11/06/18 10:00am

Rice is getting ready to plop a few units of student housing on the corner lot long-occupied by the Morningside Court Apartments, a 54-unit building just south of Rice Village that the school bought in 2001. Wasting no time, Rice kicked all the tenants that weren’t students out of the complex that same year — according to Nancy Sarnoff — but kept the 5 buildings standing until last summer. (During that limbo period, the school’s attention was on the opposite side of the Shakespeare St., where the 4-story Rice Village Apartments, also for students, went up in 2008 in place of houses and smaller apartments.)

Three stories of townhouse-like dwellings appear now to be planned for the former Morningside Court corner, where their main entrances will front Shakespeare St. On Thursday, Houston’s planning commission decides whether they can be built up close to that road — about 20 ft. from it as opposed to what’d typically be some extra distance.

Images: Houston Planning Commission

2401 Shakespeare
11/05/18 4:30pm

Note: This story has been updated to include Beard Papa’s in the list of tenants planned for Bellaire Food Street.

The steel is up for Bellaire Food Street‘s 3-level garage, as shown in the twilit photo at top looking west down Bellaire Blvd. So far popsicle shop Popfancy, Japanese cream puff dealer Beard Papa’s, Japanese gather-’round-the-grill restaurant Pepper Lunch, Vietnamese restaurant Migo, Taiwanese shaved ice shop Meet Fresh, and — just today — Beijing-style skewered meat spot Fat Ni BBQ have punched their tickets for entry into ground floor of the 24,000-sq.-ft. strip next door, reports Eater, adding that more are on the way. The developer Kevin Kan has laid claim to the building’s second story office outpost.

Work on the 2-acre site between Beltway 8 and Gessner got off the ground earlier this year:

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Where Diho Apartments Left Off
11/05/18 2:30pm

Lovett Commercial’s latest post-industrial venture in East Downtown will take place just 4 blocks down Polk St. from the one it’s already got going at the former Houston Post building. The target this time: 2 blocks between Delano and Ennis streets now home collectively to more than 99,000 sq.-ft. of buildings — including the one where Frankel’s Costume Shop closed early this year. Most of the existing structures will stay standing with new shops, offices, restaurants, and some kind of art exhibition or creation spaces shoved inside them. The aerial at top shows off the whole thing in not-so-fine detail from the corner of Delano and Polk. And the street-level rendering looks in the opposite direction, depicting a patio-ed and pedestrian-ized eastern block with its western counterpart in the background.

A cold-storage box once home to Freedman Meats takes up the whole eastern block right now, shown below from Polk.:

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Polk & Ennis
11/02/18 2:45pm

A tower crane and accompanying high-altitude construction equipment are now hovering over the northwest corner of S. Braeswood and Greenbriar where work on a new 14-story Houston Methodist office midrise is underway. Eight of those levels will be devoted to parking, the project manager over at Hunt Construction tells Swamplot. It’s all taking off on what used to be the Astrodome Marriott hotel, torn down after the Methodist system bought the land in 2000.

For more than a decade the 10-acre parcel remained unbuilt until a new single-story daycare for Houston Methodist employees’ kids (ages 0 through 5) sprung up on its western portion last year. The center — a brightly-painted and multi-gabled structure to the left of what’s shown in the photos above — enrolled 130 kids when it opened. Once some of them age out, it’ll consider taking on children of Methodist’s business partners, too, as well as those without any parental ties to the hospital system.

Photos: Swamplox inbox

South of Brays Bayou
11/02/18 12:45pm

EVERYONE ORDERED OUT FROM UNDER 59 OVERPASS ON WHEELER, BUS PARKING TO TAKE THEIR PLACE Crews are emptying the Wheeler Ave. tent-stead underneath 59 of all its homeless residents, their belongings, and accumulated residue — Mayor Turner said in a series of tweets today — clearing the way for a new fenced-off bus parking lot to take over the property. Signs announcing the ouster and incoming fences went up Tuesday, said the mayor, and this morning, a METRO bus was on site “to take the 45 or so residents to shelter,” after they “voluntarily accept offers,” to relocate. A month ago the city declared the setup a public health nuisance, reports the Chronicle, a state designation slapped on areas that could be hazardous to those nearby. That’s right around the time Rice bought the office structure one-block north of the encampment, presumably for the so-called Midtown Innovation district it’s now cobbling together from land on both sides of the vacant Sears building it owns as well. [Houston Chronicle] Photo: Swamplox inbox

