Tag Archive for: demolition

Old KMS Down, But Not Yet Out

On the morning of 11/29/22, Humble ISD contractors finished demolishing the last walls of the old KMS (Kingwood Middle School). They were also draining a water tower on the property before taking that down. The next two steps: remove all the debris and start removing the foundation.

New athletic fields and a permanent larger detention pond will go where the old school was and frame the entrance of the new school.

Photo from Start of Demolition

Here’s what the extent of demolition looked like on 11/9/22.

Demolition of old Kingwood Middle School Begins

Pictures Taken at 9:30 A.M. on 11/29/22

For comparison, here’s what it looked like today. New KMS is in background; old KMS in foreground.

KMS today. Looking back E from SW corner of property.
Wide shot taken from the SE corner of the old KMS looking NW toward Woodland Hills Drive.
A parade of trucks hauls away the debris after recyclables such as steel are separated.
The giant claws pick girders from the rubble and stack them for separate removal.
Note the hole punctured in the school’s water tank.
Other steel parts will also be recycled.

Starting Year Three of Project

For photos showing the progress of KMS construction and demolition, see below.

Next Steps

The illustration below shows next steps. After removing the foundation of the old building (2A), contractors will excavate a larger, permanent detention basin to hold stormwater runoff from the property. The runoff will then be released at a slower rate to reduce the risk of overwhelming the neighborhood’s drainage system. That will reduce the risk of flooding.

stages of KMS construction
From Humble ISD Plans

The next step: rebuild the athletic fields (2B).

Check back frequently for updates.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 11/29/22

1918 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Demolition of Old KMS Building About 75% Complete

Contractors have made great strides in the last week with the demolition of the old KMS (Kingwood Middle School) Building. As of last Saturday, a visual estimate put it at about 20-25% complete. I was shocked when I drove by there today. Demolition looked approximately 75% complete.

As any parent of any kid who has ever played with blocks or Legos knows, it takes much less time to destroy a structure than it does to build it. And the same holds true in the big leagues.

While it took two years to build the new KMS, the old one will come down in less than a month. I first noticed the start of demolition on Tuesday, November 8. By last Saturday, most of the southwest quadrant was gone. Today, virtually the whole west side is gone. And most of of the east side, too. This is an incredible ballet of men and machines.

Pictures Taken 11/18/22 Around 2:30 P.M.

Wide shot looking SE toward Cedar Knolls and Pine Terrace shows cleared area relative to remaining.
KMS demolition in progress. Closer shot looking in same direction shows extend of remaining work.
Reverse shot looking west towards Woodland Hills Drive over the remaining portion of KMS.
Wide shot showing virtually entire campus. Looking East.

After tearing down the building, contractors will still have to remove the foundation. But for now, that concrete is their insurance against getting bogged down in mud if it rains. Water is the enemy of construction … and of demolition.

Next steps after that. Humble ISD will have to build the athletic fields where there old school was and expand/finalize the detention pond.

To see this project from start to finish, check out photos in the posts below starting with land clearing two years ago this week.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 11/18/22

1907 Days since Hurricane Harvey

KMS Demolition Accelerates

Kingwood Middle School demolition accelerated this week. On Tuesday, November 8, contractors had nibbled their way into a small area near the front door. But on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, they took down about 20-25% of the building. They’re focusing on the west side right now and moving north.

If your kids enjoy watching big machines at work, share the pictures below.

Photos Taken Week Ending 11/12/22

Extent of excavation at end of week. Wide shot looking ENE. Pine Terrace on right.
This shot gives you some idea of the power of these machines.
Photo by John Sedlak shows contractor separating materials for recycling.
While two machines tear down building, a third separates material and loads it into dump trucks.
Demolition happens much faster than construction. What took months to build will come down in days.
KMS demolition in full swing. Reverse shot looking S toward Pine terrace.
The temporary detention pond did its job Friday afternoon and evening. It held almost 2 inches of rain.
All was quiet Saturday morning. Here you can see steel being separated from the debris for recycling.
Sunset by John Sedlak on 11/5/22 shows the gorgeous new KMS on the right. The old KMS on the left will soon become athletic fields and a larger detention pond to reduce flood risk for neighbors.

To see the history of this project (both construction of the new KMS and old KMS demolition), see the posts below:

Posted by Bob Rehak on 11/12/22

1901 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Last Forest Cove Townhome Now Down

Today, the last townhome in Forest Cove was demolished – 1799 days after Hurricane Harvey, the storm that left them uninhabitable.

As of 3PM today, only one small portion of one wall remained and the demolition crew was busy loading up the last debris into waiting trucks. I may take another day or two to remove foundations and concrete driveways. But this show is over.

All that remained as of 3PM 8/2/22
Excavator loads debris into waiting truck.

