07/16/18 5:00pm

A row of 3 tall windows now opens up the Fairview-St.-side of the former McGowen Cleaners, currently being converted into a health-minded restaurant dubbed Vibrant on the corner of Morse St. As for a patio shown cut into the building’s windowed corner in earlier renderings from architect Lake Flato — it’s yet to be installed. But a bunch of other outdoor features such as shrubs, grasses, and the beds that hold them are now in place outside the structure.

They’ve taken over the frontage previously occupied by chopped-up pavement:

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Hyde Park
07/16/18 12:30pm

On deck for the Berryhill Shopping Center on the corner of Westheimer and Revere: Stanmore River Oaks, an 8-story apartment building planned in place of the site’s existing tenants Antique Pavilion, Prism Cleaners, and the original Berryhill Baja Grill. This Thursday, Houston’s city planning commission will consider the developer’s request to slide the planned building (depicted at top from the north) up to sit just 10 ft. from Westheimer — closer than the existing strip pictured above, behind the variance sign that’s now up on the property.

If the commission signs off, landscaping could go up too along the roadway in the fashion depicted below:

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Stanmore River Oaks
07/16/18 10:00am

LAST NIGHT’S ROOFTOP SMOKE SHOW AT THE SUSANNE APARTMENTS Update, 2 p.m.: A spokesperson for The Susanne’s owner, the Finger Companies, tells Swamplot that the fire was caused by a “flying sky lantern,” not by faulty piping. According to the spokesperson, 2 Susanne residents launched the decorative airborne device from the complex’s parking garage, but “the wind unexpectedly caused the lantern to land on the roof of the apartment building along the West Alabama driveway and burned long enough to cause a fire on the roof itself.” The 2 residents called 911 and later reported its cause to fire department arson investigators. A loose rooftop gas pipe sparked this scene at The Susanne Apartments on the corner of W. Alabama and Dunlavy last night at around 9 p.m. Firefighters choked off the blaze by shutting off a valve that fed the pipe — reports the Chronicle — but not before smoke damaged portions of the 8-story building’s top floor. One apartment sustained some water damage, too, but thanks to a layer of steel on the roof — none of the flames made it inside. No firefighters were harmed — and though hundreds evacuated, all residents remained uninjured as well. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Swamplox inbox

07/13/18 5:00pm

Harris County and the trailblazing Buffalo Bayou Partnership will soon clear the way for a new trail segment on the south side of the bayou by demolishing the vacant 1119 Commerce Building warehouse along with portions of the inmate processing center to its east. Pictured above, 1119 Commerce St. spans the width between San Jacinto St. and the Fannin St. bridge at which the existing trail terminates. Harris County Flood Control district bought the building in 2010 as part of its efforts to smooth out that sharp oxbow where White Oak and Buffalo bayous meet and allow more water to flow through Downtown.

But a lot of that water ended up flowing through the building itself, dampening its below-street levels on at least 4 occasions since the county’s purchase. The year after a 2015 checkup found that the structure’s lower-level steel columns were “95 percent rusted,” the flood control district axed its lease with former tenant Quiznos in preparation to bring down the 94-year-old house, originally built for the Texas Packing Company.

After the trail takes over the lot occupied by the not-yet-demolished building, it’ll butt up next against the adjacent Harris County Inmate Processing Center at 1201 Commerce:

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Jailbreak
07/13/18 2:00pm

See that faint watermark in the aerial photo taken from up on the balcony? That’s the lap pool at the Parkside at Memorial Apartments just south of Memorial Dr., buried under more water than it’s designed to hold after the release of the Addicks and Barker reservoirs last August. Throughout the first floor of the surrounding buildings, the tide peaked at over 5-and-a-half ft. Workers spent the last 9 months helping the 4-year-old complex make a comeback; its leasing center officially reopened late last month — and on-site amenities now look less divey and more like the refurbished lap pool shown in the photo at top.

Other aquatic areas that took on more than they could handle include the complex’s other pool:

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The Deep End
07/13/18 10:00am

YOUR ODDS OF WINNING A YEAR’S SUPPLY OF CHICKEN SANDWICHES AT CHICK-FIL-A’S NEXT PEARLAND GRAND OPENING One in 1,365, a little slimmer than the chance of landing heads on a coin toss 10 times in a row. The Chick-fil-A in question, Pearland’s fifth, opens at Hwy. 288 and Aldine-Fort Bend Rd. on July 25, and in keeping with custom, the store is giving away 52 free #1 meals (chicken sandwich, medium Waffle Potato Fries, and a medium drink) to a group of 100 lucky loyalists selected from those who spend the night before camped out at the location, reports the Chronicle’s Dana Burke. This time though, the franchise is taking measures to ensure that only hometown competitors 18-and-up get access to the prize by limiting eligibility by zip code. The challengers: 77584, 77581, 77588, 77578, 77048, and 77047 — home to 136,500 legal adult residents of Pearland, Brookside Village, Shadow Creek Ranch, Manvel, and parts of Southeast Houston including Crestmont. To keep things competitive, reports Burke: “All participants must remain in their designated spots the entire time, with the exception of bathroom breaks.” [Houston Chronicle] Photo of 2016 Chick-fil-A First 100 event in Prestonwood, Texas: Chick-fil-A

07/12/18 12:00pm

Update: A Swamplot reader notes that BurgerIM originated in Israel — and that in Hebrew, the suffix “-im” adds a plural meaning to the word it ends. Read with that grammar in mind, the restaurant’s name translates roughly to “burgers.”

Although BurgerIM’s previous attempts to come online next to Subway in the corner of the strip center at Richmond and Shepherd were met with red tags from city inspectors, those notices have now been taken down — reports an employee at the neighboring Honey Art Cafe — and a building permit filed yesterday grants the new instant-messenger-themed restaurant clearance to proceed with renovations to the space.

Previous high-tech retailers in the endcap include Clear Wireless and Wireless Toyz; analogue merchandiser Gold and Silver Buyers held the place down in between their tenures and Mattress Overstock retired from the space most recently, at the end of last year. When the burger place opens, it’ll be the franchise’s first inner-Loop spot, topping off its existing Cypress and W.-Lake-Houston-at-Beltway-8 locations.

Photo: Fox E.

Strip Steak
07/12/18 10:00am

One keenly observant HAIFer who’s been watching for signs of change at 5521 Navigation Blvd. has now pieced together what’s happening there: it’s planned to house a new beer venue dubbed Symbolic Brewing. Renovations haven’t begun yet on the empty brick warehouse — shown see-through from its east side in the photo above — but according to a recent Facebook post from the business, brewers are now in talks with contractors about what to do with the place.

The building sits on narrow, just-under-an-acre plot that fronts Navigation — as shown in the photo at top — and backs up to a rail line running along the southern oxbow in Buffalo Bayou dubbed Turkey Bend. Roughly five times its size is the Farmer Brothers coffee plant across the street, where production emits strong notes of java.

Photos: Swamplox inbox

East End Uppers and Downers
07/11/18 4:45pm

Victorian’s Barbecue has now made its mark at 19 N. York St., including a bovine play on that lovable Austin mural; it’s featured on the East End building’s McAshan-St.-side. The former food truck business put its vehicle up on Craiglist last month and began blackening the exterior of the stationary spot it plans to take over.

Both its street-fronting sides started out pink (as shown above), with some green in the rear:

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Keep East End Werid
07/11/18 3:00pm

A new downtown hole-in-the-wall is making its debut at the foot of the city’s longstanding famous buildings. Among all the openings in the house now standing in the middle of Sam Houston Park, the most accessible one (ADA-certified) is at the end of the ramp pictured above. Cherry Moving was the first to add holes to the building: it inserted the more conventional windows after scooping up the 80-year old, 16-by-24-ft. single-story from the East End in order to resell it. The buyers: serial house tweakers Dan Havel and Dean Ruck, who perforated its façades and lined the bubbles with PVC piping to make them watertight.

