10/31/14 8:30am

Fourth Ward Townhouses and Downtown Towers, Houston

Photo of Fourth Ward townhouses and Downtown: Russell Hancock via Swamplot Flickr Pool

10/30/14 3:15pm

View of Downtown Houston from Space, October 30, 2014

Sure, these days with Google Maps and other available sources, we’re all pretty accustomed to seeing recent satellite images of our city. Does that make seeing a moments-ago fresh-from-the-camera view of Houston sent directly to you (and maybe 354,400 or so other Twitter followers) by an astronaut hanging out on the International Space Station less of a thrill? If not (or even if so), behold: Here’s an overhead view of downtown Houston taken just “a little bit ago,” sent by low-earth-orbiting astronaut Reid Wiseman this afternoon.

Photo: NASA/Reid Wiseman

Someone Was Watching Over You
10/30/14 2:15pm



If portions of this open-plan Woodshire mod look a bit like a stage set (top), that was likely the idea. The 1957 custom designed pad, by architects Dunaway & Jones, was for Joseph T. Finkelstein, the co-founder and former president of the Alley Theatre (and a former actor in New York). Although the double lot’s landscaped scenery has gone a bit shaggy between acts, the overall swank factor still appears intact. Earlier this week, a re-re-relisting dropped the period property’s asking price down to $549,500.


Scene Stealer
10/30/14 1:15pm

Finca Tres Robles Farm, 257 N. Greenwood St., East End, Houston

Two brothers who have opened a new agricultural venture in Houston’s East End are billing it as Houston’s “first private farm inside the 610 Loop.” Amid the gritty industrial wilds of N. Greenwood St. between Navigation and Canal — just a few blocks south of Buffalo Bayou’s Turkey Bend —Finca Tres Robles (spelled out and illustrated helpfully in the photo above) now sprouts on land owned by Electro-Coatings, a plating company. Other less bucolic neighbors, such as Baker Oil Tools and the US Zinc Houston Dust Plant, lurk nearby.

Until its 1996 purchase by Electro-Coatings (along with a warehouse owned by Sara Lee), the 1.2-acre plot now occupied by the farm served as a TxDOT service site. It lay vacant for the last 18 years. Beginning 6 or 7 months ago, the new proprietors jackhammered away the vestigial asphalt; they’ve since composted the lot and commenced agricultural operations.

Here’s the plan:


Finca Tres Robles
10/30/14 10:45am

Chopping Down of Trees along North Blvd. at Wendy's Restaurant, 5003 Kirby Dr., Upper Kirby, Houston

The City of Houston intends to proceed with legal action in connection with the overnight disappearance of half a dozen oak trees from the public right-of-way surrounding the Wendy’s drive-thru at 5003 Kirby Dr., according to 2 separate sources. The trees were chopped down and ground up on site under cover of darkness Tuesday night as part of a renovation of the fast-food spot, which sits at the corner of Kirby and North Blvd. The removals took place on city property, but had not been permitted by the city.

“I have already been assured by the City of Houston’s enforcement officer that the city intends to proceed with a civil case,” writes Trees for Houston executive director Barry Ward in an email sent to members of the canopy-enhancement organization this morning. He calls plans to pursue legal action “a continuation of the recent, positive trend by the current administration to put an end to illegal tree removal in the City right-of-way or on city property.”


$150K for More Sunlight
10/30/14 8:30am

Downtown Houston from Site of Elan Heights, Taylor St. at Usener St., Woodland Heights, Houston

Photo of Downtown from site of Elan Heights: Ashley Day

10/29/14 4:30pm

El Tiempo 1308 Cantina, 1308 Montrose Blvd., North Montrose, Houston

El Tiempo 1308 Cantina, 1308 Montrose Blvd., North Montrose, HoustonIf future residents of the new 8-story apartment building that’s being planned to go up in place of the El Tiempo 1308 Cantina and quite a few of its neighboring buildings don’t want to wait around for management to fix their leaky faucets, they won’t have far to go to find spare washers or other plumbing parts. Neighboring fix-it-yourself plumbing supply store U-Plumb-It will likely still be around to sell them parts and hand out advice — because it won’t be included in the redevelopment. But everything north of it, on the block bounded by Marconi St., West Clay St., and Montrose Blvd. will. Developer Sunrise Luxury Living is planning to build 5 stories of apartments — 220 units in all — over 3 levels of parking, a source tells Swamplot. Plans currently include some sort of retail component on the bottom floor, facing Montrose Blvd.


