03/16/18 4:30pm

When the owner’s work is finished on what he’s calling the McGowen Container House, the stack of boxes just west of 59 will be a 4-story house with a carport at ground level and a terrace atop the blue Hanjin unit shown in the photo above. A few windows, doors, and portions of the staircase that will climb through the building’s east side have been installed, according to the blog for the project. Rough-in plumbing and some preliminary electrical wiring is finished as well, but the utilities aren’t on yet.

Here’s a view of the cargo hold from the east, near Hutchins St.:


Third Ward Freight
03/16/18 12:30pm

WHAT’S NEXT FOR THE THIRD WARD’S RIVERSIDE GENERAL HOSPITAL CAMPUS? The 3-acre Riverside General Hospital campus is home to 3 buildings: Houston’s first hospital for black patients fronting Elgin (pictured above) and a former nurses’ quarters along Holman (both opened in 1926 as the Houston Negro Hospital), as well as a newer 1961 hospital building. The entire facility closed in 2015 after its former CEO Earnest Gibson III was convicted of Medicare fraud. Earlier this week, the Harris County Commissioners Court voted to buy all 3 buildings. If they don’t become a part of the new mental health facility the county plans to open on the site, what purpose might the 2 older buildings serve? The neighborhood may get a chance to review smaller-scale proposals for those historic structures: a job training center, small business incubation facility, maker space, cultural museum, library, youth hostel, swing dance club, chess club, or dominoes club. UH architecture professor Alan Bruton tells Houston Matters host Craig Cohen that the Emancipation Economic Development Council — a Third Ward nonprofit — invited him to collect residents’ ideas for the space. His students next fall will create designs for some of those concepts; the Council may use them to raise money and rally support for the proposals. [Houston Public Media; audioPhoto of former Houston Negro Hospital building at 3204 Ennis St.: Ed Uthman [license]

03/15/18 2:45pm

YOUR GUIDE TO THE HOUSTON TOYS R US STORES NOW GETTING READY TO CLOSE As part of the bankruptcy filing it submitted this morning, Toys R Us announced plans to close or sell all of its 735 stores nationwide. Thirteen of those locations are in the Houston area: at the corner of Kirby and Old Spanish Trail, on Westheimer just east of Fountain View, in the Village Plaza at Bunker Hill shopping center on the Katy Fwy., in the Katy Mills mall, in the Houston Premium Outlets on 290 just east of the Grand Pkwy., on Beltway 8 just north of Fairmont Pkwy., in Pearland Town Center, in the Willowbrook Court shopping center next to the Willowbrook Mall, in Sugar Land’s Colony Square, in Baybrook Square on the Gulf Fwy., on the East Fwy. in Baytown across from the San Jacinto Mall, in Texas City’s Tanger Outlets on the Gulf Fwy., and in The Woodlands’ Pinecroft Center. Standalone Babies R Us locations are on the Katy Fwy. at N. Fry Rd., on Cypress Creek Pkwy. just west of I-45, on 59 northeast of First Colony Mall in Sugar Land, and on the Gulf Fwy. at El Dorado Blvd. in Friendswood. The OST and Westheimer Toys R Us boxes (both of which include in-store Babies R Us departments) measure 45,000 sq. ft. [USA Today] Photo of Toys R Us at 1212 Old Spanish Trail: Nhan N.

03/15/18 11:15am

Here’s another development that the Oxberry Group has planned: a strip center for the northwest corner of San Felipe and Chimney Rock Rd. dubbed Shops at Tanglewood. The 2-story retail building and its parking lot would go in place of 4 houses that currently occupy the corner east of the Gables Tanglewood apartments — one pair fronts San Felipe and the other sits along Chimney Rock, as you can sort of see in this map:


Residential Replacement
03/14/18 4:45pm

The Oxberry Group is ready to rechristen the vacant Gibbs Boats building at 1110 W. Gray St. as Rêve at Montrose: a new, patio-fronting shopping center. The boat business shuttered in the 11,696-sq.-ft. warehouse building it had occupied for 56 years after selling off the last of its fleet in 2014.

