- 3200 Shelldrake Wy. [HAR]
SAN JACINTO MALL ANCHORS CAUSING REDO PLANS TO DRAG “It’s been slow and tedious — We didn’t count on the myriad problems all the traditional mall department stores are having,” Alan Hassenflu of Fidelis Realty Partners tells Katherine Blunt this week in the Chronicle, while discussing the company’s stagnating attempt to redo Baytown’s San Jacinto Mall. The company’s plans to knock down and rebuild the mall after buying it last summer are running up against drawn-out negotiations with tenants who signed restrictive covenants back in the early 80’s — agreements which can mean developers have to get those tenants to okay changes to the mall, and which can last for decades longer than original operating agreements. “In the case of San Jacinto,” writes Blunt, “the 3 remaining department stores have occupied their buildings for far longer than required under the operating agreements. But the restrictive covenants remain in place, giving them the some control over the mall’s future.” [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Ray D.
Here come more billboard double entendres: The Baytown Sun reports that Buc-ee’s is building a big ’un on the I-10 feeder and John Martin Rd. later this year. And, apparently, the proposed 60,000-sq.-ft. convenience store, gas station, and jerky trafficker will get top billing: Part of the deal — a Chapter 380 Agreement — involves a waived height restriction for the store’s beaver beacon, so Buc-ee’s can raise one 100 ft. into the air. In return, Baytown will get a bit of room to put its own name up there too. (This will be the first time, the Sun reports, that Buc-ee’s will share its sign.) The store’s planned for about 18 acres on the southwest corner of John Martin Rd. and I-10 near the San Jacinto Mall. The Sun reports that it’s expected to open in 2014.
Houston ranks 5th — below Long Island, Miami, Virginia Beach, New Orleans, and Tampa — in potential property damage from storm surges, according to an annual report from Corelogic. The company figures the resulting storm surge from a Category 5 Hurricane here would likely produce $20 billion in property loss — well behind Long Island’s $99 billion score. Can’t this city do a little better? We’ve got the high-hurricane-risk and low-lying-properties parts down cold. If we can just boost the property values a bit in those areas, we’ll be rolling with the high-stakes big boys next time.
The top at-risk area Zip Codes, according to the company’s report: 77573, 77554, 77059, 77571, 77062, 77566, 77586, 77539, 77546, and 77521. Locally, League City leads the way!
DESOLATE FEEDER ROAD CAR LOT LANDSCAPES What’s become of the 20-some Houston-area car lots dealers have shut down over the last year or two? Here’s a sampling: “‘My mother lived here 27 years, and we never had any trouble with Landmark Chevrolet,’ said Rhys Everett, who was cleaning out his mother’s former residence in the Hidden Valley neighborhood behind the defunct dealership. ‘But now it is filled with vagrants who have taken everything that wasn’t nailed down, and it’s a jumping-off point for crime in our neighborhood.’ The dealership, one of 13 outlets nationwide that Bill Heard Enterprises closed in September 2008, sprawls for blocks near the intersection of Gulf Bank and the North Freeway. It looks as if it had been hit by a cyclone. The main showroom’s exterior and interior windows are shattered. Ceiling tiles are torn away, exposing duct work that dangles like limp straws. Awnings hang in tatters. . . . The ravaged Chevrolet dealership’s antithesis can be found on Interstate 10 in Baytown, where the defunct Baytown Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge dealership is preserved in near-pristine condition.” [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot]
CEDAR BAYOU AIR UPSETS The Sierra Club and a Texas environmental group have filed suit against Chevron Phillips claiming a bonus supply of air pollutants and toxic chemicals has been escaping from the company’s Cedar Bayou chemical plant just north of I-10 in Baytown: “‘Like many companies in Texas, Chevron Phillips has repeatedly violated its own permit limits by emitting a wide range of harmful pollutants into the air from the Cedar Bayou plant,’ said Luke Metzger, Director of Environment Texas. ‘Because the state of Texas has failed to stop such violations at Cedar Bayou and elsewhere, citizen groups have had to step up and enforce the law themselves.’ The Clean Air Act contains a ‘citizen suit’ provision that allows private citizens affected by violations of the law to bring an enforcement suit in federal court if state and federal regulators do not. . . . Chevron Phillips’s permits contain both hourly and yearly limits on the amounts of pollutants it can emit into the atmosphere. The lawsuit alleges that equipment breakdowns, malfunctions, and other non-routine incidents at the Cedar Bayou complex have resulted in the release of more than a million pounds of pollutants into the surrounding air, frequently in violation of legal limits. A single such ‘upset’ or ’emission event’ can result in the release of tens of thousands of pounds of air pollutants in a matter of hours or even minutes.” [Environment Texas, via Houston Chronicle]
FAST FOOD FIRE FOAM FAKE-OUTS Acting on the orders of a prank caller, managers of 2 local Arby’s locations recently ended up spraying foam all over their kitchen and food-prep areas. The caller, claiming to be from the local fire department, said that the system had been turned off, but instructed the manager in each instance to pull the lever that activates the fire suppression equipment — to allow the department to perform a test. At the Arby’s on Garth Rd. in Baytown, the foam caused at least $600 in physical damage and significantly more in loss of business during the cleanup. At an Arby’s in Clear Lake, employees “followed the instructions from the caller even further and broke out the windows of the restaurant, according to [Baytown Detective Lt. Eric] Freed. The Jack-In-The-Box on Decker Drive in Baytown also got a similar call, but did not do anything that the caller said to do, he said.” [Baytown Sun]
BAYTOWN MOSQUITO REPORT, IN LANDINGS PER MINUTE “. . . while Baytonians might feel like the mosquitoes are out in droves, Director of the Baytown Health Department, Mike Lester, said what we’re really seeing is a return to ‘normal.’ ‘For the last couple of years we’ve been really fortunate that the weather has been good to us,’ he said. ‘Even though people might think it’s bad right now, the pest rate is between five and 20 landings per minute, which is average for this time of year.’ Lester explained that there are generally three peak ‘hatch-outs’ during the 11-month Gulf Coast mosquito season: May, August and November. During those months, mosquitoes hatch and mature, infesting Baytonian air for a few weeks before they give way to the next generation of larvae.” Why isn’t this kind of report a regular feature? [Baytown Sun]
Baytown’s City Council has voted to annex 320 acres of land along North Main and south of I-10 — so that Baytown’s Second Baptist Church can get utility and other municipal services for a new 48,000-sq.-ft., $8.7 million shopping-center-style facility it is hoping to construct on North Main St.
The Baytown Sun‘s Barrett Goldsmith reports that even more land may be annexed:
According to information submitted to Council by city planner Kimberly Brooks, additional property along North Main will be brought to Council for annexation as the utility system is extended to the area.
After the jump: More images of the new church . . . plus a video!