06/15/18 5:00pm

The results are in from the Kinder Institute’s recent survey of Gulfton sidewalks: where they exist, they’re in bad shape. The map above uses a stoplight-style color scheme to rank the condition of each segment: red means no sidewalks, yellow means they exist but with gaps, hazards, and other obstructions — and green means they’re good to go. (Black areas weren’t assessed by the 16 participant-observers who set out on foot to compile the study last month.)

Out of all charted segments, the worst is a 9-block corridor along Atwell St. that starts a block west of Burnett Bayland Park; it’s completely sidewalk-less between Elm St. and Bissonnet. In total, nearly 43 percent of the examined street segments lacked any kind of pedestrian walkway. Other side-ways where you might want to tread lightly include those along Chimney Rock — which is laced with trip hazards all the way from 59 down to Evergreen St. at the southern end of the neighborhood. Nearly three-quarters of the sidewalks in study fell into this category of disrepair.

Even the areas with smooth pavement were beset with other problems: 70 percent had almost no shade, and 98 percent had no pedestrian-level lighting. The consequences: between 2010 and 2017, 149 people were either killed or injured while walking through Gulfton, according to TxDOT data.

Map: Kinder Institute

Concrete Findings
06/15/18 3:45pm

THE ONGOING TRAVELS OF CITY HALL’S FLOODED-OUT BASEMENT EMPLOYEES Shell has been allowing the city’s procurement staff to stay for free in 74,000 sq. ft. at One Shell Plaza, across Smith St. from the City Hall basement they were forced out of by Harvey’s floodwaters. (They’re joined in the office tower by IT employees from the city’s 611 Walker facility, which suffered its own water damage when its sprinkler system malfunctioned in December). But the free ride is coming to an end this month, reports the Chronicle’s Mike Morris: Shell is charging $70,074 for June rent. Now, the city plans to move its refugee employees again — this time to Enterprise Plaza (pictured above) at 1100 Louisiana where they’ll stay from July 1 to the end of next year at a rate of $93,380 per month for 69,000 sq. ft. (about $1.7 million total). After that, they’ll head back to 611 Walker, which the city plans to have ready for permanent residents by then. As for the damaged City Hall basement and the tunnel connecting it to the adjacent annex across Bagby St., their interiors “remain stripped, the walls peeling or patched with plywood, the wood veneers in one stairwell warped to mark the water line just below the annex’s first floor.” [Houston Chronicle] Photo of 1100 Louisiana St.: Hines

06/15/18 1:00pm

The middle structure in the row of 3 warehouses on McFarland St. just north of Navigation is seeing some new action since former NASA flight controller Caroline Kostak turned it into RePurpose Depot, a material reuse retail space selling cheap lumber, siding, flooring, fixtures, and other supplies and furnishings. Before opening the retail operation last December, she’d worked on salvaging materials from soon-to-be demolished houses. The space at 305 McFarland now draws its inventory from those kinds of deconstruction missions as well as donations.

That makes it a hub for homeowners looking for building supplies after Harvey, along with thrifters seeking more ornamental, DIY-ish trinkets. A grand opening is planned for next Saturday, June 23.

Photos: Swamplox inbox

Off Navigation
06/15/18 10:45am

The Red Door Cafe’s red door remains at 1918 E. NASA Pkwy., but Hubcap Grill has refashioned the rest of the space into something more chop-shop chic: a new paintjob sets off the chrome appointments now covering the once-white front facade and a new headlamp illuminates the door. There’s also BURGERS on the grille above the entrance.

But that’s just the bodywork. The interior got a full remodel, too, including new floors, appliances, AC, electrical, and this custom chandelier:

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Auto Body Transformation
06/14/18 1:15pm

Among the many changes now slated for Memorial Park: parking meters. The $70 million gift the Kinder Foundation pledged in April to expedite park renovations came with a few spend-it-wisely stipulations, including one that the city won’t blow any of it on maintenance costs — which could rise as the redo adds new trails, drainage improvements, a running complex, and a land bridge (depicted in the rendering above) across Memorial Dr. to the green space over the next 10 years. Although the $1-per-3-hour-block meters will only crop up in certain sections of the park, the change they collect will help offset upkeep across the whole 1,500-acre area.

