05/10/18 11:30am

Deer Park’s government officials are taking a long weekend in order to move out of their existing 2-story, brick city hall building on E. San Augustine St. and into the new, 5,000-sq.-ft. bigger one (pictured at top) directly adjacent to the east. Remaining in their current building would have required repairs to address “mold and asbestos-abatement issues,” forcing them out of it for at least a year, according to City Manager James Stokes. The move to the new building is now expected to take 2 business days, after which the government will reopen on Tuesday.

This video timelapse condenses the 13-month construction process into about 90 seconds:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Municipal Switch-Up
05/09/18 4:30pm

Construction broke ground in March on America Gardens, the star-spangled first venue Syn Hospitality has planned as part of a 4-bar complex dubbed Midtown Common it’s developing on Caroline St. And already, Core Church Midtown has fled the block and taken refuge in the CrossWalk Center, a 2-story structure in the Near Northside. Formerly home to Employment Training Centers Inc., it’s on N. Main 3 blocks south of Quitman — next door to Label Warehouse’s building — and houses a facility that assists convicts recently released from jail.

The 5,000-sq.-ft. now-vacant strip center in Midtown had been home to the church since 2016. When the neighboring construction wraps up, America Gardens and its 3 planned accomplices — Don Chingon, the Social House, and Wishful Drinking — will abut the empty building’s west side, as indicated in the map below:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Midtown Common
05/09/18 12:00pm

Making an appearance on the city planning commission’s agenda this week: a proposal for a 16-ft.-deep, aluminum-sheathed steel canopy shown at top outside The Revere at River Oaks condos on Welch St. that’ll soon break ground in place of the 2-story River Oaks Manor condo complex demolished on site last June. Kirksey Architecture’s design for the canopy calls for it to hang out over the condo’s entrance and extend to an adjacent drop-off area, a widening of the existing street that’s planned just north of the 9-story, 33-unit building.

But the approval Pelican Builders is now seeking isn’t for the 4-ft.-5-in. that the canopy will encroach on the public right of way. In the application, the developer states that it already has an agreement for that portion of the structure. Instead, this approval is for the 11-ft.-4-in. section of the canopy between the right of way and the building, which requires a variance separate from the one that already covers the small portion (overlaid with a criss-cross pattern below) that they city has agreed to permit:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Cover Story
05/08/18 2:30pm

Shots of the massive waterfront development planned in Kingwood east of Woodland Hills Dr. show it situated around 2 adjacent and existing lakes that neighbor both the San Jacinto River and the Clubs of Kingwood golf course. The 300-acre project — dubbed Herons Kingwood Marina and recently stumbled upon by online architectural sleuth Urbannizer — lays out a plan to link the 2 bodies of water and transform them into marinas with docks, pedestrian paths, and outdoor amusements.

The water-level rendering above from Italian architecture firm Torrisi & Procopio shows a boat parking lot fronting a shopping center that’s planned beside the west marina. From the air in the rendering at top, you can see the eastern marina neighbored by skyscrapers, described by the architect’s website as home to hotels, restaurants, shops, and apartments. A narrow channel leads to the other, aquatic area in the distance.

Here’s where both lakes sit now, just south of Barrington Kingwood — a 200-acre, loop-shaped neighborhood:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

The Liveable Lake
05/08/18 10:00am

ABBOTT SIGNS OFF ON HARRIS COUNTY’S HARVEY ANNIVERSARY FLOOD BOND VOTE In a letter to the Commissioners Court yesterday, Gov. Abbott approved Harris County’s request to hold an August 25 bond election that would pay for a long, not-yet-finalized lineup of flood control projects. On the short list so far: “the buy-out of all of the county’s high-priority areas at highest-risk of flooding, approximately 5,500 properties,” Judge Emmett tells the Chronicle’s Mihir Zaveri — as well as the financing of “some portions a much-discussed third reservoir northwest of the city,” and “numerous bayou and creek widening projects.” Also included: a handful of detention basins and drainage improvements to waterways in both Houston and the MUDs of unincorporated Harris County, according to the flood control district. The district now has about 4 months to compile the list, during which time Harris County “plans to launch a public outreach campaign to seek input on what to include in the bond package, as well as drum up support for the measure.” [Houston Chronicle ($), previously on Swamplot] Photo of Sesquicentennial Park and Franklin St. during Harvey: Kelsie H. Dos Santos

