01/24/14 4:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHERE THE MODS ARE BETTER PRESERVED Wrecking Ball“It is disappointing that we lose so many interesting houses to the wrecking ball. Those of us who live in ‘crimeridden’ (*wink wink*) parts of town can take solace in the fact that at least our neighborhoods’ reputations keep the McMansions at bay. If you can cut through all the stories about crimes that happened ten or fifteen years ago, you can get a great, if dirty, Mod in Sharpstown, just waiting for you to fix it up and bring it back. And you really should look at those houses, because if you don’t, the ‘We Buy Ugly Houses’ people will. And they’ll make them worse.” [ZAW, commenting on Your Opportunity To Hack Away at Memorial Bend’s Former Sales Office Has Arrived] Illustration: Lulu

09/04/13 1:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY RUNNER-UP: LOOKING SHARP “The Bellairefication of Meyerland is pretty much complete except you actually get a sizeable lot. It’s only a matter of time before Southwest Houston’s astronomical growth reaches Sharpstown and other once forgotten communities.” [robertrulez, commenting on The Ups and Downs of a Meyerland Contemporary] Illustration: Lulu

06/05/13 1:45pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY RUNNER-UP: THE ‘DON’T ASK’ BUILDINGS “Sadly, buildings like the Southwest Inn are all too common in our City, and especially in lower middle and working class areas. They’re in too good shape to be condemned outright, but they suffer from all sorts of serious problems as a result of long-term deferred maintenance. They’re frequently victims of what I call ‘pump and dumps’ — where a slum lord buys the place, pumps it for every last penny, and then dumps it (sells it to the next sucker). Rarely, if ever, are these places torn down and replaced with something better. Contrary to popular belief, places like the Southwest Motel don’t stay occupied because people don’t have the choice or because they’re cheap. In fact they can be quite expensive. They stay occupied beause they don’t ask questions. Anything goes — so they’re attractive ‘cribs’ for criminals and gang bangers. The thugs love them. The slum lords make a killing from them. But they wreck neighborhoods and ruin lives. What can be done? We need a multi-faceted approach. Cities in Texas have to fight the problem with one hand tied behind their back, thanks to State laws that heavily favor land owners. Neighbors are wise to approach private interests who have more leeway in buying and tearing down nuisances. And get creative, too. One slum lord, who controlled a condo complex was brought down by the new HOA regulations. We have to bring these guys down, or there will be more shootings, more overdoses, more 5 alarm fires.” [ZAW, commenting on The Story of the Southwest Inn]

06/04/13 4:30pm

No one knows yet how it started, Friday’s 5-alarm fire that took out the Southwest Inn and caused the death of 4 Houston firefighters working to put it out — and the hospitalization of 14 others. The investigation, says HFD spokesperson Ruy Lozano, will take time. Meanwhile, much of the attention has shifted to the Sharpstown motel’s rather colorful history.

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01/29/13 1:00pm

A fireplace-turned-fish-tank (top) lends an unusual element to this Sharptown Country Club Terrrace property. It’s another by-the-barrier home, this one on a corner lot hidden behind bushes and trees (above) at the head of one of the neighborhood’s access streets from the Southwest Fwy. feeder. Asking $170,000, the new listing includes the aquarium. With hearth.

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01/18/13 2:00pm

The windows on this 1964 Sharpstown Country Club Estates property showcase a variety of ways of admitting light while altering views in or out. But the windows looking into the back yard are different: The stretch of sound barrier across the back of the lot, blocking the Southwest Fwy., is just a blank canvas. A really big one.

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07/06/12 12:47pm

Residents of the Cambridge Court Apartments at 6500 S. Gessner will get to stay until the end of their leases, but after that they’ll need to find new homes. That’s the word from the complex’s neighbor and new owner, Strake Jesuit. The Catholic boys’ high school is also the property’s old owner; the 7.55 acres the apartments sit on is a portion of the land Strake Jesuit lost as a result of a 1971 bankruptcy. Developer Harold Farb built what was then called the Newport Apartments on the site 6 years later.

School officials plan to tear down the complex “at the earliest possible date” and use the land, which sits just north of the school’s Gessner driveway, for parking and athletic fields. The acquisition will also allow planners to “re-examine where it will construct its new Science and Engineering Building on the campus without a net loss of parking or green space,” the school announced.

Photos: Strake Jesuit (aerial), Apartments.com (Cambridge Court Apartments)

05/01/12 11:13pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHEN THE BULLDOZERS HEAD FOR SHARPSTOWN “. . . The Heights used to be pretty shady too. Times change. Neighborhoods change. Sharpstown’s day in the sun is coming, but it’s still a ways off. It’s not hard to look at the wave of redevelopment that has poured out from the center of Houston and realize Sharpstown is the path of growth. Back in the 80′s West U houses were being bulldozed by the dozen. Soon lots of folks were priced out of West U and the bulldozers turned to Bellaire. Now they are turning south all the way to the South Loop. Meyerland is in play too. Right now the primary western barrier is the edge of the Bellaire HS zoning map. As Meyerland continues to improve though, the childless pioneers who don’t care about school zones will be the first to start the gentrification process in Sharpstown. Eventually . . . critical mass. If the neighborhood associations were smart, they’d start their own tax district and ear mark all the proceeds for demolition of the junkiest properties. Demo some junk. Demo some more junk. Hold the land as it appreciates. Sell it to a developer who has a plan to build that you like (not just the highest bidder). Pour the land sale money into more demolition. Rinse. Repeat.” [Bernard, commenting on Headlines: Selling the Astrodome in Pieces; Felix Mexican Restaurant Sign Mystery]

09/12/11 12:55pm

ST. AGNES PICKS UP DROPPED SUIT The lawsuit the Academy of St. Agnes filed and then dropped last month against the city, the TABC, and the owners of a nightclub planning to open in the former Finger Furniture space at PlazAmericas is back on again, Purva Patel reports. The suit is an attempt to prevent the planned club, El Corral, from receiving a liquor license. A year ago, the private girls school bought the 18.7-acre former Gillman auto dealership at the corner of Bellaire Blvd. and Fondren, across the street from the former Sharpstown Mall, with plans to turn the property into an athletic campus. [Prime Property; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Candace Garcia

08/10/11 3:15pm

ST. AGNES DROPS SUIT St. Agnes Academy has officially ended its lawsuit meant to prevent a nightclub called El Corral — planned for the former Finger Furniture store in PlazAmericas — from receiving a liquor license. The suit was filed last Friday against the nightclub’s owners, the city of Houston, and the TABC. A spokesperson for the all-girls private school, which is building an athletic facility across Bellaire Blvd. from the former Sharpstown Mall, tells Swamplot “any future plans regarding the suit are to be determined,” but offered no further comments. [Previously on Swamplot]

08/09/11 12:40pm

St. Agnes Academy has already begun constructing an athletic complex on the site of the former Gillman Auto dealership at the corner of Bellaire and Fondren in Sharpstown. The 18.7-acre property, which it bought last fall, will have 3 athletic fields, 2 softball diamonds, 8 tennis courts, plus weight rooms, conference rooms, and meeting rooms. But administrators of the all-girls private school aren’t too happy with a development planned across the street in PlazAmericas, the former Sharpstown Mall. Last Friday, the school filed suit to prevent a nightclub from opening in the mall’s former Finger Furniture store.

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