07/21/14 11:15am

Rendering of 2229 San Felipe TowerA new lawsuit filed last week against the developers of the 2229 San Felipe office tower currently under construction between Shepherd and Kirby is a bit different from the one that a group of neighbors initiated against the same party back in February, a reader notes. The plaintiffs in the new lawsuit are the owners of a River Oaks home directly across the street from the construction site, and they appear to have studied the ruling issued in the Ashby Highrise lawsuit carefully. (Back in May, Judge Randy Wilson ordered the developers of that building to pay neighbors $1.2 million to compensate them for “lost market damages,” but denied their request to halt the building’s construction)

Unlike their neighbors who sued before them, the residents of 2237 Stanmore Dr. are not seeking to prevent or delay the construction of Hines’s neighborhood office tower. Instead, it appears they are only seeking compensation for both public and private “nuisances” created by the 17-story building, including pollution, noise, and ground vibration during its construction and the resulting loss of sunlight and rain on their property. The building’s vaunted peepage opportunities don’t please them either:

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Pay Up
07/07/14 3:00pm

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Yet another re-listing of a 1949 home built by architect Hamilton Brown for his own family on the sloped loop of Tiel Way in River Oaks has freshened up the property’s market presence once more. But the price point is the same — it’s been hovering for a year at $2.825 million, having debuted at $3.75 million in 2010. Asking prices in the interim bounced down in listings by various agencies, hitting $3.25 million, then $2.95 million in 2011, and $2.875 million in the early part of last year, after a 3-month dalliance with $3.2 million in the fall of 2012. Like the wedge lot it occupies, the well-screened home is broader toward the few-frills front. Structural elements remain a focus inside (above) and out.

Despite the pedigree of an extensive renovation by architect Howard Barnstone (he did work on the property for LeRoy and Lucile Melcher, its later owners), there’s not a massive amount of Modern left to the house — at least if the interior decor has anything to say about it. The property was further altered in 2001 or 2002. Is that when all the beams attached themselves to the ceilings?

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One More Time
06/25/14 2:30pm

DRESSING UP THE MENIL HOUSE, SCARING THE ARCHITECT AWAY Dressing Room of Menil House, Decorated by Charles James, 3363 San Felipe St., Houston“Philip [Johnson] felt we should have a Mies van der Rohe settee, a Mies van der Rohe glass table and two Mies van der Rohe chairs on a little musty-colored rug,” explained Dominique de Menil about the distinctive yet undeniably Miesian modern home at 3363 San Felipe St. the already-somewhat-famous museum curator-turned-architect had designed for her and her husband. “We wanted something more voluptuous.” And so in 1950 the first family of Schlumberger hired Mr. Voluptuous himself, the dress designer Charles James, to create the new home’s interiors — something he had never done before, and never would do again. How’d that turn out? Here’s Joanna McCutcheon, giving some background to the Menil Collection’s current exhibition featuring clothing and furniture James designed for his patron: “Upon entering the house — a clean, strictly modernist construction of brick, steel and glass, he immediately demanded that the ceilings be raised 10 inches. He wanted additional room to facilitate his plan of coating the walls in lurid felt and velvet. . . . The walls of the Johnson house were swaddled in dyed felts, while dark spaces were illuminated with shocking colour. Horrified, Johnson refused to include the house in his portfolio for decades afterwards.” [Disegno Daily] Photo of Menil House dressing room: Menil Collection

04/10/14 12:00pm

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One of the storied properties in the Tall Timbers niche of River Oaks quietly arrived on the market this week. Restrained and almost dainty in its design by the then in-demand architect Hiram Salisbury, the 1941 main building features columns and balconies accenting a brick exterior. The east-wing addition in 1950, meanwhile, was by another go-to architect: John Staub. The resulting work by 2 premier architects blended in one estate sits on a large lot measuring more than an acre and a half. All that land can be subdivided, ”for 2 building sites, already approved” by the River Oaks Property Owners association, the listing says. The asking price is $8.1 million.

