02/16/18 4:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: A CLOSER GROCERY QUARTERS ON WESTHEIMER “Four grocery stores in the same mile of West Alabama is a pretty good selection. Reminds me of the Westheimer Supermarket Battle Royale near the Westchase area, where Fiesta, Phoenicia, HEB, Sprouts, Trader Joe’s, Walmart, Target, and Whole Foods are vying for your food dollars in a 2-mile stretch.” [slugline, commenting on The Great W. Alabama Grocery Store Corridor] Photo of Phoenicia Specialty Foods, 12141 Westheimer Rd.: Farrah A.

01/12/18 3:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHY IT PAYS TO RAISE THOSE FLOODED MEYERLAND HOMES “Also, let’s remember that flood insurance pays out $250k for structure and $100k for contents max (and these Meyerland homes are pricey, so maxing out the payment is possible). So, paying $350k to raise a house to avoid a future claim is — long-term — a better use of money. Yes, the amount itself is a shock out of context. Yes, it borders on ridiculous that this is related to the 2015 flood. Yes, the tax base would benefit more from paying to knock down the house and build new million dollar homes, but this is a better solution than buying the properties and removing them from the tax base.” [travelguy, commenting on What Houston Will Spend To Raise a Few Floody Houses in Meyerland] Photo of 5150 Braesheather Dr., to be elevated: HAR

01/11/18 3:30pm

LOCAL VICTIMS OF THE NATIONWIDE SAM’S CLUB CLOSINGS: SOUTH LOOP, ELDRIDGE PKWY., NEW CANEY The Sam’s Club that serves as the terminus of Metro’s red line closed abruptly today along with one other Houston store in the shopping center on Westheimer at Eldridge Pkwy., and one in New Caney. The South Loop store occupies a 14-acre parcel of land west of the AutoNation car dealership and north of the Fanin South Metro stop. Opened last year, the New Caney store was the newest of the 3 to close. The shut downs come as part of 63 nationwide that parent company Walmart announced today. 11 stores are still open across the Houston area. [KHOU] Photo: Jason Miles

01/11/18 1:00pm

WHAT HOUSTON WILL SPEND TO RAISE A FEW FLOODY HOUSES IN MEYERLAND Houston City Council approved construction yesterday to raise 5 Meyerland houses — a subset of the 42 Houston homes FEMA paid the city $14.8 million to elevate back in 2015. One of those 42 houses has already been jacked up and 8 more are currently within the levitation process, according to the Chronicle’s Rebecca Elliott and John D. Harden. The costs to raise the 5 homes now slated for elevation 12 ft. above flood level — which include a few extra thousand dollars to put residents up in temporary lodging — range from $218,700 to $416,000 per property. In total, the bill comes to $1.6 million. Harris County appraises the total value of properties themselves from $125,906 to $507,152, with the value of improvements within that ranging from $34,700 to $201,200. One of the houses — 5150 Braesheather Dr. — shown above as it appeared before Harvey, is currently listed for sale. [Houston Chronicle; more info (items 24–28)Photo of 5150 Braesheather Dr.: HAR  

12/11/17 1:30pm

WHO OWNS THE ESPLANADES ON NORTH AND SOUTH BOULEVARDS? The president of the Broadacres Homeowners Association, Cece Fowler, tells the Houston Chronicle’s Diane Cowen last weekend that the neighborhood’s esplanades, as well as the park along Parkway Dr., are owned by the HOA. However, Cowen says that according to the City of Houston, the esplanades are part of the city’s Adopt-An-Esplanade program, making them public right-of-way. The dispute continues: “Fowler said that she and her board are conducting a title search to prove their ownership. She said the neighborhood has maintained and financed the esplanades and green space from the beginning.” That maintenance took a new turn last Thursday when 11 signs prohibiting photoshoots were erected on the esplanades. According to Fowler, the gatherings had become more than a nuisance: “up to 40 to 50” were occurring per week beneath the canopies of oaks that line the boulevards between Mandel St. and Parkway Dr. The 26 homeowners that make up the community discussed mitigation strategies like putting in speed bumps, adding a gate to the neighborhood, or hiring full-time security personnel before settling on the signs as a more cordial means of discouraging shutter-happy visitors. Now that they’re up, residents hope they’ll keep out flashbulbs as well as the props that sometimes come with them: “Fowler said some have brought in sofas and bookcases and one group drove a Jeep onto the esplanade, damaging the grass, brick sidewalk and sprinkler system. They throw confetti onto the ground and release Mylar balloons into the trees. And all bring photography equipment and crews that hang around for hours.”  [Houston Chronicle; previously on SwamplotPhoto: Swamplot inbox