11/02/18 10:30am

Black Dog Records blew the lid off its classified relocation plans yesterday by filing a permit on its soon-to-be new address: 726 W. 19th St., the strip center storefront previously home to kids’ karaoke venue Gipsy Girls. Incoming management now plans to redo about 1,700-sq.-ft. of space inside and fill it with the vinyl that populated its last shop — shown above — at 4900 Bissonnet St. until about a month ago. (The location between S. Rice and 610 had been a fertile spot for record junkies since even before Black Dog got there thanks to its longtime previous tenant Don’s Record Shop.)

A few of the neighbors Black Dog can expect to meet once it gets situated in its new Heights environs: alcoholic art joint Painting With a Twist (to its immediate west), Gold Rush Collective Tattoo Parlour, Replay Games old school video game shop, and Texas Dry Clean InStep Pilates. Across the street lies Re:Vive Development’s new-ish 2-building retail complex made up of a standalone Benjamin Moore paint store and a strip home to — among others — Fat Cat Creamery.

Photos: Gipsy Girls (Gipsy Girls); Mark B. (Black Dog Records)

Kids Karaoke Takeover
11/01/18 5:30pm

That’s 50 pounds of the city’s own name-brand organic fertilizer — dubbed Hou-Actinite — in the photo above. Every Houston resident gets the urge to help produce it sometimes through contributions to the municipal sewer system — which eventually arrive at one of the 2 largest treatment facilities in the city: the 69th St. Wastewater Treatment Plant off Clinton Dr. near Wayside and Buffalo Bayou, or the Almeda Sims plant near W. Orem Dr. and Sims Bayou. There, the raw material is heated until dry, sterilized, and ground into pellets of what the city calls “Class-A” product; in other words: top-shelf stuff. About 32,000 tons of it are made each year and shipped off to nurseries, as well as bulk agricultural buyers.

It’s nothing new; the city patented the process back in 1949:

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It Takes a Village
11/01/18 12:45pm

The vacant, red-brick building on Congress Ave. shown above just west of Bastrop St. demolished itself this morning, leaving a gap between its turn-of-the-century contemporaries to the south and the metal-roofed warehouse north of it. During its earlier days, the building’s second floor was rented to boarders — a typical setup in this section of the Second Ward, which remained “almost entirely residential,” according to historian Stephen Fox, until Union Station opened in 1911, prompting warehouse and industrial redos nearby.

For about the last decade, it’s been roofless:

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Early Morning Breakdown
11/01/18 10:15am

  

A handful of building permits filed recently over at the Marq’e Entertainment Center indicate that kids training center Soccer Hub is kicking off renovations directly behind the spot reserved for the new Spaghetti-Warehouse-like eatery the brand’s parent company is calling Warehouse 72. Together, both new venues will be taking over the space Korean buffet Kpop gave up last year on the shopping center’s non-movie-theater side, across the arch-fronted alley from Dave and Buster’s‘s almost-but-not-entirely standalone building. (There’s now a mystery-themed escape room up in its business, as indicated on the map above.)

It’s not an entirely even split: Soccer Hub is getting about 6,000 sq.-ft. while Warehouse 72 will have 8,600 — enough room for seating, prepared food retail fixtures, and a double-sided bar serving both the restaurant’s insides and a planned 750-sq.-ft. patio, reports Eater‘s Alaena Hostetter. Until the 2 get situated — or get beat to the punch by the Hugh O’Connors Irish-themed restaurant opening in space number 25 on the map —specialty soda and candy shop Rocket Fizz will remain the only thing inside the Marq’e’s center building. It’s been there by itself since Cafe Adobe closed in what’s shown on the map as spot number 26, leaving 10,000 sq.-ft. up for grabs.

Photo: Kpop. Map: Levcor

Tag Team Takeover
10/31/18 5:00pm

Looking east from what’s now the top of the soon-to-be-7 story Giorgetti Condo midrise on Steel St., you get a real eyeful of the planned 32-stories taller Hanover River Oaks apartment tower that’s rising next to it (and a glimpse at 2727 Kirby in the distance). Both unfinished buildings are going up on the northern half of what used to be the Kirby Court Apartments and together will occupy almost the entire block south of the former West Ave retail and apartment complex that’s recently made quite a new name for itself as “The Shops at Arrive.” A handful of houses and retail buildings along Kipling St. — including the Becks Prime on the corner of Kirby — are the only veterans sticking around.

