01/09/19 10:30am

IS ANOTHER HOUSTON FOOD HALL ON ITS WAY TO RICE VILLAGE? Whispers of a forthcoming food hall at University Blvd. and Morningside Dr. have been audible ever since Trademark Property put out renderings in 2016 showing the eastern Rice Village Arcade building there rebranded as “Rice Village Market.” Since then, the building’s remained mostly untouched, but now, with the help of one particularly sharp fact-finder over on HAIF, Eater’s Alaena Hoestetter offers this detail: “the forthcoming project,” she writes, “is from the same entity responsible for St. Roch Market in New Orleans.” It would be the second third time St. Roch’s operators attempted to branch out beyond their native NOLA. Last February, the food hall’s parent company opened an “identically named spinoff in Miami,” writes Hoestetter, prompting the City of New Orleans to file a lawsuit alleging unauthorized use of the moniker. The company’s principle later “confirmed to Eater that the new project wouldn’t bear the St. Roch moniker,” reports Hoestetter, though the suit is ongoing. (No final word yet on what another St. Roch spinoff planned for Chicago will be called.) In Rice Village, company representatives appear to be playing it safe so far: The LLC they established in Texas last September is known simply as Rice Village F&B. [Eater Houston via HAIF; previously on Swamplot] Rendering: Trademark Property

01/08/19 5:00pm

Crescent Communities appears ready to deliver on the promise it made last summer to residents of The Georgian apartments at Westheimer and Willowick: that after tearing down their building, the replacement would include not just rental units, but some kind of “integrated retail” as well. The rendering at top shows just that: A 14,000-sq.-ft. collection of storefronts fronts both Westheimer and an off-street inlet wrapped by the planned 8-story building. In the second image, you can see the main entrance to the building and its 300 units off Willowick. Overhead signage on that facade bears the project’s name: Novel River Oaks.

Excavators starting demolishing The Georgian complex shortly before the new year, but still have some more left to pick apart. Over on HAIF, a handful of demolition photographers have been documenting the apartments’ final days since deconstruction began.

Renderings: Crescent Communities

Novel River Oaks
01/08/19 11:45am

TIMBERGROVE H-E-B TO CLOSE JUST AHEAD OF SHEPHERD H-E-B’S END-OF-MONTH OPENING January 29 will be the last day of service at the 1511 W. 18th St. H-E-B, reports The Leader’s Landan Kuhlman. And the next day, he writes, H-E-B’s new double-decker location at 2300 N. Shepherd Dr. will open just under a mile away (with legally-offered beer and wine on the shelves). It’s the second 2-story store the grocer has opened in Houston — the first was in Bellaire — and has been in the making between 23rd and 24th streets since late 2017, by which time the block had been devoid of its former Fiesta tenant for over a year. A third H-E-B of the same breed is currently on the rise in Meyerland Plaza. [The Leader; previously on Swamplot] Photo of new H-E-B at 2300 N. Shepherd Dr.: Brandon DuBois

01/08/19 10:15am

Here’s a look at the new HQ that Houston nonprofit Avenue CDC wants to build at 3527 Irvington Blvd. just north of the road’s fork with Fulton St. and east of Moody Park. The rendering emerged yesterday following news that the United Arab Emirates was coughing up $6.5 million of the $10 million it pledged to give Houston after Harvey. After its donation gets disbursed to a handful of local recipients, Avenue CDC will come out with $2.6 millionreports the HBJ’s Olivia Pulsinelli — all of which it plans to put toward the 3-story, 30,500-sq.-ft. building. An additional $8.7 million for the structure will be collected from elsewhere.

According to a press release from the folks set to inhabit the new HQ, their idea is to “conveniently co-locate a variety of vital resources for residents” inside, such as a health clinic, early childhood education center, post-disaster housing counseling offices, and a realty office. The residents they’re talking about include homeowners in the CDC’s nearby Avenue Place development — a  neighborhood of 95 three- and four-bedroom homes — as well as Avenue Terrace, an adjacent 192-unit apartment project. Both communities went up on what used to be FedEx’s 20-acre truck depot off Irvington and Weiss St. over the course of the last few years.

Rendering: Avenue CDC

Near Northside
01/07/19 1:15pm

Documents put out by Houston’s planning commission reveal that Sweetgreen isn’t the only tenant signed up to take over Doc’s Motorwork’s empty structure at 1303 Westheimer; there’s also a Steel City Pops on the way to the back of the building. The site plan at top shows it grabbing about 900 sq.-ft along Graustark St., leaving the rest of the 4,400-sq.-ft. building reserved for the plant-based anchor tenant.

This is Sweetgreen’s first step into Texas, according to Eater’s Alaena Hostetter (or second, if you count the other not-yet-open location it has planned for Rice Village) and it wants to make Doc’s building look like this before setting foot in it:

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On Deck Along Westheimer
01/07/19 10:15am

Shuttered Rice Village pizza parlor Pizza L’Vino is set to become the second Reach Stretch Studio in Houston and fifth across the greater Houston area: Katy, Sugar Land, The Woodlands, and Memorial branches of the wellness chain are already up and running. A building permit filed last Friday for the 2,100-sq.-ft. storefront at 2524 Rice Blvd. — across the street from Buffalo Wild Wings — indicates conversion work is about to begin.

