Looped In

From urban renewal to suburban sprawl, Houston’s real estate market is going through one of its most dynamic times in decades. Join real estate and development reporter Nancy Sarnoff as she meets the city’s developers, deal makers and dreamers and dishes with colleagues on all things Houston real estate.
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Looped In



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Dec 6, 2016

Town centers in The Woodlands, Sugar Land and elsewhere are filled with storefront-lined streets, multifamily housing and even hotels and office towers. But there's a darker side to suburbia in areas that lack infrastructure and private investment. In this episode, Nancy and Erin bring on the Chronicle’s suburban columnist Mike Snyder to discuss new research from Rice University’s Kinder Institute about this region’s ever-changing suburb.

Nov 28, 2016

Which Houston neighborhoods were designed to look like English cemeteries? Why does U.S. 59 outside the 610 Loop veer off at a 90 degree angle towards Sugar Land? Houston housing expert Scott Davis answers these questions and others as he shares his research on Houston’s development history with Nancy and Erin.

Nov 14, 2016

In typical millennial fashion, Looped In co-host Erin has picked up and moved. She put Houston in her rear-view mirror last week when she took a three-day road trip to her new home in the Washington D.C. area. In this episode of Looped In, Nancy gets Erin to share tales of her cross-country road trip, including the bars, the Walmarts and the road-side casinos she saw along the way. Oh, and “the leaves!”

Nov 4, 2016

Nancy and Erin hear from H-E-B's Scott McClelland, who is hoping Heights residents vote 'yes' Tuesday on the ballot measure that would allow off-premise beer and wine sales in what is now the dry part of the neighborhood. He has a lot riding on the vote.

Nov 2, 2016

On Nov. 8, residents in a corner of the Heights will vote on a measure that, if approved, would allow stores to sell beer and wine for the first time in more than 100 years. Heights resident and real estate broker Bill Baldwin loves his Cabernet, but wants the neighborhood to stay dry. Just days before the election, Baldwin joins Nancy and Erin to explain his position and why he’s going up against a beloved grocery chain to oppose the measure.

Oct 25, 2016

On the latest episode of Looped In, Parks Board president and CEO Beth White joins Nancy and Erin to chat about the transformation of Houston’s once tired bayous into connected greenways throughout the city. A Chicago transplant, White compares Houston’s strategies and initiatives to bring more greenspace to her former home. They also discuss trail-oriented development, neighborhood parks and how to pronounce B-A-Y-O-U. 

Oct 19, 2016

Nancy and Erin continue their conversation with Houston land use professor Matthew Festa about the city’s lack of a formal zoning code. And in the “lighting round of questions,” find out what Festa’s favorite land use juxtaposition in Houston is. (Hint: it has the word “Zone” in it.)

Oct 12, 2016

Houston has long been famous for its cowboys, pickup trucks and freeways. But there’s another key characteristic that’s shaped the city from early on: a lack of zoning. Erin and Nancy talk to land use professor Matthew Festa about why Houston never adopted a formal zoning code and what rules are in place that actually do govern how and where things get built.

Oct 4, 2016

A Houston developer is planning what it says will be a “transformative” mixed-use project that could shift the urban core to the east. It will be built near downtown along Buffalo Bayou, but the company is calling the project East River. Nancy and Erin discuss the name and what it means for a multi-billion-dollar development to go up in the middle of gentrifying and working-class neighborhoods. They also get an update on what happened with the big Astrodome vote.

Sep 27, 2016

Some call it the Eighth Wonder of the World. Others refer to it as the albatross no one can figure out. Whatever it is, the Astrodome has a special place in Houston’s history. Ahead of what could be a potentially historic day in Harris County’s Commissioners Court, Erin and Nancy get the backstory on the latest proposal for the Astrodome from the Chronicle’s (County/dome) reporter Mihir Zaveri.

Sep 22, 2016

Erin and Nancy give a shout out to the GBV  -- or Glenbrook Valley -- in the latest episode of Looped In. It has been called the neighborhood “where Don Draper would live if he landed a big oil account.” While, this neighborhood in southeast Houston near Hobby Airport is somewhat overlooked, it has been growing in popularity as Inner Loop neighborhoods slip out of range for a lot of buyers. Realtor and GBV resident Robert Searcy guest stars and helps give details about this swanky historic ‘hood: the swingin’ parties, built-in martini bars and pink-tiled counters and, most importantly, the affordable deals.

