07/26/17 2:30pm

The HAR listing for the home at 5116 Avenue H in the Second Ward, for sale for $99,990, identified the property’s subdivision as MEX Y CAN. Which seemed notable enough in the rapidly changing neighborhood for the curious name to appear as discussion fodder yesterday on Reddit. The subdivision name is accurate, appearing on county tax records: The property’s developer was required to give a name to the subdivision when the single 5,000-sq.-ft. lot on which it stood (at the time part of a subdivision named Engel) was divided into thirds last year, in order to allow him to sell off individually the 3 existing homes on the property. “Actually no one had any comments [on the name] at the time of replatting,” the developer notes.

MEX Y CAN, the name he assigned to the subdivision, “is for the name Mexican and (Y in Spanish) Canadian,” he explains to Swamplot. “The love of my life is Mexican and I am Canadian. . . . There is no other meaning or significance behind it.” The motivation for choosing this particular name? “Having myself, the love of my life, and our desire to be memorialized in the area for eternity like our love.”

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Subdivided
07/21/17 4:00pm

THE INVENTION OF UPPER KIRBY Among Houston’s grids, strips, and cul de sacs, let a million neighborhoods bloom! Perhaps the story of how the area around upper Kirby Dr. came to be known as Upper Kirby can form some sort of template for this city’s vast numbers of undifferentiated districts just waiting to be branded? “We weren’t Greenway Plaza, we weren’t Montrose, we weren’t Rice Village,” Upper Kirby Management District deputy director Travis Younkin tells reporter Nicki Koetting. It was a section of town that lacked identity. “This nameless neighborhood, Koetting adds, “was the sort of place you drove through on the way to other, named neighborhoods.” One helpful step along the way: Planting the shopping areas with red phone booths. “The authentic British phone booths are an homage to Upper Kirby’s acronym, and actually operated as phone booths for a few decades until cellphones became the norm,” Koetting notes. “Now, the telephone booths are lit from within and locked, serving today as a visual indication to visitors that they’ve arrived in Houston’s own UK.” [Houstonia] Photo: WhisperToMe

07/18/17 2:45pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WAITING IMPATIENTLY FOR THE TRENDY DEVELOPER NICKNAMES TO SPREAD NORTH “The dumbest is ‘Near Northside’, separating it from the actual Northside, which no one understands unless you live there. So you have to tell people ‘Acres Homes’ (which it is not at all) or say ‘behind the Fiesta’ or ‘behind Gallery Furniture on 45 North.’ What other point of reference is there — across the freeway from Dago’s? Basically I’m waiting for gentrification to name my hood something that gentrifiers can easily recall.” [Robin, commenting on Comment of the Day: When They Move the Neighborhood To Sell the Home] Photo: Dago’s Tatt00 & Piercing Studio

05/23/17 2:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: ASPIRATIONAL HOUSTON DEVELOPMENT NAMING JUST AIN’T WHAT IT USED TO BE ‘Heights creep’ is to the 2010s what ‘River Oaks creep’ was to the 1980s/90s. Back in the 90s when I was living in a (moderately crappy) apartment near the corner of Kirby and Westheimer, anything between Buffalo Bayou, the West Loop, US-59 and Montrose might have been referred to as River Oaks. Hell, even the River Oaks Shopping Center isn’t even actually in River Oaks.” [Angostura, commenting on Putting the Heights Back In Its . . . Uh, Places; previously on Swamplot] Photo: River Oaks Theater

05/22/17 4:45pm

PUTTING THE HEIGHTS BACK IN ITS . . . UH, PLACES “In their rush to capitalize on the popularity of the district, businesses and developers have awkwardly assumed the mantle of the name ‘Heights,’ even though they’re clearly outside the zone of its accepted borders,” writes Jeff Balke this morning for the Houston Press. Where exactly are those accepted borders? And which variation means what? Balke suggests something between a taxonomical scheme and an etiquette lesson on selecting the proper name for whatever flavor of Heights, Heights-adjacent and Heights-aspiring territory you may be seeking to invoke — from the historic city originally spurring the name, all the way to the fringe territories of Katyville and the Heights Walmart. [Houston Press; previously on SwamplotPhoto: Swamplot inbox

