03/27/17 11:00am

Mascalzone Ristorante Italiano, 1500 Shepherd Dr., Cottage Grove, Houston

The multinational dalliances of the restaurant building at 1500 Shepherd Dr., a parking lot away from the corner of Maxie, have come to an end — for now. The management of the outpost of British restaurant chain Mascalzone Ristorante Italiano announced the closure of the location over the weekend, not long after rumors of the shutdown were reported on Houston Food Finder. According to a post on the restaurant’s Facebook page, the Shepherd location will be “merging” with the still-operating Mascalzone location in the shopping center at 12126 Westheimer Rd., west of Kirkwood and across from the Phoenicia parking lot.

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Arrivederci, British Italian Style
03/24/17 2:30pm

5415 Lawndale St., Sims Woods, Houston, 77023

The earth being pushed and shoved around on Lawndale St. between Hackney St. and the railroad tracks to the west this weekend looks like it’s being primed to sprout a field of new townhomes, if all goes according to Drake Homes’s plans. The irregularly shaped former warehouse site is already divvied up into more than 130 townhome-ready plotlets in the Harris County Appraisal District’s records system, each labeled with the moniker Magnolia Gardens. The land spreads between and behind the Eastwood post office and the Lawndale Street Carwash, right across Lawndale from the KIPP Explore Academy:

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Mowing Lawndale
03/24/17 10:45am

The Hamilton apartments, Downtown, Houston, 77002

Say, how’d those midrise apartments nestling delicately into the northernmost armpit of the 45-59 exchange turn out, anyway? An accessory to a Midtown drive-by past the scene sends a fresh shot of the finished product and its The Hamilton nametag, taken from the ramp that sends northbound 45-ers onto the potentially doomed Pierce Elevated. Construction started in 2014 and just wrapped in the fall as leasing started up.

Only the top 2 and a half of the complex’s 5 residential stories (never mind the parking podium levels below that) can peek over the railing of the freeway on the southern side of the structure, providing scenic views both to and of any loiterers on the building’s uppermost southern balconies. Spencer Moore of FancyHoustonApartments.com even took the time to share the experience of staring down drivers on the closest ramp:

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Hamilton Now Showing
03/23/17 12:00pm

Former Exxon Upstream Facility, 3102-3120 Buffalo Spdwy., Greenway/Upper Kirby, Houston, 77098Former Exxon Upstream Facility, 3102-3120 Buffalo Spdwy., Greenway/Upper Kirby, Houston, 77098

More angles on the ongoing obliteration of structures at the freshly former Exxon Upstream Research facility on Buffalo Spdwy. at W. Alabama St. come this week from one of reader MontroseResident’s more elevated perches. The most prominently visible act of deconstruction has been the shattering breakup of the parking garage in the campus’s northwest corner, due south of the now-mostly-reskinned River Oaks Luxury Apartments midrise on Westheimer (which was stripped down to the slabs in the last 2 years for retooling as The River Oaks condo tower, visible below on the far left):

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Crushing on Buffalo Spdwy.
03/23/17 10:30am

2241 Richmond Ave., Upper Kirby, Houston, 77098

2241 Richmond Ave., Upper Kirby, Houston, 77098

One of the low-slung spots fringing Portsmouth Square (the gravelly picket-fenced space between Portsmouth St. and Richmond Ave. which a reader refers to as “arguably Houston’s worst parking lot”) has been getting worked over for an identity swapout planned to take effect later this month. The former Blue Fish House sushi restaurant, just north of vegetarian- and Lord-of-the-Rings-geek-friendly Hobbit Cafe and facing off with Capone’s Oven and Bar, is now decked out in signage for Rim Tanon, billed by its Richmond-facing banner as a Thai street food joint.

Some of the Blue Fish’s old signage was still visible on the back side of the building as of earlier this week (as seen above), though the space’s hanging placard sign has already been replaced. And the building’s trees-in-the-holes front patio area has been getting a little bit of retooling:

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Tradeoff on Richmond Ave
03/22/17 4:30pm

Crane at under-construction Capitol Tower, Capitol St., Downtown, Houston, 77002

Another shot of that crane that took to the air this weekend by the economy-stalled stub of Skanska’s Capitol Tower comes from a reader peering over the site’s parking structure from Rusk St. yesterday. (That’s the neighboring Chase Tower looming over the scene in the background.) Bank of America was outed as being in talks with Skanska about leasing space in the tower (which might add the bank’s current home in Bank of America Center to the list of recent abandonments of Downtown office towers by their namesake tenants). The other sign of life on the site this year was the addition of a street-level mural to the parking garage’s corner, which was dry in time for the Super Bowl last month:

