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
08/02/16 11:45am

LAND PURCHASES BEGINNING ALONG PROPOSED HOUSTON-TO-DALLAS BULLET TRAIN ROUTE Tokaido Shinkansen Tokyo Osaka LineTexas Central Railway’s CEO tells Realty News Report’s Ralph Bivins that owners of some properties in the projected path of the planned Houston-to-Dallas 200mph rail line have already agreed to sell their land to the company, which is hoping to get started on construction of the 90-minute route next year. Tim B. Keith says he’s “encouraged with the progress” of what he refers to as the project’s “voluntary land purchase program.” He notes that “Texas’ Constitution and state statutes have long granted eminent domain authority to railroads such as Texas Central, as well as pipeline companies, electric power companies and other industries,” but calls eminent domain “a last resort.” The line’s Houston station is now planned for “the area along the 610 Loop between 290 and I-10″ after a Federal Railroad Administration review rejected the idea of a Downtown stop because of projected high costs and environmental impacts. [Realty News Report; Houston Public Media; previously on Swamplot] Photo of Tokaido Shinkansen Tokyo-Osaka line: Texas Central Railway  

07/07/16 2:30pm

MIDWAY: GIANT FIFTH WARD KBR SITE WON’T BE CALLED NORTHBANK BUFFALO BAYOU, BUT SOMETHING ELSE MIGHT Former KBR Campus, 4100 Clinton Dr., Fifth Ward, HoustonA representative from Midway tells Swamplot that, while the company has been working on a trademark for the name Northbank Buffalo Bayou, it won’t be used for whatever the company is planning for the 136-acre former KBR site in Fifth Ward (which was recently bought by a Midway affiliate). The name is actually connected to another project floating around on the company’s drawing board — no confirmation yet as to exactly where that development might be located, if it comes to be, but the north bank of Buffalo Bayou seems like a reasonable guess. Wherever the moniker is applied, the US Patent and Trademark Office lists the name as intended for use related to both commercial and residential real estate marketing and construction. Also on the list of things the brand could be used for: wine and food tastings, and presenting live musical performances. [Previously on Swamplot] Listing photo of KBR site: LoopNet

07/05/16 10:00am

Former KBR Campus, 4100 Clinton Dr., Fifth Ward, Houston

Whatever’s in store for the 136-acre former KBR site along the the Ship Channel at 4100 Clinton Dr., CityCentre developer Midway now looks to be involved. Documents filed with the county clerk’s office near the end of May reveal that Cathexis Holdings recently sold the site to KBRN, an entity connected to Midway through a recently minted corporate partnership (and officially located down the hall from Midway’s CityCentre office.)

And might Midway — which also heads the team that turned failed Downtown Mall Houston Pavilions into GreenStreet, and is developing the Kirby Grove park-and-office-building complex along the banks of the Southwest Fwy. in Upper Kirby — have some big office-shopping-residential-and-park-y plans in mind for this vast property, which lies about a mile and a half downstream from Downtown? A couple of clues are out there:

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Sold on the Ship Channel
03/07/16 2:45pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE ART OF SLIPPING AWAY Downward Green Arrow“The luxury real estate article says that a lot of owner/CEO’s of small oil companies are selling their mansions to help save their companies. That’s an assbackwards way — there’s a reason you stash a few million in your homestead: It’s exempt from creditors and bankruptcy. Let the dying company fold, file bankruptcy, sell the house later, and boom, you’re liquid again and start with fresh paper and zero liabilities.” [commonsense, commenting on The Typical Home Buyer’s Salary; Getting Creative in the Luxury Housing MarketIllustration: Lulu

02/29/16 10:15am

Fisher Homes, 832 Yale St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77007

Fisher Homes, 832 Yale St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77007

The custom home and office building of Heights homebuilder Fisher Homes at 832 Yale St. is currently up for sale or lease. Construction on the just-under-15,000-sq.-ft. building south of 9th St. wrapped up near the end of 2014; the property listing indicates that availability started in January of this year.

