10/12/16 4:00pm

Hadley at Scott streets, Third Ward, Houston, 77004

The legal entity that has recently taken control of this block of Scott St. — located between Hadley and Bremond streets just off I-45 — appears to have been named in honor of the University of Houston’s early September football defeat of the Oklahoma Sooners. The previous owner of the land, a corporation called 3919 Scott Street (which, yes, is also the address of the up-for-eventual-demo original Frenchy’s restaurant down the road), transferred the property shown above over to an entity called UH33-OU23 near the end of last month, after putting in a request to the city to turn the 1.79 acres of mostly-vacant smaller lots into 1 big unrestricted parcel under the name University Gateway. The land is less than half a mile up Scott St. from the Elgin / Third Ward light-rail stop at the edge of UH’s central campus:


Sooners or Later in Third Ward
09/30/16 10:30am


Lindley Fish at Smither ParkThe street-sign-strip-tiled interior of the toothy structure above will host musicians and speakers this evening during the opening-party-slash-fundraiser for Smither Park, the narrow stretch of art-filled greenspace on Munger St. next door to the Orange Show. The park, backed up against the Pallet-Ops warehouse and laydown yard on Gulf Terminal Rd., is crammed full of other visual and tactile oddities, including an under-development marble run, a meditation garden, a boxy events pavilion, and a dragon-topped bench-swing swingset, all backed by the 400 feetmosaic-encrusted walls running along the edge of most of the space.

Photos: Orange Show

Orange Show Green Space
09/20/16 1:15pm

SEARCH House of Tiny Treasures, 2323 Francis St., Third Ward, Houston, 7700

Yesterday was opening day for SEARCH’s second House of Tiny Treasures, the organization’s child-education-slash-daycare operation. The new structure at the corner of Francis St. and currently-being-Emancipated Dowling forms a Francis-facing U around the land last employed as a playground following decades of vacancy. On the back side of the block is the crumbling former salon building which was briefly turned into a pre-integration time capsule living room as part of that 2013 Beauty Box art installation; east on Stuart St. is the spot where the ZeRow solar rowhouse landed after it went to Washington:


Dowling Filling In
09/12/16 1:45pm

Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church Master Plan excerptThe gospel-soundtracked video above, showing Wheeler Avenue Baptist’s plans to plant a larger sanctuary next door to its existing facilities, appears to show that new structure landing on top of the original Frenchy’s location at 3919 Scott St. The creole chicken chain, which announced last year that it would be pushing for national expansion to 500 locations, also previously announced plans to tear down the original spot and rebuild bigger, though the exact location of that rebuild wasn’t specified. (Just up the street, meanwhile, a Frenchy’s-connected entity called 3919 Scott Street appears to have purchased the entire city block southwest of the corner of Scott St. and Hadley back in 2009. )

The property at 3919 Scott St. was bought over the summer by the church; the renderings in the video (posted just this week) more or less match up to a few older depictions featured on Harrison Kornberg Architects’s website for the project:


Third Ward Chicken Prophecy
08/31/16 1:00pm

Former Site of Planned HCC College of Health Sciences’ Medical Science & Technology Early College Charter High School, Hwy. 288 and North MacGregor Way, Third Ward, Houston

A meeting is set for September 7th to take public input on the city’s plan to purchase the long-vacant land at the northeast corner of SH 288 and MacGregor to let H-E-B build a store on the site (at the edges of a few of Houston’s USDA-defined food deserts). The city says the meeting and comment period (which lasts through September 11) are standard parts of its 8-step program when developing within the floodplain — Brays Bayou is just to the left of the frame above (snapped back in 2014), which the southeastern corner of the land as the facade-and-foreclosure-twin Mosaic and Montage towers peek over from west of 288.

The land is currently owned by Houston Community College; the college system bought the tract (reportedly for the second time) back in 2013 as the proposed site of the elaborately monikered HCC Coleman College of Health Sciences’ Medical Science & Technology Early College Charter High School. The city would bundle the land together with some adjacent already-city-owned property to lease it to H-E-B, and the grocery chain would be able to buy the whole package once all 72,000 sq. ft. of new store are constructed and certified for occupancy. 

