08/16/18 3:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: BRIARMEADOW’S DOGGY DAYCARE DOGPILE “Anyone else notice this area of town is getting rather saturated in doggy day cares? There’s one at Richmond on the other side of Fountainview, one on the north side of 59 just before Fountainview, one on Westheimer just west of Briarhurst . . . and those are just the ones that come immediately to mind.” [cricketty, commenting on Former Richmond Ave Furniture Royalty Will Now Provide Lodging for Animals] Map showing existing dog daycares in red, proposed in blue: Swamplox inbox

08/15/18 2:15pm

ASTROTURF INDUSTRY SHOWS STEADY GROWTH AS HOUSTON HOMEOWNERS GIVE UP ON THEIR LAWNS Business is booming in the synthetic grass sector here where the product got its start. One Houston installation firm’s rep tells the Chronicle’s Dianne Cowen he’s scaled up his staff by a factor of 5 since 2013. Nationwide, demand for the green stuff has tripled since 2011 and in order to keep up, production is expected to grow 20 percent over the next 3 years. Multiple strains are now being cultivated: zoysia, Bermuda and even St. Augustine — designed with short and long fibers that when clumped look like the real thing. To townhome owners, it’s an attractive furnishing for their tiny backyards — reports Cowen. Same goes for pet owners whose lawns are suffering from too much trampling. Though for them, there’s some watering involved: a monthly hose-off with a $20 bottle of sanitizer. [Houston Chronicle] Photo of synthetic grass installation: London looks [license]

08/14/18 3:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: A HIDDEN MEMORIAL DR. DOG SPOT MEETS ITS END “I always liked to go to that site with the dog in the winter; not sure why, but because of the slope, mixed with the cold air, it made me feel that I was not in Houston. It was not a well known location unless you lived in the neighborhood, though I did not. Others also played with their dogs there. Another cool hidden spot bites the dust.” [Montrose Resident, commenting on Alexan Memorial Apartments Are Heading to Rice Military] Illustration: Lulu

08/14/18 11:30am

ALEXAN MEMORIAL APARTMENTS ARE HEADING TO RICE MILITARY A group linked to Dallas developer Trammell Crow recently filed plans with Houston’s planning commission to prep the shaded 2.5-acre parcel shown on the map between Sandman and the dead end of Reinerman St. for new apartments under the Alexan name. The complex would be backed by a ramp that diverges from the north side of Memorial Dr. and neighbored by a 3-story building that forms part of the DePelchin Children’s Center’s main Houston campus. Ordered off the site to make way for the new construction: some parking for the adjacent adoption and foster care center and a vacant, H-shaped office building to the west. Map: Houston Planning Commission

08/13/18 4:00pm

NEARLY 100 MEYERLAND HOUSES WILL SOON BE UP OFF THE GROUND Forty homes total have now been elevated in Meyerland and 57 are currently on the way up, reports Nancy Sarnoff. Their boosters are seeking the same degree of flood protection enjoyed by the 29 percent of Meyerland homeowners whose houses have never flooded in the past. A few elevations have been paid for by the City of Houston; others were self-funded. [Houston Chronicle ($); previously on Swamplot] Photo of 4718 N. Braeswood Blvd.: Christine Gerbode

08/10/18 10:00am

DAIRY ASHFORD H-E-B GETTING AXED NEXT MONTH H-E-B store number 471 in the Memorial Dr. strip at Dairy Ashford will close to the public next month, Nancy Sarnoff reports, but it’ll remain filled with food items. The company plans to turn it into a warehouse for its home delivery and curbside pickup services. The mini-store has been understocked relative to other H-E-Bs — and no matter how you slice up its 28,000 sq.-ft., “There just isn’t enough space to fit everything that you would be looking for,” company prez Scott McClelland said on Facebook yesterday. Its nearest regular-sized backup H-E-B: the standalone one nearly triple its size on Westheimer and S. Kirkwood, just under 3 miles away. [Houston Chronicle] Photo: Weingarten Realty

