Now Seeking Nominations for Houston’s Least Recognizable Neighborhood

So far, 4 categories have been opened up for your nominations in this year’s Swamplot Awards for Houston Real Estate: Favorite Houston Design Cliché, Best Demolition, Best Houston Transplant, and the Ground-Floor Retail Award. Today, we get to welcome 2 more categories. First up: the Houston area’s Least Recognizable Neighborhood.

“Y’know that neighborhood . . . ? Well, you wouldn’t even recognize it today.” What happens to a neighborhood that renders it unrecognizable — or, more precisely, less recognizable than it used to be? Now tell us where in the greater Houston area you’ve seen something like that take place — and what you’ve seen, specifically. Or what you’ve missed.

Or maybe you’ve got a different take on what recognizability represents? If so, give us an example, and tell us what corner of Houston should take home this award. 

Submit your nominations for the region’s Least Recognizable Neighborhood in the comments section below — or hit us up via email. Your clever interpretation of the criteria for this category will help turn it from a mundane list of places that have seen some changes to an engaging chronicle of the city’s local quirks. Again, nominees need not be located strictly inside Houston’s municipal boundaries: We’ll give you The Woodlands and beyond all the way down to Galveston.

You have until midnight next Tuesday, December 10 to send in your nominations. You should know the drill by now, but feel free to look over all the rules for the nominating process here.

The 2013 Swampies

23 Comment

  • So much has changed around Montrose, it seems. 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. Kroger remodeled, H-E-B joined, and Fiesta closed. (although all those were last year)

  • Energy Corridor. Hear me out on this one:
    I lived in this area before it was known as the Energy Corridor. The huge changes were definitely there a couple of years ago, but with the continued building/development of this area, this part of town simply blows my mind now.

    15+ years ago, no one would’ve imagined that Kirkwood would be opened to I-10; it was just a sleepy quiet suburby part of town. I remember the small podunky little airport that was near Westheimer/Kirkwood that is now long gone! Every quarter, I always seem to drive past my childhood dentist’s office because of all the new glossy buildings that are being built.

    I guess a corollary note would be Katy, too, with all of the developments, which are related to the Energy Corridor.

    (This post also serves as my stroll down memory lane.)

  • Bellaire. The city’s shed its tree canopy, many of its basic utility facilities, and a ton of its police force (causing debacles where lone officers have to make quick judgment calls without backup, thus creating disasters). Instead it has an expensive plan to look indistinct from any of the outside suburbs and a plan to draw in more through-transit commuters who won’t actually stop in town (hey, wasn’t that already done with the bus station? How did that work out?), thus ensuring that in twenty years potential residents will go, “I forget, what’s supposed to be so desirable about this place?” But yay, there’s an already-aging water park! Shi-ny! I love Bellaire, which is why I’m so mad at it.

  • Oak Forest. It’s the West U of the twenty-teens around here. Once filled with ’60’s ranchers sitting in the middle of large yards with lots of mature trees, now 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.

  • Cottage Grove, especially the west side of TC Jester. Back in the early 2000s, Cottage Grove was all old single family homes and industrial. Montrose and Rice Military were well underway in townhomeification back then. Starting in the mid 2000s, town homes started sprouting up in Cottage Grove. Now, the single family homes are nothing more than hold outs and many streets are filled with town homes standing shoulder to shoulder from one end of the block to the other. And there are more and more town homes on the way with more big projects from Weekly and InTown in the neighborhood. If you toggle back and forth between 2002 and 2012 on google Earth, you won’t believe the pace and scope of the transformation.

  • Echoing Spirit of 2005, the Fourth Ward aka Freeman’s town. I would bet that 50% or so of the building stock has been replaced over the last five years. The very picture of gentrification.

  • Edit: *Freedman’s town

    Also see this article from the Chron in 2011:

    “Hardly anyone calls it Freedman’s Town or the Fourth Ward anymore. Now it’s just Midtown.”

  • East End and 5th/3rd wards. Dense, walkable, and fun area of town to be.

  • Shady Acres. I live here and if I haven’t walked down a particular street in some time, I am often amazed at the rapidity of change. 3-story townhomes are multiplying like gremlins in a waterpark. Sidewalks appear (and then suddenly end). There’s a couple of “hill-country” suburban style homes of what must be 3,000+ 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.

  • The Museum District. 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? How about Richmond and Main? Close enough! The only thing that doesn’t matter is whether any museum is nearby.

  • Montrose-

    When I moved to Houston in 1979, there were titty bars, well, EVERYWHERE. Some of you may recall the famous one near So. Main and N. Braeswood, where patrons entered by a door situated between 50-ft plywood gams. But many of these establishments were concentrated on lower Westheimer, pretty much east of Montrose Blvd. It was possible to trawl these places on foot, one after the other, until incapacitated by alcohol, satiety or just boredom. The evening also might be punctuated by the occasional crisis, like the friend who, overwhelmed by a comely young lady, has to be restrained from rushing out to find an all-night jewelry store. Over the years, these places mysteriously burned down or were closed by the city using purpose-built ordinances. The area east of Montrose Blvd is now completely unrecognizable, having been gentrified to within an inch of its life.

  • Shady Acres – We have attended Live Oak Friends Meeting since 2004 and most of the shade is now from 3-4 story townhomes crammed 4+ on a lot where a single family home once stood.

    Certainly agree with Oak Forest, too.

  • Nobody’s mentioned Midtown. I think that’s the single _most_ changed area in the last twenty years. Also, Kirby Drive and the Village has changed a lot, and not particularly for the better.

  • I think Old School’s got a good point about Cottage Grove. I came here to propose First Ward, but it’s really just Cottage Grove five years ago—i.e., there are still more single-family “old” houses left in First Ward than are in Cottage Grove, but that’s just a matter of time. So I think Cottage Grove is an even better choice than First Ward. But First Ward should win in the next few years.

  • This might be able to be lumped into “Energy Corridor”, but I want to be more specific than that and mention the Memorial City area that is owned by MetroNational. All those new buildings didn’t pop up overnight, but this area looks completely different now than what it did before 2008. First up 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, three new office towers and a large condominium (and don’t forget the woodsy parking garages). In five years, they have drastically changed the landscape there.

  • Navigation blvd has also seen some big changes this year. That is an incredible esplanade if you havent been there/

  • Rice Military, aka Townhouse Ville. 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!

  • The Memorial City/City Centre area. Just four years ago, the area felt more like a single-family zone. Now it feels like Uptown West.

  • @Gisgo, was that the Tender Trap? I used to know the guy whose dad ran the place.

  • I know it’s easy…….Montrose.

  • Wow. Reading about the changes in these neighborhoods, some of which I haven’t been to in decades, leads me to believe that Houston really is a whore.

  • Greenway Plaza. 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). There was a time when the area around Weslayan/Buffalo Speedway and 59 was ubiquitously known as Greenway Plaza.

  • +1 for Oak Forest. I purchased my home in 2011 and after no new construction in my area in that time, in the past six months at least six homes have been demo-ed in the near vicinity to me. When I protested my property taxes, two of the homes they compared mine to are now empty lots waiting for construction. I think the Daily Demolition reports reflect all the change that has happened in Oak Forest this year. It’s not a new phenomena, but it has definitely picked up speed this year.