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:


For Sale on Yale
02/05/16 1:45pm

BUILDING AROUND 1 CEMETERY AND POSSIBLY OVER ANOTHER IN CYPRESS’S ALDEN WOODS Site Plan for the Alden Woods Development, Huffmeister Rd., Cypress, TX 77429 “I said to the county attorney’s representative, this looks like the spot, this looks like a cemetery,” University of Houston anthropology professor Ken Brown told ABC 13’s Ted Oberg, discussing a visit two years ago to the land currently being developed as the Alden Woods subdivision. Darling Homes is developing the 70-acre tract off Huffmeister Rd., just north of the intersection with Maxwell Rd. in Cypress, into a gated community of 3,000-to-5,000-sq.-ft. homes with interior courtyards. Brown investigated another old cemetery on the land for the Harris County Historical Commission; neighbors took him to a site on the other side of the project area rumored to be the burial ground of the slaves held by nearby landowners (some of whom are thought to be buried in the graveyard Brown was sent to check out). The landowner’s cemetery got legal protection from development with the help of the county attorney’s office and still sits in a forested area in the subdivision. The slave cemetery site was not further investigated archaeologically, despite the alleged presence of an employee of the attorney’s office on the site with Brown as he identified groups of east-west-oriented depressions which “[suggested] family type plots within a cemetery.” A statement from the Harris County Attorney’s Office to ABC13 says that the office will now work with the subdivision’s developer to investigate the site. [ABC13] Alden Woods site plan: Darling Homes

01/09/15 12:30pm


Behind this row of 9 live oak trees along Leeland St., one block north of the Gulf Fwy. (and the southern edge of East Downtown), Talia Homes is planning a development of 75 gated homes called Talia Village — on the site of what was, until last summer, the Spencer Company’s Florabunda wholesale nursery at 1609 Ennis St. South of the development is the Metro Auto Storage tow lot; to the east lies what a reader describes as “uh, a large pasture next to the bike trail which is used by somebody’s horses fairly often.”


Talia Village Greenery
12/30/14 1:45pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHAT LIFE FORMS HOMES GOT RIGHT Drawing of Life Forms Home“I’m also a big Life Forms fan, I own and live in one in the Woodlands. So happens I’m an architect, too. Life Forms is the only company I know that has built suburban tract homes which are innovative, spatially unique, extremely livable, and which complement the landscape. Truly American, as I would like to say it. Many of Life Forms homes were also created for a price point that allowed normal folks like us to experience unique and honest architecture. I do that every day now. Scott Mitchell deserves unique credit as an exceptional architect, a brilliant home builder, and a true innovator. Most American architecture amounts to mindlessly recompiled ‘tradition,’ endlessly mundane and pretentious. No where is this more evident than in American tract homes. Bad copies of architectural forms and inspiration: selectively applied pastiche . . . that is the norm. As the ‘home of the free and the brave,’ as social and technological pioneers, we Americans ought to pride ourselves on our residential buildings, too. Life Forms challenged the organization, layout, forms, spaces, use of light . . . just about everything that’s bad about the typical american home. Sure some of the details may look dated to us now, and not all the experiments they did were successful. But many of them were. . . .” [Paul Schuyler, commenting on A Look at George Mitchell’s Decked-Out Home in The Woodlands, All Cleaned Up and Cleared Out for Sale] Illustration: Lulu

10/28/14 12:00pm

WHY DARLING HOMES SMELL THAT WAY ScentAir ScentWaveJust where does that Houston new-home smell come from? The cookies the sales agent baked in the oven just before you arrived? The formaldehyde holding together the OSB and MDF? The VOC-laden paints and finishes still off-gassing indoors? An errant breeze from the Ship Channel? Well, sure, but also, it turns out, from liquid aroma cartridges squirted out by the motion-detector-equipped ScentWave (pictured above right), which shoots out a “clean and crisp . . . sweet floral” aroma to woo potential buyers and passersby who’ve stopped to sniff out a model home display. Reps of Texas’s Darling Homes, now owned by Taylor Morrison, install the ScentWave wafting device strategically in every one of the company’s model homes. The exclusive sign-here-now fragrance the homebuilder employs was whipped up for that purpose by the ScentWave’s distributor, a North Carolina company named ScentAir. That Darling Homes scent isn’t available for purchase, reports the HBJ‘s Paul Takahashi, but the ScentAir website lists a matrix of “euphoric, invigorating, restoring, refreshing, relaxing, or restoring” olfactory options (from a total 1,600 available off-the-shelf) to “blow your customer’s nose’s mind.” [Houston Business Journal; ScentAir] Photo of ScentWave: ScentAir

