Photo by TK Images

The charming house at 1726 Avenue L in Galveston is many things. For one, it's a 2006 build that looks like it could've been built a century before. It's also a beautiful Victorian nestled just steps away from the beach in the Lost Bayou Historic District.

Most intriguing of all, it's the home of beloved, fan-favorite KPRC weatherman Frank Billingsley, who's put the beach retreat on the market. (Billingsley has chatted with our columnist Ken Hoffman on weather and more as well as his poignant origin story.)

Available for $750,000, his home at 1726 Avenue L is represented by Eric Gage of Douglas Elliman.

From top to bottom, this dwelling is a remarkable blend of historic homage, tasteful details, and contemporary amenities. Built by New Orleans-based UH alum Leland van Deventer, who is noted for his renovations to historic properties, 1726 Avenue L received "fill in" recognition for fitting in among the historic homes that are its neighbors, while also providing all the modern touches contemporary homeowners crave.

Here, potential owners will find reclaimed hardwood pine floors; an open-concept, combo kitchen and dining room; alcoves that are perfect spots for decorative accent pieces; three bedrooms; big bay windows; and a lovely, lattice-wood porch that is perfect for outdoor entertaining.

A "resort feel" to the interior was crafted by Jerri Mullican, who creates interiors for the nearby eastern shore neighborhood of Beachtown. Those who enjoy the feel of old Galveston with the modern amenities of today's world will enjoy this rare jewel on the East End.

Consider this a house that can be an island home base or a weekend getaway. The primary bedroom has a huge bay window with views over the street. The living room has a dry bar, so wine and whiskey can always be at the ready. White cabinets and walls throughout provide amplification of the home's dazzling light and offer a canvas for the owner's imagination.

All said, 1726 Avenue L is a see-it-to-believe-it space, with both curb appeal and great charm in a red-hot beachside market.

This charming mix of modern and traditional is perfect for those who appreciate the architecture of yesterday without sacrificing the comforts and conveniences of today. It's a home ready for its next chapter, and will no doubt be a daily or weekend showpiece for its new owners.

The dining room.

Photo courtesy of Hines

Houston's global real estate powerhouse snatches up highly coveted River Oaks address

hines in highland village

One of Houston’s most-sought after commercial addresses has just been snatched up by an iconic real estate company based here. Global real estate firm Hines has acquired the sleek 200 Park Place office building, the company announced.

Hines purchased the coveted space located at 400 Westheimer Rd. for $145 million, according to a press release.

Nestled between River Oaks and Highland Village — just a short jaunt to Central Market, Highland Village shops, and River Oaks District — 200 Park Place has long been considered one of the most prestigious office developments in the city.

The project, spanning more than 206,000 square feet, offers clients luxe shopping, high-end dining, and community green space — all within walking distance.

“Houston’s River Oaks District is a centrally located submarket that is continuing to see interest from those looking to work and play in an engaging, upscale neighborhood,” said John Mooz, senior managing director at Hines, in a statement. “200 Park Place’s modern design and walkable amenities differentiate it from other office and retail opportunities along Westheimer Road, making it a strategic location for investment in this key submarket.”

Already completely leased to myriad clients, notable tenants include Buckeye Partners and JLL, which has made the building its corporate headquarters.
“As high-profile companies continue to look to Houston for best-in-class, well-amenitized buildings, and Houston continues to lead the U.S. on return-to-office rates, our acquisition of 200 Park Place allows us to strategically capitalize on these trends and the ongoing evolution of commercial real estate,” said Janice Walker, chief operating officer of Hines Global Income Trust, in press materials.

Locals will no doubt recognize Hines as the firm responsible for much of downtown’s skyline. Founded by real estate titan Gerald D. Hines, the company is now led by his son, Jeff Hines and granddaughter Laura Hines-Pierce, as CultureMap previously reported.

Photo by Angelica Marie Photography

Pioneering Houston plant shop sprouts up with free weekend 'PlantChella' family festival

move over, coachella

Houston’s first Black woman-owned plant shop — and also the first in Texas — is celebrating its first birthday and inviting the city to party in a green weekend bash.

The Plant Project Houston (2031 Buffalo Terrace in Montrose) is hosting PlantChella, a free, three-day event running July 29-31, to celebrate its first anniversary. Free activities throughout the weekend include workshops on growing succulents, rum tastings, cigar rolling, yoga, sound baths, kids activities and more.

Tickets for each day are free and not required (but are recommended) and can be found online. Here’s a breakdown of events.

On Friday, July 29
“Plants & Pixel” teaches guests how to create their own succulent garden, roll cigars, enjoy a hand-rolled cigar from Cigars with 1502 and Sterne Fine Cigar, sip rum, and catch the film Hitch. 6:30 pm-9:30 pm.

