Updated: Breweries and Distributors Say Beer Fest's Organizers Owe Them $100,000

Categories: Spaced City

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Photo by Francisco Montes
Beer Fest, in happier times.
Updated (July 25, 10:33 am): An early version of this story attributed a quote to Geoff Marolda. It should have been attributed to Walter Gordy III.

Nearly two months after the fourth annual Houston Beer Fest, brewers and distributors say the event's organizers owe them more than $100,000.

Although an estimated 30,000 people poured into Sam Houston Park for the two-day festival in early June, the event's director, Timothy Hudson, said unforeseen problems, including staff theft, had delayed the payments. Hudson and others who helped promote the event have also blamed money woes on headlining entertainer Rick Ross's last-minute cancellation, an assertion that makes no sense. We feel Beer Fest's promoters are serving up a frothy pint of craft-brewed bullshit.

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Houston to Ban Smoking at Parks, Pools, Golf Courses

Categories: Spaced City

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That includes parks, golf courses and pools there, smokey.
Following a trend that is occurring in numerous cities across the country, the city will extend its ban of smoking already enforced in most public indoor spaces, outdoor stadiums and within 25 feet of buildings to larger outdoor areas as well beginning September 2. The downtown library facilities will actually be the first to enforce the outdoor ban starting today.

There are 36 other cities in Texas and numerous others throughout the country that have implemented similar bans. The report in the Houston Chronicle pointed out that Houston's ban on smoking has lagged well behind that of other major cities. Houston banned smoking in indoor establishments including bars and restaurants in 2007.

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New Home Buyers Being Priced Out of Houston's New Construction Market

Categories: Spaced City

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Photo by Sarah de la Rosa
Rent too damn high...and so are new construction prices.
For nearly two years, the Houston residential real estate market has been booming and shows almost no sign of letting up. As a result, home inventories have been at all time lows in many parts of the city and surrounding area. It is not uncommon for a desirable home to go on the market and have multiple bids over the asking price on the first day. With the extreme demand for real estate comes not only a rise in housing costs and low inventory, but an increase in the cost of the land driving up the cost of new construction.

Making matters worse for first-time homebuyers, construction companies are all but abandoning "starter" homes that run less than $150,000 according to a recent report, and instead opting to build "move up" housing that starts around $300,000.

Of course, this is for new construction and does not include the purchase of resale homes, but with resale home inventory dramatically low, builders are rushing to add new homes to the market, just not homes most first-timers can afford.

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Sale of Tile Plant Means Expanded Development Between Washington Ave. and the Heights

Categories: Spaced City

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Aerial view with the tile plant area highlighted in yellow.
For decades, the area between Houston Avenue, Studemont, Interstate 10 and Washington Avenue was a tangle of warehouse, industrial plants and a smattering of wood-frame homes. It has only been in the past ten or 15 years that the area, which is home to numerous art complexes, began to see significant development as there became more of a desire for urban living. The first such domino to fall was when a Target, something the entire Heights area lacked after Kmart on 19th Street closed its doors (along with all the other Kmarts in Houston), opened. Eventually, a Kroger Signature store followed just west at Studemont. Now, one of the last industrial holdouts is finally clearing out.

Texas Tile Manufacturing, located smack-dab in between Target and Kroger, has finally decided to vacate its huge facility that now represents prime real estate along Interstate 10.

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Save the Dome: Judge Ed Emmett Calls Rodeo/Texans Green Space Plan "Silly"

Categories: Spaced City

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Photo by Jeff Balke
In better days.
According to a report in the Houston Chronicle, County Judge Ed Emmett has no desire to see a recent plan put forth on the part of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and Houston Texans put into place. The plan would demolish the "Eighth Wonder of the World" and replace it with an open green space and a Hall of Fame surrounded by a "fence" made of pieces of the existing Dome's structure. They even provided some nifty renderings including a Photoshopped ESPN set and hosts with the, let's call it an Astro Park, in the background, clearly hinting that a decision needs to be made quickly with the 2017 Super Bowl to be held at NRG Stadium.

It would have helped if the person doing the Photoshopping had not just superimposed an NFL logo on the set of ESPN's College GameDay, but whatever.

Emmett called the idea "a silly plan" and even quipped that it would haunt him after he retires. Emmett no doubt remembers the one tarnish on former Mayor Bob Lanier's record, allowing Bud Adams to move the Houston Oilers to Tennessee. Adams wanted to contribute half to a downtown retractable-roof stadium (sound familiar?) that would cost around $250 million. NRG Stadium cost nearly twice that, with taxpayers footing the lion's share of the bill.

