- 4414 Seminole St.[HAR]
SPURNED BY NORWEGIAN, PRINCESS, BAYPORT CRUISE TERMINAL TURNS TO CHILLIN’ FRUIT, FIXING UP CARS Bereft of tourist companionship after little more than a pair of brief affairs with Norwegian and Princess cruise lines (both of which ended abruptly in mid-2015), the $108-million Bayport Cruise Terminal is picking up and moving on next month, when the first shipment of automobiles for Auto Warehousing Inc. is scheduled to make landing. Andrea Rumbaugh writes that the company has a 3-year lease to use the former cruise facility to make after-market mods before sending cars on their way to dealerships; port commission chairwoman Janiece Longoria also tells Rumbaugh that port-owned areas near the terminal are being outfitted with more chilled storage space, possibly paving the way for the failed Ship Channel vacation destination to make a comeback as a fruit-and-veggie hub. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Port of Houston
WHAT’S SO SPECIAL ABOUT THE PASADENA REFINERY THAT RELEASED 3 MORE TONS OF AIR POLLUTION ON THURSDAY? “We worry about this plant more than we worry about the others,” Air Alliance Houston director Adrian Shelley tells Dylan Baddour after last week’s release of a 6,000-pound cocktail of toxic air contaminants from the Pasadena Refinery System complex, south of Buffalo Bayou just east of the Washburn Tunnel. The release occurred in the wake of a 7-hour power outage at the Petrobras-owned refinery (which played a role in the massive Brazilian corruption scandal that came to light last year); Baddour says this is the 8th contaminant release the company has reported so far this year (and the 65th since 2005). Shelley notes that the plant has a reputation for “large particulate matter (soot) release events that you really don’t see at other Houston refineries,” including the 2 tons of soot released on Thursday with sulfur dioxide gas and other contaminants; Shelley also notes that one of the plant’s key federal permits expired last year, resulting in a $7000 fine from the TCEQ. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo of Pasadena Refinery Systems, Inc. plant at 111 Red Bluff Rd.: Center for Land Use Interpretation (license)
A field of rippling grass between the Denny’s and the Comerica Bank branch on Spencer Hwy. currently holds the half-finished form of one of the Krispy Kreme donut shops planned as part of the chain’s post-lawsuit re-emergence into the Houston market. The chain still has the location on its list of upcoming grand opening donut-campouts (labeled as down-the-street 4601 Spencer Hwy., though both Eater Houston and a look at neighboring addresses put the property number at or around 4061), but arch-ive-ist and daily demo reporter Lauren Meyers notes the overgrown site is pretty light on signs of active work.
Some of Fisher Elementary’s T-buildings can be seen loitering to the left, with the stadium lights of the McGuire baseball field and track facility rising distantly in the background on the right; on the west side of the building is a would-be drive-thru window:
Yesterday’s entry in Houston’s recurring game of what’s-that-mysterious-black-cloud was brought to you by LyondellBasell’s Pasadena refinery at 12000 Lawndale St. (the same one that caught fire back in early April). The shot above was taken from an overpass near the junction of Loop 610 with Hwy. 225, though for parts of the afternoon the trail was visible from at least 7 miles away at the Hilton Americas building downtown. A LyondellBasell spokesperson tells Swamplot that flaring was triggered just before noon after a Calpine facility sending steam to the refinery lost power, reportedly due to a lightning strike. The company sent a message to the East Harris County Manufacturer’s Association’s emergency response info hotline stating that observers “may notice a bright orange flame, black smoke or a rumbling noise,” but that it was no big deal, and no one in nextdoor Manchester or Deer Park needed to do anything like leave or tape their windows shut this time.
Photo: Michael Muguerza via t.e.j.a.s.
Some of the shadows in Pasadena’s Shadowlawn Terrace neighborhood fall within a property fitted with a cavernous structure soaring over the pool and terrace (top). The 1978 custom contemporary was designed by Richard Ainslie (“with input from O’Neil Ford,” the listing says — the San Antonio architect was a family friend of the owners). Well-tended by its original (and only) owners, the climate-controlling property splashed onto the market last week bearing a $250K price tag. It’s located east of S. Richey St. between W. Harris and W. Southmore avenues. Let’s take a peek at the teak within . . .
The city of Pasadena is likely to go ahead with the sale of the Corrigan Center at Shaw Ave. and Pasadena Blvd., which includes the once-grand Capitan Theater, to a New Jersey oil-industry inspection and lab-test company called Camin Cargo Control. Under the $4.6 million deal, already approved by city council once earlier this month in a 6-3 vote, the city would lease back the 31,982 sq. ft. of the property — the parts currently occupied by fire department administrative offices and the city’s municipal court. The lease-back wouldn’t include the long-vacant 1,500-seat art deco theater.
But a reader tells Swamplot that decorative pieces from the front of the 1949 theater — which after an exterior renovation looked pretty spiffy until recently (see photo at right from last year) — have already been removed. “The marquee boards, neon, and the whole vertical metal section that said “Pasadena” are gone, leaving just brick behind it,” Spence Gaskin writes. “The marquee stuff had been gone a few weeks at the least, but I just noticed the Pasadena sign removal.”
