COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE DIAGONAL LINE BETWEEN FIRST WARD AND SIXTH
“. . . Congress Street was used as a boundary in the ward system, but that boundary, extended, does not run along Washington Avenue. It instead runs well north of Washington. A look at 1913 and 1920 maps of Houston that designate the wards shows this . . . The upshot: That church is 6th Ward, not 1st.” [Houstonreader, commenting on Vatican’s ‘Supreme Court’ Rules Shuttered First Ward Church Must Reopen, But It Hasn’t Yet] Section of 1920 Houston street map: Houston Past
The doors aren’t open yet, but the windows are in at Beaver’s’s 10-year-old bar and barbecue joint on the corner of Sawyer and Decatur St., closed since early July. The photo at top shows 3 of the 4 new holes in the wall, including one cut straight through the building’s name tag, preserved in the image above from before the bar closed. The 2,500-sq.-ft. den was originally scheduled to reopen in September. A second location on Westheimer just east of Fountain View Dr., larger than the original, has been in business since January 2.
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Old Sixth Ward
2100 MEMORIAL’S EVICTION ORDER, COMPLETELY TRANSFORMED A statement from the Houston Housing Authority yesterday says it “is making every effort to comply” with a judge’s temporary restraining order issued last week ordering the public agency to fix the fire-safety systems at the 14-story 2100 Memorial senior living apartment complex, test the building’s electrical transformers, and replace them if necessary. Judge Daryl Moore also prohibited the authority from terminating the leases of any of its tenants without demonstrating better cause than it has. An estimated 80 percent of the former Holiday Inn’s residents have already moved out. [Houston Chronicle; more; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Realtor.com
COMMENT OF THE DAY: BEHIND THE ‘EVERYBODY OUT’ ORDER AT 2100 MEMORIAL “I’ve volunteered there and can tell you the entire ‘sub-basement’ electrical/fire control room was completely submerged. I assume that entities receiving government rent subsidies must meet current NEC (nat’l elect code) standards on renovations/repairs. . . . Thus, if entire elect/fire control room is gutted/replaced then all rooms’ receptacles, fixtures, elevators, laundries . . . etc. must be replaced to meet current NEC also. I doubt you can ‘scab on’ new equipment to decades old equipment on a major renovations. Would you trust it?
You can’t make this type of systemic overhaul while residents stay in their unflooded upper floor apts. Unfortunately, for their safety they must be moved ASAP. The existing lights and limited A/C are being run off of generators. You can’t run a hi-rise indefinitely on generators.
God forbid a fire breaks out or an elevator fails due to faulty electrical system. Help is needed now finding affordable & safe housing, transport, and followup assistance. Hard enough in ‘normal’ times but that much more difficult post-Harvey.” [Steve, commenting on Residents of 2100 Memorial Senior Highrise Now Have 5 Days To Move Out of Their ‘Uninhabitable’ Apartments] Photo: 2100 Memorial
2100 MEMORIAL LAWSUIT: LET THESE PEOPLE STAY Three tenants of the Sixth Ward senior housing facility known as 2100 Memorial filed suit against the Houston Housing Authority on Friday, a day before Saturday’s unenforced deadline for all residents to leave the building. Acting for the tenants, Lone Star Legal Aid claims the agency violated the rights of the building’s residents by failing to hold a hearing in which tenants could contest the decision. The agency has not given residents “any evidence to support any of the allegations of unreasonable danger which rendered the apartments uninhabitable,” the lawsuit claims. Although the building’s first floor flooded, the tenants’ apartments suffered “little, or no, damage” from the storms, the lawsuit states. Lone Star Legal Aid claims the lawsuit means the HHA will now have to “produce the facts that support its decision.” [Lone Star Legal Aid; KHOU; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Realtor.com
A spokesperson for the Houston Housing Authority tells Swamplot the city agency is not and will not be enforcing the previously announced 5-day deadline for all residents of 2100 Memorial to move out with their belongings. A notice delivered earlier this week by the building’s owner, an affiliate organization of the agency, to all 188 residents of the low-income-housing-tax-credit senior living facility labeled the structure “totally unusable for residential purposes due to health and safety reasons” after it was discovered that floodwaters had damaged the 14-story former Holiday Inn’s fire, electrical, and water systems.
The move-out deadline has not been altered, but the agency says it “understands it will take time to pack and move so they are working closely with the residents to help move in an orderly fashion.”
The photo at top shows the setup for a well-attended emergency meeting held yesterday afternoon on the second level of the building’s parking garage. At the meeting the HHA’s Board of Commissioners approved a $250,000 loan to the building’s management for relocation expenses, which it will then ask FEMA to cover. The funds will provide movers at no cost to residents to help them relocate their belongings to available residences in “Greater Houston” it has identified: 230 tax-credit units with similar rules to those governing 2100 Memorial — or 250 affordable housing units of other types.