05/07/18 3:30pm

ORTHODOX SYNAGOGUE MULLS CROSSING THE LOOP TO SOMEWHAT HIGHER GROUND The roughly 820 homeowners in Willow Meadows are now voting on a deed restriction change that — if passed — would allow the United Orthodox Synagogue to build a new structure outside The Loop, in place of 5 houses that sit 3 quarters of a mile south down Greenwillow St. from the congregation’s previous home at the corner of S. Braeswood. Many congregants walk to the synagogue — which could soon be leaving the 100-year floodplain for the 500 after flooding 6 times in the last 25 years, including 3 in the last 3. “According to preliminary renderings,” reports the Jewish Herald Voice’s Michael C. Duke on Studio Red’s proposed design, “the synagogue would be a single-story structure, measuring an ultimate height of 30 feet. Based on new building codes, the finished floor of the building would be built some 3 feet above curb height, and the building itself would have the same 25-foot setback as homes in Willow Meadows.” Passage of the proposal “would prompt Houston’s largest Orthodox congregation to hold its own congregation-wide vote on whether to stay at its current location north of I-610 South and rebuild portions of its campus at a significantly higher elevation; or, to move.” Most of the congregation’s 57-year-old building was demolished last month, except for a few portions including its social hall and mikvah. [Jewish Herald Voice; previously on Swamplot] Photo of United Orthodox Synagogue’s demolition, 9001 Greenwillow St.: United Orthodox Synagogues of Houston

05/07/18 11:00am

SHIPLEY DONUTS WILL ROUND OUT THE NEW STRIP CENTER ON 28TH AND YALE Here’s one early sign of life at the new 8,040-sq.-ft. strip building that developer Ancorian recently finished putting up on the corner of Yale and 28th St. — 2 blocks south of the new Whole Foods that’s under construction on the N. Loop. When the coming Shipley Do-Nuts outlet opens at 2723 Yale., it’ll be a brand-new complement to what’s now the chain’s only Heights location, the standalone drive-thru on the corner of N. Main and Walton St. a few blocks west of I-45. (Shipley’s corporate office at 5200 N. Main is just under a mile up the road from that location.) Most recently demolished at 2723 Yale to make way for the new donut store and accompanying tenants: an L-shaped commercial building home to Heights Insurance and Multiservice that stood on the block for well over a decade. Photo: Swamplox inbox

05/04/18 5:00pm

UNEARTHING THE SPLENDORS OF HWY. 59’S EGYPTIAN TOMB “Unless people were here the first time,” a renovator at the mock-Egyptian temple on 59 tells the Chronicle’s Craig Hlavaty, “they had no idea of the magnitude of it inside.” (And even if they tried to find out, they might still be left in the dark: “There is no longer a lick of electrical wire inside,” adds another worker.) And so, for the crew’s next trick: “We need to tear everything out and start over.” In doing so, some of what’s been left behind in the shadowy former club known as Magic Island is now being brought to light: “A covered patio and valet area on the building’s east end is today a graveyard of tables and chairs ripped out of the dining rooms,” reports Hlavaty. “Egyptian art and murals sit idle, some covered in graffiti. Broken marble and glass are strewn about the grounds.” On the opposite side of the building, a few doors down, “renderings of what the two-story, 22,000-square-foot property could look like in the future reside on a table at a doctor’s office” where neurologist Mohammad Athari — who owns Magic Island — practices. After years of on-and-off work to revive it, his current plan is to have it back up and running by the end of the year as a “Houston nightlife destination.” [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Swamplox inbox

05/04/18 4:15pm

The 2 new METRO bus lanes — linking a proposed Bellaire transit center to the new middle-of-the-road path up Post Oak Blvd. — won’t run over the actual building at Chick-fil-A’s Richmond Ave location, but they will cut through the property. Last month, the fast-food company agreed to vacate its spot at 5005 Richmond after the State of Texas initiated an eminent domain proceeding against it — and the location subsequently closed. (The 4 strip tenants in Weingarten Realty’s surrounding Richmond Square Shopping CenterBestBuy, Mattress1One, Cost Plus World Market, and Luggage & Leather — are also targeted in the proceeding.)

