06/21/17 12:45pm

As heralded by yesterday’s daily demo report: Time is up for the little mod condo complex on Welch and Revere streets, which is being cleared out for Pelican Builders’ 9-story not-quite-in-River-Oaks The Revere at River Oaks condo midrise. A reader sends these up-close shots of the demo crew’s work this morning, including the extensive remodeling the once-narrow walkway between segments of the now-empty carport along the south side of Welch:

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1 If By Komatsu
06/20/17 2:00pm

Here’s a shot from a recent hard-hat tour of the Hotel Alessandra, under construction on a corner of the GreenStreet don’t-call-it-a-mall Downtown. The view hints at what a poolside scene might look like when the hotel opens in October, though not exactly: Marlowe, the 20-story Randall Davis Company condo seen rising in the left background (in front of the Hilton Americas), should look a bit less stubbly stubby by then.

Next, a few pics from the Alessandra lobby, highlighting the swervy ceiling:

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And Other Sneak Peeks
06/20/17 11:15am

You may remember that the scootin’ of Texas Junk Company and its boot collection out to Moulton, TX, started up early last fall; while the snake-bedecked garage structure on Welch St. at Taft has been pretty much closed since last November, the building itself was finally marked as up for lease over the weekend, a reader tells Swamplot. That’s following in the wake of April’s sale of the property to a corporate entity bearing the Texas Junk Company name in county records — but tracing back address-wise to the owner of nearby Fairview St. bar Boheme. (The Boheme folks also appear to have purchased the 2-story brick building across Welch to the north in 2013 — and were previously purported to be working on Brewheme Brewery about 6 blocks to the southeast at 2505 Mason St.) The city okayed a permit for some reroofing work in April as well.

Photo: MontroseResident

Junk Co. Refurbishment
06/19/17 2:30pm

YOU WON’T HAVE THE MENIL COLLECTION TO KICK AROUND FOR MOST OF NEXT YEAR Are you one of those architecturally sensitive types who has long suspected that the worn, squishy pine floorboards of Renzo Piano’s Menil Collection building were meant to serve as some sort of metaphor for the tenuous and uncertain nature of Houston’s oft-muddy groundplane? (Plus, they’ve got those underfloor AC registers interrupting it every few yards.) Well, good for you! — but tough luck: Beginning late next February, reports Molly Glentzer, the building will close for 8 months so that those well-worn floors can be refinished. Why should the job take so long? “The staff will continue to operate as usual from the upstairs offices, but some gallery walls will have to be dismantled and the collections shifted through the building during the sanding and finishing process.” Come November 2018, will the experience of walking through the museum be just as exquisitely unstable as it is now? Maybe not: “The leveling mechanisms under the wooden air-conditioning grills in the floor are also being upgraded,” Glentzer warns. Hurry and visit now, while it’s all still worn and creaky! [Houston Chronicle] Video of Sosie Merritt stomping on Menil floors, 2009: Brandon & Kristen Merritt [license]

06/19/17 12:45pm

The monumental earthwork undertaking at 9339 Buffalo Spdwy., just south of Murworth and a bit north of the intersection with Main St., appears to be nearing completion. This is the 12-acre site where Dallas-based developer Tradition Senior Living is planning to plant its first Houston facility. A reader panning a camera from north to south this weekend from a spot on the Buffalo Spdwy. edge of the precipice shows the expansive extent of the enormous new dirt gap:

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Digging In for Tradition
06/19/17 10:15am

Signs of impending construction — including new chain-link and erosion-control fencing around the perimeter — are now visible on the 3.15-acre site at 2601 Citadel Plaza Dr., tucked between the 2600 Citadel Plaza office building that serves as Weingarten Realty’s HQ and the Boy Scouts of America Cockrell Scout Center along the south side of the North Loop in Shady Acres. The land, which was once owned by Weingarten, was purchased by an entity controlled by apartment developer the Allen Harrison Company just shy of 11 months ago.

A few months before that sale was completed, Allen Harrison’s Will Harper told HBJ reporter Paul Takahashi that the company was planning to build a 5-story midrise apartment building with 290 units wrapped around a parking garage on a 3-acre site in the “Greater Heights” area. (He also mentioned the taller apartment complex planned for South Main Street near the Texas Medical Center.)

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Plans for Shady Acres
06/16/17 2:00pm

“The movie finally makes a reasonable amount of sense now” after 4 years of work on it, writes producer Joseph Graham on the Indiegogo fundraising page for Nothing Really Happens, a new independent feature film from local production company The Monster Closet. What is this filmed-in-Houston movie about? It’s not entirely clear from the trailer. If you blink a couple times in the middle of it though, you’ll miss a couple of images from a scene filmed at the Wind Chimes Shopping Center on Westheimer at Eldridge, where a vacant storefront was apparently dressed up as a locked-up mattress store for filming. A notice posted to the front of the shuttered shop from a Houston “Department of Health” flashes by too fast, but if you freeze-frame it the words on the official-looking document may — or may not — help a little bit to explain the movie’s plot (emphasis in the original):

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Great Moments in Houston Cinema
06/16/17 11:30am

If you’re just coming up to speed on the whole food hall thing, remember this: It’s not a food court, it’s a food hall. And in the case of Bravery Chef Hall, planned for a 9,000-sq.-ft. space in the ground floor of the Aris Market Square tower Hines is completing at the corner of Preston and Travis Downtown, it’s not just a food hall but “the world’s first chef hall.” Or, as the founders explain, “a curated food hall where all vendors are operated and owned by chefs, employing only cooks, and where a large percentage of the seats are chef counter seating.” So maybe think of it as a huddle of 5 independently operated chef’s tables, each surrounding an open kitchen, in one streetfront retail space. (Plus additional adjacent seating — and outside, a patio garden and sidewalk café dining space totaling 3,000 sq. ft.)

