04/28/17 4:15pm

A reader alerted Swamplot back around February to the removal of that the cluster of classic cars generally visible inside the mysterious former Southwest Lincoln-Mercury dealership on US 59 a block southwest of Hillcroft Ave. — you know, the one with the glassy peaked showroom that’s often illuminated but usually empty except for the lone security guard (as the Houston Press’s Aaron Reiss documented in 2014). Some of the cars made a return soon after and have been sighted frequently since then — but as of early April the whole property is now up for lease.

Colliers International is listing the mid-sixties building and its 7.44-acre surrounding lot complex, previously owned by late Oilers owner Bud Adams (and still owned by the corporate entity that now owns the Titans.) The Lincoln-Mercury dealership itself — which opened as Southwest Dodge — shut down some time after it filed a 2002 lawsuit against nextdoor amusement park and unskilled minigolf hotbed Celebration Station, alleging thousands of dollars in property damage caused by multi-colored golf balls flying over the fence. (The offending minigolf course is now part of Zuma Fun Center, visible on the bottom right in the top photo.)

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Revving Back Up in Sharpstown
04/28/17 2:30pm

Sure, nervous economists and friends, go ahead and fret about how the coming robot revolution is likely to decimate the availability of middle-class jobs. But the likely wide-ranging effects of technological change are notoriously difficult to predict. For example, after viewing the dramatic promotional video above, which brings to the treed expanse of a 0.78-acre vacant lot in The Woodlands the full power of remote-controlled robot-camera cinematic glory, does another possibility come to mind? With this marriage of drone footage, music-video-intro aesthetics, desktop video software, and soundtrack punch, has a Woodlands-area real estate agent stumbled upon the secret to unleashing desires hidden deep inside us all . . . to feed a new vacant land boom?

As delicate orchestral swells matched to lingering aerial pans and zooms tug at our emotions and the full majesty of 67 N. Glenwild Cir. (conveniently located  between The Woodlands Preparatory School and the entry gate to the Club at Carlton Woods Creekside) comes into view, can we imagine a new — dare we dream? — vacant-lot-buying frenzy, the wider availability of new technologies enabling craftily orchestrated drone footage to surround and tempt us, and transforming this once dowdy sector?

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Flyover Country, The Woodlands
04/28/17 9:30am

6529 Beverly Hill St., Woodlake/Briarmeadow, Houston, 77057

The recently remonikered Margaret Long Wisdom High School is prepping for its scheduled student body transplant as the school year winds down. The shot above shows the main entrance of the school’s almost-ready new building, tucked behind the old one along Hillcroft Ave. south of Beverly Hills St. That older structure, which cut its Confederate ties about a year ago, should be getting erased altogether starting in June, a reader involved with the project tells Swamplot.

Here’s the flip side view of the glassy main entrance above, which should be unlocked in time for fall classes:

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Creeping South on Hillcroft
04/27/17 11:30am

Beheaded Trees at Lyric Center garage site, 440 Louisiana St., Downtown, Houston, 77002
 
A weekend wanderer sends a few photos of the new sprouts now poking out of some recently beheaded trees alongside the Lyric Centre parking garage construction site on Smith St. It’s unclear exactly when the shortening occurred, though a shot taken of the site back in late October seems to show at least a few of the trees still tall enough to peek over the construction fencing:

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Stumped Downtown
04/26/17 5:15pm

Construction at N. Shepherd at I-10, Cottage Grove, Houston, 77007

For now, this is the new order of things on the block between Shepherd and Durham drives along the northern I-10 feeder road. The former Fresh Car Wash, whose owners appear to be the ones behind that combo car wash and hookah bar at the corner of Dallas and Taft now going by the same name, was knocked down some time after it showed up on the demo roster last month (paired with the nextdoor branch of Big 10 Tires). In their places will go what could well be the third Inner Loop incursion of Raising Cane’s, which has now staked out more than 20 spots around Houston for its steadily creeping chicken fingers.

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Nesting on I-10
04/26/17 2:45pm

Help WantedAre Houston’s peculiarities something you’re passionate about? Do you enjoy delving into this city’s neighborhoods, architecture, and strip-mall secrets? Would you like an editorial position that puts you in prime position to sift through, explore, and explain the latest happenings in the local real estate landscape? Would you enjoy interacting with a dedicated and highly engaged fan base of tipsters, readers, and commenters — as well as other site contributors?