Before Demolition

How last complex looked on 2/24/22, before demolition.

The last complex was situated across from the Forest Cove pool on Marina Drive. 240,000 cubic feet per second coming down the West Fork during Harvey blew out doors, windows, stairs and portions of balconies. The homes became uninhabitable for structural reasons.

Photo taken on July 22, 2022 shows location of last complex relative to Forest Cove pool.

You would think that in such cases, buyouts would take little time. But some people reportedly fled mortgage obligations to avoid payments on homes they could no longer live in. Without forwarding addresses, Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) had no choice but to go through lengthy condemnation proceedings in several cases. And until every unit in a complex like the one above had been bought, HCFCD could not tear down the complex.

The buyout and demolition process lasted four years. It began in 2018 and the first complex came down in 2019. Two complexes burned down.

While the legal system sputtered through Covid, drug dealers, illegal dumpers, arsonists, and graffiti artists took over these buildings. But now the area can return to nature. HCFCD will use this area to help preserve the floodplain.

Thank You, HCFCD!

Thanks to the women and men of the Harris County Flood Control District and their contractors for their diligence. Today’s demolition will make a huge difference in the quality of life for everyone in Forest Cove. Residents’ pool, athletic fields and community room were in the middle of this area. Perhaps now it can be restored to a productive, recreational purpose.

There is still no word on plans for the area. The only thing we know is that the FEMA money used to buy out the Forest Cove townhomes came with strings attached. Specifically, no other “insurable structures” can every be built on the purchased property.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 8/2/2022

1799 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Forest Cove Townhomes: One More Gone, One to Go

Earlier this week, I photographed the collapse of one of the two last townhome complexes in Forest Cove on Marina Drive. Today, I flew over the demolition site and photographed contractors removing the last of the debris and cleaning up the site.

The images also show the extent of buyouts in the area as well as the last remaining townhome complex opposite the Forest Cove pool. One down. One to go!

Photos Taken on 7/22/22

Looking south toward San Jacinto West Fork. Site of recently demolished complex in foreground. Last complex at top of frame, left of pool.
The demolition contractor has removed everything, including foundations and driveways – down to the dirt.
This entire area was once filled with townhome complexes, owned or rented by people who loved the river lifestyle.
Now only one remains. Harris County Flood Control has bought out the last owner and is doing final inspections before scheduling demolition sometime in August.
From dust to dust. All that remains of this address is memories. The excavator is using an I-Beam to level the dirt.

Vast Improvement

Compare the image below with the one above.

forest cove townhomes
After Harvey. Before demolition. This picture was taken in April, 2022.

Harvey was the final insult to these townhomes. These and neighboring properties became uninhabitable because of flooding. 240,000 cubic feet per second made them structurally unsound.

Since Harvey, all the derelict buildings drew drug dealers, graffiti artists and illegal dumpers. Now, the area will revert to nature and become, once again, a haven for eagles and other wildlife that still roam this area.

One down. One to go.

No More Insurable Structures

Many people have asked about the long range plans for this area. Harris County Flood Control now owns the property. It will never be developed. Under the terms of the FEMA grant used to finance the buyouts, “no insurable structures” can ever be placed on this land again. That severely limits possibilities.

So What Comes Next?

However, the land could still be used for parks and trails. Beth Walters, a spokesperson for HCFCD confirmed this afternoon that Harris County and the Houston Parks Board have been in talks about this property. However, she was not aware of any decisions that have been made at this point. Creating something beautiful on this property will likely take fund raising, long-term budgeting, and the cooperation of multiple entities.

The Value of Park Land

In my humble opinion, a long linear park stretching from here to US 59 might be the highest and best use for this land. It would turn a negative into a positive. If a deal can be worked out, it would help restore nearby property values in Forest Cove. These derelict townhomes certainly did not help them.

Many studies point to an increase in home values near parks. This one suggests an 8% to 20% bump. I hope the community can come together around the idea of turning this area into a park.

Meanwhile…a couple miles downstream, developers are busy building even more condos and apartments…even closer to the river. And they say that one of the hallmarks of human intelligence is that we can learn from each other’s mistakesI

Posted by Bob Rehak on 7/22/2022

1788 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Caught on Camera: Moment Forest Cove Townhome Toppled

This morning at 10:34 AM, the last remains of another Forest Cove townhome complex toppled to the ground. The HCFCD demolition contractor nibbled away at it last week and earlier this morning. Eventually, all but a narrow strip of the last townhome in the complex had turned into a pile of rubble.

That strip started to lean. Then, suddenly, one more touch from the excavator, and the building collapsed on itself with a billowing cloud of dust and a thunderous boom. When the dust cleared, only one last complex remained standing.