More Redevelopment Details
10/29/14 1:45pm

Partial Demolition of Wendy's Restaurant, 5003 Kirby Dr., Upper Kirby, Houston

Wendy's Restaurant, 5003 Kirby Dr. at North Blvd., Upper Kirby, Houston

Wendy's Restaurant, 5003 Kirby Dr. at North Blvd., Upper Kirby, HoustonNotice any differences between the view of the Wendy’s Drive-Thru at the corner of Kirby Dr. and North Blvd. taken yesterday (at top) and a similar image (above) taken this morning? Well, sure, there’s a new construction fence up, and some of the heavy machinery’s been moved around. But you might also note the sudden disappearance of 6 or 7 mature oak trees lining the streets surrounding the restaurant. How did they vanish so quickly? Tree-removal crews worked very quickly, overnight (see photo above left). Here’s another before-and-after comparison:


Upper Kirby Trees After Dark
10/29/14 12:00pm

CHELSEA MONTROSE TOWER KICKS OFF CONSTRUCTION WITH A NEW NAME Rendering of Proposed The Carter, Formerly Chelsea Montrose, 4 Chelsea Blvd., Museum District, HoustonPrompted by a press release, the HBJ and the Chronicle announced yesterday that construction has begun on the new apartment complex at 4 Chelsea Blvd., just east of Montrose Blvd. along the southern edge of Hwy. 59. in the Museum District. The 305-unit, 20-story building will be called The Carter, both publications reported. That’s a new name — so new, in fact, that the website for the developer, Dallas’s StreetLights Residential, still identifies the project by its former title, Chelsea–Montrose. The Chelsea name and its NYC pedigree may have conjured up unpleasant images of unmade beds, ugliness, and loud music among prospective tenants, but the new name has its own rich NYC backstory — though an entirely fictional one. As a commenter on HAIF notes, “the Carter” was the name of the complex Wesley Snipes spends the first act of the early-nineties movie New Jack City turning into a vertically integrated crack-producing-and-marketing enterprise. More recently, the appellation has come to be used as an affectionate nickname for troubled residential projects seen to be slipping into similar directions. [Houston Chronicle; Lansing City Pulse; previously on Swamplot] Rendering: StreetLights Residential

10/29/14 10:15am

Rear Entrance, El Tiempo 1308 Cantina, 1308 Montrose Blvd., North Montrose, Houston

El Tiempo’s Roland Laurenzo reports that the land under his family’s El Tiempo 1308 Cantina on Montrose Blvd. is being sold by the owner for a “multi-story apartment project development.” The restaurant, which leases the space, is looking for another Montrose spot where it can relocate after it closes early next year. Greg Morago’s report in the Chronicle doesn’t provide any additional detail about the proposed apartments, but the 1308 Cantina, bounded by West Clay St., occupies the northern third of a long block capped on the southern end by the for-sale and shuttering Gibbs Boats at West Gray St. Between those 2 properties are a tire shop and the U-Plumb-It supply store. The 1308 Cantina took over from a restaurant called Sabor, a mid-aughts upscale replacement for La Jalisciense at the same 1308 Montrose Blvd. spot.

Update, 4:30 pm:  Here are some more details on the apartment development replacing the 1308 Cantina and many of its neighbors.

Photo of El Tiempo 1308 Cantina from Marconi St. parking lot: Bill Coatney [license]

Getting Ready To Move