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.
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There’s Glow in Them Thar Hills
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.
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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.
Image: Silver Eagle Distributors via Swamplot inbox
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.
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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
COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE HOUSE HUNTER “I’m glad I took my other 120 trophies out of the house for you. Judging by the times of the post, I see most are either jobless or on ya’lls smoke break. Obviously fans of the all too many tract home and Kirklands decor, you obviously know nothing about decorating and fine antiques. Reproductions?? Really please to be upset that a table cost more than your car . . . it’s ok . . . AHH time to go hunting . . . you guys clock back in and go to work. If you guys have any special request for new mounts, let me know and I’ll shoot one for you :)” [safari jack, commenting on Exploring the Indoor Wildlife in a Pasadena Dead Animal House]
COMMENT OF THE DAY RUNNER-UP: BAYPORT FOR TOURISTS “So no rent and docking fees? Which means the port will only be making money off of parking? Maybe something off of the cruise tickets?
The Bayport cruise terminal is a nice feature, but the problem is that it’s located in the middle of nowhere. Most cruise ports are located where passengers can get off the cruise and be a tourist. Even though Galveston is the beginning and ending for many cruise passengers, it is also a destination for many also. New Orleans also feeds off this.
The Bayport terminal is essentially dropping off passengers at a cargo terminal in the middle of a petro-chemical complex. FUN!” [kjb434, commenting on Port of Houston Paying $6.7 Million in Cruise Bait for Suddenly Popular Bayport Terminal]
PORT OF HOUSTON PAYING $6.7 MILLION IN CRUISE BAIT FOR SUDDENLY POPULAR BAYPORT TERMINAL A minor detail missing from last week’s story explaining how the Bayport Cruise Terminal was finally able to lure a couple of cruise lines to its Galveston Bay-side shores, after long 4 years of loneliness and vacancy: the payola. Er, dowry. To entice Princess Cruises and the Norwegian Cruise Line to give up on the overstuffed Galveston Port and stop by for a little on-again, off-again fun with its otherwise antisocial upstream neighbor, the Port of Houston Authority has agreed to dole out a combined $6.685 million to its seafaring suitors. The bulk of cruising-around money will go to the tall Norwegians; Princess will take home $685,000. And both lines will be excused from rent and docking fees. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Flickr user Silent Z
After waiting for 4 years for any kind of ship to cruise it, the all-but-virginal Bayport Cruise Terminal will at last get a seaborne visitor — starting next year. And it’ll be . . . a Caribbean Princess!
What was it that finally sparked the hookup — the daily grooming and maintenance? The word put out on the street that the $108.4 million taxpayer-funded facility would be willing to do whatever it takes to lure a few sailors to its waiting docks? More likely, the Galveston County Daily News‘s Laura Elder reports, it was just that the popular-with-the-cruising-set Port of Galveston was full-up, and Princess Cruises wasn’t interested in just squeezing in with all the other ships.
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Game for a little house hunting? No guns are in sight, but a tour through this 4-or-5-bedroom, 3-1/2-bath habitat in Pasadena’s Cedar Lawn neighborhood just northeast of Ellington Airport proudly displays the spoils of several safari adventures. Animal attractions lurk in almost every room of the 4,705-sq.-ft. eighties colonial. But not all of them have eyes:
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NOBODY WANTS TO CRUISE FROM BAYPORT How’s that effort to bring some actual cruise business — or really, any kind of business — to the Bayport Cruise Terminal going? Not so well. After contacting more than a dozen cruise operators last October, the port authority got no responses. The last and only departures made from the $81 million Pasadena facility, which opened in 2008: a couple of Carnival Cruise Ships shut out of Galveston for a short time after Hurricane Ike. [Bay Area Citizen] Photo: Commercial Care Services
Nestlé Waters of North America, distributors of the Ozarka, Arrowhead, Calistoga, Ice Mountain, Poland Spring, Zephyrhills, Nestlé Pure Life and — yes — Deer Park brands of drinking water, has chosen to set up its next bottling operation at the corner of Bay Area Blvd. and Red Bluff Rd. But the nation’s largest bottled-water company isn’t simply seeking a Pasadena address for the convenience and caché that undoubtedly comes with the location — close to the port and just a few miles south of the city’s famed refineries and sewage-treatment plant. Nestle has also worked out an agreement with the city to use water from Pasadena’s Southeast Water Purification Plant, which is located just northeast of Ellington Field. By next year, the company plans to have 3 separate manufacturing lines in operation, each staffed by 50 employees, bottling water in a new 312,000-sq.-ft. space it’s leasing in Pasadena’s Republic Distribution Center.
Photo of Republic Distribution Center I, 10525 Red Bluff Rd.: A&B Properties