We are nearing the end of a process that started in 2018.

Sequence of Photos

As of Saturday, 7/16/22, one of the last three buildings was completely gone along with half of the second.
Early Monday, 7/18/22, demolition of the remaining portion of the second building started again.
As the excavator clawed away at the building, it started to lean.
Periodically, the excavator would pile more rubble under itself so it could then reach higher. Note falling doors, walls and floors, frozen in space by the camera’s fast shutter speed.
What took months to build came down in seconds. Note the severe bowing of the wall on the right.

Final Collapse Caught on Camera

At this point, I sensed the building would soon collapse. So, I switched from the drone to my Nikon which can shoot many more frames per second. And then it started…

With parts of the second and third floors removed, along with most of the truss structure in the attic, the remainder of the building started to collapse in on itself.
A chimney came tumbling forward.
The final collapse took less than 10 seconds.
Three minutes later, the dust had cleared.

Next Steps

Contractors will extract any recyclable waste from the rubble. Then, they will crush what remains so that it takes less space in a landfill. Finally, they will remove the concrete from the foundation and likely recycle that, too.

Eventually, this area will return to nature. However, what form that takes has not yet been determined. Typically, HCFCD partners with other organizations such as the Houston Parks Board to create and maintain improvements such as trails, parks or recreational space. In fact, the Houston Parks Board West Fork Trail currently ends behind the rubble in the photo above. The Parks Board plans to extend it to Edgewater Park at US59, so hikers and bikers can connect from the Kingwood Trail System to the Spring Creek Greenway.

Demo Date for Last Building

After this morning, only one Forest Cove townhome complex remains standing. That’s at 1020 Marina Drive near the community swimming pool. According to Amy Stone, a Flood Control District spokesperson, HCFCD will demolish that building starting August 1, 2022. More news to follow.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 7/18/2022

1784 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Forest Cove Townhomes: One Down, Two to Go

On 7/5/2022, demolition began on the first of three townhome complexes remaining on Marina Drive in Forest Cove. The complexes had been damaged beyond repair when 240,000 cubic feet per second of stormwater roared through them during Hurricane Harvey.

Since then, the abandoned properties had become magnets for drug dealing, arsonists, and illegal dumping. But the buyout process stalled when owners of some of the units could not be found. The county had to exercise its powers of eminent domain on those by declaring the purchase of several units a “public necessity.”

Now, with legalities out of the way, demolition began at 4:45 Tuesday afternoon. You could almost hear a collective sigh of relief from Forest Cove residents. Removal of the eyesores will restore the community’s image while eliminating a public safety hazard.

Photos of Demolition

Here are some pictures taken between 7/5 and 7/9/22. All that’s left of the first complex is a shrinking pile of rubble, some twisted girders, and some driveway.

Forest Cove Townhome Demolition
Beginning of Forest Cove Townhome Demolition on 7/5/22
By end of second day, 7/6/2022, half of first complex was down, but most of rubble remained.
By end of third day, 7/7/2022, entire first complex was down. Contractors compacted rubble to make it easier to haul it away.
They also separated girders from the rubble. This EPA article describes recycling opportunities for demolition waste.
End of fourth day, 7/9/22. Most of waste was hauled away. Practically nothing remains of first building. Second complex in background will come down next week.
Pile of twisted girders. Remnants of a once proud townhome complex and a laid-back river lifestyle. Next up for demo: the building in background.

Next Steps

The next steps:

  • Demolish building in photo above 7/14/22.
  • Schedule demo of third building as soon as last buyout is completed.

Kudos to Harris County Flood Control and its contractors. This is not easy work when the temperature soars into triple digits. Their efforts will make a huge difference to the community.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 7/10/2022

1776 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Beginning of End for Last of Forest Cove Townhomes

Today, 7/5/22, marked the beginning of the end for the last of the three remaining townhome complexes on Marina Drive in Forest Cove. Demolition began at 4:45 this afternoon on the complex nearest the Forest Cove community center. The job foreman estimates that removal of the two complexes shown below could take a week or more. By then, the third complex nearest the Forest Cove swimming pool should also be ready for demolition. Back in mid-June, Harris County Flood Control scheduled it for demolition on 7/14/22. So by the end of this month, Forest Cove could look very different.

Pictures Taken 7/5/22

The two complexes that started undergoing demolition today. These back up to the new Houston Parks Board Trail that will connect Kingwood with Precinct 3’s Edgewater Park at the NE corner of 59 and the West Fork.

Hurricane Harvey destroyed the townhomes almost five years ago, when approximately 240,000 cubic feet per second of stormwater inundated the homes to the third floors.

The homes became structurally unsound as you can see below.

Destruction wrought by Harvey.

