05/25/18 3:00pm

Although not yet open to the public, the grounds of new soccer bar Pitch 25 have come a long way from their earthy beginnings (second photo) along Walker St., catty-corner to BBVA Compass Stadium. The indoor soccer field that bar owner and former Houston Dynamo Brian Ching pitched to prospective investors on NextSeed last fall as the venue’s centerpiece has germinated inside the 25,000-sq.-ft. warehouse that’s being redone.

Also realized as part of the renovations — plans to tear a hole in the building’s roof in order to ensure a bright future for these semi-outdoor trees:

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Walker St. Redo
05/25/18 12:45pm

The back portion of Eastwood’s Stephen F. Austin Senior High School off Telephone Rd. is in the process of being pulverized to make room for a new western section of the campus that’ll go in its place. Like the demolished section, the soon-to-be built 184,000-sq.-ft. portion will back up to S. Lockwood Dr. along Jefferson St. Asbestos cleanup preceded the current demo.

Workers’ next job will be to gut the interior of the school’s original 1936 front section along Dumble St. — but not until it achieves an all-clear from asbestos as well:

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Eastwood Redo
05/24/18 3:30pm

This just in: Photos from a Swamplot reader show the wreckage at KHOU’s 58-year-old Buffalo Bayou–side headquarters, abandoned since staff fled it for Houston Public Media’s less flood-prone Elgin St. newsroom shortly after Harvey. Following a few days of demolition, the building at 1945 Allen Pkwy has been almost entirely leveled.

The second photo above shows the Service Corporation International building looming over the dead news building. An entity connected to SCI — a national funeral home business — recently acquired KHOU’s former 3.2-acre spot.

KHOU’s antennastripped of its lettering since February — is now the only thing that fronts the neighboring tower’s west side:

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Breaking News
05/24/18 11:00am

Here’s the rundown of all the locations where vehicles injured (purple) or killed (black) cyclists and pedestrians in 2016 and 2017. Transit-focused organization LINK Houston used TxDOT reports to create the map, which plots out 85 percent of all the 641 major walk-and-bike crashes that occurred within city limits during those 2 years. (Locations for 15 percent couldn’t be nailed down.) Of all those collisions, just under a fifth involved bikers; the rest impacted pedestrians. Click on a dot to reveal more about the specific accident that happened at that location.

Even more data shows up here on the full-screen map, which tallies up demographics like the ages, races, and genders of those hit as you move around different neighborhoods. Citywide, one of the brightest constellations is an elbow-shaped one that stretches from Montrose through Midtown and into  Downtown — where 22 crashes occurred over the last 2 years. But despite its dimmer glow, Sharpstown had the highest hit rate of any Houston neighborhood: 29. Throughout the entire city, 158 people were killed and 389 were injured.

Map: LINK Houston

Hit Count
05/23/18 4:00pm

Longtime Gulfton activist Tammy Rodriguez’s likeness is now fully rendered in the mural above, as well as that of Pastor Alejandro Montes, to her right. The pair makes up one third of the population now flanking the Salvation Army store’s west side along Ashcroft Dr. off Bissonnet, a block east of Hillcroft Ave. Chicago-based artist Rahmaan Statik (who got some design inspiration from students at Braeburn Elementary School) plans to have the work complete for an unveiling ceremony this Saturday.

It’s one in a set of 3 murals that public art organization UP Art Studio has planned for each side of the thrift store building — except for the south face, pictured above — as part of a project dubbed “Growing a Brighter Tomorrow in Gulfton.”