03/25/13 10:00am

NOW ON YOUR MOBILE DEVICE: WHY YOU CAN’T BREATHE A team comprising researchers at UH, Air Alliance Houston, and the American Lung Association have launched OzoneMap, an app that “monitors chemical weather,” reports John Metcalfe of The Atlantic blog Cities. And whether the app helps explain your coughing fit or alerts you to the chance of a really pretty toxic sunset, the best part is that it’s only available in Houston! And why Houston, of all places? Besides the industrial flares, that is? Here’s Metcalfe: “The Houston/Baytown/Huntsville region comes in eighth place for most ozone-polluted cities in America, as ranked by the American Lung Association. Persistently sunny weather, a battalion of petrochemical facilities and scads of fuming cars on the road make Houston a nightmare for anyone who’s chemically sensitive. For these folks, walking outside is like playing a lower-stakes version of Russian roulette, with 30 to 40 days of the year fogged with hazardous levels of ozone.” [Cities; previously on Swamplot] Map: Cities

03/21/13 4:45pm

ROGER GOODELL: 2,500 EXTRA PARKING SPACES DOES SOUND PRETTY GOOD The study paid for by the Texans and the Rodeo that found the Astrodome could be torn down and replaced with 2,500 parking spots for $29 million — the one Harris County Judge Ed Emmett said he’s putting on his shelf — has apparently made its way to the desk of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who seems to have crunched the numbers in light of Houston’s impending bid to host the 2017 Super Bowl. Goodell, reports the Houston Chronicle‘s John McClain, says he doesn’t want to get involved in the dome demo drama right before getting involved:That issue is for the community to decide, but I think having an extra 2,500 parking spaces would enhance Houston’s bid.” [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Russell Hancock

03/21/13 10:30am

THE END COMING FOR MARFRELESS IN RIVER OAKS And the low-light, low-key make-out den behind that signless blue door in the River Oaks Shopping Center says it’s closing at the end of March in a press release quoted here in the Houston Chronicle: “Marfreless’s owners have been trying to do whatever they could to keep the bar operational but other entities involved weren’t budging in regards to the rising cost of doing business, making it impossible to keep the business at this location.” Serving martinis and discreetly turning the other way as couples have gone at it for 40 years, Marfreless says it’s looking for another location. [Houston Chronicle] Photo: Flickr user jmcgeough

03/20/13 10:00am

JUDGE EMMETT NOT IMPRESSED BY TEXANS, RODEO PLAN TO DEMOLISH THE ASTRODOME A study paid for by the Houston Texans and the Livestock Show and Rodeo has determined that tearing down the Astrodome will cost a hair more than $29 million, reports Fox 26, but Harris County judge Ed Emmett doesn’t seem all that moved by the study’s finding: “Unless there’s something there I didn’t see when it came across my desk, all I saw were two or three options for how to demolish it and turn it into a parking lot. I know that’s their position. I’m not denigrating it, but that doesn’t really move the ball anywhere.” And what’s Emmett going to do with the study? “Read it and put it on a shelf. . . . It’s not meaningful at all.” [Fox 26; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Candace Garcia

03/19/13 4:30pm

UNMARKED GRAVES UNCOVERED IN DICKINSON AFRICAN-AMERICAN CEMETERY Over the weekend, volunteers clearing brush and whacking weeds at the Magnolia Cemetery, the African-American cemetery between League City and Dickinson near FM 646 and Highway 3, found hundreds of unmarked graves that date back before the Emancipation Proclamation. Now, reports abc13’s Erik Barajas, the Galveston County Historical Commission is working to identify the graves as the cemetery seeks state designation and protection as a historic site: Pastor William H. King III of Greater New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, behind which sits Magnolia Cemetery, tells Barajas: “‘There are slaves buried here. There are people from World War I, World War II, school teachers, people who worked in the community. . . . We want to make sure.'” [abc13] Photo: USGenWeb