Good news for you, then: Swamplot is looking for an editor!

This is the perfect gig for someone who can research, report, and write quickly and well; who’s attentive to detail, careful with facts, and has a good sense of humor; who can work independently but also bring out the best from collaborators in a small editorial team; and who can produce accurate and entertaining posts at a steady clip. We’re seeking someone who understands this site and how it works (or can come up to speed on that quickly) — but who also has the vision, ideas, and energy necessary to help Swamplot evolve into something better.

This is a full-time position; salary will be commensurate with experience. (If you are a real estate professional, though, this is not the job for you.)

Here’s how to apply:

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A Job Posting
04/26/17 2:00pm

Krispy Kreme shell, 4601 Spencer Hwy., Pasadena, TX 77504

Krispy Kreme shell, 4601 Spencer Hwy., Pasadena, TX 77504The pointy partially built retail shell spotted last August— empty, glassless, and seemingly left to fallow in the field at 4061 Spencer Hwy. — has since been covered over with the usual Krispy Kreme trappings, Lauren Meyers notes. Construction accessories were still parked on-site as recently as last week, and the grass growing freely beyond the Comerica Bank hedge was fully scraped away some time early this spring, presumably as part of the parking lot growth process. The site has yet to be added back to the company’s list of planned grand openings, however. And that other partially-baked location, just inside the South Loop west of Main St., was still wrapped in little more than its summer Tyvek as of Easter.

Photos: Lauren Meyers

Spencer Hwy. Dressup
04/26/17 11:00am

Rendering of DC Partners Allen Pkwy. Mixed Use Site, Allen Pkwy. at Gillette St., Fourth Ward, Houston, 77019

Rendering of Tianqing Group/DC Partners Allen Pwky. Mixed Use Site, Allen Pkwy. at Gillette St., Fourth Ward, Houston, 77019

New renderings of the hotel-office-condo-retail hodgepodge in the works on the northern segment of the former city park and waste incinerator site at Allen Pkwy. and Gillette St.  were released into the digital wild by DC Partners this week. The buildings appear smoother and sleeker overall than some of the possible early depictions turned up last August (like the Downtown-facing view shown second above for comparison), though some elements of the cluster also appear a bit shorter and stouter. The main tower along Allen Pkwy. has been given a twist in the middle, with a floorcount appearing to number somewhere in the 40-plus range; the lowrise retail complex next door is shown with a bridge over the parkway leading directly into Buffalo Bayou Park.

Perennial rendering sleuth Urbannizer also dug up a different view of the new scene over on HAIF, showing how the whole bundle would fit in amid the Federal Reserve complex, the park, and the section of Fourth Ward surrounding what’s left of the Freedman’s Town Historical District:

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Like a Bridge Over Allen Pkwy.
04/25/17 3:15pm

Water Main Strike during Demolition of Town & Country, 10565 Katy Fwy., CityCentre, Houston

Following that recent gentle but firm excavator tipover of the last bits of the Town & Country III mod office midrise near CityCentre, demo work on the broader office complex has moved underground — apparently far enough underground to puncture a water main, a camera wielder on the scene speculates this afternoon. As of 2pm, word from the reader was that water was still flowing, “and has made a nice-sized pool,” filling up the footprint of a mid-demo former underground parking garage structure (and providing lakeside views to parts of Trammell Crow’s CityCentre branch of its Alexan apartment chain.)

fuller sequence of garage take-apart and fill-up over the last few days is laid out below, starting with a rainy Tax Day shot facing the Alexan and the I-10-Beltway-8 tangle:

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Lakes of I-10
04/25/17 11:30am

Transmission Line Tower Installation, Westpark Dr., 77081

Transmission Line Tower Installation, Westpark Dr., 77081Bits and pieces of the electrical towers formerly stringing CenterPoint’s transmission lines between 59 and Westpark Dr. were spotted laying around just west of West Loop 610 this weekend, though the feet of at least one of the structures were still standing at the ready. The old towers appear to have been fully relieved of their duties at this point, 3 months or so after the taller, sleeker towers started going skyward. Here’s one of the last full-length portraits featuring both kinds of towers, taken in the final days before the changeover began in earnest:

