It’s a new era for Houston.
And with this year’s Swamplot Awards for Houston Real Estate, we aim to identify the Best Sign of the New Houston.
Based on your prescient nominations, we’ve compiled the official ballot. But what’s the most defining sign of where the Bayou City’s bound? You tell us!
You can vote for your favorite by leaving a comment below this post or through email, Facebook, or Twitter. You can do all 4, too — as long as you follow these rules. That includes one minor tweak to this year’s awards — we’ll only be counting votes submitted via the first 2 methods from voters who’ve signed up for the Swamplot email list. (If you haven’t done so already, you can join it through this link or the box at the top left of this page.) Just don’t forget to tell us why the neighborhood you selected is getting your vote.
Now allow us to introduce the official nominees for the Best Sign of the New Houston:
1. The Intersection of W. 19th St. and N. Shepherd Dr., Houston Heights. “Just a few years ago, this intersection had only empty strip centers, closed up tote-the-note car dealerships, and greasy independent auto repair shops. Soon, this area will have 4 new restaurants (Ka Sushi, Southern Goods, Bernadine’s, and Hunky Dory), and a donut shop from the Houston StrEATs guys. All in addition to Fat Cat Creamery, a new hair salon, a store for gamers, and one of those booze and paint a van Gogh places. Almost all of the redevelopment is from local folks doing new and interesting things in repurposed buildings and a new build that is actually keeping a mature tree on the lot. This area is taking off without the usual stripmallers (nail salon, Quiznos, cell phone store and dry cleaners), drugstores, and fast food chains that seem to always gobble up any available land with a high traffic count inside the loop. This is the ‘new Houston’ that all the magazines are writing about. Creative young entrepreneurs responding to the demands brought about by gentrification of Inner Loop neighborhoods and adding more and more value to the neighborhood.”
2. The Price of Oil. “The best sign of the new Houston is the same as the old Houston. The differences might be attributed to direction. What are the most defining characteristics of where Houston is heading? Fracking technology and $100+bbl oil, leading to a great influx of new, well-educated young people attracted to high-paying jobs in our energy industry, driving up demand for housing, restaurants, and bars, especially in Inner Loop neighborhoods. What’s the clearest sign of that direction? Price of oil drops 40 percent in 6 months, energy companies cut back on R&D spending in 2015, and no more young people from out of state moving into $2,000 a month ‘luxury’ apartments in the Inner Loop, or dropping $300 in a night on ‘bottle service‘ at trendy clubs.”
3. Buffalo Bayou Beautification. “Houston finally woke up and realized it had the makings of a lovely greenway where once only bats pooped and garbage collected.”
“For most of my 35 years here (‘old’ Houston), we’ve treated the stretch of Buffalo Bayou between downtown and Shepherd Dr. as a trash dump. I’m glad city planners have finally recognized this area as the urban jewel it is by adding pedestrian bridges, lighting, more public art, and better hiking and biking paths. Can’t wait to see the finished product!”
“Houston is becoming more walkable and bike-able by the minute with its newly restored parks that link our bayous and neighborhoods together. Places you could never walk before have been opened up by new bridges, new sidewalks and new bikeways, something that truly makes Houston more livable.“
4. No Murders in the Fifth Ward. “Earlier this year it was reported that no murders took place in the Fifth Ward during 2013. None! Which was 4 less than the Heights and 5 less than Montrose and Midtown. It appears that the no-offing streak was broken over this past summer, but the statistics show a lot of changes have been going on in this close-in neighborhood.”
5. We Heart Houston Sign, I-10 feeder road near Patterson St., Old West End. “The best sign of the New Houston is literally a sign. More specifically, it’s that huge ‘We Heart Houston’ sign sculptor David Adickes put up on his property by the side of the Katy Fwy. inbound near Rice Military. I actually saw someone being photographed in front of it last week. That sign confirms that for the first time ever, people are actually proud to be from here or to claim it as home — and that we’re ready to go public with it in a big way.”
6. The Construction Crane. “They’re visible everywhere. Currently out of my office window by Discovery Green I bear witness to 9 whole city blocks under construction. Add in the ones in the Energy Corridor, at the new ExxonMobil campus, along I-10, in the Galleria, in various Inner Loop spots and wherever else they have sprouted up and you certainly see signs of the ‘new’ Houston. Or the ‘old’ Houston getting a facelift. You choose.”
7. Big Urban Proposals. “Various people in the community are coming up with big ideas to create large-scale public spaces in this city, and they’re bringing them to public attention. The Houston Needs a Swimming Hole campaign has almost reached its Kickstarter goal in just 2 weeks and the Pierce Skypark team is making its way around town to drum up support for its plan to turn Pierce Elevated into a park in the sky. Instead of waiting for the wheels of City Hall to churn up an idea and funding, people are showing confidence that there are enough like-minded individuals to create momentum for multi-acre greenspace projects inside Loop 610.”
8. Ghost Bikes. “Our attitude toward bicyclists seems to be shifting, which I wouldn’t have predicted 10 years ago. Sure, Houston drivers are still often rude and often act recklessly around bikes, but maybe their more murderous sentiments aren’t as warmly received.”
9. HISD School Construction and Consolidation. “The new Houston may be pretty close to the old Houston. But if there’s an inflection point in any particular long-term trend, it might have to do with HISD schools. The bond money is getting spent, closures and consolidations are under way along with a fair bit of new construction, and demographically there are some pockets of notable improvement.”
So which is it? Time to sign in with your comments! Let’s see those votes!
- How To Vote in the 2014 Swamplot Awards for Houston Real Estate [Swamplot]
- Swamplot Awards Ballots 2014 [Swamplot]
Photos: Re:Vive Development (1901 N. Shepherd Dr., Houston Heights); Russell Hancock (tank farm at LyondellBasell Houston Refinery); Marc Longoria (Buffalo Bayou Park); Reliant Energy (Opening of Reliant Energy Solar Splash Park, 3711 Lyons Ave., Fifth Ward); elnina (Houston sign); Russell Hancock (cranes); Pierce Skypark; Houston Needs a Swimming Hole; Dave Einsel/Houston Independent School District (New High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, Caroline St. and Rusk St., Downtown); Dane Schiller (ghost bike for Chelsea Norman, W. Gray St. at Waugh Dr., North Montrose)