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“It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so." - Mark Twain.

Unlike most common forms of financial fraud, mortgage fraud takes a long time to present itself, and as a result can lull lenders into a false sense of security. This leads to statements like the following:

“We’ve been in business a couple of years and we haven’t had any fraud.”

“Our delinquency rate is low, so we know we don’t have a fraud problem.”

“We haven’t had a large loss, so our current controls must be working.”

All true—until the day it isn’t.

Here are five reasons why you should be wary when everything seems fine.

Mortgage fraud is a rela...

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Houston flood plain maps failed to predict roughly 75 percent of flood damage from five floods between 1999 and 2009, according to a recent study by two universities in the Houston area.

The study examined the Federal Emergency Management Agency's 100-year flood plain maps, which model flood risk and insurance premiums. The study was conducted by Rice University and Texas A&M University at Galveston.

"FEMA is currently engaged in response and recovery efforts for Hurricanes Irma and Harvey and has not had an opportunity to formally review the report issued," a FEMA spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

The study looked at 100-year flood plains around Armand Bayou's 60-square-mile watershed in southeast Harris County. That watershed in...

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Large stainless steel range hoods have been all the rage in kitchens in recent years, but we are now seeing a move toward concealed hoods. This goes hand in hand with our increasing desire for streamlined kitchens of any style.

Range hoods, which extract grease and cooking odors from the air, are useful and sometimes required by building codes. But just because you want or need one doesn’t mean that it has to be on display. Here we explain why and how you might choose to hide the hood.

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Why Hide It?

A concealed or built-in range hood is integrated into the kitchen and out of sight. Hiding a hood, or any appliance for that matter, helps focus the attention on the kitchen cabinetry and other design elements, rather than on the appliance itself. Concealed hoods are especially beneficial in a small kitchen, which can get visually cluttered when lots of appliances are out in the open.

Integrating range hoods into traditional-style kitchens has been a popular choice for many years. In these kitchens, hoods are often built into ornately designed custom cabinets, such as the mantelpiece-style unit pictured here. This creates a feature in a cooking area that often has a large freestanding stove as its visual centerpiece.

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Houston Methodist Hospital in the Texas Medical Center ranked No. 1 in Houston — and in Texas — for U.S. News & World Report’s 2017-18 rankings, which were unveiled Aug. 8.

Several other Houston hospitals ranked on the “best” list, but none cracked the top 20 list of “Honor Roll” hospitals. Nationally, the Mayo Clinic claimed the No. 1 spot for the second year in a row, followed by Cleveland Clinic at No. 2 and Johns Hopkins Hospital at No. 3.

U.S. News releases the rankings to help patients make more informed health care decisions, the publication said in a news release.

The second-best hospital in Texas is UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, according to U.S. News & World Report. The other H...

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In a world where hectic schedules and dwindling free time are the norm, grab-and-go dining continues to reign supreme. It’s a genre Dallas-based company Eatzi’s has mastered at its five outposts across the DFW area with a sixth location on the way this fall.

If you’re not familiar with the brand, the market and bakery is a favorite amongst Dallasites offering a bevy of prepared meals alongside grilled meats, pizza, sandwiches, bread, beer, and wine.

“The shift towards the fast-casual dining trend is here to stay,” said Eatzi’s CEO Adam Romo. “Time is a luxury most of us don’t have, and consumers are increasingly searching for a quality, convenient meal solution rather than cooking at home or committing the time required to dine at a full-service restaurant.”

Houstonians may remember Eatzi’s popular Post Oak Boulevard location, which abruptly closed in November 2006. Since the shuttering, many have questioned if Houston would ever experience another Eatzi’s location. Now it appears a Bayou City store may be closer than we think.

In a recent article with business news site Crain’s, Romo mentioned the company has already “started scouting the Houston area and [knows] where they want to go.”

“We’ll continue evaluating those various locations,” Romo said. “Once I reach a point where it kind of stalls out in terms of quality sites, we’ll look at other Texas cities and do the same thing.”

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ll the great cities in the world have some type of showpiece market, a siren call to tourists and locals alike. Now, thanks to a rather unlikely collection of food entrepreneurs, Houston could soon have one too.

