08/22/14 4:30pm

Construction Site at 609 Main St., Downtown Houston

Rendering of Pickard Chilton Design for 609 Main St., Downtown HoustonIf you’re wondering what the late-night traffic holdup is in and around Main St. and Texas Ave. over the weekend, here’s your explainer: 180 mixing trucks are going to be lining up to pour a continuous stream of concrete onto this site surrounded by Main, Texas, Fannin, and Capitol streets downtown, where D.E. Harvey builders is putting together a little office building — now slated to rise 48 stories — for the Hines CalPERS Green development fund. The action starts at 7 pm on Saturday and should finish up around 3 in the afternoon the next day.

In all, about 14,000 cubic yards of concrete will go into the mat foundation of the 609 Main St. building during those 17 hours. The Texas Tower, formerly known as the Sterling Building, was dismantled on a portion of the site earlier this year.

Photo: Hines. Rendering: Pickard Chilton

609 Main
08/22/14 3:30pm

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It’s big, but not the biggest home on its cushy Bay Oaks block. Bigger still are the fairways of adjacent Bay Oaks Country Club, on display behind this fully loaded property that’s located south of Clear Lake Blvd. The updated 1989 contemporary clad with stucco, stone, and tile was listed this week. The asking price of $1.399 million marks a noticeable spike from the $898,000 paid in 2011, when the current owners took hold.

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Clear Lake City
08/22/14 2:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: NAVIGATING HOUSTON’S HEAVILY CONGESTED FUTURE Cars in Traffic“I’m for better transit (I won’t be mode-specific here), but it should never be sold as making the streets less congested for you to drive around on. While it may take some cars off the streets, Houston’s congestion is likely to be massive enough that you’d never notice. Do NYC and LA have uncongested streets? Obviously not, even though both cities have much much better transit than Houston — meaning they have better alternatives to being in congestion and having to find parking. Congestion and difficult parking are our future (I wager even with self-driving cars, if they’re all personally owned) — everyone needs to be at peace with that.” [Local Planner, commenting on Killing Any Chance of Later Rail Conversion on the New Post Oak Bus Lanes; The Bedbugs of Beverly Hill] Illustration: Lulu

08/22/14 1:30pm

Brewery Incubator and League of Extraordinary Brewers Brewpub, 907 Franklin St., Suite 150, Downtown Houston

“Never would a game of strip Twister be so badly regretted,” writes Lucrece Borrego in announcing the sudden closure of her innovative Downtown food-business incubator turned brewery-incubator business on the ground floor of the Bayou Lofts building at 907 Franklin St. An eviction notice the two-time startup-startup starter was handed by an attorney representing her landlord as Borrego was cooking for a steak-night “bottle share” event last Friday cited several reasons for the termination of her lease, most of them focusing on items encountered in a common-area hallway outside the business: empty beer kegs and boxes (Borrego says they were left after deliveries), “personal items” (likely including a motorcycle, a source tells Swamplot) — and a live game of naked Twister.

“Indeed,” Borrego writes, “I had agreed to host a naked game night: a completely private event that takes place at bars all over Houston regularly. We covered all the windows and had someone working the door. Only one thing went wrong.

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Downtown Brewery Startup Space Evicted
08/22/14 10:00am

Interior of Astrodome with Seats Removed, Houston

The inside of the Astrodome has been closed to the general public since 2008, when inspectors revoked its certificate of occupancy after discovering numerous code violations. Four years later, Swamplot’s publication of reader Russell Hancock’s snuck pics of the structure’s desolate innards spurred several local reporters to request their own tours of the structure. Later, the building’s caretakers offered up a few rounds of media tours of the dilapidated stadium on their own, leading up to last November’s defeat of a bond issue that would have paid for extensive renovations to the building. In advance of the vote, and then again shortly after, the Astrodome’s seating and other furnishings were removed and put up for sale.

But since the seat sell-off, the public hasn’t had a chance to see how the inside of the vacant sports stadium appears with the earth-tone rainbows painted in plastic backrest that once lined its upper decks stripped out and sold off. What does the inside of the Astrodome look like, now that it’s a whole lot less colorful, and pretty much standing-room only?

