- 1103 Manatee Ln. [HAR]
Also making an appearance in this morning’s Demolition Report: the crumbs of East Montrose’s short-lived but storied MuffinMan restaurant. Back in the wacky late summer of ’10, the four-square-turned-duplex at 2310 Converse St. played host to what proprietor Jason Perry modestly claimed to be “the greatest penis shaped muffin restaurant Houston had” (Note: Perry’s description referenced the shape of the muffins, not of the building or its rooms; a 6-ft. sign he posted on the front lawn announced to his neighbors his earnest contention that a “four inch muffin is better than an eight inch cock.”)
Do you remember the MuffinMan? Or maybe you’ve been trying hard to forget it? Well, the home of “the greatest penis shaped muffin restaurant Houston [ever?] had” — aka the yellow 1940 American foursquare at 2310 Converse St. just north of Fairview — is now in foreclosure and was listed for sale last week. Sadly, the listing photos show almost no signs of those few whirlwind months in the fall of 2010 when would-be restaurateur Jason Perry operated a notable Montrose after-hours spot on the premises — without bothering to obtain any of the necessary city or state permits. No signs, that is, except for that painted “Muffin Man” insignia still emblazoned on the front of the home’s upper story.
The late Charles Fondow’s castle-like construction at 2309 Wichita St. in Riverside Terrace has fallen into foreclosure, a source tells Swamplot. The neighborhood landmark was listed for sale at a price of $325,000 last May. That listing expired in November, but the home’s condition and an included stipulation that only all-cash offers would be accepted may have doomed it. Fondow’s legendary 31-year renovation and expansion project remained unfinished after his death last year; the former daycare center’s top-heavy rack of decks, gables, and turrets have long attracted attention from neighbors and passers-by.
When he died last year, did Melvin Lane Powers really have a photo of his aunt and former lover, Candace Mossler, enshrined on his living room mantel? Or is this foreclosure listing photo just some agent’s idea of a real-estate insider’s awkward joke? A tipster who’s sure the 3-bedroom, 5-and-a-half-bathroom property near the corner of Caroline St. and Wentworth was the real-estate developer and true-crime celebrity’s home for the last several years (both he and his estate are listed as former owners on the property’s county tax records) believes the fireplace pic — possibly the only home-decor item left in the house — is a portrait of Mossler, who died of a prescription-drug overdose in 1976.
How was Seabrook homeowner Brad Gana able to wriggle out of foreclosure proceedings on his home at the last minute? By hiring a lawyer to argue that his house does not exist. And indeed, the visual evidence is compelling: All that’s left of Gana’s waterfront structure at 1910 Todville Rd., which apparently washed away 3 years ago during Hurricane Ike while Gana was working overseas, is an empty slab, protected by a front gate and littered until recently with a few of Gana’s tools and collectibles. (After the proceedings were canceled, KPRC’s Amy Davis reports, Bank of America had those items removed from the property.)
Have a look around this little 25,637-sq.-ft. castle on a 5-acre lot at the edge of the Champions Golf Course. The master suite alone measures 3,000 sq. ft. Construction began in 2005, but last year the property was taken over by the lender, Encore Bank, before the final touches could be completed — like the elevator connecting the 3-car underground garage to the rest of the house. The MLS listing announced the bank planned to auction the home by November 5th to the highest bidder. But it was scooped up before then — for $3.5 million — by someone who could truly appreciate its fine marble and plaster finishes: the founder of a drywall contracting company and his wife. Wayne and Karen Martin tell the Chronicle‘s Nancy Sarnoff they plan to finish the home and landscape it with “European-style” gardens and reflecting ponds. “There’s a lot of history in that place. It’s phenomenal,” Martin tells Sarnoff.
But they don’t plan to move in.
