07/16/18 10:00am

LAST NIGHT’S ROOFTOP SMOKE SHOW AT THE SUSANNE APARTMENTS Update, 2 p.m.: A spokesperson for The Susanne’s owner, the Finger Companies, tells Swamplot that the fire was caused by a “flying sky lantern,” not by faulty piping. According to the spokesperson, 2 Susanne residents launched the decorative airborne device from the complex’s parking garage, but “the wind unexpectedly caused the lantern to land on the roof of the apartment building along the West Alabama driveway and burned long enough to cause a fire on the roof itself.” The 2 residents called 911 and later reported its cause to fire department arson investigators. A loose rooftop gas pipe sparked this scene at The Susanne Apartments on the corner of W. Alabama and Dunlavy last night at around 9 p.m. Firefighters choked off the blaze by shutting off a valve that fed the pipe — reports the Chronicle — but not before smoke damaged portions of the 8-story building’s top floor. One apartment sustained some water damage, too, but thanks to a layer of steel on the roof — none of the flames made it inside. No firefighters were harmed — and though hundreds evacuated, all residents remained uninjured as well. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Swamplox inbox

07/13/18 10:00am

YOUR ODDS OF WINNING A YEAR’S SUPPLY OF CHICKEN SANDWICHES AT CHICK-FIL-A’S NEXT PEARLAND GRAND OPENING One in 1,365, a little slimmer than the chance of landing heads on a coin toss 10 times in a row. The Chick-fil-A in question, Pearland’s fifth, opens at Hwy. 288 and Aldine-Fort Bend Rd. on July 25, and in keeping with custom, the store is giving away 52 free #1 meals (chicken sandwich, medium Waffle Potato Fries, and a medium drink) to a group of 100 lucky loyalists selected from those who spend the night before camped out at the location, reports the Chronicle’s Dana Burke. This time though, the franchise is taking measures to ensure that only hometown competitors 18-and-up get access to the prize by limiting eligibility by zip code. The challengers: 77584, 77581, 77588, 77578, 77048, and 77047 — home to 136,500 legal adult residents of Pearland, Brookside Village, Shadow Creek Ranch, Manvel, and parts of Southeast Houston including Crestmont. To keep things competitive, reports Burke: “All participants must remain in their designated spots the entire time, with the exception of bathroom breaks.” [Houston Chronicle] Photo of 2016 Chick-fil-A First 100 event in Prestonwood, Texas: Chick-fil-A

07/11/18 9:30am

WHAT’S ON TAP ACROSS FROM THE MATCH A building permit filed just recently reveals the latest tenant in the group that’s been ganging up in the ground floor of the double-block-long Mid Main Lofts over the past few months: The Brass Tap. With 8 locations already open in Texas — but none in Houston — the Florida-born, alloy-themed franchise had been looking around town for a good spot to make its local debut, reported the Chronicle back in January. It’s settled on 922 Holman St., putting it around the corner from newcomer Kura Revolving Sushi Bar on Main St. (pictured above in advance of its opening earlier this year), close to that other bar now cropping up on the apartment’s Travis-St.-side, and directly across the street from the MATCH. The number of actual taps that can be expected to operate inside: roughly 60, with supplementary bottled offerings bringing the total beer count to about 200 national and international selections. [Previously on Swamplot] Photo of Kura Revolving Sushi Bar: Natalie W

07/10/18 10:00am

BOBCAT TEDDY’S NEW BCYCLE STATION IS READY TO ROLL The recent docking of a new BCycle station outside the former Jimmy’s turned Bobcat Teddy’s Ice House on the corner of White Oak Dr. and Threlkeld St. brings the total number of bike hubs in the system to around 60. Its installation was supported in part by a fundraiser held at the bar last month during which representatives from Texas Gold Sprint’em — an operator that hosts stationary bike races complete with emcees and accompanying AV equipment — were on hand to organize competition. Now that road-ready vehicles are on-site at the venue, they fill in a gap along White Oak Dr., where no other BCycle station currently exists. [Houston City Planning Department; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Houston City Planning Department