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The End of the Rainbows
08/22/14 8:30am

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Photo of Sacred Heart Church, Galveston: Russell Hancock via Swamplot Flickr Pool

Headlines
08/21/14 3:15pm

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Up next: This 1953 ranchburger with modernized trimmings in Braes Terrace (top). Had you looked at this Buffalo Speedway corner lot property when it was listed in March (at right), you’d have found it priced at $369,000. (It sold quickly, for $361,000.) Earlier this week, a re-imagined spread at the same address hit the market with a $698,000 price tag. In addition to designer-driven cosmetic tweaks, the overhaul included new electrical wiring and plumbing, roof, French doors, garage door, side deck and driveway. Do the results merit a $337K leap?

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Smooth Moves
08/21/14 2:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THAT MONTROSE LOOK Drawing of Raising Cane's, 1902 Westheimer Rd., Montrose, Houston“If you really look at the building, it resembles a typical three story townhome, shrunk and widened to one level. Even the arched facade mimics the townhome in the background. And let’s face, the neighborhood behind it is rapidly becoming a majority townhome area if it isn’t already. So maybe it does resemble the neighborhood after all. . . . If you seriously look at Montrose, it is just a polyglot of everything. A lot of it is butt ugly but the trees and grown out landscaping obscure it. My neighborhood and its adjacents are filled with homes, apartments, offices, etc. spanning 90 years of different styles and much of it is seemingly incompatible if viewed as a single entity. That is Montrose. It ain’t The Woodlands!” [JT, commenting on Raising Cane’s Is Almost Ready To Grab the Corner of Hazard and Westheimer with Its Chicken Fingers] Illustration: Lulu

08/21/14 1:00pm

Parking Spaces at Shoppes at Memorial Heights Shopping Center, 920 Studemont St., Memorial Heights, Houston

Parking Spaces at Shoppes at Memorial Heights Shopping Center, 920 Studemont St., Memorial Heights, HoustonVisiting a business in the stucco-deco Shoppes at Memorial Heights and can’t figure out where to park? Don’t worry, management of the Studemont St. shopping center just south of Washington Ave has figured it all out for you. Just drive around until you see an empty space that happens to have the name of the store you’re going to spray-paint stenciled onto the parking surface. And maybe move your car before you even think about wandering into any adjacent shops, because otherwise that might cause some problems, okay?

Still confused? Recent visitor PoppyPetalled has provided a helpful diagram showing how the best principles of parking-lot planning have been applied to laying out the individual spaces assigned Happy Belly Studios, Sam’s Cafe, Beer Market Co., Absolve Wine Lounge, Sushi Tora, Urban Cleaners, Hair Desire, and other establishments at 920 Studewood St.:

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Look for the Spray Paint Stencils
08/21/14 12:00pm

ACTING ON HER OWN, MAYOR WILL ALLOW FOOD TRUCKS DOWNTOWN Coreanos Food Truck at GreenStreet, Downtown HoustonNote: Story updated below. Hopes there wouldn’t be much opposition this time to changing the city’s fire and health codes to allow food trucks a few niceties such as the ability to park near seating for their customers (if not actually provide it) may have been dashed by objections aired by restaurant owners and the Greater Houston Restaurant Association at yesterday’s city council committee meeting, but Mayor Parker said she plans to go ahead and let propane-fueled mobile food units operate downtown anyway, by acting on her own — an administrative change that doesn’t require council approval: “Parker said she has received an opinion from the fire marshal’s office deeming propane tanks of up to 60 pounds safe for mobile food units in the downtown area. It was not clear Wednesday when that rule change would go into effect, though it is likely to be coupled with smaller, more technical regulatory changes to the food truck policy that the City Council could vote on as soon as this fall.” Update, 1:30 pm: A spokesperson for Mayor Parker tells Swamplot the fire department expects to implement the propane rule change, which would allow trucks in the Texas Medical Center as well as Downtown, sometime in September. Changing the rules to allow a food truck to park closer than 60 ft. to another food truck — another administrative change not requiring a vote from city council — “isn’t likely to be considered until the end of the year or early next year when other changes to the fire code are proposed.” [Houston Chronicle; more infopreviously on Swamplot] Photo: Coreanos food truck

08/21/14 8:30am

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Photo of 1515 Woodhead St.: Russell Hancock via Swamplot Flickr Pool

Headlines
08/20/14 4:15pm

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The interior of a decked out 1978 Spring Branch Estates home uses changing floor finishes to cue its ups and downs as the floor plan twists around a spiral staircase beneath a 20-ft. dome. The flow creates living spaces on several levels — and some rather unusual, futuristic features . . .

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Taking Turns