11/24/14 2:45pm



A Garden Oaks home likes balconies so much, it stuffs a few of them inside looking over the living room (top) as well as facing the street (above). The bones of the property beneath a tree canopied lot located just west of Yale St. date to 1940, but it’s been expanded and updated over the years. Last week, its tidy presence popped up on the market sporting a $695,000 asking price.


Canopied Lot
01/27/14 2:15pm

LANDS’ END ENDING FOR GARDEN OAKS, BUT NO SEARS’ END IN SIGHT Sears, 4000 N. Shepherd St., Garden Oaks, HoustonGarden Oaks, Oak Forest, and Independence Heights–area customers who received a not-entirely-clear email this morning from Lands’ End calling attention to the “big savings on everything” in the Sears store at 4000 N. Shepherd Dr. in Houston, but noting that “Unfortunately, we’ll be closing that location on 1/31/14″: Here’s a little explication for you. Only the Lands’ End store within the Garden Oaks Sears will be closing at the end of the month. The Sears itself will remain open, for the time being. Photo: Louisiana and Texas Southern Malls and Retail

01/13/14 10:45am

Suchu Dance, 3480 Ella Blvd., Ella Plaza Shopping Center, Oak Forest, Houston

The 1,500-sq.-ft. space deep in the crotch of the Ella Plaza Shopping Center just south of the railroad tracks at 3480 Ella Blvd. is the new home of modern dance troupe Suchu Dance. It’s also the former longtime Houston haunt of Patsy Swayze‘s Houston JazzBallet Company and the Swayze School of Dance. Long before the dance teacher made it big with her choreography for Urban Cowboy in 1980 and decamped to Hollywood, Swayze taught hundreds of gyrating Houstonians — including her 5 children, in the strip center corner. Her son Buddy, who as Patrick Swayze went on to star in Dirty Dancing and Ghost, started barging in on classes there at the age of 3, long before playing football at Waltrip High School across the street; he met his wife, Lisa Niemi, in the strip-center studio as well. He died from pancreatic cancer in 2009; his mother passed away in California’s Simi Valley last September.


Somebody Put Baby in a Strip Center Corner
10/29/13 4:00pm

Restoration has been swift at this concrete-block home in Garden Oaks that sold quickly in June 2013 — for $225,000. When the property reappeared on the market as a new listing late last week, the asking price was up to $475,000. Houston architect Allen R. Williams Jr. designed the solidly built home back in the day, the year of which was either 1950 or 1942, depending on which records apply. This year’s updates, by serial renovator Will Martin, hew close to the home’s mod origins. The original listing didn’t feature many interior photos, but the home’s latest appearance makes up for that:


10/07/13 1:15pm

FOOD TRUCKS AMONG THE TREES IN SPRING BRANCH EAST Another parcel of Houston real estate is being given over to food trucks: The Mangum Food Park is set to open in Spring Branch East in about 2 weeks, reports the Leader. The new park will be located at 2924 Mangum Rd., pictured here, just east of Hwy. 290. And unlike the busted concrete, street art, and for-lease signs that lend the Houston Food Park in East Downtown an urban grit, this spot outside the Loop would seem to have more of a rural feel: “The property . . . has been in [co-owner Paige] Hughes’ family since the early 1900s and has been a dairy farm and residence. The main work so far has been clearing ‘lots of dead trees’ . . . Enviably, there’s a row of large trees still standing along the south side of the land, which, along with canopied areas and plenty of tables, will provide shaded eating . . . .” [The Leader; previously on Swamplot] Photo of 2924 Mangum Rd.: Mangum Food Park

09/27/13 4:30pm

With its courtly interior finishes (top) and not-so ivory tower, an updated 1948 Garden Oaks home has a bit of a baronial feel. Most of the grounds, however, lie in the palatial corner property’s deep, catty-corner setback rather than its residual back yard. Garage-free, the stately brick home is located a block north of the North Loop at Lawrence St. and last sold in 2008 for $425,000. When it popped up on the market last week, the asking price had reached the princely sum of $625,000.


08/02/13 4:00pm

Look-alike exteriors on sound-alike streets of the garden variety line the ring of roadways within Garden Oaks Court, a gated compound off 34th St. west of Shepherd Dr. Neat rows of (closed) front-loading garages have shallow setbacks and support a repeating pattern of porches, balconies — and the occasional bay window. A shingles-and-siding-fronted specimen of the latter (at right) was listed earlier this week with an asking price of $298,500. Its official description touts the home’s location within the 9-year-old development as having no railroad tracks, power lines, or neighbors behind it. With 61 homes in the niche neighborhood and a popular restaurant-bar within walking distance, however, plenty of folks are close by.