Amenities at the Morrison Heights and Studemont Mid-Rise developer’s mixed-use space include an indoor basketball court, downtown views from the above-3rd-story rooftop terrace, and various conference rooms. Floorplans of the building show the middle-of-the-house driveway (which provides access to the backyard parking lot) separating a 437-sq.-ft. apartment (circled in dotted red below) from the main structure:

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For Sale on Yale
02/19/16 11:30am

230 Blalock Rd., Piney Point, TX 77024

The house at 230 Blalock is back on the market this week for just under $2.2 million — more than half a million more than what the city of Piney Point accepted for the house in 2008 (eating a $60,000 loss). The city purchased the 5-bedroom house to use as City Hall back in aught-7, after being kicked out of the Houston strip mall it was using at 7721 San Felipe St.

The city council was subsequently told that no, they couldn’t keep it, and the house went back up for sale, with some debate about whether or not to update the interiors before flipping the property. The most recent owner, however, decided to go for the upgrades. Here’s a few before-and-after shots:

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Piney Point
02/03/16 1:45pm

Demolition of Westbury Square, West Bellfort Ave. Near Chimney Rock Rd., Westbury, Houston, 77035

Demolition began yesterday on one of the 11 remaining structures of Westbury Square at Chimney Rock Rd. and W. Belfort Ave., according to a post on the Westbury Civic Club’s Facebook page. The post indicates that the first building on the chopping block was one damaged by fire in 2010, but that the rest were not scheduled by the owners to meet their unmakers on Tuesday.

An agent for Camelot Realty Group told HBJ last July that the run-down 1960s shopping plaza was under contract by the Villas at Westbury Square, and that the buildings were slated for demolition at the start of last August to make way for more than 100 townhomes (or maybe a commercial development, depending on how things went). A Swamplot commenter noted, however, that the buildings were still standing in early January.

Photo: Westbury Houston

Chimney Rock at W. Belfort
01/20/16 4:45pm

U.S. GOVERNMENT WILL TRY TO TRACK ANONYMOUS CASH REAL ESTATE BUYERS Meanwhile, in Manhattan and Miami: The U.S. Treasury Department announced an upcoming trial run for keeping tabs on the identities of “luxury real estate” buyers in 2 high-volume markets, citing concerns that cash purchases by anonymous shell corporations are being used to safeguard ill-gotten assets. From March through August, title insurance companies in Manhattan will be required to identify and report the buyers of any property priced above $3 million; in Miami-Dade County, the threshold will be $1 million. The Department says that permanent nationwide reporting requirements could be developed if many sales involving suspicious money are uncovered during the trial period. [New York Times]

01/19/16 12:30pm

UT Houston Campus Site, Buffalo Lakes, Houston

The deal is sealed on the University of Texas’s purchase of a 100-acre hunk of land south of South Main St. as of last Friday. The sale marks the first concrete move toward UT’s planned Houston campus, though closings on the parcel patchwork comprising the rest of the 300-ish ac. likely won’t wrap up until early 2017, according to a press release from the school’s Office of Public Affairs.

The sold land is a forested tract northwest of the wiggly intersection of Willowbend Dr. and Buffalo Spdwy.; the property is split along a northwest-southeast diagonal by a linear drainage feature which makes an appearance in those preliminary campus designs (shown from the north in the image above).

That land was owned previously by Buffalo Lakes Ltd., an entity associated with UT grad John Kirksey of Kirksey Architecture. A plan for a Buffalo Lakes master-planned community (see below) was drawn up more than 4 years ago by Kirksey for the same space:

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South Main Master Plans
12/01/15 10:00am

UT Houston Campus Site, Buffalo Lakes, Houston

Some zoomy conceptual renderings of the University of Texas’s coming Houston campus, centered on the largely undeveloped intersection of Buffalo Spdwy. and Willowbend Blvd., made their debut at last month’s Board of Regents meeting, where the intended purchase of land for the project was announced. Buffalo Spdwy. gently winds through the drawings of the new campus to a track and several baseball diamonds along Holmes Rd. (which runs horizontally across the top of the image above).

