COMMENT OF THE DAY: IN ‘HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM,’ HOUSTON HAD THE SOLUTION “Oy. If you put a bit of thought into the phrase you might remember that it was a clarion call for help in which “Houston” solved the problem and was held the hero. Hackneyed yes. Annoying no. Try living in Cleveland, Ohio where ‘the mistake by the lake’ gets repeatedly uttered.” [Diaspora, commenting on Exploring the Size and Scope of Houston’s ‘Houston, We Have a Problem’ Problem] Photo of device installed in-flight on Apollo 13 using duct tape, maps, and other materials on hand: NASA
WHEN GOOGLE MAPS REVEALS YOUR HOME’S SOGGY SHAME “Google Maps has outed us as a city that floods,” laments meteorologist Brooks Garner, giving voice to would-be sellers of flooded homes worried that recent soggy aerial views will remain in the mapping system for years: “It should be said that legally, home owners must disclose if their home has ever flooded (or even if their property has flooded, while their actual house stayed dry). While that’s defeating enough to have to do, words are less influencing to a buyer’s decision than seeing an actual image of the inundated neighborhood. It arguably gives the impression that the water is still that high. . . . KHOU 11 has featured Realtors on our News at 4pm who’ve speculated that once people ‘forget’ about the floods, depressed home values in submerged areas will return to their pre-Harvey prices. (At least one realtor with that opinion was a victim of flooding himself, so I wonder if that fact influenced his statement.) . . . Here are several other ‘unfair’ things: Neighborhoods which experienced short-term flooding, but saw it subside after a day or two, were largely missed by the Google satellite update. They look high and dry. The only ‘tell’ in some is the trash which is piled high along the sidewalks. Drywall, couches, mattresses and furniture making up these walls of debris. It’s so extensive in places like Meyerland you can see [it] from space. In other areas like Hall Rd. off Beamer in southeast Houston, the satellite-update at time of this blog’s publishing apparently ‘missed’ the neighborhood and as a result, things look totally normal despite the huge mounds of refuse still present today.” [KHOU] Screenshot of Cinco Ranch on Google Maps: KHOU
Popular yet again in Houston: The DID NOT FLOOD sign topper. Here’s a new one spotted by wandering photographer Joshua House in front of the Covington Builders 4-story townhome development at 3821 N. Braeswood Blvd., one block north of Brays Bayou and a couple blocks east of Stella Link.
Where have you spotted signs like these in Harvey’s aftermath? Please send pics and coordinates to us. Swamplot wants to know what DID NOT FLOOD.
Photo: Joshua House
Above It All
COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE EVEN BIGGER REASON HOUSTON MIGHT WANT TO ADDRESS ITS FLOODING PROBLEMS “People in Houston need to talk with people in other parts of the country to be able to understand the need for funding massive improvements in our flood control infrastructure. I had friends and family from LA to Philly telling me to get out of the city and come stay with them as soon as it was possible to travel out of the city. My sister even offered to drive her minivan over 1,200 miles to come rescue me. I still have family asking me whether they should cancel plans to visit over Thanksgiving for fear that hotels will be full and no rental cars are available.