Saturday July 30
“Nature & Nurture” calms the body and mind with free yoga (guests must bring their own mat), sound baths, planting, and more. Sponsored by Athleta, the event also includes cocktails from Traveling Spirit Bar, Acaí bowls and smoothies by Everbowl, and a DIY self-care shower Bundle Bar and Simply Perla Bar. 11 am-1 pm.

Sunday July 31
“The Plant Project Day” features free family fun with a kid planting station, Stevie the Photo Bus photo booth, artsy fun with Vivid Paintings by Al, and a complimentary leaf shine in a leaf lounge by We The Wild. Treats include a Topo Chico Bar, premium artisan pops by Wonder Pops, free cocktails from Traveling Spirit Bar, bites by Gift of Graze, the Little Pot CBD Mobile Dispensary, and more. DJ Good Fat will spin tunes all day. 11 am-2pm.

Also look for the launch of the new Adopt a Plant Texas initiative, which aims to put a plant in every home and focuses on creating a healthier, greener, life — especially in underserved communities — through plant therapy. To celebrate, The Plant Project will give away 150 plants to kick off the initiative.

“I’m Houston-born and raised,” said Plant Project Houston founder Bree Clarke in a statement, “and when I came back home a year ago, I wanted to create a place where everyone, regardless of their skin color, could experience plant joy and what it is to cultivate with your hands and your heart. We’re so grateful to everyone in Houston for the love and support in our first year and can’t wait to share this jam-packed weekend of fun with everyone, as we celebrate the joy of being a place where both plants and community grow.”

Founded on July 31, 2021 in Montrose, The Plant Project has grown to three shops in Houston and Dallas. Clarke also founded an inclusive lifestyle brand called The Iman Project, which focuses nourishing relationships and building a diverse community through style and design workshops.

PlantChella takes place at The Plant Project Houston in Montrose.

Photo by Angelica Marie Photography
PlantChella takes place at The Plant Project Houston in Montrose.
Photo courtesy of Sugar Land Town Square

Sugar Land's hottest destination scores coveted statewide recognition

fair and square

A bustling gathering place in one of Houston’s biggest ‘burbs has just scored a major award. Sugar Land Town Square has just been named a Great Public Space as part of the 2022 Great Places in Texas program, an accolade given out by the Texas Chapter of the American Planning Association.

That means Sugar Land Town Square is only the third Houston-area locale to receive the recognition, joining the iconic Buffalo Bayou and Discovery Green.

Destinations up for consideration were evaluated on factors such as design, functionality, sustainability, character, quality, and community participation, according to a press release.

Sugar Land’s Town Square plaza was ultimately recognized as an example of planning excellence, while also netting high marks for the city’s leadership and community partnerships.

A hot, mixed-use hub frequented by locals and visitors alike, the square has seen updates such as more shade and canopy coverage, outdoor seating space, and more green areas. Recent touch-ups include revamped landscaping, fresh signage, re-faced tenant storefronts, event programming, new food and beverage, retail, and even entertainment concepts—such as the interactive Department of Wonder.

“We’re honored to receive this designation from the Texas Chapter of the American Planning Association and proud to see Sugar Land acknowledged as a leader within our state," said City Planner – Long Range Ruth Lohmer. “Sugar Land Town Square plaza is at the center of one of our community’s great assets, Town Square, one of the many amenities that makes our city a great place to live, work and play. Having this robust, enjoyable space in Sugar Land furthers its diverse economy, enhancing the quality of life for residents.”

This news comes as Fort Bend, home to Sugar Land, was just named the second-richest county in Texas.

Controversial Heights street plans will move forward, Mayor Sylvester Turner announces

big things on 11th

Hotly debated plans to redesign a pivotal Heights artery are a go, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner announced on Tuesday, June 14.

Proposed plans will proceed to narrow 11th Street in effort to make it safer for drivers and bicyclists. The redesign would reduce 11th Street — from Shepherd to Michaux — from two lanes to one lane each way. A new, concrete median would force turn to certain anchoring streets.

All this is an effort to slow traffic — drivers on 11th often speed far past the posted 40-mph speed limit — and reduce danger to drivers and pedestrians. Bike lanes are also planned along 11th.

“Eleventh Street is not safe for the neighborhood and it definitely does not match the Heights character,” Turner said in a recorded video message. “This change isn’t easy and won’t satisfy everyone,. “We are trading off speed for safety.”

Those who won’t be satisfied are the numerous critics who argue that narrowing the street will create “horrific” traffic conditions along 11th, per the Houston Chronicle. Area business owners fear that the construction and ensuing traffic will drive away customers; advocates of the plan say bike safety is a must in the cycle-friendly neighborhood.

