“Would you even recognize that neighborhood today?”
That’s the underlying idea behind the next award in this year’s Swamplot Awards for Houston Real Estate, which goes to Houston’s Least Recognizable Neighborhood.
Of course, there’s more than one way to define what makes a neighborhood unrecognizable, as this official ballot of nominees put together from your nominations show.
In the end, only one neighborhood will get the recognition (heh) of winning this award, so tell us which it deserves to be. You can vote for your favorite by leaving a comment below this post or through email, Facebook, or Twitter. You can do all 4, too — as long as you follow these rules. Just don’t forget to tell us why the neighborhood you selected is getting your vote.
Now allow us to (re)introduce the official nominees for Houston’s Least Recognizable Neighborhood:
1. Montrose. “Where to begin? More and more single family homes are being wrecked for townhomes, McDonald’s is remodeling, and now I hear they want to get rid of that strip with Half-Price Books and other stores. Lower Westheimer east of Montrose Blvd., once lined with strip clubs, is now completely unrecognizable, having been gentrified to within an inch of its life. Oh, and Kroger remodeled, H-E-B joined, and Fiesta closed.”
2. The Energy Corridor. “I lived in this area before it was even known by that name. The huge changes were definitely there a couple of years ago, but with the continued building and development, this part of town simply blows my mind now. Fifteen-plus years ago, no one would’ve imagined that Kirkwood would be opened to I-10; it was just a sleepy suburban part of town. The small podunky little airport that was near Westheimer and Kirkwood is now long gone, too. The pace of new glossy glass office buildings going up here is simply incredible.”
3. The Museum District. “Sure the neighborhood’s changed some, but what’s really become unrecognizable is its boundaries — they just keep growing. Is a house near Shepherd and Westheimer in the Museum District? A realtor might say yes. Is one at 288 and Binz? Sure thing! Sunset and Greenbriar? Yep! How about Richmond and Main? Close enough! The only thing that doesn’t matter is whether any museum is nearby.”
4. Memorial City and CityCentre. “All those new buildings didn’t pop up overnight, but this area now looks completely different from the way it did before 2008. First up by the Memorial City Mall was the big new Voltron-like hospital building, then the hotel next door (and the pedestrian footbridge over Gessner connecting the hospital and hotel with the mall). Then on the east side of Memorial City, 3 new office towers and a large condominium (and don’t forget the woodsy parking garages). In 5 years, they have drastically changed the landscape there. Back then, the area by CityCentre felt more like a single-family zone. Now it feels like Uptown West.“
5. Greenway Plaza. “It’s as if Greenway Plaza has already disappeared. When Costco was built, it was vetted as the ‘Galleria’ location, despite being within rock-throwing distance from Greenway. Whenever I use the term Greenway Plaza these days, people give me a confused look, then ask, ‘Isn’t that up by the airport?’ (confusing it with Greenspoint). For the record: There was a time when the area around Weslayan/Buffalo Speedway and 59 was ubiquitously known as Greenway Plaza.”
6. Oak Forest. “It’s the West U of the twenty-teens around here. Once filled with 1960s ranchers sitting in the middle of large yards with lots of mature trees, now it’s the spot to go build McMansions that fill the lot. Already, many streets are unrecognizable from a couple years ago. At the current pace of demo work, there will be very few original homes left in 5 years, and the ‘forest’ part of the neighborhood’s name will be reduced to a marketing moniker. The change has definitely picked up speed this year; Swamplot’s Daily Demolition Reports reflect a lot of what’s been happening recently in Oak Forest.”
7. Cottage Grove. “Back in the early 2000s, Cottage Grove was all old single family homes and industrial. Now, the older homes are nothing more than holdouts and many streets are filled with townhomes standing shoulder-to-shoulder from one end of the block to the other. And there are more and more townhomes on the way. If you toggle back and forth between 2002 and 2012 on Google Earth, you won’t believe the pace and scope of the transformation.”
8. Shady Acres. “I live here and if I haven’t walked down a particular street in some time, I am often amazed at what’s happened in the meantime. We have attended Live Oak Friends Meeting since 2004 and most of the shade is now from 3-to-4-story townhomes crammed 4+ on a lot where a single family home once stood. Tall townhomes are multiplying like gremlins in a waterpark. Sidewalks appear (and then suddenly end). There are a couple of ‘Hill Country’ suburban-style homes of what must be 3,000-plus sq. ft. There’s a trendy new restaurant now where an abandoned grocery store once sat for years. On the other hand, the gulley must be more polluted and trashed-out than ever.”
9. Rice Military. “It’s funny listening to residents complain about not having on-street parking so that people can visit their own street-facing, full-width curb-cut townhouse — since everyone else’s townhouse has rendered the streetscape an unbroken string of . . . broken-ness. The upside: there are so many driveways over the old ditches that they are now almost all effectively covered over!”
There you have it! Now let’s see those votes!
- How To Vote in the 2013 Swamplot Awards for Houston Real Estate [Swamplot]
- Swamplot Awards Ballots 2013 [Swamplot]
Photos: Candace Garcia (Montrose sign); H-Town-West Photo Blog (BP Westlake Campus); HAR (2246 Quenby St., 1261 Du Barry Ln., 5611 Cohn Meadow, 1432 21st St. Unit F, and 5017 Gibson St., all for sale); elnina (Memorial Hermann Memorial City Medical Center); Bill Barfield (Greenway Plaza)