11/30/16 1:15pm

Construction of Hotel Alessandra, Fannin St. at Dallas St., GreenStreet, Houston, 77002

Second Proposed Design for Hotel Alessandra, GreenStreet, Downtown HoustonToday’s look at up-and-coming personified downtown highrises includes a reader’s fresh snap of Hotel Alessandra, which reached full height in August and has been filling out a bit since then. The latest rendering (released after the original question mark design was scrapped) depicts mostly the buildin’s glassier Dallas-St.-facing side; the shot up top is facing the structure’s beige-er south corner. Midway announced a few weeks after the Tax Day flood that the hotel wouldn’t be open in time for the Super Bowl after all, citing weather-related logistical issues. The developers are now planning to open up later on in 2017.

Meanwhile, at the opposite corner of the GreenStreet complex — where Polk and Caroline streets meet — Randall Davis’s Marlowe condo tower is getting off the ground behind The Dirt Bar and Reserve, at the edge of a sea of parked cars:

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Up and Out Around GreenStreet
11/22/16 1:45pm

301 Main St., Downtown, Houston, 77002

301 Main St., Downtown, Houston, 77002The outdoor garden and patio space at 301 Main St. is being tended this week as Salt N Pepper group’s taco restaurant and bar Dizzy Kaktus finishes setting up near the Preston light-rail stop. City historical records say the Victorian structure was built in 1889, after which the Sweeney & Coombs jewelry company jumped across the street from the building currently footed by The Pastry War; the ground floor space of the structure went up for lease after Nit Noi closed last year, and signage noting the restaurant’s liquor license application was posted in October.

The reader who snapped the shots above and below says a worker on the site mentioned an opening next week, and that while the interior layout was still a bit jumbled, the outside appeared to be shaping up:

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Historic District Taco Bar
11/21/16 1:00pm

Brewery Tap, 717 Franklin St., Downtown, Houston, 77002

Brewery Tap, 717 Franklin St., Downtown, Houston, 77002Ghost-story hub and beer bar Brewery Tap reopened this weekend, after about nearly 11 months of remodeling in the wake of a January ownership swap. The bar is located in the building at 717 Franklin St., preivously part of Houston Ice & Brewing Co.’s Magnolia Brewery complex on the edge of Buffalo Bayou. Down the slope beneath the Franklin St. bridge is the mid-1800’s crypt previously occupied by the remains of 3 members of the Donnellan family; the early Houston settler and his wife and son were moved west to Glenwood Cemetery around 1903, after which the crypt was incorporated into the structure of the Franklin St. bridge:

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Digging Up Downtown History
11/18/16 4:15pm

Air New Zealand Houston Piece

The glossed-up scene above, which shows a pushing-its-limits White Oak Bayou flirting with the lower edge of the Height Hike and Bike Trail bridge, made an appearance in this month’s edition of Kia Ora, Air New Zealand’s in-flight magazine. A sky-high peruser on Reddit noticed the article, which is currently employing the flood photo to promote Houston and several other Texas cities as tourist destinations. The original source looks to be a Getty Images contributor who captioned the shot (along with another expansively aquatic view from 2015) as stock images of Downtown Houston in the rain. For comparison with the normal scenic view of Downtown’s northernmost freeway tangle, below is a recent shot of that trail construction near the Leonel Castillo Community Center, which caught the same angle and foliage (minus the high water, but plus some heavy equipment):

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Water Under the Bridge
11/18/16 11:30am

EaDo Development Map

Some bidding has been going on this fall for more work in the southernmost section of the abandoned stretch of Bastrop St.’s right-of-way south of the Dynamo stadium (highlighted in green above and these days going by the name Houston International Promenade, after the plans for a more elaborate Sisters Cities Promenade fell through).  The linear greenspace has had some landscaping installed over the course of the past few years, along with a walking path; the next addition to the southern end of the strip looks to be exactly-what-it-sounds-like EaDog Park.