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West Loop Heights
04/24/17 4:00pm

Proposed Blossom Hotel on Lehall St. at Bertner Ave., Cecil Street Courts, Houston, 77030

1128 Lehall St., Cecil Street Courts, Houston,  77030The little house on the corner with Lehall St. is no longer standing in the would-be shadow of that hotel planned on the 7100 block of Bertner Ave. (seeing as it’s no longer standing at all). Developers with Zhejiang Blossom Tourism Group Houston had originally sketched up a 9-story hotel with a footprint dipping around the holdout corner lot. Adolfo Pesquera notes over at VBX that the latest plans now show a 16-story structure, and an expanded footprint of the site was okayed for commercial use by the planning commission after the property sold.

Here’s a glance back at what the hotel looked like in its earlier iteration, minus a few floors and motarboards:

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Sprouting South of Brays Bayou
04/24/17 11:00am

Demolition of Houston Chronicle Building 801 Texas Ave., Downtown Houston

That’s pretty much it for the surface-dwelling sections of the Houston Chronicle‘s former bundle of headquarters structures at 801 Texas Ave. — a reader captured the minor dustup above on Friday, and activity on the site is now mostly at or below ground level. Work to shore up the section of basement the district court ordered Hines’s Block 58 to leave behind (for tunnel use by Linbeck-controlled neighbor and plaintiff Theater Square) was mostly wrapped up last fall, according to some December court filings.

Other documents filed as part of the case show that the legal compromise set up last summer (which allowed the demo of the Chronicle building to go forward after all) has hit a few bumps since then: Theater Square filed a motion to find Block 58 in contempt of court late last year, and a trial appears to be scheduled for June.

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Texas Ave. Tunnel Tussle
04/21/17 2:00pm

Former Holiday Inn, Days Inn, and Heaven on Earth Plaza Hotel, 801 St. Joseph Pkwy. at Travis St., Downtown Houston

Artist and regular neck craner Bob Russell took a moment this week to capture the various works currently on display to Pierce Elevated drivers on the south side of the 30-story highrise at 801 Saint Joseph Pkwy. (former host of a variety of hotels and Vedic teaching initiatives before the building entered its more recent era of abandonment and creeping decrepitude). The uptick in broken windows in the last few months doesn’t appear to have much of a connection to the most recent plans for the stripping and remodeling of the building back into some flavor of hotel, as proposed this time around by SFK Development. As far as other signs of change, the name scrawled across the facade’s central panels has been edited since another tipster’s drive-by back in February:

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04/20/17 12:30pm

Former Highpoint North Campus, 11902 Spears Rd., Spring, TX, 77067

The 20,000-sq.-ft. building at 11902 Spears Gears Rd. is getting cleaned up for a new gig as a school for Harris County students in recovery from addiction and substance abuse. The spot formerly housed the county’s Highpoint School North, one of several campuses around town that took in expelled students, but has been shut down since 2015. The county Department of Education signed off on the new use for the building this week, and says the school should open in September with capacity for up to 30 post-rehab students for now. The building sits just north of Davis High School, tucked next to the 2-acre lot that’s been built up since 2014 into the grounds of Cực Lạc Buddhist Temple.

Photos: Harris County Department of Education

New Paths Near Greens Bayou
04/19/17 4:30pm

2241 Richmond Ave., Upper Kirby, Houston, 77098

Pothole in Parking Lot for Hobbit Cafe, Blue Fish House, and Yelapa Playa Mexicana, 2241 Richmond Ave., Upper Kirby, HoustonThe folks at Rim Tanon (the Thai place that recently replaced the former Blue Fish House sushi spot on Richmond) send word that the hole-spangled brick, asphalt, and rubble parking lot at the center of the Portsmouth Square restaurant clump has been freshly paved over. The spot, which won top honors on a 2011 list of Houston’s worst restaurant parking lots, was resurfaced from Richmond to Portsmouth St. just in time for Tax Day. Above and below are a couple of damp shots of the lot circa some 2010 gawking:

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Flattening the Competition