10/21/14 12:15pm

J and L Sheet Metal, 1101 Reinerman St., Westwood Grove, Houston

J and L Sheet Metal, 1101 Reinerman St., Westwood Grove, HoustonFrom reader Mark Lawrence come these farewell views of the almost-a-full-block compound one block north of Washington Ave at 1101 Reinerman St. that belonged to J and L Sheet Metal from the late eighties until recently. The company sold its land, bounded by Reinerman, Moy, Nett, and Center streets, to MHI McGuyer Homebuilders in late August. A sign taped to the front door (at right) notes the metal fabrication business is moving out of the Westwood Grove neighborhood, further north to 14102 Chrisman Rd., near the intersection of the Hardy Toll Rd. and Beltway 8.


Getting the Sheet Metal Out
07/24/14 4:45pm

Site of Future Stanley Park Dr., Timbergrove Manor, Houston

Site of Future Stanley Park Dr., Timbergrove Manor, HoustonAn increasing number of weed-whacking and drive-up visits to the site “after a stagnant period” suggest to a Swamplot reader that development activity may soon begin on Lovett Homes’ Stanley Park development, a collection of 78 patio-home sites drawn but not yet carved out of a vacant lot at the southern border of Timbergrove Manor just north of the railroad tracks, paralleling Queenswood Ln. A new street named Stanley Park Dr., with accompanying similarly named stub streets, is planned to connect what are now dead ends at Shirkmere Rd. and Shelterwood Dr. The photo above shows the Shirkmere entrance to the future neighborhood. Sunflowers have sprouted quickly after the last weed-whacking event — in a portion of the development cleared of trees several years ago.

Photos: Swamplot inbox

Stanley Park
07/02/14 4:15pm

Woodland Park Views, 1412 and 1420 Wrightwood St., Woodland Heights, Houston

Woodland Park Views, 1412 and 1420 Wrightwood St., Woodland Heights, HoustonDevelopers of a 7-townhome development on Wrightwood St. just east of Houston Ave. in Woodland Heights paid a $300,000 settlement to the city last year for clear-cutting about an acre of neighboring Woodland Park. Neighbors claimed the extensive cutting and uprooting was done expressly to give future residents of the townhomes a better view, but one of the developers, Bill Workman, went on a hardhat-in-hand apology tour trying to explain that the brush-and-tree-and-grass removal spree was only the result of a communication error with a subcontractor. Now, more than a year after the land-grading-gone-awry incident, the website and marketing materials for the 2 four-story townhomes currently available in the development have been adjusted a bit — to highlight their expansive views of Woodland Park.


How We Got Woodland Park Views
06/20/14 12:00pm

Ad for Royce HomesBack in January of this year, the bankruptcy trustee assigned to colorful imploded homebuilder Royce Homes obtained a $9.3 settlement from Amegy Bank for the bank’s role in what attorneys called a $39 million conspiracy — to swindle creditors by draining the collapsed builder’s bank accounts shortly before Royce shut down and was declared bankrupt, in 2008. A separate settlement with Royce Builders’ founder, Michael Manners, was reached in March. And earlier this month, a jury in federal court returned a $27 million verdict against Royce’s former CEO, John Speer, for his role in the escapade. (Back in March, an earlier jury had ended up deadlocked on a number of charges.)

According to reporting by Law360’s Jeremy Heallen, the charges stemmed from what the attorneys claimed amounted to an off-the-books leveraged buyout of Royce Homes. In 2006, Speer bought Manner’s 50 percent stake in the Royce Homes for $33 million, to give himself complete ownership of the homebuilder. Though the funds used to finance the purchase (including a $20 million personal loan from Amegy Bank) were borrowed in Speer’s own name, Speers, Manners, and Amegy came to an understanding that Royce Homes would ultimately be responsible for paying them off, the suit claimed. The purpose of the scheme, according to the claims, was to keep the loans off of Royce Homes’s financial statements, because doing so would have “wiped out most of the homebuilder’s equity and caused lenders to shut down vital credit lines,” Heallen reports.