Houston’s near 75-year-old Farmers Market is set to undergo a $10 million revamp that will completely transform it into a market with world-class ambitions. The goal? To give Houston a farmers market that stands toe to toe with Seattle’s Pike Place Market, London’s Borough Market, Philadelphia’s Reading Terminal Market and the rest of the globe’s most famous markets.

MLB Capital Partners, a commercial real estate investment firm that usually deals with lower-profile building projects, bought Houston Farmers Market from its shareholders (descendants of the original farmers who started Houston’s original farmers market at the 2500 block of Airline Road site in North Houston) and is spearheading the revamp. The firm’s tapped Houston celebrity chef Chris Shepherd and the city’s preeminent beer guru Kevin Floyd as primary consultants on the project, a sign they understand how important food and notable local vendors are for the market’s success.

But make no mistake, this is a very personal project for the guys in suits too.

“Hopefully, we’ll be able to do something iconic for the city of Houston,” MLB Capital founding partner Todd Mason says. “(The market’s) not living up to its full potential right now.”

Mason gave PaperCity a private sneak peek of his plans in the gleaming glass conference room of an office tower across from the gilded St. Regis Hotel. But this is not just a suit looking to make a quick buck.

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CULTURE / RESTAURANTS
Houston’s Finally Getting its Own World Class Farmers Market
New $10 Million Project Aims to Give H-Town its Pike Place
BY CHRIS BALDWIN // 07.20.17

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The $10 million revamp of Houston Farmers Market aims to thrust it into the same class as Seattle's famed Pike Place Market.
All the great cities in the world have some type of showpiece market, a siren call to tourists and locals alike. Now, thanks to a rather unlikely collection of food entrepreneurs, Houston could soon have one too.

Houston’s near 75-year-old Farmers Market is set to undergo a $10 million revamp that will completely transform it into a market with world-class ambitions. The goal? To give Houston a farmers market that stands toe to toe with Seattle’s Pike Place Market, London’s Borough Market, Philadelphia’s Reading Terminal Market and the rest of the globe’s most famous markets.

MLB Capital Partners, a commercial real estate investment firm that usually deals with lower-profile building projects, bought Houston Farmers Market from its shareholders (descendants of the original farmers who started Houston’s original farmers market at the 2500 block of Airline Road site in North Houston) and is spearheading the revamp. The firm’s tapped Houston celebrity chef Chris Shepherd and the city’s preeminent beer guru Kevin Floyd as primary consultants on the project, a sign they understand how important food and notable local vendors are for the market’s success.

But make no mistake, this is a very personal project for the guys in suits too.

“Hopefully, we’ll be able to do something iconic for the city of Houston,” MLB Capital founding partner Todd Mason says. “(The market’s) not living up to its full potential right now.”

Mason gave PaperCity a private sneak peek of his plans in the gleaming glass conference room of an office tower across from the gilded St. Regis Hotel. But this is not just a suit looking to make a quick buck.

Houston Farmers Market means something to Mason and his MLB partners Jeff Lindenberger and Fred Baca. Mason remembers going to the Houston Farmers Market on Airline as a kid with his parents and being wowed by all the activity and trinkets offered.

He wants to make that experience better and more of a draw. With that in mind, the 17 and 1/2 acre site is being almost completely re-imagined. A large lounging lawn (the perfect place to cop a squat and have an impromptu picnic), a children’s play area, a distinctive towering sign from Studio Red Architects that can be seen from the freeway and much improved real restrooms are just some of the planned changes.

“I EXPECT IT WILL BE ALMOST ENTIRELY LOCAL. NEVER SAY NEVER, BUT THESE WILL BE LOCAL TENANTS. WE WON’T PUT A STARBUCKS IN THERE.”

The market itself will be made much more walkable and more covered. While the 15 remaining current vendors will stay (yes, Canino’s is still in), there will also be a host of more upscale new vendors. Think a gourmet Houston coffee shop, a wine shop and a host of prepared food stands/mini restaurants from local chefs who are suddenly free to experiment without the overhead opening a new restaurant brings.

“I expect it will be almost entirely local,” Mason says. “Never say never, but these will be local tenants. We won’t put a Starbucks in there.

“It will be a Houston coffee shop.”

Mason’s visited many of the world’s most iconic farmers markets to get inspiration — and pick up some best practices.

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Houston Farmers Market Timeline
The Houston Farmers Market will remain open — 365 days a year — during the three year, $10 million project. That is one of the stipulations the farmer shareholders asked for and MLB Capital’s willingness to do it helped them win the purchasing bid.

