06/13/17 10:30am

Developer Giorgio Borlenghi may have just shelved plans to build the 26-story condo tower he had dubbed Villa Borghese on the 1.43-acre site a block south of Westheimer at Bammel Ln. and Earl Ln., but work clearing the property of the 15 separate cottage-y structures that once stood in the way of the now-on-hold project has not stopped. A reader sends pics of the scene from last Thursday, as workers from Cherry House Moving mounted the houses-turned-shops-and-offices surrounding the shuttered wedding venue known as the Gardens of Bammel Lane onto steel rails and prepared them for exit:

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There They Go, Borghese or Not
05/04/15 1:45pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE ART OF OBTAINING CITY PERMITS Moving House for Fifth Ward Jam“When Havel Ruck Projects was commissioned to create ‘Fifth Ward Jam,’ it was under the premise that it was temporary (although 5th Ward CRC decided to keep and maintain it). We needed to obtain a permit to move the shack we used for the piece to the empty lot where it stands today. With the help of Fifth Ward CRC, we met with city permit people and discussed that we were not creating a dwelling, but a work of art. They said we needed a building permit to move the house. We said it was our desire that we did not need a building permit after moving the house because it was going to be made into a work of art. So, saying they never have done this before, they wrote us up a creative permit that deemed the house a dwelling while it was being picked up and moved, but it would be officially deemed an ‘art structure’ after it was on the site, thus allowing us not to need building permits to construct the piece. With a little education and persuasion, the permit people can be pretty accommodating . . . seems back in the day, us artists did stuff and then apologized later.” [Dan Havel, commenting on Saving Houston’s Unzoned Artistic Spirit] Illustration: Lulu

12/23/14 10:00am

END OF YEAR MONTROSE HOME CLEARANCE 1225 Welch St., Hyde Park, Montrose, HoustonLooking for that last-minute, low-cost, blockbuster Christmas gift for a certain someone who has . . . a place to put anything? Over on Craigslist, someone is offering this well-worn, 2-bedroom, 2-bath 1925 bungalow in Hyde Park for the gotta-grab-it-now price of free. What’s the catch? Just explain it to the gift recipient as a New Year’s resolution: The home must be removed from its lot at 1225 Welch St. by January 15th. (Which will certainly end up costing a fair bit more than free.) Meanwhile, the same home is still listed for sale on MLS — with its 5,000-sq.-ft. lot — for a somewhat higher price: $525,000. [Craigslist; HAR]

08/14/14 3:15pm

1815 Cortlandt St., Houston Heights

Relocation Map of 1815 Cortlandt St., Houston Heights to 1026 Lathrop St., Denver Harbor, HoustonHouston’s city council voted last week to allow the owner of the home pictured above at 1815 Cortlandt St. in the Houston Heights to move the 1942 bungalow to 1026 Lathrop St. in Denver Harbor. It was a notable decision, if only for the fact that the council was voting on a housemove at all. According to the attorney who presented the case for the homeowners, this was not just the first time that the council had overturned a decision from the city’s architectural and historical commission; it was the first time a historic-district appeal had even reached the city council.

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A Moving, Historic Decision
02/10/14 10:15am

Homes Moved to Lubbock Grove, Near Sampson and Preston Streets, East End, Houston

Two of the 6 wood-framed Victorian refugees renewable-energy exec Michael Skelly and his wife Anne Whitlock had moved last month to lots adjacent to the red-brick former fire house at 319 Sampson St. they’re renovating as their home are still not spoken for, according to Lisa Gray’s account: “One of the houses will become Whitlock and Skelly’s guest house. They’ve been trying to entice friends to buy and rehab the others, to join what Anne calls ‘our crazy adventure.’ Generally, the couple’s friends aren’t interested in moving themselves — though some like the idea for one of their kids, or as an investment in an area sure to gentrify. Real-estate broker Tom Bacon, a friend of Skelly’s, referred his son Drew, a 25-year-old artist who recently moved back from Brooklyn. In the little house across from the firehouse, he’ll be only a short walk from his studio on Preston. So far, Whitlock and Skelly have enticed one friend from their own generation: Diana Espitía, who serves on the Houston Parks Board with Michael. Espitía, who now lives in Southgate, plans to connect two of the houses, forming a home large enough for her, her teenage daughter, her brother and her parents, who are in their 60s. Her parents, says Espitía, love the new neighborhood; it reminds them of their old home in Bogotá.

Photo: Janusz Design

Any More Takers?
01/17/14 5:15pm

Lubbock Grove Homes, St. Charles and Garrow Sts., Second Ward, Houston

Lubbock Grove Homes, St. Charles and Garrow Sts., Second Ward, Houston

Got big plans for Saturday night? These 6 Victorian-era Second Ward rowhouses will be parading down 8 blocks of Garrow St. past Settegast Park east of Downtown to new spots further east, in time to escape the construction of some impending townhomes on their longtime lots. The move was originally scheduled for early last week, but was postponed because of a damaged utility pole discovered along the route. (It was also kinda cold.)