DIGGING OUT FROM HEAVEN ON EARTH Updated task list for the investor group that bought the dilapidated and long-vacant Heaven on Earth Plaza Hotel at 801 St. Joseph Pkwy. at Travis St. Downtown 3 years ago: 1) Pay off $4.2 million mortgage on property; 2) work way out of bankruptcy (declared just last week, to avoid foreclosure); 3) close on $22 million construction loan to redevelop the 31-story former Holiday Inn (and later Days Inn) into an “as economy class as possible” hotel. Meanwhile, New Era Hospitality — the group that bought the property in 2008 from a fund connected to the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi — recently spent around $30,000 to secure the building, after receiving a stream of municipal citations for “dangerous building parts, visual blight, unsecured entrances, and signs of urine and bodily fluids.” The project’s general contractor tells Purva Patel that plans to turn the gutted property into an “upscale” hotel have been scaled back. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo: arch-ive.org
NO MONEY DOWN — YOUR GOOD NAME IS YOUR CREDIT! For 3 years in Houston, Claymon Trammell pitched “an investment where the straw borrowers would not need any money down, would not be responsible for the monthly payments and would get money for the use of their name and credit.” Any takers? Sure: enough to allow Trammell, his wife, and daughter to swing “purchases” of more than 70 Houston-area homes — 17 in the name of a single repeat customer. There were payment defaults on every home, and most of them wound up in foreclosure, according to the feds. On Tuesday, the family of mortgage-loan officers from Manvel and Katy pled guilty together to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. [FBI]
COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHAT HAPPENED AT 301 STUDEWOOD “Tried to get Parks Board to purchase for years but they wouldnt go above $200k. They upped their offer to $600k in September of 2010, while property was under contract with restaurant group out of Austin which has 12 operating establishments in Texas. Up against about the 8th round of foreclosure with a hard money lender who wasnt satisfied with his usurious rates of 21%+ per annum over three years and under pressure, lender ended up taking the property — taking a parks board offer and walking away with another $60k+ on top. Restaurant group pissed, owner still picking up pieces/dealing with lawsuits that should have been avoided. Restaurant group needed 30 more days, Parks would have taken 60. Lender would give no more time for either. Should have filed for bankruptcy to stall the foreclosure and let deal transact but family was on last leg….after paying about $60-75k over 9 months to avoid repeated postings for foreclosure, as well as the ridiculous interest rates over the previous two years. Lender also decided against paying the commission he promised for bringing the Parks Board deal. Real swell guy. My apologies for the eyesore signs, maybe I will go reface them and at least get free advertising out of the deal. Parks Board has no plans yet but turned down two offers in January from a Developer with backing out of the Mayors office. Demonstration housing. First offer they turned down was $800k, not sure about second offer but I can confirm it was turned down as well. In regards to Parks, I had made some traction with GHORBA for an off-road bike park like they have in Austin, The topography, etc. would be rather perfect for that. Not sure where everyone is on the deal but I dont believe it is Parks highest priority at the moment. I will check in with everyone and let you know.” [JE, commenting on This is Woods. Park Is Not Available Right Now. May I Help You?] Photo: LoopNet
WILL SKANSKA KNOCK DOWN THE HOUSTON CLUB? A source tells Nancy Sarnoff that Swedish construction firm Skanska, which has the Houston Club Building at 811 Rusk under contract, may tear down the 1948 downtown building and build an office tower in its place. A couple of clues: the closing of the building’s ground-floor Hunan Downtown restaurant and the “Closed for Cleaning” sign posted in the window of the Travis St. Burger King. The Houston Club’s lease on 4 floors of the 18-floor building doesn’t expire for another 4 years, though. The building’s previous owner, a limited partnership controlled by Cameron Management, gave up the property to its lender last September after declaring bankruptcy a few months earlier. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Silberman Properties
SOUTHMEADOW’S $315 FORECLOSURE FIGHT Why does the West Airport Homeowners Association take up a half page of its newsletter each month with lists of fees for various legal costs associated with policing deed restriction and other violations? Because fee collection and enforcement appears to be a major focus of the organization. An attorney for Southmeadow resident William Castellon claims the HOA — which is operated by a company called Randall Management — has run up $75,000 in legal fees fighting lawsuits over a $315 annual maintenance fee it claims Castellon failed to pay, though Castellon says he did. (A second check sent by Castellon for the same payment was returned.) The HOA filed suit against Castellon, seeking to foreclose on his home near West Airport and South Gessner. Last fall, after Castellon sued back, a jury ruled in his favor and awarded him more than $40,000. But the HOA is now attempting to reverse the decision. Fox 26 reporter Randy Wallace’s calls to the HOA’s law firm, Gammon & Associates, were not returned. [MyFox Houston]
“Can’t wait to find a buyer for this condo!” writes real-estate agent Veso Kossev. “Too bad I can’t take [anyone] to see it…..” Huh? Oh, yeah . . . it’s unit E5 at the Park Memorial Condominiums, otherwise known as the 4.85-acre land of limbo just north of Memorial Dr. at Detering. As of a few days ago, you can pick up this 2-bedroom, 2-bath, only partially smashed condo for the low, low price of just $47,000. But you won’t be able to have it inspected — or see it yourself — because the entire complex has been condemned by the city. Where’d these lovely interior photos in the listing come from, then?