Major changes slated for the building now include a takedown of its shed-roofed portion closest to Montrose Blvd. In place of that area, outdoor seating — shown above in the rendering from Tipps Architecture — will line the street. A clock tower planted between the existing 1- and 2-story parts of the building would be its new high point. And at the north end of Gibbs’ former lot — next to the U-Plumb-It hardware store — a 2,630-sq.-ft. retail add-on would take the place of a yard once used for boat work.

The site plan below shows the addition (colored red) jutting out and separating the pedestrian plaza from a driveway to the planned parking lot:


Rêve at Montrose
03/14/18 11:45am

At least 4 different breeds are at play on the central lawn in front of Houston Dogbar & Boarding, but only humans are depicted with drinks in hand. Still, animals might be the ones that spend the most time in the new venue planned across from Hubcap Grill on W. 19th St.: preliminary permits filed for the project describe it as a “Dog Boarding House and Bar/Lounge.

A pet reception area borders the park on its west side, opposite the bar:


Booze and Hounds
03/13/18 3:30pm

The sheet metal façade backed by an assortment of shipping-container parts is now gone, and mountains of stuff have been removed from the longtime junk emporium at 317 W. 19th St. in the Heights, perhaps better known as the open-air building with a front but no roof that lent the shopping district its perhaps now diminished air of funk. The photo at top, sent Swamplot’s way by a flabbergasted reader, shows the now-vacant lot with everything removed. Below it, a rare aerial view from a few years ago reveals secret stashes maintained behind the lot’s corrugated streetfront.

But perhaps what you remember of this lot is different: a mysterious supply house behind whose shiny gate backdrops for hundreds of street scenes emerged over the years? Or a backdrop for fashion shoots?


03/13/18 12:00pm

The teeth, eyes, and . . . uh, overall shape of the new shopping center Braun Enterprises is planning for N. Shepherd and 24th St. can be considered taken care of, now that Lovett Dental, Eyes on the Heights Optometry, and Club Pilates have each signed leases for space in the development. That leaves 11,555 sq. ft. still available in 3 separate end-cap spots for any nail salon, podiatrist, or dermatology clinic that wants to fill out the theming for the complex, which would go on the block catty-corner to the H-E-B Heights Market currently under construction.

This would fit in with N. Shepherd’s ongoing transformation: Braun plans to demolish the Miller’s Auto Body Repair Experts facility (as of now still open for business) as well a building formerly occupied by Auto Electric Service on the site in order to construct the 24,000-sq.-ft. shopping center, which includes structured parking as well as a parking lot on the roof of one of the 2 buildings.

A full human-body-part-focused buildout for this planned complex at 2401 N. Shepherd Dr. isn’t so far-fetched: the latest renderings released for the development include generic signage for both a nail salon and a fitness club:


Body Shop to Body Shopping
03/12/18 4:00pm

A building permit filed recently on the Central Square Plaza complex that takes up the block of Travis St. between Gray and Webster reveals Kraftsmen Coffee as the latest restaurant slated for the renovated tower’s empty ground floor. Work to install plumbing for the 1,768-sq.-ft. space that the owners of coffee shop plan to take over began last year.

The photo at top views the west portion of the building’s ground floor, which sits about halfway down the block on Gray St. and faces Milam. A parking garage is off-camera to the right. Around the corner — on the building’s north side — a TABC flyer for Malawi’s Pizza still hangs in the window of the empty storefront on Gray where it was originally posted back in 2016:



Kraftsmen Coffee
03/12/18 10:30am

Banners for Cedars Tapas Bar — the new restaurant on its way to 403 W. Gray — are now covering up both the plywood board on the building’s forehead and the sign left over from Ship & Shield’s tenancy in the space. The Viking-themed restaurant abandoned the building last December, and property owner Braun Realty is now waiting on the new Lebanese bakery to move in.

