09/19/18 3:45pm

The chain’s new 3004 Yale St. location opens next Friday, September 28 in the strip behind the 4-week-old grocery store and its parking lot off 610. Just off-camera to the left of the gym’s spot is the Verizon store that’s already doing business in the retail building.

It’s holding down the fort all by itself right now, but once Orangetheory moves in next door a bunch more tenants are expected to follow:

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Independence Heights
09/19/18 10:00am

A Swamplot reader sends this photo of an excavator limbering up before the main event at 1638 Bonnie Brae St. Sandcastle Homes bought the nearly 90-year-old building in July and filed plans to build a new house on the property last month. It’s nestled within the Montrose sub-neighborhood known as Castle Court, a few doors down from Dunlavy St.

Photo: Swamplox inbox

Castle Court Crackup
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-AREA 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 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
09/13/18 4:00pm

The second Ace Hardware liquidation of the week will leave behind a slightly larger hole than the one on Westheimer: 19,930 sq.-ft. as opposed to 18,900. Pictured above is the retail co-op’s Hwy. 6 location in the Providence Plaza shopping center off Bissonnet. Management’s selling off everything it’s got left there now, reports a Swamplot reader. And the post office inside the store has already shut down for good.

Before a few years ago, the storefront entrance looked like a smaller version of Dollar Tree’s next door:

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Retooling
09/13/18 1:00pm

A FINAL FAREWELL TO THE FORMER HOUSTON PRESS BUILDING The former alternative newspaper HQ at 1621 Milam St. that’s also done stints as an auto dealership will be demolished, reports the Chronicle’s Craig Hlavaty.  Back when the Houston Press moved into it 15 years ago, the structure’s parking-lot sides were unadorned; artist Suzanne E. Sellers slapped her trompe-l’œil mural onto the north and east facades in 1994. Along Milam, however, things haven’t changed as much since the building’s first tenant Shelor Motor Company opened up in the ’20s — according to former Press staffer Abrahán Garza. Even its original 1920s glass windows — he reported — stayed put on the second and third floors through 2010. Now construction barriers are up around the whole block, and the property owner Chevron tells Hlavaty that a demolition permit is under review by the city. The oil company bought the 38,000-sq.-ft. structure in 2013, the same year Houston Press staff left it for a new spot on the corner of La Branch and McGowen. [Houston Chronicle] Photo: Capital Realty  

09/13/18 10:45am

 

The mark of Aldi now appears at 9525 Westheimer, smack in the middle of the strip where Batie’s Ace Hardware is going out of business. Liquidation sales began there on Tuesday — reports a Swamplot reader — with the goal of creating an 18,900-sq.-ft. hole in the portion of the building pictured at top, adjacent to Party City.

Currently about half a dozen Aldis are open inside the Beltway, with additional reinforcements scheduled to arrive soon.

Photo: Swamplox inbox. Map: Brixmor

Westheimer Near Gessner
09/12/18 4:30pm

It’s been just about a week since 4006 Timber Falls Ct. hit the market and already some lucky buyer has the place — along with its many constituent parts — nearly locked up. Pictured above is the double-high living room that sits at the front of the 3-bed, 2-and-a-half bath house, north of Westpark Dr. and west of Addicks Clodine. Despite its already-high level of Gaudí-ness, there’s plenty more where that came from.

Just back up and you’ll start to see the whole picture:

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4006 Timber Falls Ct.
09/12/18 1:00pm

Although only one includes living space, both structures shown separated by St. Charles St. in the rendering at top are intended to give people spaces to live. The big one — depicted in more detail above — is Kirksey Architecture’s 5-story design for an affordable housing operations center, to be placed directly across the street from 20 units of actual housing. The Midtown Redevelopment Authority bought the vacant land for both sites along Elgin in 2015, back when the renovation of neighboring Emancipation Park was still taking shape.

On the left in the aerial below, you can see the parcel where the HQ is planned across from the park and its on-site Emancipation Community Center:

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Third Ward