Calls for contractors for the dog park’s construction were floated around in September; as the placement of the words on the map above suggests, EaDog would stretch along the would-be Bastrop St. right-of-way between the trace of would-be Clay St. and already-is Polk St., on the next block south from 8th Wonder Brewery. The map above is part of what looks to be a recent-ish what’s-where showpiece from the EaDo Management District (tucked in with the current LoopNet listing for Start Houston’s on-the-market building). The larger version of the map purports to show development since 1995 in and around the neighborhood, which is outlined in black below:

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Giving Bastrop St. To the Dogs
11/18/16 10:15am

Rendering of Future Flight ride at Discovery Green

This week’s SpaceCom expo at the prettied-up George R. Brown Convention Center included a preview of some more down-to-earth plans for the immediate neighborhood — including the NASA-themed drop tower Mars mission ride to be installed for Super Bowl visitors at Discovery Green across the street. The ride, called Future Flight, will include virtual reality goggles; the rest of the setup will include a chance to try out the goggles for people who like virtual reality but don’t want to take the plunge, as well as some exhibits of next-gen space hardware  and some kid-geared activities.

The ride’ll be freeif you can get a spot. Chris Baldwin points out that about a million people are expected to show up at the pre-Super Bowl festival planned for the week before the game, but timeslots on the ride will be limited to a few thousand per day between January 28 and February 5 (and the details on how to get a spot aren’t out yet).

The burnt-orange scaffolding of the drop tower roughly matches the color scheme for the latest long-haul rocket setup NASA is working on:

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Free Free Falling Downtown
11/15/16 5:30pm

Hot Toppings Pizza, 919 Milan St., Downtown Tunnels, Houston, 77002 Hot Toppings Pizza, 919 Milan St., Downtown Tunnels, Houston, 77002

Fresh off the email from Swamplot’s anonymous tunnel correspondent: the latest dispatch from the downtown underground, including word (and photo) of a second Hot Toppings in the works:

The remainder of the space that used to be a Ninfa’s at 919 Milam is scheduled to become Hot Toppings Pizza. (The other portion of the space was taken over by Bullrito’s in March.) As part of the conversion to a pizza joint, it look’s like they’re modifying the wall where the Ninfa’s entrance used to be (that’s the plywood covering in the left of the photo).

Plus, bonus shot of the almost-ready Houston outpost of Argentinian-Chicagoan 5411 Empanadas, now moving in beneath nearby 811 Louisiana and reportedly planning to open on Monday:

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Tales from the Tunnels
11/09/16 11:15am

One Allen Center, 1200 Smith St., Downtown, Houston, 77002

Planned Remodel of One Allen Center, 1200 Smith St., Downtown, Houston, 77002

From over the fence at the corner of Smith and Dallas streets, a reader sends a shot of the ongoing scrape-out at One Allen Center. The glassed-in space protruding toward Smith will be undergoing a major reconstructive procedure to square up its corners, if all goes according to Brookfield’s previously depicted plan. Meanwhile, that skybridge in the back on the left is looking a good deal more put together than it did at the end of June, when it got the strip-down treatment; it’s now sporting a brighter, more silver-y skin to match the renderings, which show it backing up a band in that planned twixt-the-towers events space:  CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Going Gray Downtown
11/04/16 5:15pm

100 Main St. north of Franklin St., Downtown, Houston, 77002

A reader sends a few shots from the corner of Main and Franklin streets, where the family that owns La Colombe D’Or is now turning the 1890’s-or-so buildings at 104, 108, 110, and 114 Main into co-working space. The ground floor of the block (occupied in large part by the Bayou Lofts building) has seen some tenant movement too in the last few years; signage for bars Gossip Ultralounge, Barringer Lounge, and recently-opened Lilly & Bloom can all be spotted hanging out while exterior work is underway.

As for the Franklin side of the block: Next to watch-shop-turned-whiskey-bar Houston Watch Company, The Brit will be moving into what was once PI lounge at 911 Franklin; a bit further west, past newly-opened La Calle Tacos & Tortas, the space formerly holding that beer incubator that closed after a naked Twister incident is being prepped for bottle shop Craft Beer Cellar:

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Main St. Move-Ins
10/28/16 3:30pm

Lyric Center garage site, 440 Louisiana St., Downtown, Houston, 77002

Lyric Center garage site, 440 Louisiana St., Downtown, Houston, 77002

lyric-centre-cellist-sculptureA few readers note that work is underway on the site of the new parking garage planned next to music-themed office highrise Lyric Centre at the corner of Louisiana and Preston streets (catty-corner from Market Square Tower’s newly-filled sky-high resident display tank). The top photo above shows the crews digging around on the former surface parking lot as of yesterday afternoon; the city issued a permit for work on the building-to-be’s exterior shell earlier this month.  A glass-skinned design for the structure can be seen in the rendering above, which peers at the site from the north along Smith St., looking past the skybridge between the Wortham Theater and the Houston Ballet’s Center for Dance. The drawing shows folks making use of the ground floor of the structure, which is intended to house retail (in contrast to the garage going up a few blocks north at Milam and Franklin streets, which is intended to look like it could house retail).

