02/22/17 3:45pm

Demo site of Archstone Memorial Heights Apartments, Studewood at Washington Ave., Houston, 77007

Demo site of Archstone Memorial Heights Apartments, Studewood at Washington Ave., Houston, 77007

The excavator treatment is complete for that subset of Archstone Memorial Heights apartment buildings that’ll be replaced by a mixed-use midrise with an H-E-B at the bottom, a neighbor notes. The shot above shows one of the buildings midway through the deconstruction process, which began earlier this month after that fenceless gate showed up on the site. Also noted during the demo weeks — a handful of firefighters rappelling down the side of the empty unit above.

As of about sunset yesterday, the site is now fully emptied out:

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Climbing the Walls on Wash Ave
02/22/17 11:15am

Another Broken Yolk, 3801 Farnham St., Shepherd Triangle, Houston, 77098

Some time between the morning and evening rush hours yesterday, says a reader, the new sign above for Another Broken Yolk Cafe went up at 3801 Farnham St., the original location of the 59 Diner chain prior to its lawsuit-clouded closure. The building adopted the persona of optionally halal Tex-Mex and pancake joint El Beso Cantina for a brief interlude starting around Christmas, after which the building’s “Eat Here!” dot was redone to read “24 Hrs Breakfast.” The website for the latest redo, however, currently lists the restaurant’s hours of operation as 7am to 10pm.

The building’s exterior has had a bit of a makeover since 59 Diner’s departure: the chrome and teal went more brick, yellow, and red for El Beso’s brief tenure, though other elements (like the BREAKFAST LUNCH DINNER labels) have remained in place. A teal hole can be spied where some El Beso signage hung until recently, in the same over-the-doorway spot previously occupied by the bubble-gum pink 59 logo:

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Flipping Breakfast Concepts
02/21/17 5:15pm

Americana Building, 811 Dallas St., Downtown, Houston, 77002

The 10-story tower segment of the Americana building at 811 Dallas St. is now undergoing disassembly, Nancy Sarnoff confirms this afternoon. A few folks caught sight of the tell-tale orange barricades and fencing around the base of the tower over the weekend; the view above was captured from Milam St. and shows the defunct former Subway on the Dallas corner of the block. Hilcorp, which owns the site (and also wrapped up its new tower across Travis St. on the site of the Foley’s blowup early last year), hasn’t yet announced further-down-the-line plans for the block. No explosives are part of the plan for this demo, however — the tower will be taken apart piece by piece, leaving the parking garage intact.

Photo: ThaChadwick

Laid Low Downtown
02/21/17 4:00pm

7200 Main St., TMC, Houston, 77030

The sign above announcing the proposed abandonment of the short dead-end stretch of N. Braeswood Blvd. running east of Main St. was captured in situ by a reader over the weekend. The roadway currently serves as the access road for the remaining Saint Nicholas School campus, though the school is planning to be all moved in at that new facility further south along Main St. in about a year and a half. That’ll free up the landf for whatever might be in the works by shell corporation 7200 Main St., which now owns both the school property and the 8-plus-acre tract north of the N. Braeswood segment, former site of barn-shaped restaurant The Stables.

To the east of the orange-roofed soon-to-be-former Saint Nicholas school, HCC’s  Coleman College for Health Sciences building looks to be just about wrapped up, at least in terms of exterior finishes:

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Medical Center Excision
02/21/17 11:30am

3904 Leeland St., Eastwood, Houston, 77003

Across a parking lot from the stripy blue office of Air Alliance Houston, the 1940s building that has hosted Lee Printing Company since 1970 is now up for lease. Listing agent Robert Downs says the Lee family has decided to close the printing business, and the current listing for the property says the spot  will be available starting in March. Eponymous co-founder Gene Lee (who started the business with his wife Hedy, and spent a decade running Houston’s first English-Chinese newspaper in the mid 70s and early 80s,) retired in 1994 and passed away in 2010. The storefront is being marketed as potential office, retail, or art studio space; the structure is a block up Hussions St. from Houston Elbow & Nipple Co.’s facility toward the corner with Jefferson St., and about a block south along Hussions from Super Happy Fun Land, which sits around the bend on Polk St.

Photo: Robert Downs

Eastwood End
02/17/17 3:30pm

Former Skinny Rita's at 607 W. Gray St., North Montrose, Houston, 77019

Former Skinny Rita's at 607 W. Gray St., North Montrose, Houston, 77019The large and unambiguous letters now hovering out front of the new North Montrose version of semi-diet Tex-Mex joint Skinny Rita’s are accompanied by a small lockout notice, a rain-spattered reader notes this afternoon. The For Lease By Landlord declarations have replaced the restaurant’s logo on both sides of the freestanding sign on the property at 607 W. Gray St. (across the road from now listed as in-contract Cecil’s Pub); another banner is hung on the fence facing the restaurant’s parking lot, in view of the Skinny Rita’s logo still up on the side of the building:

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North Montrose Lockup
02/16/17 5:15pm

Excision of Tal's Hill at Minute Maid Field, Downtown Houston

Excision of Tal's Hill at Minute Maid Field, Downtown HoustonAstros historian Mike Acosta snapped some shots today and yesterday of the newly flattened corner of Minute Maid Park’s center field, where Tal’s Hill once sloped gently upward (as showcased in the legendary fan-on-the-field chase in the video above, from a game in 2011). The field’s lumpectomy was part of the plan that involved paring down the distance from home plate to the edge of center field from 436 feet to a still-over-minimum-requirements 409 feet, and adding more seating and concessions as per the earlier renderings from 2015:

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No More Climbing the Walls
02/16/17 3:00pm

Saint Arnold Brewing Company Expansion renderings, 2104 Lyons Ave., Near Northside, Houston, 77020Saint Arnold Brewing Company Expansion renderings, 2104 Lyons Ave., Near Northside, Houston, 77020

A fresh batch of renderings from the Office of James Burnett have been filed with the city planning commission this month as part of Saint Arnold Brewing Company’s request for a setback variance for that previously mentioned beer garden next door. Early permits have been trickling in since last fall for the ex-tow lot at 2104 Lyons Ave., across Semmes St. from the brewery’s new-ish downtown headquarters in the former HISD Food Service building (even more formerly the home of the Bemis Bag Company).

The new designs show what might be the site’s intended layout, including a restaurant structure which dissolves into an outdoor patio and garden space, a set of bocce courts, and more parking, including an area set aside for display of art cars (as shown up top featuring the company’s own tie-dye vehicles). Here’s the full tentative layout:

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Gardens of Fifth Ward
02/16/17 12:45pm

Rendering of 528 Westheimer Rd., Avondale, Houston, 77006

Construction in August on Paul Qui's Aqui, 520 Westheimer Rd., Montrose, Houston, 77006The pointy building rendered above (and shown here as well in an intermediate building stage last year, as construction began at 520 Westheimer Rd.) has just been confirmed this week as the planned site of Paul Qui’s rumored Houston restaurant, to be called Aqui. The depiction of the restaurant by lower-case Austin design firm a parallel architecture (the same firm that designed Qui’s then-eponymous spot in Austin) was spotted by a reader at the site early last March, shortly before Qui picked up a couple of drug and assault misdemeanor charges which tacked a question mark onto the timeline of future plans and openings.

Following the chef’s rehab stint, Qui Restaurant in Austin has since closed and reopened as Kuneho; the self-described former-drug-dealer-turned-James-Bearded-Top-Chef-champ hinted at his connection to the building at 520 Westheimer on social media a few days ago. The spot is wedged between Indika and The Cat Doctor.

Images: a parallel architecture (rendering), Swamplot inbox (photo)

Here’s Aqui
02/16/17 11:15am

Uptown MD and TIRZ 16 Boundaries

A new lawsuit was filed yesterday against TIRZ 16, the Uptown Development Authority, and the city, alleging that the creation of the reinvestment zone in the Galleria area was in violation of Texas law, since the zone can’t reasonably be considered “unproductive, underdeveloped, or blighted.” Rather, the filing claims, the city ordinance that originally created the TIRZ used the justification that the Uptown area needed traffic decongestion to avoid losing its status as one of the wealthiest districts in the city, and to avoid draining business to the city’s ever-expanding suburban fringe. A hearing is going on today over a possible injunction on further spending or work on Uptown projects, and Mike Morris says that city council delayed a vote yesterday on allowing Uptown an additional $65 million in debt.

