11/27/12 5:40pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: TOO DULL TO BE HAUNTED “As a former owner of a condo in Park Memorial (just a few feet south of the slab where the bones were found), I hate to break it to you hopeful readers, but there was not even remotely anything spooky or creepy that occurred on the grounds during the 5 years I lived there. There simply wasn’t anything going on . . . paranormal or otherwise. Sorry.” [Dave, commenting on Park Memorial Condos, New Apartments Built on Top of Old Rice Military Cemetery]

11/21/12 2:30pm

Spooked former residents looking for some sort of larger, more mystical explanation for the disastrous end of the Park Memorial Condos at 5292 Memorial Dr. now have confirmation of a first-class backstory to hang their storytelling hats on. A little late for Halloween, a medical examiner has determined that the human remains discovered this summer during the condos’ demolition — and the preparation of the site for its replacement, the Park Memorial Apartments — belong to bodies interred at a cemetery that once graced the site. That would be the Crooms Cemetery, Preservation Houston’s David Bush tells teevee reporter Deborah Wrigley. The African-American burial ground was named after Felix Crooms (who scored nearby Crooms St. as well), was in operation from approximately 1917 to 1937, and also served as the final resting place for members of St. Luke’s Missionary Baptist Church.


08/02/12 12:52pm

If it’s, say, 1980, and you’re trying to get rid of a dead body, burying it at the foundation level of a brand-new condo complex going up over the reported site of an ancient cemetery might sound like a perfect after-offing disposal plan. But in Houston, you never know what’s going to get dug up next. HPD detective Carlos Cardenas tells Chronicle reporter Mike Glenn he doesn’t think the partial skeleton unearthed by construction workers yesterday on the site of the recently demolished Park Memorial Condominiums at 5292 Memorial Dr. (pictured above in a late stage of assisted decomposition) belongs to the native American graveyard reported to have existed there previously.

Forensic testing should give a clearer answer, but the circumstances of the body’s burial appear to tell a story on their own: The human remains were discovered along Chandler St. near Arnold, at the far northeastern corner of the complex, wedged between a retaining wall and a concrete slab that workers were taking out. The body was likely concealed there when the Park Memorial Condos were built, police detectives tell Glenn.


07/02/12 1:10pm

Plans for the 5- and 6-story complex Wallace Garcia Wilson Architects has designed for the new owners of Park Memorial at 5292 Memorial Dr. show that the former grounds of the park-like 108-unit Rice Military condo complex (pictured in better days above) will soon be home to 372 new apartment units. The new project by JLB Partners, currently out to bid, will fit buildings surrounding 2 courtyards, a narrow 7-level garage, and a detention pond onto the 4.85-acre site at the corner of Memorial Dr. and Detering. That’s the plan at the top. And below are a couple of elevations, in different scales, of the west and east sides:


06/06/12 1:24pm

“There are at least 3-4 dozers making fast work of the demo” of the abandoned Park Memorial Condos on Memorial Dr. at Detering, reports Swamplot reader and real-estate agent David Hille, who lives nearby and snapped these photos of the onsite action this morning. The sale of the festering, overgrown property — which required the willing or resigned participation of 108 locked-out condo owners — was completed last month, and demo permits for 4 of the structures were granted yesterday.


05/24/12 3:19pm

After more than 3 years of negotiations and court battles, the fenced-off 4.85-acre property covered with overgrown and vandalized buildings once known as the Park Memorial condos has at last been sold. Owners of the 108 properties at 5292 Memorial Dr. who were able to hold onto their units after the city declared them unsafe and barred anyone from living there in 2008 (or who snatched them up for low, low prices later) should be receiving their checks soon. The buyer is JLB Properties from Dallas, developers of the Ava apartments on Highmeadow near Hillcroft. The company is reportedly planning a new apartment complex on the Park Memorial site, which sits north of Buffalo Bayou at the corner of Memorial Dr. and Detering.


10/03/11 12:27pm

A reader who spotted a group of “official looking folks with hard hats and fluorescent vests” looking at the grounds of the Park Memorial Condominiums at 5292 Memorial Dr. last week (and sent in photos of the group congregating at the Detering St. entrance to prove it) wants to know if the visit means something is about to happen to the abandoned property. Swamplot’s most recent first-person report on the complex came from a runner who passed through with a group in March, to admire the mosquito-infested pool and “creepy” surroundings. Condo owners have been stuck in limbo for the last 3 years, since city officials ordered the property vacated. Attempts to sell the property to a third party for redevelopment have failed so far because condo owners have been unable to agree on terms.