08/07/18 9:45am

WHAT’S ON THE TABLE IN HARRIS COUNTY’S FLOOD BOND MEGA VOTE, STARTING TOMORROW Included in the flood control bond package county residents are about to start voting on: $1.2 billion for channel improvements, $401 million for detention basins, $242 million for floodplain land purchases, $184 million (coupled with $500 million in outside funding) for 3,600 home buyouts, $12.5 million for new floodplain mapping, and $1.25 million for a better flood warning system — according to totals the Chronicle’s Zach Despart summed up from the master list of 237 individual projects. Not included: money for a third reservoir, although $750,000 is on the table to help the Army Corps study the possibility of one. Taken together, the $2.5 billion proposal‘s price tag is more than 20 times the Harris County Flood Control District’s annual budget of $120 million. Voting wraps up on Saturday, August 25, the anniversary of Harvey’s arrival in Houston. [Houston Chronicle ($); full list (PDF); previously on Swamplot] Photo of flooding at Creech Elementary School, 4242 S. Mason Rd., Katy:: Breta Gatlin

08/03/18 4:00pm

SCHOOLS ARE NOW BUYING SPECIAL INSURANCE POLICIES IN CASE THEY GET SHOT UP The market for “active-assailant” insurance is alive and well, reports the Wall Street Journal, as more and more private schools, public schools, charters, and universities go on fiscal defense against the threat posed by fire-armed students — who cost districts a lot of money in counseling expenses, crisis management, extra security, and of course lawsuits. (“If you’re a risk manager for a school district, you have to look at it with the same eye that you might look at coverage for a tornado,” says a researcher at the University of South Carolina. “We live in a very litigious United States.”) The policies function as a type of gap insurance, covering expenses not typically included in general liability like funeral costs and death benefits, often up to $250,000 per victim. For smaller schools, premiums range from roughly $1,800 to $1 million, and for larger ones up to $20 million. Just last month, Ohio underwriter McGowan Program Administrators wrote over 60 policies, a representatives tells the WSJ. And of the 300 policies it’s written total, some have already been paid out. [Wall Street Journal; previously on Swamplot] Photo of Santa Fe High School, Santa Fe, Texas: Santa Fe ISD

08/02/18 2:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: DEMOLITION FOR A BETTER FUTURE “When we do not preserve our past, we are able to have a wide open future. A future with more efficient, ecologically congruent buildings. Buildings with modern HVAC, windows, flood control. Tearing down old cool looking buildings is just that. We lose cool looking buildings from another time. I personally live in a renovated old house, and before that lived in another cool-looking old house. I preserved each. I don’t think renovating/preserving has anything to do with the future of either location. So, while the Deco style is great and would be fantastic if someone saw the residual value, it’s not crucial to anything. The market has spoken. If they build an unappealing, out-of-touch new building — the buy side will also speak, and not reward the owner with their business. This is how the world should work. Forcing a property owner through regulation to appreciate the styling of yesteryear is anti-productive. I have a heart a for gray area on this when it comes to public buildings. Then it is owned by the public, and needs to be considered more broadly on how the tax-paying public feels about the continued use/retention of a historic or interesting-looking, dated building. Think City Hall.” [Bo Darley, commenting on Daily Demolition Report: Fannin Flames] Illustration: Lulu

07/30/18 2:15pm

THE EAST DOWNTOWN BLOCK WEST OF TRUCK YARD HAS A NEW OWNER A group connected to Houston developer Ancorian has snatched up nearly the entire block directly west of recently-opened bars Rodeo Goat and Truck Yard in East Downtown, according to documents filed with the county. The quadrant — bounded by Dallas, Lamar, Chartres, and St. Emanuel streets — is where contractor Britain Electric had its facilities, pictured above, for more than 6 decades before moving out to Brittmore Rd. about a mile and a half north of I-10 just over a year ago. All of its buildings are Ancorian’s now (including a few auxiliary ones across the street), along with everything else on the block except 3 parcels fronting Chartres St. on the northeast corner — one of which played host to the former Silver House Theatre performing arts venue. Photo: Yellowpages

07/26/18 3:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: A BLANK CANVAS ON TRAVIS AND COMMERCE “In the meantime, can someone please put a mural on that god-awful concrete wall on the parking garage behind it? It really ruins taking shots of downtown from that angle now.” [Triton, commenting on Injury Lawyers Give Up Waterlogged Abraham Watkins Building’s Ground Floor for Good, Parking Garage Filler Now Slated To Replace Them] Illustration: Lulu