07/06/18 1:00pm

KICKING OFF CONSTRUCTION ON THE HOUSTON SABERCATS’ PERMANENT HOME RUGBY TURF Building permits filed yesterday indicate that crews are about to get started turning the existing field at 2055 Mowery Rd. into a sportier one, fit for the Houston SaberCats rugby team (formerly the Houston Strikers) to call home. The land off Hwy. 288 remains owned by the city, which granted the team a 42-year lease in exchange for the promise it’ll host free kid-friendly rugby training events, on-site matches for high-schoolers. The city will also shell out $3.2 million to cover the costs of the 760-space parking lot the team plans to plant, along with seats to accommodate 3,500 fans (about half the capacity of what’s now the team’s temporary turf at Houston ISD’s Dyer Stadium, adjacent to the Northwest Mall). The expected completion date: sometime before next season — which the team hopes will go a little better than this current one. (After winning their second game of the year back in April, they’ve lost every match since, putting them in last place with a 1-7 record.) [Previously on Swamplot] Photo of 2055 Mowery Rd.: Swamplox inbox

07/03/18 5:30pm

HEADING FORTH INTO INDEPENDENCE DAY With tomorrow being America’s 242nd birthday and all, Swamplot is taking a mid-week recess to celebrate — but only for the day. After that, we’ll resume all news gathering and news publishing activities with a bang on Thursday, bringing you up to to speed on what’s gone down — and up — in the time we took off. Photo: Derek Key [license]

07/02/18 10:00am

TEXADELPHIA’S TAKEOVER OF THE WOODEN BOX ON MONTROSE BLVD. NOW NEARLY COMPLETE With construction on Houston’s second Texadelphia now wrapping up ahead of its planned opening, it appears the restaurant’s remodelers have opted to preserve the woodsy exterior decor originally added onto the end of the strip center just shy of 2 years ago — when the storefront switched over from Berryhill Baja Grill to Yucatan Taco Stand. That gives the restaurant a different outward character than the chain’s only other Houston location — its first step back into the city after and 2-year absence — on the corner of Westheimer and Dunvale Rd. Over there, renovations stopped short of any exterior work as well (save for the installation of the brand’s signage in place of longtime tenant Potbelly Sandwich Shop’s), leaving the restaurant to pick up in a pale stucco endcap that’d been unchanged for over a decade. [Previously on Swamplot] Photo: Swamplox inbox

06/29/18 3:45pm

AN UNDERCOVER BARFLY’S REPORT FROM DOWN THE STREET From the report of former Texas peace office and expert bar witness Darren K. Coleman who recently performed an assessment of Cottage Grove bar Down the Street at 5746 Larkin St.: “On April 20, 2018, Mr. Coleman made an anonymous visit to the Bar to make personal observations. During his visit, Mr. Coleman observed numerous cars parked along the street, some being cars belonging to Bar patrons and some belonging to residents and/or residents’ guests. He observed that traffic was not impeded by cars parked along the street; however, two cars could not pass at the same time. He assessed that this was not uncommon for any neighborhood where cars are parked along the street. Mr. Coleman did not observe litter in the area. Additionally, he observed the patrons to be well-behaved and polite. No one was intoxicated or displayed belligerent, loud, aggressive, or lewd behavior. The indoor music was at a moderate volume and was not loud enough to interfere with normal conversation.” Coleman’s report was included in testimony presented to a state judge after a group of neighbors protested the bar’s request to renew its TABC license. Based in part on Coleman’s outside opinion, the judge found Wednesday that the bar wasn’t violating any TABC rules and recommended the TABC approve its requested renewal. [Texas Office of Administrative Hearings] Photo: Down the Street

06/28/18 2:15pm

THE 2021 WORLD TRANSPLANT GAMES ARE COMING TO HOUSTON After 41 years abroad, the World Transplant Games will be returning to the U.S. — and their location of choice, as announced by the city yesterday: Houston. When the international competition for those who’ve undergone organ swaps made its last stateside stop in New York, it was a young tradition: just 2 years old. Since then, the annual tournament (originally biannual before the introduction of the every-other-year winter games in 1994) has hit every continent and now features more than 50 events including cycling, swimming, racquet sports, and bowling — open to any body-part recipient age 4 to 80. Earlier this year, the competition’s winters games wrapped up in Anzere, Switzerland with nearly 70 member countries in attendance. Before that, the coastal Spanish town of Málaga played host to last year’s summer events. [City of Houston; more info] Photo of crowd at 2017 games in Málaga, Spain: World Transplant Games