Work on the east side began with this preparatory whitewashing:

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Bissonnet and Ashcroft
05/23/18 11:45am

WHAT IT WOULD TAKE TO BRING SECURITY CHECKPOINTS TO YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD SCHOOL Following up on Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s suggestion of hardening security at Texas schools, Texas Monthly’s R.G. Ratcliffe does the math: “The price of walk-through metal detectors range, in general, from about $3,500 to $5,000 each. There are more than 9,100 public school and charter school campuses in Texas. If metal detectors cost $4,000 each, then the total price tag for equipping the state school buildings would run about $36.4 million.” The problem: that accounting only budgets in one metal detector per campus. Last week, Patrick argued for limiting the ways in and out of Texas’ schools because “There aren’t enough people to put a guard at every entrance and exit.” But, notes Ratcliffe, even New York-style frisk points at each door wouldn’t have defended against other school shooting tactics, like those of Adam Lanza, who “shot out a window made of tempered glass” to get inside the locked Sandy Hook Elementary School. When police arrived at that building, their only option was to bust open a window themselves to enter, momentarily delaying their response to the massacre — which “took about eleven minutes.” [Texas Monthly] Photo: Santa Fe ISD

05/22/18 5:00pm

On Houston’s city planning agenda this week: a variance request from Caldwell Communities which seeks permission to forgo building a public north-south street through its planned Willowcreek Ranch neighborhood just north of the Grand Pkwy. in Tomball. Caldwell’s plans currently call for the neighborhood to include just one longitudinal road — a short, private street dubbed Three Bars Trl. It intersects Holderrieth Rd. — an existing public street — at the spot shown in more detail above, the boundary between what’s being developed now and a northern parcel set aside for future building. Because Holderrieth’s 2 nearest junctions with other public streets are currently about a mile-and-a-quarter apart from each other (more than double the city maximum), Caldwell — in building along the road — would be required to create one within its own property.

The reasoning it gives for why it shouldn’t have to: “A public street connection north from Holderrieth is infeasible due to the location of a tributary of Willow Creek,” the development’s namesake. The tributary includes a swath of 100-year-floodplain, shaded lighter blue in the map below:

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Off the Grand Pkwy.
05/22/18 4:00pm

Construction on the new pedestrian bridge going up across Brays Bayou in Mason Park is heading into its 14th month. When it’s done, the 16-ft.-wide, 485-ft.-long structure will provide a link between the north section of the park off S. 7th St., and its southern portion — currently the only part of the 104-acre green space with access to the Brays Bayou Greenway Trail.

The bridge’s landing point on the south side will overshoot the trail by a bit though, as shown in the rendering below:

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Bayou Biking Link
05/22/18 11:30am

Salem Lutheran Church has plans to expand its current religious and pre-K–8 school campus, which sits just over 2 miles west of Hwy. 249 in Tomball. The idea: to develop roughly 100 acres adjacent to its existing facilities, adding new school structures and landscaping behind the pond-front church building shown in the photo at top, taken from above Lutheran Church Rd. The parking lot pictured on the left would also be enlarged, and a new complex of athletic fields would abut it to the south.

The master plan also includes not only these additions, but also a 73-lot residential area to the far west:

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Live, Learn, and Pray
05/21/18 4:30pm

Remember that North Canal that showed up in Plan Downtown’s maps and drawing last year and included a island in Buffalo Bayou? Well, TxDOT’s latest schematics for its planned I-45 reroute include a bypass and island as well — but in an entirely different location. The highway agency’s map above — with west facing up — indicates a new waterway draining into Buffalo Bayou right underneath the section of I-45 it plans to build in place of a portion of the Houston Housing Authority’s Clayton Homes neighborhood. How the canal gets there is obscured, but a straight course northwest appears to shoot the gap between 2 planned detention ponds and cross under the existing section of 59 (shaded gray), before linking up with the bayou again east of Elysian St. Marooned on TxDOT’s version of the make-believe, bayou-banked island the canal would create: a few of the houses in Clayton Homes.

As TxDOT’s caption makes clear, it’d be up to someone else to actually build the waterway. Doing so wouldn’t preclude the previously proposed North Canal from being dug further upstream. Plan Downtown’s less technical map at top shows that waterway beginning at White Oak Bayou and emptying into a bend of Buffalo Bayou just west of Elysian. In doing so, its course creates an exclusive new landmass home to the Harris County jail.

