And now, the final category in this year’s Swamplot Awards: the year’s Greatest Moment in Houston Real Estate. It’s time to vote for the winner!
The voting rules have been posted. So have the rules for voting a second time — through Twitter. Now it’s up to you to vote — in the comments below, or in an email. The voting deadline is Monday, December 28th, at 5 pm.
The official nominees for The Greatest Moment in Houston Real Estate, 2009 are:
1. The Ashby Highrise Permit Double Fakeout. August 21. City officials had staked their entire case against permitting the 23-story tower on Bissonnet at Ashby on the provisions of an old but often-ignored city law governing driveways. So when, after 10 earlier rejections, the city engineer notes that newly revised plans for the tower meet all conditions specified by the city, he has no choice but to approve it. Success for Ashby? Not really. One of the developers later told a Chronicle reporter that they hadn’t been serious about the revisions, and had only submitted a scaled-back version to “test whether the city would approve their project under any circumstances.”
2. Bankruptcy Day for Wilshire Village. November 3. Jay Cohen and Matt Dilick, the 2 apparent (and apparently feuding) owners of the Wilshire Village Apartments on West Alabama and Dunlavy, weren’t exactly forthcoming about their motivations earlier in the year — as all tenants of the decaying complex were evicted, city fire and building officials just happened to appear on the scene to shut the place down, the entire almost-8-acre complex was demolished, for-sale signs appeared on the site, and Dilick whispered to a Chronicle reporter about his own plans to redevelop the property. But after all that comes . . . what is it? A clue, a comeuppance, or maybe just another wacky twist in a slowly unfolding real-estate soap opera? Two banks file for foreclosure on the owning entity, Alabama & Dunlavy Ltd. And on the day of the scheduled foreclosure auction, the partnership declares bankruptcy.
3. The Gragg Building Reopens. December 11th. The low-slung, Frank Lloyd Wrighteous building on South Wayside just south of Buffalo Bayou was designed as the corporate headquarters for a local construction company in the late 1950s by Houston’s own FLW acolytes, MacKie and Kamrath, who collaborated on the 48-acre site with landscape architect Garrett Eckbo. In the early 1960s, the building served as headquarters for the Mercury program and NASA’s Manned Spacecraft Center — until the much larger complex now known as the JSC could be built further south. Since 1977 the Gragg Building and surrounding park have been occupied by the far less glamorous Houston Parks and Recreation Department. But the park people appreciate the building’s history and design enough to commission a $16 million renovation from Houston’s HarrisonKornberg Architects — to turn the complex into a more public venue. The building and its famous courtyard will be available for special events beginning next year.
4. Third West Gray Starbucks Disrupts Space-Time Continuum. September 15th. When comedian Lewis Black first encountered the two Starbucks across the street from each other at the corner of West Gray and Shepherd, he soon realized that he had come to the end of the universe. But universe or no, in Houston expansion and franchising must go on: This fall a third Starbucks opens next door to the second one, inside the River Oaks Shopping Center’s new Barnes and Noble.
5. Metro Accessorizes Eastwood Park with Old-Fashioned Timepiece. August 31. A brief exercise likely to be studied in Historic Preservation textbooks for generations: After protests from local residents, Metro realizes that the 1935 streamline moderne Sterling Laundry & Cleaning Co. building at 4819 Harrisburg — in the way of its new East End light-rail line — is worth saving! The only questions: Which chunk of it should be preserved? And what new structure across the street in Eastwood Park should it be tacked onto? Fortunately, there turns out to be plenty of storage space available in a Metro warehouse for the thin slice of non-functioning clock that workers extract before demolishing the building.
6. Pearland Comes to Terms with the Blue Ridge Landfill, or Shadow Creek Ranch Settles on a Sell-By Date. May 20. After years of battles, the City of Pearland reaches an agreement with Allied Waste, which had sought to build a 170-foot-tall odoriferous mountain of garbage at its Blue Ridge Landfill site, just across FM 521 from those family-friendly homes at Shadow Creek Ranch. Allied agrees to monitoring, screening, extra layers of clay, and temporary height limits on the current landfill, as well as some dump-truck traffic restrictions. But the company will get its mountain — in 20 years. That should provide enough time for current landowners in the area to sell their homes to newcomers.
Okay, now it’s your moment — to choose the winner! Which one should it be? Which qualifies as this year’s greatest moment in Houston real estate?
- 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]
Images(top to bottom): Buckhead Investment Partners (Ashby), Swamplot inbox (Wilshire Village demolition), HarrisonKornberg Architects (Gragg Building), Jason Witmer, Houston Chronicle (video), Spencer Howard and Metro, via Spencer Howard (4819 Harrisburg), HAR (2610 Ravenlake Ct., Shadow Creek Ranch)