06/08/16 11:30am

3516 Montrose Blvd., First Montrose Commons, Houston, 77006 3516 Montrose Blvd., First Montrose Commons, Houston, 77006The west wall has been breached at 3615 Montrose Blvd., where Riverway had previously planned to break ground on a Philip Johnson/Alan Ritchie Glass House-themed condo midrise this spring. The 130-ft. sign (per a city inspector’s disapproving measurement) advertising the most recent condominium project planned for the corner at Marshall St. has been blacked out for about a month, according to a reader surveying the empty corner lot from above.

The comparatively tiny sales center sign is missing altogether; the same round of March inspection ticketing asked for it to be removed from the property. Also gone: HAR’s sales listings for the building’s individual units, which the site indicates were also removed around the end of April and the beginning of May.


Montrose at Marshall
04/01/16 10:15am

3516 Montrose Blvd. Signs and violation notices, First Montrose Commons, Houston, 77006

3516 Montrose Blvd. Signs and violation notices, First Montrose Commons, Houston, 77006

The big blue sign wrapping around the lot at the northeast corner of Montrose Blvd. and Marshall St. got decorated with a dayglow red tag from the city this week, calling for the banner’s removal. The sign is advertising the midrise condominium building planned for the lot at 3615 Montrose, formerly the site of the River Cafe; the Philip Johnson/ Alan Ritchie design’s footprint also extends into the lot to the north, whose slated-for-destruction 1910 brick house is currently gigging as a sales center for the development. The shot above looks due south at the angled northernmost portion of the sign, toward the intersection of Montrose and W. Alabama St.

Tags from a city inspector call out the “130 x 8 x 10”-ft. ground sign, as well as its smaller next-door companion piece, which refers to the condo building as “The Glass House” (no, not that one). Here’s what the whole scene looks like from up in the air, from the Parc IV tower across Montrose:


Montrose at Marshall
03/13/15 11:45am

OFF-MENU SPECIAL AT GEORGES BISTRO ON WESTHEIMER: THE WHOLE SHEBANG Georges Bistro, 219 Westheimer Rd., Lower Westheimer, Montrose, HoustonGeorges Bistro co-owner Monique Guy tells Eater Houston’s Jakeisha Wilmore that the French restaurant in the space formerly occupied by whole-hog-HQ Feast — and before that by Guy’s Chez Georges — is not on the verge of closing. Who could be spreading rumors to the contrary? Well, there is that online listing for the 3,114-sq.-ft. converted foursquare that houses the property at 219 Westheimer that went up a few weeks ago, offering the building, the 5,500-sq.-ft. lot, and the restaurant, including all fixtures, furniture, and equipment, for $1.295 million. Guy, who with her husband, Georges, owns the building and operates Georges, tells Wilmore the couple only listed the property “to see what kind of interest it would generate.” She declined to say if they had received any notable offers. [Eater Houston; previously on Swamplot] Photo: LoopNet

04/23/14 11:15am



Beneath the glulam arches of a 2004 contemporary home designed by Houston architect Scott Ballard, living spaces line up in an open floor plan (top) with double-stacked windows fore and aft. The east-west property in First Montrose Commons near the HSPVA campus was listed last week, but recently upgraded its listing photos. It carries has an asking price of $1.22 million.


Let’s Roll
11/11/13 1:00pm

Going into the 2,034-sq.-ft. former Washateria space at the back of the little shopping strip across Greeley St. from the Blue Bird Circle Shop on West Alabama: a soon-to-be beer-and-wine-licensed coffee shop called Siphon Coffee, set to open late this year or early next. The space is shown on the far left of the photo above. Owners Michael Caplan and Edward Treistman write on the coffee house’s Facebook page that there’ll be food enough for breakfast and lunch too, once the place opens, after they get help from former Brasserie 19 chef Amanda McGraw with the menu and training.


