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Posts posted by MikeRichardson

  1. On 4/20/2022 at 5:53 PM, editor said:

    Is demolition the biggest concern?  More often, I've seen buildings flip to apartments without the consent of all of the owners, and the hold-outs get shafted that way. 

    I know of a place that did that - https://www.galleriaoaks5151.com

    If you look on HCAD it's still divided into condos, and the complex owns all but a few of them (last time I checked anyway).

  2. Store 1012 - 5210 FM 1960 W

    https://images1.loopnet.com/d2/8uif0s06laDTGy17Hpa3iTJOgPAeCkX_Rm75RSBT_kI/Champions VillageFlyer.pdf (also attached to the post)



    Upcoming Randalls Expiration:

    • Randalls, which has been in the center since it’s development in 1974, comes up for renewal with no remaining options for the first time in 50 years.

    • The tenant is currently paying well below-market rents


    Anchored by Randalls through April 2024, Champions Village Shopping Center provides essential grocery shopping in a dense residential area. With Randalls upcoming expiration with no remaining options there is real potential to mark rents to market with Randalls or another competing brand.

    I predict that this store will close in 2024 😕

    Another grocery store will probably lease the space quickly, though. (This is exactly what happened at 9503 Jones Rd).

    The store opened as a "Handy Andy" in 1974 (not a Randalls). I forget when Randalls bought Handy Andy.


  3. On 7/27/2022 at 9:28 AM, Ross said:

    Scraping the CoH permits site for demos is probably harder than you think. Going to the site, it looks the same as it has for at least the last 10 or 15 years. You fill out the parameters, click on the run button, and a WebFocus report is generated from whatever the source of the data is.

    Here's the site http://www.cohtora.houstontx.gov/approot/soldpermits/online_permit.htm

    I am fairly skilled at web scraping. My friend wanted to buy a PS5, so I wrote a script that would scrape walmart.com for a PS5 every minute (ignoring the scammy marketplace sellers). I would use my server's 5 IP addresses in rotating order, so that any one IP would not be blocked. The script would send me and my friend a text (using @vtext.com and the one for AT&T) when it found them for sale. My script did eventually find Walmart PS5's for sale, but we weren't able to log on fast enough to buy it. Every month or so Walmart would change their site slightly, requiring a corresponding change to my script. Eventually my friend got one from Sony directly, so I stopped updating the script. (I have a PS4 and it looks fine, so I could care less really.)

    Anyway, the permit site looks fairly easy to submit a search and scrape. Worst case scenario, you can actually run a type of virtual Firefox browser, and then "type" or pick from selection menus, "submit" the form and then scrape the data presented.

    Demo permits would only need to be scraped once a day, so IPs shouldn't be a problem.

    I would just need to decipher the "PROJECT_DESC" column. I think what I want are "DEMO RES/SEWER DISC" and "DEMO BLD/ SEWER DISC".  The data does seem to have crappy inconsistencies for some reason. Sometimes it says "DEMO BLDG/SEWER DISC" or "DEMO RES / SEWER DISC". If I delete all the spaces, then I can check for fewer matches, just "RES" or "BLD" or "BLDG". 

    RES is obviously Residential. I am not sure if BLD and BLDG always/sometimes mean Commercial.

    Maybe if I got a scraper working, I could just start "posting" those to the existing Swamplot, and then see how much that increases traffic, which might then attract a new editor and stuff.

    • Like 2
  4. I vaguely remember SwampLot had a post that said something like, "If we could get new editors/writers we could keep the site going". The site subsequently "closed" but has been kind enough to stay online, with someone paying the bills. It showed up in a Google search I just did for Timber Cop Condos.

    I certainly couldn't write every day but I could host the site and provide technical support, and an occasional writeup. (Swamplot has published my photos and even analysis before). I have a server in a Houston area datacenter that would be perfect.

