02/09/18 3:30pm

TICKETS FOR FLOODPLAIN VIOLATIONS COULD BE IN HARRIS COUNTY’S FUTURE Harris County is looking for the state’s permission to make floodplain violations a criminal offense — reports the Chronicle’s Mihir Zaveri — arguing that “issuing a Class C misdemeanor to violators would increase the county’s ability to enforce its rules because it is quicker, less costly for the violator and the county and has the potential to increase compliance.” Right now, the worst the county can do to developers who break the rules and don’t respond to citations or other violation notices is to take them to civil court, which it has been reluctant to do. Case in point: 2 years ago, Zaveri and Mike Morris reported that despite issuing 324 floodplain regulation violations to developers in 2015, the county only had 25 civil lawsuits pending against builders who broke the rules. Gov. Abbott vetoed a bill similar to what’s on the table now last year, saying criminalizing violations would stretch the definition of criminal offense too thin. But according to Harris County’s chief administrative officer for public infrastructure coordination Josh Stuckey, there’s already a precedent for this type of hardline drainage enforcement: “The county uses a similar method for violations of regulations for private septic tanks, which has worked ‘very well,'” he tells Zaveri. [Houston Chronicle] Photo of red tag at Bourbon on Bagby, 2708 Bagby St.: Swamplot inbox

01/26/16 12:30pm

Oakmoor Pkwy. at Acaciawood Way, South Main, Houston, 77051

A ‘dozer was sighted this past week roaming across the newly-cleared plains at the dead end of Acaciawood Dr. into Oakmoor Pkwy., just south of Airport Blvd. between Almeda Rd. and a disconnected stretch of Kirby Dr. (nearly 2 miles southeast of where the main section of Kirby halts, on Holmes Rd. next to the intended UT Houston campus). Workers clearing the land last week told a reader that new apartments were planned for the spot (shown above); the tract, however, is sliced up into single-family-home-sized bites in County Appraisal District records. The land sits south of the Oakmoor Apartments, which sprouted up around the end of 2006. The short neighborhood streets on the other side of Oakmoor were in place by 2008, though the homes now lining them didn’t begin too appear until 2012.

In the distance, the photo above also catches a view of the nearby Harbor Hospice Houston Inpatient Facility (to the left of center, behind a brushpile), and the Citadel on Kirby (to the right), which hosts weddings, galas, and corporate events. Across Kirby lies the Houston Sports Park — work on the first 7 fields at the Houston Dynamo’s professional training facility started at the end of 2009 and wrapped up by 2012. The Houston Parks Board is now fundraising to add an additional 11 fields at the complex, which is also open for public recreational use.


Oakmoor Oaks No More
07/29/13 2:00pm

Swamplot reader Robert Meaney sends some observations along with these photos from the Fifth Ward of the 136-acre former KBR industrial property, sold a little more than a year ago and most recently designated for use as a private helistop: “I know they have been excavating for some time to get the contaminated soil out of the area. Currently they are scheduled to be finished digging up the lot by [December of] this year and according [to] the KBR manager I talked to on site the land will be up to commercial and residential standards.”

Photos: Robert Meaney

07/17/13 10:00am

Note: Read more about that tree here.

The sign shows that a variance is pending to reduce the setback here along Spur 527 — at left in the photo above — the better to fit 15 single-family lots on the less-than-an-acre property between W. Alabama and Marshall St. in the Westmoreland Historic District. A site plan included in the variance application for the subdivision Carnegie Oaks at Westmoreland shows that the 0.83-acre lot would be parceled out, with driveway access to the north from Marshall and to the south from W. Alabama. The lot’s right across the street from that fixed-up former Skylane complex the Spur. A city rep says that the planning commission will decide on the variance next week.


07/15/13 4:00pm

A reader wants in on the scoop with this swath of fenced-in property, bound by Ewing, Jackson, and Hermann Drive in Museum Park: “There has been a lot of surveying and staking of the empty lot . . . between The Parklane highrise and The Plaza Museum District condos. Off-and-on for a month, Bury Partners personnel have been surveying both the perimeter and interior of the property as well as inspecting the sewer access on Hermann Drive. Any thoughts on what this means?”

Photo: Allyn West

07/09/13 3:00pm

This solid swath of property neighbored by tightly packed cul-de-sacs in Hunters Creek Village appears to be swinging that way: County records show that just one 7,549-sq.-ft. home now stands on these 4.4 acres at the corner of Memorial and Voss, and a Hunters Creek Village employee tells Swamplot that the property is being subdivided and 7 new homes will be arranged inside the gated community called Reynolds Court Addition.

Photos: Swamplot inbox

06/03/13 3:45pm

This sign, which showed up recently on the fence outside the 136-acre former KBR site at Hirsch Rd. indicates that the air over Clinton might soon be filled with choppers — but for what? City building inspector and helistop specialist Larry LaHaie says that that hasn’t been disclosed, but he does know that it’ll be a “private facility . . . not for hospitals, not for police.” The work will involve clearing the former industrial property that seems to have been “left to go au naturel,” he says, and cleaning up a defunct landing pad that had been discontinued “6 to 7 years ago.” The Ship Channel-fronting site in the Fifth Ward has sat vacant since most of its buildings were demolished a little more than a year ago and it was sold by KBR to undisclosed buyers.