Adding the new transit route (shown in the map below as a vertical orange line partly covered-over with yellowish-gray) is part of a whole tangle of changes TxDOT has planned for the 610-59 interchange:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Eminent Domain
05/04/18 10:45am

Black-tie renderings show off the porte-cochere that’ll soon front the former Delta Fasteners warehouse at 7122 Old Katy Rd., one door down from the West Loop. It’s one element in the batch of changes that party planning firm A Fare Extrordinare has slated to transform the building not only into its office, kitchen, and storage space — but also into an event space dubbed The Revaire. Inside the venue portion of the structure, 2 rooms — one 10,200-sq.-ft., the other 4,130-sq.-ft. — will be up for grabs by party-throwers.

Adaptive reuser Braun Realty had previously planned to turn the 57,925-sq.-ft. building — pictured below — into a festival marketplace including a brewery and food hall, but sold it to the events company last year:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

The Revaire
05/03/18 2:45pm

THE CHANGES COMING TO THE PRE-WAR PEACOCK & PLAZA APARTMENT COMPLEX DOWNTOWN The new owner of the Peacock & Plaza Apartments at 1414 Austin St. — a 2-building, 32-unit complex that sports a colorfully feathered mosaic a block west of the Toyota Center — tells Swamplot what’s in store for a portion of the property: “We plan to heavily upgrade each unit in one of the two buildings. New plumbing, electrical, upgrade of HVAC systems, all new kitchens, appliance, bathroom.” In the other building: “We’ll clean the units up but we’re going to try to leave it somewhat original,” says the representative of the buyer, Fat Property. Before Colorado-based FVMHP took over the complex in 2014, it had been owned by the same woman for 80 years, according to the current buyer. Designed by Houston architect Lenard Gabert, its first building went up in 1926; the second followed 14 years later. [Previously on Swamplot] Photo: Fat Property

05/03/18 12:15pm

Opening-night observations from the new Truck Yard a block east of 59: “The Rockets game [just] finished so there were not a lot of people there yet. Ferris wheel did not seem to be operational and I’m not sure whether it’s just for looks or not. Either way, it was a bit of a maze walking around.”

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Fueling Station
05/03/18 10:15am

A reader sends photos looking inside a gutted corner of the southern River Oaks Shopping Center building east of McDuffie St. Formerly home to California Pizza Kitchen, Evolve Fitness Studio, Birraporetti’s, and Sherlock’s Pub, it’s now slated for a 2-floor Perry’s Steakhouse & Grille. A TABC notice has been posted on the storefront since March:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

W. Gray & McDuffie
05/02/18 4:00pm

WHAT’S INCLUDED IN JOHNNY STEELE DOG PARK’S FLOOD-INDUCED REDO The caretakers of that oft-flooded pet park near Buffalo Bayou now say that “After careful consideration, we are making changes to the Johnny Steele Dog Park to improve maintenance operations and the park’s functionality.” Among those changes: getting rid of the pond in the large dog play area, rerouting the pond in the small dog area so that it flows through both sections, adding a “new seating wall” at the edge of the water, expanding the lawns throughout the park, enlarging the entrance to the large dog area, and creating a new entrance to the small dog area — all of which is expected to be done by early summer. [Previously on Swamplot] Photo: Buffalo Bayou Partnership

Releasing the Hounds
05/02/18 11:30am

THE MENIL DRAWING INSTITUTE: 6 MORE MONTHS What’s been going on at the Menil Drawing Institute’s new building since its opening — originally scheduled for last October — was postponed over the summer? A lot of sensing and measuring: “It’s extremely important to monitor the climate control and the humidity gauges for a number of months to make sure there are no deviations,” the museum’s director Rebecca Rabinow tells the New York Times’ Andrew R. Chow., outlining what kind of ambiance is required for the paper works the structure will soon house. (Last year’s cold winter didn’t speed things up either — reports the Chronicle’s Molly Glentzer, killing off many of the new plants that had just been installed in the surrounding park according to the plan from landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates.) Now that both the indoor and outdoor environments have been stabilized, the official opening date for the 30,000-sq.-ft. building designed by L.A. architect Johnston Marklee has been set: November 3. It will cap off a 3-year building process that began in place of the since-completely-demolished Richmont Square apartments’ backsisde off Branard St. The new structure’s first residents: 41 works on paper by Jasper Johns. [New York Times; previously on Swamplot] Photo of Menil Drawing Institute: Paul Hester/The Menil Collection