How real is this thing? Well, it’s coming from the team behind the Conservatory, Downtown’s only other currently operating food hall (as well as Prohibition Supperclub and its accompanying Oyster Bar) — and yesterday the Downtown Management District approved a $140,000 “catalytic retail grant” towards the estimated $1.8 million buildout.

Here’s a peek at the construction currently going on in the space:

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Bravery Chef Hall
06/16/17 9:00am

AMAZON WILL SWALLOW WHOLE FOODS WHOLE For those who expected Whole Foods Market to shop itself to a fellow grocery store chain and not a powerful company experimenting with drone delivery, some surprising news this morning: Amazon plans to acquire the Austin-based company for $13.7 billion. “Whole Foods Market will continue to operate stores under the Whole Foods Market brand and source from trusted vendors and partners around the world,” the company reports. [Whole Foods; background from Texas Monthly] Photo of Whole Foods Market at West Alabama and Kirby: ilovebutter [license]

06/15/17 4:30pm

BONES FOUND IN HOLDOUT HEIGHTS HOUSE ATTIC TELL NO TALES Fox26 has now updated its story from March on the mysterious circumstances surrounding the fate of Mary Cerruti, the former owner of the 2-bedroom home at 610 Allston St. in the Heights, whose mysterious disappearance in 2015 roughly coincided with the latter stages of Trammell Crow’s construction of the 6-story Alexan Heights apartment complex adjacent to her home. Cerruti was a vocal opponent of the development who refused to sell her property and later reportedly complained greatly about the inconveniences caused by the construction. Her former home is now surrounded on 3 sides by the 6-story apartment building; and earlier this year renters in the same home discovered some unidentified human remains — next to a pair of red reading glasses similar to ones Cerruti wore — behind a loose board in the attic. Today, reports Kaitlin Monte, the Harris County Medical Examiner has announced that it cannot determine the cause of death from that evidence —“because the remains were skeletonized.” The 1,161-sq.-ft. home, meanwhile, has been on the market since March, though the asking price has jumped from $439,900 to $475,000. [Fox26; HAR; previously on Swamplot] Photo: HAR  

06/15/17 2:30pm

Just opened this week in Re:Vive Development’s new add-on strip center at 721 W. 19th St., just west of Shepherd Dr.: the first Houston outpost of Austin’s Tarka Indian Kitchen chain, a Chipotle-style “fast casual” restaurant serving curries, kabobs, and — yes — naaninis. Next door to diners in the 4,295-sq.-ft. steel-frame building, the new Benjamin Moore Paints store (seen here under construction last year) is also open, a reader reports.

In lieu of a parking-space-and-a-half on the side of the building facing past more parking onto the more sugary part of the center closer to Shepherd (home to Fat Cat Creamery, Hugs and Donuts, Smoothie King, and KA Sushi) is this dusty square, designated for a future patio:

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Tarka Indian Kitchen in the Heights
06/15/17 11:45am

Noticed that striking Meyerland Mod headlining our demolition report this morning? The 1956 home at 4815 Braesvalley Dr. first came to Swamplot’s attention 9 years ago, as the site of a remarkable scene. The then-86-year-old architect Lars W. Bang, a prolific purveyor of Modern Houston homes, was driven to the property in hopes that the real estate agent listing the 4-bedroom property might confirm that he was indeed its designer. “My husband, Jim, helped him out of the car and invited him into the house,” Meg Zoller wrote, “but Mr. Bang’s knees aren’t what they used to be . . . and he just wanted to stand out front and look at the house. After some time he decided that he could not confidently say whether the home was one of his designs or not.”

Bang passed away the following year, but not before his authorship of 4815 Braesvalley was confirmed. (It turned out his name was on a set of plans kept by the Meyerland Homeowner’s Association.) Writing in the next edition of the Houston Architectural Guide, Stephen Fox labeled it a home that “rescues Meyerland from being boring.” The plan contains 3 courtyard spaces, one of them now topped by a screen roof:

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Mod Be Gone
06/14/17 12:45pm

Just a few blocks down the street from that River Oaks Shopping Center highrise site, a reader checks in this week on the French-esque midrise apartment complex that’s been slowly coming together at 1916 W. Gray St. The Houston Ballet’s converted clothing factory headquarters made a grand exit from the site back in the pre-oil-bust days; since then the project has been rechristened from Graybelle to Le Palais, and this sketchy view of a facade has been circulated by the developers:

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Gargoyles in the Wings
06/14/17 11:15am

Across and a little bit down the street from the site where the company proposes to tear down an already altered section of the River Oaks Shopping Center and erect a 29-story apartment tower with 2 floors of underground parking, Weingarten Realty has more plans to make changes to the landmark art deco center. At the corner of West Gray and McDuffie, the company wants to tear down the 2-story western end of the south half of the 1948 section of the shopping center — which now houses a California Pizza Kitchen and the remains of the Evolve Fitness Studio upstairs (and was previously the site of a Birraporetti’s with Sherlock’s Pub above it) — and reconstruct the section as a 12,730-sq.-ft. Perry’s Steakhouse & Grille with significantly taller first and second stories.

The design, by Chicago’s Aria Group Architects, “will maintain historical features” of the building at 1997 West Gray St., the submitted plans (PDF) explain. But not exactly in the same order. Stick-on stone facing was stuck onto lower portions of this section of the art deco structure in 2007 when it was given a new stucco-batter coating and turned into a CPK; the new design shows a tall curved panel of limestone wrapping the corner, but this time on the higher second floor, suspended above a rebuilt portion of the center’s signature curved soffit.

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Raising Perry’s Steakhouse