02/13/17 2:30pm

UNIDENTIFIED CHEMICAL STENCH, HAZE DRIFTING ACROSS TOWN OFFICIALLY NO CAUSE FOR CONCERN Albemarle Corporation Facility, 13000 Bay Park Rd., Pasadena, TX, 77507Suggested and mandatory restrictions on hanging around outside were issued by the Memorial Village area’s fire department and by Katy ISD respectively for a while this morning, in response to the acrid odor and haze blowing in some 40 miles across the city from somewhere near the Ship Channel. The Houston emergency response folks say that their monitoring has turned up no air quality red flags, but that anyone who can avoid the stink should probably do so just in case. The particular origin and composition of the odor also still seems to still be up for debate this afternoon: The Albemarle facility at 13000 Bay Park Rd. (shown above) called into the CAER hotline this morning to report that they might be releasing natural gas odorizer throughout the day as their gas facilities got worked on, and LyondellBasell’s Sheldon Rd. facility also sent a message to the CAER line that they would be conducting flaring today in response to a “unit upset,” but no official suspects have been named by the city.  The extent of the odor’s inland spread is notably broader than last month’s quickie Valero tank overfill stench incident in Manchester: KHOU reports that some of its viewers on the southeast side of town started calling in about the smell around 10 am, and that “by 11 a.m. the smell and an apparent haze covered most of downtown Houston and the west side, with some reports from as far north as Bush Airport.” [KHOU; previously on Swamplot] Photo of Albemarle facility at 13000 Bay Park Rd.: April R.  

12/08/16 11:00am

20706 Vanderwick Dr., Katy, TX, 77450

20706 Vanderwick Dr., Katy, TX, 77450

The speckles above on the tile floor at 20706 Vanderwick Dr. in Katy are some of the stragglers left behind by a surprise termite swarm early this year, according to a lawyer for the new owners. Todd and Carla Greene, who bought the 1982 home in September, are currently suing Texas Certified Home Inspection, which purportedly inspected the kitchen for wood-chewing critters at the end of August prior to the sale closing. The couple alleges that Carla was using the stove in the kitchen about 6 months later (a few days after the pair’s March move-in) when thousands of insects began to emerge from multiple kitchen drawers and cabinets; the shots above were taken after the action died down.

Per the University of Kentucky’s entomology folks, the termite exodus was right on time. The couple hired an exterminator, who found several areas of extensive wood damage around the kitchen — here’s a shot inside the vent in the island stove:

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Unwelcoming Committee
06/13/16 2:00pm

TYPHOON TEXAS BOUNCES BACK FROM CHRISTIAN YOUTH LOCK-IN DISASTER Typhoon Texas, 555 Katy Fort Bend Rd., Katy, TX, 77450Dennis Spellman has details on the chaotic scene that forced Katy’s Typhoon Texas waterpark, barely 2 weeks off of its mid-flood Memorial Day weekend opening, to shut down just 2 hours into an overnight youth lock-in sponsored by local Christian radio station KSBJ’s parent company. Spellman writes that Friday’s event quickly “turned into an out-of-control melee” that led to the park removing the group in the middle of the night; in addition to reports of violence and drug use among the 5,000 estimated attendees, witnesses tell Spellman that the teens disrupted the scheduled musical performances by throwing water at sound equipment, and rioted in the park’s pools before being ejected by police around 1:30am. The company says park staff worked through the night to clean up and was open by Saturday morning as regularly scheduled.  [Covering Katy; previously on Swamplot] Aerial photo of Typhoon Texas at 555 Katy Fort Bend Rd.: Typhoon Texas

05/18/16 11:15am

Plans for University of Houston Katy Campus, I-10 at Grand Pkwy., Katy, TX , 77449

On the agenda for tomorrow’s meeting of the University of Houston’s board of regents: a who-can-sign-for-it approval for the purchase of a 46-acre property in Katy, about a 10-minute drive from the 10-acre Cinco Ranch property the school is hoping to sell later this year.  The land occupies half of the big round tract at the northeast corner of I-10 and the Grand Pkwy. once slated to become Simon Property’s The Grand. That land was sold in 2014 to Moody-controlled Parkside Capital, which had been marketing it as a mixed-use office development called Verde Parc; if all goes according to the terms laid out in a late-April letter of intent describing the sale terms, the area will be rebranded as University Park (currently the name of the street the Cinco Ranch property sits on, at the intersection with S. Mason Dr.).

