03/24/16 10:00am

COSMOPOLITAN’S CONDO ASSOCIATION PREEMPTIVELY SUED BY WOULD-BE NEXT-DOOR HIGHRISE DEVELOPER IN UPTOWN South elevation of proposed Vantage highrise, Post Oak Blvd. at San Felipe St., Uptown, Houston, 77056Dinerstein is evidently embracing the ‘inevitable lawsuit’ over its proposed 40-story Vantage highrise (planned for the northwest corner of Post Oak Blvd. and San Felipe Dr. next to the 22-story Cosmopolitan condo tower) by suing first, reports Nancy Sarnoff.  In 2014, Cosmo residents formed a political action committee to oppose a now-scrapped 50-story tower planned by AmREIT for the same Uptown corner; Sarnoff reports that the lot’s current owner has filed a suit against the condo association to preemptively block nuisance claims related to the tower’s construction (which featured prominently in the legal fight surrounding the Ashby highrise). The plaintiff also wants a judge’s declaration that the condo group doesn’t have legal standing to sue based on alleged violation of city ordinances; the developer wants attorney’s fees paid, too. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Elevation of proposed Vantage tower: Gensler 

09/29/14 4:45pm

A LIFEBOAT FOR THE ROYALTON’S CORRODING CROWN? Top of Royalton at River Oaks Condominiums, 3333 Allen Pkwy., HoustonJudging from court filings, there appears to have been some sort of resolution to the lawsuit filed more than 2 years ago by the condominium association of the 253-unit Royalton at River Oaks highrise over the design of the steel grid at the top of the building at 3333 Allen Pkwy. The lawsuit claimed the structure was corroding and was designed in such away that made maintaining it or recoating it impossible — and sought damages from the building’s contractor, architect, and other parties. The condo association dropped its claims against many of those parties late last month. And a reader wonders if the attachment seen hanging below the structure in the recent photo at left, which “almost looks like a hot tub,” is part of some newly devised cleaning solution. [Prime Property] Photo: Swamplot inbox

12/03/12 2:47pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: HOW YOUR TINY NEIGHBORHOOD CAN CAPTURE A BIG SWAMPLOT AWARD “Attention HOAs: Do not send out your end of the year email until the nominations for best neighborhood are in so you can order your members to stuff the ballot box. It keeps the category interesting each year to learn about some small hamlet of a neighborhood that has managed to keep things together through all of Houston’s booms and busts. Otherwise, it would just be an annual Heights v. Midtown grudge match.” [Old School, commenting on The 2012 Swamplot Awards for Houston Real Estate Begin Now]

11/29/12 3:12pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: ENDING THE GAYWOOD EMBARRASSMENT “As a longtime resident of Gaywood, I can tell you we have had a lot of fun with that name. In fact, I have even entertained making the following motion at one of our homeowners’ association meetings: ‘In order to end the embarrassment we all suffer because of the name of this subdivision, we should remove that offensive, misleading, double-entendre word from the name. Therefore, I propose that we rename our subdivision . . . GayFOREST.’” [Scott, commenting on Daily Demolition Report: Capping Haddick]

05/07/12 3:16pm

JUDGE TO HOA: YOUR POTBELLIED NEIGHBOR CAN STAY 60-lb. porcine Spring resident Wilbur Sardo will not be exiled from The Thicket at Cypresswood subdivision — because his presence in the neighborhood does not violate the local deed restrictions, a Harris County judge ruled today. The pig’s attorney, HOA law specialist Mitchell Katine, tells Chronicle reporter Erin Mulvaney that the decision in the lawsuit filed by the animal’s owners marks “the first time a Vietnamese pot belly pig has been recognized as a pet in court.” The neighborhood’s community improvement association had argued that Wilbur counted as livestock, and was therefore prohibited. The Sardo family began an extensive media campaign around its quest to keep Wilbur after receiving a notice from the association last year that it would be subject to fines of $200 a day if it continued to keep their pet at home. [NewsWatch; previously on Swamplot] Photo: iWilbur.com