It is easy to get all worked up about taxes when you did not get flooded and go into the usual red state “don’t tax me, tax that guy behind the tree” mode. But much more is at stake for Houston than whether parts of the city keep flooding. We run the risk of being seen as a city that is not worth the risk for existing and prospective businesses. People in Houston are getting used to these flood events and are not pressed into action by aerial footage on CNN showing Buffalo Bayou turning into a raging torrent. But everywhere else in the US, people see that and are completely freaked out by it. If we continue with applying band aids and do not make any big dramatic moves to improve our flood control infrastructure, we will not only be risking future catastrophic flooding but will also be risking losing current and future business to cities that are on higher ground away from the path of hurricanes and tropical storms.” [Old School, commenting on Comment of the Day: Abandoned Neighborhoods Make Great Detention Ponds] Illustration: Lulu
IN WHICH THE OWNER OF THAT MANNEQUIN-PACKED HOUSE IN RICHMOND ANSWERS YOUR QUESTIONS AND THE REST OF THE COUNTRY’S “I’m just trying to sell my house,” says the long-time artist resident of 4302 Colony West Dr. in Richmond (the mind-boggling contents of which sent no fewer than 10 readers scrambling to send the listing to the Swamplot tip line earlier this week). “No, I’m not a hoarder. I could go down the list of things people are accusing me of. Yes, I own a weird business, but artists are weird, and if you find a normal artist [they’re] probably not a good one.” Those answers are all prompted by questions from Marcelino Benito, who toured the house this week for KHOU after the listing went nationally viral. The house and its contents have been viewed millions of times and have made the news in such far flung locations as St. Louis, MO, (where local station KMOV referred to its interior decor as ‘the stuff of nightmares‘) — in addition to being gawked at by readers of both the Huffington and the New York posts. As for what seems to be another burning question on the minds of some of the folks calling in with actual offers on the home — “Will you leave a mannequin for me?” — the owner’s answer appears to be a furrowed eyebrow or 2 and a “well . . . okay.” [KHOU; previously on Swamplot] Photo of 4302 Colony West Dr.: HAR
COMMENT OF THE DAY: RENOVATABILITY IS IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER “When we were home shopping in the Memorial Villages area, we considered several homes that were marketed as ‘Lot Value Only/No Showings of the House’. What I discovered was: 1) A buyer is a buyer. Any professional listing agent who is doing right by his client will be happy to show a home’s interior to a qualified buyer. (If he/she wants to renovate the house, that’s his/her business). 2) What is considered ‘lot value’ in Memorial Villages can be quite livable, even moderately luxurious, by ‘normal’ standards, including mine.” [Grant, commenting on Piney Point Home Listing Photo of the Day: Let It Slide] Photo of 2 Memorial Point Ln.: HAR
Those Swamplot commenters who’ve been taking particular and unabashed pleasure in the long, slow demise of the former city code enforcement office at 3300 Main St. may also enjoy the shot above of the flooded pit spotted recently where the Mod office building once stood. Reader Diaspora (who sent in the photo late last week) suggests the site as potential competition for the folks behind the Houston Needs a Swimming Hole campaign, which Kickstartered a feasibility study a few years ago (and also passed around an illustration of an optimistically blue-watered bayouside beachfront, shown below):
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Lakes of Main St.
Technically, that’s just $499,423, cash sale, only — but you get the idea. The former Monta Beach Boy Scout Lodge at 3003 Dover St. was build in 1937 and converted into a 2-bedroom house in the early 1950s. The 1,400-sq.-ft. home sits a few blocks from the east-facing armpit of I-45 South and the 610 Loop, on a 21,600-sq.-ft. property backed up against a drainage channel leading to Sims Bayou. The home was featured by the Chronicle in 2007, after the current owner (turned current listing agent) redid the wiring and chinking between logs; that article is now featured prominently in the listing, too, with a few other write-ups:
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Pining Near Sims Bayou
HOW MANY DOWNTOWNS DOES HOUSTON HAVE? The list of Houston neighborhoods with potential to be mistaken for Downtown by outsiders, Blake Mathews of KHOU writes this week, is long, and includes at least “Uptown (Galleria), the Texas Medical Center, Greenspoint, Greenway Plaza, The Woodlands and perhaps even Westchase.” So what makes a Downtown? Mathews runs through some factors for consideration, ranging from the city’s population density center (which falls somewhere west of Downtown) to total office space (Uptown has less than downtown Houston, but more than downtown Denver) to building height (with a specific shoutout to the Williams Tower, pictured here.) [KHOU] Photo of Williams Tower: Russell Hancock via Swamplot Flickr Pool
