The ‘Where Are They Now?’ Award: The 2016 Official Ballot

Unexpected comebacks and inglorious fade-outs abounded in your nominations for this next category in the 2016 Swamplot Awards for Houston Real Estate: the “Where Are They Now?” Award. Thanks to everyone who contributed! Now, it’s time to whittle down the list to that single winner.

Swamplot Awards for Houston Real Estate Ribbon LogoThe nominees for this award are people, places, and things which have made a noteworthy transition of one variety or another. As with this year’s other categories, there are 4 ways to vote for your favorite nominee  — and if you really want to give your favorite a boost, you can do all 4. Make your voice heard by leaving a comment below, by sending us an email, or by shouting out your choices to Facebook and the Twittersphere — and, of course, by getting your friends in on the action to help. Be sure to send your votes in by 5 PM on Tuesday, December 27th.

Any questions? Read up on the complete voting guidelines, if so. Now, on to the nominees for the 2016 “Where Are They Now?” Award:


Abel Motors, 2012 N. Shepherd, Houston Heights, 77008Mellow Mushroom, 1919 N. Shepherd Dr., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008

1. The section of N. Shepherd Dr. between I-10 and 610, Houston Heights. A shift from declining dealership strip to foodie enclave: “Many folks suspected the tote-the-note car lots along N. Shepherd would eventually move out, as commercial property taxes shot up. But would the corridor transition smoothly from auto lots to strip malls, packed with the usual array of nail salons, cell phone stores, mattressiers, and build-a-sandwich chains? While a few of those popped up, much of the current redevelopment is instead going toward high-ish-end restaurant spaces (both local and imported), artisanal sugar shops, and craft-focused bars private clubs.”


First Church of Christ the Scientist, 1720 Main St., Downtown, Houston, TX 77002The Spire Club logo, 1720 Main St., Downtown, Houston, 77002First Church of Christ the Scientist, 1720 Main St., Downtown, Houston, TX 77002

2. First Church of Christ, Scientist, 1720 Main St., Downtown. That turquoise 60’s sanctuary has picked up a decidedly different line of work, and a liquor license: “The Mod-ish Brutal-ish downtown Christian Science church was one of the last buildings by Houston architect Milton Foy Martin to survive largely unmuddled. The spot appeared to be heading toward demolition when it hit the market last December — which got it a shoutout from Annise Parker before the anonymous cash buyer closed on the property. The early permitting details that slipped out after the sale called the new project moving into the space a reception hall, but current marketing materials ‘fess up and call it a nightclub: Spire, owned by some of the Clé bar people, is supposed to open any week now.”


3. Michael Pollack. From Gulfton apartment teevee spots to the bigger leagues: “He was the well-mustached king of the short-lived mid-80’s southwest Houston apartment renaissance, made famous by those VCR-in-the-pool commercials for Colonial House before it became Lantern Village. Now he’s a well-established real estate developer in Mesa, Arizona, sticking his name on buildings all over the southwest.”


The Cistern, Buffalo Bayou Park near Sabine St. at Memorial Dr., Houston, 770072iPM009 rendered in Buffalo Bayou Cistern

4. Abandoned City Water Reservoir, Buffalo Bayou Park. This place made the jump from creepy bayou basement to earning notice on the international art scene: “After passing 90 years almost entirely unseen (what with being underground and all), decades of disuse (thanks to an unfindable leak) and unfulfilled plans for demolition by the city, the reservoir has been scanned, renovated, and repurposed into one of the most interesting publicly accessible spaces in the city. It’s currently going by the grander nickname The Cistern, and hosting installation art.”


Landry's Proposed Post Oak Hotel Complex, 1600 West Loop South, Galleria, Houston


5. Tilman Fertitta. From billion-dollar buyer to Billion Dollar Buyer: “Two years ago, Fertitta went on Bloomberg TV and declared the impending real estate apocalypse. A year later he broke ground on a huge development [rendering above] on 610 near the Galleria. CNBC was so impressed by his complete swing and a miss at predicting the real estate market that they gave him his own reality show. Now he’s hiring football coaches, I hear.”


Bayport Cruise Terminal

6. Bayport Cruise Terminal, 4700 Cruise St, Pasadena. The fall from hypothetical tourist destination to aftermarket auto shop: “The one-and-only Ship Channel cruise port came together for roughly $108 million, all told — but the spot picked up only a few quick gigs after Ike, then sat empty for nearly 5 years. The terminal finally (with a little grease to the wheels) landed its first steady job as the Gulf Coast home of Norwegian and Princess Cruise cruise lines, who started operating from Pasadena in 2013. But by mid-2016, both companies had pulled out for good. In the wake of the snubbing, the Port Authority has let the building take on some less glamorous clientele — the first shipment of cars for Auto Warehousing’s new aftermarket mod operation at the facility should be arriving this month.”


Former Barbara Jordan Post Office, 401 Franklin St., Downtown, Houston, 77002

7. Barbara Jordan Post Office, 401 Franklin St., Downtown. Ain’t no party like a decommissioned government office midrise party: “The old downtown post office is making a hell of a transformation — it’ll be hosting a trendy art-and-music festival later this month as the whole thing gears up to be redeveloped into a mixed-use entertainment complex. Not bad for a building that was supposed to be knocked down.”


Which of these nominees will take top honor? You tell us — voting starts now!

Images: Buffalo Bayou Partnership (Cistern), Jean C. Giallorenzo (rendering of Rain: Magdalena Fernández at the Houston Cistern), Ricky M. (Mellow Mushroom), Gensler/Landry’s (rendering of The Post Oak), Bloomberg TV (Tilman Fertitta), Post HTX (former downtown post office), Bayport Cruise Parking (Bayport terminal), Spire (Spire logo), Swamplot inbox (all others)

Videos: mattmo1 (top), Mesa-11 (bottom)

The 2016 Swampies

22 Comment

  • Tough choice, this one! Going for #4, the Cistern, as just about the most peculiar and unlikely thing.

    In the long-term or bigger picture, if left as-is, the cistern may end up no more significant than anything listed at; it’s more a monument to engineering than anything else. Still, I enjoyed the tour at $2 a head.

    I look forward to the light show and any future ideas; I think it’s got promise as a well-hidden and oddball art installation, which would definitely put it in good company in Houston (Orange Show, Beer Can House…).

    How do we end up with all these weird things? Is it something in the water?

  • Bayport Cruise Terminal was a boondoggle for someone, probably the construction company that built it but not for the tax payers that funded it.

  • north shepherd. you wanted a quick car this was well known as the spot for a long time. that’s totally no more.

  • The Cistern is my pick—amazing repurpose! But the Christian Science Church deserves honorable mention—amazingly bizarre repurpose.

  • Going with number 1, the North Shepherd transformation. A very positive transition. But an eclectic category; no easy choices here.

  • Bayport. If you proposed $108 million for an affordable housing development in Houston, everyone would circle City Hall with pitchforks and torches and it would never get built.

  • There’s not really a Mellow Mushroom inside the loop off Shepherd, is there? I thought there was only somehwere up in Spring.
    Enjoyed eating there in Mobile.

  • 4 – the Cistern

  • Joel, yes. I think it’s near 19 th and Shepherd

  • #1, North Shepherd. Pizaro’s is still my #1 in my heart, but having a Cane Rosso in walkable distance has made me stray more than once…

  • City Reservoir

  • #1, the North Shepherd transformation. There’s less visible blight produced by row after row of used vehicles.

  • Glad to see our mod-ish bru-tish past being preserved in the form of the Jordan post office. What a great way to reclaim an old property. The buzz around Day and Night is probably enough to get potential lessees salivating about opening up in an old post office. Cannot wait to see its final form. Shout out to the former church for transitioning from sanctuary to secular.

  • #4. Cistern

  • Number 4. It may make an interesting restaurant space in the future.

  • #4 ‘Discovered’ art space. Still haven’t been but it’s on my short list.

  • My vote is for #7 – the Barbara Jordan Post Office. Great idea to begin hosting art/entertainment events ahead of the site being redone for that exact purpose. They are building a following and expectation for what the site will be well-ahead. Houston is growing up and starting to “think some things through” (e.g., “new” Convention Center planning).

  • #3 man this takes me back to the day!!!

  • #4 for the repurposed Cistern.

    I’d hold out on giving the Shepherd transition this honor. Maybe in 5 years the nomination might pop around here again. The 19th St. intersection developments are a bit of a fad and might lack sticking power. There’s been quite a bit of turnover through the years, east of Shepherd on 19th and it’ll likely happen west of the intersection, in the future.