03/19/13 2:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: CHURCH OF THE SHUTTERED WALMART “Conversion into Goodwill and flea markets has a kind of internal logic. Can’t say the idea that school district administrators are overflowing into defunct Walmarts soothes me all that much, but that’s a personal foible. I expect before it’s all over a fair number of Walmarts will house, for a couple hours a week anyway, new-style churches for people who are ‘broken and hurting.’ Other uses might be these feeding sites I’ve been hearing about and even college. An old Walmart’s as good a place as any to earn your degree in leadership. . . . ” [luciaphile, commenting on And That Makes Two: Construction Begins on Idylwood Walmart]

03/19/13 12:00pm

MACGREGOR PARK’S MLK MEMORIAL TREE ‘DOESN’T LOOK GOOD’ Last spring, Metro spent $100,000 to relocate this tree out of the way of the expanding Southeast Line. Planted in 1983 near Old Spanish Trail and MLK Blvd., the tree was meant to stand in for an MLK memorial that’s still to come. While Metro crews worked in May to transplant the tree a few hundred feet away to a site inside MacGregor Park, Black Heritage Society president Ovide Duncantell chained himself to it to make sure everything went off without a hitch. But now the 30-year-old tree’s “strugging to survive,” reports the Houston Chronicle‘s Robert Stanton: “‘The tree doesn’t look good to me,'” Duncantell tells Stanton. “‘I’m not in a position to say that tree is dying, but I’m hoping like hell that it’s not. The city . . . and Metro have a commitment to our organization that the tree would continue to stand there as a sentinel until that statue is completed. They should have been watering the tree all along, and this wouldn’t be a question. . . . Somebody fumbled the ball.'” Stanton adds that Metro has been watering it through an irrigation system and said it would “step up monitoring.” [Houston Chronicle] Photo: KHOU

03/18/13 4:45pm

MOVING DAY AT MARYLAND MANOR A Swamplot reader sends in this update on the progress at 1717 Bissonnet, where the Maryland Manor apartments are still standing in the way of the Ashby Highrise: “I live around the block . . . and it looks like all the tenants are out. We have noticed fewer and fewer cars in the parking lot, but as of this weekend they are down to only 3-5 cars. We saw multiple moving trucks all weekend and lots of abandoned furniture at the dumpster. So I am guessing the demo is starting soon.” [Swamplot inbox; previously on Swamplot] Photo of Maryland Manor: Candace Garcia

03/18/13 2:00pm

POOP SCIENCE COMES TO FAIRMONT MUSEUM DISTRICT APARTMENTS And one of the “amenities” that the doubling-in-size Fairmont Museum District wasn’t ready to announce would seem to be that poop detection service picking up steam in Dallas: Houston Chronicle’s Carol Christian reports that the Richmond and Dunlavy apartment complex that’s right beside Ervan Chew Park has already asked tenants to submit their pets’ DNA to hasten the resolution of these mistakes most foul: The main reason we decided to try [PooPrints] was because we had a specific issue on one of our floors with accidents,” Fairmont manager Molly Kalish tells Christian. Still, the whodunit service seems to have a few bumps, since it provides no way to sniff out a motive or track a rogue agent: “ . . . DNA testing did not identify any [Fairmont] tenant’s dog as the recent accident-prone culprit,” reports Christian, “suggesting that a visitor might have been responsible.” [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo of Fairmont Museum District: Allyn West

03/15/13 1:30pm

DNA TESTING HELPING TEXAS APARTMENTS DELIVER JUSTICE TO UNSCOOPED DOG POOP Up in Dallas, reports Click2Houston, dozens of apartment complexes are requiring tenants to file their dog’s DNA. That way, any poop that’s not cleaned up can be directed to the proper authorities — that’d be PooPrints, which uses as-seen-on-TV crime-fighting technology to test the waste for DNA and finger any owner who’s not minding his dog’s business. PooPrints CEO Cedric Moses says that his company doesn’t have any contracts yet in Houston, but he has a distributor headquartered in League City who has a nose to the ground. [Click2Houston] Photo: Houston Pooper Scoopers