11/20/17 11:00am

LIBERTY KITCHEN NOW FREE FROM GARDEN OAKS 5 months after a grand reopening to celebrate the end of road construction along Alba Rd. that had been hindering access to the restaurant, Liberty Kitchen Garden Oaks has shut down. Last night was its last meal. The restaurant had opened at 3715 Alba Rd. in June 2016, taking over a renovation of the property (and demolition of an adjacent Quonset hut to make room for parking) originally intended to house a Facundo Restaurante. “We debuted a new menu, a new beer garden and a new parking lot in an effort to revitalize patronage” after the road construction ended earlier this year, write the owners of Liberty Kitchen. But that wasn’t enough, and Hurricane Harvey “served as an additional financial hurdle company-wide.” The Liberty Kitchen Heights, San Felipe, and Memorial City locations remain open; the Little Liberty in the Rice Village closed this past March. Photo: Oksana W.

11/08/17 3:15pm

Coming soon to the complex of light-colored industrial buildings across 34th St. from the Pat H. Foley funeral home and its accompanying embalming services facility, the Hare Krishna Temple and Cultural Center, and the Foster Family YMCA between them just south of Oak Forest: a 17,831 sq.-ft. retail and restaurant center redo. Revive Development’s Stomping Grounds, which will also include 5,000 sq. ft. of upstairs office space, is to be carved out of 4 buildings on a 3-acre site formerly occupied by vehicle-repair and service companies and the Bank Shot pool hall.

Drawings from Cisneros Design Studio show the 2-story metal building at 1229 W. 34th St. (pictured above) formerly occupied by a succession of electrical companies cleaned up, reconfigured, and outfitted with cantilevered balconies and glass curtain walls. A new building modeled after it is shown to the east, with an 8,000 sq.-ft. lawn bordered by patios fitted between.

224 parking spaces will surround the center’s main buildings and garden. Here’s a plan of the entire site:

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Garden Oaks, Oak Forest, or Thereabouts
07/14/17 5:30pm

Here’s a view from last week of the former Express Wheel & Tire kiosk in Oak Forest, in the midst of its transformation into a yet-to-be-identified coffee drive-thru along Ella Blvd. at W. 34th St., at the eastern end of the shopping center redo Revive Development is working on at that intersection’s southwest corner. Demo crews are removing the overhang connecting the front canopy to the small building behind it. Renderings of the finished development on the Revive website show the canopy is meant to remain — to shade a few prime parking spaces at the eastern end of the development:

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W. 34th St. and Ella
05/05/17 2:30pm

More details on the planned Yale Marketplace development centered around the 365-branded mini Whole Foods planned for Independence Heights (but picking up the Garden Oaks moniker) come this week from Adolfo Pesquera, who posted the rendering above over at VBX of that companion strip mall planned just to the north of the grocery store. The structure looks to be slated for the narrow parcel of land where the long, low, industrial-slash-office park that until January hosted the Potter’s House Christian Church still stands.

Pesquera also reports that Houston Heights ER has officially signed on as the urgent care clinic that’ll be stuck to the side of the 365 (to the left, in the rendering below):

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Independence Heights
05/02/17 1:30pm

ALDI TAKING THE YOGA COLLECTIVE’S SPOT IN GARDEN OAKS; OTHER NEW TENANTS IN THE WORKS Betsy Denson confirms this morning that an ALDI will be that “something bigger” taking over the endcap space in the N. Shepherd Dr. shopping center north of 38th St., once the Yoga Collective is booted out. (The German grocery chain will also take over that long-empty vacuum shop space next door). Hartman Management rep Danny Morales also tells Denson that a few more large tenants are likely headed to the strip center, and that just under 5,000 sq. ft. of new freestanding space is currently under construction.  The space marked for ALDI is right across Garden Oaks Blvd. from the Sears complex that Weingarten previously had its eye on. [The Leader; previously on Swamplot] Photo of 3839D N. Shepherd Dr.: Yoga Collective

05/01/17 3:00pm

Update, 5/2: Yep, it’s an ALDI. More here.

The end of the 95,000-sq.-ft. N. Shepherd Dr. strip mall just south of Garden Oaks Blvd. is being cleared out shortly, a handful of readers tell Swamplot. Endcap tenant Yoga Collective announced recently that the studio’s lease is being terminated at the end of June, and has been hinting on social media that something bigger is taking over the space (and possibly a few other adjacent spaces in the row). The nearest spot in the strip appears to have been vacant since about 2015, when the domestic-minded shop next door (apparently operating now as A&B Vacuum and Sewing Machines) moved further up N. Shepherd, and out from under the since-removed VACUUM & SEWING CANDLES signage:

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N. Shepherd Swapout
03/08/17 4:30pm

Future Yale Marketplace site at Yale St. and 610 Loop, Garden Oaks/Independence Heights, Houston, 77018
Neff Rental at Yale St. and 610, Garden Oaks/ Independence Heights, Houston, 77018Several readers reported this morning that the Garden Oaks-Independence Heights border location of construction equipment rental shop Neff Rental, on the northeast corner of Yale St. and the North Loop, has been clearing out this week. That’s a prerequisite step before any new construction equipment can be moved back onto the site, to start work on the 365 Garden Oaks store Whole Foods has planned for the property (as rendered above).

