Articles by

John Nova Lomax

03/08/16 11:30am

Demolition of 3218 Del Monte Dr., River Oaks, Houston, 77019

The former home of the House of Pain’s developer is shown above in a world of hurt this morning, as a demo crew tackles the longtime residence of Oilers-turned-Titans owner K.S. “Bud” Adams Jr. at 3218 Del Monte Dr. in River Oaks. The Oklahoma-bred oil baron moved into the 6,604 sq.-ft. house with his wife in 1954; having survived his wife, Adams died alone at his desk in the house at age 90, in October of 2013  — just days after the death of Bum Philips, the glory-days Oilers coach Adams hired and fired.

The demo permit for the building was issued on the 16th. According to the photographer, the shutters pictured above and below were long the same Columbia blue once donned by Houston fans:

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Final Takedown
01/13/16 4:58pm

509 Louisiana St., Downtown, Houston, 77002

517 Louisiana St. is down — the former haunt of the Longhorn Cafe (509 Louisiana, to the right of the hole in the above photo) was still standing as of 2 PM this afternoon, along with the pecan tree in its once-secret  courtyard. Both have permits lined up to follow 517 into the Great Beyond, to make room for surface parking on the block.

The hidden pecan tree is purported to harbor a ghost, rooted deep in some Republic of Texas history:

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Louisiana St. Demolitions
01/12/16 3:45pm

Demolition of 517 Louisiana St., Downtown, Houston, 77002

Time to bid adieu to 2 more of downtown’s oldest buildings: readers sent both sky-high and excavator-side photos of yesterday’s teardown work at 517 Louisiana St., and 509 is permitted to follow). According to the building’s owners, the next-door Lancaster Hotel’s parking crunch is the reason the 2 1906 Theater District neighbors will meet their flattened fates, along with a long-hidden pecan tree that shades a once-secret courtyard at 509. Taking their place: a surface lot for 50 cars — and, maybe, one day, an expansion to the hotel.

517’s transformation to empty space was complete by the end of the day yesterday:

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Coming Down in Downtown
01/06/16 11:30am

Invasion Ice House, 823 Dumble St., Eastwood, Houston, 77023A little green man in a flying saucer heralds the looming takeover of the former Los Amigos space at 823 Dumble St. (at the corner with McKinney, a few blocks west of S. Lockwood Dr.). Los Amigos is prepping to be reborn as Invasion Ice House — a tipster tells Swamplot that the new owner wants to make the space into the “cool neighborhood hangout” that the area “desperately needs”. The 1,300-sq.-ft. building, formerly violet (and even-more-formerly lemon-yellow), has been repainted a dusty blue behind the sci-fi mural now adorning the front.

Invasion manager Monique Ramos applied for a TABC beer and wine license last month; a closer look at the signs posted on the space indicates that the interplanetary colonists will bring along Tex-Mex provender in the form of the Tako Box food truck.

Photo of 823 Dumble St.: Swamplot inbox

 

Cosmic Facelifts
01/04/16 1:45pm

The Eagle, 611 Hyde Park Blvd, Avondale, Houston, 77006

A Saturday-afternoon fire has temporarily flushed Montrose bar The Eagle from its roost at 611 Hyde Park Blvd — day-drinkers at the hotspot’s newish location reported smelling smoke and seeing lights flicker just before a manager ran downstairs to the first-floor bar area in the converted Depression Era-home to hustle patrons and staffers out. Owner Jay Allen told KTRK’s Deborah Wrigley that the permit had been approved for an already-installed sprinkler system in the building, but the City hadn’t hooked up the water yet. (No injuries were reported.)

Despite heavy smoke and fire damage to the second and third floors and water damage to the first, owner Jay Allen vows that the club will swoop back to its Montrose aerie (pictured above during the 2015 Pride season) as soon as possible. Meanwhile, the Eagle is screaming again (albeit only on Sundays) at its old bayouside digs downtown — “the dungeon” in the basement space at 709 Franklin — until repairs on the Hyde Park building are completed.