Road map: TxDOT. Downtown map: Plan Downtown

Offshored
05/21/18 1:00pm

The owners of the hamburger, Mexican food, barbecue, and fish restaurant on the northwest corner of Taft and Peden — dubbed “Greased Lightening Pit Stop” by the sign hanging on it for over a decade — have listed it for sale at $750,000. Also included in the offer: the storefront adjacent to it and a run-down bungalow diagonally behind the restaurant.

The bungalow sits on a separate, 5,000-sq.-ft. lot beyond the fence shown below:

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Taft and Peden
05/21/18 11:15am

If you look carefully at the photo above, you’ll see books are still on the shelf at 4103 Falkirk Ln., shown in the middle of its demolition last week. Work left an open-air reference section fronting the street from the fifth-of-an-acre parcel 2 blocks north of N. Braeswood. $500,000 is the asking price for the property, which hit the market last December. Since then, its across-the-street neighbor was also torn down, leaving a vacancy of the same size at 4102. Both houses went up in the early ’50s.

Photo of demolition: Swamplox inbox

Public Library
05/18/18 4:00pm

A pair of new renderings shows off the 2 food options planned for Levy Park — now in its second year of operation since the overhaul that reshaped and then reopened it last February. The kiosk depicted above — dubbed Love Shack — gets its name from chef Tim Love. (A previously-announced moniker, Love Bird, appears to have been scrapped.)

Love is also the operator behind the larger restaurant dubbed Woodshed Smokehouse that’s shown with a tall glass-walled dining room in the rendering at top. Below, a map of the park shows a spot labeled “Future Restaurant” in its bottom right corner:

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Preparing to Sprout
05/18/18 12:15pm

BUC-EE’S VS. CHOKE CANYON: BATTLE OF THE ROADSIDE MASCOTS The jury trial began yesterday in a federal lawsuit Buc-ee’s filed 3 years ago against Choke Canyon, a rival, San Antonio rest-stop chain with a cartoon alligator mascot Buc-ee’s claims is too similar to its own trademark grinning beaver. Buc-ee’s’s lawyer Tracy Richardson (who’s also on the legal team for the chain’s other ongoing infringement suit against Nebraska-based Bucky’s), reports the Chronicle’s Gabrielle Banks, kicked things off with a digital slideshow that chronicled the evolution of Choke Canyon’s gator species over time: “‘They put a human hat on the alligator,’ he said, ‘they opened his mouth. Then they made him stand, which — I’ve never seen an alligator stand.'” Couple that with the animals’ big eyes, red tongue, yellow background, and associated aquatic environs — said Richardson — and the likeness is confusing. (“You’re driving down the road at 80 miles per hour and you see a sign,” he said. “Did you really see what the logo was?”) Also at issue: Choke Canyon’s use of Buc-ee’s-like design elements in its stores, including a vaguely Alamo-like parapet front, stone siding, khaki-colored paint, and oversized bathrooms. (“We have large, clean bathrooms,” said Choke Canyon’s lawyer. “The last time I looked that’s not illegal.”) The jurors will be asked to decide “whether Choke Canyon set out to or actually did confuse customers with the overlap.” [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Logos: U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas

05/18/18 10:00am

All car-related signage has come down from the Heights building North Loop Auto Supply once occupied 9 blocks south of the North Loop on the northeast corner of Harvard and E. 20th. In its place, a banner for new restaurant Neo Baguette now hangs over the building’s 20th-St. doorway. An entity connected to developer Steve Radom bought the 2,331-sq.-ft. freestanding structure late last year and set about reworking it into something more suitable for a restaurant tenant to occupy.

Included in that effort: gardening work to add the tufty beds of flora that now front 20th St., the removal of the front gates and awning from the storefront entrance, the addition of new windows, and the erection of the 4 steel columns now attached to the building’s face. A parking lot to the east separates it from its next-door neighbor, Revive Salon and Spa.

Photo: Ken Barnes (Neo Baguette); LoopNet (auto parts)

Sandwich Signage