Pizza L’Vino’s other location has also closed down in the Waugh Dr. shopping center it once shared with competitive axe-throwing venue The Ratchet Hatchet.

Photo: Pizza L’Vino

2524 Rice Blvd.
01/04/19 3:45pm

The rendering above looks east from the corner of Westheimer and Eastgrove St. to show the first few floors of a new 20-story condo tower that developer Randall Davis wants to build on the just-under-0.4-acre lot formerly home to the Krispen Home furniture store. Plans for the highrise made their first appearance before Houston’s city planning commission yesterday, where they were deferred until the group’s next meeting in 2 weeks, but not before residents and representatives of the site’s neighboring subdivisions got a few words in. Roughly a dozen speakers from Westgrove Court — the 2-dozen-home residential neighborhood that lies southwest of the would-be tower, along Westgrove and Eastgrove streets — were particularly loud in decrying it. They noted that Westgrove St.’s current narrowness already makes creates tight squeeze for passing traffic.

The same goes for Eastgrove St., where a site plan submitted by the developer shows curb cuts giving access to a driveway at what’d be the southwest corner of the building:

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3723 Westheimer
01/04/19 1:15pm

Sure, there’s been a whole lotta talk lately about how In-N-Out Burger is on its way to the redo of Texas Instruments’ 192-acre Stafford campus that developers have dubbed The Grid. But what about those not-yet-named retailers that renderings put out by Gensler, the architect for the project, show taking over the air conditioning towers that TI left behind at the site? The photo above shows what those decommissioned cooling units looks like right now.

They sit behind the centerpiece of the site, TI’s abandoned office building:

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Adaptive A/C Reuse
01/04/19 10:00am

NINTH HOUSTON-AREA SPROUTS DEBUTS IN SUGAR LAND THIS MONTH Workers are putting the finishing touches on the Sprouts Farmers Market inside Sugar Land’s new University Commons Shopping Center off 59, a 150,000-sq.-ft. complex that includes everything depicted in the rendering above, plus a whole extra crop of retailers and restaurants that are already open on the other side of University Blvd. The grocery store’s opening date: January 16, at which time it’ll become the ninth Sprouts store operating in the Houston area (and the only second one in Fort Bend County). About 150 new hires will be on duty inside following a successful job fair Sprouts hosted on December 6 at the Hilton Garden Inn Houston-Sugar Land just up the street in the University Plaza shopping center. [Houston Chronicle] Site plan of University Commons Shopping Center Phase II: Capital Retail Properties

01/03/19 3:00pm

It’s the most wonderful time of the year to take stock of everything that’s been ripped to shreds around town recently, so we built this tool to help you do so. The map above shows the location of every demolition permit filed with the City of Houston in 2018. Here’s a full-size version. In total 2,312 properties were tagged for demo, some of which — like, say, apartment or industrial complexes — saw multiple structures go down on their premises. Zoom in and you’ll see the clusters start to break down into individual address markers that tell you more about what went down. (Multi-building demos are indicated by the bullseye icons with multiple rings.)

Recognize any of last year’s high-profile disappearances? The Shelor Motor Company Building at 1621 Milam St., for instance? KHOU’s flooded newsroom at 1945 Allen Pkwy.? The Depression-era Harris County District Attorney’s Building at 201 Fannin, Clark Gable’s former house at 411 Hyde Park Blvd., the northeast portion of the River Oaks Shopping Center at 1958 W. Gray St., La Colombe d’Or’s ballroom at 3410 Montrose Blvd., architecture firm Caudill Rowlett Scott’s former HQ at 1177 West Loop South, Exxon Chemical’s old conference building at 13501 Katy Fwy., the mysterious Heights corner compound at 620 W. 9th St., Shake Shack’s Burger King predecessor at 1002 Westheimer, the last traces of KBR’s Fifth Ward complex at 2720 Clinton Dr., the bungalow at 610 Allston St. where Mary Cerruti — the homeowner who refused to make room for Trammell Crow’s adjacent Yale at 6th apartments — was found dead inside one of the walls?

They’re all there. This time, however, they’re sharing the spotlight with all their fellow, but significantly less fussed-over knockdowns, the kinds that form the bulk of Houston real estate turnover. For a look at where across-the-board demo activity was the most concentrated last year, take a look at our 2018 demolition heatmap:

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Annual Demolition Report
01/03/19 10:15am

This just in from Eater: One of those alliterative spicy chicken spots is now open between Smashburger and Nails By Lily in the standalone retail building across Town Center Blvd. from Sugar Land’s city hall; its name: Porto’s Peri Peri. Note: That’s not to be confused with The Peri Peri Factory — which opened on Westheimer near Hillcroft in April — nor Chick’n Cone, a NYC import that debuted its chicken with peri-peri sauce in the Woodlands in August,” according to Eater’s Alaena Hostetter; nor the Peli Peli Kitchen that opened around the same time inside the new 365 by Whole Foods Market off 610 as spin-off of the more formal Peli Peli sit-down restaurant at The Galleria. (The spelling of their names notwithstanding, both Peli Peli locations still refer to their chicken as peri peri.)

