12/06/17 3:15pm

A Swamplot reader sends photos of the partial demolition now underway along Commerce St. just off Colby in the Second Ward just north of East Downtown. Ancorian bought 3 warehouses between Commerce and Canal St. last November and plans to redevelop the site into a single dock-front building with a parking lot along its west side. The new development, dubbed The Block, would consist of 44,000 sq. ft. of “creative workspace and retail.

Here’s an aerial view looking west along Commerce St taken from before the demolition.:

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Second Ward Redo
07/28/17 12:30pm

BUFFALO BAYOU PARTNERSHIP NOW LOOKING EAST OF DOWNTOWN, MAKING PLANS The landscape architecture firm that rejiggered the grounds of the Menil Collection and has put forward a new plan for Hermann Park will now be turning its attention to Buffalo Bayou east of Downtown, where the waterway widens ahead of the Houston Ship Channel and Galveston Bay. Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates will lead an effort to create a new master plan for the bayou’s “East Sector” — the section between Hwy. 59 and the Turning Basin — the Buffalo Bayou Partnership announced yesterday. Also on the team of consultants the nonprofit waterway overseers has selected to create the plan: the firm formerly known as Morris Architects, which a few months ago switched its name to that of its parent company, Huitt-Zollars. The partnership says it wants a plan that reflects the cultural and industrial background of the area, that will help connect surrounding neighborhoods to the bayou, and that creates green spaces that can help revitalize that part of Houston. [Buffalo Bayou Partnership] Photo: Buffalo Bayou Partnership

07/26/17 2:30pm

The HAR listing for the home at 5116 Avenue H in the Second Ward, for sale for $99,990, identified the property’s subdivision as MEX Y CAN. Which seemed notable enough in the rapidly changing neighborhood for the curious name to appear as discussion fodder yesterday on Reddit. The subdivision name is accurate, appearing on county tax records: The property’s developer was required to give a name to the subdivision when the single 5,000-sq.-ft. lot on which it stood (at the time part of a subdivision named Engel) was divided into thirds last year, in order to allow him to sell off individually the 3 existing homes on the property. “Actually no one had any comments [on the name] at the time of replatting,” the developer notes.

MEX Y CAN, the name he assigned to the subdivision, “is for the name Mexican and (Y in Spanish) Canadian,” he explains to Swamplot. “The love of my life is Mexican and I am Canadian. . . . There is no other meaning or significance behind it.” The motivation for choosing this particular name? “Having myself, the love of my life, and our desire to be memorialized in the area for eternity like our love.”

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Subdivided
05/19/17 10:30am

ELYSIAN VIADUCT WORK UNEARTHS HISTORIC HOUSTON HERITAGE TRASH PILE The real value of the long-buried dump uncovered by the ongoing replacement of the Elysian St. bridge over I-10 and Buffalo Bayou, write Doug Boyd and Jason Barrett this week in the Chronicle, is in the opportunity it provides “to document the often-unwritten parts of our industrial heritage.” The dump, apparently built up over the early half of the 1900s in a former gully, serves as a springboard for the authors to talk trashHouston, they write, was one of the first cities to adopt widespread municipal garbage incineration, and lagged decades behind as most cities chose to stop doing it out of concern for public healthSpots like the one under Elysian St., they add, help fill in the gaps of knowledge of what happened to all the other trash that didn’t end up in a city incinerator or landfill — and who tended to live nearby. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot]  Photos: Adam J Williams

03/16/17 1:00pm

La Familia Meat Market, 2440 Canal St., Second Ward, Houston, 77003

Variance Request for townhomes at Commerce and Saint Charles, Second Ward, Houston, 77003The plans submitted to the city along with a variance request being advertised lately along Canal St. show that the developer — an entity which traces back to Frank Liu — is asking for permission to drop below a required 3,500-sq.-ft. minimum lot size on its new property. That would allow the company stick about 29 houses on the L of land the documents refer to as Williams on Canal, which wraps around the brightly muraled La Familia Meat Market building and 2 pre-1950’s homes just south of it on St. Charles. The drawings in the request show 64 townhomes altogether, including the company’s adjacent land on the same block (extending all the way to Commerce St.):

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Second Ward Stock
02/22/17 5:30pm