Photo: Swamplot inbox

03/28/11 4:19pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: VIEWING THE PARK MEMORIAL CONDO POOL PARTY FROM THE AIR “On Google Earth’s time slider tool, the pool turns from a light aqua blue to a dark green pea soup between Jan. 2008 and Sept. 2008.” [Superdave, commenting on The Park Memorial Condo Wildlife Refuge]

03/28/11 9:27am

THE PARK MEMORIAL CONDO WILDLIFE REFUGE A participant reports on a local running group’s visit last week to a thriving wilderness area off Memorial Dr. — otherwise known as the campus of the Park Memorial Condos: “We ran around the Rice Military area heading south, then ran into the parking garage under Park Memorial, winding our way into the courtyard gate and the path that leads to the swimming pool. [We] had a “beer check” (kind of like a water stop, but, you know, with beer) right by the mosquito-infested pool. This was about 8:30 p.m. and it was pitch dark (the moon hadn’t yet risen). It was creepy and also awesome. I was really surprised by how easy it was to get in there. We just walked right through the gate, then walked right back out. Several of the apartments’ doors were wide open too. It was rather spooky. I expected to see homeless squatting there but we never encountered anyone . . . . It was pretty cool to finally see what the inside of the complex looked like, but sad to see the state of disrepair they’re under.” [Swamplot inbox; previously]

01/20/11 1:21pm

“Can’t wait to find a buyer for this condo!” writes real-estate agent Veso Kossev. “Too bad I can’t take [anyone] to see it…..” Huh? Oh, yeah . . . it’s unit E5 at the Park Memorial Condominiums, otherwise known as the 4.85-acre land of limbo just north of Memorial Dr. at Detering. As of a few days ago, you can pick up this 2-bedroom, 2-bath, only partially smashed condo for the low, low price of just $47,000. But you won’t be able to have it inspected — or see it yourself — because the entire complex has been condemned by the city. Where’d these lovely interior photos in the listing come from, then?


10/15/10 12:08pm

Welcome home to Park Memorial! More than 2 years after city officials ordered the entire Memorial Dr. complex evacuated, the coast may now be clear for owners of the Park Memorial Condominiums to move back into their homes! Except, umm . . . some of those sheet-rock, copper-wiring, and AC-unit removal operations that have been going on in the meantime on the locked and officially empty grounds might make moving back in a little rough. 11 News’s Gabe Gutierrez reports that a Harris County district judge has ruled that the city’s order to vacate the property violated the state’s due process rules because there was no prior notice or hearing, and that there was “no evidence that there was any emergency or immediate danger that justified” requiring the residents to leave without one. The city plans to appeal the ruling.


01/13/09 3:42pm

Some juicy emails to former residents of Park Memorial leaked to Swamplot reveal new information about the proposed sale of the shuttered 4.85-acre property off Memorial Drive. The emails were sent by the condo complex’s board of directors, which apparently has quite a few problems to work out before the sale can go through.

First, about that mysterious buyer — whose name had apparently been kept secret from condo owners. The buyer is “now known as Detering Acquisitions,” according to the latest email. Detering Acquisitions is also the name of an LLC managed by Marvy Finger, president and CEO of apartment developer The Finger Companies.

According to the emails, 97 out of 108 Park Memorial owners want to sell the complex to this “unnamed” buyer for an agreed-upon price of around $17 million. But 11 others are seeking separate negotiations with the buyer, even though the buyer has indicated that he “will not negotiate” with the group.

This is also the group of people that filed the actions against the City, and that is now suing the Association (along with individual directors, the realty company, and an attorney).

And . . . there’s even more quasi-legal fun!


11/17/08 12:19pm

If any of those holdouts at Park Memorial are still trying to camp out in their condos, it had to have become a whole lot tougher for them after Saturday. That’s when the city cut off power to the complex and chained the gates.

Among the Park Memorial Forever crowd, a source tells Swamplot, is a family that went to court seeking an injunction against the city — on grounds city officials had no legal right to evict them for safety reasons because the safety issues applied to a different building on the same property. That request has been one of the obstacles holding up the sale of the entire complex, to a so-far-secret buyer.

Photos: HAR (Park Memorial grounds) and HAR (gates)

11/12/08 9:43am

Walkway at Park Memorial Condominiums, Rice Military, Houston

All the residents have moved out, the court battle’s been lost, and the homeowners of the Park Memorial condo complex on Memorial Dr. at Detering are just waiting for a “secret” buyer, KPRC’s Ryan Korsgard reports:

The homeowners continue to pay mortgages, property taxes and association dues, plus pay for a new place to live. The city first posted notices over the summer for structural problems. Owners protested and went to court, but a judge sided with the city.

“The ruling by the courts basically reaffirmed the position the city had in regards to the safety and well-being of the tenants of this townhome,” Houston Public Works Department spokesman Alvin Wright said.

The city said it is illegal to stay without power or water.

Photos of Park Memorial Condominiums: HAR

08/19/08 11:40am

Park Memorial Condos, 5292 Memorial Dr. at Detering, Rice Military, Houston

Sharp-witted observers, start your metaphors! Residents of the Park Memorial condos — who’ve been racing to sell their condo complex before any of the units start dropping into the parking garage that sits beneath them — have a new problem. City officials, terrified of a not-merely-figurative condo-market collapse, slapped bright orange notices on all the doors of the Memorial Dr. complex yesterday, notifying all 108 residents that they will need to permanently vacate their homes by September 15th.

The order came after a city inspector and an independent inspector both confirmed that the concrete parking garage structure underneath some of the condo units is in immediate danger of collapse. In late July, the city had warned residents that the garage “may experience catastrophic failure at any time.”

After the jump, a couple more photos of the condo campus . . . from the listing for a recent sale.