10/20/17 4:45pm

Without providing too much detail on the scope of the accompanying construction (“a remodel the owner wants to do”), KHOU’s Marcelino Benito yesterday interviewed one of the proprietors of Oak Forest coffee house and occasional goat-yoga venue Slowpokes, who along with several customers and neighbors has been protesting landlord Naushad Momin’s apparent plans to chop down 2 large oak trees on site — to add more paving and parking spaces.

The oak trees sit at the southern end of the strip center at 1203 W. 34th St., which faces Alba St., and shade a lawn (pictured at top) adjacent to the Slowpokes patio deck. Chopping down trees to add more parking might appear to be a landlord’s prerogative, despite tenant opposition. Except possibly not in this case:

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Oak Deforesting
10/20/17 2:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: HOW LAST NIGHT’S A$AP MOB SHOW ON THE WHITE OAK MUSIC HALL LAWN MIGHT’VE BROUGHT DOWN THE HOUSE “Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered. WOMH should cut a deal fast to make major sound mitigation improvements before the court and the City shuts them down. People on both sides of I-45 are hopping mad about the concert last night. It is a huge roll of the dice to expect a bunch of jurors to say: ‘Yeah, a big concert venue in the middle of a residential neighborhood is no big deal.’” [Old School, commenting on FEMA Aid Deadline Extended; Pre-Trial Outdoor Shows Can Go On at White Oak Music Hall; Hakeem Olajuwon in the Red Mango Biz] Video clip of last night’s outdoor concert (NSFW): FIRST CLASS BEATS

10/20/17 12:00pm

Swamplot’s sponsor for the day: Houston’s own Central Bank. Thanks for the continued support!

Central Bank has 4 (central) Houston branches available to meet your business or personal needs: in Midtown, the Heights, West Houston, and Post Oak Place.

Central Bank believes that change is essential to its success; the company actively pursues the latest in service, technology, and products. Central Bank aims to know its customers personally and to be their primary business and personal financial resource. The bank’s staff values relationships and strives to be available when you need them.

To learn more about how Central Bank can meet your banking needs, please call any of the following Senior Vice Presidents: Kenny Beard, at 832.485.2376; Bonnie Purvis, at 832.485.2354; Carlos Alvarez, at 832.485.2372; or Ryan Tillman, at 832.485.2307. You can also find out more on the bank’s website.

Swamplot readers are deeply involved in Houston. Become a Swamplot Sponsor of the Day

Sponsor of the Day
10/20/17 10:30am

Here we are in the newly revamped courtyard between Three Allen Center, Two Allen Center, and the building just renamed from One Allen Center to Motiva Plaza. (The new courtyard plaza itself has been given a new name as well: The Acre.) And what have we here? It appears to be a Swamplot reader, snapping a photo, probably to send to the site. Our report: automatically altered course to pass by and avert collision; continued crime detection through infrared and video feed, facial scans; added new license plates to database.

But in that photo, of course, now published above: the same scene, as viewed from the opposite side, with a little less data to accompany. Just showing the new 5-ft.-3-in.-tall Knightscope K5 Autonomous Data Machine, out on security patrol, Downtown.

Photo: Swamplot inbox

The Bots of Allen Center
10/19/17 4:45pm

HOW ALLIGATORS WORKED THEIR WAY INTO THE FIRST NATIONAL BANK OF ALVIN “The First Bank of Alvin has been home to alligators for nearly half a century. In 1969, a rice farmer donated three 6-inch gator hatchlings to the bank, to live in its goldfish pond, according to an Associated Press story, published in 1983. The trio — J. Paul Gator, Mitzi Gator and William Teller Gator — soon grew to be about 7 feet long, and became a major attraction for locals. The goldfish didn’t last long. By the late ’70s, the gators had become such a celebrated part of the bank that when owner A. Guy Crouch made plans to move to a new $4 million facility, he spent $250,000 to build them a habitat: an open courtyard with an in-ground pool and a couple of waterfalls, right at the glassed-in center of the bank’s five-story building. The Alligatrium, he called it.” [Houston Chronicle] Video: waltpinkston

10/19/17 3:30pm

Venturing into the upper reaches of the now officially empty Barker Reservoir near Addicks Clodine Rd. and south of the Audi West Houston dealership on I-10, reader Kyle Steck finds a mostly dry landscape. (The pictured lakes in the images are features shown in maps of the area.)

“In a few weeks it will turn from brown dead apocalypse to green wonderland,” he predicts.

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After the Watering
10/19/17 12:00pm

Sponsoring Swamplot today: personal coach Cricket Buchler. Thanks for the support!

If you’re looking to make some changes in your life, or just searching for a creative spark for a jump-start, consider a 90-minute personal coaching session with coach Cricket Buchler. An experienced corporate trainer who has helped top executives, Hollywood celebrities, and employees in a range of industries address personal and professional development issues, Cricket also works one-on-one, guiding clients to explore and unlock possibilities and design plans to realize change, and coaching them through their journey toward an intentional life.

A coaching session can also be an inspiring gift for anyone who is looking to take the next step forward in life, work, or relationships, but feels a bit stuck as to what next steps might look like. You’ll find a sampling of testimonials from Cricket’s clients on her website, along with more information about coaching sessions.

Want to reach Swamplot’s large group of fans? Become a Swamplot Sponsor of the Day.

