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:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

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:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

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).

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

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

becks-prime

Photo: Russell Hancock via Swamplot Flickr Pool

Headlines
02/22/17 5:30pm

BRAD MOORE AND FRIENDS SNATCH EMPTY BODY OF INVASION ICE HOUSE Invasion Ice House, 823 Dumble St., Eastwood, Houston, 77023 Formerly apostrophe-averse Grand Prize co-owner Brad Moore and his business partners have a new bar now up and running in the work-out-the-kinks, wait-for-the-liquor-license phase. The business, operating under the syllable-rich name Lil’ Danny Speedo’s Go Fly a Kite Lounge, has taken over the space in the 1950s building at 823 Dumble St. (shown here as seen early last year in its then-new alien mural skin). Danny Speedo’s is the latest link in a long chain of bars on the property — most recently including Invasion Ice House, which the Ramos family opened last spring before shutting it down at the end of October. Phaedra Cook reports that Lil’ Danny Speedos is limiting the alcohol menu to beer, wine, and frozen shandies until the liquor permit comes through. [Houston Foodfinder; previously on Swamplot] Photo of former Invasion Ice House at 823 Dumble St.: Swamplot inbox

02/22/17 3:45pm

Demo site of Archstone Memorial Heights Apartments, Studewood at Washington Ave., Houston, 77007

Demo site of Archstone Memorial Heights Apartments, Studewood at Washington Ave., Houston, 77007

The excavator treatment is complete for that subset of Archstone Memorial Heights apartment buildings that’ll be replaced by a mixed-use midrise with an H-E-B at the bottom, a neighbor notes. The shot above shows one of the buildings midway through the deconstruction process, which began earlier this month after that fenceless gate showed up on the site. Also noted during the demo weeks — a handful of firefighters rappelling down the side of the empty unit above.

As of about sunset yesterday, the site is now fully emptied out:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Climbing the Walls on Wash Ave
02/22/17 2:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHAT’S GONE AND WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN ON LOUISIANA ST. Demolition of 517 Louisiana St., Downtown, Houston, 77002“I just stumbled upon this today (having moved away from Houston in the early 90s.) Kind of breaks my heart to see it gone, having been the maître d’ and sommelier there in the late 80s and early 90s. . . . I still have dreams of a hidden cellar beyond the famous cellar downstairs.” [Kevin Metivier, commenting on Those 2 Century-Old Louisiana St. Buildings Being Demolished Now for Lancaster Hotel Parking] Photo of 517 Louisiana demolition: Jack Miller

02/22/17 1:00pm

THE WOODLANDS SEEKS PERMISSION TO DEPLOY MUTANT FISH TO FIGHT WATERWAY WEEDS The Waterway at The Woodlands, TX, 77380The Woodlands Development Company has filed a request with the state to add some genetically sterile Asiatic grass carp in the development’s Waterway feature, Catherine Dominguez notes in the Houston Chronicle. The fish are a proposed answer to the bushy pondweed and algae blooms that have recently been clogging up the created channel, which runs from the Lake Woodlands reservoir to the Woodlands Mall alongside I-45. Dominguez writes that the permit request was set in motion by a complaint from Ironman Texas, which at the last minute moved the miles-long water course of its recent Woodlands supertriathlon, citing skepticism that water quality was okay for swimmers. The carp is native to the Amur River that divides northeastern China from Russia; TPWD has issued permits for stocking the fish in Texas since 1992, but only in its deliberately-given-too-many-chromosomes-to-reproduce triploid form. The TPWD’s grass carp permit writeup includes advice on fish deployment, reasonable fish performance expectations, and info on how to prevent fish escape. [Houston Chronicle] Photo of Woodlands Waterway: TheWoodlandsTX.com

02/22/17 11:15am

Another Broken Yolk, 3801 Farnham St., Shepherd Triangle, Houston, 77098

Some time between the morning and evening rush hours yesterday, says a reader, the new sign above for Another Broken Yolk Cafe went up at 3801 Farnham St., the original location of the 59 Diner chain prior to its lawsuit-clouded closure. The building adopted the persona of optionally halal Tex-Mex and pancake joint El Beso Cantina for a brief interlude starting around Christmas, after which the building’s “Eat Here!” dot was redone to read “24 Hrs Breakfast.” The website for the latest redo, however, currently lists the restaurant’s hours of operation as 7am to 10pm.

The building’s exterior has had a bit of a makeover since 59 Diner’s departure: the chrome and teal went more brick, yellow, and red for El Beso’s brief tenure, though other elements (like the BREAKFAST LUNCH DINNER labels) have remained in place. A teal hole can be spied where some El Beso signage hung until recently, in the same over-the-doorway spot previously occupied by the bubble-gum pink 59 logo:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Flipping Breakfast Concepts
02/22/17 8:30am

houston-skyline2

Photo: Bill Barfield via Swamplot Flickr Pool

Headlines