Plans for the corner depict the mini-store accompanied by both attached and freestanding retail spots, 3 of which have pending leases with a dentist, a cellphone company, and a medical business respectively, according to the marketing materials trying to hawk the remaining space (highlighted in yellow):

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Yale Marketplace Marketing
04/21/16 12:45pm

Re:Vive redevelopment at 34th and Ella, Oak Forest, Houston, 77018

1727 W 34th St, GO/OF, Houston, 77018ReVive’s plans to redo the shopping strips at the southwest corner of 34th St. and Ella Blvd. in Oak Forest look like they may keep a few existing businesses in the center, though some shuffling about may be involved. The rendering up top comes from the redeveloper’s leasing flier for the corner, which shows a makeover of several existing buildings along with plans for a few new pad sites. The flier depicts Surfhouse surf and skate shop (currently in a building next door slated for demo) snuggled into the spot recently evacuated by T-Shirt Works. The door next to that is marked with the logo for Pop & Pan (the eventual new name of Houston Panini & Provisions, pictured above in its current location facing 34th).

The siteplan included with the renderings clarifies some of the changes that might be carried out — the 2 existing buildings that form the L-shaped center rendered above are seen below on the left:

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Garden Oaks/Oak Forest
04/04/16 12:30pm

Prince's Hamburgers at 3425 Ella Blvd., Garden Oaks/Oak Forest, Houston, 77018

New colors and signs now herald the coming of Prince’s Hamburgers to 3425 Ella Blvd., north of 34th St. between “Wash Me” Car Wash and the Kar Hospital. Prince’s former dominion near 59 at Weslayan is now under the rule of not-quite-an-emergency health clinic MedSpring Urgent Care, though the 1930s restaurant chain still maintains another freewayside outpost in the former Murphy’s Deli spot on I-10 between N. Kirkwood Rd. and Tully St. Prince’s underground holdings Downtown have also been relinquished, along with the diner location on N. Post Oak Blvd.

The newly marked territory on Ella shares its western border with the Waltrip High School track. Across the street from the coming is Ella Plaza, formerly home to yes-that-Swayze Swayze School of Dance and recently worked over by serial redeveloper Braun Enterprises. Looking from the strip center’s parking lot to the south, the Shipley’s donut sign can be spied rising over the horizon, as can the Sunbelt Jewelry & Loan pawn shop’s commanding sign:

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Royal Succession in Garden Oaks
03/18/16 1:45pm

Garden Oaks Deed Restrictions Signs, Garden Oaks, Houston, 77018

What’s the story behind the tiny question marks that recently appeared at the end of the low-dangling “DEED RESTRICTIONS ENFORCED” signs on at least a couple Garden Oaks welcome-to-the-neighborhood markers? More than just your usual neighborhood grumbling and graffiti-ing, it appears.

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Punctuation Add-Ons
03/01/16 11:30am

Art Guys Situation #4, Wheatley St. at Pinemont Dr., Garden Oaks/Oak Forest, Houston, 77091

Here’s the southernmost end of the newest work from the Art Guys: the designation of an existing ‘designated natural area’ in Garden Oaks/Oak Forest as part of their series of situation sculptures. The grassy median strip along Wheatley St. between Pinemont Dr. and Tidwell Rd. is evidently one of the no-mow zones labeled by the city’s parks and recreation department that spurred complaints in 2011, when area residents alleged that newly planted trees had blocked sight lines and created hazardous driving conditions.  According to the city’s website, the zones are carefully placed to “help promote the natural regeneration of the urban forest.

As for techniques employed by the artists: per their other pieces in the series, the duo appears to have left the area alone. They have, however, provided GPS coordinates and a Google map to help visitors avoid losing their way.

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Adventures on Wheatley St.
02/16/16 4:17pm

Rendering of Slowpokes Coffee and Wine Bar, 1203 W. 34th St., Garden Oaks, Houston, 77018

Remodeling is underway at the former Primary Purpose Alcoholics Anonymous meeting space, as Suite D of the strip center at 1203 W. 34th St. is converted into Slowpokes wine, beer, and coffee bar. The new business is busy building its digital presence as it rehabs its physical space just south of the corner with Alba Rd.

The bar’s Instagram page shows the above photo of a screenshot of a rendering of the suite under renovation, which depicts a large patio spreading out into what is currently the strip center’s parking lot. Photos of carpet removal and wishful floor-taping have also been posted as interior construction begins:

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Repurposed in Garden Oaks