SIZING UP BROADSTONE ARTS DISTRICT, THE UNBUILT APARTMENTS ACROSS FROM SAWYER YARDS
328 units will crowd into the planned building according to a rundown of coming Houston residential developments put out by investment firm Berkadia and dug up by HAIF sleuth Urbannizer just the earlier today. (That’s a bit smaller-scale than the 375-unit Broadstone Studemont mid-rise now going vertical on a slightly larger 4-acre block of land half a mile away on Studemont at Summer St.) Although nothing’s changed physically at the site since several warehouse buildings were demolished on it 2 years ago, it has seen some recent action on paper: In March Houston’s planning commission approved a request to consolidate 2 separate, abutting parcels of land into a single nearly–4-acre property on which the apartment will rise just north of the railroad tracks that cross Sawyer St. The property owner: an entity connected to developer Frank Liu of Lovett Commercial and InTown Homes. He’s also got his hands on the 2 warehouses-turned-retail-buildings across the street where new tenants continue to file in, as well as the Salvation Army structure south of them. [Berkadia (PDF) via HAIF] Photo: Swamplot inbox
If the top of that pointy gazebo currently camped out at the about-to-open Park for Humans and Dogs by Glenwood Cemetery looks familiar, it’s because it’s been lurking around the Houston landscape for the last 115 years or so. This morning Susie Tommaney inventories the history and internet lore surrounding the house at 2201 Fannin St., from which a cupola nicknamed the Witch’s Hat was plucked just before the home’s 1997 demolition. “Not many people realize that the cupola was saved,” TIRZ 13 chair Claude Anello tells Swamplot, sending along the photo above of the hat’s installation, as well as his account of the hat’s rediscovery, reshaping, and ground-up career-building:
“I got a call a few years ago from Carl Detering, who had stored it in his outdoor storage yard at Detering’s on Washington. He was selling the property and told me that someone needed to get it or he would be forced to throw it in the dumpster. When I went to look at it, it had basically melted, [and] a tree had grown up through the middle of it (removed prior to photos) . . . Several people told us that it was beyond repair, but we dismantled it, had it reconstructed, and designed the park around it. It sat on the ground for a couple of years while we dealt with issues related to park design and permitting.”
Here’s a few tree-free glamour shots of the Hat prior to those reconstructive procedures, circa late 2013:
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Sawyer St. Comeback
Most of the low mounds of dirt appear to be in place now at the carefully labeled Park for Human & Dogs on Sawyer between Union and Decatur streets (though there’s still grass to plant and a port-a-potty to extract). The park-to-be (across from beaver-free barbecue pub Beaver’s) sits on city-owned land backed backed up against the Glenwood Cemetery and the 2411 Washington apartment complex. The Old Sixth Ward Redevelopment Authority (e.g., TIRZ 13) was given to go-ahead to build on the site back in October.
Wavy playhouse designer Metalab currently has a few renderings of the project up on their website; those tiny hills popping up around the property make an appearance, as does the spindly gazebo off to the left above (which the firm says reemployed the Witch Hat, the salvaged cupola of an 1899 house demolished in 1997 at 2201 Fannin St.):
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People-Friendly on Sawyer
Neighborhood obliteration never really took off in the Sixth Ward the way it did in the Fourth. Maybe the experience is something developers can learn from as they set about tackling the Third Ward. In the meantime, a new proposal would seal the Old Sixth Ward Historic District’s fate, extending a six-month moratorium on demolitions.
Here’s the concept: instead of being a plain ol’ Historic District, most of the Sixth Ward neighborhood would be renamed as a Protected Historic District. An entirely new concept.
This would be okay, really. The neighborhood is mostly small old Victorian houses. You don’t get the really spectacular demolitions unless the buildings have some concrete or steel.
Photo: 2015 Lubbock, available at Har.com