08/20/14 2:00pm

SIGNS OF A PLANNED MIDRISE AT D’AMICO AND DUNLAVY Sign for Riva at the Park, 3331 D'Amico St., North Montrose, HoustonThere’s a sign up in front of the former dentist’s office and bridal shop structure at 3327 and 3331 D’Amico St., tucked into the northern edge of the Villas at River Oaks (formerly Rincon) apartments on Dunlavy St. just south of Allen Pkwy. Sugar Land homebuilder Christopher Sims bought the properties in April; a logo for his Sims Luxury Builders, along with one for the probable architect, the Mirador Group, appear on a sign that went up on the 20,192-sq.-ft. lot last week, advertising a new midrise building named Riva at the Park. A website for the new development greets mailing-list signups with breezy copy touting the development’s location and appliances, but no description or rendering of what’s planned. Photo: Swamplot inbox

08/06/14 1:45pm

Sure, high-above drone still shots now regularly pepper real estate listings, but a reader wonders whether the effort shown above — and included in this for-sale website — might constitute the first video tour by quadcopter ever to appear in Houston’s MLS. It probably isn’t, if only because (as of early this afternoon), the 3-story townhouse at 1611 W. Clay St., which backs up to the TJ Maxx store on W. Gray St., isn’t actually listed for sale on the MLS (it last sold in 2012, for $462,060). But the video was only posted on Monday, so give it some time. Asking price: $560,000.

The flying-remote-camera footage begins with an awe-inducing golden-hour survey of the home’s exterior and moves onto the amazing views of downtown and the surrounding neighborhood that might be available were the townhouse to be 3 or so stories taller than it is. But more notable is the moment about 44 seconds in, when the flying-around-the-house quadcopter camera footage cuts directly into an interior walkthrough, starting from the front door (leaving out, of course, the awkward around-the-side-of-the-garage entrance common to homes of this type).

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Real Estate Listing Innovations
05/12/14 10:15am

LOSING HOPE STONE STUDIO View from Van Buren St. of Hope Stone Studio, 1210 West Clay, Suite 26, North Montrose, HoustonThe end of this week will mark the end of all classes at North Montrose’s Hope Stone Studio. Director Jane Weiner will be shutting down the warehouse-y slot fronting 1111 Van Buren St. in the Tribeca Lofts building (pictured at left) by the end of the month, after 10 years of hosting dance, movement, exercise, and other creative classes for kids and adults and rehearsal space for dance groups on its sprung floor. MATCH director Emily Todd explains the simple reason: Rounding up funding year after year for the 17-year-old nonprofit had become “too difficult.” The trigger, Weiner explained in an email announcing the decision last month: The organization’s lease is up. Though the studio and its classes are shutting down, her Hope Stone Dance Company will continue to perform; the organization hopes to find ways to continue some of its programs. [Houston Chronicle; more info] Photo of Hope Stone Studio, 1210 West Clay, Suite 26: Hope Stone Inc.

04/03/14 4:15pm

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There’s a balcony off the dining-room prow in the corner penthouse for lease in the midrise Renoir building north of River Oaks Shopping Center. Up on the 8th floor of the Randall Davis project, the 2-story condo unit has views on 3 sides, sweeping from the Galleria area to downtown. The $7,500 per month rate appears to include the furnishings — but don’t assume pets are OK, the listing says.

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Sky Season
03/28/14 10:15am

WHAT A PLACE AT THE SOVEREIGN WILL COST YOU Sovereign at Regent Square Under Construction, 3233 West Dallas St., North Montrose, HoustonA couple of readers have written in noting their own sticker shock at the pricing announced for the 290 apartments at the still-under-construction 21-story Sovereign at Regent Square tower. One bedrooms will start at $2070 a month, two bedrooms at $3070, and studios at $1615. A temporary leasing office run by Boston-based Windsor Communities will open in a couple of weeks; the first units at 3233 West Dallas St. should be ready for occupancy by July 15th, the company says. [Swamplot inbox; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Alonso Ortega

03/27/14 2:00pm

Axis Apartments, 2400 West Dallas St., North Montrose, Houston

Axis Apartments, 2400 West Dallas St., North Montrose, HoustonWhat do you say when the apartment complex you’re featured on teevee news complaining is being built too close to gravesites bursts into flames the very next day? “I don’t think anything I said was incendiary,” feng-shui expert and holistic-life-coaching grad student Trisha Keel tells Houston Chronicle columnist Lisa Falkenberg, the day after the 368-unit Axis Apartments burned to the ground. ”Although I’m a passionate person about this city,” she adds.

Keel, who runs a blog featuring feng-shui no-nos she encounters around town, had posted pics showing graves in the Magnolia Cemetery just steps away from north-facing ground-floor patios of the complex at 2400 West Dallas St. Among the dead: members of the Bammel, Wortham, and Halliburton families. “The dead are NOT good neighbors!” she wrote on her blog and Tumblr underneath the photo reproduced at top. “Their decaying energy feeds off your vital life force. Do not live among the dead.” Then she brought her complaints to the  mayor’s office to complain. And a reporter at TV station KHOU.

