03/23/18 5:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: AMID DEMOLITION, SOME SOJOURN HEIGHTS CHURCH PARTS FIND SALVATION “. . . We couldn’t find a taker for the limestone. I’m not a mason, so I’m not sure what turned so many off from it when they came to look at it. I know one flaw is that it was quarried with inconsistent thicknesses throughout, which made it not an ideal candidate for paving stones and challenging in vertical applications. We would rather it have been reused, just couldn’t make it happen. We were, however, able to salvage most of the steel windows that were in good shape from the building to be repurposed. Hopefully that brings you some good cheer. They’re beautiful windows.” [Scott, commenting on Churchyard Excavator Now Breaking Down Walls Between Sojourn Heights’ Current Home on Aurora and Its Soon-To-Be Sanctuary] Photo of windows salvaged from demolished building on Sojourn Heights campus, 608 Aurora St.: Joe Meppelink

03/23/18 4:00pm

Tradition Senior Living has kicked off construction on a new, 23-story tower it’s building on the site of the Ripple Creek Townhomes just east of the Second Baptist Church complex on Woodway Dr. — which were demolished last year. The tower will overlook the concrete-lined Bering Ditch as shown in the rendering at top — taken from the website of a Vietnamese firm that’s touting the project as a way for foreigners to earn green cards by investing in it.

The new apartment’s parking lot and landscaping on Woodway are shown hugging Texas Dow Employees Credit Union’s branch building on the corner of S. Ripple Creek Dr. East of the bank — in place of what are now 2 vacant strip buildings — a dog park, water feature, porte-cochère, and driveway onto Woodway are planned:


03/23/18 12:45pm

Workers are now applying paint to the 5-level garage stump of the former Americana building at 811 Dallas St. Over the last year, the 10-story office tower that sat atop the southern half of the garage was removed.

9-in. aluminum louvers were added to the portion of the parking podium pictured above on the corner of Dallas and Travis streets during a renovation in 2000. That exterior layer was stripped off as part of the recent work on the building, however, exposing the original clay block surface underneath.

30,000-or-so-sq.-ft. of ground-floor retail are also receiving touch-ups as part of the current work on the property.

Photos: Drew (parking garage); Boxer Property (Americana)

Clay Tile Refresh
03/22/18 5:00pm

Orange barricades now flank the far east side of the northern portion of the River Oaks Shopping Center where a 30-story highrise — dubbed The Driscoll — is planned in place of Café Ginger’s original corner spot on W. Gray. The saucer-like tower shown in the photo above was appended to the retail building as one of many modifications its owner Weingarten Realty has made to the originally Art Deco structure over the years. When the new apartment rises, it’ll tower over 5 storefronts in the retail center, as opposed to just one.

Café Ginger’s northern neighbor Local Pour also shuttered in the portion of the building that’s replaced by The Driscoll’s lobby in the rendering below from architect Ziegler Cooper:


The Driscoll
03/22/18 3:00pm

Houston City Council voted unanimously yesterday to purchase 2 vacant parcels of land — just under 8 acres total — off Reed Rd. in Sunnyside for a new community service center and health clinic, as well as an adjacent park. Unlike the more remote site the officials first proposed for the new service center — on city property next to a former landfill that’s still home below ground to 3.5 million tires — the Reed Rd. location has never been developed, is just down the street from the existing center at 9314 Cullen Blvd. (pictured at top), and is now privately-owned.

A garbage incinerator once located on the 299.5-acre landfill on Bellfort St. just east of 288 closed in 1974 after a report from the Environmental Protection Agency said it was letting off deadly levels of lead into the air. The city commissioned new soil tests last year and argued that the brownfield — shown above — was safe. But the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality says it’s still contaminated with metals, pesticides, solvents, and potentially toxic volatile organic compounds.

Here’s what the furnace — dubbed the Holmes Road Incinerator — looked like around the time the city shut it down:


Holmes Road Incinerator
03/22/18 9:45am

The building on the corner of Montrose Blvd. and Bomar St. is showing signs of rebranding as Les Ba’get’s owners prepare to open a new, more pho-friendly joint in its place — dubbed Les Noo’dle. February 2 was closing day for the original Vietnamese restaurant; it’s now getting situated in a new Oak Forest shopping center on Ella Blvd. where it will double its space.


Apostrophe Intact
03/21/18 2:00pm

KING’S BIERHAUS OWNERS WILL HATCH EGGHAUS NEXT DOOR Egghaus Gourmet is what the father-and-son owners of King’s Bierhaus are planning to call the new breakfast restaurant they have planned next to their existing beer hall in the strip center on T.C Jester, just off Ella. The Chronicle’s Greg Morago reports that Hans and Philipp Sitter have already “secured the Egghaus space” on the east side of the building. Upon opening, the new restaurant will bring the tenant count of the 17,500-sq.-ft. strip to either 3 or 4, depending on the state of another neighboring business: Tea & Victory. Announced last September, the board game cafe is still in its incubation phase, but a representative now tells Swamplot it’s looking at an early April opening. [Houston Chronicle] Photo of 2042 and 2044 E. T.C. Jester: JJ J.

03/21/18 12:00pm

In the wake of Snooze, 2 more businesses with names suggesting AM activities are on their way to the new Lowell Street Market on 18th St. between Shepherd and Durham. Radom Capital began transforming the 3-building former warehouse complex in something retail- and restaurant-ready back in 2016. Since then, Snooze  has been the only restaurant to open in the development.

Building permits filed for the empty spots neighboring Snooze and Smoosh now show reveal the name of a third eatery that could be on its way to 718 W. 18th St.: Teapresso Bar. The Hawaiian tea shop chain has most of its current locations on Oahu, with a few on Maui as well. Lowell Street Market would be its first step onto the mainland.

The site plan below indicates all 3 buildings in the complex:


The Early Risers
03/20/18 4:30pm

FUNDING FOR DOWNTOWN HOUSTON’S NEW ISLAND Houston’s flood czar Steve Costello tells the Chronicle’s Mike Morris that the city plans to apply for FEMA resiliency grants in order to build the North Canal Bypass — the long-whispered diversion channel that would relink White Oak and Buffalo bayous between Main and Elysian streets. The waterway concept bubbled up last year in Plan Downtown where its course formed an island northwest of Allen’s Landing indicated in the imagined map above. By bypassing the bayou’s oxbow, the channel is expected not only to reduce flooding downtown — it could also “help lower the water level in White Oak Bayou all the way to the 610 Loop and in Buffalo Bayou as far west as Gessner,” according to a county study. The result: “A little more than half of the 854 structures in the 100-year floodplain along White Oak and an adjacent tributary, Turkey Gully, would be removed from the floodplain.” [Houston Chronicle; previously on SwamplotMap: Plan Downtown  

03/20/18 12:30pm

Crews are now digging a hole through the middle of the Sojourn Heights church campus off Gostick St., south of Aurora in Sunset Heights. The rendering above looks west across Gostick to show the fenced-off lawn that will eventually grow in place of the demolished building. The new green space is bookended by renovated street-fronting structures and backed by a smaller addition that’s planned on the far west side of the just-over-an-acre church property.

Before the takedown got started yesterday, the complex consisted of 3 buildings that lined Gostick:


Prayer Semi-Circle