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Back To the Underground
12/18/15 3:45pm

3 GLASS AND STEEL CONDO TOWERS FOR COTTAGE GROVE Residents Lounge at Proposed Condo Tower, I-10 at Shepherd Dr., Heights, Houston, 77007Backed by unnamed foreign investors and still seeking a few more, pro-cyclist-turned-chiropractor-turned-Realtor Dr. Fabian Trujillo recently told Paul Takahashi of HBJ about his newest project: 3 glass-and-steel condo towers (the tallest at 35 stories) meant for the northeast corner of Shepherd Dr. and I-10, just east of Cottage Grove. Amenities accessible to inhabitants of the as-yet-unnamed trio (designed by “an Italian architect”) would include a pet area, on-site daycare, rooftop pools, a wine storage facility, and — above the 2-story penthouses atop the tallest tower — a helipad. Prices would start at $230,000 for 1,200 sq.-ft. units and rise to $1.2 million for the 3,200-sq.-ft. penthouses, which may or may not include private pools. The drawing above shows a “resident’s lounge”; no site plans, addresses, or exterior renderings have been released, which makes fixing the proposal on a map into a fun Google Earth guessing game the corner in question currently contains a Shell station, Lonestar Orthopedics, the last surviving HoJo inside Beltway 8, the brand-new Johnstone Supply building, several small crops of townhomes, and a vaguely New York-shaped wooded tract owned mostly by the Harris County Flood Control District. Trujillo plans to open a sales office as soon as late next year, after finding “additional private investors from Central America as well as China”. [Houston Business Journal] Rendering: Fabian Trujillo via HBJ  

12/18/15 2:45pm

96 SECONDS OF ANIMATED ARGUMENTS AGAINST MINIMUM PARKING REQUIREMENTS, ENDORSED BY A CANADIAN CITY COUNCIL Meanwhile, in Ottawa: Foes of minimum parking requirements, particularly those hoping to bring around their perennial Internet nemeses, are getting some animated ammunition from the U.S.’s neighbors to the north. The City of Ottawa is working on an overhaul of its zoning and parking by-laws, many of which date from as long ago as 1964; the city’s Planning and Growth Management department has released a 96-second video contending that high parking minimums rob neighborhoods of character and charm, encourage bigger buildings where smaller ones might do, hinder pedestrians and cyclists, and eat up space that could be used for other purposes. “Ottawa’s growing up — it’s time our parking rules did too. [City of Ottawa]

12/15/15 10:45am

LAST CHANCE LOOMS TO MAIL ON YALE Yale St. Post Office Closure NoticeRegular customers of the seriously-named Heights Finance Station US post office at 1050 Yale St. got an early Christmas present this month: a letter from management, tucked into each P.O. box with care, informing them that the branch is shutting down at the end of the month. The facility will dispense its last book of stamps at 5 P.M. on December 30; come 2016, Heights-area postal operations will be consolidated at the remodeled T.W. House Carrier Annex at Bevis and W. 19th St. in the distant wilds of northern Shady Acres, a 2-mile drive northwest from Yale station. The 6,161 sq.-ft. Yale building is for sale; the property occupies an acre of central Heights turf, standing across W. 11th Street from neo-diner Lola and across Yale from open-any-day-now ice house 8 Row Flint. [Previously on Swamplot] Photo: Swamplot inbox; Notice: MKultra25 via HAIF

12/09/15 11:30am

Typhoon Texas, 555 Katy Fort Bend Rd., Katy, TX, 77450

No need to evacuate the area, but aerial footage from the developers shows the Typhoon Texas waterpark currently brewing at 555 Katy Fort Bend Rd, just south of I-10 on 43 acres of Katy Mills Mall-adjacent land. Ground was broken on August 20, and the park (pictured conceptually above) is slated to make landfall on May 27, just before the start of Atlantic hurricane season.

Aquatic amusements will include a 1,500-ft. lazy river, facilities for slideboarding (which turns going down a waterslide into a competitive sport), facilities for regular sliding, a 48-foot-tall play structure, and a 27,000-sq.-ft. wave pool. (That’s larger than the one at the New Braunfels Schlitterbahn, for those of you keeping score.) Typhoon backers hope that the park will become a regional draw along the lines of the 3 Schlitterbahns, Spring’s Splashtown, and Astroworld (RIP).

This oddly-soothing drone video captures the sense of calm over the developing theme park:

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Suburban Hurricane Hunting
12/08/15 3:30pm

Ivy Lofts Rendering, Leeland at Live Oak, East Downtown, Houston

“Some buzz” has made its way back to the Ivy Lofts developers since news of the plans for Houston’s tiniest condos began to spread — so much buzz, in fact, that Novel Creative Development is responding to the pushback with a change in sales tactics. The group announced in an email that Ivy Lofts buyers will have the option to lump 2 adjacent units together and customize the floorplan, giving residents more space if needed.

The promotion team is also working hard to rebrand the proposed floorplans with the names of famously dense cities, instead of describing the units by their size.  “It’s not fair to label these spaces by square footages,” says marketing director Brandon Vos in a RE/MAX press release. “We had to come up with new names since so many rooms double in usage.”