Turner noted in his video statement that support for the change also comes from the Greater Heights Super Neighborhood Council, the prestigious Woodlands Heights Civic Association, and positive community feedback. He added that he personally visited the street during midday and evening trips to evaluate the situation.

“It will remind everyone that The Heights is a neighborhood for families,” he said of the project. “It will help 11 Street be more than a street — it will be a place people remember.”

Photo by Times Construction

Unique new hiking trail and park officially opens in downtown's East End

accessible eado

Walkers and cyclists around downtown can now enjoy easier access and quality of life, thanks to a new addition. Construction on the new East Downtown Trail and a new park is now complete, creating a link along Buffalo Bayou from Fannin Street to Austin Street. As CultureMap previously reported, the project broke ground in 2020.

This new hike and bike trail is just under half a mile and weaves under and through buildings adjacent to the waterfront just east from Allen’s Landing Park under the Fannin Street Bridge and up the slope along Commerce Street, before passing under the San Jacinto Bridge to the Wilson Building on Commerce Street.

Travelers will note that the trail continues through the second basement level of the Wilson Building and under the Harris County Sheriff's Inmate Processing Center. It then opens to the new park on former parking lots along the bayou on either side of Austin Street, where the Austin Street cul-de-sac has been converted into a public plaza, which is now the Joe Campos Torres Memorial Plaza, as part of the park.

Now, trail users can travel from Buffalo Bayou Park to Austin Street and continue at street level via the Austin Street Corridor bike path. Plans call for the waterfront trail to continue east along Buffalo Bayou.

The project furthers Buffalo Bayou Partnership’s goal to create connectivity from Buffalo Bayou Park to the Port of Houston Turning Basin, per press materials. Additionally, the park and trails is a nod to Houston Parks Board’s plan for an interconnected system of parks and trails across Houston through Bayou Greenways.

Jointly executed between Houston Parks Board and Buffalo Bayou Partnership, Downtown Redevelopment Authority, and the City of Houston Parks and Recreation Department, the new park and trail cost nearly $8.7 million, per a press release. Notable donors include Barbara and the late Gerald Hines, Wendy and Jeff Hines, and Sis and Hasty Johnson.

Additional funding comes via the Downtown Redevelopment Authority, plus catalyst funding from the Kinder Foundation.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

'Ridiculously' big Houston freeways drive comedian crazy in viral TikTok video

"It's got spurs!'

Try as we might to explain to Newstonians how ridiculously large the Houston-Woodlands-Sugar Land region is (our fave: it’s literally larger than the state of New Jersey in square miles), few truly understand until they navigate our highways and freeways.

Comedian/actor/filmmaker Kevin Fredericks, known professionally as KevOnStage, has taken to social media to announce what we already know: Houston is ridiculously big.

In a TikTok video boasting more than 55,000 likes and more than 3,000 comments, Kev (who lives in equally sprawling Los Angeles) hilariously sums up our freeway system with declarations like, “Houston has interstates. Four of them!”

He goes: “It’s got toll roads, it’s got loops, it’s got spuuuuurs!”



Perhaps our favorite:

"Houston is so big….that its freeways have a Wikipedia page. Look. At. This!"

Kev then marvels at our farm to market roads: “That means you live on a farm, this road take you to the market!”

He just can’t stop on the Wikipedia page, as he bellows: “It’s got: Planned. Future. Freeways! More. Freeways!”

Sheesh, Kev, no need to shout.

Scratch that: Kev should absolutely shout (as many of us do daily) when his rant turns to our traffic and construction. “It’s too much. If you wanna drive across Houston, you might as fly to Dallas — it’s the same amount of time.”

We’re having trouble spotting any lies told here. Bravo, Kev. We can’t wait for your next rant when you navigate the ongoing and always fun 610/69 construction closures.

Homey new art installation moves into Discovery Green this fall

Welcome Home

Remember the playful, larger-than-life spinning tops that took over Discovery Green in 2015? The team behind that public art installation is back with another unique, interactive exhibit.

Called Mi Casa, Your Casa 2.0, it features 16 glowing, house-like play structures on the Sarofim Lawn that create a space for Houstonians to sit, swing, relax, and come together as a community.

The installation from Mexican designers Esrawe + Cadena is inspired by the mercados of Latin America — lively street markets where human connections are made every day.

The goal is for visitors to make new friends, try new activities, dance to music, and enjoy the city’s diverse cultural and art experiences for the duration of the exhibit, which runs October 8-November 14, 2022.

But that's not all. To help bring Houstonians together, there will be public art programming inspired by the installation and sponsored by Houston Association of Realtors, starting with a big opening night celebration.