09/28/11 11:51am

POSSIBLE SCAM TARGETED KATY-AREA HOAS Complaints from 3 suburban homeowners’ associations — including the one for the Estates of Avalon at Seven Meadows gated community west of the Grand Parkway near Fry Rd. in Katy — have been filed against Arrow Community Management, alleging the Cinco Ranch management company misappropriated HOA funds. Arrow’s owner, Taggert Mayfield, received a sentence of 3 years’ deferred adjudication earlier this month after he pled guilty to mishandling $20,000 in HOA funds. Sgt. David Schultz of the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office tells reporter Deborah Wrigley that one new report he’s investigating claims an Arrow-managed HOA is missing about $120,000. The company, which appears to have shut down its operations, had contracts with more than a dozen HOAs in Harris and Fort Bend Counties. [abc13] Photo of Estates of Avalon at Seven Meadows: Keller Williams Premier Realty

09/14/11 12:51pm

WATCHING WHERE YOU PARK IN RAINTREE PLACE A resident of Raintree Place received an email complaint from the community’s property owners association approximately 10 minutes after her parked car was spotted in her own driveway. Dianne Josephs, who rents her home, tells the Houston Press she had been loading up her vehicle with clothing and household goods to donate to wildfire victims. Regulations in the private gated neighborhood of 86 lots inside the Loop at 10 South Briar Hollow Ln. between San Felipe and Post Oak Blvd. prohibit residents from leaving cars anywhere other than in their garages or in a few designated visitor spaces. This isn’t Josephs’s first run-in with neighborhood authorities: “Josephs says her neighbor circles the complex several times a day to report open garages and cars parked in driveways. Once, she reported him for having his garage open, and she says he flipped her daughter off with both hands. ‘I wanna buy it [the house], but the people here are so mean!!’ squealed Josephs. ‘They yell at me and say, “You’re nothing but trouble.”…but I question authority. When I think it’s crazy, I question it.'” [Hair Balls] Photo: Raintree Place

07/13/11 10:50am

SOME PIG The host family of a 60-lb., 8-month-old pot-bellied pig named Wilbur, who resides on Fir Forest Dr. near Big Cypress Dr. in Spring, plans to go door-to-door asking for neighbors to sign a petition that would allow its pet to remain at home. Deed restrictions prohibit owners in The Thicket subdivision from raising livestock. Missy Sardo received a notice from her homeowners association giving her 30 days to find a new home for the pig — after neighbors complained. “‘One of the complaints was that he roots in your backyard, and I said, “So? It’s my backyard,” and he said, “The other complaint was that they smell,” and I said, “He doesn’t smell, they have no sweat glands, they smell better than most dogs who’ve been outside.”‘” At a neighborhood meeting this week, Sardo was told that if 51 percent of the pet’s 250 neighbors sign her petition, Wilbur will be allowed to stay. The pig has already collected close to 1000 friends on his Facebook page. [KHOU 11 News] Video: Wilbur Sardo

03/01/11 9:25am

SOUTHMEADOW’S $315 FORECLOSURE FIGHT Why does the West Airport Homeowners Association take up a half page of its newsletter each month with lists of fees for various legal costs associated with policing deed restriction and other violations? Because fee collection and enforcement appears to be a major focus of the organization. An attorney for Southmeadow resident William Castellon claims the HOA — which is operated by a company called Randall Management — has run up $75,000 in legal fees fighting lawsuits over a $315 annual maintenance fee it claims Castellon failed to pay, though Castellon says he did. (A second check sent by Castellon for the same payment was returned.) The HOA filed suit against Castellon, seeking to foreclose on his home near West Airport and South Gessner. Last fall, after Castellon sued back, a jury ruled in his favor and awarded him more than $40,000. But the HOA is now attempting to reverse the decision. Fox 26 reporter Randy Wallace’s calls to the HOA’s law firm, Gammon & Associates, were not returned. [MyFox Houston]

11/02/10 4:48pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: AN UPDATE FOR POTENTIAL CONDO INVESTORS AT PINE VILLAGE NORTH “the HOA has financial and legal problems. it’s operating month-2-month; no reserves. even though our assessments are supposed to cover exterior repairs of our units, you may never get your units repaired, unless you do it yourself. many of the units have serious plumbing problems. if the HOA is dissolved, PV may become a free-for-all; it’s almost that now. if you’re willing to risk all of that, then go ahead and buy, otherwise, don’t.” [Marina Sugg, commenting on Pine Village North Open House Welcome] Photo of Pine Village North: HAR

