7 DAYS OF HARVEY BEFORE THE BRAZOS RIVER REACHES ITS SUGAR LAND PEAK It wasn’t until early this morning that the Brazos River in Sugar Land and Richmond reached its highest level since area flooding triggered by Hurricane Harvey began. And it was a new record, reached at 5:15 am: 55.19 ft., according to the National Weather Service. The previous record, 54.7 ft. — surpassed Thursday at 1:30 am — was set by a flood last year on
Tax Day June 2nd. The photo here shows the river during a rare moment of sunshine a day earlier than that — from Hwy. 59 where Greatwood, Riverpark, Telfair, and Sugar Land Memorial Park meet. [Houston Chronicle] Photo: Grace Carlson
RESIDENTS NEAR SMART FINANCIAL CENTRE: DON’T WANNA LIVE WITH ‘EM, MAYBE CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT ‘EM Mike Snyder reports from a dead empty plaza at the new Smart Financial Centre in Sugar Land for the Chronicle this week — utilizing the deserted backdrop for some quiet contemplation and speculation regarding the development’s likely ability to draw long-term business. So-called “destination center” projects like Smart Centre and Town Square are “a big part of [Sugar Land’s] long-term financial strategy to broaden our economic base and keep our property taxes low,” city business director Jennifer Mays tells Snyder — but Snyder and others suggest that a lack of nearby residential development may make it harder for Smart Centre to take off the way Town Square has. Snyder also notes that 900 new apartments were originally planned near Smart Centre, but were nixed on account of objections from “residents concerned that renters would increase traffic, crowd schools and damage their suburban lifestyle.” [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Smart Financial Centre
The 7-bedroom house at 5124 Palm Royale Blvd. isn’t the only one of the street’s “10,000-plus-square-foot Mediterranean extravaganzas” (as archi-historian Steven Fox put it to Lisa Gray on a Sugar Land driving tour a few years back) to cuddle up against a couple of the golf fairways winding through the neighborhood. (The 12,400-sq.-ft. house may well be one of the homes most directly in the line of incoming golf balls, however.) Inside, the 1995 house is fully coated with intricate calligraphy, carvings, and geometric patterns; the massive star-shaped chandelier above dangles through a star-shaped hole in the second floor, coming to rest above the indoor courtyard-style fountain.
To get to it, you’ll need to dodge the pride of lions ringing the other fountain out front:
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Par for Sugar Land
ALAMO DRAFTHOUSE SAYS IT’LL OPEN 4 MORE HOUSTON SPOTS NOW THAT VINTAGE PARK IS OFF ITS HANDS Alamo Drafthouse followed up this week’s confirmation that its Vintage Park theater is becoming a Star Cinema Grill by announcing that it plans to open 4 more Houston area locations. Details on where and when are still murky (other than a reiteration that plans for the Imperial Market spot in Sugar Land are still on), but a rep told Kyle Hagerty earlier this week that the company has already signed 3 leases. That may or may not include the 10-year lease signed back in 2013 for a spot in the long-stalled Regent Square development — which did get some permits this fall, as somebody at Morris Architects previously claimed would happen. [Previously on Swamplot] Rendering of proposed Alamo Drafthouse in Sugar Land: Imperial Market
ADORABLE VENOMOUS CATERPILLARS BACK ON THE CRAWL FROM SEABROOK TO WEST U ‘Tis the season for stinging asps, notes Kaitlin McCulley while recounting a Seabrook resident’s recent encounter with one of the critters (also known as the puss caterpillar or, on occasion, the “toxic toupee”). The woolly caterpillars, whose delicate venomous spines are known to cause reactions in children such as 5-hour screaming fits and to necessitate the occasional emergency room visit in adults, are up in numbers for the fall as per usual, though their population and season varies from year to year depending on weather and food conditions. Over in West University, a sign currently hanging on the gate of Weir Park notes that the city’s parks folks will be putting out diatomaceous earth to kill the asps they’d spotted; the caterpillars have also been sighted (or felt) lately near the Harbach-Ripley Neighborhood Center in Golfcrest and in Lost Creek Park in Sugar Land. [ABC13] Photo of puss caterpillar warning sign in Weir Park, 3012 Nottingham St.: Swamplot inbox
A fresh shot shows the veteran’s memorial at Sugar Land Memorial Park last weekend, which has been relatively high and dry since its brief closure following all that June flooding along the Brazos. The park is right alongside the river channel (southeast of the 59 crossing, where University and Commonwealth boulevards meet), and is designed to protect and serve the surrounding neighborhoods by storing excess floodwater in a pinch. The memorial is also designed to showcase tilt-up concrete construction methods (and was the focus of the Tilt Up Concrete Association’s annual tilt-up-related do-gooding project in 2013). Here’s an aerial view from early June from the Sugar Land Parks & Recreation folks, showing exactly why this year’s Memorial Day event at the park was cancelled (and why the neighboring Pawm Springs Dog Park, in the foreground, was closed):
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On Duty on the Brazos
Johnson Development, the company behind that sugar-company-themed master-planned community in Sugar Land, announced yesterday that it has officially handed over the land for the project’s refinery-centric Imperial Market mixed-use district to the folks who will develop it. The 26 acres freshly sold are along Oyster Creek just north of the crossing of Hwy. 90 (visible on the far left of the rendering above, which faces south). That’s Kempner St. running directly alongside the proposed development and crossing the creek as well; a pair of former railroad bridges currently upstream of Kempner are shown replaced with car and pedestrian bridges respectively.
Plans for the development incorporate structures from out-of-use former facilities of the Imperial Sugar Company. The refinery’s silos (instead of becoming an art space) are marked to host a couple of fast-casual restaurants; the 1925 char house, where huge quantities of carefully burned animal bones were once used to whiten and filter cane sugar syrup, will become a boutique hotel. Both structures are more prominently visible in the southeast-facing view below — the boxy brick char house appears to the left of the single-pour-concrete silos:
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Refining Sugar Land Master Plans