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tmariar

Save the Jim West Mansion!

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The biggest difference between old time millionaires and today's millionaires is that today's rich guys have their money tied up corporations. They can't spend their money the way guys like West, HL Hunt, Howard Hughes and others did. Their spending is now controlled by Boards of Directors. Bill Gates is a notable exception to that rule.

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Further activity at the mansion: an iron fence (about 8 feet tall) is being erected along the frontage of the man-made lake. The old stone fence along NASA Road 1 and the west side of the manision is getting an iron fence on top of it as well. I still have no idea what the ultimate use of building will be.

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The biggest difference between old time millionaires and today's millionaires is that today's rich guys have their money tied up corporations. They can't spend their money the way guys like West, HL Hunt, Howard Hughes and others did. Their spending is now controlled by Boards of Directors. Bill Gates is a notable exception to that rule.

Bill Gates has more money than Croesus. I'm surprised the bureau of engraving can print it fast enough for him. (tried but failed to place smiley emoticon here)

I think one reason the truly rich (not Hollywood and sports celebrities) are so nearly invisible is because of the litigious society we have become. If you don't know who they are you can not sue them for slights real or imagined.

Edited by Specwriter

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I now live a mile or so away from it and drive by every few days. I grew up here and recall a few of our friends big boats piled up on the bridge by it after Carla blew through. I've noted the sprucing up - appears to be at a snail's pace for any significant rehab of a residence like that. I'm more than curious.

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I now live a mile or so away from it and drive by every few days. I grew up here and recall a few of our friends big boats piled up on the bridge by it after Carla blew through. I've noted the sprucing up - appears to be at a snail's pace for any significant rehab of a residence like that. I'm more than curious.

I have a house in the 77586 zip code (Seabrook area) that I travel to on weekends so I only see the property on Friday and Sunday evenings generally. H. H., please keep us informed if you will. It is a mystery to me as to the "secrecy" or lack if information about what is going on. When I did see people working on and around the mansion there was no indication of who they might be like a sign on the vehicles etc.

We saw the same thing during Ike that you saw during Carla: boats sitting on top of NASA Road 1. Actually, I only saw pictures because we evacuated and were safely in Austin when the storm hit.

I posted on this thread last April about the Sealy Manison in Galveston becoming a conference center for UTMB. I still think something like that would be the best use for the West Mansion though I realize it is in private hands now. I know the Lunar Planetary Institute used the building some years a go but I'm not exactly sure what for.

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A quick glance of the county records still shows that Olajuwon Farms LLC still owns 3303 E. Nasa Boulevard (does anyone else REALLY dislaike renaming NASA Road 1 this "parkway" crap?) They bought it in October of 2006. It had belonged to Rice University until 1995. The property value jumped $1million this year and the owner's paid roughly $49K in taxes in 2011. $50K a year is a lot just to let something return slowly to nature.

Looks like it's getting a basic spruce up for something. Not much long term thought going into putting up a steel tube fence there as it will only last 10 years at the most before totally rusting out - shorter if made of cheap import steel. But at least it's an improvement. The other house of note nearby is the one now used as the yacht club across the road behind the hotel at Bal Harbour Marina. That house is named Windemere in 1929 when built by a Hughes Tool Co. executive.

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I see a bit more happening here in the past week or so. Dark red canvas awnings have been installed above several of the windows and just yesterday I saw some men erecting what seems to be a sign at the gate along NASA Road 1. They were installing some large square tile over the concrete block structure of the sign base. It disturbs me that I see a round tube coming up through the middle of this pylon sign. I hope there is no intent to have some tacky lighted marquee atop that tube. Yecch.

Happy Historian, I believe the old FM 528 is still officially NASA Road 1 east of the Johnson Space Center. I agree with you, and I stated in other threads, this indiscriminate renaming of thoroughfares "parkways" is incorrect and causes those who make the decision to rename appear to be not too intelligent. Allen Parkway fits the definition of a parkway. St. Joseph Parway does not.

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I stand corrected (actually I am sitting as I write this). I passed by the West Mansion again this afternoon and on the monument sign I mentioned yesterday, in very nice lettering, are the words "West Mansion" and below that, "3300 E. NASA Parkway." So I guess that part of what I will always call NASA Road 1 is, indeed, NASA Parkway. I guess too, by the strictest definition, it is a parkway since Clear Lake Park fronts on both sides of the road just a short distance east of the mansion.

