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Looking Forward to 2008: Gus Allen

(Note: I have asked a variety of people to submit an essay to me to be posted during the month of December, to be called “Looking Forward to 2008”. This entry was written by Gus Allen.)

Houston real estate is gonna be so exciting in 2008!!! Here are just a few of the continuing trends Swamplot will be covering in the coming year:

  • Houston’s steady march away from the polluted, industrial East side, as the city center shifts further westward: past the Beltway, to Katy and beyond. Austin, here we come! Bonuses: more hills, lower humidity.
  • Thousands more acres of useless prairie, farmland, and wetland acreage at the outer reaches of the city — turned into affordable gated neighborhoods serving thousands of new commuters.
  • More headroom: Remember when builders sold new homes with silly 8- or 9-foot ceilings? What were they thinking? And just imagine, when we start selling real estate by the *cubic* foot, we’ll all make a killing!
  • In deed-restricted neighborhoods, more creative entries in the continuing competition to squeeze the most single-family square footage onto a plot of land. Expect innovations in the Memorial Maxi-size, Standard, and Towering Townhouse divisions.
  • More old malls recycled as far-more-convenient drive-up superstore parks.
  • Maybe we’ll finally get rid of the last of those one-off, prickly old Houston stores and restaurants that think they can substitute supposed “charm” and status as “local institutions” for the kinds of qualities that work in the broader market, like franchising and national ad campaigns. You know the kind of place: it’s been around for a while, and when it finally goes there’ll be some nostalgic newspaper article faux-mourning its passing. Already out: Kaplan’s Ben Hur, JMH Market, Greenway Theatre and Cactus Records (though the darn thing keeps popping up again!) Next up: Otto’s, the Proletariat, the River Oaks Theatre, and more!

    (This is probably wishful thinking, though. The more retail-and-dining deadweights that disappear, the more attachment soppy inner-loopers will feel to the second string of ragtag hangers-on that remain: When they finally kick the bucket, will we be forced to mourn Quarter Price Books and Zimm’s Wine Bar?)

  • More valet parking in strip-center parking lots. Head-in parking is a drag, anyway.
  • Of course, all this progress is at risk if Houston gets trapped in the broader national housing downturn.

There’s a whole lot more happening in Houston real estate: This is just the tip of the melting iceberg. At Swamplot, we’re trying to track as much of it as we can, but we need your help. What’s going on in your neighborhood? Send us your tips!

Gus Allen blogs about all aspects of Houston real estate at Swamplot.

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3 Comments

  1. Ian says:

    This is satirical, right?

  2. Ian: Yes, it is satirical.

  3. Ian says:

    Ha! Good, because I was pretty steamed after the first reading — but realized I should probably be wryly smiling (perhaps crying?) after the second.