09/18/18 4:45pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: HOUSTON’S POPULATION FORECAST DOESN’T ACCOUNT FOR THE WEATHER “These studies always miss the boat on the climate change; I’d be surprised if population growth in Houston and the surrounding area hasn’t plateaued and maybe even begun to decrease by 2040. Let me put it this way: If even the most conservative projections are correct, I wouldn’t want to be living here then. If you think the flooding and the summer temperatures are bad now . . .” [Christian, commenting on Houston’s Population Will Break 10M by 2040, Says METRO Study] Illustration: Lulu

09/18/18 3:00pm

As heralded by strange sensations earlier this month, crews have begun transforming the former Montrose Mining Company into Houston’s second Postino Wine Bar by stripping the covered patio shown above from the building’s east side. So far, the rest of its gray brick exterior remains unchanged, except a portion of the facade on Grant St. that’s recently gone yellow as part of the redo:

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805 Pacific St.
09/18/18 12:00pm

EMPTY LEELAND ST. FURNITURE WORKSHOP NOW HAS A WINE SIGN ON IT A reader tells Swamplot one of those TABC posters is up on the building at 3107 Leeland St., and the applicant it names: The Wine House, LLC. The last tenant Metamorphose Studios did double-duty in the 2,800-sq.-ft. space: dealing furniture and also guiding visitors in the art of refurbishing items themselves (“I recommend the chairapy class,” wrote the venue’s sole Yelp reviewer in 2016, adding that of the items for sale: “The hand painted and embellished cattle skulls are to die for!“) Despite its departure from Houston, the workshop lives on as part of an antique store up in Navasota. Photo: Metamorphose Studios

09/18/18 9:45am

Signage is down and a closure notice is up on Blast Fitness’s now-former 3936 N. Shepherd storefront, which lies within the northern portion of the strip that Aldi plans to take over. Pictured above is that portion — just south of Garden Oaks Blvd. — where Yoga Collective and a next-door vacuum shop took off previously to make room for the grocer. Blast’s turf was on the south side of theirs, near where retail signs and parking activity pick back up on the right in the image.

For those in need of a new gym, not to worry: Blast is letting customers transfer their memberships to any location run by its affiliate brand Fitness Connection. The nearest of that chain’s 14 Houston fitness centers? Eight miles away in Greenspoint Mall.

Photos: Dan Bradley

Clearing the Way
09/17/18 5:00pm

HOUSTON’S POPULATION WILL BREAK 10M BY 2040, SAYS METRO STUDY Making it more peopled than 40 different states are right now. Granted, the “Houston area” that METRO’s study encompasses — defined as Harris, Montgomery, Waller, Fort Bend, Brazoria, Galveston, Chambers, and Liberty counties — already spans more land than 4 states. The full breakdown on the transit agency’s website features more maps like the one above — on which more populous areas appear darker — showing 2025 estimates and historical data for years past. The area’s current population: somewhere around 6 million, according to census data. [METRONext] Map of Houston area’s estimated population distribution in 2040: METRONext

09/17/18 2:45pm

In a lawsuit it filed Friday against the City of Houston, the government contractor tasked with housing thousands of child immigrants across Texas, Arizona, and California says it’s got until October 28 to open the building it leased at 419 Emancipation Ave. — now preemptively dubbed Casa Sunzal — otherwise the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement will pull its funding for the planned facility.

The nonprofit’s biggest beef with the city (and in particular the Mayor, who grinned in June at the idea of a permitting “slow-walk” for the center) is that the compound shouldn’t be classified as a detention facility but rather a residential one. Yes, the company says in its filing, “children are verbally discouraged from leaving,” the campus, but they “are not physically restrained if they try to.” 240 kids ages “0 to 17,” were originally slated to shack up in the compound, according to the Chronicle’s Lomi Kriel. The majority of them — Southwest Key says now — would be minors that crossed the border by themselves, as opposed to those separated from their parents upon arrival in the U.S.

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Casa Sunzal
09/17/18 12:45pm

Most of the corrugated metal buildings that occupied the inner sanctum at 620 W. 9th St. are down now, but the hidden Heights compound’s still got its edge. “There are strange things poking up from the fence,” the same ones that have been there for over a decade — reports a reader — sticking up, “like heads on spikes.

Actually, not all the props on W. 9th St. east of Waverly are heads; torsos, full bodies, and skeletal figures appear as well, along with some more abstract metalwork:

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Neighborhood Fixtures
09/17/18 9:45am

Red hyphenated signage hasn’t yet put a name to the building, but you can see all the other makings of H-E-B’s second second-story Houston grocery store from above in the video at top. The footage starts off over N. Shepherd, then pans around the corner of 23rd St., offering a view of the former Fiesta site from the south.

Back in March a spokesperson for the grocer told The Leader’s Landan Kuhlmann to expect a “late fall opening,” meaning the store’s debut could coincide roughly with the 2 year anniversary of the dry zone modification its management pushed for prior to construction.

Video: Brandon DuBois

Doubly Decked Out
09/14/18 5:15pm

Both Red- and Purple-Line connections to Hobby Airport made METRO’s latest shortlist of proposed projects around town. They’re indicated above by the blue segment which runs east from the Red Line’s current terminus at Fannin South and past a proposed spur that’d reach up to the Purple Line’s last stop at Palm Center Transit Center. Together with all the proposed bus route upgrades colored orange, they’d cost the agency about $3 billion to build.

That price tag is on the high end of what METRO expects to have in its budget for projects over the next 2 decades: somewhere between $1 billion and $2.8 billion, according to the Chronicle‘s Dug Begley. Planning for the worst case, the agency also released a plan B — which eschews all airport rail connections in the name of frugality:

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Transit Wishlist
09/14/18 12:45pm

SPENGA’S UPPER-DECK GYM WILL JUT OUT REAL CLOSE TO ITS NEIGHBOR Just 8 in. will separate the cantilevered fitness studio’s eastern, over-the-edge portion from the eaves of the 1915 home adjacent to it — reports abc13’s Christine Dobbyn — which will soon house Arden’s Picture Framing and Gallery. The 15,700-sq.-ft. lot where the new retail building’s planned at 307 Westheimer is currently going up; Italian restaurant Michelangelo’s went to pieces on its west side last December (the east was all parking). [abc13; previously on Swamplot] Rendering of 307 Westheimer Rd.: Spenga

09/14/18 10:00am

The southeast corner of Richmond and Eastside is seeing some vehicle traffic for the first time since a 3-story office building and parking lot were demolished on it in 2016. Personnel from Van & Sons Drilling Service hit the vacant spot on Monday, taking care to protect the grass by sliding some wooden boards underneath their truck, pictured above. The just-under-an-acre property is the only patch of greenery present at the intersection; the rest is all ’60s-era office space.

Behind the corner parcel lies Levy Park. It’s bounded by a private street that runs past the vacant field, as well as the adjacent Primrose School of Upper Kirby and Kirby Grove office building. You can see the 16-story office towering over the school in the photo below, looking east:

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Richmond and Eastside