05/18/17 1:30pm

A permit was issued yesterday to knock out some walls at the former medical clinic at 820 Holman St., remodeled back in 2015 into abbreviated-French-themed nightclub VrSi. The club (shown here as it looked in its early days) seems to have stopped promoting itself right after Mardi Gras, and a new business name for the address was registered with the county clerk’s office late last month: Holman Draft Hall. That new moniker is still connected to VrSi co-owner Andy Aweida, part of the group that owns nearby Wooster’s Garden and used to own those demolished Kirby funeral parlor bars; the same folks are also behind the Heights Bier Garten, which opened last month in the former Longhorn Motor Company spot on N. Shepherd (now full of parked picnic tables):

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Signs of Life on Holman St.
05/15/17 1:30pm

The slumping 1930’s storefront at the northeast corner of Ashland and W. 11th St. has been given the all-clear to be cleared out, a reader notes from city paperwork spotted on the door late last week (with this morning’s daily demolition report hot on his heels to confirm the story). Both the street-fronting corner property and its taller neighbor are owned by a legal entity called Villa Incognito, a name which appears to have been created less than a year after the Tom Robbins novel of the same name was published. The company’s registered agent also appears to own the next property down the row at 519 W. 11th.

Photo: Swamplot inbox

Coming Down in the Heights
04/28/17 9:30am

6529 Beverly Hill St., Woodlake/Briarmeadow, Houston, 77057

The recently remonikered Margaret Long Wisdom High School is prepping for its scheduled student body transplant as the school year winds down. The shot above shows the main entrance of the school’s almost-ready new building, tucked behind the old one along Hillcroft Ave. south of Beverly Hills St. That older structure, which cut its Confederate ties about a year ago, should be getting erased altogether starting in June, a reader involved with the project tells Swamplot.

Here’s the flip side view of the glassy main entrance above, which should be unlocked in time for fall classes:

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Creeping South on Hillcroft
03/13/17 10:45am

Summit Oaks neighborhood with Houston street names, Denton, TX, 76210

Summit Oaks neighborhood with Houston street names, Denton, TX, 76210The fastest way to Westheimer Rd., if you happen to be wandering north looking for it in the 76210 ZIP code, is a left off of Heights Blvd. and an immediate right off Gessner Dr. Lauren Meyers captured some scenes this weekend around the Summit Oaks subdivision on the south side of Denton, TX, which has a whole section of streets sharing names with major Houston roadway (with a few bizarro-world tweaks here and there, like Chimney Rock Dr. and an only-1-L Hilcroft Ave.) The imposters range from Briar Forest Dr. to Dunlavy St. to Willowick Cir. and beyond:

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A Road By Any Other Name
03/10/17 5:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: YOUR WEEKEND HEIGHTS-CREEP FORECAST Future Yale Marketplace site at Yale St. and 610 Loop, Garden Oaks/Independence Heights, Houston, 77018“Garden Oaks and Oak Forest are [already] part of The Heights (the same way they are calling Spring Branch ‘Memorial’, and a lot of long time residents were angry that new residents called Northside Village ‘Tampico Heights’). I have bad news for the purists out there: if you live in Cottage Grove, Independence Heights, Shady Acres, Brooke Smith, Timbergrove/Lazybrook, those areas are now part of The Heights [as well].  . . . These hoods that have the 365 stores are gonna get more pricey and popular, since they are close to Downtown.” [Dj, commenting on Whole Foods’s 365 Garden Oaks Spot Now Emptied of Neff Rental Rentals] Rendering of 365 Garden Oaks: Boucher Design Group

01/20/17 12:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: HOW 2-SYLLABLE NEIGHBORHOOD NICKNAMES ARE BORN October 2016 look around Discovery Green and George R. Brown Convention Center, 1001 Avenida De Las Americas,  Downtown, Houston, 77010“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

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