Here Now, the Final Category in This Year’s Swampies: What Was the Greatest Moment in Houston Real Estate in 2014?

If you’ve been keeping track, you’ll have counted 6 categories announced so far in the 2014 Swamplot Awards for Houston Real Estate: Favorite Houston Design Cliché, Best Demolition, Best Body of Water, Best Mobile Food Vendor Location, Best Sign of the New Houston, and 2014 Neighborhood of the Year.

Here’s the seventh and final category: the Greatest Moment in Houston Real Estate of 2014. Covering great moments in real estate is the whole point of Swamplot. So tell us: What big real estate happening from the past year stands out above all others? Was it something Swamplot covered? Or something we missed? Your answer need not have taken place within city limits, but it should include sufficient Houston-ish qualities to be deserving of the award.

For this award to work, we need your help. Add your comments to this post or send us an email describing the moments you’d like to nominate and — more important — explaining why. If you need to jog your memory,  browse through our posts from the last year. And if you have any questions about how to make a nomination, you’ll likely find the answers here. Nominations are due by midnight on December 16, so don’t delay!

The 2014 Swampies

11 Comment

  • “Greatest” may be a little strong, but I was really happy to hear that the Weingarten mansion in Riverside Terrace was being purchased by someone who planned to renovate it and live there, rather than a developer who was just going to tear it down and build lots of townhouses. It’s such a beautiful old house.

  • The ruling in Ashby, no question. The entire development community held its collective breath waiting for the judgment, and that judgment has since empowered home owners to fight bad development– lack of zoning be damned!

  • I nominate something I am sure won’t win but it is such sweet karma. Anytime UL gets sued gets my vote. The Zenith Urban Homes and UL lawsuit is my pick.

  • I’d like to second the Ashby High Rise and Urban Living cases, each of which would be deserving winners, though for very different reasons. I’d also like to nominate the West Dallas inferno, even if there is some overlap with the Best Demolition Prize. There were so many amazing things about that fire, including: (1) the sheer size of it; (2) the spectacular rescue of that construction worker, which was caught on video and instantly went viral; and (3) the irony of being next to a graveyard, which was very timely criticized by Trisha Keel, who said in an interview the night before the blaze that “there should never be another one,” referring to the apartment complex.

  • Oh the UL thing, yes, very definitely.

  • The Ashby ruling is subject to appeal. As we should have figured out by now, after all these years, is that it’s not over ’til it’s over.

    There’s a lot to choose from in 2014, with or without drawing from the stories that have populist appeal or that ooze drama. I’d have to say that the most interesting thing to bear witness to has been the disconnect between the economic indicators (turning sharply negative in the latter half of the year) and investor sentiment (resilient, bullish, even now). The inflection point was the OPEC decision not to curtail supplies, but the underlying trend has been an erosion of prospects for global demand growth. I strongly suspect that 2015 will be a year of reckoning, and not only for Houston, not only for the energy industry, but for the broader economy as happenings around the world begin to have domestic effects. That’s not a “real estate moment” precisely because the real estate community has willfully ignored it up until very recently and it’s certainly not “great”; but that’s certainly what has held me captivated this year.

  • The Village at Palm Center development. This is a very smart looking mixed use development going up at Griggs and MLK in SE Houston on the site of a closed up flea market. The development will have the majority of the housing set aside for low to middle income earners. The City of Houston came up with 15 mil in assistance for the project after committing tens of millions in tax deals to develop high end housing downtown and to assist Walmart, Kroger and Costco to bring stores to thriving areas in Houston. This was a critical “when will dummy learn” moment for the City of Houston. The City has long complained about seeing more rapid growth outside City limits and tried to boost development inside the city limits with 380 tax deals, TIRZ deals and other economic incentive “tools”. While the urban living initiative gave downtown a boost, the net result of the strategy has simply been to give developers free stuff. The 380 deal for Regent Square has done little to get that project out of suspended animation. But the tax strategy did nothing for the blighted and neglected parts of Houston. No rising tide lifting all boats. The deal that got the Palm Center development going could really be a game changer for the City of Houston if it is replicated on the same scale as the downtown urban living initiative. These developments bring affordable housing and density to areas that developers would not touch with a ten acre pole. They will be a catalyst for a broader gentrification of Houston that will bring middle class workers back to the City from the burbs.

  • Definitely the Weingarten Mansion save. It kindled a little flame of warmth in the hearts of us sappy-eyed real estate dreamers who cry sad tears every time an old home is demolished and replaced by townhomes. And it gave us some poo to throw in the faces of those on S-lot who tell us to shut up and deal with it every time another one bites the dust.

  • I second The Niche in his (her?) assessment of the cognitive dissonance between the realities of our energy-based economy and local real estate development. It’s always galled me how HAR and the GHBA have an unrealistically sunny outlook on real estate/construction all the way up until the market undergoes a significant correction, which is probably coming in 2015. It’s like they’re willfully blind to market forces that even the most casual observer can see coming, which is why I have never put any faith in their predictions. I’m betting we’re gonna be stuck with a lot of excess apartment inventory next year.

    I would also add to The Insider’s post about the W. Dallas apartment fire the fact that it took only one spark from a welder’s torch to completely destroy that building. It’s a cautionary tale about building such large structures completely out of wood with substandard (non-masonry) firewalls.

  • I do like the UL lawsuit fiasco, but I’ll add the Kirby Bar Fiasco to the list of possibilities. Perhaps even throwing both into a meta category of “Lawsuits can bring some rationality back into the real estate market” or some such, or maybe even, “No, there are some things you can’t do in real estate, even in Houston”.

  • You have it under the Best Demolition, but the Greatest Moment is the rescue of the construction worker by firefighters in the burning of Axis Apartments. Brave heroes.