02/23/12 1:14pm

A mere four-and-a-half years after it first announced the project, Atlanta REIT Post Properties says it’s just about ready to begin construction on a somewhat revised 5-story, 242-unit apartment building on Richmond Ave, just west of the Downtown Spur. The latest First Montrose Commons Newsletter features these black-and-white images of the project, along with a few more details that were announced to the neighborhood organization last month. Unlike the Post Midtown, this building on the 5-sided block surrounded by Richmond, Jack, Colquitt, Garrott, and Milam won’t include any retail space. A parking garage tucked into the structure will have 1 1/2 spaces per bedroom and point driveways toward Richmond and Colquitt. The Wheeler light-rail station sits 3 blocks east of the construction site, on the other side of Spur 527.


03/24/11 7:46pm

Yesterday’s city council vote makes the status of 4 more historic districts much clearer. Avondale West, Norhill, Boulevard Oaks, and First Montrose Commons will now officially join 10 other existing districts under the protection of new preservation restrictions that don’t allow owners to do whatever they want if they just wait 90 days. The new preservation ordinance described a multi-step “reconsideration” process that might have led to the dissolution of any of the districts or redrawn their boundaries. But that didn’t happen here: These 14 districts will stay the same — well, almost. There is one property that got away.

It’s this 1929 building, home to Salon Stefano and an adjacent parking lot, at 3802 Roseland St. Last year, the property was included in the new First Montrose Commons Historic District. And now it’s out, scot-free. How did it manage to escape?


02/11/11 10:27am

City officials have informed the president of the First Montrose Commons neighborhood association that the recent historic-district reconsideration survey of residents has fallen “well short” of the 51 percent needed to dissolve the district. Under the terms of the recently revised preservation ordinance, city council could still vote to shrink the size of the district — which fits between Richmond and West Alabama just west of Spur 527 in Montrose — in order to exclude some properties whose owners favored repeal. But association president Jason Ginsburg considers that unlikely: “A brief review of the repeal surveys that were returned shows that most of the dissenting property owners are sprinkled throughout our historic district, as opposed to being clustered in one particular area,” he wrote in a post on the FMC website last night. First Montrose Commons became the 16th historic district just last year.

Map: First Montrose Commons Neighborhood Association

09/28/10 10:54am

The new owner of the 2 “infamous” Skylane apartment complexes on West Alabama is already at work making changes. Montrose apartment investor and real-estate agent Cody Lutsch picked up the 2 foreclosed and red-tagged properties from Enterprise Bank earlier this month. For the 25-unit building at 502 West Alabama (on the corner of Garrott), Lutsch has plans to replace the window units with small ductless split A/C systems, fix some structural issues, switch to monthly instead of weekly rentals, and change the name. Also: He’d like to reduce the crime associated with the property, by adding gates, lights, security cameras, larger trash bins, and maintaining the landscaping.

Lutsch has fewer changes planned for the 32-unit Skylane across the street from Spur 527 at 219 West Alabama (above): He says he’s already begun addressing criminal and safety issues at the property, but otherwise plans to let it run “as it’s been running,” as a pay-by-the-week complex. Lutsch says he hadn’t planned to buy that property originally, but decided the property’s land size, rental income, and location might make it attractive to other investors later on.


06/09/10 9:53am

There’s more historic-district action on today’s city council agenda than the proposed temporary ban on gonna-do-it-anyway waivers: Council members are expected to approve First Montrose Commons as Houston’s 16th historic district. The planning commission approved the new district more than a month ago. If the council also votes today to put in place a temporary moratorium on the designation of new historic districts, First Montrose Commons will have gotten in just under the wire.

When last we left the east Montrose hood — bounded roughly by West Alabama, Richmond, Montrose Blvd. and the Downtown spur — its quest for historic-district status had been stumped by HSPVA, which counts for a large chunk of the proposed district. HISD’s decision on the petition, wrote neighborhood-association president Jason Ginsburg at the time, would either “make or break” the district. So what happened?


05/07/10 11:23am

Remember the swingin’ days of a couple of years ago, when InnerLoopCondos bought Bistro Vino and got ready to tear down the 24-year-old Montrose restaurant at the corner of West Alabama and Roseland? And then the company put out that goofy little internet survey asking us to vote on which type of condo-building cliche you’d like to see shoved onto the site? If you’re one of the lucky participants who somehow managed to write in “Give it up,” congratulations! Your choice has been selected!

