10/19/16 11:00am

3111 Chimney Rock, Lamar Terrace, Houston, 77056

The graffiti on the tall face of the former Big Woodrow’s spot at 3111 Chimney Rock Rd. has been joined lately by new signage for Rotana Mediterranean Restaurant. The 2-story 2-bar space north of Richmond Ave. shut down near the end of August last year after a planned temporary closure for building repairs turned into an unplanned permanent landlord dispute, and the building went up for lease around the same time. Some of those repairs to the 5,928-sq.-ft. space may have been getting done over the past year since the closure, if building permits issued in March and at the start of this month are any indication.

Photo: MiraDry team at Mosaic Clinic Dermatology

Rotana Remodeling off Richmond Ave.
04/07/16 3:15pm

Proposed 30-story tower on former Macy's site, Galleria, Houston, 77056

This morning Simon Property Group released renderings of a planned residential highrise in the Galleria, shown here at the corner of W. Alabama St. and Sage Rd. in what’s left over of the land previously occupied by the mall’s second Macy’s. The tower is slated for the same spot previously colored purple for “future retail/office residences” on one of the developer’s Galleria redo maps back in 2014. (That map didn’t mention a highrise specifically, but previous info on the redevelopment plans floated the idea.) Simon says it plans to break ground on the tower by the end of 2017, with a 2019 or 2020 opening in mind.

The rendered view above looks northeast over the Berachah Church across W. Alabama at the glassy highrise, which may hold somewhere between 75 and 100 residential units atop 220 hotel rooms (with separate amenities areas for permanent and temporary residents). The design shows 2 pool decks; the nearby Westin Galleria’s existing pool can be spotted on the right, past an existing parking garage.

Here’s the view from the other side, looking south down Sage across Westheimer Rd. over the new Saks Fifth Avenue building (set to open at the end of the month):


One Tower to Live Above the Mall
03/24/16 1:00pm

Starbucks, 5540 Richmond Ave, Galleria Area, Houston, 77056

Rising in this photo, from left to right: the back-t0-searching Williams Tower, the 30-story Mercer condo building, and the vertical sign for the new Starbucks that opened yesterday morning at the northeast corner of Richmond Ave. and Chimney Rock Rd. The freestanding coffee shop at 5540 Richmond (next to the spot previously occupied by now-demolished Taco Cabana) is right across the street from the freestanding former Starbucks no longer listed on the company’s website at 5549 Richmond, between wine-themed Pinot’s Palette and probably-not-intentionally-wine-themed Night Train Luggage.

The store is a 4-minute drive from the Starbucks-turned-Minuti on the corner of Fountainview Dr. and Westheimer Rd., and just a 3-minute drive from the new AT&T-adjacent Starbucks on S. Rice Ave. south of 59, at the edge of the Walmart Supercenter parking lot next to relocated MicroCenter. Folks who want to get their coffee and split can head east to the drive-through lane; folks looking to stick around can hang out inside, out front, or on the semi-sheltered side patio which will eventually be partially screened with greenery, if the planter plants follow the plan:


Coffee’s Back On
03/03/16 2:15pm

Canyon Cafe, 5000 Westheimer, Galleria, Houston, 77056

Canyon Cafe, 5000 Westheimer, Galleria, Houston, 77056

The Houston location of Canyon Cafe in the Galleria area appears to be closed. A reader sends photos from this morning of locked doors and a leasing sign from Weingarten Realty in the shopping center at the northwest corner of Westheimer Rd. and Post Oak Blvd. The location’s phone number seems to be out of service; also out is serving alcohol, as the restaurant made today’s list of the latest TABC permit delinquencies.

Meanwhile just across Post Oak Blvd., Sports Authority is now sporting signs advertising clearance sales ending May 7th, in the wake of yesterday’s announcement that the chain had gone through with bankruptcy filing and that 140 stores would close in the coming 3 months.


Galleria Groundings
02/09/16 11:30am

Scaffolding on the Williams Tower, 2800 Post Oak Blvd., Galleria Area, Houston, 77056

A more senior representative of the Williams Tower’s property management office wrote in yesterday with a correction to Friday’s note about the recent return of the rotating spotlight at the top, after another employee told Swamplot that the beam had been off while a new bulb was being hunted down. In fact, the source tells Swamplot, the entire beacon fixture has been replaced, as part of a redo of the tip of the tower itself.

The current work on the top started in November 2014 and includes the replacement of the “apex roof” (consisting of the sloping panels directly beneath the beacon, and the vertical panels directly below those, above the start of the glass skin). The above photo shows those vertical panels missing late last spring as the swap was underway. The new spotlight turned on in late December, and final touches to the roof should be done by March, if the weather cooperates.

Here’s what the roof looked like back before the work began:


Spotlight on the Roof
02/05/16 4:15pm

Williams Tower, 2800 Post Oak Blvd., Galleria Area, Houston, 77056

Update (2/9): The entire beacon fixture has been replaced. See this story for details.

The rotating spotlight on top of the 64-story Williams Tower in the Galleria area has been back on for a few weeks, following an autumnal hiatus. According to a representative of the tower’s property management office, the beam stayed dark during difficulties finding the correct kind of bulb for the fixture. A reader sent a report this week from a bedroom window overlooking the Galleria area:


Twinkle, Twinkle, Giant Bulb
01/21/16 10:00am

51Fifteen, 5115 Westheimer, Galleria, Houston, 77056

While you’re waiting for that Galleria redo to wrap up, renderings have been released of the new home of 51Fifteen, the upscale bistro tucked into the existing Saks Fifth Avenue location along with its sister bar Bar 12 (currently located “amidst the men’s fashion selections”). The restaurant will follow Saks 5th Avenue to its new home, landing in its own swanky new space designed by the Contour Interior Design folks. The restaurant’s website is now booking events at the new location for dates as soon as April 2016.

