- 18646 Martinique Dr. [HAR]
Leather-clad real estate agent Paul Gomberg, perhaps best known for the sales video of that Champion Forest house filled with excrement that made the rounds back in early January, is now starring in a less nose-threatening video tour — this one of a squeaky-clean 2011 mansion on Lake Conroe. The punchline this time: a suit-and-tie-clad 11-year-old that Gomberg chaperons around the property, who ultimately leaves the contract-ready agent hanging on the steps of the house pending parental permission to close the deal.
The house at 12386 Tramonto Dr., which first went on the market in October of 2014 for $1.6 million, was dropped to just below $1.5 million on Tax Day in 2015, two weeks before an early May relisting. The asking price dropped again last July to the current $1.35 million.
Defunct 1970’s burger chain Hamburgers By Gourmet appears to be readying for a new takeoff at 1360 NASA 1 Pwky., across the street from the Space Center Houston visitors center parking lot at the junction with King’s Park Ln. A corporate entity connected to a Nassau Bay real estate agent was registered under the Hamburgers By Gourmet name 2 Octobers ago; the new storefront bearing the chain’s old burger-slash-mushroom-reminiscent logo was spotted last week by a keen-eyed user on HAIF.
The newly rebranded building, shown above from the west side, was formerly a Kentucky Fried Chicken prior to its turn-of-the-decade conversion to a Premium Title Lending.
Facing a courtyard and across from a waterside swimming pool, a 2006 Tuscan townhome anchors its corner of Clear Lake’s Armandwilde development. A pond roped off from Mud Lake, the final form of Armand Bayou as it flows into Clear Lake, laps at the property’s shore, which is located off Space Center Blvd. north of E. NASA Pkwy. The old Jim West Mansion, once a repository for moon rocks but now an anchor haberdashery for Hakeem Olajuwon, is nearby. This stucco-and-tile clad unit, one of the larger for the development, was listed last week at $299,000. That’s nearly $200K less than its $495,000 ask back in the heady days of 2008, but that offering expired after 4 months on the market.
The Saturn V rocket originally planned to boost a never-happened Apollo 18 spaceflight has been lying on its side near the corner of Saturn Ln. and 2nd St. and aimed at Lake Jackson since 1977. An air-conditioned, metal-framed structure was built around the Smithsonian-owned hulk 10 years ago to protect it from the elements, but it makes it difficult for visitors to appreciate just how hulking the rocket is. And recently the new structure has begun to look a bit dilapidated as well. Unprompted by any government agency or basketball team, San Antonio architect Brantley Hightower has been floating a proposal to wrap a more permanent structure around Houston’s most prominent rocketship — one that would restore the drive-by view of its full length (above) that the existing enclosure ruined, and make it clear just how big the Saturn V was:
RICK’S CABARET REVEALS PLANS FOR REVEALING RESTAURANT NEAR JOHNSON SPACE CENTER The owners of that family of strip clubs, Rick’s Cabaret, plan to build a new restaurant called Bombshells in Webster near the Johnson Space Center. The pun-intended eatery appears to bring together army surplus and boobs; this would be its second location; the original, shown here, can be found up in Dallas. Culturemap’s Tyler Rudick reasons out how Rick’s chose the new suburban spot: “With both Bone Daddy’s and Twin Peaks thriving in Webster, Rick’s Cabaret president Eric Langan explains . . . that the area was a logical choice.” [Culturemap; previously on Swamplot] Photo of Bombshells at 7501 N. Stemmons Fwy.: Facebook
SPACE CENTER HOUSTON’S NEWEST ACQUISITION The Galileo 7 — shown here in a Star Trek episode as piloted by
Dr. Mr. Spock on a doomed exploratory voyage to Taurus — is going to be added to the permanent collection at Space Center Houston in Clear Lake. A stand-in, maybe, for the real retired NASA orbiter that the center didn’t get a few years ago, this teevee spacecraft will be kept separate from “actual flown vehicles,” spokesperson Jack Moore tells Hair Balls. But that doesn’t mean it won’t have its own special effect: “Houstonians and other visitors will be able to see the Galileo at Space Center Houston’s Zero-G Diner, where, Moore says, the area’s overall theme is developing more of a science fiction atmosphere.” [Hair Balls; previously on Swamplot] Image: Memory Alpha
Former Houston Rocket Hakeem Olajuwon quietly opened the doors this past week of a brand-new flagship store for his new clothing line, DR34M. It’s conveniently located just off NASA Pkwy., inside a mansion built during the Depression by a Texas oilman — used later for more than 20 years by NASA for its Lunar and Planetary Institute.
The 17,000-sq.-ft. Italianate mansion by the Clear Lake shore was completed in 1930 by Houston city hall architect Joseph Finger for Jim West, whose family sold it to Humble Oil when he died in 1941. Since then, it has been owned by the Pappas restaurant family and Rice University. And in 1969, during the Apollo missions, the nearby Johnson Space Center moved its moon unit here; it stayed until 1991.
