02/07/14 11:00am

Proposed Elan Memorial Park Apartments, 904 Westcott St., Rice Military, Houston

Architect Meeks + Partners has posted a rendering of the steel-framed apartment complex Greystar is planning to replace the Memorial Club Apartments lining the southern boundary of the Washington on Westcott roundabout. Swamplot reported Greystar’s plans for the apartments last year — along with a tip that the planned redevelopment would include a new Trader Joe’s. The rendering shows no sign of a Trader Joe’s, but it does show the base of the apartment structure filled with retail spaces and outdoor dining areas facing the roundabout. The view appears to be taken southeast from the roundabout; the existing stone Rice Military placard is in the foreground.

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Elan Memorial Park
10/15/13 12:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: BURSTING YOUR HOUSING BUBBLE BUBBLE “Your fears of a bubble being caused in this manner are unfounded. The sales of older homes (by Houston standards at least — still less than 10 years) have shot up in just the last 9 months. Sure, we always need to guard against bubbles, but I don’t think an EaDo-specific bubble is occurring, and certainly not because there aren’t existing single-family homes. Teardowns of existing, livable (leaving out the shotgun shacks) single-family homes have started (here, for instance). In the place of the teardowns are multiple townhomes. There are some examples of irrational exuberance on the part of the developers, like the $500,000 asking price for the townhomes bounded by Nagle/Capitol/Delano/Rusk, but the recent high appreciation occurring is not out of line and has only been occurring for a few years, whereas places like the Heights and Rice Military have seen prices increases for many years, all without any neighborhood-specific bubble. Midtown, too, has avoided a bubble-then-crash and they have an even smaller stock of single-family homes yards than EaDo.” [eiioi, commenting on Comment of the Day: East Downtown, Brought to You by Montrose] Illustration: Lulu

09/24/13 1:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WITH OR WITHOUT LIGHT RAIL “I would dispute that the light rail has had any substantive quantitative impact on Houston’s development patterns, except to shuffle around the placement of some developments within a distance of several blocks. (That is to say, for instance, that downtown was destined to pick up a few big highrises over the last decade, but perhaps they were closer to Main rather than Allen Center.) A lot of people forget that the re-gentrification of the Heights took place over a span of decades — without light rail. The gentrification of 3rd Ward, the East End, and the Near Northside has been ongoing for a shorter period of time, and these neighborhoods simply aren’t as well-located as Rice Military — which also transformed without light rail. I would suggest that these neighborhoods are all destined for gentrification, that it will happen slowly because we’re talking about a huge geographic area — and that it would’ve happened with or without light rail, just as with other neighborhoods. I might be swayed if it were the case that some meaningful number of people move to Houston because it has light rail, but aside from some extremely narrow subset of people, that strikes me as bullshit. It’s not an effective economic development tool, and certainly not without zoning (which I also oppose).” [TheNiche, commenting on A First Look at the Strip Center-and-Apartments Combo That Could Go Up Between UH and TSU] Illustration: Lulu

04/15/13 4:45pm

“It looks like someone has bought the whole block between Feagan, Westcott, and Knox in Rice Military next to the Commonwealth Title office building,” a reader writes in accompaniment of a series of photos. “There are several old cottages with for sale signs showing the houses as ‘to be moved’ although they don’t look salvageable to me.” What, the reader wants to know, is going to happen here?

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04/11/13 3:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHAT WENT WRONG IN RICE MILITARY AND THE WEST END “you get what you get. if the buyers of those units and the developers don’t have the initiative to deed restrict unit-divided rentals, it’s at their own fault. The city already dropped the ball by not having a minimum lot divisible in there originally. all of those 5000 sf cottages were not a realistic use of the land, but neither is 4 attached units on a common unregulated drive with gate, set to 20′ wide asphalt roads and no curbs/gutters. your comment that they will become slums is short-sided. i have a friend who lives in this type of housing in Boston, i assure you charlestown is both desirable and nice — his rent is $3.25 psf. forget that little white ghetto pocket you saw in ‘the town’ . . . this is the west end. always has been, always should be. shame on the city for not investing in infrastructure here, and shame on the buyer for not understanding the realities of paying $300,000 for attached unit housing with nobody taking ownership of a cooperative housing complex. really the developers leave that unchartered because the buyers are cheap, and they shy away from a house with an HOA. the assumption is the HOA has froth in it. so instead, they get a paved courtyard that runs into deferred maintenance issues and neighboring owners who say ‘piss off’ on everybody chipping in to fix it. if i owned one and was renting it to carpetbagging yankees, that would be my opinion and attitude.” [HTX REZ, commenting on Comment of the Day: What To Call the Greater West End]