You can see the piping’s light blue tint from the angle below:

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Say Cheese
07/11/18 12:30pm

A fresh batch of renderings released by Midway paints the clearest picture yet of what’s planned for the 136-acre former KBR campus that stretches along Buffalo Bayou, between Hirsch Rd. and Jensen Dr. Cobbled together from a mixture of glass and other materials, the tallest structure shown in the image at top spikes up behind a lower-slung retail building that fronts a junction of walking paths intersecting in a central park. You can see a further-away view of the airy column, foregrounded by street-level retailers in the view above.

A confection-colored map put out by the developer last month included a long strip of green along Buffalo Bayou’s north bank reserved for park space.

It’s now reappearing in the view below from up above the waterway:

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Great Glass Spike
07/11/18 9:30am

WHAT’S ON TAP ACROSS FROM THE MATCH A building permit filed just recently reveals the latest tenant in the group that’s been ganging up in the ground floor of the double-block-long Mid Main Lofts over the past few months: The Brass Tap. With 8 locations already open in Texas — but none in Houston — the Florida-born, alloy-themed franchise had been looking around town for a good spot to make its local debut, reported the Chronicle back in January. It’s settled on 922 Holman St., putting it around the corner from newcomer Kura Revolving Sushi Bar on Main St. (pictured above in advance of its opening earlier this year), close to that other bar now cropping up on the apartment’s Travis-St.-side, and directly across the street from the MATCH. The number of actual taps that can be expected to operate inside: roughly 60, with supplementary bottled offerings bringing the total beer count to about 200 national and international selections. [Previously on Swamplot] Photo of Kura Revolving Sushi Bar: Natalie W

07/10/18 3:30pm

Surf’s up at El Segundo Swim Club, the Second Ward swimming pool bar that’s now soaking up the sun on the formerly vacant lot at 5180 Avenue L, north of Navigation Blvd. The watering hole has been inviting swimmers in to take a dip over the past few days through a series of ticketed preview events that are planned to continue through this weekend.

Shade comes courtesy of the bright orange umbrellas now surrounding the pool deck — in place of the folded-up, gray ones shown above during the site’s transition phase back in February. A few modified shipping containers give visitors room to get out of the sun, too — except for the one on the left in the photo at top; it houses the bar.

The 15,000-sq.-ft. lot didn’t have much flora before the redo, but that’s changed thanks to these transplants:

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Wet Bar
07/10/18 12:15pm

The bandana-clad figure atop the trailer pictured above demonstrates the type of behavior that’s expected from patients at the ReadyPet clinic, parked and open for business in the parking lot on the corner of Stella Link and S. Braeswood Blvd. While the vehicle itself has been there since late 2016, its rooftop topping didn’t arrive until the following year. Among the services offered inside: ear cleanings, blood work, nail trimmings, vaccinations, and other routine veterinary procedures for dogs as well as cats, despite their lack of representation on the exterior.

The clinic’s location puts it just north of the former Preferred Bank branch indicated by the standalone yellow rectangle on the left in the map above. A bit further away is the largest storefront in the Stella Link Shopping Center, home now to the clinic’s affiliate, the Houston Pets Alive animal shelter.

It took over the former Sellers Bros. grocery store — pictured below — that closed down in the strip in 2015:

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Top Dog
07/10/18 10:00am

BOBCAT TEDDY’S NEW BCYCLE STATION IS READY TO ROLL The recent docking of a new BCycle station outside the former Jimmy’s turned Bobcat Teddy’s Ice House on the corner of White Oak Dr. and Threlkeld St. brings the total number of bike hubs in the system to around 60. Its installation was supported in part by a fundraiser held at the bar last month during which representatives from Texas Gold Sprint’em — an operator that hosts stationary bike races complete with emcees and accompanying AV equipment — were on hand to organize competition. Now that road-ready vehicles are on-site at the venue, they fill in a gap along White Oak Dr., where no other BCycle station currently exists. [Houston City Planning Department; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Houston City Planning Department