07/23/18 3:30pm

TEXAS ELECTRIC CUSTOMERS ARE ON A RECORD-BREAKING POWER USAGE SPREE Texas customers shattered the state’s previous all-time 71,110 megawatt high for power usage last Wednesday and Thursday, reports the Chronicle’s L.M. Sixel. And today, they’ve done it again: 73,217 megawatts is the current demand, according to ERCOT, the operator that supplies most of the state’s energy. (It’s expected to increase through the late afternoon, peaking at around 5 p.m.) That’s enough juice to power, well, the entire state of Texas during a heatwave. But is it enough to overwhelm the state’s proudly independent power infrastructure? Unlikely, says at least one expert at UT’s Energy Institute. Although 2 NRG subsidiaries did send out emails last week pleading with their customers to ease up on the A/C and take other watt-saving measures. [Houston Chronicle] Photo of electric lines between 59 and Westpark Dr.: Swamplox inbox

07/23/18 9:45am

PASADENA’S TALLEST ABANDONED BUILDING COULD SOON COME CRASHING DOWN A fitting symbol of Space Age industry and finance” — that’s how highly one First Pasadena State Bank brochure spoke of the firm’s new 12-story headquarters on Southmore Ave. after its construction in 1962. (Other local institutions agreed: for a while, its likeness showed up on Pasadena school report cards, reported Lisa Gray) Now, with the bank and all subsequent tenants long gone, the City of Pasadena is insisting in a lawsuit that the building’s owner tear the place down, or reimburse the city for doing so itself, reports the Chronicle. More than 10 year’s worth of code violations testify to the MacKie & Kamrath–designed structure’s unsoundness, claims the city. And a pile of citations issued over a slightly shorter period adds up to more than $65,000 (which officials seek to supplement with $1,000 per day as long as the building’s still standing in its current state). Inside the 2-story lobby, a fountain surrounded by curved glass walls has run dry. But on the outside, it’s still the tallest vacant building in town. [Houston Chronicle; more infoPhoto of 1001 East Southmore Ave.: Patrick Feller [license]

07/17/18 10:00am

HPD HAS NORTH HOUSTON MATTRESS STORE MURDERER IN CUSTODY The manhunt for alleged mattress store killer Jose Gilberto Rodriguez came to an end at N. Eldridge Pkwy. and Wortham Landing Dr. earlier this morning after a brief police chase, reports abc13. Just last night, Chief Art Acevedo identified Rodriguez — a 46-year-old parolee who was released from prison last September — as a suspect in 3 homicides over the last several days. He was believed to be driving a dark Nissan Sentra — Acevedo explained — that he took from his latest victim, an employee of the Mattress1One pictured above at I-45 and Crosstimbers found shot to death in the store yesterday afternoon. Previously on Saturday night, the manager of a Mattress Firm across from the Willowbrook Mall walked into that location’s back office and found a 28-year-old female employee lying dead between 2 mattresses. Between the 2 retail slayings, Rodriguez also allegedly shot and robbed a METRO Lift driver (who’s expected to recover), and earlier last week, killed a 62-year-old woman after breaking into her house on Bent Pine Dr. in Cypress. [abc13] Photo of Mattress1One at 4400 N. Fwy.: Jessica Willey

07/10/18 10:00am

BOBCAT TEDDY’S NEW BCYCLE STATION IS READY TO ROLL The recent docking of a new BCycle station outside the former Jimmy’s turned Bobcat Teddy’s Ice House on the corner of White Oak Dr. and Threlkeld St. brings the total number of bike hubs in the system to around 60. Its installation was supported in part by a fundraiser held at the bar last month during which representatives from Texas Gold Sprint’em — an operator that hosts stationary bike races complete with emcees and accompanying AV equipment — were on hand to organize competition. Now that road-ready vehicles are on-site at the venue, they fill in a gap along White Oak Dr., where no other BCycle station currently exists. [Houston City Planning Department; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Houston City Planning Department