Cite magazine editor Raj Mankad leads readers on a brief photo tour of “one of the most mind-boggling sites in the Houston area.” Hills, in Pasadena! “Many of the slopes are planted with grass,” he writes. “On one visit several years ago, I saw a horse grazing at the base of one. If I squinted, I could imagine myself in Montana, if not the Alps.”
Better than a waiting-for-snow ski resort, though, these landforms north of Hwy. 225 inside Beltway 8 east of Red Bluff Rd. on the south side of the Houston Ship Channel are made of phosphogypsum. Phosphogypsum is a byproduct of the production of phosphate fertilizers, which took place on the site between 1960 and 2011, under the successive stewardship of a series of companies including ExxonMobil and Agrifos. Why was all this gypsum kept in mountainous piles instead of stuffed into wallboards or something? Well, the EPA doesn’t allow that if the material is too radioactive, which phosphogypsum generally is. So the glowy stuff has to be stored somewhere.
MAKING MORE SPLASH IN PASADENA The Pasadena city council got together last week to have a look at a $4 million plan that would expand the community pool at Strawberry Park on Lafferty Rd. and Parkside Dr. into something a bit splashier, reports the Pasadena Citizen: “Progressive Commercial Aquatics’ Steve Davis explained the success public and private entities have had with water parks, including nearby Pirates Bay, owned by the City of Baytown. In Davis’ plan for Pasadena, the . . . project would add a new bath house, ‘lazy river,’ concession area, multiple shaded areas and lots of other pool features.” But not all council members were sold. Says Pat Van Houte: “To me, it’s not really a priority. I would look at the economics of, ‘How much is this going to cost long run?’” [Pasadena Citizen] Drawing: Progressive Commercial Aquatics
Dunkin’ Donuts announced yesterday where it’ll be sprinkling 4 new stores across Houston. This rendering shows the standalone planned for 18315 W. Lake Houston Pkwy. in Humble. There’ll also be a location inside IAH’s Terminal E, one at 4130 Fairmont Pkwy. in Pasadena, and another, as suspected, at the renovated former Arby’s at 2330 S. Shepherd and Fairview. Last month, the chain opened the first of a reported 24 stores planned for the Houston area at 10705 Westheimer in Westchase.
Rendering: Rogue Architects via Houston Business Journal
Custom in 1967, this barn-meets-barn Dutch-like home spreads across a lot of lot over in Pasadena. An early example of an upscale Kickerillo number, the listing’s interior finishes offer cavernous ceilings — some of them given an extra bit of zip by some vibrant plaid wallpaper (above) — and “built-ins galore,” including a handy off-the-den pre-SodaStream soda fountain bar (at right). The super-sized property listed last month with an asking price of $379,210.
Construction has started in Pasadena on one of the largest loading and unloading zones of beer in Texas. Silver Eagle Distributors, whose lookalike company headquarters you can see from I-10 north of Memorial Park, says that the $25 million, 400,000-sq.-ft. distribution center will sit on 50 acres near the Sam Houston Tollway and those Independence Trail scenes painted on the Pasadena Freeway refineries.
ART GUYS WORKING WITH SHIP CHANNEL IN NEXT ‘EVENT’ At the site shown here in Pasadena near the old Paper Mill and Washburn Tunnel, where General Antonio López de Santa Anna is said to have been captured during that historically succinct Battle of San Jacinto, the Art Guys are planning their next performance: They’ve announced they’ll crack out their batons and “conduct the sounds of the Houston Ship Channel.” (Not sure what that could look like? Go see it for yourself.) Jack Massing and Michael Galbreth, the helmsmen of “12 Events,” a yearlong series of monthly head-scratchers that commemorate their 30 years of Houston mischief, have so far in 2013 shrugged off their divorce from the Menil, signed their names for 8 hours at the Julia Ideson Library on National Handwriting Day, and walked all 29.6 miles of Little York Rd., the longest in Houston. Next up, once they’ve conducted the Ship Channel waters? The Art Guys unwind a spool of thread, and then — wait for it — wind it back up again. [The Art Guys; Culturemap; previously on Swamplot] Photo: JimmyEv via Waymarking
Earth tones are easy in this 1970 classic over in the Pasadena area’s South Houston Gardens. Beams, bricks, dark woodwork, patterns, and juxtaposed floor and wall treatments (above) help carbon date this February re-re-listing. There’s decorative nostalgia aplenty to be found within the Midcentury but not-entirely-modern home; the property has a current asking price of $159,000. A previous listing by a different agency had started the ball rolling in June 2012 at $180,000; $10K was soon whittled away for the rest of the run as well as last month’s brief retry.
NIMBY IN PASADENA This scruffy corner at Genoa Red Bluff and Space Center, right on the border between Pasadena and Houston, is the proposed site of a few 90- to 150-unit housing developments for low-income residents — a category which can include seniors and those with disabilities, reports teevee’s Samica Knight. But one potential neighbor Knight interviews doesn’t seem likely to prepare any welcome baskets: “‘If I had been looking for a new home and there had been low income property across, I wouldn’t have chosen this neighborhood,‘ said Pasadena resident Janet McClellan. ‘I would be afraid of crime, more crime. . . . Everybody does have to have a place to live, but I just think there are better more appropriate places to build those kinds of homes.'” [abc13] Photo: abc13