Mexico City natives Jorge and Isaac Alvarez have since secured a lease-purchase of the former restaurant property from its would-be redevelopers. Jorge Alvarez, a custom-home developer himself, had a crew from his Alvgar Construction company renovate the 1930’s Tudor-style home and patio.

The brothers’ “modern Mexican” restaurant, Ocean’s Ceviche, isn’t expected to open officially until May 21st, but intrepid Swamplot photographer Candace Garcia brings you this little preview of the spiffed-up grounds:


07/29/09 5:57pm

Who’s gonna decide whether First Montrose Commons gets its historic designation? HISD. At least that’s what FMC Neighborhood Association president Jason Ginsburg says in a letter he sent out earlier this week to HISD board trustees:

Without HISD’s participation, the resulting shortfall in committed land area would require our Association to gain the consent of a vast majority of the other FMC property owners, which is a practically impossible burden that goes far beyond the original intent of the historic district ordinance. But, with HISD’s participation, our Association will be able to fulfill all of the requirements necessary to achieve a historic district designation. Simply put, HISD’s decision with regard to our Association’s petition will either make or break FMC’s proposed historic district. [Italics in original]

To become eligible for historic designation, a district only needs the signatures of property owners representing 51 percent of its land area. More than 50 percent of First Montrose Commons landowners have already signed on to become a historic district. But the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts (!) takes up a huge chunk of First Montrose Commons, skewing those numbers.

Map of proposed FMC Historic District: First Montrose Commons

06/22/09 11:29am

Is this house on W. Alabama in First Montrose Commons priced . . . too low?

Location: 409 W. Alabama St., First Montrose Commons
Details: 3-4 bedrooms, 4 1/2 baths; 2,558 sq. ft. on a 7,812-sq.-ft. lot
Price: $449,900
History: On the market for a month and a half. Price cut $50K a month ago.

“Why should this house be listed for more?” asks a Swamplot reader:

Because it is really large in square footage (2,558) and lot size (7,812 sf) and in addition to the main house, there is a nice carriage house in back that could be a home office, in-law quarters, rental apartment, or given that it’s Montrose, a nightclub or tattoo parlor (kidding). Although it’s been 10 years since it was updated, I think the updates have held up and stayed fairly current with today’s design trends as evidenced by the kitchen’s under-mount, double stainless sink, cooking island, granite, tile floors and tile backsplash with custom dark wood cabinetry and upgraded appliances included (looks to me). Master bath has tile and granite; one of the secondary baths looks like it could use some serious updating.

Custom paint throughout, looks like big closets, nice hardwood floors (some look better than others), lots of French doors and a bright and sunny interior make this home, in my opinion, the quintessential (non-bungalow) Montrose residence. And then there’s the added bonus of a wrought iron fenced and gated (not cheap) property on a very eclectic street. Who needs TV when you live on W. Alabama? Just sit on the porch and watch the street life. Nice landscaping, too.

What would be a better price?


05/20/09 3:50pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: 903 AND 909 W. MAIN “. . . First Montrose Commons is not ‘ok’ with the plans to replace the homes with townhouses. But the fact remains that the homes were bought by a developer for the express purpose of building townhouses, and so townhouses will be built there no matter how much FMC kicks and screams. The only thing FMC acquiesced to was a variance request. The only effects of that variance will be to save a tree on the property and to preserve what little street parking we have around that corner. Townhouses would be built whether the variance passed or not. Furthermore, the two homes at issue would be outside the boundaries of the proposed historic district because there are too many non-historic, non-contributing properties on that side of the neighborhood to qualify for protection.” [Jason Ginsburg, commenting on Comment of the Day: On the Corner of West Main and Roseland]

05/19/09 3:29pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: ON THE CORNER OF WEST MAIN AND ROSELAND “903 W. Main is a lovely Prairie style home in First Montrose Commons. The owner of it and the neighboring home 909 W. Main, an even grander Craftsman, will demolish both homes for replacement with eight townhouses (likely four story, given the density). But he’s saving the trees, so apparently the civic association is ok with the plans! First Montrose Commons is currently working on an application to become a city historic district. And these two homes contribute to that historic fabric.” [no history remains, commenting on Daily Demolition Report: Rambam]