05/15/13 2:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY RUNNER-UP: Y’ALL COME BY NOW, Y’HEAR? “I am thankful for Ben’s research and for putting me in touch with Robert who had the right buyer for my Dad’s house. I have always loved this house and have great memories here. It’s where I learned to appreciate unique architecture. I now live in NYC. I will have an open house on June 1st 10a to 4p if anyone would like to stop by, say hello — see the ‘before’ and the Texas shaped hot-tub my dad made in the back before it probably goes. If you are allergic to dust, wear a mask. PS — the boat is gone. long story.” [laura kellner, commenting on The Century Built Home in Garden Oaks That Sold in About an Hour]

05/13/13 11:00am

THE ART GUYS TO START UNRAVELING This is the route the Art Guys say they will be taking tomorrow morning when they stage the 5th of the yearlong series of monthly celebratory stunts they’re calling “12 Events:” Titling this one “A Length of String,” Jack Massing and Michael Galbreth will unwind a spool of thread they’ve had sitting around since 1983 while walking along White Oak Bayou between W. Tidwell and T.C. Jester, just north of the Loop, and then they’ll turn around . . . and wind it back up. Last month, you’ll remember, they donned tuxedos and conducted the sounds of the Ship Channel from the Santa Anna Capture Site in Pasadena. [Art Guys; previously on Swamplot] Map: Art Guys

05/09/13 3:45pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: HERE COME THE GOOF-Y TOWNHOUSES “The revisions to Chapter 42 mean that the fringes of Oak Forest, Garden Oaks and Spring Branch can be built up with lots of townhomes and other inner loop-esque density. Given that you now have to shell out $500-$800k to live in OF, GO or many parts of Spring Branch, I would bet that, all things constant, this listing would be seen as a steal in five to ten years . . .” [Old School, commenting on Houston Home Listing Photo of the Day: Number 1, Fan]

05/09/13 3:00pm

Here’s the third of 4 houses designed by not-so-famous Houston architect Allen R. Williams in the 1940s and fifties, dubbed “Century Built” homes. If the name was intended to indicate how long the concrete-block homes were all supposed to last, the record isn’t so stellar: The one off Campbell Rd. was torn down some time ago. But the others are doing fine: One in Idylwood was snatched up by an architect a few years ago, and another in Country Club Place has served as a showcase for the renovation work of its current owner, architect Ben Koush.

But this unrenovated Century Built home at 851 W. 43rd St., in the middle of Garden Oaks, didn’t last so long, either: Real estate agent Robert Searcy tells Swamplot he had it locked up in a contract very quickly earlier this week, after he made a few phone calls. Not to a builder — the sellers didn’t want the place to be torn down — but reportedly to a serial renovator interested in Midcentury modern design.


03/04/13 2:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THAT’S A DIFFERENT KIND OF GROWTH IN OAK FOREST “The new $550k mcmansions in Oak Forest are replacing other housing units one for one, and the types of households that are getting displaced were already reasonably well-off and were all also living in houses that were just as sufficient to accommodate large families as the houses that are replacing them. By comparison, neighborhoods like Montrose, the Washington Avenue Corridor/Rice Military, and Uptown/Briargrove have been actively displacing small lower-income households with vast numbers of affluent households. I’d wager that there isn’t much of an increase in the number of people per household either, but the sheer number is increasing in a way that the deed restrictions in Oak Forest or Garden Oaks ensure will never happen there. Meanwhile, a $550k mcmansion in one of the single-family neighborhoods in those parts of town is often pushing the $1 million mark, and I’m sure that that also correlates to the types and profit margins of groceries that are purchased. So if you’re wondering why you don’t have urban core amenities in the suburbs . . . it’s because you live in the suburbs. They got built out a long time ago, the retail base is already established, and improvements will be slow and incremental.” [TheNiche, commenting on Apartments To Be Knocked Down for New H-E-B, Apartments on San Felipe]

01/30/13 4:07pm

Shadow-hued through and through, an updated Garden Oaks home has a floor plan that’s a bit like a slice of Neapolitan ice cream. Room functions — sleeping quarters, living areas, and food-related spaces — stripe the home in thirds. Compact but fully loaded, the property listed earlier this week at an even $249,000. It last sold in 2009, for $198,500.