SOMEBODY FORGED TURTLEWOOD SQUARE SIGNATURES, BUT IT WASN’T HOANG Who forged neighbor signatures on a petition circulated to change the name of Turtlewood Dr. to Little Saigon Dr.? Someone who submitted them to city council member Al Hoang, a preliminary inquiry by the city’s Office of the Investigator General has determined. The report, issued last week, also appears to clear Hoang of allegations that he abused city resources in seeking to get the name of his street — in a development called Turtlewood Square, south of Bellaire Blvd. just outside the Beltway — switched. A lawsuit filed by neighbors in the case will continue; the decision on whether to proceed with an investigation of the forgeries will be up to the district attorney’s office. [Houston Politics; more detail; previously on Swamplot] Photo: HAR
THE 5 PLACES IN HOUSTON WHERE YOU’RE MOST LIKELY TO RUN INTO PEDESTRIANS The intersections of Milam and Dallas, Milam and Prairie, and San Jacinto and Congress St. Downtown; Westheimer and McCue near the Galleria; and Bellaire and Corporate Dr. just inside Beltway 8 in Asiatown rank as the top locations for auto-pedestrian accidents, according to a Chronicle review of city records. A grand total of 2,204 collisions involving cars and people traveling on foot have taken place in Houston since 2008, resulting in a total of 174 pedestrian deaths. The deaths were concentrated differently, “along the U.S. Highway 59 corridor near West Park and along Interstate 45 North and I-10 East,” with 43 percent of them taking place on freeways or major highways. [Houston Chronicle]
Whatever happened to that Park 8 condo tower, hospital, and strip-mall development planned for Beltway 8 next to Arthur Storey Park, just south of Bellaire Blvd.? The Chronicle‘s Purva Patel surveys the wreckage of the self-styled “Land of Oz”: The highrise project has long been in bankruptcy, the contractor and lender are battling over ownership of the land in court, and 2 different groups of investors and condo buyers are suing developer David Wu for their investment losses (totaling more than $2 million), alleging he has or had no intention or ability to complete the project, and that he misled them about funding and leasing commitments. Neither Wu nor his attorney would respond to the reporter’s questions.
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THE NANNY DIDN’T DO IT In a statement released last Friday, council member Al Hoang clarifies statements he made earlier to the Chronicle and KHOU 11 News’s Jeremy Rogalski that appeared to place blame for the forging of 16 neighbors’ signatures on a nanny no longer employed by Hoang’s family. The signatures were gathered for a petition requesting the name of Hoang’s street be changed from Turtlewood Dr. to Little Saigon Dr. “I have never placed blame on my former personal assistant, as some stories have portrayed,” the statement reads. “I have clearly said that the homeowners association tendered the petition to my assistant at home, not that she maliciously forged that petition.” Hoang says he welcomes the Office of Inspector General investigation into the incident, which Mayor Parker announced last week. [Houston Politics; previously on Swamplot]
Update, 6/20: Hoang has issued a statement about his nanny.
Mayor Parker has requested a separate city investigation into whether council member Al Hoang forged the signatures of 16 neighbors in a bid to change the name of his street from Turtlewood Dr. to Little Saigon Dr. A petition requesting the name change was circulated among the residents of Turtlewood Square — a development of 47 nine-or-so-year-old homes located behind a Bellaire Blvd. strip center just west of Arthur Storey Park. A lawsuit filed by several residents of the development alleges that the when the petition was given to Hoang it didn’t have the signatures of the required 75 percent of residents. The lawsuit claims that by the time Hoang submitted the petition to the city, it had gained an additional 16 names — all forged. Hoang appears to have told 11 News reporter Jeremy Rogalski that he believes his nanny — who no longer works for him — was responsible for the extra names. After the allegations of forgery, Hoang submitted a direct request for the name change to the city’s planning department. The mayor has put both name change requests on hold pending resolution of the investigation.
University of Houston architecture professor Susan Rogers explores the Bellaire-Holcombe corridor from Highway 6 to the Med Center and finds a donut in her path.
For each census tract that intersects Holcombe or Bellaire Blvd., Rogers tallied the total number of residents born outside the United States and those residents’ country of origin, using 2000 Census data. The results surprised her:
Most of the action is in the zone between the Loop and the Beltway. “The diversity drops steeply inside 610,” she notes:
I had graphed the street from just 610 to Hwy. 6 for a talk on the links between Asia and Houston and then decided to add the rest as a potential “contrast” – what I found when I completed it absolutely astounded me – the absolute drop is so stark – and of course the income graph is nearly the exact opposite . . .
That graph showing median household income in the same census tracts:
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Here’s a surprise: a construction permit for a new 23-story
Chinatown Asiatown condominium tower was issued yesterday for Park 8 Place. Remember Park8? That’s the freeway feeder megastrip project planned for just across Brays Bayou from Arthur Storey Park, along Beltway 8 south of Bellaire Blvd. The one that called itself “The Land of Oz.”
The entire development was supposed to include three 20-something-story residential towers, a hospital, two 2-story retail-and-office strips, and a couple of parking garages — all in a quaint freeway-and-park-side setting. A foundation was poured for the first condo building last year, but Park 8 CEO David Wu put the project on hold after he was unable to secure financing. So the construction crane came down.
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FORGET IT, JAKE. IT’S ASIATOWN The Chronicle quietly debuts that new, more inclusive name for the pan-Asian strip along Bellaire Blvd. between 59 and Highway 6 formerly known as Chinatown: Asiatown. A recent email describing marauding, gun-toting, and noodle-slurping gangs in the area is wrong: “Janet Chiu, manager of Tan Tan, one of the purportedly robbed restaurants, said the tales caused business to drop by 20 percent. ‘It’s more Dead Town than Asiatown,’ she complained, voicing a strident denial that her cafe had been robbed.” [Houston Chronicle]