HOW THE GREEN THAT’S GREENING UP HOUSTON IS GROWING Houston, which as Allyn West writes in the latest edition of Rice Business was “once defined primarily by its freeways and parking lots”, has been catching some attention outside the Outer Outer Loop for its surge in spending on parks and public spaces in the last decade or so, with more in the pipeline: in-progress and still-on-the-drawing-board plans include redos of Levy Park, Emancipation Park, Memorial Park, the Houston Arboretum, and turninge the Sims Bayou-straddling site of Glenbrook Park Golf Course into a Seuss-ical Houston Botanic Garden (shown above). Also on the radar of folks watching Houston’s slow greenification, West notes: the fact that hundreds of millions of dollars for the new or boosted green spaces have come from private fundraising and donations, and that most of the projects are being developed through public-private partnerships, which “allow certain parks to be chosen, so to speak, so as to be better stewarded by private philanthropy.”[Rice Business] Image of proposed Houston Botanic Garden: West 8
COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHY HOUSTON GREENSPACES CAN’T SHARE THE GREEN “The big money is coming from private donations (Buffalo Bayou Partnership, Hermann Park Conservancy, Memorial Park Conservancy), most likely with ‘strings attached’ that require that they must be used in a specific park. I’m sure the Parks and Rec people would love to do more special projects in the neighborhood parks, but it’s also going to require someone with deep pockets to step up for them.” [slugline, commenting on The Places a 117-Ft.-Tall Yellow Corkscrew Tower Could Fit In Along Buffalo Bayou] Illustration: Lulu
CROWDWATERING, CROWDGOBBLING SUCCESSES Crowdfunding efforts for 2 separate Houston ventures featured on Swamplot last month have achieved their fundraising goals. Rebecca Masson tells Swamplot that “Fluff Bake Bar will happen,” after a campaign on Kickstarter brought in $53,580 in donations. But Masson says she’s “still in talks” with the landlord about the new Midtown retail sweet shop she’s planning; location details won’t be announced until there’s a signed lease. Meanwhile, $3,035 brought in from a campaign on YouCaring means 20 new trees donated to Meadowcreek Village Park by Trees for Houston will have enough water to drink for 2 years. Got concerns about what the trees will drink after that? The campaign still has 9 days to go before it closes. Map: Meadowcreek Village Civic Club Beautification Committee
The undisclosed location of the planned Fluff Bake Bar retail location and bar is somewhere in Midtown, owner Rebecca Masson tells Swamplot. But there’s a bit of fundraising to do before the former Top Chef Just Desserts contestant can sign the lease she’s been getting ready for the space. The self-described “Sugar Hooker” currently operates her wholesale dessert business out of space she shares with 5 other businesses in the Kraftsmen Cafe kitchen at 611 W. 22nd St. in the Heights, selling fluffernutters, cake-in-cup cupcakes, and macaroons to retailers such as Revival Market, Double Trouble, Southside Espresso, and Inversion Coffee House. But if her just-launched Kickstarter campaign bears fruit . . . er, compote, she’ll move all operations to the new space. In addition to desserts, Masson is hoping to serve beer and wine at her “proper dessert bar.” She’s hoping to bring in $50,000 in crowdfunded donations within a month.
Photo of Kraftsmen Cafe: Soo Kim
A Dessert Bar Bar
A TREESTARTER FOR MEADOWCREEK VILLAGE PARK There’s no ponderous selfie video to go with the appeal (a more generic promotional vid from Trees for Houston is posted instead), but the Beautification Committee of the Meadowcreek Village Civic Club has taken to a crowdfunding site to raise money for twenty 15-gallon trees they hope to plant at drought-stricken Meadowcreek Village Park on Forest Oaks Blvd. just south of Allendale Rd. The $3,000 the committee hopes to raise from online donations won’t be going to buy the trees, however — Trees for Houston has already donated them. Instead, they’re trying to fund the trees’ watering costs for 2 years, which committee chair Joe Rocha figures will cost $75 per tree per annum. With a mere 43 days to go before the end-of-the-year watering-fund deadline, the campaign is almost a third of the way toward its goal. [YouCaring] Drawing of Meadowcreek Village Park: Beautification Committee
HALF THE $25.8M NEEDED FOR MIDTOWN ARTS CENTER RAISED Looks like the money for that proposed theater and gallery complex on Main St. keeps rolling in, reports the Houston Chronicle: “Fundraising up to now,” reports Flori Meeks, “has yielded about $12.3 million.” But the little meter on the website for the Midtown Arts and Theater Center Houston — or The MATCH for short — says that the troupe-friendly group already has $13.2 million; that’s 51 percent of the $25.8 million needed to get started on the Lake Flato- and Studio Red-designed building (shown here) on the existing surface parking lot that’s bound by Main, Travis, Francis, and Holman. And what’s it going to be when that other $12.6 million’s in pocket? “While designs have yet to be finalized,” reports Meeks, “current plans for the 59,000-square-foot building call for a large 350-seat theater, three black-box theater spaces with flexible seating configurations, two rehearsal spaces that can also be used for performances and exhibits, a large gallery area, more than 6,000 feet of office space, a central public breezeway that can be used for performances and exhibits and a coffee and wine bar.” [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Rendering: The MATCH
GRANTS TO SPARK MIDTOWN ARTS CENTER FUNDRAISING The consortium of independent arts organizations planning a theater and gallery complex at the corner of Main and Holman just got a step closer to the $25 million it needs to build the project. Two weeks ago, the group received a $750K grant from the Fondren Foundation. Last week it got word of an even bigger haul: a $6 million grant from the Houston Endowment. In August, the group — which includes DiverseWorks, Fotofest, and Main St. Theater — changed its name from the Independent Arts Collaborative to “The MATCH,” short for the Midtown Arts and Theatre Center Houston. The 59,000-sq.-ft. complex at 3400 Main St. is being designed by a match-up of San Antonio’s Lake Flato Architects and Houston’s Studio Red. [Previously on Swamplot] Rendering: The MATCH
COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE CRY OF THE INSTITUTIONAL FUNDRAISER “It’s all well and good to have a foundation, but what’s the fun of being a billionaire if you don’t have some buildings with your name on it?” [Robert Boyd, commenting on Midtown Arts Center Interim Design Review: How Do You Like It Now?]
An article on Bloomberg.com forwarded by a reader provides an update on the progress of fundraising efforts for the Houston Ballet’s new building Downtown planned for the block surrounded by Congress, Smith, Preston, and Louisiana streets. You’ll remember that back in August, Ballet managing director Cecil C. Conner told the Chronicle‘s Molly Glentzer that the board had raised “about 70 percent of the funds” needed for the $53 million building — which the organization hopes to have ready for move-in by 2011.
What’s the latest news, 3 months later?
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