12/20/16 10:45am

Montrose Management District marker, W. Dallas at Montrose

Montrose Management District marker, W. Dallas at MontroseThe Montrose Management District reports that the first of its shiny new neighborhood marker signs went up over the weekend at Montrose Blvd. and Dallas St., despite the recent movement in the ongoing lawsuit between the organization and the group of property owners petitioning to dissolve it. The case, which was filed in 2012, is still open, though the judge recently filed a handful of findings and judgment documents stating that not all of the signatures that went into forming the district were valid, and that the agency must pay back the $6.5 million it’s collected since then. The district has said it has no plans to do that any time soon, and intends to keep on keepin’ on until any appeals wrap up, which could be years from now.

The signage is part of the sundry prettification projects the district has planned for the neighborhood, which include redoing the colored lighting on the bridges over US 59 — thanks to a funding assist from the city, TxDOT, and the Houston Galveston Area Council:

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Sightings on W. Dallas
12/09/16 10:45am

Midtown Entry Portal site, W. Gray at Matthews St., Midtown/Fourth Ward, Houston, 77019

Where exactly, these days, does Fourth Ward end and Midtown begin? That may be a little bit clearer before long (depending on how you define the 2) — a reader notes that someone looks to be getting ready to stake a visible claim for Midtown on the narrow strip of land at the crotch of Webster and W. Gray streets, just west of Matthews St. and the latest add-on to the Post Midtown Square development. (The yellow signage of that recently scorched Fuzzy’s is visible on the left.)

The silt fencing rimming the median segment as of late comes with a construction sign calling the spot “Midtown Entry Portal — Site 3.” That grassy sliver does sit at the end of a short but pointy finger of land jutting out of the northwestern boundary of the area’s tax increment reinvestment zone, which as of 2009 is shaped about like this:

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TIRZspotting
12/02/16 11:15am

Uncle Bob's Storage, 5700 Washington Ave., Washington Ave, Houston, 77007

Los Dos Amigos Mexican Restaurant, 5720 Washington Ave, Woodcrest, HoustonThe old Wabash Feed & Garden building on Washington Ave. may still be sorting out its current relationship status, and missing the company of Los Dos Amigos  and Premo’s Grocery (knocked down across the street last year) — but at least it’s no longer the only property on the corner with an out of date sign (as pictured in the shot above from a reader). The new Uncle Bob’s Self Storage across the street, which replaced Premo’s and Los Dos Amigos, is already waiting on a branding swap-out — the storage company acquired Life Storage in July and decided to take the new name, simplifying its box-of-boxes logo in the process. The 6-story storage midrise is set toward the corner with Malone St. where Premo’s stood, while Los Dos Amigos got the parking-lot treatment:

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All Boxed Up
11/10/16 10:45am

CITY STILL WORKING ON CHANGING DOWLING STREET’S NAME, STREET NAME CHANGING RULES Rendering of Emancipation Park, Dowling St., Third Ward, HoustonThe renaming of Dowling St. to Emancipation Ave. is taking a little longer than the 10 weeks initially planned by the city planning commission, Mike Morris notes this week (now that that floated November 6 renaming ceremony date has come and gone). The final votes to formalize the name change are still coming up; the mayor and city council have also been rethinking the rules on how to change street names, which currently require a written OK from 75 percent of the property owners along a public street. Fewer than half of Dowling St.’s property owners initially signed on to the change,  though that percentage is skewed by the fact that many absentee owners couldn’t be reached at all, according to state rep Garnet Coleman. Morris writes that the proposed rule updates just require “sufficient” support for a name change to go through; the renaming of Dowling is moving forward under the new rules as a trial run before the city approves the rules officially. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Rendering of in-progress Emancipation Park redo on Dowling St.: Phil Freelon

10/17/16 4:45pm

76 GAS STATIONS HEADED TO HOUSTON, TRYING OUT DYNAMO SOCCER STRATEGY BBVA Compass Stadium for Houston Dynamo, East Downtown, HoustonOrange-logo’d gas station brand 76 has bought naming rights to an entrance gate at the Dynamo’s stadium in East Downtown, despite not having any stations in the Houston area — but a company rep on the chain’s Facebook page says there will be a few popping up around town soon. Phillips 66, which owns the 76 brand (and which also bought the naming rights last fall to a soccer stadium in Warwickshire County, England), made a deal in February to let Saudi-Aramco-and-Shell-owned Motiva use the brand in Texas and other Gulf Coast and eastern states. Currently most of the brand’s stations are in California and Washington — though a scattering of 76 stations are now marked on Google Maps on top of some existing Phillips 66 and Conoco stations. [Houston Dynamo, Convenience Store News] Photo of Dynamo’s stadium in East Downtown: BBVA Compass Stadium

