06/04/14 12:30pm

Grand Parkway Segment D, Fort Bend County, Houston

Houston: The City with No Limits LogoThe campaign may include some ingredients that remind us of its predecessors — the new video reintroducing Houston to potential visitors, for example, features a rockin’ sound track from a New York band and lots of images of happy people enjoying mostly Inner Loop attractions — but make no mistake: This new branding effort from the Greater Houston Partnership is fundamentally different from the mostly goofy and un-self-aware “Houston’s Hot,” My Houston,” “Space City,” “Expect the Unexpected,” and “Houston Proud” campaigns from other organizations that preceded it. “Houston: The City with No Limits,” a concept and campaign unveiled yesterday, centers on a catchy slogan that rings true, because it highlights an essential part of the city’s ever-expanding built landscape and our unquenchable urge to spread ourselves out.


Facts on the Ground
10/07/13 11:00am

BUILDING A MONUMENT TO GATED FLOOD CONTROL AND TOURISM Protecting the Ship Channel during an Ike-like (or worse) storm surge has led some to propose a big dike, others a big gate. But UH professor of urban planning Tom Colbert doesn’t see why we couldn’t trouble ourselves to make such protection a real sight to see too: “Colbert likes the idea of . . . connecting the Centennial Gate and its levees to the proposed Lone Star National Recreation Area, undeveloped land that would both attract ecotourists and slow floodwaters,” reports the Houston Chronicle’s Lisa Gray: “I remembered one drawing I’d seen in [Colbert’s] PowerPoint show: Happy tourists, paddling kayaks past the Hartman Bridge, on one of the byways out of the big ships’ path, waterbirds and wetlands all around. Colbert motioned southeast, toward the Ship Channel’s mouth, toward Barbours Cut, the other possible location for the floodgate. There, he said, the levees would cross the channel’s water, connecting the Ship Channel’s artificial islands — made from dirt dredged from the channel — to the shore. Enough room could be left on top of the levee for a hiking path or even for car access; for the first time, it would be possible for people to get to the Atkinson Island Wildlife Management Area — a bird mecca on manmade land — without a boat. You could even, he notes, build a tourist destination atop one of those islands: He proposes a monument to Houston, the gateway to North America, the place where nature meets industry. In some drawings, just to give people the idea, he plunks the Statue of Liberty atop a Ship Channel island.” [Houston Chronicle ($); previously on Swamplot] Photo of Fred Hartman Bridge: Chuck Wilkson

06/26/13 2:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHY GIVE UP ON TOURISM NOW, WHEN WE’RE SO CLOSE? “The appeal of San Antonio as a tourist destination is completely lost on me. Riverwalk is poorly done and the Alamo doesn’t exist (and is not a point of pride in any case). Do they really get that many tourists who are not there for a convention? I honestly believe that if they turned the Astrodome into an indoor ski center and updated the Spacecenter then that + great food + Schlitterban + Menil + reasonable prices makes Houston worthy of a 1-week family vacation in the summer.” [Patrick, commenting on Comment of the Day: Houston Is Not a Destination]

06/26/13 1:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY RUNNER-UP: DROPPING IN ON HOUSTON IN 1957 “Here’s a film from 1957 I have uploaded to YouTube. Briefly it shows what a trip to Houston is about: Arrive at the airport, stay at the Shamrock, visit the oil industry, leave. That’s certainly what my family did in the ’50s – although we did visit the Zoo!” [Michael Bludworth, commenting on Comment of the Day: Houston Is Not a Destination]

06/25/13 3:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: HOUSTON IS NOT A DESTINATION “The population of Orlando in 1950 was @ 140k. Vegas was @50k. Walt Disney bought up a bunch of cow pastures and swamp land to build Disney World. Vegas was just a place for nuke bomb scientists to live safely away from a-bomb test ranges before Bugsy Siegel showed up and bought desert land that no one wanted to build casinos (dooming Galveston as a gambling venue, ironically). Anyone wanting to build a tourist-worthy venue in Houston will go broke just trying to buy the land. Houston is a great place for visitors. Everyone I have ever hosted had a whale of a time. But, when those folks go home, they don’t tell their friends “you should visit Houston.’ They say ‘if you are ever in Houston, you should . . .'” [Old School, commenting on Comment of the Day: Where To Put a Tourist Gauntlet in Reliant Park]