The common ingredient in all authentic peri peri dishes: bird’s eye chili, reports Eater’s Amy McCarthy. According to her, the Portuguese recipe was first brought to the U.S. by Nando’s Peri Peri, a South African chain that started outside Johannesburg in 1987 and now has more than a thousand locations across the globe — but none in Houston. Not to worry though, our local operators plan to continue filling in the gap. Porto’s Peri Peri’s owner told Hostetter in November that he’d follow-up the Sugar Land location with more spots inside and outside the 610 Loop. And Peli Peli’s owner told McCarthy last summer that he planned to start franchising after the new year.

Photos: Nisha B. (Porto’s Peri Peri); Nails By Lily (Nails By Lily)

Porto’s Peri Peri
01/02/19 2:00pm

And people say Houston’s bike lanes don’t get any use! The next time someone gives you that line, there’s no need to bicker. Instead, just invite them out for a beer at Saint Arnold’s new-ish brewing cathedral off I-10. On the way there, you’ll spot the new bike lanes running adjacent to the brewery on both sides of Lyons Ave. And if the conditions in the one on the eastbound side of the street are anything like those shown in the photo above, then congratulations: It should be clear who’s right.

If, however, parked car traffic appears sparse on the day you stop by, there’s only one possible reason why: New signs must have been installed, prohibiting parking in the bike lane. As long as no ordinance exists to ban bike lane parking outright, such signage is the city’s only recourse to outlaw it.

Further east along Lyons, work to add new 6-ft. bike lanes to both sides of the street is underway and — at Jensen Dr. — has already been completed:

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Free Parking in the Fifth Ward
01/02/19 10:30am

LEAGUE CITY’S LONGHORN CATTLE MUSEUM REOPENS All bovine exhibits at the house-turned-museum-and-events-venue at 1220 Coryell St. are now back on view following months of renovations to address flood damage, reports the Chronicle’s Jennifer Bolton. Opened in 2009, The Butler Longhorn Museum, focuses specifically on the iconic cattle breed and the 19th century efforts of the Butler family, members of which helped save the animals from extinction through work on their land in what’s now League City, Kemah, Friendswood, and a few mainland portions of Galveston County. “While most of the exhibits could be — and were — redone, there were murals painted on the downstairs walls of the museum that had to be torn apart,” reports Bolton. Also out of commission: a separate education building that sits on the same 10 acres as the museum itself. [Houston Chronicle] Photo: Butler Longhorn Museum

12/31/18 10:30am

The rendering at top of a new West-Loop-fronting hotel shows 2 different signs adoring its upper facade: one for Holiday Inn Express, the other for Staybridge Suites. Both brands will be housed under one roof in the planned 14-story building that’s due to crop up between Public Storage and the Stages Stores corporate office building north of Westheimer and east of the West Loop. On the second floor, you can see the pool deck that’s planned. No word yet on how that outdoor area or the building’s 319 rooms will be divvied up between the 2 brands, or if there will be any distinction at all.

InterContinental Hotels Group is the corporate overlord behind both Staybridge and Holiday Inn. Its logo makes a sly appearance on one of the flags in the rendering.

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2-in-1 Deals
12/28/18 4:00pm

HOW TIKI ISLAND CAME TO BE, AND TO BE CALLED TIKI ISLAND “I wanted to call it” — wait for it — “Buccaneer Bay,” says the peninsula’s developer Welcome Wilson Sr. in a recent interview with the Chronicle‘s Nancy Sarnoff. For all its alliterative charm, however, Wilson’s business partner Bill Sherrill vetoed the suggestion, and Wilson dropped it because he owed Sherrill one. Indeed, it was Sherrill, Wilson tells Sarnoff, who “noticed that when we drove to Jamaica Beach” — the duo’s first project together — “he would see this land over on the right that was about 6 in. above sea level, at the causeway. So he began to wonder: Is that privately owned?” It was, by about 5 different entities, says Wilson. “So he came to me and said, ‘You know, this is 25 minutes closer to Houston than Jamaica Beach,'” adding that if they dug canals as part of the development, the resultant dirt would be enough to elevate the surrounding land. Wilson gave his sign-off and Sherrill bought the land. “Then, just as we got going,” in the late ’60s, says Wilson, “the President of the United States, Lyndon Johnson, appointed [Sherrill] to the Federal Reserve Board in Washington and he left town, sold it out to me.” But the name stuck — and was formalized when the area incorporated as The Village of Tiki Island in 1982. “It was all Bill’s idea,” says Wilson. “No question about it.” [Houston Chronicle] Photo of Tiki Island: HAR