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Overcoming Barriers: Adaptive Movement Is Parkour for the Physically Disabled

Categories: Spaced City

Rob Lynn leans against the painted white brick wall. His eyes are trained on Cameron Pratto, a muscular but not stout man with a cool but nondescript accent, who has tattoos up his whole right arm and a shaved head.

Pratto walks between two three-and-a-half-foot wooden structures and gives instructions that lack detail.

"I'm being intentionally vague," he tells his class of parkour students.

He wants them to decide how to maneuver around the obstacle in front of them. Every person is different. Every body is different. The goal is to get from point A to point B some way, any way.

Lynn positions himself on one side of the wooden block. He places both hands on top of the structure and pushes down to lift himself off the ground. His butt lands on top of the wood, and he swings his body 180 degrees, so that he's now facing the other side of the room. He pushes off the block and lands back on the ground.

Lynn has one leg.

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If Your Allergies Have Sucked This Year, You Are Not Alone

Categories: Spaced City

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Stock up for a few more weeks of hell.
Two weeks ago, I was sitting in an urgent-care facility with a doctor feeling my neck. I had what felt like a swollen lymph node -- something not terribly uncommon for me throughout my life -- and wanted to make sure I wasn't dying. The doctor said he didn't feel anything significant and, for the most part, I looked pretty healthy, but then he asked, "Do you have allergies?"

The query puzzled me for a second. I have what one might refer to as mild sinus problems, but they rarely extend beyond a sniffle here or there in spring and fall. At worst, that sniffle might develop into a sinus infection, but not much more than that. Given I had no fever, aches or seriously stuffy head, I could only surmise that, yes, I must have some allergies. But I've been here all my life and rarely suffered. Turns out this year has been worse than most and, to increase our local pain and suffering, the longer we've been here, the worse it is.

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The Astrodome: From Elvis to Evel Knievel...to Green Space?

Categories: Spaced City

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Looks like this former icon of Houston will be mulch soon.
Anybody surprised that Astrodome is going to be demolished and turned into green space hasn't really been paying attention the past 25-plus years.

The Dome has been a doomed property ever since Harris County gave into Bud Adams's demands to destroy the heart and soul for the building so that he could put in new seats. Its fate was further sealed when Drayton McLane was allowed to let the place rot so he could use its condition to get Minute Maid Park built. The end came when it was decided to build the ugly monstrosity known as NRG Stadium to house the Houston Texans.

County judge Ed Emmett told Mark Berman last night that the Rodeo/Texans plan was a non-story.

Think about this for a bit. Never has a legitimate plan been presented to renovate the facility. County officials have "considered" plans that would turn the place into a movie studio and into an amusement park. There were plans for it to be a hotel, a casino, an observatory, a convention complex. Only one plan has ever been presented to the voters. And that plan was a stupidly awful money pit that would gut the Dome and turn it into a welcoming center for people going to football games and the rodeo -- this plan was rightfully voted down.

I'm sure there'll be plenty of people bitching about the philistines who didn't understand the history of the Astrodome and condemned it to death. But if you're one of those people, you're blaming the wrong ones. The fault first, and foremost, belongs to the Houston Texans and Rodeo Houston. The Texans and the Rodeo had veto power over any planned use of the facility. And they exercised that veto with impunity, vetoing nearly every plan because the proposed use of the building would interfere with the Rodeo and the Texans.


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Brad Woodard: Beloved Houston Newsman Found Dead

Categories: Spaced City

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Courtesy Julie Caramante
Woodard getting serious with some of his interview subjects.
Reporter Brad Woodard, an award-winning former reporter for KHOU, was found dead Wednesday. We have no word yet on the cause of death. He would have turned 52 at the end of the month.

Woodard was admired and respected by his peers, and racked up 26 Emmys during his time at KHOU and outlets in Minneapolis-St. Paul and Savannah. He covered a wide variety of stories, and was especially known for his advocacy of animals -- he won two National Press Club awards for his reporting on animal issues.

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Rice Professor Will Study People Displaced by Houston's Residential Developments

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Photo by Norm Lanier

It doesn't take a lot of looking around to see new construction all over the place in Houston. A Rice sociologist wants to find out who is being affected by Houston's rapid residential development.

Led by sociology professor Steven Murdock, the former head of the U.S. Census Bureau, Rice will begin a three-year study examining the impacts of recent urban development in Houston's metropolitan area.


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