Posts Tagged ‘Real Estate’

Some Pecan Park History Notes

March 10, 2011

Once upon a time, in the late 19th century. there really was a rather large Pecan tree orchard in the area southeast of downtown Houston. As the city grew in that direction, the demand for residential space resulted in the purchase or managerial acquirement of the orchard area for the purpose of building and selling homes. The Magnolia Land Company sat in the middle of this new enterprise and began plating the land for individual property and street construction n 1925. Shell was the original building material for new streets and roads, but asphalt and concrete took over as the major infrastructure upgrades by the mid-1930s..

The larger region soon became known and was advertised as “Pecan Park,” and it covered an area that basically stretched out through multiple smaller neighborhoods that shared these current informal borders: Griggs Road boundaried the northern line; Broadway stood as the eastern wall; and old Winkler Drive and now the Gulf Freeway (I-10 S) covering the southern boundary and, curving around, and also becoming the western frontier of the area.

Most of the homes of Pecan Park were built during┬áthe 1930s and 1940s, with all of the original construction of usable space tapping out about 1955. Lot size typically fit into the 5,000 square feet zone, with houses ranging in size from 1,100 to 1,600 square feet. Almost all of them were one-story wood or brick bungalows, with styles ranging from Tudor, Cape Cod, and Ranch class architectures being the preferred choices. Homes typically had two, and sometimes three bedrooms, with a living room, kitchen, one bath, and a one-car garage, Hardly anyone had a “den.” For those of us who grew up there, “dens” and multiple bath rooms were simply an upscale concept, amenities to expect, if you lived in River Oaks, but not in Pecan Park.

My family of origin lived in Pecan Park at 6646 Japonica Street from 1945 to 1958. Mom and Dad paid $5,000 for our little 2-bedroom house when we moved in, but Dad added another bedroom when my little sister was born in 1949. My folks kept the place for a few years as a rental house after we all grew up and moved out. I don’t recall what Dad got for the place when he sold it in the mid-1960s, but it wasn’t a lot. Now I look on the Harris County property valuation site and see that the house is currently appraised at $89,000.

How can that be? With some homes in the nearby neighborhood literally falling down, how can that be? Apparently, it’s mostly, if not all, about location, location, location. The people who now own my childhood home seem to be doing a good job on its upkeep, but that may not be the big deal. Fifteen years ago, the house, and others around it, were appraised in the low 30K range, but something has happened since then.

Some Houstonians apparently are moving back inside the loop from the far suburbs these days. OK. So, Pecan Park is only seven miles from downtown Houston, tops, from my old place on Japonica. The location of these homes is driving up the cost of the land upon which all the old homes still rest. You will even see some evidence of new construction in Pecan Park now, and to the extent that some people are razing older houses and putting up two-stories in their places.

I should have bought my old house back at 30K when it was on the market for same a few years ago, but that thought rests among the least original I’ve ever embraced. When it comes to the “Land of Real Estate Deal Passovers,” how many of us have subsequently found ourselves lost in the land of “Woulda’, Coulda’, Shoulda?”

The shakier our dollar becomes, the harder it gets to think about where we should put the ones we have left, but real estate has a special attraction for me. Unlike stock values, real estate doesn’t disappear with the dawn. You might wake up one morning and read that your land is no longer worth anything, but, at least, you can still look out the window as the sun rises higher in the sky and see that it’s still there.

Being able to see it still counts for something.

As for Pecan Park, she will always be home to me, even if I didn’t buy my old house back when I had the chance, and even with all the changes the neighborhood has gone through over the passage of time. There’s just a part of my early years there that soaked into my bloodstream and never went away.

Have a nice day, everybody, and save some time for your own favorite healthy passions and reveries of life. Pecan Park covers a lot of that ground for me. In many ways, Pecan Park is simply the shell that once held the yolk of everything I am. And I like that idea.