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:


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:


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.


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.


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:


Repurposed in Garden Oaks
02/19/15 11:30am

Proposed Oaks on Shepherd Shopping Center, 4000 N. Shepherd Dr., Independence Heights, Houston

Sears, 4000 N. Shepherd St., Garden Oaks, HoustonA scheme to demolish the 1949 Sears building at 4000 N. Shepherd Dr. and the Pine Forest Business Park behind it and replace it with an “Americana”-themed shopping center headlined by a new Sears store and a supermarket is only part of an unsolicited proposal sent to the national retailer, a representative of Weingarten Realty tells Swamplot. A brochure describing aspects of the proposal, which would replace the Streamline Moderne department store between Garden Oaks and Independence Heights with a higher density shopping center that the body copy implied would be styled in a manner akin to the residential designs of Frank Lloyd Wright, was posted online by the publicly traded REIT earlier this week.


Oaks on Shepherd
02/18/15 1:00pm

Proposed Oaks on Shepherd Shopping Center, 4000 N. Shepherd Dr., Independence Heights, Houston

Proposed Oaks on Shepherd Shopping Center, 4000 N. Shepherd Dr., Independence Heights, Houston

Update, 2/19: Weingarten says the brochure was a “vision book” that was released to the public in error.

“The time is right for redevelopment” of the Sears at 4000 N. Shepherd Dr., declares a brochure published online earlier this week by Weingarten Realty. The brochure, which appears to be part of a proposal to Sears, which owns the 11.7-acre western portion of the site, says the REIT plans to partner with the retailer to turn the sleepy department store and the Pine Forest Business Park directly to its east into a “wonderfully connected and designed retail shopping destination for Garden Oaks, Oak Forest and neighborhoods around it,” including a new grocery store and restaurants.

No site plan is included in the presentation, but Weingarten notes that it plans to keep “the 2nd longest operating Houston Sears” open in some form throughout the redevelopment. “Weingarten’s vision is to acquire adjacent land,” then “temporarily relocate Sears into an existing building” — the Family Bingo Center at 641 W. Crosstimbers — before scraping and redoing the whole site.


Oaks on Shepherd
11/24/14 2:45pm



A Garden Oaks home likes balconies so much, it stuffs a few of them inside looking over the living room (top) as well as facing the street (above). The bones of the property beneath a tree canopied lot located just west of Yale St. date to 1940, but it’s been expanded and updated over the years. Last week, its tidy presence popped up on the market sporting a $695,000 asking price.


Canopied Lot
10/16/14 5:00pm



Dog friendly? Maybe. But cats, the listing says, are a deal-breaker for leasing this 2005 patio home in a quad-plex located one street south of the Garden Oaks section between Ella Blvd. and N. Shepherd Dr. Like a quick swipe of lipstick to attract notice, a reddish zipline tops the front porch and extends around the home’s mid-section. Lawn maintenance is included in the home’s $2,850 monthly rate. So are the baby gates, kiddie locks, and a fair amount of wainscot:


01/27/14 2:15pm

LANDS’ END ENDING FOR GARDEN OAKS, BUT NO SEARS’ END IN SIGHT Sears, 4000 N. Shepherd St., Garden Oaks, HoustonGarden Oaks, Oak Forest, and Independence Heights–area customers who received a not-entirely-clear email this morning from Lands’ End calling attention to the “big savings on everything” in the Sears store at 4000 N. Shepherd Dr. in Houston, but noting that “Unfortunately, we’ll be closing that location on 1/31/14″: Here’s a little explication for you. Only the Lands’ End store within the Garden Oaks Sears will be closing at the end of the month. The Sears itself will remain open, for the time being. Photo: Louisiana and Texas Southern Malls and Retail

01/13/14 10:45am

Suchu Dance, 3480 Ella Blvd., Ella Plaza Shopping Center, Oak Forest, Houston

The 1,500-sq.-ft. space deep in the crotch of the Ella Plaza Shopping Center just south of the railroad tracks at 3480 Ella Blvd. is the new home of modern dance troupe Suchu Dance. It’s also the former longtime Houston haunt of Patsy Swayze‘s Houston JazzBallet Company and the Swayze School of Dance. Long before the dance teacher made it big with her choreography for Urban Cowboy in 1980 and decamped to Hollywood, Swayze taught hundreds of gyrating Houstonians — including her 5 children, in the strip center corner. Her son Buddy, who as Patrick Swayze went on to star in Dirty Dancing and Ghost, started barging in on classes there at the age of 3, long before playing football at Waltrip High School across the street; he met his wife, Lisa Niemi, in the strip-center studio as well. He died from pancreatic cancer in 2009; his mother passed away in California’s Simi Valley last September.


Somebody Put Baby in a Strip Center Corner