04/10/13 2:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHAT TO CALL THE GREATER WEST END “Forgive me if this has been discussed before, but am I the only one who thinks that the Wash Ave area needs one, unifying neighborhood name? I live in Magnolia Grove, but no one knows what that is, so I have to just say “Off Wash Ave” (though that implies that I moved there to be close to Wash Ave bars, which is NOT the case) or say that I’m in between Montrose and the Heights (which is a stretch). Rice Military stops at Durham/Shepherd so that isn’t accurate. The neighborhoods can continue to retain their individual neighborhood names, but the entire area [PDF] can have one unifying name so that folks know what you’re talking about (e.g., Montrose is the larger neighborhood that contains Hyde Park). I would think realtors and retailers would both jump at the chance to not have to describe the area by referring to street names. Part of the area is called the West End (I think the area between Shepherd, Wash Ave, Heights, and Katy Freeway), and I think that would be a cool name to describe the whole area (particularly given the fact that the area used to be the end of town). I’m sure there are other cool names too, but any name should not contain ‘Heights’ in the title, as the area is decidedly not the Heights and the feel/look is incredibly different. The area’s former name, ‘Smokeytown,’ should also be out for obvious reasons.” [Eric, commenting on New Shepherd Dr. Little Woodrow’s To Serve Pub Fare, Too]

04/09/13 11:00am

NEW SHEPHERD DR. LITTLE WOODROW’S TO SERVE PUB FARE, TOO Beer after wine: Closed back in November, Block 7 at 720 South Shepherd Dr. is being replaced by Little Woodrow’s, reports Eater Houston’s Eric Sandler. Just south of the Washington Corridor in Rice Military Magnolia Grove and a block east from the about-to-open Katch 22 from Roger Clemens’s kid Kory, the new Shepherd spot, rep Nick Menage tells Sandler, will house no ordinary Woodrow’s: “In a twist, this location will have a full kitchen that will serve an updated mix of bar foods including burgers, nachos and pizzas from the old Block 7 oven. Menage assures fans of the bar’s popular steak nights that there are plans to maintain that tradition, too.” [Eater Houston; previously on Swamplot] Photo of Block 7: Panoramio user Wolfgang Houston

03/26/13 1:00pm

And here are the apartments designed to replace those mini storage sheds being torn down on the north side of Memorial Dr. at 159 Birdsall St. The demo, says a rep from developer Sunrise Luxury Living, is about 75 percent complete — only 20 sheds remain — and construction on the 5-story Birdsall Memorial Apartments is expected to begin in the next four months. Plans show the new complex squeezing 180 1- and 2-bedroom units onto the property where the 300 storage sheds stood.

Here’s a nifty aerial view of the area:

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03/14/13 3:45pm

The son of Sugar Land Skeeters ace and former Astros hurler Roger Clemens is renovating a tapas bar into a house of “sports and spirits” that’ll be called Katch 22. That’s Katch with a K — for strikeout, if you’re scoring at home. Renovations are already underway at the former Convivio space here at 700 Durham in Rice Military. Kody Kory Clemens, reports Eater Houston’s Eric Sandler, will be Katch 22′s executive chef; he studied at Le Cordon Bleu and met co-proprietor Luke Mandola while working at Ragin’ Cajun. Sandler adds that though there will be 11 screens here showing ball games, the owners stress that Katch 22 is not a sports bar. Either way, it’s expected to open in May.

Photo: Allyn West

02/01/13 11:00am

A tipster tells Swamplot that a parcel of the Memorial Club Apartments property at 904 Westcott  is “confirmed” as the future site of Houston’s fourth Trader Joe’s. Organized around the Rice Military roundabout near Memorial Park, the apartments are split down the middle by Westcott; the photo above shows a view from the roundabout looking east toward Washington.

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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.

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10/23/12 5:01pm

A reader wants to know what’s happening on the south side of Memorial Dr. between Birdsall and Knox St., just east of Westcott: “In mid-September a garden store opened in the warehouse-type building and then shut down just a few weeks later. Just last week a demolition crew tore down the warehouse [see photo above]. Also last week, there was a crew salvaging some building fixtures from the abandoned restaurant building next door (used to be La Mia). Will this building [on the left in the photo] go next? Any idea of what the site is being used for? There has been a lot of development in the area recently (Black Walnut Cafe) and more is on the way (a storage facility and older apartment complex on the north side of Memorial is about to be torn down for multi-family housing).”

Photo: Swamplot inbox

09/21/12 10:10am

ABOUT THOSE “EARLY MORNING” CONCRETE POURS A neighbor of the Park Memorial construction site in Rice Military writes: “Just a question on Houston city ordinances. Are there any restrictions on construction in the middle of the night? I was awakened at 3 am this morning by a massive concrete pour. The site has been lit up with floodlights and there are multiple trucks with back up signals, machinery noise and yelling workers. I found some general noise ordinances but wondered if there are any other rules? This is as bad as any nightclub or worse.” [Swamplot inbox; previously on Swamplot]

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.

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