COMMENT OF THE DAY: HOUSTON NEEDS A NEW T-SHIRT “. . . LA and New York marketers just don’t know enough about Houston or don’t bother to learn more. They just hear ‘Houston’ and queue up the rocket launch. This might have been magnified by the rumor that PR firms in Houston were overlooked to market the Super Bowl. But maybe now that the elites have seen Houston thanks to the Super Bowl that will change. It is like when you tell your great-aunt you like Lord of the Rings when you are 12 and so she buys you LOTR T-Shirts for the next 20 years.” [rex, commenting on Taking on the ‘Houston, We Have a Problem’ Problem]
STEERING CLEAR OF THE SUPER BOWL CROWDS, WHETHER THEY SHOW UP OR NOT Steve Jansen of the Houston Press runs through some numbers this week for the impending Super Bowl LI — many of which depend on the wide range of visitor estimates put forth by booster groups and analysts. The Super Bowl Host Committee claimed to expect over a million visitors back in 2014 (though that number appears to include local folks stopping by all of the week’s lead-up events); more recently, a consulting firm hired by the committee offered an estimate of 138,000 non-local visitors. Jansen writes that “there will certainly be fewer football fans in town since the Houston Texans and the Dallas Cowboys aren’t playing in the grand finale. But it doesn’t matter a heck of a lot, because the phenomenon of ‘the Super Bowl is awful, I’m getting the hell out of here’ — called the crowding-out effect in economic parlance — is going to happen no matter what . . .” [Houston Press; previously on Swamplot] Photo of George R. Brown Convention Center remodeling and Super Bowl signage: Jesus Jimenez via Swamplot Flickr Pool
COMMENT OF THE DAY: HOW 2-SYLLABLE NEIGHBORHOOD NICKNAMES ARE BORN “I’m with WR: who are these supposed ‘Houston residents’ who call it ADLA? I’ll bet those ‘residents’ are people who got here 6 months ago (and/or are the writer and his buddy). As far as the headline question: I think it may be too early for us to claim ‘World’s Best Super Bowl Host City‘ — or as a Houston resident, I call it WBSBHC, which rolls off the tongue.” [Wolf Brand Chili, commenting on Houston Rents Slide; Post-Flood Calls for Action] Photo of redone George R. Brown Convention Center on Avenida de las Americas: Bob Russell
The latest ad for the in-the-works Houston franchise of restaurant and periodic drag venue Hamburger Mary’s includes a collection of cartoonified downtown landmarks (among them Pennzoil Place and Bank of America Center), with an Astrodome tacked onto one side of the abbreviated skyline for good measure. As to where exactly the restaurant and bar is settling in — what with the old Mary’s spot already taken, and all — permits have been issued for the Converse St. end of the strip center at 2409 Grant St., a block east of Montrose Blvd. That’s where not-safe-for-work clothing and accessories shop Hollywood Super Center previously operated, before moving next door into the former Hollywood Investments & Realty space):
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Marys of Avondale
The new, new design views of the Ivy Lofts highrise have been trickling out this week, and the glossy view above is fresh out into the digital ether as of late last night. The project’s marketing folks are prepping for a Saturday afternoon sales relaunch party at the converted grocery warehouse on the site (bounded by Nagle, Leeland, Live Oak, and the would-be path of Pease St., just north of the Texas Art Asylum and 59).
The tiny-condos highrise developers swapped architects a few months ago, midway through a redesign intended to turn the place into a double-lobbied condo-hotel mashup; the latest design, from EDI Architecture, is back to no hotel component and is down to just 1 main tower, with a 5-story parking garage filling in the extra space on top of a layer of ground floor storefronts. As for the building’s tiniest units, the 360-ish-sq.-ft. Tokyo, they’ve put on a little floorspace (and now measure in closer to 400 sq. ft.).
Here’s a closer view of some of those 14,228-sq.-ft. of retail space, from the corner of Live Oak and Leeland:
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EaDo Pre-Do Redo
COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE ONGOING REWRITE OF HOUSTON’S EAST SIDE STORY “East River? Ugh, another name copied from New York City. We’ve got the East Village being developed (or is it ‘east village’, in all lowercase?), we’ve got Downtown, Midtown, and Uptown (none of which make any directional sense like they do in N.Y.C.), and now we have this. Is the area around it going to start to be called the Upper East Side?” [GL, commenting on Midway’s Latest Plans for the KBR Site; Big Turnout for the Public Housing Vouchers Waiting List; previously on Swamplot] Photo of former KBR site at 4100 Clinton Dr.: LoopNet