10/17/16 11:00am

JUDGE TO SOUTH TEXAS COLLEGE OF LAW: NOPE, SWITCH YOUR NAME BACK UNTIL UH LAWSUIT IS OVER 1303 San Jacinto St., Downtown, Houston, 77002On Friday a judge issued a temporary injunction on South Texas College of Law’s sudden June rebranding, agreeing that the University of Houston has a point that the new name (Houston College of Law) and new color scheme (red and white) might be a bit confusing. Gabrielle Banks reports that the 2 schools will get together on Wednesday to talk through the name-change reversal; UH’s legal team notes that South Texas will have to “remove their billboards, change their website, remove merchandise from stores and change their name [back] in the American Bar Association database” — at least until the lawsuit (filed less than a week after the name change was first announced) wraps up. [Houston Chronicle; previously on SwamplotPhoto of South Texas College of Law at 1303 San Jacinto St.: South Texas College of Law

09/29/16 4:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE ONGOING REWRITE OF HOUSTON’S EAST SIDE STORY Former KBR Campus, 4100 Clinton Dr., Fifth Ward, HoustonEast 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

09/27/16 5:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: ANY NEW NAMING EPISODES WELCOME AMID THE ENDLESS EAST HOUSTON RERUNS Houston Neighborhoods on TV“The news calls everything between Downtown and Baytown ‘East Houston’ — so when West U is called ‘Southwest Houston’ for one day, I get a pettiness-fueled satisfaction out of it.” [tempeh, commenting on West U Shelter-In-Place Order Just Lifted Following This Morning’s ‘Southwest Houston’ ShootingIllustration: Lulu

09/22/16 10:30am

LANIER MIDDLE SCHOOL CEREMONIALLY CHANGES NAME TO LANIER MIDDLE SCHOOL Bob Lanier crestThe Lanier-Lanier name change got the official seal of approval as of yesterday morning by way of a seal-updating and renaming ceremony at the middle school’s campus at Woodhead St. and Westheimer Rd. That previously threatened lawsuit over the HISD’s plan to flush out Confederate sympathizers from its campus name roster was in fact filed in late June by a group of parent-and-alumni-types; documents filed with the district clerk’s office show that a request by the plaintiffs for a temporary injunction to stop the renamings from moving forward was denied by the judge on August 22nd. Lanier’s campus is keeping all but its first name, swapping author Sydney for former Houston mayor Bob; the other 7 schools on the changeover list started the year with more dramatic shifts in nomenclature. [HISD Blog; previously on Swamplot] Image of new Bob Lanier Middle School seal: HISD    

09/02/16 12:45pm

NRG stadium, NRG Park, Houston, 77054

METRO is currently seeking some public input on replacing the Reliant Park light-rail stop’s outdated moniker. The agency’s preface to the poll notes that the naming rights to the station itself were never a part of Reliant’s $300-million park-branding deal back in 2002, and  says any new name “needs to be reflective of the area, but should not include any reference to a corporate entity which might require another change in years to come.”

Setting aside any potential consideration of that plan from a reader to go ahead and get nearly 30 potential future name changes over with at once, the nominated names currently in the running are (drumroll):

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Saving NRG
08/25/16 12:45pm

Rendering of Fertitta Center at former Hofheinz Pavilion

Rendering of Fertitta Center at former Hofheinz PavilionThe $20-million basketball stadium donation previously rumored to be on its way from Landry’s owner and UH board of regents chairman Tilman Fertitta was confirmed this morning by the school, which also released renderings of what’s planned for Hofheinz Pavilion — eventually to sport the name Fertitta Center. The depictions of the $60-million upgrade  include some prominent views of a well-labeled Hofheinz Plaza, part of a deal with the Hofheinz family after a lawsuit over the basketball arena’s planned renaming.