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Words That Burn
03/26/14 11:30am

Burned Axis Apartments at 2400 West Dallas St. and Montrose Blvd., North Montrose, Houston

A reader reports this morning on the aftermath of the blaze yesterday that destroyed the Axis Apartments — from a balcony perch west of Montrose Blvd.: “The firemen are packing up this morning on West Dallas after continuing to fight the fire through the night. I live in one of the townhouses across the street from the fire yesterday. I got home from work in the evening to find my house in good shape, a little smokey and singed and a broken window but otherwise fine. The firemen sprayed down the fronts of the houses to keep them cool.”

Here’s an amazing sequence of views of the same section of the 5-story apartments JLB Partners was building at 2400 West Dallas, from before the fire:

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Pictures of a Disappearance
03/26/14 10:15am

Construction Worker Jumping from Fourth Floor Balcony During Fire at 2400 W. Dallas St., North Montrose, HoustonThis video uploaded to YouTube by Karen Jones shows a construction worker seemingly trapped on a fourth-floor balcony of the blazing Axis Apartments in North Montrose yesterday afternoon. According to a construction supervisor working on the neighboring Finger Properties apartment complex who spoke to a Houston Chronicle reporter, the fire started on the northeast corner of the L-shaped structure’s roof. Jones doesn’t identify her filming location in the video, but it appears to be taken from an upper floor of a low-rise office building along Rylis St. in the American General complex. That would mean the imperiled worker was on a balcony facing north, and that the rescuing fire worker was on a ladder truck in the parking lot immediately west of the Magnolia Cemetery.

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Jumping from the Flames
03/25/14 1:55pm

Fire at Axis Apartments, 2400 West Dallas St., North Montrose, Houston

Fire at Axis Apartments, 2400 West Dallas St., North Montrose, HoustonThose giant plumes of smoke billowing above North Montrose are coming from what were supposed to be the future Axis Apartments at the corner of West Dallas and Montrose Blvd. The 5-story, 368-unit apartment block under construction at 2400 West Dallas scoots up super close to the edge of Magnolia Cemetery — maybe a little too close? And the whole thing caught on fire earlier today, sending flames and dark clouds streaming southwestward. The wood-frame construction should provide plenty of fodder. The America General complex building has been evacuated, KHOU reports.

Developer JLB Partners bought the land from AIG in 2012.

Photos: Judith (top); Bill Bishop/KHOU

Flames in North Montrose
03/19/14 1:30pm

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When interior walls came down to open up a former duplex, planks of the original shiplap (top) found new uses within this 1932 bungalow, located in the Alden Place section of North Montrose — sometimes also known as the Reality Bites neighborhood. The retro-rustic property with eyebrow-gable entry popped up on the market for “Pi Day” (as in 3-14) and has an asking price of $549,000.

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Ker-Plank
03/18/14 1:45pm

NEW NORTH MONTROSE APARTMENTS LEAVE HANOVER, MOVE TO RIVER OAKS AMLI River Oaks, 1340 West Gray St., North Montrose, HoustonResidents of the recently opened Hanover West Gray apartments at 1340 West Gray got an unexpected notice in their mailboxes this month: Their new homes at the corner of West Gray and Waugh (replacing the Tavern on Gray and some neighboring structures) now feature a River Oaks address. Hanover sold the 275-unit structures effective March 13 to AMLI. And the new owner is calling the complex AMLI River Oaks, after the tony no-apartments-please neighborhood whose eastern border is three-quarters of a mile to the west. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Hanover Company

02/18/14 4:30pm

Still from Closing Scene of Reality Bites, W. Clay St. Looking East Toward Downtown, Houston

Robocop may have moved on to the real Detroit, but Houston will always have Reality Bites. And today folks around the movie biz are celebrating the movie’s twentieth anniversary. The Winona Ryder-Ben Stiller-Janeane Garofalo-Ethan Hawke pic filmed here and there about Houston (with a few disguised-L.A. settings thrown in for good measure) was released on February 18, 1994. In and around the Gen X coming-of-age coming-out reality-TV disaffection storyline, the movie depicted the overgrown charms of Alden Place, the little North Montrose neighborhood of duplexes and 4-plexes that made living in the shadows of Downtown seem so easy and affordable back then. Twenty years on, how’s it doing?

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Alden Place and Time
12/27/13 2:45pm

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Could the clipped and sculpted shrubbery outside this 1998 townhome (top) with fenced side yard have sent invasive shoots inside? A colony of photo-ready greenery appears to have taken root and taken over (above) within the otherwise cleared out corner unit, located in the Bakerdale subdivision of North Montrose, east of Montrose Blvd. near Wharton Elementary School on West Gray. The plantings aren’t the only signs of growth for the property. The asking price for the property, which earlier today was listed for a third time, is now $309,900. Back in its initial listing in September 2012, the price tag was $280K, which went down to $274,900 in October. A price reduction soon thereafter to $269,900 preceded the property being withdrawn from the market the following month.

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Houseplant Heaven
12/17/13 1:00pm

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A slope, a staircase, and 3 floors of living space likely make an across-the-traffic bayou-view 1998 townhome on Allen Pkwy. east of Montrose Blvd. a bit of a workout as well as a place to rest. The end unit rising behind Buffalo Terrace is part of the 11-home Townes of Buffalo Bayou development, designed by Looney Ricks Kiss. It went up for sale Monday, with a $450,000 asking price.

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A Home You’ve Driven By