Here’s a rendering from Beck Architecture of the new Saks building’s boxy exterior, slated for the spot where the Galleria III used to be:


51Fifteen at 5115
01/13/16 12:30pm

Rendering of Shake Shack Houston, 5015 Westheimer Rd., Uptown, Houston, 77056

Shake Shack’s planned Galleria location made an appearance at the company’s quarterly investor presentation yesterday — the new rendering scraps the outdoor patio present in the previously released depiction, and an exterior wall appears to be covered in greenery. The Shack currently anticipates a late-2016 opening, depending on progress of the surrounding Galleria redo.

Rendering of Shake Shack planned for 5015 Westheimer: Simon Property Group


5015 Westheimer Rd.
12/28/15 11:30am

SIMON SAYS DON’T BRING YOUR GUNS TO THE GALLERIA Nieman Marcus Interior, Galleria, Houston Galleria manager Greg Noble released a statement last week on developer Simon Property’s decision not to allow open carry on Galleria premises: “As a private property owner, Simon will continue to enforce its existing policy of not allowing possession of any weapon on its property whether concealed or displayed openly, other than licensed weapons carried by law enforcement personnel. Once the law goes into effect, any shopper in possession of a weapon will be individually notified of Simon’s existing policy by a member of the security or management team and asked to comply.” Olivia Pulsinelli of the Houston Business Journal also notes that grocery chains H-E-B, Whole Foods, and Randall’s have posted the signage required to refuse open carry; so far, Kroger’s has not. [HBJ, previously on Swamplot] Photo of Nieman Marcus in the Galleria: Russell Hancock via Swamplot Flickr Pool

12/14/15 1:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: VERTICAL SPRAWL AND OTHER HIGH CONCEPTS Freeways“Since every time they ‘fix’ the West Loop it immediately fills up, I think we have the makings for the 11th Wonder of the World: the first freeway skyscraper! Perhaps we can make it a mixed-use freeway by adding some small shops and apartments along the side of the road (with a parallel parking lane), some microtel rooms like they have in Tokyo, and — just to prove we have a penchant for ‘green living’ — one level could be an extension of Memorial Park! Don’t forget: we also need ground-floor retail, a multiplex theater, and on the very top level, a replacement for AstroWorld, with the world’s longest linear roller coaster! It will have to have a new name — perhaps ‘Westlooptopia’?” [sjh, commenting on Look! Up in the Air! It’s Second Story West Loop Express Lanes!] Illustration: Lulu

06/15/15 11:15am

Former Houston Post Building, Future Houston Chronicle Headquarters, 4747 Southwest Fwy., Houston

“It looks amazingly shiny without the 50 years of grime,” notes the reader who late last week snapped these photos of the former Houston Post building at 4747 Southwest Fwy., tucked into the lifted right armpit of the I-69-610 intersection. The brutalist main building of the 7-building campus, designed in 1970 by Astrodome architects Wilson, Morris, Crain, and Anderson, is being powerwashed — with a significant portion of the work complete just in time for this week’s heavy rains.


06/09/15 1:00pm

HOUSTON’S UNACCOUNTABLE TIRZS AFFLICT BOTH THE POOR AND THE ULTRA-RICH Proposed Dedicated Bus Lanes on Post Oak Blvd., Uptown, Houston“The TIRZ system benefits high-dollar commercial areas and essentially ignores poorer neighborhoods that are primarily residential,” writes reporter Steve Jansen in a longish article that attempts to explain Houston’s arcane and secretive system of Tax Increment Reinvestment Zones. But there’s seething at the other end of the economic spectrum as well — especially over the Uptown TIRZ’s plan to install dedicated bus lanes down the center of Post Oak Blvd. Comments University Line light-rail and Uptown bus lane opponent Daphne Scarborough, who’s attended some anti-TIRZ gatherings, to Jansen: “I’ve never seen so many angry multimillionaires and -billionaires in one room.” [Houston Press; previously on Swamplot] Drawing of proposed Post Oak bus lanes: Uptown Management District

05/18/15 4:30pm

SAVING UPTOWN, HOUSTON’S MASTERPIECE, FROM THE SCOURGE OF DEDICATED BUS LANES Website of The Uptown Property and Business Owners CoalitionThe Uptown Property and Business Owners Coalition is out today with a new website (portrayed here) meant to drum up opposition to the Uptown District and Metro’s plans to install dedicated bus lanes down Post Oak Blvd. The lanes, the last vestige of what was once a plan for an Uptown light rail line, would run from dedicated bus lanes linking to the Northwest Transit Center all the way to the proposed Bellaire/Uptown Transit Center near U.S. 59 and Westpark, where they might someday intersect with a University Line traveling eastward from that point. But the team behind the website wants none of it: “Uptown is a Houston masterpiece. Why do they want to ruin it?” reads the copy on the home page. Meanwhile, an introductory blog post on the site encourages readers to attend a friendly “town hall” meeting, tomorrow night at the Uptown Hilton, in the company of “hundreds of angry business owners and Uptown area residents.” [Save Uptown; previously on Swamplot]