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Twice as Nice
03/18/14 1:45pm

NEW NORTH MONTROSE APARTMENTS LEAVE HANOVER, MOVE TO RIVER OAKS AMLI River Oaks, 1340 West Gray St., North Montrose, HoustonResidents of the recently opened Hanover West Gray apartments at 1340 West Gray got an unexpected notice in their mailboxes this month: Their new homes at the corner of West Gray and Waugh (replacing the Tavern on Gray and some neighboring structures) now feature a River Oaks address. Hanover sold the 275-unit structures effective March 13 to AMLI. And the new owner is calling the complex AMLI River Oaks, after the tony no-apartments-please neighborhood whose eastern border is three-quarters of a mile to the west. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Hanover Company

02/28/14 1:30pm

LAWSUIT WON’T STOP CONSTRUCTION OF HINES’S SAN FELIPE TOWER — AT THIS TIME Aerial View of Proposed 2229 San Felipe Office Tower, Vermont Commons, HoustonYesterday a Harris County judge issued an order denying the request of some neighbors of 2229 San Felipe across from River Oaks for a temporary restraining order halting construction of the 17-story Hines office tower going up on that site. The neighbors had filed suit last week, complaining that (among other things) the building would interfere with their privacy, cause unreasonable traffic delays, devalue their own nearby properties, and erode the character of the neighborhood. “Unfortunately, Harris County does not make transcripts of arguments at the hearing available online,” writes the tipster who sent Judge Michael Gomez’s order to Swamplot, “but this could be a sign that Judge Gomez may be less receptive to the Plaintiffs’ arguments than those that were heard in the Ashby highrise case.” Maybe. Twice on the signed order, after the word “denied,” the judge added in the phrase “at this time” by hand. [Prime Property; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Hines

02/25/14 3:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: HOW TO BUILD A NEIGHBORHOOD MOAT WITH DEED RESTRICTIONS Neighborhood Moat“Instead of throwing lawsuits around, the people in River Oaks should start a Buy Protect Sell program. Buy pieces of land around their subdivision as they come up for sale. Protect those pieces of land by putting restrictive covenants on them (height regulations in particular, since their concern has been the proliferation of high rises in their area). Then sell the properties with the restrictions in place. B/P/S has been used for about a decade by environmentalists elsewhere in the country. It could be used to preserve the low-rise character around a neighborhood. The drawback is that it can be costly for poorer neighborhoods, but River Oaks could well afford it.” [ZAW, commenting on Neighbors File Suit To Stop Hines San Felipe Tower; Silo Sightseeing] Illustration: Lulu

02/13/14 12:15pm

Construction of Shepherd Commons Strip Center, 2015 S. Shepherd Dr., Houston

Construction of Shepherd Commons Strip Center, 2015 S. Shepherd Dr., HoustonIf the panoramic photo above makes it look like these newly erected concrete tilt walls, having been boiled and baked on the ground and then propped into place, are about to envelop the 2-story strip center building to its north on S. Shepherd Dr. just south of Welch known to most as the longtime home of the Hot Bagel Shop — well that appears to be the idea. These photos were taken over the weekend. Last November, Swamplot reported on plans for Shepherd Commons, at 2015 S. Shepherd, a new 2-story replacement strip mall which Hot Bagel Shop and River Oaks Nails, according to the source, were intending to move into. After the move, it was reported, the original strip center would be knocked down and a second phase built in its place:

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Plain or Poppy?
02/10/14 3:45pm

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It only took 3 days for a 13th floor condo unit with 2 slate terraces in Inwood Manor to go under contract — after being listed last week with a $995,000 asking price. Those who missed out have a few smaller options to consider elsewhere in the 16-floor beehive building of 110 units (top). A cast concrete tower designed by architect Harwood Taylor, the property has loomed over River Oaks and its hinterlands since 1962. A neighboring 13th floor 1-bedroom unit, furnished, is up for grabs as a lease starting April 1. And a couple smaller units on lower floors are still lingering, including one fitted as an office (above) by Houston interior design legend Herbert Wells, who died in 2010.

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Unit Pricing
11/22/13 12:15pm

River Oaks Plant House, 3401 Westheimer Rd., River Oaks, Houston

River Oaks Plant House, 3401 Westheimer Rd., River Oaks, HoustonThe River Oaks Plant House — also known as the greenery purveyor that regularly festoons the corner of Westheimer and Buffalo Speedway with dancing bears and other fake topiary — will be closing up shop at the end December. Headmaster Mark Desjardins writes in an email that St. John’s School notified the owners of the more-than-30-year-old store in September that its lease would be terminated by December 31. The prep school had purchased the property from the Henry J. N. Taub family, along with the land under Blanco’s Bar & Grill, in a 13-acre deal completed exactly a year earlier.

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Leaving Soon