A consolation: the new trail system proposed for the park will be vast, according to a handout from the city’s Quality of Life Committee, “thereby reducing the need for car access” in the first place. But that workaround only helps if you’re arriving empty-handed, unlike golfers who’ll have top pay $1 per hour to park in the course and driving range lot — Mike Bailey notes in Golf Advisor — beginning sometime before the fall.

Rendering of planned Memorial Dr. tunnels beneath park: Memorial Park Conservancy

Upping the Ante
06/14/18 10:00am

Only about 250 ft. separate I-10’s eastbound feeder from White Oak Bayou between Heights Blvd. and Yale — and within that never-developed span, Texas C.R.E.S. and an adjacent landowner are hoping to plant a food truck park, as advertised on the sign up near the southeast corner of the site. The conceptual plan above from architect Marshall Porterfield — not yet okayed by the city — indicates parking spaces for 10 vendors (and 6 patrons) accessible via entrances on the feeder and on Heights Blvd., across from the Heights Business and Mediation Center. A deck seating island in the middle of the parking lot provides some dining room within the third-acre site, owned by the current pair of developers since last year.

The rest of the land is devoted to park space for people and dogs. It backs up to an imagined spur of the White Oak Bayou Trail (currently only accessible on the other side of the bayou) that curves to the south.

Photos: Jason Cockerell. Site plan: Marshall Porterfield via Texas CRES and Delux Realty/Michel Coret

South of I-10
06/13/18 4:15pm

The mark of shuttered Rice Military drinking spot R Bar is now cropping up in the site plan for Kaldis Development’s planned redo of the former Montalbano Tire building (top photo) at 1302 Houston Ave.

Back in March, the signage came down from the sports bar’s previous and now-shuttered location in the L-shaped Memorial Dr. strip center half a mile west of Shepherd, where it mediated between Memorial Park Vision and the dental office of Dr. Catalina C. Johnson:

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First Ward Redo
06/13/18 12:45pm

Permits were approved yesterday for construction on the 285-unit apartment tower Hines and TH Real Estate plan to build behind the La Colombe d’Or mansion-turned-hotel on Montrose Blvd. The rendering at top views all 34 floors of the new building — designed by Houston architectural firm Muñoz + Albin — from above Harold St. (opposite the recently re-domed Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral). That puts it 4-stories higher than the adjacent and somewhat stockier Hanover Montrose apartments shown greyed-out on the right.

Dubbed the Residences at La Colmobe d’Or, the tower takes the place of the once-adjacent Le Grand Salon de la Comtesse ballroom erected and decked out by the hotel’s owner Steve Zimmerman. It’s shown here in the Colombe d’Or’s backyard, before crews stripped it down and demolished it in March:

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18 Hotel Rooms Included
06/13/18 10:45am

Almost all the metal siding that covered up the Midtown Sears building at 4201 Main has now been taken down, leaving behind rows of metal brackets used to mount the outer shell. Mayor Turner announced 2 months ago that the building would be turned into a startup incubation headquarters, and work to pull down the cladding began shortly after.

A few decorative details are now visible from the street, as shown below from Fannin:

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2401 Main
06/12/18 4:45pm

Step up here for stamps 4080 Breakwood Dr., a 2-bed, 2-bath structure in the block-long row of townhomes that sits between Lakeland and Fordshire drives, just off the South Loop West. Not many interior walls divide the open space you step into upon entering the house, and the one that does is done up as the service counter you’d find in an old post office.

On its employees-only side, the previous owners finished the bedroom floor with pennies. Here’s a closer up view of their investment:

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Floor in Mint Condition
06/12/18 2:00pm

A construction permit filed yesterday reveals that Astral Brewing — the new beer venue headed to 4816 N. Shepherd — is beginning renovations to turn 9,208 sq. ft. of the 27,575-sq.-ft. warehouse building once home to Southern Truck Pros into a hub for brewing and drinking. The structure’s parking lot off Shepherd is shown full of trucks in the photo above, taken back before the auto shop shuttered.

A site plan posted on the brewery’s Facebook page indicates a combination of public amenities and mission-critical brewing facilities included in the redo:

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Independence Heights