06/24/13 1:45pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHERE TO PUT A TOURIST GAUNTLET IN RELIANT PARK “I’d leave the rail right where it is. Create a City Walk space from the light rail to the Dome. Shopping, night life, restaurants, movies, etc. Sure it’s touristy, but most events at Reliant are visited by tourists.” [Thomas, commenting on Under Plan, Astrodome Would Slim Down Exterior, Shorten Up and Fatten Inside]

06/24/13 1:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY RUNNER-UP: HOUSTON TOURISTS, YOU’RE WASTING YOUR TIME “yeah i’ve noticed tourists downtown the last few years. mostly taking pics along Main of buildings and cops on horseback. i’ve also seen what appear to be tour groups with guides in the tunnels which seems like kind of a lame vacation activity if you ask me.” [spiteful, commenting on Headlines: Cheaper Hotels for Convention Center District; A Gilley’s Revival in Pasadena]

06/03/13 4:30pm

HOW ITALIAN ARTISTS GET STUCK IN GALVESTON Art writer Debra Barrera gets the inside scoop on some of the banana-peel art put up by Italian artist Davide Savorani for this past weekend’s exhibition at the Galveston Artist Residency compound at the corner of 25th St. and Ships Mechanic Row: “Savorani explains The Can’t Get Away Club as part of the nature of living in a place like Galveston; the calm sea breeze, the cheap booze, and endless reasons to never return to a big city can keep people stuck. Each year promises are made, ‘Maybe next year I will move to Houston . . . Maybe I will finally start that popcorn ball franchise.’ From Firenze, a small town in the north of Italy himself, Savorani is familiar with this syndrome and decided to immerse himself in Galveston: ‘I came here with nothing and I wanted to try to understand the city. Something I experienced was this idea of a place where you really face yourself.'” And face others who are celebrating, apparently, Barrera continues: “What I admired most about both Savorani and [his assistant, Michelangelo] Miccolis was their ability to immerse themselves in a completely foreign place and use materials that were part of their daily lives. In the studio, when I asked about a strand of plastic beads hanging on the wall, Miccolis remarked, ‘Yes! We were at some parade and they were just throwing them! We kept grabbing at the air! This is what the city gave us; why not make art out of it?’” [Glasstire] Self-portrait at cottages between 28th and Winnie: Michelangelo Miccolis

05/17/13 1:45pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY RUNNER-UP: HOW TO MEMORIALIZE A CITY OF OPEN SPACES, ONCE ALL THE VACANT LOTS ARE FILLED “. . . I’ve been saying for a long time that the city should be actively acquiring and developing one lot in each neighborhood as a pocket park with some kind of unique sculpture or statue as its centerpiece. Some kind of consistent theme of that sort could form the basis for grassroots tourism of a unique variety. Sort of a park crawl rather than a pub crawl . . . or perhaps both at the same [time]. Houston’s best assets, after all, are our neighborhoods. We should show them off.” [TheNiche, commenting on Headlines: Vargo’s Comes Down; The Honeywood Trail House of Honey]

04/12/13 3:00pm

HOTEL GALVEZ BAR AND GRILL TO BE RENOVATED, RENAMED A new look, new menu, and new name are coming to Bernardo’s at Hotel Galvez on Seawall Blvd., says hotel owner Mitchell Historic Properties: To be adventurously rechristened Galvez Bar & Grill, the space will become twice as big after the renovations. The hotel’s lobby will also be redone: Though the wicker furniture isn’t going away, a new floor made out of a tile mosaic will be installed where sandy-footed guests enter. Though Bernardo’s will be shuttered for 2 months for the upgrades, hotel owners are hoping the space will be ready for Memorial Day, when the island’s tourist season begins. [Mitchell Historic Properties] Photo: Flickr user Equina27

