By LYNN SHIGEKAWA
Two nearly identical and now abandoned mansions in Manvel have been the subject of multiple news stories since the construction started in 2001. Sixteen years later, they are still surrounded by mystery and controversy.
The two homes are located at 2354 County Road 59 (Southfork Dr.) west of Highway 288 in an area that could best be described as undeveloped and surrounded by both commercial and residential development.
They both appear to be abandoned and show no signs of activity as of July 1. Weeds have grown up around the entrance gate. Previous stories over the years told of a Houston area doctor (pediatrician) who was building the 60,000 square-foot mansion for his own use. According to some news accounts, he ran into permitting problems (Some say he intended for the home to also be used as some sort of rehabilitation facility; thus the many bedrooms and bathrooms). So it is said that he abandoned the first project and built a similar mansion next door to the first one on his 15 acre tract.
Now both sit empty and the rumors, gossip and conflicting stories continue to plague the property. A Houston real estate investor Jim Youngblood purchased the original mansion and approached the City of Manvel to discuss various ideas before settling on turning it into a residential facility for military veterans. Subsequently a story ran in the Houston Chronicle that said the “dream ran into a roadblock last month when the city of Manvel declined to grant the necessary zoning permits.”
Recently elected Mayor Debra Davison went to bat for the city and sent a letter to the newspaper explaining in detail the city’s actions with the developer. Davison said that the developer asked the City of Manvel to change the property from “open single family residential” to “light commercial” and that they approved that change on June 12 with a unanimous vote.
However, the developer did not ask for a “specific use permit” in order to allow them to operate an extended stay treatment facility. So, according to Mayor Davison, “At no time did the city of Manvel decline to grant any necessary zoning change.”
When contacted by the Houston Chronicle on the follow up, Youngblood agreed that Davison’s statements were accurate. Under his current plan, Youngblood says he will use the mansion for his real estate offices and for light commercial usage.
For more information on the many stories about the infamous mansion, google “Manvel mansion” and enjoy the mystery story as it unfolded over time and view the many photos of the strange interior.