09/24/14 10:00am

WHY METRO TRAINS ARE ALREADY ROLLING AROUND UH Map Showing Testing Area for the Southeast Line, HoustonNo, the new light-rail lines won’t be ready to carry passengers anytime this year — if you’re looking for a ride, check again in 2015. But over the next couple of weeks, you may see a Southeast Line train or 2 skirting the western and southern borders of the University of Houston. Starting today, Metro will be shuttling vehicles along the path shown in red on the Purple Line map at left, from the corner of Elgin and Scott Streets through MacGregor Park to the vehicle storage facility just past the Palm Center Transit Center — for safety testing. Map: Metro

05/15/14 11:15am

Proposed Aspen Heights Dorms, Cullen Blvd. at Coyle St., East Downtown, Houston

A company that’s been building a growing chain of private college dorms is seeking a 10-year tax abatement from the city to help it build a $56 million 305,076-sq.-ft. complex just north of the Gulf Fwy. from the University of Houston. Houston’s version of Aspen Heights (as the company and all its dorms are named) would sit on 7.7 acres just north of the Catholic Charismatic Center on Cullen Blvd., across the street from the former Finger Furniture warehouse recently purchased by developer Frank Liu. The dorms would sit in the far southeast corner of East Downtown, backing up to the railroad tracks that form the neighborhoods northern and eastern boundary:


A Quarter Mile from Campus
08/31/12 12:00pm

The sign isn’t up yet, but this new classroom building at the University of Houston’s business school is being named after a human-resources company. Insperity gave the school $8 million, apparently enough to warrant the company’s name appearing in 1-1/2-ft.-tall neon-backlit letters at the top of Insperity Center. According to a UH document, the sign should be clearly visible to visitors on the west side of campus.

The 140,000-sq.-ft. building, previously referred to as the “classroom and business building,” just opened west of the Bauer College of Business’s Melcher Hall. Construction began in 2009.

Photo: HAIF user fatesdisastr

06/13/12 12:45pm

University of Houston officials have asked Metro to move a portion of the Southeast Line, currently under construction, off its planned route — and off campus. Work on portions of the line on Wheeler and Scott streets near Robertson Stadium came to a standstill 2 months ago, West U Examiner reporter Michael Reed notes. Metro and UH officials have apparently been negotiating on the layout of the light-rail route since that time, but so far, according to Reed, there’s been no agreement.

Metro’s planned design for the line requires the transit agency to purchase a total of 4.48 acres of UH property, much of it in a strip along the eastern side of Scott St., just west of the stadium. A plan submitted to the Department of Transportation for funding last year shows the line and a Scott/Cleburne station on the east side of Scott St., on part of what’s currently a stadium parking lot. (The map, below, also shows that Metro adjusted the plan from a 2008 layout that would have eaten up more UH property.)


03/07/12 3:14pm

A second Swamplot reader sends us a pic of another Burger King sporting what appear to be recently hacked-up live oak trees — this one at the corner of Scott St. and Cleburne. That’s far away from any freeway feeder roads, but across the street from UH’s Robertson Stadium. How recently were these trees guillotined? The reader isn’t sure, but the cuts look kinda fresh, and Google Street View is ready with images from last June showing how the sidewalk-side residents looked with their limbs still bushy and intact.

Spot any further Burger King beheadings around town? Snap a photo or 2 and send them in!

Photos: Swamplot inbox

01/16/09 5:00pm

What is it with these Landscape folks and their capsules? Last spring, L.A.’s sly Center for Land Use Interpretation began its residency in Houston by hauling an old trailer, dubbed the organization’s “field station,” to an old junkyard on the banks of the Houston Ship Channel. And now, a year later — the oil-industry spying mission almost complete — CLUI guru Matthew Coolidge and his henchpeople are capping their Houston romp with another demonstration of the delights of enclosed living.

That’s a Brucker Survival Capsule, painted bright red and decorated with a typically deadpan CLUI inscription, being installed outside the University of Houston’s Blaffer Art Gallery, where CLUI’s exhibit on the landscape practices of the Texas oil industry opens — tonight. If planting an offshore-oil-rig emergency escape vehicle on the front lawn of a university art gallery strikes you as slightly absurd, you’re only beginning to appreciate CLUI’s rare and dry sense of landscape humor.


03/28/08 10:04am

Center for Land Use Interpretation Research Unit Site on Buffalo Bayou, Houston

Uh-oh. That trailer — behind the pole barn — on a former scrap yard — next to the Houston Biodiesel plant — on Buffalo Bayou — may look innocuous. But it’s the new temporary Houston outpost of Los Angeles’s Center for Land Use Interpretation. The CLUI is taking up a year-long residency at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts at UH — but this is where our L.A. visitors will be camping out.

What does the CLUI do? Some sample CLUI projects:

You get the idea. CLUI’s front man is artist Matthew Coolidge, whose act often incorporates academic-sounding narrations of landscape slide shows.

Here’s video of part of a Coolidge performance at the Aurora Picture Show late last year:


03/26/08 5:50pm

Rendering of Proposed Southeast Metrorail Line on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Between Griggs Rd. and Old Spanish Trail

Just a few blocks north of the site of the new Houston Texans YMCA, the University of Houston has bought 43 acres immediately southeast of its main campus.

The new UH land looks like it’s part of MacGregor Park, but whether it is — or was — was a matter of intense . . . legal interest. The property was originally part of a larger 110-acre parcel that was donated by the MacGregor family to the City of Houston in 1930. More recently, the donors’ heirs sued the city for violating the terms of that gift, which required that the city turn the land into a park. By 2002, the MacGregor heirs had won back rights to the wooded 41 acres between MLK and Spur 5, on the north side of Old Spanish Trail.

The MacGregor heirs’ sale of the property to UH for $25 million closed in February, according to a report by Jennifer Dawson in the Houston Business Journal. The new UH property is south of the gigantic Wellness Center, across Buffalo Brays Bayou.

The land gives UH a possible new entrance on Martin Luther King Blvd., but it’s also likely to give the campus a fifth light-rail station: a MacGregor Park stop will be the second station on the Southeast line, which begins at the new transit center planned for Palm Center.

Rendering of planned Southeast light-rail line on MLK, south of UH: Metro