08/15/17 2:45pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE BLACK HOLES WHERE FREEWAYS INTERSECT “Freeway interchange corners like this one seem to be tricky places for anything to last a long time. The long flyover ramps create this weird phenomenon where you have to exit a couple miles back and ride the feeder to that spot. Yet those same ramps make the property very prominently visible to tens of thousands of people each day who pass by overhead in their car. For whatever reason, the properties seem to cycle in and out of use and disuse. The changeover is probably exacerbated by construction freeway construction, widening, and ramp rebuilds.” [Superdave, commenting on The End of the Greenspoint Mall Is Upon Us] Illustration: Lulu

08/15/17 1:45pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY RUNNER-UP: FROM THE SOIL OF A DEAD MALL, LET A BUNCH OF APARTMENT TOWERS BLOOM “Malls that are about to die need to utilize their best asset and that is having large AC filled connector hallways that can hold pretty much any small business such as coffee shops/barber shops/pet supplies/retail obviously. Using the large department store areas like Macy’s/Sears/Dillards/Palais Royal, investors could make 6-8 story apartment/condo towers. Plenty of parking lot space around in case the apartment towers needs to be built wider than what the old department stores have to offer in space. The location at I-45 & North Beltway is great and parking lots will have exits to both feeders. Residents would be able to enjoy not just living in a nice condo lifestyle but also have AC filled hallways with all kinds of small businesses, I could see baby boomers loving this since many of them are early morning mall walkers anyway. It would be a long process, especially getting 4 different towers completed; but since they are all at different corners of the mall, residents will not have the construction headaches that you might assume would come along with it. I think its a better idea than just tearing old malls down.” [mas, commenting on The End of the Greenspoint Mall Is Upon Us] Photo of Greenspoint Mall: Colliers International

08/15/17 12:15pm

The basic structure of a new bridge crossing from one side of the Conrad Sauer Detention Basin to the other in the northward expansion of Memorial City is now in place, this recent photo (above) from reader Marc Longoria shows. The bridge will be part of Mathewson Ln., which developer and property owner MetroNational is extending from Conrad Sauer Dr. eastward over the detention basin and connecting to Gessner Dr., as shown in this recent construction photo:

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Memorial City Marches North
08/14/17 4:30pm

With the newest location coming to the Pearland Pkwy. pad site shown at the center of the image above in the Centre at Pearland Parkway shopping center just behind the H-E-B fronting Broadway, the density of Chick-fil-A restaurants in an axis stretching from FM 518 in Pearland to I-45 in Webster is fast approaching Texas Medical Center–level concentration, and may soon exceed it. (There are 4 Chick-fil-As in the TMC area, 3 of them conveniently located inside hospitals — though no drive-thrus.)

Less than 2 miles to the west along Broadway from the pictured location (expected to open in January) is the Chick-fil-A at FM 518 and Dixie Farm Rd.; further to the east are the spots in the Baybrook Mall and along the Gulf Fwy. at El Dorado Blvd. Between them, and possibly on the horizon, looms the planned Chick Fil A location at the intersection of FM 518 and Leisure Ln. in Friendswood. The owners of that property withdrew a rezoning application that would have allowed restaurant uses on that site after residents complained before the Friendswood City Council in April that adding the Chick-fil-A would make the city too much like Pearland. But a new rezoning request for the same property is up for consideration with the council this week, and the owners tell the Chronicle‘s Dana Guthrie that Chick-fil-A is still very interested in building a restaurant there.

Site plan detail, Centre at Pearland Parkway: Stream Retail

FM 518, Chicken Alley
08/14/17 1:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE SECRET LONELINESS OF THE ‘CHEF’S KITCHEN’ “It seems like the standard marketing protocol in homes like this is to always refer to the kitchen as a ‘cook’s kitchen’ or ‘chef’s kitchen.’ Maybe I’m just being pedantic, but a home cook/chef really doesn’t need all of the bells and whistles (48-in. gas range with double ovens, huge built-in fridge, pot filler, 2 dishwashers, prep sink, wine fridge, etc.) to produce a great end result for (presumably) just their own family. It’s almost like saying, ‘If you don’t have a kitchen like this, you must not be a very serious cook!’ I know it’s just salesmanship, but rubs me the wrong way nonetheless. That, and I think deep down inside that there might be a little bit of an inverse relationship between the price tag of the kitchen and the amount of cooking that actually gets done in them. It’s kind of like calling a four-car garage a ‘mechanic’s dream’ even though it’s really most likely that it’s going to be holding a couple decades’ worth of crap that no one wants to get rid of. Maybe a car or two.” [Balthazar, commenting on Houston Home Listing Photo of the Day: Eat in Kitchen] Illustration: Lulu

08/14/17 12:15pm

The new mini-doc We Are the Fire (above) describes the rationale behind recent efforts to rip out the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center’s invasive understory of non-native plants. Like watching short films like this about Houston-area wildlife and semi-wildlife? Here’s another one, from the Texas Parks and Wildlife department, on urban pocket parks. 13 more movies — on topics ranging from red-cockaded woodpeckers and sea turtles to area tidal wetlands — will be included in the first annual Wild About Houston mini film festival, being put on by a collection of local wildlife and conservation organizations for 2 hours on the evening of August 23rd, at the Cherie Flores Garden Pavilion at the McGovern Gardens at Hermann Park.

