12/14/18 3:30pm

Get a load of this multi-chromatic character that’s recently taken shape on York St., between Lamar and McKinney streets: EaDo Storage. Built in place of the Randolph Office Furniture Exchange warehouse that bit the dust in early 2017, the new 107,677-sq.-ft. facility takes up the entire block. It isn’t yet open.

You can see a few cherry-pickers applying the finishing touches to the structure’s exterior in the photo above. If the rendering the business put out last month is to be believed, new trees and hedges should be on the way, too:

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EaDo Storage
12/14/18 11:30am

Last year, Boxer Property told reporters it wanted to do something “iconic” with the St. Joseph’s Professional Building along the Pierce Elevated. Well, how about this idea: bringing the 18-story Midtown office building to life by attaching 2 massive, swinging arms to its east and west sides. Boxer engaged The Art Guys (Jack Massing and Michael Galbreth) shortly after purchasing the building in September 2017 to make it happen. They worked on the project in secret, dubbing it The Walking Building. It had an estimated budget of $2.8 million.

Alas, the vision of a giant robotic pedestrian attempting to cross a busy section of I-45 into Downtown was not to be. Boxer informed The Art Guys 2 months ago that it would no longer pursue the project.

The arms would have swung back and forward roughly once a minute, making for a somewhat leisurely gait:

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St. Joseph’s Professional Building, Reimagined
12/13/18 5:00pm

“What, after all, is the majesty of the Hill Country compared to the majesty of the orange and white Whataburger logo?asks Texas Monthlys Dan Solomon. It’s a question that feels wrong to poseHow dare you put Texas’s natural charm on the same plane as the sprawl we’ve layered over it — but also feels wrong to ignore. “Texans often display their enthusiasm for homegrown chains without a hint of irony,” writes Solomon. So why not just embrace our freeway-side icons in good-old-fashioned oil-and-canvas style?

San Antonio artist Antonio Esparza’s done just that with his work, which the internet recently discovered after one well-followed editor tweeted out a link to his Etsy shop. There, he offers prints of paintings like the ones above that range from, er . . . hyper-realist:

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Texana, Reimagined
12/13/18 4:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHAT ELSE LEFT MIDTOWN WHEN RICHMOND AVE MET WHEELER ST. “In addition to the Delman Theater, an adjacent retailer named the Delman Juvenile Shop was also destroyed. The popular 1950s children’s clothing store featured a behemoth machine, the “Shoe-Fitting Fluoroscope,” that zapped the kids’ feet with unshielded x-rays, ostensibly to make sure the new shoes were a correct fit. In reality, it was used as a babysitter while Mom shopped. I couldn’t wait to grow tall enough to actually peer down the metal tube to view my wiggling skeletal toe bones.” [Patsy Schillaci, commenting on Comment of the Day: The Delman Theater Lives On, on Google Maps] Photo of Delman Theater and adjacent retail: Predator [license]

12/13/18 12:00pm

So long to that double-decker dwelling on the corner of 20th and Ashland St. After being tagged for demolition on Monday, the 1904 house came down yesterday. It’s departure leaves 8 contiguous 28,000-sq.-ft. lots lined up for development along 20th St. And recent permit filings reveal what’s likely to be next: a hotel.

It’ll shoot the gap between 2 existing commercial neighbors: the Heights Hospital for Animals to the east, and Heights Floral Shop to the west, across Ashland. As noted when commercial realty signage first sprouted in front of the house at 347 W. 20th St. last year, it’s the only property at the intersection not already occupied by some kind of money-making enterprise.

Photos: Swamplox inbox

Hidden Heights Holdover
12/12/18 5:30pm

The new owner of 812 Main St. (shown above) is the same entity that owns the JW Marriott next-door at 806 Main St. Well, sort of. Technically, the properties belong to 2 separate entities, but they both tie back to the same real estate overlord: Pearl Hospitality, a Houston-based hotel operator with a few extra properties in Lubbock. Pearl closed on the 812 Main St. building last month for $3.6 million.

Designed by Houston architects Joseph Finger and George Rustay the recently-transacted tower was completed in 1950 for the Battelsteins’s department store — which occupied each of its 10 floors. It’s now been vacant for roughly 30 years. Battlestein’s signage has been replaced by the smudges visible above the mural-ized storefront face in the photo at top. But 2 naked flagpoles remain on either side of where the lettering once was.