Sponsor of the Day
10/19/17 11:00am

Here are a few shots of 195 Yale St. just south of I-10 from yesterday afternoon, showing workers a few letters away from spelling out the long-delayed LA Fitness at the Yale Street Market shopping center. The sign, which faces the freeway, was completed by the end of the day:

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Fitn In
10/18/17 4:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: A WATERSHED APPROACH TO PAYING FOR FLOOD CONTROL “. . . I think that if we are going to be realistic about the way that we finance flood control, that the core of such a plan needs to take a page from how flood insurance gets underwritten. Everybody pays a property tax to a watershed-specific flood control entity, but that tax is adjusted based on the elevation of their first-floor living area relative to the Base Flood Elevation. If you’re more than a few feet above it, your tax is very low. If you live more than a few feet below it . . . you’re probably going to pay so much in taxes that it’ll become immediately economic to raise your structure or demolish it. Right away, the inventory and value of property subject to flood risk is reduced; and what’s left that is tolerably at-risk pays for its own reduced need for risk mitigation. And . . . if we’re too gun shy to pull the trigger on a plan like this, which would totally wipe out a lot of people’s equity in vast swaths of real estate, okay well that’s where people not at very much risk should be expected to pay more taxes even without receiving very much in the way of benefits. Yeah, I’m basically proposing Obamacare for flood control in Houston, but only as a humane alternative which reveals a startling truth: that the big money for this sort of thing is unlikely to come from up on high, from the feds or the state government (and it shouldn’t IMO). Financing this stuff locally is going to hurt. One thing is very very clear: whatever kinds of administrative bodies are created or re-jiggered to deal with this issue have got to address legacy development first and foremost. We need a plan to cope with what is already on the ground. This is not something that we can just build ourselves out of, going forward, with stricter rules for new development, feel the catharsis, hold hands and sing Kumbaya, and call it a day.” [TheNiche, commenting on An 8th Wonder Distillery; New Bridges for Brays Bayou; How Apartment Buildings Get On Your Nerves]

10/18/17 3:30pm

ADDICKS AND BARKER RESERVOIRS ARE NOW COMPLETELY EMPTY AND READY FOR THE NEXT FLOOD All water stuck behind the Addicks and Barker dams has now been released, the Army Corps of Engineers announced late yesterday. That means that for the first time since Hurricane Harvey-triggered rains began filling the 24,520-acre reservoirs, they are now dry and available for use again as parkland. The last bits of water actually left the Addicks and Barker reservoirs last Thursday, October 12th, and Friday the 13th respectively; the announcement was delayed, a public-affairs officer tells reporter Amelia Brust, in order to “receive legal guidance.” The Corps, writes Brust, “is now a defendant in multiple lawsuits brought by surrounding property owners who say their homes and businesses were flooded as a result of the dams’ releases.” [Community Impact] Photo of American Shooting Centers and Millie Bush Dog Park off Westheimer Pkwy. in Barker Reservoir, flooded after Memorial Day, 2015: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers [license]

10/18/17 1:00pm

A sandwich update is in progress along Dairy Ashford directly opposite Fern Dr., across the street from Stratford High School and the Spring Branch ISD athletics complex. The Subway sandwich shop sandwiched between the shuttered locations of a printing company and a small used-car dealership has now been torn down after a brief Harvey reprieve. A reader sends in the above series of photos panning the combined and now-cleared 1.1-acre site at 851 Dairy Ashford, where a new 4,640–sq.-ft. Panera Bread building is scheduled to rise.

Photos: Swamplot inbox

Up from Subway
10/18/17 12:00pm

Our sponsor today on Swamplot is ASCOT — also known as the Alcohol Servers Counsel of Texas. Thanks for supporting us!

If you work in a restaurant, or in any kind of food-service or food-prep operation, you’re probably already familiar with state requirements for training in food-handling safety. And if you work in a bar or for an alcohol distributor, you probably already know why it’s so important that everyone who has anything to do with selling, dispensing, or delivering any kind of alcoholic beverage complete state-certified training in alcohol safety.

Since 1988, ASCOT has been licensed by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission to provide TABC-certified alcohol-server training programs. That makes ASCOT one of the oldest and most established food and beverage certification programs in the country — as well as Texas’s longest-running provider of training in this important field. And ASCOT has been a preferred source for training in food handling in Houston since 2004.

If you’re responsible for making sure new employees are trained promptly and well in these particular areas, you can be sure they’re getting the exact program they need — in the most helpful format possible — by sending them to ASCOT. ASCOT offers its training courses both in a classroom setting and online, in both English and Spanish.

Use the discount code ASCOT on the alcoholservers.com website and the online alcohol-server training course works out to just $9.89 per class. The food-handling class costs just $7.00 — no discount code is needed.

ASCOT’s server-training program is certified by the TABC, and its food-handler program is ANSI Accredited as meeting the ASTM E2659-09 standard. For more details, or to sign up, head over to the ASCOT website — alcoholservers.com — or call 713.922.1223.

Show your support for Swamplot. Become a Sponsor of the Day.

Sponsor of the Day
10/18/17 10:30am

HOW A CANADIAN PENSION FUND FOUND ITS WAY TO SWALLOWING A BUNCH OF HOUSTON OFFICE BUILDINGS Ralph Bivins explains how it came to pass that the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, with its now-completed purchase of REIT Parkway, became the owner of 8.7 million sq. ft. of office space in Houston, including Greenway Plaza, CityWest Place, San Felipe Plaza, the Phoenix Tower, and Post Oak Central: “At one time Cousins and Parkway were separate companies with sizable holdings in Houston. The Houston office market tanked when oil fell from a high of $107 a barrel in June 2014 to less than $30 a barrel in early 2016. Houston energy firms laid off thousands of employees and vacated huge chunks of office space. Publicly traded firms with significant portfolios of Houston office space were under pressure. Security analysts criticized them. So Cousins and Parkway merged, all of the Houston properties were stripped out and placed into a new company, Parkway Inc. Now, the oil markets have stabilized. Houston’s office market is still soft and vacancies are high, but it appears to be on the road to recovery.” [Realty News Report] Photo of Greenway Plaza: Brent Oldbury, via Swamplot Flickr pool