02/14/19 2:00pm

A Swamplot reader up in the St. Josephs Professional building sends these photos looking south to show construction on the new 5-story, 216-unit apartment building that developer Winther Investment has going at 2111 Austin St., as well as the vacant lot just east of it that’s currently serving as a staging area for construction. The developer has been mulling putting a “a 12- or 20-story” building on the empty block, the HBJ’s Fauzeya Rahman reported last month, a project that probably won’t kick off until next year. When it does, some ground floor retail could be in the mix according to Winther Investment’s head honcho, who told Rahman he “would like to see a restaurant” at street level. Plans for the midrise that’s already on the way up include only parking and dwelling space.

Photos: Swamplot inbox

2-Step Process
02/13/19 2:00pm

International fitness chain Barry’s Bootcamp plans to pick up where Luke’s Locker left off in the easternmost portion of the River Oaks Shopping Center south of W. Gray, and before doing so, will dress the storefront in the full military-style regalia that’s typical of its existing locations. The photo above looks south to show the space shortly after the former running store left it. At top: Barry’s’s chevron-heavy vision for what it will become.

As indicated by the awning on the right, some kind of retail component appears to be planned inside, along with room for a fitness studio. With a just a bit more detail, the windows drawing might also show a reflection of the new 30-story highrise, dubbed The Driscoll, that Weingarten’s got going on the opposite of W. Gray, in place of Café Ginger and a few of its former neighbors.

Photo: Katie Schon. Drawing: Houston Archaeological and Historical Commission

Fitness Invasion
02/13/19 10:30am

The founder and public face of 4-state sandwich shop Ike’s Sandwiches, Ike Shehadeh, is about to have his bald, goatee-ed likeness installed in 3 more spots: on the north (top), east, and south (above) sides of the new Heights Central Station shopping center at Heights Blvd. and 11th St. The restaurant signed a lease last year to move into the complex’s east building — reported The Leader‘s Betsy Denson — where it’ll neighbor Shine in the Heights salon, the bakery known as Tiff’s Treats, and 2 forthcoming businesses: Ocean Juice and women’s clothing store RichGirls Boutique.

They all sit across from a new Kolache Shoppe drive-thru and next door to the building Dish Society plans to split with a dentist:

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11th St. Newcomer
02/12/19 3:00pm

While hammering out the details of the Astrodome’s climate control system back before the building existed, members of the design team planned for some pretty bizarre weather not just outside it, but inside its 9.5-acre interior as well. According to I.A. Naman, whose firm designed the stadium’s air conditioning, “An experience had been reported previously regarding large dirigible hangars where unusual weather conditions were reported to have resulted in rainfall inside the hangar, even though it was not raining outside.” He wasn’t joking. “There was speculation that we might have such a situation in the stadium where fog, haze, self-generated turbulence in the nature of a tornado, cloud formations or even rain, might conceivably be experienced,” he wrote in 1966. “Was this something which really could happen or was it only a fear with no real basis?”

That the air inside the stadium would likely be filled with tobacco smoke made things even more complicated. If the smoke were to form a cloud of sufficient density, the engineers worried that it might obscure the audience’s view of what they came to see. “It was impractical to try to eliminate the smoke cloud entirely,” wrote Naman. So the question became: How much smoke could there be before the action on the field became too hard to follow? To find out, “A simple experiment was arranged,” he wrote. A few engineers sat down inside a sealed glass box. Outside the box, an attendant flicked on a color movie of a baseball game. Slowly and carefully, smoke was piped into the box until the engineers could no longer discern the game. A measurement was taken, indicating the maximum amount of haze a spectator could conceivably put up with. It became the target level that the design team strove to meet.

In order to reach it, they concluded:

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A Chance of Indoor Showers
02/12/19 12:00pm

Note: This story has been updated to make clear that the planned garage and office building are 2 separate structures.

A Swamplot reader perched up in the Texas Children’s Pediatric Human Resources building at the east corner of S. Braeswood Blvd. and Greenbriar sends this photo looking out the window to show how Houston Methodist’s soon-to-be 7-story admin building is shaping up on the south side of Brays Bayou, where a growing handful of medical admin buildings are hunkering down to support their more clinical neighbors on the other side of the waterway. All 3 stories shown above — along with 4 more floors to sit atop them — will be for office space. Adjacent to them, an 8-level garage is planned. Although it hasn’t yet risen, its foundation has been poured.

Photo: Swamplot inbox

Med Center Outskirts
02/11/19 5:00pm

LEON COUNTY JUDGE RULES BULLET TRAIN COMPANY CAN’T USE EMINENT DOMAIN ON ACCOUNT OF IT’S NOT REALLY A ‘RAILROAD’ YET On Friday, the judge for Texas’s 87th District Court declared that Texas Central, the company planning a high-speed rail line between Houston and Dallas, cannot use eminent domain to snatch up land within Leon, Freestone, or Limestone counties — 3 of the 10 counties that the train’s proposed 240-mile route is set to traverse. Texas law does allow “railroads” to use eminent domain in seizing land for projects, it’s just that Texas Central doesn’t actually count as a one in the court’s view because it hasn’t actually laid any track yet and doesn’t currently operate any trains. “Texas Central is appealing the Leon County judge’s decision,” the company tells the Chronicle‘s Dug Begley, “and meanwhile, it is moving forward on all aspects of the train project.” [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Map of proposed bullet train route: Texas Central

02/11/19 12:00pm

The Memorial Club apartment complex at the Westcott St. roundabout is down to its final quarter following weekend deconstruction activity that left the 4-building, not-yet-redeveloped half of the complex itself cut in half. (Across the street, a 5-builidng portion of Memorial Club has been missing since new apartments dubbed Elan Memorial Park replaced it in 2016) By Saturday morning, the whole southern section of Memorial Club’s remaining half was gone according to a Swamplot reader, who sends the photo at top looking west to show that vanished portion, visible behind the oak trees.

Taking note of the demo, Google Maps has replaced its old photo of the apartments with one more indicative of current events:

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At the Roundabout
02/08/19 1:00pm

Construction appears to have picked up lately on the not-yet-named bar going up on the corner of Emancipation Ave and Rosewood St., according to the photo at top sent in by a Swamplot reader. The new structure is across the street from longstanding Third Ward watering hole Dbar and its adjacent parking lot. (Formerly known as Dowling Street Lounge, Dbar did away with that name around the same time that Dowling St. became Emancipation Ave.)

The new build on the west side of the street looks to include a few parking spots of its own on both Emancipation and Rosewood. One casualty of the work so far: the sign shown above telling truckers not to use Rosewood as a thru-street to the 288 feeder, which runs one block west of the construction site.

Photos: Swamplot inbox

4420 Emancipation