05/10/10 10:53am

STUCK IN THOSE NEIGHBORHOOD SAND TRAPS The Ohio investor who bought up 3 Houston community golf courses over the last decade, then sold the one in Quail Valley to Missouri City a couple of years ago, is running into a few obstacles in his attempts to sell the other 2 to developers: “The latest roadblock came with a jury verdict late last year that would prohibit the use of the land that once served as the Inwood Forest Country Club for any purpose other than a golf course. . . . The Harris County jury found that the Inwood Forest golf property contained an ‘implied reciprocal negative easement,’ [Inwood Forest homeowners association member Julie] Grothues said. In plain English, that means that an owner of the course is bound to keep it as a course even though the original deed has no such restrictive covenant. The lawyer for the homeowners association argued that the course was an essential component of the neighborhood, and that allowing it to be cut up for development would irrevocably change the character of the community and the value of the homes.” Is Mark Voltmann’s game going any better at the shuttered Clear Lake Golf Club? “The deed for the Clear Lake property contains a restriction preventing owners from using it for anything but a golf course or recreational facility until 2021. Voltmann has filed suit to try to bust the deed restrictions. In theory, success could translate into a big payday, as a portion of the property has good commercial potential. But the Inwood verdict is looming. If it stands up, homeowners could use the same argument to stymie him again.” [Houston Chronicle; listing]

02/01/10 10:03am

A loyal Swamplot tipster alerts us to a copy of a letter that appeared on a neighborhood email list late last week. The letter is signed by Mark Thuesen, president of the condominium association at the 2520 Robinhood at Kirby condos. Loyal Swamplot readers, of course, will recognize that name — Thuesen is one of 3 condo residents named in a lawsuit by the owners of Hans’ Bier Haus, the little outdoorish bar that’s next door to the 16-story Rice Village residential tower. The lawsuit claims that Theusen and 2 others attacked patrons at the bar several times, throwing beer cans, bottles, and eggs at them from above, as well as spraying performing musicians with water.

Unsurprisingly, Thuesen does not specifically mention those allegations in his letter, which we presume is meant for fellow condo residents. But he is kind enough to include a copy of the temporary injunction handed down by Judge Patricia Hancock last week, which specifically prohibits Theusen [sic], 2 codefendants, and all residents of 2520 Robinhood from “throwing any sort of object whatsoever” or “intentionally running or pouring water or any other liquid upon” Hans’ Bier Haus.

Thuesen does, however, draw attention to the now-famous incident on December 13th of last year, in which Hans’ Bier Haus co-owner Bill Cave stormed into the condo lobby and dragged the concierge by his tie into an elevator — on a quest to turn off the water that was spraying onto bar patrons and musicians from a hose connected to the patio of an upper-story condo resident:


12/08/09 4:08pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: ENDEAVOUR RESCUE PLAN “Original asking prices for the 80 unit tower ranged from $425k to $2.5 million. After all the hype about sales, it looks like the developer was only able to sell 36 units. Now Regions has unloaded 44 units for an average price of $216k plus back taxes and interest. OUCH! And what can we read between the lines of this comment? ‘The group also said it would pay normally budgeted homeowner assessments for 2010 for any condo owner current on their assessments for 2009.’ It sounds to me like MANY of the 36 original buyers are behind on their maintenance fees. Wonmore is trying to incentivize them [to] get current by offering to pay all their fees for 2010??? That sounds like an awfully big incentive? Are they trying to solve an awfully big problem? When condo associations go broke, look out below. . . .” [Bernard, commenting on Wonmore in Bankrupt Endeavour]

11/09/09 2:47pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHERE O WHERE HAS OUR SUBDIVISION’S BUILDER GONE? “Does anyone have any information of OBRA HOMES bankruptcy? I am also in TimberMeadows and a few of us are trying to organize a meeting this coming Sunday, Nov 15th at 6 pm to see about hiring an attorney to contact OBRA Homes. Any info will help. Thanks.” [Miguel, commenting on Obra Homes Secret Hiding Place Revealed!]

01/09/09 4:59pm

The developer of the Mosaic highrise overlooking Hermann Park — a limited partnership between Phillips Development & Realty and publicity-shy Florida Capital Real Estate Group — declared bankruptcy earlier this week to avoid foreclosure on a $71 million loan from Chicago lender Corus Bankshares. Florida Capital, originally the equity partner, will be taking over as the general partner.

The bankruptcy covers just the first Mosaic tower. The second tower, rebranded the Montage, has not yet defaulted on its separate $71 million Corus loan.

So how have sales been going at the Mosaic? It depends, the Houston Business Journal‘s Jennifer Dawson learns, who you ask: