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

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