HCFCD began buyouts of the 14 townhome complexes in this area back in 2019. The District completed 80% of the buyouts by February 2020. They expected to complete the remainder by the end of that year. But completing the buyouts took much longer than expected. This story explains why. Basically, HCFCD cannot tear town a complex until it has bought out all units within the complex. And some owners had left the area without forwarding addresses.

First bite into the first of three remaining complexes late this afternoon.
The second bite took out the corner of the structure.
Demolition will resume in the morning.

Harvey destroyed these townhomes so thoroughly that FEMA chose to film a video about the power of Harvey here.

Once prized for their river views, seclusion, and laid-back lifestyle, the remaining townhomes will come down this month and then HCFCD will let the area return to nature. It’s not clear at this time whether the county has plans to extend Edgewater Park this far.

More pictures and news to follow as the project progresses.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 7/5/22

1771 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Demolition of Old Kingwood Middle School Beginning

Contractors have fenced off the old Kingwood Middle School and started demolishing the driveways and parking lots, including the area where the school’s new permanent detention pond will go. Meanwhile, the new Kingwood Middle School building is nearing completion behind the old one. Largely invisible from the ground behind construction fencing, the aerial photos below show the progress of construction.

Pictures Taken on 6/12/22

Main entrance to old Kingwood Middle School now fenced off and being torn up. Plans show permanent detention pond going here.

One significant difference between the old facility and the new one: a detention pond that should help reduce the risk of local flooding in an era of higher, post-Harvey Atlas-14 rainfall probabilities.

Side parking lot and temporary detention pond in foreground. Old and new buildings in background. Looking NW.
New vs. old: Three stories compared to one.
Looking SW at entire complex. Athletic fields will replace the old building in background.
New building now completely dried in. Contractors focusing on finishing the interior work.
Old building in foreground will soon be demolished leaving a vast expanse of green in front of this gorgeous community showcase.

Out with Old, In With New

All along, the plan has been to tear down the old school when the new one is ready for students. Athletic facilities, formerly behind the old building will move in front of the new building.

It’s a delicate ballet. Dozens of cars were parked along Cedar Knolls today as workers scramble to get the facility ready for the next school year.

Humble ISD’s web page for this project contains artists renderings that will help you visualize the result. Humble ISD did not return phone calls today to discuss more details about the construction, old-building demolition and a completion date. But I will keep you posted as I get more information.

To see the progress of construction, visit these pages on ReduceFlooding.com.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 6/13/22

1750 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Forest Cove Townhome Complex Ready for Demolition

Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) has completed condemnation proceedings on the last unit in another townhome complex on Marina Drive in Forest Cove. They will schedule the units for demolition as early as next week.

Hurricane Harvey destroyed the units so completely that FEMA made them the centerpiece of a video after Harvey. Since then, they have become magnets for looters, arsonists, drug dealers and illegal dumping.

Forest Cove Townhomes Censored
Forest Cove Townhomes destroyed by Harvey on Marina Drive could soon be demolished. Red rectangle contains censored graffiti.

Amy Stone, a spokesperson for HCFCD said, “There were nearly 90 units in that community! All required appraisals, offers, negotiations, closings and demolitions.”

Reasons for Slow Pace of Buyouts

Demolition of the first units began on Timberline Court in March 2019. But HCFCD has had to navigate rough waters since then.

I previously reported that some owners abandoned their properties and that HCFCD could not locate them. Those units had to go through condemnation proceedings before demolition could begin.

Stone reports that two complexes remain. HCFCD closed on the last unit in one last month and completed the site inspection last Thursday. “We are waiting for the asbestos survey report to come back. We should have a demolition date by next week,” said Stone.

Asked about the other complex, Stone reported, “1020 Marina Dr. will be demolished once the last unit is purchased. This unit is currently in condemnation.”

HCFCD and FEMA like buyouts to be voluntary wherever possible. But in the case of missing owners, condemnation may be necessary. This is a big reason why buyouts take so long. HCFCD cannot demolish a building until they own all units within it.

Some Investors Never Learn

So here we are…1744 days since Harvey made the buildings structurally unsound.

Multi-family housing represents a poor choice for homes in such high risk neighborhoods. But before these units are even demolished, Chinese investors seek to build more, even closer to the river, about a mile downstream. Residents who bought condos in this area before Harvey tell me that they have spotted developers pitching this idyllic location to busloads of Chinese tourists in the area below.

I’m guessing Forest Cove is not on the tour.

Condos under construction in Kings Harbor last year. San Jacinto West Fork is just feet away.

Posted by Bob Rehak on June 8, 2022

1744 Days since Hurricane Harvey

The thoughts expressed in this post represent opinions on matters of public concern and safety. They are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the Anti-SLAPP Statute of the Great State of Texas.