09/29/14 4:45pm

A LIFEBOAT FOR THE ROYALTON’S CORRODING CROWN? Top of Royalton at River Oaks Condominiums, 3333 Allen Pkwy., HoustonJudging from court filings, there appears to have been some sort of resolution to the lawsuit filed more than 2 years ago by the condominium association of the 253-unit Royalton at River Oaks highrise over the design of the steel grid at the top of the building at 3333 Allen Pkwy. The lawsuit claimed the structure was corroding and was designed in such away that made maintaining it or recoating it impossible — and sought damages from the building’s contractor, architect, and other parties. The condo association dropped its claims against many of those parties late last month. And a reader wonders if the attachment seen hanging below the structure in the recent photo at left, which “almost looks like a hot tub,” is part of some newly devised cleaning solution. [Prime Property] Photo: Swamplot inbox

09/24/14 4:45pm

Gibbs Boats, 1110 West Gray St. at Montrose Blvd., North Montrose, Houston

How cool is it that a boat store with metal siding and a groovy sixties-era sign stood at the corner of West Gray and Montrose Blvd. for 56 years? Well, pieces of the iconic Gibbs Boats sign floated away after the last hurricane; if the property sells, the store won’t be around much longer either.

The giant for-sale sign that went up on the storefront windows yesterday has drawn a bit more attention from potential buyers than the online listing for the 24,925-sq.-ft. L-shaped property, which has been posted for about a month now. The listed asking price is $150 per sq. ft. of land.


Setting Sail
09/23/14 1:00pm

How long has it been since you’ve run along, rowed along, or flown over Buffalo Bayou? Guy-out-with-his-Phantom-quadcopter Marco Luzuriaga filmed this scene earlier this month above a short section of the city’s most prominent drainage canal beginning near the Rosemont Bridge, then turning around and heading a ways toward Downtown. He gives up on the waterway and substitutes a bit of downtown-tangling freeway spaghetti near the end, but if you look into the distance around the 1:30 mark, you can catch a quick progress report on reconstruction of Buffalo Bayou Park.

Video: Marco Luzuriaga, via Brittanie Shey


Tour by Drone
09/19/14 1:45pm

Demolition of Axis Apartments Garage, 2400 West Dallas St., North Montrose, Houston

Remember the fire back in March at those apartments under construction on West Dallas next to the cemetery that destroyed the whole complex except for the parking garage? No big deal if you don’t, because you’d need to adjust your memory anyway. A reader notes to Swamplot that the surviving parking garage is now being demolished as well, months after the singed stick-frame structures around it at JLB Parters’ would-have-been Axis Apartments were carted away. So now you can remember the fire so bad they had to tear the whole thing down — though it took them a while to give up on the garage.


On Second Thought, Scrap That
09/09/14 1:00pm

Rendering of Riva at the Park, 3331 D'Amico St., North Montrose, Houston

Here’s a rendering of the 7-story (2 of them parking) condo building Sims Luxury Builders is planning for the spot at 3331 D’Amico St. — just east of Dunlavy St. and south of Allen Pkwy. currently occupied by a dentist’s office and bridal shop structure where a sign went up late last month. Dubbed Riva at the Park, the building will contain 22 units (marked down from 24), on 3 floors of 4 units each and 2 floors of 5. A marketing rep tells Swamplot the building’s developers are aiming to have “larger units than Highland Tower or the Royalton,” but “superior finish allowances and very low maintenance fees but not as industrial as the loft buildings.” They condos are expected to start in the high $700s. The building will sit on the northern edge of the former Rincon Apartments, now called the Villas at River Oaks.

Rendering: Sims Luxury Builders

Riva at the Park
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).


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



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.


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.


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:


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.


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