    We would need an official editor though and some writer(s) I guess? Would anyone be up for doing that? There's not really listed "authors" for the stories on Swamplot so I have no idea if it was really one person or several people. I know a lot of it was submissions and then the site would add a little write up to it. Then there was the weekly stuff and the demolition reports.

    I'm a programmer so I bet the demolition reports could actually be automated to some degree, by scraping the relevant Houston city site. A post could be created and queued up, and someone could add pithy commentary if desired before it was published at some standard time.

    I don't think anything ever really replaced Swamplot. It used to be one of those sites I'd check almost daily.

    If there's any interest in someone acting as the editor or a writer or something make a post. Or maybe this idea is stupid because someone else already replaced Swamplot, or no one cares anymore.

  5. https://www.bizjournals.com/houston/news/2022/01/13/partners-capital-buys-clear-lake-retail-center.html

    "The former Randalls has been sitting empty for about two years... Randalls’ lease on the building doesn’t expire until March 2024"

    If rent is $10,000 a month, then it costs you $10,000 a month to have an empty store.

    It only makes sense to have an empty store if you were somehow losing more than $10,000 a month. Why would you then not try something else like laying off a few people? Sure that's not ideal, but I mean, they always say something like "The employees were offered positions at other stores" but you know they didn't all get positions. So either way it would happen.

    (Stuff like write-offs might affect those numbers to some degree.)

    It also stands to reason that if you have fewer stores, you have less purchasing power. Which would just seem to screw the remaining stores further.

  6. Well I totally missed this one.


    God damnit.

    Just, stupid. Except for the fact that I think these stores are all closing when they're 25 or 30 years old which also seems to be the standard term lease.

    I actually found an entire Randalls lease contract online once. I think I saved it somewhere. I do remember it was for 25 years, but it also had built in yearly rent raises. So I don't think that the rent should significantly increase after the term is up, but everything is pretty screwed up these days, so who knows.

    9660 Westheimer got completely rebuilt, so we know they're capable of negotiating this type of thing.

    I'd like to see some magazine do a long form post-mortem when they're finally done squandering Randalls. Maybe Texas Monthly or something like that. Start at the beginning, with the history but at least half of should dissect how Safeway and then Albertsons completely just wasted it away.

    There's a neat old picture of one of the original Randalls stores, at the FM 1960 store in one of the vestibules. (The other vestibule has an old Albertsons picture). I'll dig through my phone for it.

  7. Here's a weird screen I got logging into Randalls.com


    It's probably just a stupid error, but it could also be an intentional leak that they plan to rebrand Randalls as Safeway. Which would be just about the dumbest thing they could do in my opinion.

    If they were going to rebrand the stores for some reason, I'd go with Tom Thumb, which at least has a presence in Texas. People in Houston would have no opinion of Tom Thumb, where they might have a significant opinion of Safeway or even Albertsons. 

    • Like 1
  8. How many condo complexes have actually voted to sell out and be demolished?

    I'm in the market for a condo now most likely inside the Beltway.

    I'm curious how many condo complexes have actually voted to sell out and be demolished?

    (If you don't know my backstory I was one of the last old Westcreek residents before all the towers went up).

    I only know of the one, somewhere near the West Loop and I can't recall the name right now. It was on Swamplot though (RIP :( )

    If you can recall any others please post them.

    What are typical % of owners required to sell out to demolish? (It seems to be quite north of 50%)

    Of course, if developers offered enough - if they truly made it worth the owners' while, then bye bye, I'm not stupid and won't hold up a good deal. I'm just curious as to what has happened before.

    • Like 1
  9. I have used METRO several times, mainly to get to/from auto repair shops when a friend couldn't take me.

    I actually found it to be well air conditioned, safe, and not even full those several times.

    In fact one time she (the bus driver) even let me on for free, due to the bill reader would not take my wrinkled bill (I do not have a Q card) and she wanted to move things along I guess. Maybe she thought I couldn't afford it but I wasn't going to argue with her either.