On October 8 from 6-10 pm, get ready for:

  • Two evening performances of Lifted by Mimbre, an all-woman acrobatic dance group from the United Kingdom on their first U.S. tour.
  • Houston artist Ange Hillz live-painting the newest President's Mural: Discovery Green from A to Z. Hillz will paint accompanied by DJ Monstaa and pianist DJ Pee Wee from The Too Laid Back Band. The painting will be on view through January 29, 2023.

"During the past two years, many Houstonians have felt isolated in their homes and have missed the opportunity to be part of a community," says Jennifer Wauhob, chair of the Houston Association of Realtors, which is sponsoring the public art programming. "Our 49,000 Realtors know how important community connection is and Mi Casa, Your Casa 2.0 creates a space where strangers can become friends in the comfort of an exhibit that feels like home."

Here's what else you can enjoy throughout the installation's six-week run:

  • Listen to a “Houston Strong” playlist courtesy of ROCO while enjoying the Mi Casa, Your Casa 2.0 art installation.
  • Catch two more performances of Lifted on October 9 at noon and 2:30 pm.
  • Watch the Houston Pride Band’s SaxWorx and Brass Tax quartet perform on October 14 from 7-9 pm.
  • Enjoy traditional Indonesian music from Gamelan of the New Moon performed live on October 21 from 7-9 pm.

And especially for children:

  • On Saturday, October 8, from 1:30-3 pm, kids can create a mini casa using toothpicks and gumdrops with the help of Girlstart STEM.
  • On Saturday, October 15, from 1:30-3 pm, kids can sing and dance along with Encanto characters Isabela, Mirabel, and Dolores.
  • On Saturday, October 29 from 1:30-3 pm, they can enjoy cultural crafts created by exhibitors visiting from different parts of Mexico.

Discovery Green is a 12-acre park that features sprawling lawns, a one-acre lake, an interactive fountain, a playground, public art installations, gardens, and an allée of century-old live oaks. Since opening in April 2008, the park has welcomed more than 20 million visitors.

As Discovery Green prepares to celebrate its 15th birthday party, Houstonians are invited to “discover themselves” at the park with free concerts, entertainment, relaxation, and more. More info at www.discoverygreen.com.

Photo courtesy of Creos

Esrawe + Cadena's Mi Casa, Your Casa 2.0 is on display October 8-November 14, 2022.

RodeoHouston reveals Conroe-born country star Parker McCollum as 2023 Opening Day headliner

parker saddles up for rodeo

A familiar face will headline the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo’s wildly popular Opening Day performance. Conroe native and country star Parker McCollum will take the NRG Stadium stage on Tuesday, February 28, 2023, the rodeo announced.

Individual tickets for McCollum’s Opening Days show start at $25, plus a $4 convenience fee and are on sale at 10 am on Thursday, October 6 via rodeohouston.com. As always, an Online Waiting Room will open at 9:30 am; customers who join the Waiting Room from 9:30 to 9:59 am will be randomly selected to purchase tickets at 10 am. (A place in the Waiting Room does not guarantee tickets.) Customers can purchase a maximum of eight tickets.

McCollum, who boasts more than 3.3 million followers on Spotify with favorites such as “Pretty Heart,” “To Be Loved by You,” and “Hell of a Year,” has won fans with his mix of Americana and country, infused with a bit of blues, soul, and folk rock. Currently touring with country crooner Thomas Rhett, McCollum is a natural choice to open the 2023 RodeoHouston concert series, as the singer-songwriter drew a crowd of 73,243 at last year’s rodeo, marking the fourth-highest paid rodeo/concert attendance in 2022.

Fittingly, custom-designed caps commemorating Opening Day and McCollum’s return to RodeoHouston will be available for purchase online.

New for 2023, a special Opening Day celebration will feature a performance by a local band on the Stars Over Texas Stage before McCollum’s show. Special giveaways will include 10,000 custom-made Howdy bobbleheads for early arrivers that morning (starting at 10 am). Visitors can expect a host of activities including an Opening Day Parade at NRG Park.

As for the highly anticipated 2023 RodeoHouston entertainer will be announced at a later date, plus more Opening Day details, per the rodeo.

“Everyone looks forward to the upcoming Rodeo season all year long, and we hope all Rodeo fans will circle Opening Day on their 2023 calendars, as this will be a day you won’t want to miss,” Chris Boleman, rodeo president and CEO, noted in a statement. “February 28 will truly be a Houston-themed celebration, as we kick off the 2023 Rodeo season with Houston’s-own country music star Parker McCollum closing out the day with another unforgettable RodeoHouston performance.”

The 2023 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and all RodeoHouston performances are scheduled for February 28–March 19, 2023 at NRG Park.