Below are a few more shots of the plans, which UH says should be wrapped up by the end of the 2018-19 season:

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Center Moving Forward
08/25/16 11:00am

Rendering of Emancipation Park, Dowling St., Third Ward, Houston

Houston Planning Commission chief of staff Brian Crimmins announced yesterday that tomorrow will be the day a proposed name change of Dowling St. is announced to those with property along the road. The planned timeline for a few public meetings and some comment-taking stretches over the course of the next few months, with the if-everything-goes-as-planned rededication date of the street as Emancipation Ave. set for Sunday, November 6. The proposed change would mark the second de-Dowling in Houston this year, following the shifting of Dowling Middle School’s allegiance over to Audrey H. Lawson as part of HISD’s lawsuit-inspiring Confederate expulsion.

Rendering of under-renovation Emancipation Park at 3018 Dowling St.: Phil Frelon

Emancipation Anticipation
08/22/16 5:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: RETURNING TO RESTORE MONTROSE AND MIDTOWN’S RIGHTFUL TERRITORIES Raising Cane's, 1902 Westheimer Rd., Vermont Commons,  Houston, TX 77098“I spent some time away from my beloved Houston. When I returned I found that ‘the Fourth Ward’ had been replaced with ‘NearTown’, and no one quite knew where Montrose was, let alone River Oaks. Please allow me to elucidate: the Fourth Ward ends at Taft; Montrose is precisely between Shepard and Taft, and Dallas and Richmond. ‘NearTown’ is a word invented by a half-drunk Realtor. It is that place on Allen Pkwy. directly underneath the I-45 overpass. ‘Midtown’ is the intersection of Main Street and Buffalo Bayou from which all house numbers in Houston radiate.” [Pat Bryan, commenting on Raising Cane’s Now Raising the Midtown Banner in Vermont Commons] Photo of Raising Cane’s at 1902 Westheimer Rd.: Swamplot inbox

08/22/16 4:30pm

THE UT AUSTIN SEGREGATION LAWSUIT THAT MADE TSU HOUSTON’S FIRST PUBLIC UNIVERSITY Thurgood Marshall School of Law 3100 Cleburne St., Texas Southern University, Houston, TX 77004A recounting of some Houston higher-ed history comes from Ben Werlund this past weekendnamely, how University of Houston and Texas Southern University ended up as separate but adjacent public universities in the Third Ward. In 1927 the schools were founded as Houston Junior College and Houston Colored Junior College, segregated schools that eventually wound up on neighboring land after being renamed University of Houston and the Houston College for Negroes.  In 1946, black Houstonian Heman Marion Sweatt was denied admission to all-white UT Austin’s law school; as the resulting lawsuit worked its way up to the Supreme Court in the pre-Brown v. Board of Education landscape of separate-but-equal requirements, the state quickly bought and renamed the Houston College for Negroes and added a law school, trying to prove that black students had comparable options to the Austin campus. “And thus, Houston’s first public university was born,” writes Werlund, to keep the Texas school system “from having to integrate its flagship in Austin.” The Supreme Court, however, didn’t buy that the new Houston law offerings measured up to the nearly 70-year-old UT law program, and UT Austin had to admit Sweatt after a 1950 ruling. TSU law professor James Douglas tells Werlund that the state legislature proceeded to cut TSU’s budget by 40 percent the next year; the private all-white University of Houston didn’t start to admit black students until 1962, shortly after which it turned public. “This was in the ’60s,” notes Douglas — “In 1964, I don’t think the people in Austin really thought integration was going to stick . . . I don’t think they ever thought this whole idea of having 2 universities close to each other was ever going to be a problem.” [Houston Chronicle] Image of Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University: TSU

08/19/16 4:15pm

Raising Cane's, 1902 Westheimer Rd., Vermont Commons,  Houston, TX 77098

Catty-corner to the middle school both formerly and henceforth to be known as Lanier, another spat of place-name confusion is brewing: A reader notes that the Raising Cane’s (whose Vermont Commons branch sits on the corner of Hazard St. and Westheimer Rd. on the lot previously vacated by Martha Turner Properties) has been pledging its affections to Midtown. But is the message one of tribute or defection? “Do they think they’re in Midtown?” wonders the tipster. “Is there something else I’m not getting?”

Photo of Raising Cane’s at 1902 Westheimer Rd.: Swamplot inbox

Midtown Creep