After visiting the property in December, 2015, PDG Architects estimated it’d cost nearly $17 million to renovate it into something suitable for office tenants to inhabit. Just bringing it up to code could cost $8 million, according to public records.

The JW Marriott next-door at Rusk St. — formally known as the Samuel F. Carter building — underwent its Pearl-Hospitality redo starting in 2010 with a bit of financial help from the city and HUD, as well as architectural know-how from Gensler:

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Department Store Skyscraper
12/12/18 2:45pm

Landing with a thud on the city planning commission’s dais this week: the rendering above depicting what Arizona-based beer and pizza chain Bottled Blonde wants to do to the former Weiner’s Dry Goods Store No. 12 at 4901 Washington Ave. Most of the building’s original architectural details — for instance, the signage and storefront entrance shown above at Durham Dr. —  are long-gone according to Tim Cisneros of Cisneros Design Studio, the firm responsible for the planned makeover.

And so the renovations Bottled Blonde has planned will look more forward than backward in order to reshape the structure from what it is now, a shuttered Cash America Pawn branch:

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4901 Washington
12/12/18 12:00pm

Just in time for Christmas, Preservation Houston has begun marketing a new type of Astrodome memorabilia: 4-in. beverage-coaster-sized squares of AstroTurf removed from the stripped-down stadium — along with loads of other major league hardware — in October 2013. Each one bears “a unique serial number and a certificate of authenticity,” according to the seller, and they come in packs of 4 that cost $100, plus tax. (That’s more than a 200-percent price hike since the last big Astrodome yard sale 5 years ago offered up 12-in.-by-12-in. squares for $20 each.)

During the lead-up to the defeated 2013 bond proposal that would have paid for extensive renovations to the Astrodome, these particular patches of turf road along with staffers from the National Trust onboard the “Dome Mobile,a 26-ft. truck that the preservationist organization commandeered as part of a public campaign to save the building from demolition. It wasn’t until afterward that Preservation Houston got its hands on them en masse. Shipments of the items, it now says, should be delivered to buyers no later than December 17.

Photos: Preservation Houston

Holiday Yard Sale
12/11/18 5:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE DELMAN THEATER LIVES ON, ON GOOGLE MAPS “If you look at Google Maps satellite view, you can still see the patterned terrazzo floor of the theater.” [Benjy Compson, commenting on How the Marriage of Richmond and Wheeler Came Too Late to the Midtown Sears Building’s South Side]

12/11/18 1:45pm

Anyone in the habit of leaving the house knows that Houston’s streets are really best appreciated from a distance. And although he’s not a native, Seattle artist Peter Gorman appears to agree. His recent work, “Intersections of Houston,” shown above, is a series of 20 mini-maps depicting some of the city’s most notably tangled roadway crossings. Some — like the nexus of Scott, Polk, York, and Clay streets (top row, second from the left) — take shape at the borders between Houston’s multiple, incongruous street grids. (The Allen brothers laid out the oldest grid parallel and perpendicular to Buffalo Bayou; later planners favored a more north-south orientation. In both cases, the resulting frameworks are some of the longest-lived legacies of the city. We’ve been stuck with them far longer than most of the buildings they contain.)

Others meander to get around park space: See Lamar, Crawford, and Dallas (third row, third from the left). And then there’s that special subset: intersections that do less to fit into their surroundings than they do to stand out as products of intrepid traffic engineering approaches. Take Lockwood Dr. and Wallisville Rd. (fourth row, third from the lift) for instance; it’s really just a claw-like take on a T-intersection.

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Left, Right, Left
12/11/18 10:45am

A Swamplot reader writes in to report that the JCI Grill across I-45 from the Home Depot near Gulfgate Mall is now closed. No need to get too close in order to tell; the electronic sign fronting the feeder road gets the message across to highway drivers as shown above. Behind it, you can see the new ramp TxDOT’s been working on to connect 610 eastbound to I-45 northbound — as well as the shadow it’s cast on the restaurant’s parking lot.

A flyer posted on the building says the construction was in part what inspired the closure:

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The Dog Days Are Over