Residents who have already hired their own movers, the spokesperson says, will be reimbursed. The agency says displaced residents will be given preference in returning to the building when it can be determined to be safe.
Photos: Swamplot inbox (meeting setup) Realtor.com (building)
Sixth Ward Exodus
The apartments inside 2100 Memorial are “quite hale and hearty,” a reader tells Swamplot — and were not individually affected by the flooding that caused enough damage to the building’s fire-safety systems to trigger a 5-day move-out notice to all tenants in the 14-story structure. That notice was issued Monday night to all 188 residents of the tax-credit elderly housing facility; prior to that, construction crews and volunteers had worked to mitigate the damage and help residents left for days without water and without easy transportation between floors. Above: a view of the first-floor hallway, lined with plywood. In the building’s computer room, the removal of wood paneling revealed wallpaper left over from the building’s days as a Holiday Inn:
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A notice sent yesterday to all tenants of the 2100 Memorial senior-living facility just west of Downtown declares that the 14-story former Holiday Inn has been rendered “totally unusable for residential purposes” in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. All 198 elderly residents have been given 5 days to remove themselves and their belongings from their apartments.
The building is a tax-credit property of the Houston Housing Authority that includes both low-income and market-rate units. The notice, which came from V.J. Memorial Corp., a nonprofit entity owned by the authority, states that the company only recently learned that the building’s electrical and fire control systems were compromised by the flooding.
“Due to the damage and health & safety reasons, the building is uninhabitable and we must exercise our right under your lease to terminate the lease effective September 23, 2017,” reads the notice, a copy of which was obtained by Swamplot. A separate lease termination document sent in by a reader declares that “the damage to the Apartment is so extensive the Apartment has become as a practical matter totally unusable for residential purposes due to health and safety reasons. Furthermore, the damage could cause health and safety hazards to you and your family, if you returned to live in the Apartment in its present condition.” Residents have until 5 pm on the 23rd to get out: “If you do not remove your personal possessions by that time. we will be forced to remove your possessions and store them at a cost to you,” the document states.
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A filing with the Texas Workforce Commission indicates that Tarkett, which operates one of the last industrial installations in the stretch of parking-lot-heavy retail south of I-10 that’s come to be known as Katyville, has decided to shut down its Texas Tile Manufacturing plant at 1705 Oliver St. and eliminate 109 jobs. The Tarkett facility is located between the Studemont Kroger and the Sawyer Heights Target, both of which were built on former industrial properties surrounding it. According to HCAD data, Texas Tile Manufacturing owns 21 acres at the Oliver St. facility — with frontage on Summer St., Oliver St., and the eastbound I-10 feeder road.
21 Acres in Katyville
Reader Debnil Chowdhury sends in these pics, taken yesterday, of the steel-framed structure that’s appeared over the last month just north of the new Studemont Kroger gas station in the formerly industrial district just south of I-10 that Swamplot readers have dubbed ‘Katyville’ — in honor of the suburban-style developments rapidly going in there, a mere 2 miles northwest of Downtown. And these latest additions do appear to be pad-site-alicious: Directly north of the McDonald’s going up at 1510 Studemont St. (and pictured here), there’s a sign announcing a new Capital One Bank. There’s no indication yet whether the bank building will have a drive-thru as well, but the signs look good.
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The Drive-Thrus of Katyville
More room for groceries? The building immediately north of the Studemont Kroger that used to house HVAC company Johnson Supply is being torn down. The top photo shows the building from Studemont; the bottom photo shows the progress — or regress? — of the demo as of noon today.
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SCORING THE STUDEMONT KROGER The blogger grocery store reviews are in! Or at least one of them, for the just-opened Kroger south of the Heights at 1440 Studemont. Former Stop & Shop cashier Viula finds helpful price scanners, a few extremely wide aisles (and a few especially narrow ones), some discolored lettuces, some very shy salsa, and strange logic in the organization of orange and orange-y juices: “Not life shattering or even really news worthy outside of the fact that I am writing about what a disorganized mess this supermarket seemed to be,” she writes. “But it’s counter-intuitive and makes a mundane task more frustrating than it should be.” In sum, she pronounces: “Eh.” Next up — if anyone publishes one — blogger reviews of the Kroger’s same-opening-day neighbor, the new Washington Heights Walmart? [The Heights Life; previously on Swamplot] Photo: The Heights Life
STUDEMONT KROGER MATCHES WALMART’S OPENING DATE October 26th is gonna be a busy day for the once-industrial zone south of I-10 just west of Downtown. Sure, it’s Halloween candy-hoarding time. And you’ll have 2 large new venues for it. It’ll be opening day not only for the Walmart SuperCenter at 111 Yale St., but for the new 79,000-sq.-ft. Kroger less than a mile away at 1440 Studemont. [Previously on Swamplot] Photo of Kroger under construction: Swamplot inbox