    I think I also used METRO one time to get to jury duty, in that case you just show the summons and you can get to wherever you need to go.

    I do not think rebranding would be worth the considerable expense (in terms of ROI - I don't think they'd gain that much new ridership).

    • Like 2
  10. On 11/19/2021 at 5:24 PM, Ross said:

    I have no problem with the tolls continuing. The diverted amounts pay for a lot of other road work that wouldn't get done. And, you can avoid paying tolls by taking alternate routes. No one is forced to take a toll road.

    What if you instead looked at it this way?

    I personally almost never take the toll roads. I go to see my mom almost every week for Sunday dinner (driving from Westheimer to 249), and those trips occur on State Highway Beltway 8 (aka the feeder), instead of the toll road. Out of ~100 trips (50 x 2) in the past year, I took the toll road only twice due to extenuating circumstances.

    However, I still benefit from "[the diversion of] money from HCTRA to use on other government functions, with initial withdrawals being used to supplement flood control funds" as stated by "Houston Freeways author Oscar Slotboom" on MaxConcrete's blog.

    I am enjoying those improvements without having really contributed any money whatsoever (not even $10 total in total tolls spent). 

    So is that like I am not paying taxes in those cases???

    I don't see at _all_ how it's fair that the toll road users alone should be paying for these massive improvements to flood control and roads unrelated to the toll roads. If we want to improve non-toll roads and flood control we need to pass the appropriate tax increases and/or bonds (as we did with the flood bond post Harvey, that I voted for).

    There is an infamous rumor that HCTRA promised to make the toll roads free after the bonds were paid off. In fact, the rumor is true.

    Unfortunately, the only original proof is on an old ABC13 article, which I link to from my alternate site at https://hctra.us

    Fortunately, HCTRA actually provides proof in every contemporary financial report they have published! Here is their statement from the FY2010 report (source http://hctra.co/financials/Toll Road FY2010.pdf):


    When all of the debt service, as discussed in Note 7, has been paid or provided for in a trust fund, the Toll Roads will become a part of the State of Texas Highway System.

    But HCTRA keeps "[diverting] money from HCTRA to use on other government functions". Hundreds of millions of dollars a year! How could they *ever* pay off their obligations in Note 7 under such conditions?

    Not to mention the "pooling of projects" (exact term might be different) which occurred in a commissioners' court meeting approximately two weeks after 9/11 (source http://hctra.co/commissioners/0119ag.pdf), which basically blends the financials for all of the toll roads all together instead of each one being a separate project. That makes the proposal on MaxConcrete's blog "toll removal should be facilities which have generated far more revenue than their original cost... the original three sections of the Sam Houston Tollway" almost if not completely impossible!

    The entire System, in my opinion, has been carefully orchestrated to be never-ending, and to make up for shortfalls in the County budget that are more appropriately addressed by other means (issuance of bonds and/or tax increase and/or reduction of budget in other areas, etc.)

  11. On 11/18/2021 at 3:08 PM, editor said:

    It seems to be trying to do too much for too many people, and manages to underserve everyone.  If it could just be good at the basics, that would be enough.  I don't know if it's a reaction to the Whole Foods opening, but it really should ditch the grab-n-go and hot bar and similar things and refocus on the fundamentals.

    The fried chicken is pretty good, with a sale every Monday. I do see a lot of people carrying that out (from the 2 stores I frequent - haven't been to Midtown in a few years and only a few times since it opened).

    If they'd just advertise the "no card needed now" angle they'd surely regain a not insignificant number of customers who are turned off by the card. You can attribute this to Albertson's being the apparently successor company out of the Safeway/Albertson's merger.

    (Besides, who needs those cards to track people anymore? You can just track them using their Debit or Credit Card #, or maybe Bluetooth/WiFi pings off their phone.)

    Maybe put the Boar's Head back, I honestly could give a crap, but I've seen a lot of people grousing about that.