04/08/13 10:45am

GRAND TEXAS THEME PARK: FILLING THE ASTROWORLD VOID And this overgrown crossroads in the middle of somewhere near U.S. 59 and FM 242 is expected to be part of the Grand Texas Theme Park. Investors are in place, and the land between New Caney and Splendora in Montgomery County should be closed on this May, developer Monty Galland tells Click2Houston, when construction on the $200 million project — advertised to feature high-noon cowboy shootouts and tractor rides — will begin. And why all the fuss? “If there was an Astroworld,” says Galland, “we probably wouldn’t have even pursued this development. . . . The great thing about it is that we have enough land that we can create a lot of the elements Astroworld had, and it doesn’t detract from the other areas of the park. We’re not going to compete with Disneyland. We want to create an entertainment value that’s similar to going to the movies or going bowling.” [Click2Houston; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Grand Texas Theme Park, via Facebook

04/03/13 2:00pm

COULD THE X GAMES BE COMING TO HOUSTON? Even if the Astrodome’s still around and Houston’s bid to host the 2016 Super Bowl falls through, an important international competition might still be staged here: ESPN said in January [that] Houston was one of 13 contenders it was considering as a host” for the 2014-2016 X Games, reports the Houston Business Journal’s Bayan Raji. The Lee and Joe Jamail Skatepark on Sabine St. (shown here) is at the center of the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority bid to put on the tricksters’ event that’s been in L.A. the past 9 years, writes Raji, along with Reliant Stadium and the Dynamo’s BBVA Compass Stadium. Whether the skatepark going up in Greenspoint, billed in January as the largest in the U.S., also figures in the bid Raji doesn’t say; ESPN will announce which of the 13 cities are finalists this spring. [Houston Business Journal; previously on Swamplot] Photo: David Fross

03/14/13 12:15pm

The cartoon horse speaks! Alas, Grand Texas Theme Park’s well-heeled mascot isn’t saying where you’ll join him. But at least the theme park’s website is now open, claiming that developer Monty Galland “has determined three different desired sites: Two are in Montgomery County, while the other is in Fort Bend County.” And there are now several new renderings of the park’s proposed “territories” with detailed descriptions of the Texas-themed activities and amenities to come.


02/28/13 11:00am

SPORTSWRITER: TEARING DOWN ASTRODOME WOULD HELP HOUSTON ‘MOVE ON’ Depending on which city gets the Super Bowl in 2016, Houston will be vying with either Miami or San Francisco to host the big game in 2017, reports Culturemap’s Chris Baldwin, and Houston’s in great shape to put together an attractive proposal — but there’s still one thing standing in the way: “When the Astrodome opened in 1965, it deserved its Eighth Wonder of the World moniker. It screamed innovation. Now, it screams . . . embarrassment,” Baldwin writes: “There have been more than enough multi-million studies. There is no need to put off a decision yet again. Sometimes, the simplest choice, the most obvious choice, is the best one. Put together a demolition crew. . . . This isn’t Fenway Park. It’s not Wrigley Field. It’s not that old Yankee Stadium that went through all those remodels. It’s a relic that long ago lost its last bit of charm.” And if you want to save the “rotting giant,” Baldwin suggests, you’re “showing as much sense as someone featured on Hoarders.” [Culturemap; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Swamplot inbox

02/20/13 11:00am

The same architecture firm that transformed Wilshire Village into the H-E-B Montrose Market across town has been pegged to redo 1910 International Coffee Company Building (aka Sunset Coffee Building), resuscitating the derelict shell on Allen’s Landing into use as a Downtown tourist attraction and kayak rental shop. San Antonio firm Lake Flato submitted this drawing of the building at the coffee-with-cream-colored confluence of White Oak and Buffalo Bayou underneath Main and Fannin to Buffalo Bayou Partnership, which plans to begin the project in April.

Rendering: Buffalo Bayou Partnership