03/31/15 11:15am


The Avenue Grill could close sometime soon, but not if somebody doesn’t hurry up and buy the place. Or maybe buy the place and keep it running for the cops, firefighters, judges, judges, lawyers, and other frequenters of the neighboring municipal court and police complex that regularly eat breakfast and lunch there? To hasten either outcome, a small sign went up a week or 2 ago at the corner of Houston Ave. and Center St., a block north of Washington Ave., indicating that the 1940 building and a total of 19,600 sq. ft. of land is available for sale. That spurred attention from a Swamplot reader who — like most people — hadn’t been aware that the property had been on the market since last August.

The $1.5 million asking price includes 4 lots — one where the building sits at 1017 Houston Ave., 2 adjacent parking lots, and an additional surface parking lot across Center St., just where the Houston Ave. underpass begins. That lot is visible just beyond the building in this view from the corner of Washington Ave:


Over Not So Easy
03/31/15 8:30am


Photo of Greenway Plaza: Russell Hancock via Swamplot Flickr Pool

03/30/15 4:30pm



Doubled windows dominate the front of an updated 1946 Idylwood home. Each pair indicates a front-to-back section of the floor plan within. The south-facing property sits on a sloping lot in the neighborhood’s southeast corner; the street, which begins at Wayside Dr. just north of Walmart, eventually bends past the grassy banks of Brays Bayou. Over the weekend, the home popped up on the market as a listing seeking $265K. The same agent handled the property’s previous sale in 2008, when the current owner paid $185K before sprucing it up.


Two by Two
03/30/15 3:30pm

DRIVING BELTWAY 8, IN ORDER TO READ HOUSTON IN THE ORIGINAL Steamboat House Steakhouse, 8045 North Sam Houston Pkwy. West, HoustonTo get a full sense of the place,” writes Cort McMurray, every Houstonian should travel Beltway 8′s full 83-mile circuit. Until you can find the time, though, his tour narrative may have to suffice: “Keep going. You’re not even halfway around. There are more factories, and more office buildings, more new construction, more traffic. There’s a steak house, built to look like Sam Houston’s Huntsville home, evidence that if you give a Houstonian a little time and a little encouragement and the right financing, a Houstonian will create something ridiculous, and the horse track, where nothing ever appears to be happening. Near Bush Intercontinental, you’ll endure Roadwork Purgatory: orange cones and narrowed lanes and blinking signs, and no evidence of any work being done. It’s been that way for 19 years. East of the airport, the Beltway crosses vast swaths of tract homes and the strip centers and megachurches that inevitably follow them, funneling you toward the Jesse Jones Bridge, standing like the skeleton of some humongous sauropod, head forever bent to the Ship Channel, nosing about for some seaweed.” [OffCite] Photo of Steamboat House Steakhouse: Tomball Sesquicentennial Promenaders

03/30/15 1:30pm

Townhomes Under Construction, 400 Bayou St., Fifth Ward, Houston

How did these townhomes under construction on the northeast corner of Bayou and Baron streets in the Fifth Ward come by their extra-long, tongue-like driveways? It’s not exactly clear, but the reader who sent these pix of the project and its rather prominent culvert-leaping flatwork thinks the answer might have something to do with a willingness to build well past the property line — or at least a lack of familiarity with where the property line actually is. The orange complex across the street, in the background of the photo above, is the Kennedy Place Apartments. Here’s a view of the townhomes from that side, looking east:


Just Add Street
03/30/15 10:00am

Map of Mattress Firm and Mattress Pro Locations, Houston

Map of Mattress Firm and Mattress Pro Locations, Houston

“Now we know why we seem to have hit peak mattress along Westheimer,” declares Christopher Andrews, after producing and walking through a series of maps intended to shed light on where in the Houston area and why Mattress Firm has opened 92 separate showrooms, and is working on another 19 for the lower-priced “competitor” the same company operates, Mattress Pro. The highlights from his analysis are the 2 maps excerpted here, showing (at top) the correlation between areas with lots of apartments (dark green) and the stores (red for Mattress Firm, blue for the usually outside-the-Loop Mattress Pro); and (above) a Learning from Las Vegas-style diagram of Houston’s very own Mattress Corridor.

Houston may be the sleepy chain store’s hometown, but it’s not the only beneficiary of all that new retail padding; in the 14 weeks ending February 3rd alone, Mattress Firm opened or acquired 118 new U.S. stores.

Maps: Christopher Andrews

Behind the Mattress Store Boom
03/30/15 8:30am


Photo of Guitar Center opening, 195 Yale St., March 26: Swamplot inbox

03/27/15 3:30pm

Billboard Removal, View at Manor Park Townhomes, Chartres St. at Tuam St., Third Ward, Houston

Billboard Removal, View at Manor Park Townhomes, Chartres St. at Tuam St., Third Ward, HoustonDowntown and freeway views from and to the View at Manor Park townhomes along Chartres St. just south of Tuam in the Third Ward just got a little clearer. Beginning this morning, a reader reports, crews dismantled and removed the freeway-side billboard that stood at one end of a row of townhomes angled for Downtown views in the 8-year-old development:


Sign Down
03/27/15 1:00pm

13501 Katy Fwy., Energy Corridor, Houston

Here are pics of some of the clearing work PM Realty Group has been orchestrating along the south side of I-10 between Eldridge and Hwy. 6. The company bought the headquarters of the ExxonMobil Chemical Company at 13501 Katy Fwy. in late 2013, and announced plans for a mixed-use development including office towers, apartments, a hotel, a fitness center, restaurants, and convenience retail” on the 35-acre site. ExxonMobil was scheduled to exit the building (pictured below) this year:


Scrubbing ExxonChemical
03/27/15 8:30am

Sunrise, Texas Medical Center, Houston

Photo of Texas Medical Center: Russell Hancock via Swamplot Flickr Pool