BRAD MOORE AND FRIENDS SNATCH EMPTY BODY OF INVASION ICE HOUSE Invasion Ice House, 823 Dumble St., Eastwood, Houston, 77023 Formerly apostrophe-averse Grand Prize co-owner Brad Moore and his business partners have a new bar now up and running in the work-out-the-kinks, wait-for-the-liquor-license phase. The business, operating under the syllable-rich name Lil’ Danny Speedo’s Go Fly a Kite Lounge, has taken over the space in the 1950s building at 823 Dumble St. (shown here as seen early last year in its then-new alien mural skin). Danny Speedo’s is the latest link in a long chain of bars on the property — most recently including Invasion Ice House, which the Ramos family opened last spring before shutting it down at the end of October. Phaedra Cook reports that Lil’ Danny Speedos is limiting the alcohol menu to beer, wine, and frozen shandies until the liquor permit comes through. [Houston Foodfinder; previously on Swamplot] Photo of former Invasion Ice House at 823 Dumble St.: Swamplot inbox

08/25/16 11:00am

Rendering of Emancipation Park, Dowling St., Third Ward, Houston

Houston Planning Commission chief of staff Brian Crimmins announced yesterday that tomorrow will be the day a proposed name change of Dowling St. is announced to those with property along the road. The planned timeline for a few public meetings and some comment-taking stretches over the course of the next few months, with the if-everything-goes-as-planned rededication date of the street as Emancipation Ave. set for Sunday, November 6. The proposed change would mark the second de-Dowling in Houston this year, following the shifting of Dowling Middle School’s allegiance over to Audrey H. Lawson as part of HISD’s lawsuit-inspiring Confederate expulsion.

Rendering of under-renovation Emancipation Park at 3018 Dowling St.: Phil Frelon

Emancipation Anticipation
07/06/16 11:30am

Guadalupe Park Plaza Redo, 2311 Runnels St., Second Ward, Houston, 77003

The forest of columns behind the newly planted trees above are most of what’s left of the original central plaza structure in Second Ward’s Guadalupe Plaza Park, which the Greater East End Management District says will reopen on July 30th as several years of de- and re-construction work are wrapped up. The 1980s park now caps the western end of the previously redone Navigation Blvd. esplanade, and a landscaped sidewalk now connects the park to Buffalo Bayou at the crossing of Jensen Rd. (right across from the 136-acre KBR campus recently purchased by mixed-use developer Midway).

Here’s the view looking south along the walkway toward the main square from alongside cultural center Talento Bilingue, which the management district says won’t be knocked down until funding is in place to rebuild it: 

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Plaza Placement
04/20/16 3:45pm

Sims Metal Management Proler Southwest Scrap Recycling Facility, 90 Hirsch Rd, Galena Park, Houston, 77052

Bryan Parras snagged some after-shots of Buffalo Bayou’s up-and-down number near Tony Marron Park just east of Hirsch Rd. this week, as the rain let up on Monday afternoon and again yesterday morning. Across the channel on the north bank is the Sims Metal Management’s Proler Southwest recycling facility, whose scrap piles shown above were still soaking their toes beneath the freshly-elevated water line at the time of the Monday photos.

Below is a view of both the park’s trails and the Sims facility, looking east from the Hirsch bridge across the bayou’s confluence with somewhat-redecorated Japhet Creek from the north:

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Piled High in Fifth Ward
02/18/16 1:15pm

Future Seafarers International Union Hall, 501 N. York St., Second Ward, Houston, 77003

A reader shipped over these shots of the new Seafarers International Union Hall under construction at 501 N. York St., just south of the crossing of Buffalo Bayou (and of the name change to Hirsch Rd.). An entity called Seafarer’s Building Corporation bought the land from the Buffalo Bayou Partnership in March of last year; the bayou folks snagged it in 2001 from construction materials producer Lafarge, which acquired it as a General Portland cement facility in 1989. The property sits a block down N. York from bayou-side Tony Marron Park, itself immediately upstream of the Dan-Loc Group machining plant.

