02/24/17 4:30pm

5922 Richmond Ave., Uptown, Houston, 770575922 Richmond Ave., Uptown, Houston, 77057

The markings left behind by the Key Maps store in the wake of its second move since 2015 are still hanging out this afternoon alongside the leasing notice near the shop’s former place at the east end of the Richmond Avenue Shopping Center strip mall, just east of Fountainview Dr. The Key Maps folks are back inside the Inner Loop again, this time on Durham St. next door to the Dirty Hairy Dog Wash. The most recently former Key Maps location, shown above, has picked up a new neighbor itself since the cartographymonger’s departure: the ex-Subway at the end of the strip is about to reopen as essentialist fried chicken joint Krisp Bird & Batter. A sign on the door says Krisp will be open on Monday: 


Fried Birdwatching
02/24/17 12:00pm

Downtown Houston Skyline

Today our sponsor is Houston’s own Central Bank. Thank you for the continuing support of Swamplot!

Central Bank has 4 (central) Houston branches available to meet your business or personal needs: in Midtown, the Heights, West Houston, and Post Oak Place.

Central Bank believes that change is essential to its success; the company actively pursues the latest in service, technology, and products. Central Bank aims to know its customers personally and to be their primary business and personal financial resource. The bank’s staff values relationships and strives to be available when you need them.

To learn more about how Central Bank can meet your banking needs, please call any of the following Senior Vice Presidents: Kenny Beard, at 832.485.2376; Bonnie Purvis, at 832.485.2354; Gary Noble, at 832.485.2366; or Ryan Tillman, at 832.485.2307. You can also find out more on the bank’s website.

Reach Swamplot readers with our Sponsor of the Day program. Find out more here

Sponsor of the Day
02/24/17 11:30am

1665 Westheimer Rd., Montrose, Houston, 77006

The equipment for some sort of procedure was noted at the corner of Dunlavy St. and Westheimer Rd. this morning by a reader driving by. Determinedly artsy Australian hair-and-skincare shop Aēsop looks to be setting up in the retail shell left empty by the sudden 2015 evaporation of clothing boutique Duo, located across the street from Café Brasil and Hollywood Food & Cigar to the west and the north respectively.

And the space next door currently hosting American Apparel may be cleared out for a new tenant around the end of April, as well: Following a sale of the twice-bankrupt clothing company’s brand and intellectual property to a Canadian company, all of American Apparel’s US stores may end up closing by then, and part of the company’s production is probably getting outsourced.


Cosmetic Changes in Montrose
02/24/17 8:30am


Photo of a highrise near Hermann Park: Jan Buchholtz via Swamplot Flickr Pool

02/23/17 5:30pm

Cafe Ginger, 1952 W. Gray St., River Oaks Shopping Center, Houston, 77019

What with that  30-ish-story tower planned for on top of them, the businesses at the far end of the River Oaks Shopping Center (including Café Ginger, the King Ranch Saddle Shop, and Local Pour) now appear to have an ambiguous expiration date on their current locations. Café Ginger has already found a new place to crash when the time comes: staff at the restaurant confirmed today that they’ll be moving just a few blocks down W. Gray St. to River Oaks Plaza, which hosts Marshall’s, T.J. Maxx, and Office Max in some of its bigger boxes. The move probably won’t happen until next year, but restaurant’s name is already included in the leasing flier for the center (as is the new Carter’s Babies & Kids scheduled to open in the complex at the end of March).

Café Ginger is shown filling in the pair of retail spots on the strip mall corner near Dunlavy St. that previously housed Austin pan-Asian chain Mama Fu’s and Austin Mediterranean chain VERTS Kebap:


River Oaks Shopping Around
02/23/17 4:00pm

Demo of Houston Chronicle Building, 801 Texas Ave., Downtown, Houston, 77002
Rendering of One Market Square Parking Garage

First on Linbeck’s docket for the block across Prairie St. from the slowly dissolving former Chronicle building: the 11-story parking garage rendered above. The structure is planned for the southern half of the block between Prairie St. and Market Square, which means the restaurant space depicted in the rendering will face Travis St. (presuming the retail spot is not just part of a clever disguise). The garage is being branded as One Market Square until such time as something a little taller goes up next to it and takes the name, joining Market Square Tower and Aris Market Square along Preston St. to either side.

Back across Prairie St., the wrapped-together collection of buildings formerly housing the Houston Chronicle‘s operations has been getting slowly disassembled since a judge ruled over the summer that Hines could carefully demo the structures. A couple of high-up shot from this morning (above, and below) shows the current state of affairs inside the rubble-in-progress:


Rising and Falling on Prairie St.
02/23/17 1:15pm

River Oaks Shopping Center highrise plan, Houston, 77019

What else might change as Weingarten plants the 30-ish story residential tower it announced yesterday on a spot currently occupied by a few of the River Oaks Shopping Center’s northeastern storefronts? Specifics on the design of the 300-plus-unit project (which the company hinted at in late 2015) are still scant, though construction may start as soon as next year. The planned footprint of the highrise, per the site map above, stomps out the far end of the building housing Cafe Ginger, Local Pour, and the King Ranch Saddle Shop, spreading out past the edge of the non-protected city historical landmark toward the would-be alignment of Driscoll St. The Hanover-developed tower will reportedly replace those storefronts with some 10,000 sq. ft. of retail space on its ground floor (leaving room, potentially, for a few more Starbucks).


High Hopes on W. Gray
02/23/17 12:00pm

Downtown District Clean and Safe Team, Houston

Swamplot today is brought to you by the Downtown District — to let you know about its Clean and Safe program. Many thanks for supporting this site!

City government plays a crucial role in developing Downtown, but with so many areas to address no one administration can accomplish everything. That is why the Downtown District, an organization with strong ties to the business community and city leadership, is important: not only to look at the big picture but also to provide Downtown the continuity it needs to address a multitude of issues, including cleanliness and safety.

For 25 years, the Downtown District’s Downtown Street Teams have performed what many may see as simple tasks, such as picking up litter and trash, reporting needed repairs, and removing graffiti. But by taking care of those “little things,” they provide an environment that people take pride in and have now come to expect.

More recently, the Downtown Public Safety Guide Program was launched. The development of this program came through focus-group meetings with various downtown stakeholders, including representatives of residential, commercial, corporate, arts, and hospitality communities. The Guides focus on assisting pedestrians while identifying and monitoring on-street activities and working with property and business owners, Downtown Street Teams, HPD, social services, and others to help resolve issues and problems.

In 2016 the Downtown District’s combined teams had more than 115,000 civilian interactions. These interactions vary from helping someone find a parked car to giving directions to Discovery Green to helping a homeless person in need — and more. For the week of the Super Bowl alone, the team assisted more than 40,000 Houstonians and visitors!

Without the Clean and Safe program, no matter what you do to improve the Downtown area — building new buildings, increasing green space, adding or improving public art, infrastructure, or holding big events — there will be a reluctance for people to want to visit, stay, work, or live Downtown. Responding to the growing needs and demands of stakeholders, the Downtown District is committed to taking the management of Downtown’s pedestrian and streetscape environment to the next level.

How about taking your organization’s message to the next level? Swamplot’s Sponsor of the Day posts are a great marketing platform.

Sponsor of the Day
02/23/17 8:30am


Photo: Russell Hancock via Swamplot Flickr Pool