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Uptown Up for Trial
02/15/17 4:30pm

glen-forest-detention-site

glen-forest-stormwater-detention-basinJust south of the Earthman Resthaven Funeral Home and Cemetery on I-45 — and just north of Greens Bayou — the Harris County Flood Control District is in the process of digging up more than 2 million cubic feet of soil from the Glen Forest Stormwater Detention Basin-to-be. (That’s the purple shaded area in the map shown here, right upstream from the cluster of bayou-side apartment complexes that flooded on Tax Day and helped spur the pre-dawn conversion of Greenspoint Mall into an emergency shelter.) If the name “Glen Forest” strikes you as a bit mid-century-suburban-neighborhood, that’s because it is: the 160-acre site is named after the sixties-era Glen Forest subdivision formerly constructed on the property. The neighborhood was purchased and demolished as part of HCFCD’s buyout program in the early 2000’s, but the roadways and signs had mostly stuck around, at times serving as a convenient backdrop for unsanctioned motor sports, as demonstrated in the video below:

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Greens- and Grave-side Digging
02/15/17 1:30pm

Planned Spring Pines Shopping Center, Spring Cypress Rd. at Holzwarth Rd., Spring, TX 77388

Planned Spring Pines Shopping Center, Spring Cypress Rd. at Holzwarth Rd., Spring, TX 77388

The tree evictions appear to have begun on the 14 acres of wooded land near the intersection of Holzworth and Spring Cypress roads marked for that Kroger Marketplace announced last year. A reader snapped some shots of spread gravel and a log stackup on the site (a piece of the larger 50-acre tract outlined in red in Read King’s leasing flier, as shown here). Preliminary plans for the broader Spring Pines Shopping Center include a slew of new retail spots near the Kroger; leasing plans for the soon-to-be-former forest note that the Kroger is almost directly across Spring Cypress from the area’s H-E-B, itself right across FM 2920 from the Aldi grocery store that moved into the area a few years ago:

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Groundwork in Spring
02/14/17 5:30pm

Beaver traces by Buffalo Bayou, Allen's Landing, Houston, 77002

More splinters and shredded bark are the latest clues turned up by Allen’s Landing beaver scrutinizer Christine Wilson. The most recent denudation (shown above) occurred off the park’s walking trail, not far from the aftermath of the last rodent-related incident Wilson documented, just east of the Travis and Milam street bridges over Buffalo Bayou. Another shot from over the weekend provides a wider view of the increasingly sparsely-forested bank:
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Mammals of Allen’s Landing
02/14/17 1:45pm

A diner catty-corner from Bagby Park yesterday evening captured the slow drama that unfolded as an in-transit temporary building was backed slowly up Bagby St. (at least maintaining the suggested orientation of the 1-way street, if not the intended direction of travel). The video above shows the building as it backs through the signalized intersection (to the audible distress of a would-be oncoming sedan), squeezes through the cars parked curbside (seemingly avoiding all vehicular scratches, but grazing a tree), then turns east down westbound Gray St. toward the eternally shining beacon of the St. Joseph Professional Building, accompanied in its wrong-way progress by an entourage consisting of a police escort, tow truck, and and a small excavator hitching a ride.

Video: Swamplot inbox

Temporary Night on the Town
02/14/17 11:00am

Tornado Damage near Bridlewood and Tara, Fort Bend County, TX, 77469

HISD and some of the southern swath of the Houston region have so far spent Valentine’s Day under a patchwork of school district shelter-in-place orders, this time in response to the tornado warnings that rolled through the upper Texas coast this morning (all since downgraded back to mere watch levels). A funnel did touch down near Needville around 8:30 and move roughly northeast toward First Colony, causing a number of structural rearrangements like the ones above (captured along Crabb River Rd. by the documentarians at the Fort Bend County sheriff’s office). The agency took a few more shots of the area’s roughing up:

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Fort Bend Unfenced