A close-up of the rendering posted at the job site at the corner with Freund St. shows an access ramp stretching along the N. York side of the property, as well as what appears to be a partially covered upstairs patio:

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Coming Together on N. York St.
02/10/14 10:15am

Homes Moved to Lubbock Grove, Near Sampson and Preston Streets, East End, Houston

Two of the 6 wood-framed Victorian refugees renewable-energy exec Michael Skelly and his wife Anne Whitlock had moved last month to lots adjacent to the red-brick former fire house at 319 Sampson St. they’re renovating as their home are still not spoken for, according to Lisa Gray’s account: “One of the houses will become Whitlock and Skelly’s guest house. They’ve been trying to entice friends to buy and rehab the others, to join what Anne calls ‘our crazy adventure.’ Generally, the couple’s friends aren’t interested in moving themselves — though some like the idea for one of their kids, or as an investment in an area sure to gentrify. Real-estate broker Tom Bacon, a friend of Skelly’s, referred his son Drew, a 25-year-old artist who recently moved back from Brooklyn. In the little house across from the firehouse, he’ll be only a short walk from his studio on Preston. So far, Whitlock and Skelly have enticed one friend from their own generation: Diana Espitía, who serves on the Houston Parks Board with Michael. Espitía, who now lives in Southgate, plans to connect two of the houses, forming a home large enough for her, her teenage daughter, her brother and her parents, who are in their 60s. Her parents, says Espitía, love the new neighborhood; it reminds them of their old home in Bogotá.

Photo: Janusz Design

Any More Takers?
01/17/14 5:15pm

Lubbock Grove Homes, St. Charles and Garrow Sts., Second Ward, Houston

Lubbock Grove Homes, St. Charles and Garrow Sts., Second Ward, Houston

Got big plans for Saturday night? These 6 Victorian-era Second Ward rowhouses will be parading down 8 blocks of Garrow St. past Settegast Park east of Downtown to new spots further east, in time to escape the construction of some impending townhomes on their longtime lots. The move was originally scheduled for early last week, but was postponed because of a damaged utility pole discovered along the route. (It was also kinda cold.)

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Fire Station Friends
09/05/13 12:00pm

As many as 8 new bike-sharing stations could open inside the Loop in the next 2 weeks. Will Rub, director of Houston B-Cycle, tells Swamplot that permits are in hand and the bikes forthcoming for these 5 stations: Spotts Park, at 401 S. Heights Blvd; the intersection of Taft and Fairview, at 2401 Taft St.; the Menil Collection, at 1529 W. Alabama St.; Leonel Castillo Community Center, which is undergoing a restoration at 2109 South St.; and the intersection of Milam and Webster, at 2215 Milam St.

And Rub adds that 3 other locations are just waiting for their permits: Stude Park, at 1031 Stude St., and 2 others east, for the first time, of the Southwest Fwy.: Settegast Park at Garrow and Palmer in the Second Ward, and Project Row Houses at Holman and Live Oak in the Third Ward. Rub expects those to be ready to roll September 19th or 20th.

Photo of station at Lamar and Milam: Reddit user txsupernova

08/21/13 10:05am

A 3-block stretch of the median along Navigation Blvd. was outfitted yesterday with some functional swag — bike racks, bus stops, solar panels and LED string lights, shade screens, benches — designed to perk up the East End streetscape into a shaded little walkable market dubbed The Esplanade. The stretch in question spans N. St. Charles and Delano, running alongside the Original Ninfa’s and the recently opened El Tiempo Cantina.

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06/18/13 1:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: STUCK AT THE WEST BELT CROSSING IN THE EAST END “As long as some of those trains take at that awful crossing at Cullen, some people have probably died of old age waiting for the crossing arms to come up (though if you know the neighborhood, all you have to do is get to Milby from behind the old Fingers and you can cross under at Polk. You’re welcome.) That said, while it’s nice that everyone is suddenly so aware of the inconvenience and potential danger of these trains, it isn’t as though this were a new thing. That one Union Pacific line parallel to Harrisburg is just as unpredictable and twice as loud as the one in the article; it runs immediately adjacent to homes for miles. I know; I’ve lived by both. It did this for decades before I got here and no one has done anything about it that I know of, but I suppose that’s the price paid when the neighborhood’s skin isn’t quite as light and its homes aren’t quite as expensive. I understand, though; when the town-home dwelling white folks aren’t happy, nobody’s happy.” [Chris, commenting on Headlines: Waiting for Trains in the East End; Waiting for Dunkin’ Donuts in Montrose]