11/04/16 3:15pm

Alice McKean Young Library, 5107 Griggs Rd., South Union, Houston, 77021

The replacement for the Alice McKean Young Library’s strip center headquarters in Palm Center will have its grand opening party tomorrow morning in the branch’s new nearby building at the corner of Griggs Rd. and Martin Luther King Blvd. The rendering up top from Perkins+Will looks south across Griggs toward the Village at Palm Center mixed-income apartment building on its way up across the street (where once Speedy Automotive Center and King’s Flea Market reigned). Catty-corner to the 16,000-sq.-ft. new building is the Houston Texans YMCA, and the METRO Purple Line can be swinging into and back out of the frame on the left on its way to the last station on the line.

Check out the glassy new front, as seen from Griggs:


South Union Swap
04/29/16 3:45pm

3622 Lehall St., South Union, Houston, 77021

3802 Lehall St., South Union, Houston, 77021The front is up on the shipping-container-containing duplex under construction now at 3622 Lehall St. between Tierwester and Scott. The box-based structure is similar to builder Krieger Containers’s first such project (down the street at 3802 Lehall); both buildings consist of 2 separate 2-bed 2-bath units framed around 2 steel containers each. The company claims on its website that the model can beat ‘any general contractor in Houston’ on a cost-per-sq.-ft. basis.

Back in September, company founder and steel box aficionado Sean Krieger spoke with Nancy Sarnoff about plans to built dozens more container houses in the South Union neighborhood over the next few years, aiming to draw students and young professionals. Krieger now tells ABC13 that the project underway at 3622 Lehall has faced abnormal scrutiny from city inspectors and officials, recently including a heated verbal exchange on site with District D councilman Dwight Boykins (who also spoke to ABC13 about the incident after Krieger sent them a recording).

The floorplan above shows the layout of the downstairs unit of completed 3802 Lehall; the bathrooms, bedrooms, and closets fit within the footprint of the shipping containers, which flank a central living space. Here are some shots of the inside, both during and after construction:


Checking All the Boxes
12/30/14 12:00pm


Above you see the Alice McKean Young Neighborhood Library of the near future that is going in at 5106 Griggs Rd., and the one that stands at present in the Palm Center, catty-corner across the intersection with M.L.K. Blvd. at 5260 Griggs. Dirt started flying December 19 on the $10.6 million, Perkins + Will-designed structure, which at 16,000 sq.-ft., will more than double the size of the current facility. Books will be available for checkout in Fall 2015 if all goes according to plan.

Rendering and Photo: Houston Public Library

Booking It
10/11/10 12:45pm

Last night’s postponed airing on ABC of the first Extreme Makeover: Home Edition filmed in Houston proper made no mention of the mud-inducing and deadline-destroying downpours, the organizers’ multiple pleas for Gatorade, patio furniture, trim carpenters, siding installers, and plumbers — or the mad (and ultimately futile) rush for an on-time finish that was a major source of drama at the South Union site. But it did feature a brief pre-demolition “roast” of the Johnson family’s dilapidated original home on Goodhope St. by comedians Tommy Davidson, Ralphie May, and Paul Rodriguez, as well as a later appearance by supermodel Brooklyn Decker, (wife of tennis star Andy Roddick), flown in to design the 5 Johnson girls’ elaborate pink closet. Plus: plenty of those fawning building-product-delivery placement shots. On what looked like it could have been the limo ride back from IAH after the family’s Paris vacation, Cedric the Entertainer briefly “joked” to the girls that they wouldn’t get to see their new house right then. But viewers’ only delay was a commercial break.


LOOKING FOR HOUSTON ON LAST NIGHT’S EXTREME MAKEOVER: HOME EDITION? The efforts of all those local volunteers rushing madly to finish a new home for the Johnson family in South Union were supposed to be featured in last night’s season premiere of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. At least that’s what ABC was saying up until the middle of this month. C’mon, you say that to all your markets, don’t you? But — surprise! — a Baltimore build completed just a couple of weeks ago was featured in the 2-hour special instead. The Houston show, featuring construction work coordinated by HHN Homes and featuring a select group of comedians, has been rescheduled for October 10th. Photo: Candace Garcia

Move that trailer! Into the second week after the originally announced deadline, construction and interior crews are still hard at work on the brand-new home being prepared for the 7-member family of Eric and Elaine Johnson in South Union. Since Swamplot’s last tour of the scene on Goodhope St. — where a team from HHN Homes has been coordinating the work of several thousand volunteers — a missing turret window has been installed, some debris left on neighboring properties has been cleaned up, and precast concrete culvert sections have been delivered. But there appear to be plenty of tasks remaining to complete. A story in last week’s Chronicle mentioned that the Johnsons would be sent away on a second family-vacation tour — this one of the East Coast — in the meantime. But the homebuilders are no longer broadcasting official progress updates — the company’s website and email servers have been down all week, and phone calls haven’t been returned. The Johnsons’ story is scheduled to appear in the season premiere of ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition series on September 26th.