Olajuwon, who has made a lot of investments in Houston-area real estate since his 2002 retirement from the NBA, bought the West Mansion in 2006. He had plans to subdivide the sprawling 41-acre estate to sell off to developers, according to news reports. Later reports indicated the mansion would be razed, or that a retirement village would be built around it. But since early this year, workers have been making extensive renovations to the building, inside and out:
DEEP INSIDE MISSION CONTROL At last, that in-depth, exhaustive tour through the Johnson Space Center’s Building 30 that you’d been waiting for — coffee bars and tiny women’s rooms included: “The corridors look like they should exude the odor of decades of cigarette smoke,” space-travel fan Lee Hutchinson writes, “but the federal government’s ‘no smoking’ policy has been in place long enough that most smell faintly of stale coffee instead.” Bonus: Every console in Apollo-era Mission Control explained — or close enough. [Ars Technica] Photo: Steven Michael
HOUSTON’S WAREHOUSED ROCKETSHIP Comparing it to displays of Saturn rockets in Florida and Alabama, space historian Dwayne Day finds Space Center Houston’s model of the Apollo program leftover parked in a Johnson Space Center shed structure and looking somewhat forlorn: “. . . the building containing the Saturn V is starting to deteriorate. Interior insulation is starting to crack and peel, showing considerable degradation from my last visit a year ago. This simply reinforces the impression that the Saturn V is being stored in a big garage. Houston has had the Saturn V for decades. It has housed it indoors for almost seven years, and yet the city has not improved the presentation or shown any indication that it intends to display the Saturn V with any of the affection and intelligence that the Kennedy and Huntsville communities have given to their Saturn Vs. If you look at what Houston has done it is hard not to wonder if they would have treated a shuttle orbiter with the same indifference.” [Space Review; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Dwayne Day
It all seems so seasidey serene at this Nassau Bay property on the border of Bal Harbour Cove and Swan Lagoon. A mid-July initial listing, the 3-story $2.2 million property has water views from all its rooms. There’s a lakefront pool, a fire pit on a cantilevered deck, a pair of palapas, palm trees bending in the breeze, and a double-slip boathouse perched above the lapping waves. In the front yard, there’s a tiered waterfall. But inside, this rock-encrusted 2-story waterfall-with-aquarium in the entry is the real tipoff that while the home is on the water, its interior isn’t a driftwood-nautical knot kinda retreat:
Update: Olajuwon’s DR34M store is now open.
Hakeem Olajuwon hasn’t officially announced what he plans to do with Clear Lake’s landmarked Jim West Mansion, which he bought along with the surrounding 41-acre property at 3303 NASA Pkwy. in 2006. But a teaser website suggests that the former Houston Rockets center intends to transform the oil and cattle baron’s former estate — which served for a time as NASA’s Lunar Science Institute — into a flagship store for DR34M, the clothing line he introduced before a New Year’s Eve Rockets game in 2010, but that hasn’t drawn much attention since.
“The DR34M Spring 2012 Collection will launch online and in our new Houston flagship store,” announces the website at Dr34m.com. It’s illustrated with a photo of the 17,000-sq.-ft. Italianate mansion, which was designed by Houston city hall architect Joseph Finger and completed in 1930 not far from the current site of Houston’s Johnson Space Center. “We are busy designing a new line of clothing, collaborating on a collection of leather bags and accessories and sourcing modern furniture,” reads the brief copy, which is accompanied by Olajuwon’s signature.
COMMENT OF THE DAY: JUST TO DRAG A SHUTTLE MOCKUP INTO HOUSTON “. . . I contacted the JSC’s PAO Office and found out that it was originally due here on March 10th but an area from the channel to JSC’s dock would have to be dredged in order to accommodate the tug pushing the barge. Current estimates have pushed the delivery time to some time in July. . . . I feel that the mock-up coming to JSC is a ray of hope on an otherwise bleak future. . . .” [Neal_K, commenting on Space Center Houston Getting KSC Space Shuttle Mockup Hand-Me-Down, Compartment Trainer, New Building]
Houston may have missed out on its opportunity to play host to one of the 4 retired orbiters doled out recently by NASA. But it will end up with a space-shuttle-related attraction that jibes well with the Johnson Space Center’s longtime role as a practice and simulation site for training astronauts. Space news website CollectSpace is reporting that Space Center Houston will soon receive the Space Shuttle Explorer, a full-size orbiter mockup currently on display at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida.
One advantage of the Explorer over the 4 orbiters Houstonians wanted but couldn’t get (besides not having any layers of space dust to clean off): Visitors will be able to walk through it.
A ROCKETSHIP RELAUNCH FOR THE JOHNSON SPACE CENTER? Construction of the new Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, the first new NASA spacecraft built for manned orbit since 1991, began earlier this week — in New Orleans (photo). And final assembly will take place in Florida. But a “senior administration official” tells space-beat reporter Todd Halvorson that the new 30-story tall Space Launch System for Orion that NASA is announcing today — with the strong support of Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison — will provide a “stable future” for Houston’s Johnson Space Center and 3 other human-space-flight facilities around the country. [Florida Today; NASA] Photo: NASA