We are now ready to announce the official nominees for the 4th category in this year’s Swampies. Which one of them is most deserving of the “Only in Houston” Award?
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The nominees for the “Only in Houston” Award are . . .
1. The Continuing Battle over the Ashby Highrise, Boulevard Oaks. “If at first you don’t succeed, try and try and try and try and try and try and try and try and try and try again! The city finally approved construction plans for the Southampton-area 23-story residential tower in August, on the 11th attempt — after developers Kevin Kirton and Matthew Morgan of Buckhead Investment Partners agreed to add a large truck-turnaround driveway facing Bissonnet St., slightly reduce the number of units, and cut out 15,000 sq. ft. of commercial space from the project — including their own executive offices. But the developers want to build their original design. After an appeals board and city council both turned down that request, one of them admitted that they had never been serious about building the revised design, and had only made the changes to see if the city would approve anything they submitted. Chances are we’ll see y’all in court next year!”
2. Spec’s on Washington Ave., Camp Logan. “Back in 2007, owner John Rydman had sent notice to nearby Memorial Elementary School and noted on his permit application that he was hoping to open a new Spec’s liquor store near the Westcott roundabout, only 675 ft. away from the school. The store opened the following year after the city granted it a temporary permit to sell alcohol in that location. But in March of this year, the Harris County Attorney’s office filed suit against the chain for operating closer to the school than the legal limit. After filing and then dropping a countersuit, Spec’s closed the store in September, but the original lawsuit is still pending.”
3. The Decline and Fall of Wilshire Village, Lancaster Place. “Doesn’t everybody know most of this story already? How about this angle: The eviction notices tenants received last January were addressed to the decaying yellow-brick garden apartments’ ‘reported occupants,’ and came from Matthew Dilick, a man most residents had never heard of before. Meanwhile, Jay Cohen, the person tenants had been paying rent to for decades continued to tell residents that he was still the owner, and that he would find a way for them to stay. (If residents had only read a couple old newspaper stories, they might have learned that Matthew Dilick had claimed that he’d gained control of the property at least 4 years earlier.) How was the impasse resolved? The city building official showed up to shut the place down.”
4. The Grand Parkway Through the Katy Prairie. “For a while, it looked like construction of the Katy-to-Cypress segment of the Grand Parkway would jump into high gear with a promised boost of $181 million in federal stimulus funds because it was a “shovel ready” project. But that was before county officials realized that conservation groups and the sprawl-hating set might actually demand environmental studies and other delays of their ready-to-go plan to run a 4-lane tollway through a wild expanse of undeveloped Katy Prairie. Will this thing be built with bird-feeder roads?”
5. The Strip Center Recital Hall of Highway 59, Upper Kirby. “Pause for a moment before you begin the Scherzo. Look up from that Hamburg Steinway Model C grand piano, past your audience, out the back window of the recital hall inside the Dowling Music store. Freeway traffic will seem to stand still.”
6. The Rogue Parking Lot of Bayou Woods. “Spurred to act by an appalling lack of parking space on the 4.1-acre lot surrounding his 26,638 sq.-ft. mock-French castle and attendant outbuildings, not-so-voluntarily retired insurance executive Stephen Way had workers build for him a stately and tastefully landscaped parking lot — in the Carnarvon St. traffic median in front of his gated compound. Sadly, Way’s neighbors didn’t appreciate his largesse — or the traffic bumps he also installed nearby.”
Which one of these nominees for the award do you most appreciate?
- How To Vote in the 2009 Swamplot Awards for Houston Real Estate [Swamplot]
- How To Vote a Second Time in the 2009 Swamplot Awards for Houston Real Estate — Using Twitter [Swamplot]
- Swamplot Awards Ballots 2009 [Swamplot]
Photos: Buckhead Investment Partners (Ashby Highrise), Trip to the Outhouse (Spec’s), Swamplot inbox (Wilshire Village and Dowling Music), Flickr user kinjotx (Katy prairie) West University Examiner (Carnarvon St. parking lot)