=kids=hangout.’ I am actually glad that they’re doing what they’re doing instead of putting up yet another apartment complex. The more green and conservation and beautification, the better. A park is a park, meaning where people will congregate which also means kids. Understand that when I posted this comment, I was fresh off of witnessing kids stealing a man’s phone and he being helpless to get it back. And the kids live in this neighborhood. Which just refreshed my memory of my neighbor getting his windows busted out while driving to his house by kids that live in this neighborhood who thought it would be fun to throw rocks at cars driving down the street. I think to when I was riding my scooter and kids that live in this neighborhood thought it would be fun to throw rocks at me while I was driving down the street almost causing me to wreck. I am aware that crime happens in every neighborhood. And despite the 3 instances I just wrote about I have no desire to move. I am happy to see historical sites preserved. In fact there were plans to pave some of the streets here, including mine. As many broken peices of brick there that makes it a pain on any car to drive over, the bricks are staying and will be preserved and I’m so glad! . . .” [Holly, commenting on New Fourth Ward Park of the Open Church]

08/23/12 2:02pm

Friday is the official groundbreaking ceremony for the Fourth Ward’s new Bethel Church Park — though an eagle-eyed Swamplot reader noted workers from contractor JE Dunn getting a jump on things at the site of the former Bethel Missionary Baptist Church at Andrews St. and Crosby earlier this month. The Freedman’s Town church in the shadows of Downtown, portions of which date from 1923, was largely destroyed by fire in January 2005 after several years of sitting vacant. Its shored-up walls have stood mostly undisturbed since then.

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08/03/12 2:03pm

Some sort of work has begun on the remains of the Bethel Missionary Baptist Church on the corner of Andrews St. and Crosby in the Fourth Ward, a reader reports: “About a week ago someone put up new fencing around it, and in the past few days construction crews have started doing something to it (not sure what). . . . It used to be that the church itself was fenced off and the grassy area behind it (where the trucks are now) was open (lots of people . . . used it as an impromptu dog park). Then they pushed the fence back to cover the whole block and the trucks came in. Most mornings this week workers are dumping a bunch of stone into a waste bin that’s hauled off. I can only assume the stone is coming from the church (I don’t see where else its coming from), but I couldn’t swear to it.”

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