Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Curiouser and curiouser

The vacant lot at the corner of Studewood and 11 1/2 has been nothing more than that since I have lived in the Heights. It's always been the subject of much speculation, most notably it was rumored for years that Tillman Fertita bought it and was going to put some horrible "concept" restaurant there.

Then, it must have been 2 years ago, a new sign went up with a rendering that showed a small restaurant on the bottom with some sort of drive thru and a front patio, as well as 2nd story office space. The neighborhood was buzzing. But nothing ever happened.

Then it started getting very unkempt. It was red flagged by the City several times, although I never looked at what the violations were. I bet some were overgrowth/ no maintenance. It was largely a holding area for big metal cans and empty shipping containers, the occasional trailer for an 18 wheeler.

Eventually the sign with the happy little shopping center came down and a plain old sign with a couple of commerical real estate names went up. And fell down. And was fixed again.

The rumor I always heard that made the most sense was the lot used to have a dry cleaner on it and that it was hard to sell because it would need to be remediated. I once heard that an elderly couple who live on Key at Studewood own it. I tried to look up the HCAD records but I don't know what the address is. I am not a very good detective, to be honest. I like discovering things that are newly opened, not figuring out who owns an empty lot.

But the whole thing just got more interesting to me. Yesterday I saw a construction vehicle on the site. I wasn't too surprised with the condition of 11th St and the regular use of the lot as a holding area. Then I noticed they were putting these metal things that reminded me of landmines down...

Then today, this:

A black fence has gone up around the perimeter of the lot. The "For Sale" sign is down.

The lot has also been cleared off all debris, including the metal cans that always looked they could be there for no other reason than to store radioactive goo.

So, any good detectives out there want to find out what is happening on this rumored corner? I'm hoping maybe Gus at Swamplot (or his readers) will have the answers if no one here does.


  1. maybe Someburger has decided to expand

  2. Just heard this morning that the proposed development for the lot is a six-story building with two floors of retail/commercial, two floors of parking, and two floors of residential. Doesn't sound good!

  3. What ever it is, hopefully it has to be better than what is there now....a trash collecting parking lot and hiding place for wanderers and such.

  4. I'm so sick of that kind of comment. Just because a lot is vacant doesn't mean that someone should just build some crappy building. Ever vacant lot is an opportunity to do something that benefits the neighborhood.

  5. I could not come up with an HCAD record for that property. The only thing I did find was this property listing from Moody Rambin:


    It gives the address of the property as 799 E 11th 1/2 Street.

  6. They got a building permit, so expect construction to start any day. Sorta surprising that something like this can get this far along without any of our sleuths hearing about it.

    It's owned by these guys: http://vitanuovallc.com/

    Pretty uninformative website.

  7. Six stories! Give me the vacant lot. Anyone for "Stop the highrise"?

  8. It used to be a Monarch cleaners I think... 6 STORIES? Good lord!

  9. I love how we assume it's gonna be a crappy building and NOT something that benefits the neighborhood.

    And...6 stories...are we calling that a high rise these days?

  10. Oh no, six stories! We might have a bit of residential density. People might start walking to nearby businesses. Next thing you know, it'll be like we live in an urban neighborhood or something. The horror!

  11. John,

    LOL! I know what you're saying but 6 stories is a little much for that intersection. I mean, top floors are going to be able to see in to every yard in Norhill ;)

    I just think 6 is a little excessive. Look at the buildings around there. The strip where DaCapo's is and the Realtors on the west side are some great original buildings.

    Plus, more pedestrian traffic will have to come from a total Houston mind-shift. While I think more people in the Heights walk to shop & eat than any other neighborhood in the city, those people are still the minority. Texans love their cars.

  12. Haha. Thank you John. I think it's nice that it's going to be a mix of residential and commercial. Honestly, I think it's great that people see the Heights as a great investment, whether for living or working. Goodness knows I could never live there though because I'd be at Someburger 4x a week!

  13. The yard views are a reasonable point. I'd market it as real NY-style city life.

    This is my dream: that we could actually follow the example of another place I lived (Arlington, Virginia), where the county mandated high density development along major thoroughfares that extended outward from DC, and preserved the residential neighborhoods nearby. So on the main drag you had high rise living, offices, stores, restaurants, and Metro, and then off the main drag you had Heights-like bungalows, as well as townhouses and garden apartments, all very human scale.

    It works really, really well. Of course, they're not allergic to planning: http://www.arlingtonva.us/departments/CPHD/planning/plan/CPHDPlanningPlanMain.aspx

    I think that concept makes good sense for Yale, Studewood, N Main, and Shepherd.

  14. I posted this in comments on Swamplot, but will post here as well. I emailed the developer with links to various conversations regarding this development and suggested they try to engage the community. This was the response:

    "Yes, we are aware of the discussions. Yes, We will engage the community.
    Thank you for your input. We too reside in the Heights and feel strongly
    for the Heights culture and community. I can assure you that we will be
    informative and responsive to the community."

    So, we'll see if they are blowing smoke or good on their word. Always fun to see the community get involved!

  15. How did this get past the neighbors? I remember the big fuss about the Sprint Tower and now this?