08/11/17 3:30pm

If a year or so from now you find yourself holed up in acute or intensive care in the North Campus Tower of the Houston Methodist hospital in the Texas Medical Center and for some reason start to wonder how that bathroom behind you was constructed, have we got a video for you! (It’s posted above.) It’s a time-lapse showing how workers from interior finishes contractor Marek pieced together 207 prefabricated restroom pods in the McCorvey Sheet Metal Works warehouse at 4800 Fidelity St. (just southeast of the intersection of I-10 and the East Loop), then shrinkwrapped and transported them, 1 or 2 at a time, to 6551 Bertner St., where they were they were lifted and dollied into place and hooked up to the building’s plumbing.

How’s construction on the $700 million, 960,000-sq.-ft. 22-story north tower Med Center expansion going so far? Here are a couple of views from today — from construction cams trained on the project:

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Warehouse Built
08/11/17 11:15am

The new Holiday Inn Express about to begin construction at 3401 N. Main St. in the Near Northside will have some consistently quiet neighbors and some occasionally very loud ones — with the steady drone of the adjacent North Fwy. available to somehow bridge the gap. The 1.44-acre site, where the Casa Grande Mexican Restaurant stood until it was torn down 2 years ago (and Stuarts Drive-In before it), sits across N. Main St. from the Hollywood Cemetery (yes, the same cemetery featured in Wes Anderson movie Rushmore). And it’s just a bit more than a quarter-mile up N. Main from the White Oak Music Hall complex, whose outdoor concert habit spurred nearby residents kept up late at night by the noise to file suit against the venue — and later, the city of Houston — for failing to follow (and enforce) local sound ordinances.

Late last month, crews removed the concrete paving left behind after the Casa Grande demolition (see photos above). Just this week, a city permit was granted for a 58,929-sq.-ft., 95-room Holiday Inn Express on the site — up 10 rooms from the 85 promised a couple of years ago, when the developers submitted these drawings as part of an application for a variance that would allow them not to have to extend or widen Norma St., on the north end of the lot:

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Near Near Northside
08/10/17 4:30pm

Forget all the crazy rumors and stories you’ve heard about the Galveston Kettle House. The actual most likely true story of how the unusual Galveston West Beach-area landmark known as the Kettle House came to be — and what’s about to happen to it — has at long last been revealed by the builder’s daughter (and current owner), Mary Etheridge-Rachels, to Dallas-area writer Linda Armstrong.

Among the shocking revelations — well, okay, interesting facts — included in Armstrong’s account of the steel bowl’s history, pieced together from her interviews with Etheridge-Rachels:

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Legends in Steel
08/10/17 1:15pm

HOW TO DESIGN A PARKING GARAGE THAT WON’T BECOME USELESS ONCE CARS GET RESTLESS The best way to make sure parking garages don’t become obsolete heaps of concrete once cars figure out better things to do with their time when drivers aren’t using them is to build structures that have flat floorplates and more headroom, Gensler’s Peter Merwin tells reporter Kyle Hagerty: “Any future use will require level ground rather than the steep slopes typical to garages, so designing flat floors on every level is critical. To convert to residential, developers need a minimum 11-foot floor-to-floor height. That allows designers to properly core the infrastructure and build out the space.” Merwin, who works in Gensler’s Houston office, is guiding the design of the proposed Fairview District Garage at Fairview and Genesee streets in Montrose. His ideal future-proofing floor-to-floor dimension for garages as we approach the age of the driverless car? 15 ft. “That opens up the option to convert each floor into lofts, residential, retail or office. Another added benefit is that in the event you need more parking, not less, you can convert a 15-foot level into a double stacking parking floor like those in operation in many dense metros.” [Bisnow] Rendering of Fairview District Garage: Gensler

08/10/17 12:45pm

Corazon — your Hyde Park source for guayaberas, Lucha Libre masks, and other assorted crafty and gifty south-of-the-border imports — has lost its lease and will be leaving its longtime spot at the northwest corner of Waugh and Fairview within a month, store owner Chris Murphy reports. The 6,250-sq.-ft. lot it sits on, which includes a recently demolished property at 1410 Fairview, is now under contract after being marketed as a redevelopment site.

Corazon moved into its current home in 1998 — from a location in the former Gramercy Apartments on Montrose Blvd. across from Bell Park (where the Museum Tower now stands). The corner spot at 2318 Waugh Dr. has a craft-y history: Previously a furniture refinishing shop, the building reportedly earlier had gigs as an antique store, a glass-blowing studio, a general store, and a smithy. Murphy says he expects it to be demolished — and replaced with townhomes.

The structure is perhaps best known to passers-by, however, as a frame for the fifth-ever red dot, painted by Red Dot Boys (and former Houstonians) Robert Ramos and Rick Carpenter, as shown here in this undated image from the Red Dot Boys website:

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Folk Art History
08/09/17 3:15pm

The final portion of the 6-story former Town & Country V office building at 908 Town & Country Blvd., including its elevator shaft, came down in an awkward curtsy yesterday, leaving workers in the lower floors of the neighboring 15-story CityCentre Five with nothing left to block their views of the Katy Fwy. Demolitions of the adjacent Town & Country III and Town & Country IV office buildings preceded it.

The unobstructed freeway view won’t last forever: Developer Midway is planning 2 new office buildings — as well as a residential highrise — for the cleared site.