A look in the opposite direction shows the Giorgetti’s bald head backed by neighboring townhouses along Virginia St.:

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Furniture-Themed Development
10/31/18 1:00pm

Here’s another highlight from the city council’s meeting this morning: Plans to get rid of the cloverleaf interchange that moves traffic between Waugh Dr. and Memorial Dr. got the green-light and will be sent over to the Houston Galveston Area Council as part of an application for funding. The idea first emerged in the Buffalo Bayou Partnership’s 2002 Master Plan as a way to make room for more bayou-side park space at the crossroads. Right now, all the land adjacent to the ramps — shaded gray in the map above — is vacant, except for the portions lassoed by the circular roadways, where 4 isolated tree groves continue to undergo seasonal color changes. You can see they’re gone in the east-facing rendering at top included in the Partnership’s plan — replaced by inlets, islands, stormwater detention, and what looks to be a boathouse at the southeast corner of the 2 roads — all accessible from a network of new walkways that link up to existing bayou-adjacent trails.

In total, 16 new acres are expected to become part of the park — providing a continuous swath of green between Spotts Park and Cleveland Park, shown below on opposite sides of Waugh in a map from the 2002 plan:

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Traffic Lights Likely
10/31/18 10:00am

PAVING THE WAY FOR A BIKE LANE ON W. FUQUA This morning, City Council plans to vote in support of some roadwork that’d add on-street bike lanes to W. Fuqua St. between Chimney Rock and Houston’s border with Missouri City, just west of Fondren Rd. Over that 1.7-mile stretch — which crosses over the Fort Bend Pkwy. — a couple upgrades for cars would be put in as well, including turning lanes at Fondren and traffic lights at W. Ridgecreek Dr. in place of what’s now a 3-way stop. It’s all lumped into that application the city plans to submit to the Houston Galveston Area Council in order to get funding for a bunch of other transportation projects around town, too, like that widening and heightening effort on Dairy Ashford. [Houston City Council; previously on Swamplot]

10/30/18 5:00pm

SOUTHWEST KEY SEEKS CONTRACT EXTENSION FOR FACILITY IT HASN’T OPENED YET A spokesman for Southwest Key, the nonprofit that houses immigrant kids, tells the Chronicle’s Mike Morris that federal officials are giving it more time to open its stalled Casa Sunzal facility 3 blocks from BBVA Compass than they’d originally allowed now that the deadline of October 28 has passed. That’s the date by which Southwest Key previously claimed federal officials would terminate their contract for the facility if it wasn’t yet open. What’s been the holdup? Local officials, who — the nonprofit claims in its ongoing lawsuit against the city — are refusing to grant it the permits it needs to operate. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo: LoopNet

10/30/18 3:15pm

Add 6 more locations to the list of Mattress Firm stores the company has decided to close as part of its recent Chapter 11 filing. They are: across Hwy. 6 from the Missouri City H-E-B off Sienna Pkwy., at Baybrook Square across from Baybrook Mall (already home to Mattress Firm Final Markdown that’s sticking around for now), in the Oak Ridge North Shopping Center across I-45 from The Woodlands Mall, off 290 north of Spring-Cypress Rd., and in the Portofino Shopping Center off I-45 in Shenandoah. There’s also one closing within Houston proper: the 5409 S. Rice Ave. store, which fronts  the Walmart off 59. The map above shows all the closures — including standard locations (red), Final Markdowns (orange), and Clearance centers (yellow) — the chain has announced so far.

King-Sized Retreat
10/30/18 1:15pm

It’s not just the Shepherd Square flagship store that’s biting the dust: Locations in the eponymous New Territory Randalls Center (pictured at top) off the Grand Pkwy. and in the Windvale Center (pictured above) on the northern edge of The Woodlands at College Park Dr. and FM 1488 are goners, too. All 3 stores will shut down around December 1, a spokeswoman tells Swamplot.

At the Windvale Center, the closure will leave behind a nearly 57,000-sq.-ft. hole in the middle of the property, mapped out in this old leasing flyer:

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Flagship and Friends