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Sprouting Downtown
03/22/17 1:00pm

721 W. 19th St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008 

Work has moved into the buildout and dressup phase for Phase II of the high-glycemic-index strip center at the corner of W. 19th St. and N. Shepherd Dr., a reader notes during a recent catty-corner oil change. The Benjamin Moore signage spotted around the new second building last year during the site’s flat-slab days is now reflected by buildout permits for the paint store, which should take up about 1,820 sq.ft. of the building’s 4,298. What’ll be filling up the rest of the space? Looks like the leftovers will house Austin export Tarka Indian Kitchen’s first inside-the-Beltway location.

The cameraman also captured a glimpse of Dallas pizzeria Cane Rosso‘s statue of a somewhat confusingly labeled suina rosso, which overlooks the intersection from its browsing position near the parking lot:

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Heights Austinites
03/21/17 5:15pm

Houston Strikers Stadium rendering, possibly 288 at Mowery Rd., South Houston, Houston, 77045

The group of rugby aficionados called the Houston Strikers — seemingly a revival of the name of an 80’s-era semi-professional rugby club — has been showing around the rendering above of a new rugby stadium lately. The facility is said to be planned near the Houston Sports Park along 288 just south of Mowery Rd. by various rugby news sites and discussion groups; the early renderings floating around since last summer corroborate that, showing the stadium tucked next to the distinctively curved crossing of Sims Bayou under 288 (along with some parking lots and a detention basin):

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Fields by Streams off 288
03/21/17 2:30pm

Shake Shack planned at 6205 Kirby Dr, Rice Village, Houston, 77005

Rice Village, Houston, 77005The 26th will be the last day of business for the La Madeleine on Kirby Dr. at Amherst St., a rep for the Rice Village District says this afternoon. After that the space’ll get a significant makeover, part of the ongoing de-suburbanization of the 1990s Village Arcade buildings. Changes planned for the space appear to include a total blackout of the corner’s pediments, a gutting of the existing canopy level (paired with a boxy see-through enclosure of that area) and a hip-high hashtag-biscuitpaintwall-style landscaping feature (replacing the existing hedge as Amherst’s walkable zone gets widened). The company says the burger place should be ready to open sometime around November.

Images: Rice Village District (rendering), Swamplot inbox (photo)

Kirby Corner Shake-Up
03/21/17 12:30pm

Dolce Living Midtown construction, 180 W. Gray St., Midtown/Fourth Ward, Houston, 77019Dolce Living Midtown rendering, 180 W. Gray St., Midtown/Fourth Ward, Houston, 77019

Leasing signage was tacked up not too long ago at the Dolce Midtown apartment development straddling Bailey St. along the north side of W. Gray, notes a reader relaying years of curiosity about the project’s slow-but-maybe-not-always-so-steady progress. The development’s website doesn’t offer any clues as to when move-in might be possible, but the company has opened a leasing office down the street (in one of the not-getting-knocked-down-any-time-soon segments of the River Oaks Shopping Center).

A few of the hawk-eyed cranewatchers over at HAIF claim to have spotted some backward clock-ticks on the work in the form of partial de- and re-construction of the 2 midrises’ upper stories during late 2015, possibly related to all the torrential rain that year on the building’s siding and wooden framing. But the buildings apparently re-reached their full heights not long after; as of last Friday, there’re even some relatively complete-looking facade sections on the eastern midrise (as shown above). The western building of the 2 still looks to have only been issued its Hardi-plank balcony flaps, however:

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Ups and Downs in Fourth Ward
03/20/17 5:45pm

Blalock Market at I-10 and Blalock Rd., Spring Branch, Houston, 77055former East West Bank at 1027 Blalock Rd. B0A, Spring Branch, Houston, 77055A branch of Taiwanese pastry chain 85˚C Bakery Cafe looks to be headed to the strip center endspot right next to the 99 Ranch Market at the intersection of Blalock Rd. and I-10. A permit to remodel the former East West Bank branch into a bakery was issued in December; Weingarten now has the shop listed in on its own leasing materials for the strip center (marked down for the spot closest to the grocery store, in the siteplan above).

Meanwhile, Eater Houston’s Amy McCarthy made note of a note of a coming soon banner for the chain over somewhere over in Chinatown this morning; the company has also been posting job listings since last fall for Houston-area warehouse positions, so multiple stores could well be in the works.

Images: Weingarten Realty (top); CBRE (bottom)

Spring Branch Branches