Photo: Swamplot inbox

Flood Plain Food Desert
08/25/16 12:45pm

Rendering of Fertitta Center at former Hofheinz Pavilion

Rendering of Fertitta Center at former Hofheinz PavilionThe $20-million basketball stadium donation previously rumored to be on its way from Landry’s owner and UH board of regents chairman Tilman Fertitta was confirmed this morning by the school, which also released renderings of what’s planned for Hofheinz Pavilion — eventually to sport the name Fertitta Center. The depictions of the $60-million upgrade  include some prominent views of a well-labeled Hofheinz Plaza, part of a deal with the Hofheinz family after a lawsuit over the basketball arena’s planned renaming.

Below are a few more shots of the plans, which UH says should be wrapped up by the end of the 2018-19 season:


Center Moving Forward
08/25/16 11:00am

Rendering of Emancipation Park, Dowling St., Third Ward, Houston

Houston Planning Commission chief of staff Brian Crimmins announced yesterday that tomorrow will be the day a proposed name change of Dowling St. is announced to those with property along the road. The planned timeline for a few public meetings and some comment-taking stretches over the course of the next few months, with the if-everything-goes-as-planned rededication date of the street as Emancipation Ave. set for Sunday, November 6. The proposed change would mark the second de-Dowling in Houston this year, following the shifting of Dowling Middle School’s allegiance over to Audrey H. Lawson as part of HISD’s lawsuit-inspiring Confederate expulsion.

Rendering of under-renovation Emancipation Park at 3018 Dowling St.: Phil Frelon

Emancipation Anticipation
08/22/16 4:30pm

THE UT AUSTIN SEGREGATION LAWSUIT THAT MADE TSU HOUSTON’S FIRST PUBLIC UNIVERSITY Thurgood Marshall School of Law 3100 Cleburne St., Texas Southern University, Houston, TX 77004A recounting of some Houston higher-ed history comes from Ben Werlund this past weekendnamely, how University of Houston and Texas Southern University ended up as separate but adjacent public universities in the Third Ward. In 1927 the schools were founded as Houston Junior College and Houston Colored Junior College, segregated schools that eventually wound up on neighboring land after being renamed University of Houston and the Houston College for Negroes.  In 1946, black Houstonian Heman Marion Sweatt was denied admission to all-white UT Austin’s law school; as the resulting lawsuit worked its way up to the Supreme Court in the pre-Brown v. Board of Education landscape of separate-but-equal requirements, the state quickly bought and renamed the Houston College for Negroes and added a law school, trying to prove that black students had comparable options to the Austin campus. “And thus, Houston’s first public university was born,” writes Werlund, to keep the Texas school system “from having to integrate its flagship in Austin.” The Supreme Court, however, didn’t buy that the new Houston law offerings measured up to the nearly 70-year-old UT law program, and UT Austin had to admit Sweatt after a 1950 ruling. TSU law professor James Douglas tells Werlund that the state legislature proceeded to cut TSU’s budget by 40 percent the next year; the private all-white University of Houston didn’t start to admit black students until 1962, shortly after which it turned public. “This was in the ’60s,” notes Douglas — “In 1964, I don’t think the people in Austin really thought integration was going to stick . . . I don’t think they ever thought this whole idea of having 2 universities close to each other was ever going to be a problem.” [Houston Chronicle] Image of Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University: TSU

07/21/16 1:15pm

Palm Center Redevelopment Conceptual Plans

Like the looks of the conceptual drawing above, showing one of the possible ways to dress up HBDi’s Palm Center on Griggs Rd.? Or think you’ve got a better idea, and the real estate connections to pull it off? Adolfo Pesquera notes a current call for proposals from developers interested in redoing the site — you’ve got until early October to submit your own plan.

The changes wouldn’t happen all at once: HBDi’s documents show that it hopes to split up the work into a few different phases, dependent on how the economy looks. The first order of business would be to pretty up the old buildings on the site; the next phase would include adding a plaza and some office space, followed by the addition of whatever mix of office, retail, residential, and medical space is eventually selected.  Though most of the images included with the proposal guidelines are speculative, HBDi’s conceptual drawings do show some of the more concrete plans for the site, which is the last stop on Metro’s Purple Line:


Rearranging The First Shopping Center
07/19/16 5:30pm

Rendering of Emancipation Park, Dowling St., Third Ward, Houston

Update, 7/20: The renderings and description have been removed from both LAI’s website and the online portfolio website where they were previously displayed. At the request of the architect, Swamplot has removed the images as well; this article has been updated.