The floorplan included with the listing for that 41,000 sq. ft. of space shows a ramp for the garage hitting Smith St.:

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Sowing Downtown Parking Space
10/26/16 1:30pm

Garage at 805 Franklin St., Downtown, Houston, 77002Garage at 805 Franklin St., Downtown, Houston, 77002

Crews are digging in at the northeast corner of Milam and Franklin streets, a reader notes, where a 10-story parking garage is planned. The rendering up top (labeled as Powers & Brown’s) made a recent appearance at a city historical and archaeological commission meeting, following several months of deferrals and redesigns — including the addition of some ground-floor canopies and simulated window frames (which will have no glass “for flood reasons”). The application says the features are meant help the structure blend in with the surrounding buildings in the Main Street Market Square Historical District, including the Magnolia Ballroom across Milam, the Cotton Exchange building across Franklin at Travis St., and the Bayou Lofts building one block to the east.

Here’s the garage design originally submitted back in June:

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Ground Floor Faux Retail
10/25/16 1:00pm

Market Square Tower, 777 Preston St., Downtown, Houston, 77002

Just added: water for the cantilevered glass-bottom pool jutting out of Market Square Tower’s rooftop deck, some 41-plus-or-minus-the-penthouses stories above street level. Woodway is now advertising leasing availability for November, with some of the smaller one-bedroom units listed for $2,100 and up per month (and the largest of the penthouses, a 3-bedroom 3.5-bathroom 3-balcony affair, listed at $18,175) . The current floorplans available on the site now also suggest that the ground floor retail options will include a cafe, in addition to that CVS announced last month.

Those not enthused by the prospect of dangling over the downtown streetscape can opt for the other pool on the 4th-floor terrace, which overlooks Preston and Milam St.:

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Filling Up Downtown
10/13/16 1:00pm

CITY PLANNING APP TO REDUCE USELESS DOWNTOWN CIRCLING, $80 PARKING FEES downtown-parking-garageThe city approved $9,600 yesterday toward planning a system to help drivers (particularly out-of-towners) find parking Downtown, Dug Begley writes. The system would be designed to display prices and current space availability for 7-or-so to-be-finalized private parking vendors on a smartphone app, along with a series of electronic signs like the ones installed around the city’s airports. The city would pay for about 20 percent of the $4.1-ish million project, which would be mostly funded by federal money aimed at reducing air pollution (in this case, extra emissions from excessively long and looping parking space searches). Begley also writes that city leaders think the system could cut down on price gouging, noting that prices for recent special events, “especially near Minute Maid Park, have spiked to $80 as demand increased.” [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo of downtown parking garage: Bill Barfield via Swamplot Flickr Pool

10/11/16 12:45pm

October 2016 look around Discovery Green and George R. Brown Convention Center, 1001 Avenida De Las Americas, Downtown, Houston, 77010

Supercolumn Going Up on George R. Brown Convention Center, Downtown HoustonBob Russell sends a fresh slew of downtown updates, this time checking up on the state of the George R. Brown Convention Center area’s ongoing redo. The structure’s main entrance on Avenida De Las Americas has been getting a major facelift — the supercolumns installed last summer have since turned white, and the glassy  facade has stepped outward and dropped a few stripes, in line with the plans released previously by semi-public city branding organization Houston First:

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Super Bowl Conditioning
10/03/16 5:15pm

Aris Market Square Tower, Travis and Preston Streets, Downtown Houston

Hines’s increasingly pointy 609 Main and flat-topped Chase Tower are visible to either side of the company’s Aris Market Square apartment highrise in this recent shot from Congress at Travis streets (sent in by a reader, who noted the top-out tree temporarily hoisted onto to the rooftop). Following the latest growth spurt, the tower has now gotten about as tall as it’s going to (and the newly-craneless Market Square Apartment Tower, now leasing across the eponymous Square, will always have 8 stories to lord over it). Here’s a closeup of the Aris’s Preston-facing facade, as the glass and exterior finishes start to creep up the sides:

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Highrise Done Rising