The Gensler site plan above appears in the notes that go along with tomorrow’s board vote; another aerial map clarifies that the University is buying the top half of the circle, not the bottom parcels:

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Campus Parking
01/25/16 10:15am

Former Johnny's Pizza House, 24437 Katy Fwy. Ste. 100, Katy, TX, 77494

East Coast Korean fried chicken chain Bonchon is planning a new location at 24437 Katy Fwy., between the Grand Parkway and Katy Mills Mall in the strip-center storefront previously occupied by Johnny’s Pizza House, which closed last year. The chain’s previous Dallas location, its first foray into Texas, opened to so much enthusiasm for its double-fried chicken that the location had to shut down for a week to regroup shortly after its December 2013 opening; half a year later, the location closed permanently. Bonchon’s second Texas trial will open next to Fix My Phone and Katy Peridontology and Oral Surgery.

Photo of former Johnny’s Pizza House location: Scott L. via Yelp

Fry, Fry Again
12/09/15 11:30am

Typhoon Texas, 555 Katy Fort Bend Rd., Katy, TX, 77450

No need to evacuate the area, but aerial footage from the developers shows the Typhoon Texas waterpark currently brewing at 555 Katy Fort Bend Rd, just south of I-10 on 43 acres of Katy Mills Mall-adjacent land. Ground was broken on August 20, and the park (pictured conceptually above) is slated to make landfall on May 27, just before the start of Atlantic hurricane season.

Aquatic amusements will include a 1,500-ft. lazy river, facilities for slideboarding (which turns going down a waterslide into a competitive sport), facilities for regular sliding, a 48-foot-tall play structure, and a 27,000-sq.-ft. wave pool. (That’s larger than the one at the New Braunfels Schlitterbahn, for those of you keeping score.) Typhoon backers hope that the park will become a regional draw along the lines of the 3 Schlitterbahns, Spring’s Splashtown, and Astroworld (RIP).

This oddly-soothing drone video captures the sense of calm over the developing theme park:

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Suburban Hurricane Hunting
04/24/15 12:00pm

Little White Church on Barker Clodine Rd. Being Moved to Iglesia Sobre La Roca, 433 S. Barker Cypress Rd., Katy, Texas

The white woodframe church that until recently stood with a collection of small buildings including the Barker General Store on the main, retracted campus of the Marks LH7 Ranch at 1010 Barker Clodine Rd. has been spotted nearby, fleeing encroaching apartment development along the far east end of Kingsland Blvd. at the northwest corner of George Bush Park. The church hasn’t traveled far: It’s arrived on the grounds of the neighboring Iglesia Sobre La Roca, aka Church on the Rock, at 433 S. Barker Cypress Rd. in Katy — just a quarter-mile to the north.

Here’s a photo of the church building as it was picked up from its previous home at 1010 Barker Clodine Rd., beyond the street-facing plaque that explains the remains of Houston’s last ranch:

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Last Roundup at Houston’s Last Ranch
01/30/15 1:00pm

1407-Ave-C-01

1407-Ave-C-02

Down-home and modern, kicky and a bit sweet, a colorized slice of old Katy living — with a century’s-worth of “updates” — popped up on the market yesterday. Asking price: $300K. The 1910 expanded foursquare has prevailed within Katy’s N. Thomas Addition, a neighborhood located well west of the Grand Pkwy., north of U.S. 90, and past the Pin Oak Rd. exit of I-10. The owners revamped the AC, electrical, and plumbing systems, but it’s more fun to check out the checkered kitchen (above). Plenty more punch is served inside . . .

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Punch Bowl
01/27/15 2:15pm

UH LOOKING TO BUILD NEW CAMPUS IN KATY, BECAUSE THAT’S WHERE THE ENERGY IS University of Houston System at Cinco Ranch, 4242 S. Mason Rd., Cinco Ranch, Katy, TexasThe University of Houston has asked state lawmakers to begin work on a $60 million tuition revenue bond that would fund a new campus in Katy, including a 60,000-sq.-ft. facility on a not-yet-identified site. The new campus would be separate from the system’s existing facility at 4242 S. Mason Rd. in Cinco Ranch (pictured above). The move closer to oil and gas firms in the Energy Corridor is part of what UH vice president for government and community affairs Jason Smith tells Community Impact news is the institution’s goal “to become the energy university for the United States.” The Katy campus “would serve the oil and gas interests there, the companies and their campuses there,” he says. Separately, university president Renu Khator last week called the award of a multi-million-dollar grant for the establishment of a UH-led Subsea Systems Institute “the culmination of years of work to establish the University of Houston as the Energy University.” (Grant monies for that institute will come from payments made by oil company BP to the state of Texas after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.) [Community Impact News; UH] Photo of University of Houston System at Cinco Ranch: Directron