The more interesting thing I saw was when I drove through the open gate and right up to the house itself. On each of the red awnings are the letters and numbers "DR34M." I suppose the '3' substitutes for the letter 'E' and the '4' for the letter 'A' thus indicating the Dream, i.e. Mr.Olajuwon. The same also appears in plaster relief over the porte cochere at the rear of the building. A quick Google search turns up this: http://www.dr34m.com/

Well, we'll see how successful that venture is. :unsure: I notice the car wash is still operating on San Felipe just inside the 610 Loop. :D To give due credit the restoration of the exterior seems to have been done well and there are no permanent alterations to distract from the structure. The owner(s) are to be commended. I still believe the house and grounds would better serve as a venue for receptions and similar events. I attended a wedding and dinner at the Guenther House in San Antonio last October and the house and grounds were excellent for that event. The West Mansion should be just as fitting.

Edited by Specwriter

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I had to explain the DR34M to an acquaintence of mine. The 3 and the 4 substitute for the 'e' and 'a' in "Dream" - Hakeem's nickname. 34 was also his jersey number. I guess it has become the boutique we heard about earlier. I see the same two or three automobiles parked on the west side of the building each time I pass buy (which is fairly frequently these days). I suppose those cars belong to the people who operate the boutique. I am a very unlikely candidate to shop there but my curiosity may get the best of me soon.

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Looks like a very high-end boutique to me. Way above my pay grade. Don't get me wrong. I salute Hakeem for using his wealth to turn that beautiful old mansion into something new. He's probably the only person in town who could and would do this, so we we can give thanks that he's the one who bought it from the previous owners. This story makes me very happy.

I wonder if he's going to be doing TV commercials. I can hear him now. "Come to the DR34M ! It's unbittable." *

*(For Houston newbies: Back in the 80s or 90s Hakeem did some local TV commercials -- I forget whose they were -- and his last line was always about the prices -- "They're unbeatable." Except when he said it with his Nigerian accent, it came out "They're unbittable." It got to be something of a local joke.)

Edited by FilioScotia

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Looks like a very high-end boutique to me. Way above my pay grade. Don't get me wrong. I salute Hakeem for using his wealth to turn that beautiful old mansion into something new. He's probably the only person in town who could and would do this, so we we can give thanks that he's the one who bought it from the previous owners. This story makes me very happy.

I wonder if he's going to be doing TV commercials. I can hear him now. "Come to the DR34M ! It's unbittable." *

*(For Houston newbies: Back in the 80s or 90s Hakeem did some local TV commercials -- I forget whose they were -- and his last line was always about the prices -- "They're unbeatable." Except when he said it with his Nigerian accent, it came out "They're unbittable." It got to be something of a local joke.)

I am also greatful that Hakeem is preserving this building and the First National Bank building downtown as well. Short of a wrecking ball nothing is worse for an historic building than for it to sit empty. It also appears that he has done nothing that is not reversible. Kudos for that as well.

Filio, are you remembering the commercial for the voice recognition device where Hakeem says something to the effect of, "if it can recognize what I say it can work for anybody?"

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Turns out my memory was faulty on who the sponsor was, and faulty about what he was talking about.

After some Internet searching, I've found that the commercial I'm talking about was for McDonald's. Early in the 1985-86 season, McDonalds started airing a local commercial that showed Hakeem doing his trademark "dream shake" move and dunking a McNugget in some sauce at the same time.

That's when he uttered the word, in his thick Nigerian accent, that has been linked to him ever since: "Unbeatable".

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I am also greatful that Hakeem is preserving this building and the First National Bank building downtown as well. Short of a wrecking ball nothing is worse for an historic building than for it to sit empty. It also appears that he has done nothing that is not reversible. Kudos for that as well.

Filio, are you remembering the commercial for the voice recognition device where Hakeem says something to the effect of, "if it can recognize what I say it can work for anybody?"

Atta boy Dream!!

_____________________

"I've had many problems in my life, most of which were imagined." - Mark Twain

Chuck Dee - AKA Chris

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I think we can finally state conclusively that the Jim West mansion has been "saved", although what it has been saved for isn't making everyone happy. Those people need to get over it. As for me, I am delighted with the mansion's newest incarnation under Hakeem Olajuwon and I hope it succeeds.

Check out this item in the Chronicle.

http://www.chron.com/life/article/Clear-Lake-s-West-mansion-starts-new-chapter-with-4211422.php?cmpid=hottopicshpatfpm

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I drove past the mansion last night about 7:30. There were lights on all inside the building and the parking lot was full. There was nothing going on outside on the terrace. It never occured to me before, but last night made evident that there is very little exterior lighting and NONE was apparent in the parking area. It appears the parking area was repaved during the renovations prior to the opening of DR34M so there should be no pot holes to negotiate when guests returned to their cars.