Amegy Bank and More
05/27/14 1:45pm

HOW A DEVELOPER MAKES FRIENDS IN GERMANTOWN 121 Payne St., Germantown Historic District, Woodland Heights, HoustonFisher Homes owner Terry Fisher has been scuffling with city officials and residents of the Germantown Historic District over the dilapidated state of the recently renovated 104-year-old bungalow at 121 Payne St. that he bought last year, got permission for a 2-story addition, but then let sit for months with an opened-up roof protected only by a blue tarp. Fisher may have had some difficulties maintaining the sticks and stones on his property (“demolition by neglect” is how one inspector put it), but he sure has demonstrated a way with words: “The neighbors and anyone else who doesn’t like me is welcome to go walk off a bridge,” he reportedly texted to Woodland Heights Civic Association member David Jordan: “Just try and remember I am a property owner in that neighborhood also and I’m just as important as the others. Considering how much I own, I may be more important.” The latest document attesting to that importance: the violation letter he received from the planning department ordering him to stop work on the Payne St. property and address concerns identified by the inspector. But Fisher tells reporter Erin Mulvaney his text to Jordan has been taken out of context: “God gave me two cheeks and I do what I can to turn them, but enough is enough,” he tells her, explaining that he lives in Spring, rather than in the Heights, where many of his developments are, in part to avoid ending up next door to a development he doesn’t like. “I have done nothing wrong,” Fisher says, “I’m not just a big bad developer. I’m a human, too.” But wait, there’s more: “I’m not ashamed of anything, including the Payne house,” says Fisher, who according to the article has been developing in Houston for more than 30 years. “At the end of the day,” he tells Mulvaney, “I’ve never done anything intentionally wrong. Anything has been out of ignorance.” [Houston Chronicle ($); previously on Swamplot] Photo of 121 Payne St. in better times: HAR

05/13/14 2:15pm

Home and Office Under Construction at 832 Yale St., Houston Heights

What’s this new construction being framed in wood and steel on the site of 2 former bungalows at 828 and 832 Yale St. in the Heights? A single 23,000-sq.-ft. residence that will also serve as the offices of homebuilder Fisher Homes, a source tells Swamplot. The builder is perhaps best known for the Morrison Heights 5-story condo building near Houston Ave. and White Oak; it is also planning a Studemont Mid-Rise at Studemont and Center St., just north of Washington Ave.


Fisher Homes
04/02/14 4:45pm

Vacant Lot at 3510 Sherman St. at York St., East End, Houston

Spotted on a reader’s drive to Champ Burger: the newly vacant almost-an-acre lot at the corner of York and Sherman streets east of East Downtown, where the New Era Nursing and Rehab facility at 3510 Sherman St. was recently demolished. An entity controlled by Lovett Homes developer Frank Liu purchased the property last October.


Lovett Gotta
11/26/13 1:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: READY TO POUNCE ON ANY LIFE FORMS DETECTED IN THE WOODLANDS Drawing of Life Forms Home“I live in a neighborhood in The Woodlands that was built out 100% by Lifeforms (Mitchell’s son was an architect there at the time). The finishes can be a bit dated, as the area was built in the ’80s, but the design and layout of the homes in the neighborhood are unique and in high demand. The homes are comfortable and ‘livable.’ Lifeforms architecture has a cult following . . . there is a fairly substantial group of people circling like sharks waiting for a house to come on the market in my neighborhood . . . additionally, I think I have more respect for a billionaire who was content in a modest home designed by his son as opposed to a man who needs to build a ‘gorgeous spread’ just to impress . . .” [Jeff, commenting on A Look at George Mitchell’s Decked-Out Home in The Woodlands, All Cleaned Up and Cleared Out for Sale] Illustration: Lulu

06/14/13 3:00pm

Houston builders Westin Homes seems to be expanding into the luxury replica spaceship playhouse market — at least this summer, anyway, hooking up with HomeAid Houston to imagineer something like what you see here and display it this June and July at Minute Maid Park. (That’s Astros mascot Orbit peeking out, as though a tad reluctant to deboard.) Of course, the playhouse isn’t just for show: It’ll be raffled off, with proceeds going to HomeAid, and it’ll eventually find its way to someone’s backyard, where the lucky winners will enjoy its

. . . space-themed amenities such as a cockpit complete with swivel seats, ‘rocket booster’-framed windows, a 32” wall mounted LCD TV, an XBox, an MP3 player, an iPod docking station with speakers and interior detailing . . . air conditioning and electricity.

It doesn’t appear that the playhouse will be suitable for actual space travel — but there’s always next year. (As Astros fans well know.) Most recently, the nonprofit HomeAid started construction on those 8 single-mothers’ duplexes on W. Bellfort in Meyerland on St. John’s Presbyterian property.

Rendering: Westin Homes via HomeAid Houston

05/06/13 11:30am

Does the green fence mean go? It looks like demolition is just a shot away for this westernmost building of the former Shell Technology Center. Lovett Homes has said it plans to build 39 3-story homes — scaling back after some Southside Place residents raised concerns at public hearings its original plan for 45 3.5-story ones — on the 3.2 acres here at the corner of Braes and Bellaire Blvd.