A glassy sphere shown in a rendering currently previously displayed on the website of Colorado-based LAI Design Group looked to be part of a design for a nonprofit workspace and affordable housing thinktank called the Coleman Global Center. An attached description of the project doesn’t didn’t specifically identify the location of the rendering (beyond noting that project is “in Houston”). But another rendered view of the project (posted to porfolio site Behance) showed the bubble right across Dowling St. from the almost-finished new community center at Emancipation Park (and its easy-to-identify reflection pool) at the corner with Elgin. And Leah Binkovitz’s May interview with state representative Garnet Coleman and a set of collaborating Third Ward nonprofit directors ambiguously highlights that particular corner as playing an important role in plans to shift how gentrification unfolds in the neighborhood.

Compare the rendering below (which shows the bubble building in place) to architect Phil Frelon’s angled aerial rendering of Emancipation Park (included further below):


Third Ward
06/23/16 9:15am

UH READY FOR LEGAL ACTION OVER SOUTH TEXAS COLLEGE OF LAW’S HOUSTON REBRANDING University of Houston Law Center, Third Ward, Houston, 77004“It has come to the University of Houston’s attention that South Texas College of Law has announced that it is changing its name to Houston College of Law. . . . The University of Houston is concerned about the significant confusion this creates in the marketplace and will take any and all appropriate legal actions to protect the interests of our institution, our brand, and our standing in the communities we serve.” [University of Houston; previously on SwamplotPhoto of University of Houston Law Center: Douglas R.

03/27/15 3:30pm

Billboard Removal, View at Manor Park Townhomes, Chartres St. at Tuam St., Third Ward, Houston

Billboard Removal, View at Manor Park Townhomes, Chartres St. at Tuam St., Third Ward, HoustonDowntown and freeway views from and to the View at Manor Park townhomes along Chartres St. just south of Tuam in the Third Ward just got a little clearer. Beginning this morning, a reader reports, crews dismantled and removed the freeway-side billboard that stood at one end of a row of townhomes angled for Downtown views in the 8-year-old development:


Sign Down
01/29/15 1:15pm

Former Home of Flower Man Cleveland Turner, 2305 Francis St., Third Ward, Houston

Where else but Houston will you ever come across a day-long urban celebration that brings together demolition, visionary art, inventive gardening, a stirring memorial, water infiltration, and toxic mold? These core elements of the city’s essential funkytown identity and more will be highlighted in the Third Ward on February 7, when Project Row Houses, the owner of the last of 3 homes the late Cleveland Turner serially transformed into environments festooned with yard art and brightly painted junk, ceremonially rips apart the rotting property at 2305 Francis St. on account of they discovered a month or 2 ago that it (along with many of the works stuffed inside) was contaminated “beyond any chance of salvation” with varying dark hues of dangerous and smelly mold spores.


It’s a Houston Thing
05/09/14 10:00am

Site of Future HCC College of Health Sciences’ Medical Science & Technology Early College Charter High School, Hwy. 288 and North MacGregor Way, Third Ward, Houston

A reader reports seeing some activity on the long-vacant 9.177-acre melting-erlenmeyer-flask-shaped parcel of land at the northeast corner of Hwy. 288 and North MacGregor Way: no construction equipment yet, but crews were picking up trash and cutting grass. The Houston Community College system bought the property last November with plans to build a new medical-focused charter high school on the property.


288 and North MacGregor
12/02/13 1:00pm

Cleveland Turner in Front of His Home at 2305 Francis St., Third Ward, Houston

Cleveland Turner, a Third Ward resident whose passion for art and junk flowed out of his home, onto his front yard, past the sidewalk, and into a few museum exhibitions, passed away Sunday after a bout with stomach cancer, at the age of 70-something. Known as The Flower Man, Turner’s effusive and eclectic stylings landed him appearances in the CAMH and on TV shows “Roadside America” and “American Dreamers.” A bicycle-riding yard-art pioneer for more than 3 decades, Turner regularly festooned the fronts, sides, backs, and interiors of his own home in the neighborhood — most recently at 2305 Francis St. (above)

Photo: Ed Schipul [license]