Although the images are only “concepts”, the pictures do provide a sense of how the campus might unfold: For example, that linear water feature shown at the center of the campus aligns with an existing drainage ditch on the property, and the 3 long, low structures in the foreground are good candidates for parking garages, which will be needed regardless of the new institution’s yet-to-be-decided purpose.

Existing residential communities and industrial parks are here rendered as sparsely-treed fields — the boundary of the land slated for purchase by UT currently houses several apartment complexes on the north side and the Orkin Industrial Surplus facility to the south.

But another conceptual rendering (this one looking northwest across Holmes Rd. towards the distant Williams Tower) shows the campus in place amongst some of its eclectic neighbors:

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Welcome to the neighborhood
07/02/15 1:00pm

Westbury Square, West Bellfort Ave. Near Chimney Rock Rd., Westbury, Houston

Westbury Square, West Bellfort Ave. Near Chimney Rock Rd., Westbury, HoustonConfirming a rumor Swamplot noted last week, the HBJ’s Roxana Asgarian reports that “one of the largest residential developers in Houston” has plans to transform two-thirds of the site of former pedestrian shopping district Westbury Square into 100 to 125 townhomes. Camelot Realty Group’s Tom Cervone tells Asgarian a group of developers going by the name of Villas at Westbury Square has the property on West Bellfort near Chimney Rock and West Bellfort under contract from its longtime owner, Alfred Antonini.

All 11 remaining Westbury Square buildings — including the longtime home of the Company OnStage theater group — will be torn down in 30 days, the real estate agent says. Two of the more dilapidated structures from the complex were demolished last year; the Home Depot next door (visible in the distance in the photo below) was built on land that previously belonged to the complex.

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06/29/15 12:15pm

BUYER OF CHRONICLE COMPLEX DOWNTOWN NOT EXPECTED TO CRUSH IT JUST YET Houston Chronicle Building, 801 Texas Ave., Downtown HoustonThe deal could still fall through, cautions Ralph Bivins, but real estate development firm Hines is in the middle of negotiating a purchase of the Houston Chronicle’s complex and parking garage at 801 Texas Ave. downtown. Expected sale price: “more than $50 million, perhaps as much as $55 million.” But Bivins doesn’t think Hines is ready to knock down the structures and build another of its downtown office developments on the 99,184 sq. ft. of land on 2 blocks right away. Instead, he writes, the company “appears to be seeking to lock up a prime skyscraper development site for future years.” [Realty News Report; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Walter P Moore

06/26/15 12:00pm

WESTBURY SQUARE HEADED FOR SALE, EXILE OF REMAINING TENANTS The Company OnStage Theater, 536 Westbury Square, Westbury Square, Westbury, HoustonA sales contract is pending on the remaining portions of faded pedestrian shopping district Westbury Square, a note posted to the home page of The Company OnStage and sent to the group’s subscribers announces. The note does not address rumored plans to divide the purchased site near the intersection of West Bellfort and Chimney Rock into more than 100 townhome lots, but does indicate that completion of the sale will likely bring an end to the company’s 33-year residency at 536 Westbury Square (pictured here). The theater group is postponing the announcement of its upcoming season, and says it is looking to relocate. Two buildings in the complex were torn down early last year. [The Company OnStage; previously on Swamplot] Photo: The Company OnStage  

06/11/15 1:00pm

broadstone-tinsley-park-aerial

Former Brownfield Site at 801 and 1701 Gillette St., Fourth Ward, HoustonThe complicated transaction that allowed the city to sell the 10.52-acre brownfield site along Allen Parkway between the Federal Reserve building and Allen Parkway Village to an apartment developer was concluded in late April, the Houston Business Journal‘s Paul Takahashi reports. Alliance Residential paid $39.9 million for the property along Gillette St., where the city began operating a solid waste incinerator in the 1920s and later converted the site for use as its fleet maintenance facility. The company immediately sold the northern 6 acres to an unnamed private investor; Alliance now plans to build a 365-unit apartment complex on the southern half of the property, fronting Gillette and West Dallas St.

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Fourth Ward