Braun bought the the 2,055-sq.-ft. restaurant building in 2016, the same year Ship & Shield took it over from Byzantio’s. Since then, the developer has put up a new retail building on the once-vacant lot just east of restaurant, near Taft St. Its west side is visible beyond Cedars’ sign in the photo above.

Photos: Swamplot inbox

North Montrose Makeover
03/09/18 4:45pm

With a few exceptions, new buildings are required to sit back 25 ft. from their property lines along major thoroughfares in Houston —  lending the city’s feeder roads, for example, their familiar drive-right-up demeanor. But the Gold Quest Group wants to do things a little differently along the westbound Katy Fwy. feeder, west of T.C. Jester.

The rendering at top, from architecture firm BDC Nomadas, shows the feeder-hugging 5-story office building Gold Quest is proposing: its 3 stories of offices on top of 2 garage levels are set back just 10 ft. from the property line. A 10-ft.-deep berm would block most of the lower-level parking from street view. Not pictured: the garden planned atop its roof.


Off Shoulder
03/09/18 12:45pm

Crews are now clearing out the northern portion of the strip center at the corner of Airline Dr. and Parker Rd. that Kroger departed last year. The photo at top, sent in by a Swamplot reader, shows the no-longer-automatic doors fronting the former grocery store space next door to Tostada Regia, Yumar Beauty Salon, Texans Discount Liquor, and others.

A building permit filed just over a week ago on location at 6749 Airline lists its occupant as El Ahorro. The grocery chain specializing in Mexican foodstuffs already has one nearby spot in Northline — on Irvington Blvd. just north of Berry Rd.


Dietary Cleanse
03/09/18 11:00am

No longer the Eternal Food Ministry food pantry, the awninged brick building at 6801 Hwy. Blvd. is about to become Katy’s first board-game-themed brewery. The location is a short drive west from Katy High School and was abandoned when the food bank relocated to Pin Oak Rd. within the past few years. Now, the owners of the new competitive drinking venue, dubbed Wood for Sheep Brewing, are getting ready to resurface their parking lot and pipe in new plumbing for the 6,000-sq.-ft. building. Only a fifth of the space in the brewery will be devoted to its main feature: a pub and cafe area with a library of board games. The rest of it will be used for brewing, storage, offices, and other logistical functions.

Photos: Wood for Sheep Brewing

Wood for Sheep Brewing
03/08/18 4:00pm

Aerosol artist Enrique Figueroa Jr. — also known as Gonzo247 — is about 3 months into his work on a new version of the Rebirth of Our Nationality mural that once faced Canal St. between Norwood and Linwood streets in the East End. Leo Tanguma’s original 1973 work faded over time and was whitewashed last summer. He’s now providing Figueroa with some remote assistance on the redo.


A Fresh Coat
03/08/18 2:15pm

Construction fencing is now up in Uptown Park, marking the last call for cornices, pilasters, pediments, faked balcony windows, and assorted handcrafted Styrofoam façade detailing slated for removal as part of renovations planned for the vintage 1998 shopping center parked along the West Loop feeder road.

The new project — announced last October by owner Edens Investment Trust — will pare down the complex’s Olde World gewgaws, leaving behind simpler and more modern exteriors. Live oak trees are to be planted near some of the parking lots’ sunnier spots. (Former owner AmREIT’s plans for adding hotel and residential buildings to the complex were scrapped when Edens bought the entity in 2015.)

The 2-story space shown in the photo at top (next to Cafe Express) was abandoned by women’s wear store BB1 Classic at the end of last year. Soon, it will be remade into a restaurant dubbed Flower Child. The vacant, porticoed east side of the building in the northwest corner of the center — pictured above — is also now fenced. (Class, however, is still in session at the MISS Academy finishing school on the west side of the structure.)

This parking-space corral is now up at the building’s northeast corner:


Just a Trim Trim