06/15/18 10:45am

The Red Door Cafe’s red door remains at 1918 E. NASA Pkwy., but Hubcap Grill has refashioned the rest of the space into something more chop-shop chic: a new paintjob sets off the chrome appointments now covering the once-white front facade and a new headlamp illuminates the door. There’s also BURGERS on the grille above the entrance.

But that’s just the bodywork. The interior got a full remodel, too, including new floors, appliances, AC, electrical, and this custom chandelier:


Auto Body Transformation
02/09/18 4:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: IDENTIFYING THE WILDLIFE ON THE VALENTINE CORNER LAW OFFICE IN SEABROOK “So those are dolphins along the sidewalk, made many years ago by Mr. Miller across the street. And there were sharks on the side of the building up high. I took them down a few years ago to have the sharks polished, and the guy I hired disappeared with my 2 sharks.” [Michael Valentine, commenting on TxDOT Wins Custody of Head-Turning Tiny Law Office in Seabrook Ahead of Planned Hwy. 146 Widening] Photo of Valentine Law Office, 1210 Bayport Blvd.: BFS Man [license]

02/07/18 4:30pm

The 660-sq.-ft. law office marooned on a traffic island in Seabrook for 86 years might finally get ousted from its spot in local what-is-that-thing lore when TxDOT’s planned road widening project gets underway along a 3-mile stretch of Hwy. 146. Attorney Michael Valentine bought the building on the corner of Bayport Blvd. and 2nd St. in 1989 and did it up with the leafy haircut and  shark dolphin-themed metal edging. (Bayport Blvd. is the segment of 146 that runs through Seabrook — shown to the left of building in the photo at top.) In its past lives, the 2-story wedge at 1210 Bayport had been at various points an ice house and a bait shop.

Documents filed with Harris County Clerk show that TxDOT agreed to snatch the building from Valentine for a sum of $114,356 last October after filing an eminent domain proceeding against the entity he uses to administer the property. At least 9 other businesses along Bayport, including Ryan’s Cleaners, Tookie’s Burgers, and Laredo’s Tex-Mex Cafe have already closed or relocated ahead of the roadwork that plans to turn 146 between Red Bluff Rd. and Clear Creek — currently 4 lanes — into 12.


Eminent Domain
11/14/16 3:15pm

SPURNED BY NORWEGIAN, PRINCESS, BAYPORT CRUISE TERMINAL TURNS TO CHILLIN’ FRUIT, FIXING UP CARS Bayport Cruise TerminalBereft of tourist companionship after little more than a pair of brief affairs with Norwegian and Princess cruise lines (both of which ended abruptly in mid-2015), the $108-million Bayport Cruise Terminal is picking up and moving on next month, when the first shipment of automobiles for Auto Warehousing Inc. is scheduled to make landing. Andrea Rumbaugh writes that the company has a 3-year lease to use the former cruise facility to make after-market mods before sending cars on their way to dealerships; port commission chairwoman Janiece Longoria also tells Rumbaugh that port-owned areas near the terminal are being outfitted with more chilled storage space, possibly paving the way for the failed Ship Channel vacation destination to make a comeback as a fruit-and-veggie hub. [Houston Chronicle; previously on SwamplotPhoto: Port of Houston

06/22/16 12:45pm

Tookie's Seafood, 1106 Bayport Blvd., Seabrook, TX, 77586

Seabrook’s Tookie’s Burgers’ new marine-minded companion is up and running this week at 1106 Bayport Blvd. The original rural-drugstore-themed Tookie’s opened in 1975 but was destroyed by Hurricane Ike; Barry and Melissa Terrell bought and reopened the 3,800-sq.-ft.-ish burger stand in 2011 before getting started on an elevated 12,000-sq.-ft. Tookie’s-branded seafood spot (shown above in late spring prior to final construction touches) in the lot next door. 

The new Tookie’s, standing on stilts some 3 blocks from the SH 146 bridge over Clear Lake and Galveston Bay, is more hurricane resistant than the still-functioning original (or at least less flood-prone). The raised space is designed to hold around 400 people (counting a 100-person banquet space), though the company says they’re running at about half capacity for now while the staff gets the hang of things. Here’s a peek at the building from earlier this year, with the yellow signage of the original Tookie’s just visible in the distance to the upper left:


Jumbo Shrimp Shop
04/23/14 4:15pm

514 Villa Dr., Villas by the Sea, Seabrook, Texas

514 Villa Dr., Villas by the Sea, Seabrook, TexasWelcome to lovely Villa by the Sea, the quaint Mediterranean-themed gated McMansion development off Todville Rd. in Seabrook that just happens to be built on the grounds of the former mansion where owner, trailer-rental mogul, and child predator Bill List was shot by some angry houseguests back in 1984. That last detail about the neighborhood’s history, apparently, was unknown to Nir Golan, who recently signed a lease to rent the house pictured above. The 4,550-sq.-ft. seaside home at 514 Villa Dr. was built in 2006 on a section of the land where part of List’s absurd 34,000-sq.-ft. mansion itself once stood, facing east toward Galveston Bay.