Photos: Candace Garcia

08/10/10 5:30pm

Is the Houston Extreme Makeover: Home Edition home all those volunteers built for the Johnson family on Goodhope St. at last complete? Swamplot hasn’t been able to get an update: HHN Homes’ website has been out of commission for a couple of days, and the company’s email service may be down too. (Maybe that’s the best way for everyone there to get some much-needed rest after the double-overtime build?) Over the weekend, Swamplot photog Candace Garcia took a little stroll around the now-very-quiet construction site and came back with some interesting pictures, a few to-do items, and one burning question:


08/05/10 5:17pm

Four long and hot construction days after the big made-for-teevee bus-moving ceremony, HHN Homes still needs help finishing its 4,400-sq.-ft. Extreme Makeover on Goodhope St. in South Union. What exactly is the company looking for? “Plumbers to finish trim features,” HHN’s Linda Stewart tells Swamplot. And there’s still that ongoing, restrained request for some patio furniture. When will the Johnson family get to move in? They’ve been “in and out” of the house over the past few days, Stewart says. HHN Homes hopes to have all of its work complete by Friday evening.


08/05/10 2:57pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: HOW HOUSTON’S EXTREME MAKEOVER HOME GOT KNOCKED OFF SCHEDULE “We completed the house and the family was able to go inside and see the finished home fully furnished Monday night (8/2/10) around 10pm. The first year electrical service is being provided by Champion Energy. This is the 5th home we have built with EMHE and are very proud of what they do for families in need. I have personally met with several of the families and they are very grateful for what EMHE and the volunteers do for them. I just wish more people would have shown their Big Texas Hearts and would have come out to help. One building crew did not even show up for the night shift one night and it put the build behind by 30 hours! Thank you to everyone who did come out to help us complete this new home for the Johnson family.” [Rene, commenting on No, Not Finished Yet: Extreme Conditions After the Deadline at Houston’s Extreme Makeover House]

08/02/10 3:53pm

“I’ve just been told we need Gatorade,” HHN Homes manager Linda Stewart emails Swamplot from the site of the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition build on Goodhope St. in South Union. “Water is not doing the trick as far as electrolytes are concerned.  If you can spread the word and people can just drop off 3-4 6 packs would be great.”

Wait a sec . . . wasn’t the weeklong building project’s grand finale this past weekend? Didn’t the Johnson family come back from Paris and wait patiently to see their new home? Didn’t thousands of well-wishers shout “Move that bus!”?

Yeah, that all happened Sunday night — only a little more than a day later than originally scheduled, despite all of last week’s rain. But don’t imagine the Johnsons are gonna get to move in too soon . . . not with these kinds of requests still going out:


07/30/10 4:10pm

The Johnson family may not want to come directly from the airport to their new home when they return tomorrow from their weeklong surprise vacation in Paris. “Organizers are frantic they may not be able to finish,” reports abc13’s Cynthia Cisneros, who adds that the project was still 21 hours behind schedule as of this afternoon (that’s marked down from about 30 yesterday). Meanwhile, the folks at HHN Homes have updated the company’s website for the project with a screaming headline: “Extreme Help Needed!!” and a list of specific trades they’re hoping to attract for shifts beginning 8 pm tonight and Saturday.

“Every radio station and tv station is soliciting the public for volunteers,” notes Swamplot photographer Candace Garcia, who visited the site this afternoon. And she noted evidence of more problems:


07/29/10 2:19pm

Intrigued by the South Union neighborhood where the team from Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and HHN Homes is making a valiant effort to build a 4,500-sq.-ft. home for the Johnson family — in less than a week? Maybe you’re wondering what the rest of the area is like? Well, the home right next door, at 3609 Goodhope St., is for sale! Asking price: $40,000. Don’t worry: It won’t be the fanciest home in the neighborhood.


Note: Story updated below.

HHN Homes manager Linda Stewart tells Swamplot the construction crew building the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition home for the Johnson family on Goodhope St. in South Union is running about 10 hours behind schedule — and still “desperately” needs framers and workers from the “cornice trades” (to complete exterior trim work).

Swamplot photographer Candace Garcia watched workers slip and slide on the muddy site and rain-slick materials earlier today, and snapped a few pix of the scene. “It is REALLY wet out there,” she reports:


07/27/10 2:54pm

Yesterday was demo day at 3613 Goodhope St. in South Union. Extreme Makeover: Home Edition host Ty Pennington (or his designated photo-Tweeter) sent out this pic Monday, showing the final moments of the Johnson family’s 700-sq.-ft. 1945 bungalow. What’s going on today at the Houston build?
HHN Homes manager Linda Stewart tells Swamplot last night’s rain set back the schedule. The slab for the new 4,500-sq.-ft. home is now on track to be poured at 3 pm today. Pre-assembled wall panels should be “ready to set” 50 minutes later, she says. Intrepid (and now hard-hatted) Swamplot photographer Candace Garcia files these photos from the scene: