12/01/16 4:15pm

Big Tex Montrose, 1810 Richmond Ave., Dearborn Place, Houston, 77006

richwood-market-freaky-foods-west-viewThe doors opened last week at that 4-story 100,000-sq.-ft. storage facility that has replaced the boarded-up Shell Food Mart just west of the corner of Richmond  and Woodhead — itself a makeover of the 24-hour Richwood Market, known back in the day as Freaky Foods (affectionately or not). The 4-story building started going up next to King Cole Liquor some time after the nearby trees got cleared out about a year ago (with the city’s OK, Annise Parker said at the time).

Big Tex has since widened the sidewalks and added some new baby trees in a series of landscaped rectangles along Richmond; the company’s press release also says there’s gonna be an Art Wall.

Photos: Big Tex Storage via Urbannizer (panoramic of Big Tex at 1810 Richmond Ave.), Swamplot inbox (2014 shot of 1810 Richmond Ave.)

Boxes on Richmond
12/01/16 2:30pm

San Jacinto Memorial Green, 1300 HolmanSt., Midtown, Houston, 77003

That tiny replica of the San Jacinto Monument near San Jacinto and Holman streets is surrounded these days by the landscaping of Houston Community College’s San Jacinto Memorial Green, the green-space-turned-parking-lot-turned-back-to-green-space next to the adjacent building that once housed San Jacinto High School. A reader sends an early-evening out-the-window shot of the park, which is scheduled to formally open on Saturday.

That shot faces Holman St., with Caroline St. visible to the northeast and lined up with the green space’s lit walkway; most of the lawn seen to the left of that path was paved parking lotbetween the 1980s and 2014. The photo is taken from the former San Jac high school structure itself (now employed as part of HCC’s Central Campus, and referred to as the San Jacinto Memorial Building by the time of its 2012 addition to the National Register of Historic Places):

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Remembering Asphalt Gone By
12/01/16 11:00am

Montrose Management District boundaries

Montrose District Bike Houston Bike Rack, Montrose, HoustonA judge in Harris County’s 333rd district court signed off on a decision this week siding with the plaintiffs in a lawsuit alleging that the Montrose Management District has been illegally levying taxes within its boundaries (shaded in blue above). Per state law the district only needed 25 signatures from would-be affected property owners to form in 2011; the case went to court back in 2012 after around 988 other property owners within those boundaries signed petitions to shut the district down.

The court’s freshly filed judgement document says that the formation of the district required the initial sign-on of 25 property owners who would be subject to the taxation by the new district; the court ruled that although the district did have 26 signatures, 3 of those folks weren’t actually taxed for all of the years the district has been in operation — dropping the number of valid signatures down to 23, and rendering the basis for the district’s authority moot. The judge also says the district must now pay back the money collected so far — around $6.59 million.

Map and photo: Montrose Management District

Taxing Outcome
11/30/16 1:15pm

Construction of Hotel Alessandra, Fannin St. at Dallas St., GreenStreet, Houston, 77002

Second Proposed Design for Hotel Alessandra, GreenStreet, Downtown HoustonToday’s look at up-and-coming personified downtown highrises includes a reader’s fresh snap of Hotel Alessandra, which reached full height in August and has been filling out a bit since then. The latest rendering (released after the original question mark design was scrapped) depicts mostly the buildin’s glassier Dallas-St.-facing side; the shot up top is facing the structure’s beige-er south corner. Midway announced a few weeks after the Tax Day flood that the hotel wouldn’t be open in time for the Super Bowl after all, citing weather-related logistical issues. The developers are now planning to open up later on in 2017.

Meanwhile, at the opposite corner of the GreenStreet complex — where Polk and Caroline streets meet — Randall Davis’s Marlowe condo tower is getting off the ground behind The Dirt Bar and Reserve, at the edge of a sea of parked cars:

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Up and Out Around GreenStreet
11/30/16 11:00am

Rendering of Club Nomadic at 2121 Edwards St., First Ward, Houston, 77007

A 62,500-sq.-ft. structure going by the name Club Nomadic is now being put in place in the empty lot next to the Shops at Sawyer Yards, for 3 days of concert use during the week leading up to the Super Bowl. As for what happens to the site after the planned Bruno Mars and Taylor Swift shows wrap up: Permits for foundation and site work at the Edwards St. address issued earlier this month refer to the building as temporary, and Corey Garcia says the building will be packed up and taken elsewhere at the end of the short Houston run. The folks at Connecticut-based Nomadic Entertainment plan to set the building up at a series of future events elsewhere — but the Super Bowl lead-up week will be the club’s first gig.

Renderings released yesterday by Nomadic show 3 tiers of stage-gawking space:

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Swift Setup in Sixth Ward
11/29/16 1:45pm

7710 Long Point Rd., Spring Branch, Houston, 77055

7710 Long Point Rd., Spring Branch, Houston, 77055The new lessees of 7710 Long Point Rd. — formerly home to all-Mex-no-Tex Otilia’s Mexican Restaurantannounced last week that they’ll be filling the spot with a craft beer bar and restaurant called The Branch. The folks in charge appear to be former Hay Merchant-slash-Underbelly catering head Madeline Cabezut, current Hay Merchant bar manager Kyle Pierson, and former Miller/Coors spokesmodel Amanda Mixon. An entity linked to serial redeveloper Braun Enterprises bought the place last year, after Otilia’s 2014 for-real-this-time shutdown. The trio formally leased the space around the end of September, and plan to have the place open early next year.

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Branching Out to Long Point Rd.
11/29/16 11:00am

San Jacinto River at I-10 Crossing, Channelview, TX 77530

Weather permitting, an area along the edge of the San Jacinto Waste Pits Superfund site under the I-10 East bridge should be getting around 800 cubic feet of new rocks piled onto it this week and next, according to this month’s EPA update on the project. The agency asked International Paper and McGinnis (which might be on the hook financially for much of the final cleanup) to cover up some recently-discovered areas of the nearby riverbed that were scoured as deep as 8 feet in some places by this spring‘s torrential flooding; the tarp-with-rocks-on-it armored cap itself doesn’t appear to have been damaged, but the EPA says the extra rocks will help ensure its continued protectiveness.

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Armor Under I-10
11/28/16 4:15pm

Beaver's, 6025 Westheimer Rd., Houston, 77057

Beaver's, 6025 Westheimer Rd., Houston, 77057

The faux lighthouse atop Christie’s got some company this week — namely, the giant fake beaver now heralding the arrival of the second Beaver’s location, in the first and last Houston outpost of southern cheesesteak fusion shop Texadelphia. After a few years of looking around for potential second spot spots, the selection of 6025 Westheimer Rd. was announced early this year; the new trio of Beaver’s head chefs told Eric Sandler just this month that they’re planning to put of more seafood on the menu, while upping the chainlet’s barbecue game.

The beaver itself got craned into place on top of a steel frame last Tuesday, with the faux-rock ledge applied afterward (the shot above is from work spotted on Saturday). The chefs told Sandler that the plan is to open as soon as permitting and training wrap up in the next few weeks, and a Now Hiring banner was still on display over weekend:

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Beaver’s in Briargrove
11/28/16 12:15pm

The Garage Car Detail & Hookah Lounge, 1818 W. Dallas St., Fourth Ward, Houston, 77019

The latest new identity for the 1930s-ish auto service station across W. Dallas St. from the Gregory Lincoln Education Center: The Garage Car Detail & Hookah Lounge. The property at W. Dallas and Taft St., which was occupied by dry cleaning chain Pilgrim Cleaner’s prior to the turn of the decade, has hosted a succession of car cleaning services since then, including the latest group to set up in the space. The property sold last summer to an entity called Rockfort Builders, and is now offering on-site hookah for waiting customers in the artistically tire-spangled alleyway shown above.

Here’s a look inside at the hookah collection and some other car-parts-turned-decor:

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Where There’s Smoke on Dallas St.
11/28/16 10:45am

Jeff Reichman's Map of 2016 BARC service calls

Where do Houston’s furrier residents tend to congregate? Jeff Reichman’s latest city data tinkering provides some clues — the clickable heatmap above highlights the areas where the city’s BARC program got the most calls this year for services like stray pickups and code enforcements related to domestic animals. BARC is currently in the middle of a 3-month push for a 90-percent no-kill rate of its collected and surrendered menagerie, after a successful 1-month push for that rate last November; the average euthanization rate for the program reportedly flipped from about 80 percent euthanized to about 80 percent released alive between 2005 and 2015.

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Hot Dog Neighborhoods
11/22/16 5:15pm

Rendering of Heights Mercantile Building 4

Expanding organic Rice Village fast-casual chain Local Foods will fill in one of the tenant holes in the biggest structure of under-construction Heights Mercantile, judging from the permits issued earlier this month for a buildout at 714 Yale St. The joint is supposed to share the double-decker structure with a fitness studio, per current marketing materials, though that tenant hasn’t been formally announced yet either. The leasing listing for the various subsections of the retail development is still active on LoopNet, indicating a handful of retail spaces potentially still up for grabs in the 2 buildings across 7th St.:

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More Mercantile Merchants
11/22/16 1:45pm

301 Main St., Downtown, Houston, 77002

301 Main St., Downtown, Houston, 77002The outdoor garden and patio space at 301 Main St. is being tended this week as Salt N Pepper group’s taco restaurant and bar Dizzy Kaktus finishes setting up near the Preston light-rail stop. City historical records say the Victorian structure was built in 1889, after which the Sweeney & Coombs jewelry company jumped across the street from the building currently footed by The Pastry War; the ground floor space of the structure went up for lease after Nit Noi closed last year, and signage noting the restaurant’s liquor license application was posted in October.

The reader who snapped the shots above and below says a worker on the site mentioned an opening next week, and that while the interior layout was still a bit jumbled, the outside appeared to be shaping up:

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Historic District Taco Bar
11/22/16 10:45am

Former City of Houston Code Enforcement Building, 3300 Main St., Midtown, Houston, 77002

As the walls crumble and the last days unfold for the city’s old code enforcement office in Midtown, a hidden stained-glass window has been uncovered — as seen here in a shot taken by a reader yesterday evening from across the light-rail tracks. Once the structure is fully deconstructed, the way will be open for that planned mixed-use-skyscraper from PM Realty to rise toward the heavens. In front of the window is the long-since-de-greened greenscreen trellis installed to dress up the main Main entrance of the concrete structure, back in the late aughts: 

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Preparing To Rise in Midtown
11/21/16 5:15pm

Brick tearup in Freedmen's Town Historic District, Andrews St., Fourth Ward, Houston, 77019Brick tearup in Freedmen's Town Historic District, Andrews St., Fourth Ward, Houston, 77019

Some more friends of historic bricks — this time, specifically, of the bricks in the Freedmen’s Town Historical District in Fourth Ward — caught contractors tearing up part of the brickwork on Andrews St. this morning, reports Jeff Ehling. Mayor Sylvester Turner says via Twitter from Mexico that nobody was supposed to have messed with the bricks, which were put under a protective order last year after another short-lived bout of street tearup; Turner adds that he’ll deal with it when he gets back. A reader on the scene snapped a few photos of the torn up section, at the intersection with Genessee St. east of the Gregory-Lincoln Education Center campus:

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Second Stop in Fourth Ward
11/21/16 1:00pm

Brewery Tap, 717 Franklin St., Downtown, Houston, 77002

Brewery Tap, 717 Franklin St., Downtown, Houston, 77002Ghost-story hub and beer bar Brewery Tap reopened this weekend, after about nearly 11 months of remodeling in the wake of a January ownership swap. The bar is located in the building at 717 Franklin St., preivously part of Houston Ice & Brewing Co.’s Magnolia Brewery complex on the edge of Buffalo Bayou. Down the slope beneath the Franklin St. bridge is the mid-1800’s crypt previously occupied by the remains of 3 members of the Donnellan family; the early Houston settler and his wife and son were moved west to Glenwood Cemetery around 1903, after which the crypt was incorporated into the structure of the Franklin St. bridge:

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Digging Up Downtown History