05/13/15 1:30pm

Conrad Sauer Detention Basin, Energy Gateway District, Spring Branch, Houston

Here’s a purty watercolor-filtered drawing that shows how a portion of the concrete-lined Conrad Sauer Detention Basin extending north from the I-10 feeder road between Gessner and Conrad Sauer Dr. is supposed to look after MetroNational and TIRZ 17 upgrade it into a grassy, bike-lane-crossed area with park space that improves on its current ditch functions. It sits directly across the little ol’ Katy Fwy. from MetroNational’s ‘Death Star‘ HQ; the normally secretive company reveals a tiny bit about its plans for the area around the detention basin, lining the northwest corner of Gessner and the outbound I-10 feeder, in a variance application that’s scheduled to be discussed and possibly voted on in a planning commission meeting this Thursday.

MetroNational is calling the cleared 24-acre site (shown below) the Energy Gateway District.

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

From the Death Star to You
01/20/15 4:30pm

7713-janak-01

7713-janak-02

hr3096737-28 at 300Note: The original version of this story misreported the home’s asking price. It is being offered at $749,900.

Blue. Red. Green. Orange. Were it not for the Dublinesque color rotation on the doors of a 4-pack of eco-friendly contemporary homes in Spring Branch’s Melody Oaks neighborhood, might owners accidentally enter the wrong one? Unit 1 — the bluesy one (top) that shores up one end of the lookalikes — is back on the market. Its listing by the owner-agent over the weekend has a $789,900 $749,900 price tag attached. That’s up, uh, somewhat from its purchase price in April 2013: $484,950.

The team at The ODD Group, (aka Open Design &  Development, and including Royce/Eagleton Architects), is behind these “urban cottages” (above) proliferating in a newly minted “pocket community” tagged Janak Place. It’s located north of Westview Dr. between Wirt Rd. and Antoine Dr.

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Urban Cottage Cluster
11/11/14 11:30am

new-flea-mkt-demo-tight

Here lie the remains of the New Flea Market, the most recent occupant of a strip mall site at 8315 Long Point Rd. that once was home to the  Spring Branch K-Mart. Workers are scraping an 8-acre parcel of the larger site at the corner of Hillendahl Blvd. to make way for the Village at Spring Branch, a 100-home David Weekley development offering three-story townhouses and garden and patio homes ringing a pool and cabana. Blue-light specials will be offered around $400k; premium buys will go on sale at $700k. Retail — and the tiny, historic Hillendahl Cemetery (captured below in an old photo) — will remain along the Long Point frontage.

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

What’s New Is Old
11/06/14 4:00pm

supermercado-walmart-long-pt

Supermercado de Walmart, 7690 Long Point Rd., Spring Branch, HoustonHouston’s (and America’s) first Walmart grocery store named and designed to cater to Latinos shut its doors at the end of last week. Supermercado de Walmart opened 5 years ago in Spring Branch in a converted 39,000-square-foot Neighborhood Market-style store at 7960 Long Point Rd., amid a fanfare of mariachi music and a smorgasbord of free food and drink samples. Those days are long gone: A reader sends in a pic (at right) of the far more offhand sign taped to the glass door. 

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Spring Branch Supermarket Shutdown
10/07/14 10:45am

Blalock Woods Apartments, 1111 Blalock Rd., Spring Branch, Houston

Developers have become very interested in Spring Branch, notes a Swamplot tipster. The latest evidence: the recent sale of the Blalock Woods Apartments (pictured above), just north of the Katy-Fwy.-side 99 Ranch Market at 1111 Blalock Rd. The new owner of the townhome-style complex is a group put together by investment and apartment-development firm Stanmore Partners. The property changed hands on October 1st; on the same date, residents of the Spring Branch apartment complex received a brief letter saying Greystar Management Services will be taking over management of all 316 units. The letter didn’t reveal the name of the property’s new owner, and didn’t say anything about shutting down the place, but a source tells Swamplot that no new leases are being written, and that a “departure deadline” of June 2015 is being planned.

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

New Homes or Apartments?
10/06/14 1:30pm

iFLY Indoor Skydiving Facility Under Construction, 9540 Katy Fwy., Spring Branch, Houston

A mere half-dozen readers have written Swamplot to ask about this strange multi-story steel-framed structure that’s been going up next to the Lowe’s on I-10 between Blalock and Bunker Hill — or its twin on the site of the former Casa Elena restaurant across the freeway from The Woodlands at 26824 Interstate 45 North. And we’re guessing a few more of you are curious as well, but just haven’t had the time to send in your photos and speculation. Capitalizing on the freeway mystery, the company behind the structure has set up a website at GuessWhatThisIs.com. (With indoor-skydiving facilities in 9 other U.S. cities already, iFLY has been through the drill before.)

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Indoor Skydiving
08/20/14 4:15pm

9200-carousel-01

9200-carousel-02

The interior of a decked out 1978 Spring Branch Estates home uses changing floor finishes to cue its ups and downs as the floor plan twists around a spiral staircase beneath a 20-ft. dome. The flow creates living spaces on several levels — and some rather unusual, futuristic features . . .

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Taking Turns
07/18/14 5:00pm

8619-merlin-04

8619-merlin-01

There are vintage, historical, and perhaps sentimental aspects of this place in Merlin Place, just north of Spring Valley: The listing notes the home was “modeled after” the owner’s previous property in Piney Point. And bits of old Houston, older Galveston, and really old New Orleans worked themselves into the 1995 custom home, which still has some unfinished rooms. Thursday’s listing of the Mansard-roofed property, located between Voss and Bingle roads and south of Westview Dr., has an $840,000 asking price.

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Saving Graces
04/15/14 4:30pm

7118-tickner27

7118-tickner30-2

Spaces are configured in unusual ways in this 1992 contemporary home in Spring Branch’s Shady Villa Annex neighborhood, located south of Westview and east of Antoine near Spring Valley. The home’s deep setback on a double lot, for example, puts outdoor amenities like a pool and grotto on the side and gives the stone-and-steel exterior’s towering stairwell a twist of wood-and-glass finishes.

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Twists and Turns