Golan says his Realtor didn’t tell him about the homesite’s history, but that he simply can’t live there now that he knows what happened. “People say that they wouldn’t come to my house as a guest,” he tells KHOU’s Jacqueline Crea. Crea reports that the homeowner has agreed to terminate Golan’s lease, but won’t return the deposit; he tells her he had no obligation to disclose any information about the Todville mansion. (Law professor Gerald Treece, who appears in the story, seems to agree on the disclosure issue.) Golan plans to sue to the current owner to get his money back, he tells KHOU.


Spooked by a Bit of Seabrook History
03/04/14 12:15pm

Schirra Family in Front of Home on Pine Shadows Dr., Timber Cove, HoustonThe homes depicted in the teevee version of The Astronaut Wives Club may turn out to be a bit more landlocked than the actual Space Age family spreads they’re modeled after. Location scouts for the upcoming ABC mini-series, which will be based on the book by Lily Koppel, appear to be steering clear of the actual Clear Lake-area neighborhoods the original 7 astronaut families lived in — and pushing west instead. Real estate agent Robert Searcy tells Swamplot the location scouts who contacted him were looking for a neighborhood with original-looking mid-fifties-era houses. So he passed info around to owners he knew about, letting them decide if they wanted to open up their homes to teevee crews: “They also contacted Houston Mod,” Searcy says:

“Apparently [the site scouts] are most interested in what they loosely described as ‘mid-range’ homes of the era, not updated. I got them in a few houses in Glenbrook Valley and a couple in Meadowcreek Village, including the Mackie & Kamrath one over there, but I think some of the mods were a bit too grand for what they are looking for. They seem to be most focused on Willowbend right now. So if you live in Willowbend in a non-updated house, don’t be shocked if you get a note on your door!”


From Timber Cove to Willowbend
01/28/14 11:45am



Taylor Lake is only part of the scene-setting found at this sprawling 1973 waterfront estate on a point of Seabrook’s El Lago Estates. While the lion’s share of the listing photos feature the tidy grounds and exterior’s grand-scaled impact, the interior delivers quite a cinematic cornucopia of thematic decor — and lighting, such as found in the fuchia glow of the Moulin Rouged bedroom pictured above. Scene it?


OMG Interiors
10/07/13 4:45pm

Marshlands ebb and flow just off a 1.3-acre by-the-bay property on the Surf Oaks Marsh side of Pine Gully in Seabrook. Neighbors across the wetlands are pretty quiet — they include rugged Pine Gully Park and Seabrook Cemetery. The porched, patioed, and pavilioned home appeared on the market last week with an asking price of $625,000. Back in 2009, it sold for $400,000 (when the asking price was $449,000).


12/17/12 11:40am

Cupola-capped, this perky 1967 seaside retreat in Seabrook’s El Jardin Del Mar community has expansive views of Upper Galveston Bay from cheery-trimmed windows and a gazebo-enhanced porch. Asking $350,000 since its initial listing 2 months ago, the property’s unwavering price includes all the “like-a-picture book” furnishings, many of which are as mirrored as the walls.


11/28/12 4:38pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: DIRECTING BAYPORT TOURISTS “This terminal sure has had some bad PR. Sure there’s the container terminal right next door, but it’s not so unsightly. And planting a few hundred or so palm trees could even obstruct that view from the roadway if so desired. There aren’t any refineries in the immediate area — lots of homes though. Those departing from the Bayport Cruise Terminal should be directed to drive from I-45 to NASA Bypass/Parkway to 146 to Port Road — thus avoiding the unsightly industrial area on 225. Make sure the passengers see Clear Lake on their way to the terminal instead of the Port of Houston. NASA and Kemah are just a few miles from this terminal. Kinda touristy if you ask me. Lots of land available for building hotels, restaurants, and shops too. It’s not Galveston — no. But it’s not all dark clouds as many make it out to be.” [Thomas, commenting on Comment of the Day Runner-Up: Bayport for Tourists]

11/27/12 4:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY RUNNER-UP: BAYPORT FOR TOURISTS “So no rent and docking fees? Which means the port will only be making money off of parking? Maybe something off of the cruise tickets? The Bayport cruise terminal is a nice feature, but the problem is that it’s located in the middle of nowhere. Most cruise ports are located where passengers can get off the cruise and be a tourist. Even though Galveston is the beginning and ending for many cruise passengers, it is also a destination for many also. New Orleans also feeds off this. The Bayport terminal is essentially dropping off passengers at a cargo terminal in the middle of a petro-chemical complex. FUN!” [kjb434, commenting on Port of Houston Paying $6.7 Million in Cruise Bait for Suddenly Popular Bayport Terminal]