    There are still some benefits to the card, you still get the gas points and also a free item every month. The points are redeemable at either Shell or Chevron, I forget which one it is now (as well as the Randalls gas stations all 5 or whatever of them).

    • Like 1
  12. 10 hours ago, zaphod said:

    The worst part is that everything is like 10% more expensive.

    So, I don't want to suggest this as a general policy. But I was basically ~ok~ with that during the worst of the pandemic you know?  I still had drive to my mom's place weekly, you know? Her car is fu**ed up. I'd bring her groceries and stuff. And who was right there on my way? Memorial Dr. Randalls. Awesome store there.

    • Like 1
  13. Updates: FY 2019, 2020, and 2021 have been added to the site. (HCTRA has a nasty habit of deleting these after they get too old. We will archive every year in perpetuity.) Also, the PDF names have been standardized. Please feel free to link directly to PDFs in the Financials directory.


    On 8/22/2018 at 1:33 PM, Luminare said:

    I do appreciate a site that has this kind of information. However, I think the site would do better in simply providing these documents without the filter of conspiracy that seems laced throughout.

    Luminare makes a valid point here, I will be updating the main page soon since it now contains inaccurate information.

  14. So here's a letter I wrote to Randalls the other day. I submitted using their app, which has always gotten a response for other issues I have complained about using said app.

    In summary: Randalls, please grow some balls and actually f*cking compete in this market!

    Edit: The below mentioned Westheimer store was historically a 24 hour store long ago. Randalls' operation of 24 hour stores is mentioned in this Houston Press article: https://www.houstonpress.com/news/where-are-they-when-you-need-them-6573131 and I also have an old picture of the Westheimer store (9660 Pre Rebuild) with 24 hour signage somewhere.


    Dear Randalls Food Markets,

    Probably your #2 or #3 customer here. Don't ask me why. Even I don't know why these days.

    You were there for us, right after Harvey. Why you chose to abandon your Woodlands' stores last year, I'll never comprehend in 1000 years. But I'm still here, and I have 2 suggestions for you.


    I have one small request, and one possibly big opportunity for you. Please consider both.

    #1 small request: DON'T DIE. STOP TRYING TO DIE! This goes for both Houston and Austin. You have good sales sometimes. Your regular prices are in line with Kroger and other national competitors. You have a place in both markets. STOP TRYING TO DIE! Maybe even consider opening a brand new store in the next few years. The mere action of doing that would certainly get you stories on the local news!

    #2 big opportunity: Consider a 24 hour store! Kroger has given up on all of their 24 hour stores since the pandemic. Walmart too! CVS and Walgreens' 24 hour stores both number in the extremely low single digits! Randalls has an opportunity here to bring back 24 hour shopping to the City of Houston. For the cost of a security guard and an attendant for self checkout, Randalls could basically dominate 11 PM - 6 AM in Houston.  The Westheimer store (the only one of those left :( ) seems best suited to make 24 hours due to its central location. Unless you are going to shut that store down too :(

    #3 bonus suggestion: it looks like the card is no longer required to get deals! Great! NOW TELL PEOPLE ABOUT IT!!!!!!

    In summary: STOP TRYING TO DIE, and, TAKE ADVANAGE OF OBVIOIUS MARKET OPPORTUNITIES! These are so obvious, and I didn't even go to business school...

    Lifelong customer,

    Michael Richardson

  15. My Kenmore washer is from 1986. I was born in 1988. It's older than I am. My mom bought some fancy new model and so I took the old washer off her hands. All it needed was a ~$20 lid switch that I got from a Sears Parts Store and installed myself around 2015, back when such stores still existed.


    I got my dryer, new (a Whirlpool) from a Sears Outlet store shortly after I got the old washer (in 2015). 


    Right now I live in an apartment that provides the washer and dryer, but when I buy a house, I intend to use the old Kenmore washer until it dies (and the Whirlpool dryer). They both work fine still.

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