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Fire Station Friends
05/30/13 3:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THEY GET AROUND IN THAT PART OF TOWN “. . . Welcome to the East End, where humble homes like you are still welcome (for now). And within walking distance of both MetroRail AND Elbow and Nipple. Take a train or fix a drain.” [Dana-X, commenting on Chapter 2: The Little Gibson St. Bungalow Finds a New Home]

05/18/12 8:28pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: YOUR BASIC HOUSEMOVING DEAL “We’ll be moving a small house in the Heights off a lot that we are clearing for construction. Basically the removal company pays you $10 for the structure, and after they move it they scrape the lot to a demo standard. So you save the demo costs, maybe $5k, and you recycle the house. The house we bought was the childhood home of the man we bought it from — it had been in the family for decades — so it felt like the decent thing to do; the savings will be used to upgrade my future oven, and not much more, given the cost of building a new house. The movers sell the house for $20k—$30k, maybe more if its in good shape. So as long as their own costs for the demo and the move are less than the sale price, they make out okay. The houses tend to be used as rentals, starter homes, hunting camps, etc. It takes a good deal longer to clear a lot this way compared to a straight demo, and you run the risk that the structure will never sell. But if you have a bit of patience it’s a good deal.” [KG, commenting on Bungalow on the Loose: Duplex Splits West Drew in the Middle of the Night]

11/03/11 5:00pm

Yesterday was moving day for 2 unusual Downtown buildings: The 1905 Cohn and 1904 Foley (above) houses cattycorner from the George R. Brown Convention Center. Leftover single-family homes from an area once known as Quality Hill and now strangers in the land of skyscrapers and stadiums, they’d be notable Downtown residents even if they weren’t designated historic structures. The city is moving them across the street and a block closer to Minute Maid Park, where they’re intended to become add-ons to a mysterious Regional Tourism Center proposed for the 600 block of Avenida de las Americas. According to plans flashed at the last public meeting for the Downtown/EaDo Livable Centers Study, this new building dedicated to Upper Texas Gulf Coast vacationers would face the westbound light-rail line along Capitol St. and sit at the bottom of an unidentified residential tower:

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02/17/11 1:52pm

In separate moves on Tuesday and Wednesday night, Cherry House Moving rolled pieces of this sold-at-auction stray house from its longstanding freeway-side location in the parking lot of the police station downtown to a new home opposite the corner of Sabine and Lubbock in the Old Sixth Ward. First though, the former home of woodworker Gottlieb Eisele was chopped down the middle and decapitated. Architect and housewrangler Kirby Mears, who snapped the above photo of Tuesday night’s journey down Sabine St., says that’s not a problem, because he’d already planned to replace the structure’s bungalow-style roof — which was built in the 1920s after a lightning strike — with a gable roof meant to match the 1872 original. One exception: The home’s new roof will feature lightning rods.

Both halves of the house are now sitting on steel beams and wheels at the new site, Mears reports. “We are in the process of determining exactly where it will go. As soon as it is set on a foundation, the new roof will begin. Drying it in is our first priority.” Here’s his preliminary drawing of the new Sabine St. elevation:

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12/14/10 12:53pm

The City of Houston permitting office has worked its artistic magic: There’s a house now sitting on the lot at 3705 Lyons Ave. in the Fifth Ward that’s officially classified as a sculpture. Last week, it was just a run-down bungalow a couple of miles to the northwest, at 3012 Erastus St. At what point along its journey — which after several postponements finally took place last Thursday night — did the transformation occur? City officials and demo artists Dan Havel and Dean Ruck can’t pinpoint it. But we’ve got a few photos of the move. Maybe someone can point out for us the exact moment the art began?

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12/07/10 11:54am

Note: Nope, not tonight. See update below.

Sometime after 9 pm tonight — if rain doesn’t postpone its scheduled journey from 3012 Erastus St. in Houston’s Fifth Ward to a new home on Lyons Ave. — this abandoned house will become art. That’s not just the contention of Dan Havel and Dean Ruck, the two demolition artists responsible for the move; it’s actually detailed in the city permits they obtained for “Fifth Ward Jam,” a temporary public-art project they’re creating with funding from the Houston Arts Alliance. After Wooten House Movers set up the structure in its new location, Havel and Ruck will start tearing it up and reconstructing it. But the move is what will make it art — because the city says so. “The permit office had a hard time categorizing just exactly what to call our project,” Havel tells Swamplot:

Is it a house, is it a sculpture? Is it both? The black and white rules of permitting needed to be utilized. The best way to do that is to first call the house a structure in order to obtain the permits to move it. However, once the house is placed on the property, it ceases to be an inhabitable structure and will be transformed into a sculptural environment. So, somewhere along the moving route, whether it is half way between two sites or when it physically enters the new site, it will be officially categorized as a sculpture.

So when we reconstruct the house into a sculpture, we do not need a building permit because it is now a sculpture. Pretty funny logic, if you ask me, but it makes sense. The permit guys were certainly scratching their heads, but we got our permits.

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12/06/10 10:37am

The future looked a bit dire last week for the strange, dilapidated bungalow hiding in the back of a parking lot of the old HPD HQ building, just across the Gulf Freeway from the Downtown Aquarium. A 10-day online auction for the city-owned building ended with no bids. And the requirements of the bidder looked a little steep: partial demolition, repairs, a move, and restoration.

But a second one-day-only last-chance auction produced — surprise! — an actual bidder at the initial $1,000 asking price. Lucky winner Kirby Mears says he’s representing an “out-of-town client” who plans to restore the 1872 home to its original condition. “She’s very excited,” he tells Swamplot. But he says the former residence of Sixth Ward carpenter and contractor Gottlieb Eisele — last used as an office for the HPD’s old Explorer program — is in bad shape: “It will be a major restoration, and in the end have a new roof which will match the original in design, slope, and eave details.” It’ll also have a new home:

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12/01/10 12:56pm

How about another go of it? The auction of the 1872-vintage former home of Gottlieb Eisele, now a vacant and dilapidated former HPD office surrounded by parking lots and the Gulf Freeway, ended last night with no bids. But today it’s back on the block, with a brand-new item number and a new closing-gavel time of 8 pm tonight. For a minimum bid of $1,000, the opportunity to partially demolish, jack up, repair, move, restore, and then register this property can be yours.

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