The newly internationalized units include The Tokyo, the project’s itsy-bitsiest floor plan, which measures in at 300 sq. ft. and will be priced starting at $119,000.

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Doubling Up at Ivy Lofts
12/07/15 11:30am

Proposed Gilley's, SH 146, La Porte, TX Urban cowboys, hold your horses: A Gilley’s rebirth is in the works near the Ship Channel, but it will be neither as rootin’ nor as tootin’ as its world-famous Pasadena ancestor. Last month La Porte’s city council approved a proposed general plan for the La Porte Town Center, a $55-million mixed-residential-and-retail-and-sports-and-entertainment district anchored by a Mickey Gilley’s Family Entertainment Center.

Modern-day Wes Hightowers would best look elsewhere to shoot mezcal and brawl — a floorplan for the dancehall shows that the 50,000-sq.-ft. facility is geared towards more wholesome pastimes, offering “Branston-type stage performances”, roller skating, laser tag, billiards, video games, boutique bowling, bumper cars, a Western duds shop and a cafe. The inevitable mechanical bull is located by the entrance to the restrooms:

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East Side Town Center
12/03/15 10:45am

Tin Hall Dancehall, 14800 Tin Hall Rd, Cypress, 77429

Cypress may be losing a piece of its history: 126-year-old Tin Hall, Harris County’s oldest and largest country dancehall (and perennial first listing among area attractions on the Cypress community’s Wikipedia page). The venue is slated to close its doors on New Year’s Day.

The 24,000-sq.-ft. facility sports a 4,400-sq.-ft. dance floor on the second story, and sits on 40 ac. of wooded land surrounded by suburbs on two sides and the Longwood Golf Club on another. The property was sold last December to an entity that shares a Woodway address with McGuyer Homebuilders.

A New Year’s Eve bash is billed as Tin Hall’s last public gathering — at least in its current locale. A spokesperson for the dancehall said on Facebook that they hope the hall can be moved in pieces and rebuilt:

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Dancehall Blues
12/01/15 1:30pm

Meteor, 2306 Genesee St, Montrose, Houston

Wholesale changes could be coming to East Montrose next summer, if all goes according to the grand lower-Fairview plans of restaurateur-turned-developer Fred Sharifi. The stated goal for his latest development — planned along 3 blocks of Fairview stretching from Taft to Genesee — is to bring a little more diurnal activity to the area, better known for its narrow, potholed streets and vibrant nightlife. That nightlife seems likely to dim, as the new plans call for the eventual extinguishing of Meteor, a mainstay of Houston’s drag community.

“We are not going to have any bars in the neighborhood,” Sharifi recently told Mark Boyle of KPRC, apparently classifying his own Max’s Wine Dive on Fairview at Taft as either beyond the neighborhood or not a bar. Sharifi’s other nearby holdings on Fairview include Gratifi and Cuchara, the Mexico City-style restaurant with rule cards for kiddos.

A 5- or 6-story parking garage perched atop 10,000 sq. ft. of office and retail space (labeled “E” in the rendering below), is proposed for the Meteor site at 2302-2308 Genesee St.:

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East Montrose Overhaul
12/31/14 10:00am

ruchis-corner-demo

ruchis-corner-demoUSE

Reader Sean McManus was on the spot for yesterday’s demolition proceedings at the southwest corner of W. Alabama St. and S. Shepherd Dr., where Roeder’s Pub, Ruchi’s taqueria, Fly High Little Bunny jewelry store and the River Oaks Dry Cleaners are being swept away in favor of a CVS pharmacy.

“As I was taking [the pictures], one of the deconstruction workers asked if he could help me,” McManus writes. “I told him that I was just taking a couple of quick photos. His response:Pfft… Memories.’”

More hot demo porn after the jump:

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Fly High, Little Ruchi and Roeder
12/30/14 3:00pm

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alabama-marshall-demo12810-mcduffie300

Chomp goes the excavator on a portion of the 3 adjacent 1950s and ’60s-era complexes at 1920 W. Alabama St., 1924 Marshall St. (pictured at left), and 2810 McDuffie St., right across the street from the Alabama Icehouse and just south of Admiral Linens.

In late July residents of the 3 complexes were told to move out by September 1, so that new owners City Centre at Midtown, an affiliate of developers Dolce Living, could be begin tearing down the 2-story buildings to clear the 1.58 acre parcel for one 6-story, 258-unit luxury apartment building.

Though it will be situated in the western edge of Montrose’s Winlow Place area, the building will be named City Centre at Midtown.

Here is a rendering released to the media in the days after the 35-day eviction notices went out:

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Making Way For Montrose’s CityCentre At Midtown