 

Does anyone know what event was being held there? It seems odd it would be after the all star game unless it was something unrelated. We have a lot of fund-raisers and "kick-off" events in the Clear Lake area and this structure seems ideal for that although there could be more parking (with lighting for evening events).

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I drove past the mansion last night about 7:30. There were lights on all inside the building and the parking lot was full. There was nothing going on outside on the terrace. It never occured to me before, but last night made evident that there is very little exterior lighting and NONE was apparent in the parking area. It appears the parking area was repaved during the renovations prior to the opening of DR34M so there should be no pot holes to negotiate when guests returned to their cars.

 

Does anyone know what event was being held there? It seems odd it would be after the all star game unless it was something unrelated. We have a lot of fund-raisers and "kick-off" events in the Clear Lake area and this structure seems ideal for that although there could be more parking (with lighting for evening events).

 

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Read a story in chron that it will host events now

 

I'm pleased to learn that. As I've said before the building seems to be ideally suited for that. Also, the breeze coming off Clear Lake makes the county park nearby, and I would assume the West Mansion, a more pleasant venue than most other places on a humid summer evening.

Edited by Specwriter

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Well the West Mansion was hosting a rather large event when I drove past about 1:00pm yesterday. The paved  parking (such as it is) was full and there were several automobiles parked on the grass. There were people standing all around on the terraces. I have no idea what the event was. Can any HAIF'ers shed some light?

 

I know it costs money to install and maintain landscaping but the place just screams for some azaleas. All those around my modest abode are in full bloom right now and it is just magnificent. Once again, though, my compliments and gratitude to Mr. Olajuwon for preserving this treasure on Clear Lake. 

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The Houston Symphony League Bay Area’s “Day by the Bay” home tour will feature some of the most beautiful and historical homes in the Clear lake Area. Scheduled for March 22-23, the home tour showstopper is the magnificent Italian Renaissance revival style home located at the corner of NASA Parkway and Space Center Blvd.

 

 

http://www.yourhoustonnews.com/bay_area/living/houston-symphony-league-bay-to-host-day-by-the-bay/article_44b627ec-2579-51d9-ba6c-b439cb69159b.html

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For a short period of time, my late Uncle and his wife owned the Jim West Mansion. One of the most exciting things was a safe in the house. They just knew it would be loaded with money....wrong, it was vacant. It was a lovely mansion regardless.

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What occupies the Jim West mansion now? I drove past last Wednesday (Sept. 25) for the first time in a long, long time and it looks like some sort of plant nursery. I was driving and conversing with the passengers in my car so I was really not able to take an extended look at the place. It is no longer Hakeem's specialty shop that is for sure.

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8 minutes ago, marmer said:

And... it's being demolished.

 

 

??? I thought this was saved and a big success story?

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A big, fat "UP YOURS!" to Hakeem Olajuwon.
If he wasn't nine feet tall, I'd call him a sneaky little bastard.

 

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The property is in Pasadena, not Houston, so there's no way to search for the permits.

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This is an abomination. I only learned about it this morning from an e-mail sent to Preservation Houston membership. I guess it was a "middle of the night" type of thing even though it occurred in broad daylight since I saw nothing previously from Preservation Houston. It also seemed like the demolition permit "flew under the RADAR" since the structure was located in Pasadena instead of Houston.

 

I am heart-sick about this. If someone wanted to develop the land around the mansion why not keep the building as a reception space/fitness center/other amenity? If the new development is perceived to be multi-family, or even mixed-use, this would have been something to consider.

 

One has to wonder why the anti-demolition covenant as part of the 1991 sale (per the Preservation Houston e-mail I received) had an expiration date. That seems ridiculous. I guess historic status is meaningless in some places.

 

I'm not a superstitious person but I have to think there will be a curse attached to any future development of this site due to this heinous action which preceded it.

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2 hours ago, Specwriter said:

One has to wonder why the anti-demolition covenant as part of the 1991 sale (per the Preservation Houston e-mail I received) had an expiration date. That seems ridiculous. I guess historic status is meaningless in some places.

 

I was likewise surprised to find out that Texas Historic Landmark and National Register of Historic Places designations have to be periodically renewed. Not that it would have probably mattered in this case, as in the case of the National Register, such designations are merely honorific and do not place any restrictions on the property owners as to use, modification, development, or sale. Texas Historic Landmark designations only require consultation with the Texas Historical Commission 60 days in advance of planned changes, but about all they can do is revoke the designation if they don't like the changes. 

Edited by mkultra25

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