Wild About Houston
08/14/17 10:00am

THE END OF THE GREENSPOINT MALL IS UPON US Greenspoint Mall may close its doors for good in as little as 60 days, a source tells Click2Houston reporter Sophia Beausoleil — after news broke late Friday that the hobbled 42-year-old shopping center at I-45 North and Beltway 8 is under contract for purchase by an investment group headed by Chinese investor Gao Feng. Global Plaza Union says it is still considering several different redevelopment concepts for its newly acquired property. Not included in the purchase, but expected to be added to it for any transformation to take place: the 3 independently owned anchor store sites within the property. The Sears store at the southeast corner of the property closed 7 years ago; the Macy’s, in the northwest corner, shut down earlier this year; the Dillard’s in the southwest corner, closest to the freeway interchange, is one of only 2 anchors still operating in the mall. (The other is a Palais Royal.) [Click2Houston; Houston Chronicle ($); previously on Swamplot] Photo: Colliers International    

08/11/17 3:30pm

If a year or so from now you find yourself holed up in acute or intensive care in the North Campus Tower of the Houston Methodist hospital in the Texas Medical Center and for some reason start to wonder how that bathroom behind you was constructed, have we got a video for you! (It’s posted above.) It’s a time-lapse showing how workers from interior finishes contractor Marek pieced together 207 prefabricated restroom pods in the McCorvey Sheet Metal Works warehouse at 4800 Fidelity St. (just southeast of the intersection of I-10 and the East Loop), then shrinkwrapped and transported them, 1 or 2 at a time, to 6551 Bertner St., where they were they were lifted and dollied into place and hooked up to the building’s plumbing.

How’s construction on the $700 million, 960,000-sq.-ft. 22-story north tower Med Center expansion going so far? Here are a couple of views from today — from construction cams trained on the project:

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Warehouse Built
08/11/17 1:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: PARKING REQUIREMENTS FOR SELF-PARKING CARS “I think the live load requirements for a parking structure are actually a little higher than a residential building, but the bigger misconception is that shared autonomous cars don’t need to park. The fleet of autonomous cars will have to be sized to meet peak demand, which happens for a few hours in the morning and a few in the afternoon. Outside of those hours, a large proportion of the fleet will need to be stored somewhere. Overnight, that somewhere can be a non-central location, since presumably many people will still live in suburbs. But during the day, surplus vehicles will be most efficiently stored somewhere close to where their passengers will be in the afternoon. The real advantage is that the car storage won’t have to be so closely tied to the destination, so a parking structure every few blocks should be adequate, rather than each building needing its own dedicated (usually surface) parking. It’s more likely that this garage will stay a garage, but nearby surface lots can be developed into actual buildings.” [Angostura, commenting on How To Design a Parking Garage That Won’t Become Useless Once Cars Get Restless] Illustration: Lulu

08/11/17 12:00pm

Today, Swamplot is brought to you by Houston’s own Central Bank. Thanks for being a Sponsor of the Day!

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Sponsor of the Day
08/11/17 11:15am

The new Holiday Inn Express about to begin construction at 3401 N. Main St. in the Near Northside will have some consistently quiet neighbors and some occasionally very loud ones — with the steady drone of the adjacent North Fwy. available to somehow bridge the gap. The 1.44-acre site, where the Casa Grande Mexican Restaurant stood until it was torn down 2 years ago (and Stuarts Drive-In before it), sits across N. Main St. from the Hollywood Cemetery (yes, the same cemetery featured in Wes Anderson movie Rushmore). And it’s just a bit more than a quarter-mile up N. Main from the White Oak Music Hall complex, whose outdoor concert habit spurred nearby residents kept up late at night by the noise to file suit against the venue — and later, the city of Houston — for failing to follow (and enforce) local sound ordinances.

Late last month, crews removed the concrete paving left behind after the Casa Grande demolition (see photos above). Just this week, a city permit was granted for a 58,929-sq.-ft., 95-room Holiday Inn Express on the site — up 10 rooms from the 85 promised a couple of years ago, when the developers submitted these drawings as part of an application for a variance that would allow them not to have to extend or widen Norma St., on the north end of the lot:

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Near Near Northside
08/10/17 4:30pm

Forget all the crazy rumors and stories you’ve heard about the Galveston Kettle House. The actual most likely true story of how the unusual Galveston West Beach-area landmark known as the Kettle House came to be — and what’s about to happen to it — has at long last been revealed by the builder’s daughter (and current owner), Mary Etheridge-Rachels, to Dallas-area writer Linda Armstrong.

Among the shocking revelations — well, okay, interesting facts — included in Armstrong’s account of the steel bowl’s history, pieced together from her interviews with Etheridge-Rachels:

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Legends in Steel