Sep 15, 2016

Nancy and Erin talk about a few different upcoming and recent stories they have worked on for the Chronicle. They explore some of the quirks of land use in the Texas Medical Center and revisit one of their favorite topics: millennials. The land ladies also discuss one of their not-so-secret reality TV obsessions and their hope to bring on a famous guest.


Sep 9, 2016

In this episode of Looped In, Erin and Nancy talk about the latest, greatest and most controversial music venue in town: The White Oak Music Hall. To help them out with analyzing the saga and Houston's entertainment scene, they welcome reporter and man about town Craig Hlavaty as a guest. 

Aug 23, 2016

In this episode of Looped In, Chronicle reporters Nancy Sarnoff and Erin Mulvaney speak with fifth-generation Houstonian James Glassman to explore the meanings and backstories behind some of the words in his book, “The Houstorian Dictionary: An insider’s index to Houston.

Aug 16, 2016

An affordable housing project on Fountain View has been a lighting rod at City Hall and among residents of the neighborhood surrounding it. Erin’s been covering the story for months and has the background on this controversial project and where it stands today. Nancy talks about her latest story on Acres Homes, where Francois de Menil has designed an enclave of well-designed artists’ residences. In the last segment, Erin and Nancy discuss Houston’s hot (and not-so-hot) neighborhoods

Aug 8, 2016

According to one definition, a "Newstonian" is "a recent transplant to Houston, usually coming from the east or west coast for a job and bringing lots of non-Houstonian views and traditions with them."

Here in the Chronicle's business section, we just got one.

Brian Rausch moved here from Chicago in June. But unlike most Newstonians, he couldn't wait to get here.

In this episode of Looped In, Brian tells Erin and Nancy why he was so eager to get out of Chicago and what he thinks about Houston's apartments, food and neighborhoods.

He also cleared up some misconceptions his buddies back in Chicago had about the energy capital of the world.

He had this message for them: "I do not see any petrochemical plants from my house!"

Jul 27, 2016

In this episode of Looped In, Nancy and Erin explain how Houston's apartment market got to this point and where it's heading. They talk about the development boom and teardown trend that left thousands of Houstonians scrambling to find new places to live.

Jul 19, 2016

Nancy and Erin continue their discussion of the 21-story tower planned nearly 10 years ago in a neighborhood near Rice University. In this episode, the reporters talk about their interview with Matthew Morgan and Kevin Kirton of Houston’s Buckhead Investment Partners and developers of 1717 Bissonnet, widely known as the Ashby high-rise.  We find out what it was like for these developers to fight with city administration, a passionate neighborhood and the court system, as well as try to get to the bottom of when the project might be built, getting insight into the long process of one of Houston’s most controversial projects in the decade.

Jul 8, 2016

The Ashby high-rise and the high-profile protest it inspired has become a symbol, for better or worse, of Houston as the biggest American city without a formal zoning code. Since the project was announced in 2007, it has influenced city policy, inspired similar battles and raised questions about the power of wealthy neighborhoods and as well as the lax land use laws in Houston. Yet, the 1.6 acre plot of land at 1717 Bissonnet remains empty, almost a decade after the tower was first announced. Erin and Nancy, who have both covered this story extensively, discuss the back story of this land use battle, in light of recent breaking news on the story. The Ashby high-rise had its latest day in court with an appeals ruling. 

Jun 28, 2016

If you don’t know who Gerald Hines is, you definitely know his buildings: the Galleria, Williams (nee Transco) Tower, Pennzoil Place and so many more. Erin and Nancy share stories about the legendary Houston developer, including what the 90-year-old eats for breakfast (it’s not what you’d expect) and why his company is being sued over a proposed downtown development.

Jun 21, 2016

Houston Chronicle real estate reporters Erin Mulvaney and Nancy Sarnoff take their deskside chit chat to the podcasting world.

In “I’m gorgeous inside” Erin and Nancy dig into how the oil downturn is – or isn’t – affecting the housing market; Millennials and why they matter so much; and the names for this podcast that were left on the cutting room floor.

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