Video: Swamplot inbox

Last Fall at I-10 and Beltway 8
08/09/17 1:00pm

The new bar planned for the 20,878-sq.-ft. warehouse at 3229 Navigation Blvd. in Houston’s East End that earlier this decade was home to Fred’s Trailer Truck Supply will be called Straylight Run and serve — according to its promoters — as Houston’s first-ever “Virtual Reality Bar.” That’s the conclusion of some internet sleuthing by HAIF (and Swamplot) commenter CrockpotandGravel, who after seeing Swamplot’s report on the alcohol license procured for the spot at the corner of Navigation and Engelke tracked down the establishment’s website, a (possibly spurned) logo proposal, and Instagram feed.

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Straylight Run on Navigation
08/09/17 10:45am

TEXADELPHIA’S TRIUMPHANT RETURN TO THE WESTHEIMER STRIP A little more than 2 years after retreating from its last Houston outpost — and later, having to see its former Westheimer location festooned with a giant Beaver statueTex-Mex cheesesteak chain Texadelphia is ready to return. Houston’s very first-in-a-while Texadelphia franchise is scheduled to open by late next month in the endcap of the Westside Plaza strip center at 8383 Westheimer Rd., on the corner of Dunvale, where it will replace the recently shuttered Potbelly sandwich shop pictured above. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo: The Square Foot

08/08/17 4:45pm

The 25-story SkyHouse River Oaks apartment tower, completed at the end of 2015 on a portion of the site of the former Westcreek Apartments just west of the San Felipe Target, has actual streetfront retail on its ground floor. And as of last week, it’s all full and open. That’s when Inferno Pizza began serving in the 2,400-sq.-ft. space at 2031 Westcreek Ln. Suite N1. The neighboring space has been a Glow Spa and Nails since last year.

There’s designated parking for spa- and pizza-goers in the first floor of the building’s garage. Pizza Inferno’s interior is organized like most fast-casual you-tell-us-how-to-assemble-it restaurants, though the buildout also added a 600-sq.-ft. mezzanine dining area and some patio seating (tables are coming in a few weeks) in front:

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Tower Pizza
08/08/17 1:45pm

Wrecking balls may have gone out of style, but cable hookups still put on a good Houston show. A reader with a front-row view of the soon-to-be north end of CityCentre shows us how, in videos and a photo showing the continuing section-by-section disappearance of the 1977 office building at 908 Town & Country Blvd. known as Town & Country V.

First, demolition workers weaken some of the building’s steel support beams by heating them with torches and making a few strategic snips. Then they attach one end of a cable to the beam:

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Cable Hookups and Yanks
08/08/17 11:00am

What’s happening at the corner of Navigation Blvd. and Engelke in the East End? A mix of alcohol and demolition: Mixed beverage, late-night, and beverage cartage permits were issued by the TABC last month to a yet-to-be-opened establishment named Straylight in the 20,878-sq.-ft. metal warehouse building with the brick front at 3229 Navigation Blvd. This spot is 4 blocks down the street from Ninfa’s, just past where Navigation starts to curve east toward Buffalo Bayou. Adjacent to that property, excavators are finishing up their work demolishing the former General Supply & Equipment Co. building at 3203 Engelke St.

The newly vacant lot now spreads just to the north of the building where Straylight is planned, as shown in these photos taken by Swamplot reader Johnny Mann Jr.:

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Straylight
08/07/17 3:00pm

A section of John Nova Lomax’s new Texas Monthly essay on Montrose’s continuing “it was better in the old days” rap chronicles a sequence of prominent changes to the neighborhood from the last decade. That it’s possible to find at least one Swamplot story corresponding to each noted example speaks to the longterm vigilance of this site’s tipsters — if not the author’s research methods. (Lomax in fact wrote a few of our stories himself; he’s a former Swamplot contributor and editor.)

Here’s the passage, altered by a peppering with Swamplot links to provide an annotated and illustrated version of Montrose’s recent journey from former counterculture haven to . . . uh, former counterculture haven:

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You Were There
08/04/17 1:00pm

Architectural details, building materials, windows, and flooring are now being picked from the the Midtown building at 1505 Hadley St. known as the Rice Mansion, a reader suggests. The photo sent above from this morning appears to show someone pulling boards from the threshold at the front door. The triple window fronting the building’s attic has already been yanked out.

Also removed from the property: a large amount of Destiny’s Child memorabilia — but that was last year, when the band’s former manager, Mathew Knowles, sold the entire block to the parent company of the neighboring Midtown Advantage BMW car dealership. The Rice Mansion served as the headquarters of Knowles’s Music World Entertainment for 15 years, and was considered the birthplace of the careers of his daughters, Beyoncé and Solange Knowles.

Another building on the property with a Destiny’s Child connection and a later stint as a wedding and event venue — the House of Deréon Media Center at 2204 Crawford St. — was torn down last month.

 

Photo: Swamplot inbox

Killing Time
08/04/17 11:30am

Demolition has begun, a reader notes, on the Ripple Creek Townhomes at 1015 S. Ripple Creek Dr., a 3-building assembly of 2-story structures fitted onto a 2-plus-acre site directly east of the Second Baptist Church complex on Woodway Dr. The gently named Ripple Creek Dr. is the first north-south street east of Voss on the north side of Woodway; the townhome buildings, which were built in 1970, are wedged between it and the more workaday Bering Ditch, an actual waterway known to carry actual water north to Buffalo Bayou on its straightened, concrete-lined haunches.

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Woodway Breakout