01/20/17 11:00am

Demo of former MHMRA building, 2850 Fannin St., Midtown, Houston, 77003

The former Mental Health and Mental Retardation Association building at 2850 Fannin St. and its many murals are now rubble, a reader notes. The shot above catches the destroyed structure next to Sebastien Boileau’s Preservons la Creation mural across the street on the back of 2800 San Jacinto St., juxtaposed with what appears to be some carefully timed oncoming traffic to add that dramatic glow to the painted figure’s outstretched spray paint can. The reader also caught one of the excavators climbing atop its defeated adversary earlier in the day, beneath the giant cross of the St. Joseph Professional Building:

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Cycles of Midtown
01/19/17 4:15pm

Flooded Project Brays Construction Site, Brays Bayou at Main St.

If you have information regarding the whereabouts of the cheery orange digging machine spotted yesterday morning dipping its tracks into a brimming Brays Bayou, a concerned reader would like to hear it — the shot above is his last sighting of the machine, taken from the Main St. bridge. “When I looked today, it was gone. Any idea what happened to it?” 24 hours, of course, is plenty of time for someone to have taken the excavator somewhere warm to dry off, so no reason to assume anything particularly unfortunate transpired; the photo was taken around 8:30, a little over an hour after the water had begun to recede from its early morning crest, according to the Harris County Flood Control gauge readings at the Main St. bridge:

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No Reward
01/18/17 2:30pm

Spire Houston in former First Church of Christ, Scientist, 1720 Main St., Downtown, Houston, TX 77002First Church of Christ, Scientist, 1720 Main St., Downtown, Houston, TX 77002

Spire Houston in former First Church of Christ, Scientist, 1720 Main St., Downtown, Houston, TX 77002Steeple-themed nightclub and Swampies also-ran Spire is now up and running in Downtown’s converted First Church of Christ, Scientist at 1720 Main St., following last winter’s covert purchase by the group running Clé bar. The remodeled Mod space officially opened last weekend and is currently advertising upcoming events on a marquee along Jefferson St., including a Playboy-sponsored pre-Super Bowl party (scheduled against the Taylor Swift concert at temporary 3-story nightclub Club Nomadic, among other goings-on).  Other upcoming Spire events include this weekend’s Waka Flocka Flame concert and the VS vs Fredericks Lingerie Contest scheduled for next Wednesday.

Some promotional photos from the club provide a few views of the former altar (above, with a view of the original for comparison), as well as the added balconies and new seating arrangement possibilities in the main sanctuary:

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Downtown Conversions
01/18/17 11:30am

January 18th Flooding at Main St. and Buffalo Bayou

Most of the grassy banks and walking paths usually visible east of Main St. are obscured in this morning’s footage from semi-regular Allen’s Landing correspondent Christine Wilson, who captured some shots of high water (and a few street lamps shakin’ it in the current). This morning’s heavy rain has overtopped roads in some of the usual spots (check out Transtar’s list of water-related road closures here) west and north of Downtown, and the National Weather service has just issued a flood warning for parts of the city through 4:15 this afternoon (with more rain expected later today). The confluence of White Oak and Buffalo bayous, receiving much of that water as it runs toward the bay, appears to have been swept clean of trash and baby ducks for the time being, though some larger waterfowl were still spotted hanging around upslope on the southern shore:

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Flood Season Now Open
01/17/17 4:45pm

Demo of 2850 Fannin St., Midtown, Houston, 77003

The building at 2850 Fannin St. (seen here across the Main St. light-rail tracks next to the recently gassed Art Supply building) has been split into pieces as of this morning. A reader on the scene caught sight (and footage, above) of several excavators simultaneously scraping away at the scene, with aid from a small bulldozer. Here’s a few more views of what was left of the structure and its extensive paint job:

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Parting Shots
01/17/17 3:30pm

Rendering of 1931 McGowen St., Hyde Park, Houston, 77006 1931 McGowen St., Hyde Park, Houston, 77006

Over the weekend MATCH Theater and Montrose H-E-B designer Lake Flato hit Instagram to release some depictions of what the former McGowen Cleaners at the corner of Fairview and Morse streets might looked like dressed up as a restaurant (as per that TABC license notification spotted over the summer at the site). The design shows some of the current doors turned into windows, some of the current windows turned into much longer windows, and an existing patio cover hosting a series of hanging seat-pods, amid much leafier landscaping. The plan also calls for the creation of a new courtyard out back, to be “carved out of the existing building;” another rendering shows a sliver of what that might look like from the inside, on the right below:

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Tailoring in Hyde Park
01/17/17 10:45am

Hamburger Mary's Houston ad

The latest ad for the in-the-works Houston franchise of restaurant and periodic drag venue Hamburger Mary’s includes a collection of cartoonified downtown landmarks (among them Pennzoil Place and Bank of America Center), with an Astrodome tacked onto one side of the abbreviated skyline for good measure. As to where exactly the restaurant and bar is settling in — what with the old Mary’s spot already taken, and all — permits have been issued for the Converse St. end of the strip center at 2409 Grant St., a block east of Montrose Blvd. That’s where not-safe-for-work clothing and accessories shop Hollywood Super Center previously operated, before moving next door into the former Hollywood Investments & Realty space):
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Marys of Avondale
01/16/17 11:45am

If you’ve got today off, you could go check out the recently reinstalled Broken Obelisk in front of the Rothko Chapel, dedicated to the doctor back in 1971 (and balanced back in place last month as shown above, following the statue’s extended reparative staycation in Connecticut). Swamplot is pausing for the afternoon to pay a quick visit; we’ll be back tomorrow with our regular coverage of Houston real estate back-and-forth.

Footage of reinstallation of Barnett Newman’s Broken Obelisk at the Rothko Chapel: Rothko Chapel

Happy Birthday MLK
01/13/17 5:15pm

Fannin at Dennis streets, Midtown, Houston, 77003

Demolition setup at 2850 Fannin St., Midtown, Houston, 77003Before being shooed away by fire department folks near the corner of Dennis and Fannin streets around noon yesterday, reader and art blogger Robert Boyd managed to snap a shot of the hole dug recently along the sidewalk. “You might be able to see that the fire fighters were wearing gas masks,” Boyd notes, surmising that the digging was related to the gas lines for the under-deconstruction former Mental Health and Mental Retardation Association building building a block further south (shown above); the digging apparently also caused the gas leak that triggered the shutdown of several nearby streets for part of the day. Boyd reports that the folks in the Art Supply on Main building, located between the digging and the demo site, “were totally cut off for most of [the day]. HFD showed up and asked up all to stay inside — we could get out of our parking lot, but not back in.

The emergency crews departed mid-afternoon, shortly after Boyd snapped a more elevated shot of the fire engine (evocatively juxtaposed with a signal-red stop sign and a rare view of fall-esque Houston foliage):

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Sights and Scents of Dennis St.
01/13/17 10:45am

Lighting testing of 59 bridge

Upate, 4pm: The text has been updated to clarify the bridge’s color capabilities and include more info on current setup from the design firm.

Hazard St. Bridge Lighting TestsThe curvy crossings over Hwy. 59 east of Spur 527 have been caught on camera glowing at passing drivers this week as workers test out the new colored lighting systems. Sarah Gandy of Gandy² Lighting Design tells Swamplot that the plan is to have all 6 bridges lit nightly by the first week of February as the pre-Super Bowl hullaballoo ramps up, but that final tweaks and adjustments are still being made (as seen here).

Gandy tells Swamplot that the bridge’s color patterns are still being programmed, and that they’ll soon be capable of a full range of groovy multi-tone modes like those shown in renderings previously released by the Montrose Management District (shown below):

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Pre-Super Bowl Exhibition
01/12/17 3:45pm

Murals at former MHMRA building, 2850 Fannin St., Midtown, Houston, 77003Demolition setup at 2850 Fannin St., Midtown, Houston, 77003

The colorful faces behind the chain-link fencing surrounding the former Mental Health and Mental Retardation Authority building at 2850 Fannin St. have been joined this week by a few pieces of bright yellow knock-down equipment. Permits came through last week clearing the site for clearance in advance of a planned 27-story apartment highrise going by the name Main Midtown. The tower was okayed for a parking variance in late October, as part of which Australian developer Caydon Properties agreed to install over 200 bike spaces. 

The long-empty MHMRA structure got its last hurrah this fall when much of the street-level wallspace was painted over in tan, making way for new muralage. A nearby resident buzzed around the site recently taking some final snaps of the paintings (like the one featured at the top of the page) before the demo gets going in earnest — here’s a sampling below:

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Midtown Breakdown
01/12/17 11:30am

Midtown Entry Portal work site, Brazos St. at I-45 and Pierce St., Midtown, Houston, 77003

More signs of the Midtown Redevelopment Authority’s current 3-part landscaping project: the large hill being crafted where the long I-45 exit ramp into Pierce St. hits Brazos St. Bid documents for the project also mention landscaping walls, accent lighting, and decorative stone as part of the rest of the plan for the spot. The newly elevated site sits east across the I-45 offloader from the former home of high-gloss steak and seafood house Mr. Peeples, which shut down back in March. The Bagby-facing building, which served as a Boy Scouts of America office prior to the restaurant makeover, is still up for lease; a marketing flier advertises all 3 stories as up for grabs, along with the 8,702-sq.-ft. basement. Here’s the full frontal:

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Moving Up in Midtown
01/11/17 5:15pm

Leasing Materials for former Foreign Correspondents site, Norhill, Houston

The split space occupied until late December by Northern Thai restaurant Foreign Correspondents and its also-freshly-shut-down cocktail bar companion Canard may be up for lease now, a reader notes. Treadsack suffix provider and co-owner Chris Cusack told CultureMap after the restaurant’s closure (spurred in the moment by the resignation of the head chefs, and trailing a few months after the previous departure of the company’s head beverage person) that the company would likely be trying out another concept in the space; that claim, however, was made before the details of years of behind-the-scenes financial turmoil hit the Internet.

listing flier from Braun Enterprise, showing the center’s updates since the original marketing materials for 4721 N. Main were released, now advertises the restaurant’s space as up for grabs; the recent photo above is included, alongside the accompanying site plans of the 4,742-sq.-ft. space. A plan view of the rest of the shopping center is included as well, showing the currently solidifying new location of Austin-based gelato chain Dolce Neve:

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Iced in Norhill
01/11/17 1:30pm

Transmission Line Tower Installation, Westpark Dr., 77081

Transmission Line Tower Installation, Westpark Dr., 77081The view this week around Westpark Dr. at the West Loop includes both the old lattice towers currently holding CenterPoint’s electrical transmission lines and the taller, skinnier single pole models that will be taking over the gig. A reader captured some side-by-side portraits of the old towers and their replacements, which CenterPoint is deploying to raise the lines out of the way of TxDOT’s proposed future edits to the 610-59 interchange tangle. The cherry picker above is shown tethered to one of the new towers in the easement just west of 610; the top shot shows a pole up on the east side of the freeway between the Loop Central office midrises and the Danny Jackson Family Bark Park (which closed down last summer so CenterPoint could work on the land the county had been using as the park’s parking lot).

Here’s a ground-level shot at the base of an old-and-new tower pair just outside the dog park, with some Houston Garden Center inventory in the background for scale:

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Bark Park Sparks
01/11/17 10:45am

7374 Brace St., Garden Villas, Houston, 77061

Resident Joseph Virant sends in some ornithological notes on the roving bands of peacocks that wander the Garden Villas neighborhood, catty-corner northwest across Telephone Rd. and Airport Blvd. from Hobby Airport. A few of the birds make a cameo appearance in the active sales listing of 7374 Brace St. (shown above); Virant writes in with more detail on the origins and habits of the animals, which he says have regular routes and a seed-furnishing fanbase:

The story goes that they started as someone’s pets many years ago, were turned loose, and multiplied.  There are 2 groups: one in the eastern half of the neighborhood [near] Ashburn St., Brace St., and Garden Villas Park; and one in the western half (Brace St., Alpine Dr.).  Apparently a group of peacocks is called either an ‘ostentation‘ or a ‘muster‘.  A lot of neighbors have Peacock Crossing signs in their yards; people often stop their cars to snap photos as [the birds] amble across the street . . . My wife buys bird seed to attract them.

These aren’t the only pea fowl wandering free (or at least unattended) around town; they may, however, be the only ones whose home neighborhood is working actively to enshrine the birds’ status as local mascots, as Virant notes Garden Villas is hoping to do:

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Garden Villas Visitors