06/27/18 2:15pm

WHAT TXDOT’S TINY 2-YEAR PUBLIC TRANSIT ALLOWANCE ADDS UP TO Transit-focused fact-finder Allyn West pulls out this nugget from the Texas Tribune’s report on regional transit development: “While the Texas Department of Transportation has a budget of more than $26 billion for the 2018 and 2019 fiscal years, less than 1 percent of that is earmarked for public transit.” That puts the burden squarely on county and local agencies — including metropolitan planning groups like the Houston-Galveston Area Council — to dig up funding for non-car-catering projects. [Texas Tribune via Allyn West] Photo of Preston St. METRO stop: telwink via Swamplot Flickr Pool

06/26/18 4:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: I-10 LOW-BRIDGE ALERT SYSTEM ISN’T EYE-CATCHING TO PASSING TRUCKERS “The sign mentioned in the posting is a joke — it’s small, off to the side, partially obscured, and it is not readily apparent what it’s referring to. Worse than that, it is 2 miles ahead of the 610 interchange, and 7 miles ahead of the Houston Ave. overpass. It is nowhere close to a sufficient or effective system, and along with the new low clearance signs inside the Loop, has every appearance of a band-aid solution to something that needs a more comprehensive approach.” [TMR, commenting on How TxDOT Tries To Stop Trucks from Clipping the Houston Ave. Bridge] Photo of I-10 near Houston Ave. bridge: Marc Longoria via Swamplot Flickr Pool

06/26/18 2:30pm

HOW A 6-BILLBOARD COURTSHIP CAMPAIGN AIMS TO LURE LEBRON JAMES TO HOUSTON “A lot of times, players recruit players,” Rockets fan Greg Andrews tells the Chronicle’s Maggie Gordon, “Teams recruit players. And now, what I’d like to see is fans recruit players.” That’s what the 36-year-old oil-and-gas equipment executive hopes to do with the set of 6 billboards he installed along Houston roads last week. His pitch focuses on Houston’s spirit: “we’re a very hospitable, nice environment,” he says — a potential draw for the 3-time MVP as he enters his mid-30s: “Family matters. It matters in Houston, and it matters to LeBron.” Since the Cavs player isn’t likely to be driving the Houston freeways anytime soon though, Andrews hopes the signs will first inspire other fans to echo his plea (elaborated on his website) in videos shared online and hashtagged #htownthecrown. “My ultimate goal,” says Andrews “is to have J.J. Watt, Jose Altuve, Travis Scott, those Houston celebrities do ‘Hey LeBron’ video” The billboards will stay up for 3 weeks, past the July 1 deadline for LeBron to forgo the rest of his $35.7 million contract with Cleveland and opt into free agency. [Houston Chronicle ($)] Photo: Kyle Hagerty

06/26/18 12:30pm

THE TIPLINE IS STANDING BY Latest Toys R Us closure being transformed into a massive escape room? To cover this city well, Swamplot needs your tips. So if you spot something interesting going on in your neighborhood, let us know! Taken some nice pics from around town? Send them to our Flickr group. If you’ve uploaded a video to YouTube you think we might be interested in, send us a link. While you’re at it, be sure to like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and sign up to be on Swamplot’s email list.

06/26/18 9:45am

WESTBURY MOD SELLERS DROP PRICE, VIDEO OF SPACE AGE 3-BEDROOM OFF W. BELLFORT Brubeck plays in the background as this new clip from the sellers of 5702 Warm Springs Rd. pans around the 1959 single-story just off W. Bellfort, showing off some of its era-appropriate renovations like laminate kitchen countertops, cork floors, a mosaic-patterned wall by the entrance, and Formica surfaces throughout. $10k fell off the asking price yesterday, bringing the house [a previous Swamplot sponsor] down to $379,000. [Oscar Fine Properties; listing] Video: Oscar Fine Properties

06/20/18 4:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE SLEEPY STREETS HARRIS COUNTY FLOOD BUYOUTS LEFT BEHIND There is a community close to 290 and Windfern, on Cole Creek Dr. and another near Fairbanks and Hollister on Woodland West. Deep in the flood neighborhoods that were bought back by Harris County Flood [Control District] a while ago. All of the roads, utilities and everything are there. Just no homes or homeowners. Made a great place to take a post-lunch car nap when I worked close by. [bocepus, commenting on The Latest Wave of Harris County Home Buyouts, Mapped] Illustration: Lulu