- 1839 Libbey Dr. [HAR]
Here’s the news that’s “all the rage in Oak Forest,” according to a reader: TxDOT has reopened the segment of the hike-and-bike trail along White Oak Bayou that wends its way between between Ella Blvd. and 34th St. That stretch of asphalt had been closed in December 2011 for construction on the North Loop overpass at T.C. Jester. TxDOT is planning an official celebration of the reopening this coming Saturday, but it’s unclear whether the path, which lines the east side of the bayou, will have to be closed again at some point. “Please note that TxDOT has not completed the reconstruction of the bridges that support the feeder roads across the bayou,” reads a note on the Houston Bikeways Program Facebook page posted this morning. “We hope to get more details shortly.”
Photo of trail at E. T.C. Jester and Loop 610 North: Jim Mackey/White Oak Bayou Association
When everyone gravitates to the kitchen (top) of this overhauled 1953 ranch-style home on Hewitt Dr. near T.C. Jester, there might actually be room for them. The opened-up prep space is just off the combo living-dining room, and there’s room for grilling out back, too. The listing appeared on the market last week with a $369,000 asking price. A 2012 attempt to sell the property — for $70K less — didn’t pan out. The home was renovated in 2011; the current owners purchased it in 2010 for $145,000. Welcome to Oak Forest!
The 1,500-sq.-ft. space deep in the crotch of the Ella Plaza Shopping Center just south of the railroad tracks at 3480 Ella Blvd. is the new home of modern dance troupe Suchu Dance. It’s also the former longtime Houston haunt of Patsy Swayze‘s Houston JazzBallet Company and the Swayze School of Dance. Long before the dance teacher made it big with her choreography for Urban Cowboy in 1980 and decamped to Hollywood, Swayze taught hundreds of gyrating Houstonians — including her 5 children, in the strip center corner. Her son Buddy, who as Patrick Swayze went on to star in Dirty Dancing and Ghost, started barging in on classes there at the age of 3, long before playing football at Waltrip High School across the street; he met his wife, Lisa Niemi, in the strip-center studio as well. He died from pancreatic cancer in 2009; his mother passed away in California’s Simi Valley last September.
WHERE’S THAT OAK FOREST RETAIL RENAISSANCE? It’s not at all surprising to the Houston Press‘s Abby Koenig that her neighborhood, Oak Forest, walked away with the Least Recognizable Neighborhood title in this year’s Swamplot Awards. But she wonders when the area’s retail and commerce will catch up to its residential transformation: “There’s still nothing here! I am exaggerating; over the past four years a few new places have popped up: Cottonwood, Shepherd Park and Pink’s Pizza have opened up over on Shepherd, hidden away on Wakefield is Petrol and Wakefield CrowBar, in the shopping center on Ella we’ve still got our Kroger with some chain additions like a European Wax Center (thanks?) and an Edible Arrangements (thanks again?) and there is the much-praised Plonk bar and restaurant. But other than a select few, there’s not a whole lot to do in Oak Forest. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want the neighborhood to turn into another Washington Ave, but the hottest news item on the Oak Forest Facebook page over the past three months has been over the rumor that Berryhill is coming; that’s how bored we are: ‘not bad Mexican’ is the most exciting thing we’ve got going on.” [Art Attack; previously on Swamplot] Photo of Shops at Oak Forest: Transwestern Retail
In Oak Forest, there’s a forest of knotty pine (top) and other hardwoods inside a 1953 home located east of Donna Bell Ln. north of W. 43rd St. But is it doomed? An “as-is” listing of the property posted Tuesday (price tag: $284,900) mentions all the remodeling and new construction going on throughout the midcentury neighborhood. Some original flourishes and finishes remain inside this pinewood derby of a home, though.
COMMENT OF THE DAY RUNNER-UP: FEAR OF CRIME EPIDEMICS “A good friend of mine lived in Third Ward up until about four years ago. Never had a problem with crime. Seriously. I recall stopping at a little convenience store on MacGregor, a bit nervous being the only white guy in the place, but god how stupid I felt when the worst I encountered was a hello, and an enterprising young man selling pirated DVDs out of his car in the parking lot. Meanwhile, up here in Oak Forest, we’ve got residents going positively bananas every time a car gets broken into or a mysterious car is seen driving slowly around the block. Check out the Oak Forest Facebook page. It’s an astonishing epicenter of paranoia. It’s so bad that I think it’s actually hurting efforts to make a good community. We can’t go a week without some poor black guy having his picture plastered on the page with somebody asking if anybody recognizes him. And most of the time, it’s a plumber or an electrician or somebody going about their work. And now we’ve got a group handing out shotguns to everyone in the name of security. I’m sure that’s going to work out just fine. It’s not that I don’t feel safe here; I absolutely do. I just get tired of the gossip passing for actual news. I want to live in a place where people are happy and engaging and hospitable, but I worry that it’s not going that way at all. And as somebody with a mixed-race child, I admit that I do worry about some crazy neighbor calling the cops because she’s out riding an expensive bicycle or something. And that makes me almost as paranoid as some of my neighbors.” [Anse, commenting on Comment of the Day Runner-Up: Splendors of the East]
A deep-lot pocket of Oak Forest near White Oak Bayou appears to have escaped the area’s new-build frenzy, getting some second-story work instead. This property, for example, added an upstairs master suite with pool-view porch as part of a previous overhaul. The 1955 home landed on the market last month and has a $499,000 price tag. It last sold in 2009 for $359,190, just a tad higher than the $359K asking price.
Two years ago, this previously renovated 1949 Oak Forest home sold for $189,000. Its listing last week comes with a $293,000 price tag. The property, on a street that’s mostly original housing stock, is located east of Rosslynn Rd. and around the corner from the Frank Black Middle School campus entrance on Piney Woods Dr. The back of Oak Forest Elementary School is a longer hike east toward 43rd St.
A one-of-a-kind Oak Forest home doubles up on many of its features. Two chimneys form a sassy kind of turret above the front porch. There’s a second formal entry. And both wings of the home have their own garage. Plus, the property occupies an oversized corner lot, so it’s got twice (or maybe even thrice) the yard of its neighbors. The 13-year-old custom home appeared on the market last weekend. Its asking price: $925,000.
A shadowy presence pervades most of the wide-angle listing photos for this 1965 ranch-style home on the western front of Oak Forest near the Northwest Fwy. The spotty behavior starts on the green carpet of the living room (top) . . .
A reader sends in this photo of the Oak Forest Mobil at Ella and 1201 W. 43rd St., the death sentence of which was published in the Daily Demolition Report last Thursday. Once the station’s torn down, reports the reader, a Berryhill Baja Grill will be built on this corner; that’s according to a post the reader saw on the members-only Oak Forest Homeowners Association Facebook page. A bit more evidence: A since-deleted brief that appeared in the Houston Chronicle in March 2012 notes that Berryhill had been granted a sales permit at this address.
Photo: Swamplot inbox
THE ART GUYS TO START UNRAVELING This is the route the Art Guys say they will be taking tomorrow morning when they stage the 5th of the yearlong series of monthly celebratory stunts they’re calling “12 Events:” Titling this one “A Length of String,” Jack Massing and Michael Galbreth will unwind a spool of thread they’ve had sitting around since 1983 while walking along White Oak Bayou between W. Tidwell and T.C. Jester, just north of the Loop, and then they’ll turn around . . . and wind it back up. Last month, you’ll remember, they donned tuxedos and conducted the sounds of the Ship Channel from the Santa Anna Capture Site in Pasadena. [Art Guys; previously on Swamplot] Map: Art Guys