Now the hard — and fun part — begins. Crafting together a vast market that becomes a legitimate destination spot for tourists and locals alike.

“I’m most excited to see all the families out there, making this a regular way to spend a day,.” Lindenberger says.

The idea calls for all the new vendors and potential restaurants to meld with the old staples in one memorable mix. Mason brings up Salvador Flores and notes that the “83 or something” old proprietor of Flores Spices and Herbs is raring to go. Flores is looking forward to seeing the market transform around him.

“People tend to think of him as this mom and pop guy,” Mason says. “But he’s been sending his spices around the world. And he’s very successful. But he’ll still talk to anyone who comes up to him at the market and try to help them for as long as they want.”

A farmers market to remember comes with characters. Houston has those. Now, a world class stage is being built around them.

“Other great cities in the world have markets like this,” Lindenberger says. “Why not Houston?”


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United Airlines will offer to buy your seat on overbooked flights up to five days in advance.

The Chicago-based airline launched its Flex-Schedule Program this week, which will offer flyers rewards for flexibility with their itineraries, according to Bloomberg.

The company will partner with Atlanta-based Volantio and use the startup’s technology to back the initiative.

The new system allows flyers to sign up for a rewards program that will compensate them for having flexible travel plans. If a user is offered the opportunity to change their itinerary, United will provide a travel voucher for up to $250.

The offers are only available to those who book flights via United.com, and signing up for the program does not mean flyers will b...

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Raise a glass of bubbly to Zeina and Nijad Fares, who have just put their vast 24,000 square foot River Oaks home on the market for a cool $20 million, not an unheard of figure in Houston real estate annals, but one that has certainly attracted attention from entities as lofty as the Wall Street Journal.

The story gains even more traction when the provenance of the mansion is taken into consideration. It was built in the mid 1980s for Saudi Arabian Prince Abdulrahman bin Faisal.

Perched on the edge of Buffalo Bayou, swathed in oaks and secured by a decorative wrought-iron fence and immense ligustrum hedges, the 3.1-acre setting is indeed princely. The storied mansion with its $100,000 beveled glass and brass double-wide front door, gold-plated bathroom fixtures and formal dining room large enough to seat 40 has long had tongues wagging up and down the River Oaks stretch of Kirby Drive.

Digs Worthy of a Prince
The entry hall alone is enough to secure the mansion at the top of any finest homes inventory. Through that $100,000 front door, guests arrive in a 60-foot long entry hall with 40 foot ceilings. At the far end, a gravity-defying polished brass and marble floating staircase provides a stunning focal point.

The mansion’s numbers are impressive, as listing agent Walter Bering of Martha Turner Sotheby’s International Realty points out: three floors with commercial grade elevator, nine bedrooms, 11 full baths, four half baths, and vast entertaining areas, all grandly packaged in 23,870 square feet. Add the 60-foot swimming pool and elegant pool house with full kitchen and two baths, plus two staff apartments, a fully-equipped chef’s kitchen (think commercial grade walk-in cooler, walk-in freezer), a 1,000-bottle walk-in wine vault, an informal dining room with its own kitchen, and a Victorian era-inspired gazebo with a Benihana-style chef’s station and grill.

Add the full basement where the pristine mechanical room resembles that of a mega yacht with commercial grade HVAC system with two 50-ton cooling tower units and a commercial boiler with recirculating pump (quick delivery of hot water).

Key to any Houston mansion worth its five-figure tax rate is the backup generator. No hurricane worries at 1000 Kirby Drive thanks to the 45kw generator.

It’s understandable that with their four children now starting to leave for college, the Fareses, who bought the house in 2007, are thinking of downscaling. The Wall Street Journal reports, “Ms. Fares said they are selling because, with their children now starting to leave for college, the house is ‘starting to feel too big.’ And while the house has been ‘a wonderful home,’ she said, maintaining it is ‘a lot of work.'”

While the Fareses have remained below the city’s glittering cafe society radar, they have entertained lavishly in the house that was clearly designed for mammoth parties. The real estate overview states that the owners have hosted plated dinners for 240 on the main floor and the driveway and recessed parking is said to accommodate 70 valet-parked cars.

Not just anyone will be granted a look-see at the mansion. Only those with qualifying net worth will be given a tour.

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