Photo: @GoingUpCity via Twitter

05/31/13 3:00pm

It doesn’t seem that this grassy, fenced-in lot along Montrose between W. Dallas and Allen Pkwy. is going to change very much: All that scraping and dragging a few weeks ago was to level the ground for a cricket field, according to a contractor at the firm responsible for doing the dirt work. The Aga Khan Youth and Sports Facility, the contractor says, will comprise that cricket field, a pair of soccer fields, and a concession stand. In 2006, the Aga Khan Foundation purchased and demolished the Robinson Warehouse on this frequently flooded 11-acre property and said it was planning to build an Ismaili Center here.

Photo: Allyn West

05/20/13 3:10pm

“There’s a lot that’s recently been cleared immediately behind the Asia Society,” reports a reader. You know the one, at the corner of Oakdale and Caroline St.? The one whose owners refused to sell, forcing Asia Society architect Yoshio Taniguchi to design around it? Where there was that 1930s vine-covered home being used as a doctor’s office that was supposed to be sold and renovated into a restaurant, but never was?

Well, in February, 5219 Caroline appeared in the Daily Demolition Report. And this photo taken from the median shows what the site looks like now. The reader continues:

All of the neighbors have questioned who owns the property and what is to happen to it. According to HCAD it appeared to be owned by Balcor, the company behind the rather unpopular Parc Binz. . . . We’re wondering if the Asia Society is trying to buy the land . . . [T]he neighbors who live in the town homes across from Asia Society have complained that the social events held on site tend to be quite loud, quite late. Overall, the neighborhood couldn’t be happier to have this organization in its bounds. And, if they were to own that land, if only they’d open a little gourmet coffee shop. That would please hundreds of people. . . . I’ve heard from Asia Society . . . that they’re trying to purchase the land. I think there is something more going on there — but no one is talking at this point.

Photo: Allyn West

05/15/13 12:00pm

Flanked by a pair of churches, these stick frames just popped up in the Third Ward. Plans for the development called Bastrop Plaza show a row of 9 townhouses on a vacant lot at the intersection of Webster and Bastrop. That’s a block west of Dowling St., 2 blocks south of the Gulf Fwy., and 2 5 north of Emancipation Park, primed for a very expensive redevelopment project of its own this summer. A sign at the construction site here announces that the townhouses will start at $260,000.


05/10/13 12:05pm

A reader sends this photo of the site prep going on at the fenced-in empty lot that made a recent cameo in that Montrose Dancing Rollerblader featurette. Owned since 2006 by the Aga Khan Foundation, which has said it planned to build an Ismaili Center here on the flood-prone makeshift dog park on Montrose between W. Dallas and Allen Pkwy., the property hasn’t seen much activity — other than the dancing, of course — for awhile.

Until this week, that is. And now the reader wants to know what the deal might be: “Looks like a lot of development is happening in this block. I read . . . about the development on the AIG side [of Montrose], but now the other side, next to those Amli apartments, seems to be breaking ground on something large. Any idea what’s gonna be placed there?”

Photo: Swamplot inbox

05/01/13 11:30am

Construction has started in Pasadena on one of the largest loading and unloading zones of beer in Texas. Silver Eagle Distributors, whose lookalike company headquarters you can see from I-10 north of Memorial Park, says that the $25 million, 400,000-sq.-ft. distribution center will sit on 50 acres near the Sam Houston Tollway and those Independence Trail scenes painted on the Pasadena Freeway refineries.

Image: Silver Eagle Distributors via Swamplot inbox

04/23/13 10:15am

Before construction can begin next month on this 4-story apartment complex planned for the southwest corner of Cypresswood Dr. and the Tomball Pkwy., some things have to go. Developers Embry and Stonelake Capital appear to have in mind an unscraped 15.4-acre site that’s thick with trees, and Real Estate Bisnow’s Catie Dixon reports that the demise of an “existing structure” is imminent. But she doesn’t say which one. And neither has Embry. But: The manager at the Arby’s there on Cypresswood says it’s not the Arby’s.


04/18/13 1:45pm

In the middle of last summer, Interfaith Ministries closed on almost 76,000 sq. ft. of Midtown property spanning 2 catty-corner blocks just north of HCC, including the PrimeWay Federal Credit Union building shown here at 3303 Main St.; the organization says it’s closing in on the $12.5 million needed to fund the renovation of the 39,000-sq.-ft. bank into its headquarters and the construction of a new 14,000-sq.-ft. Meals on Wheels distribution center at Elgin and Fannin.


04/16/13 2:00pm

It’s parched and scruffy, sure, and there’s an abandoned slab without any load-bearing walls to keep it company, but this less-than-a-half-acre patch of grass on Yoakum Blvd. could be the site of a 3-story office building: A rep from Owens Management Systems says that a variance application for the site just west of Castle Court in Montrose has been approved by the city planning commission, and a commercial architecture firm is considering moving to what’s being dubbed the Yoakum Enclave. The 0.4-acre lot backs into Mt. Vernon St. and up against the U.S. 59 barrier wall at the very end of the 4300 block of Yoakum, south of the University of St. Thomas and the construction site on Richmond Ave. of the 6-story Campanile South.