03/28/17 11:45am

WE’VE REACHED CHAPTER 11 IN THE HUNKY DORY, BERNADINE’S STORY Hunky Dory, 1801 N. Shepherd Dr., Houston HeightsHere’s an update to continuing reports on the financial health of the Treadsack restaurant group, the company behind Heights-area establishments Down House, D&T Drive Inn, Johnny’s Gold Brick, Hunky Dory, Bernadine’s, Foreign Correspondents, and Canard: Mothership Ventures, LLC, an entity owned by Treadsack partner Chris Cusack and — according to Houston Press reporter Craig Malisow, the business entity that operates as Bernadine’s and Hunky Dory — filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection over this past weekend. Foreign Correspondents and its next-door-neighbor bar Canard closed for business in the shopping center at 4721 N. Main St. suddenly at the end of last year; in February, Malisow published a detailed saga of payroll and tax problems behind the shutdown, alleging Treadsack restaurants had become subject to IRS and state liens totaling more than $1.3 million, and that at one point the Texas Comptroller’s office had threatened a seizure of assets at Down House if taxes were not paid. Bernadine’s and Hunky Dory have been operating since late 2015 in a new building constructed for them at the corner of 18th St. and N. Shepherd. Update, 1:30 pm: An investor has filed suit against the owners of Treadsack, the Houston Press now reports. Craig Malisow also notes that the debtor in the bankruptcy filing has been granted funds to pay for the next employee paychecks. Photo: Hunky Dory

03/28/17 10:45am

191 Heights Blvd., Katyville, Houston, TX 77007

191 Heights Blvd., Katyville, Houston, TX 77007Some signage for Starfish is now stuck to the side of the former location of yes-that-Bradley Bradley’s Fine Diner at 191 Heights Blvd. (next to Koehler St.), Heights-area-restaurant cartographer Brie Kelman notes. The aquatic theme, expected to extend to the menu, extends to the interior of the space as well, which Kelman says sports a large fish tank near the entrance. Cherry Pie Hospitality (which also owns Pi Pizza down at the south end of the strip center) says it’s looking for Starfish employees, now, too.

Photo: Brie Kelman (top), Chris S. (bottom)

Diner Goes Cherry Pie
03/22/17 1:00pm

721 W. 19th St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008 

Work has moved into the buildout and dressup phase for Phase II of the high-glycemic-index strip center at the corner of W. 19th St. and N. Shepherd Dr., a reader notes during a recent catty-corner oil change. The Benjamin Moore signage spotted around the new second building last year during the site’s flat-slab days is now reflected by buildout permits for the paint store, which should take up about 1,820 sq.ft. of the building’s 4,298. What’ll be filling up the rest of the space? Looks like the leftovers will house Austin export Tarka Indian Kitchen’s first inside-the-Beltway location.

The cameraman also captured a glimpse of Dallas pizzeria Cane Rosso‘s statue of a somewhat confusingly labeled suina rosso, which overlooks the intersection from its browsing position near the parking lot:

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Heights Austinites
03/20/17 2:00pm

Chase Bank at 500 W. 20th St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008

Heights Reservoir land saleAs the digging around has started recently across the road, the Chase Bank on W. 20th street has gone up for sale, a reader notes. Most of the land west of Nicholson St. between 19th and 20th streets is owned by Chase (which has a drive-in on the block), as is the parking lot on 20th across Lawrence. The property is wedged in with those 2 pieces of Heights Waterworks land (outlined here in red) that the city sold last year to Alliance; the apartment developer’s plan for the catty-corner sites includes a pair of 8- and 6-story midrises plus a conversion of the protected reservoir structure itself for restaurant and-or retail use. The signage at the corner of 19th and Lawrence St. (shown above) note that the bank will be seeking its fortune elsewhere.

Images: “Random Property Gossip” (top); City of Houston (bottom)

Banking on Heights Densification
03/16/17 11:00am

Former trailer park at W. 11th St. and Allston St.

Trash cans, cinder blocks, and other debris strewn around the southeast corner of W. 11th and Allston streets are what remain of the huddle of 9-or-so trailers that has occupied the lot since at least the mid-1990’s. A set of permits on file with the city for Jozzie’s Mobile Home Park expired at the end of December, and the final exodus looks to have occurred in the last few weeks. Have the homes been given a new space to hang out in? And what will take their place, here on the 13,200-sq.-ft lot backed up against Citgo-station-turned-whiskey-bar Eight Row Flint?

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Sticks and Stones on Allston St.
03/10/17 5:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: YOUR WEEKEND HEIGHTS-CREEP FORECAST Future Yale Marketplace site at Yale St. and 610 Loop, Garden Oaks/Independence Heights, Houston, 77018“Garden Oaks and Oak Forest are [already] part of The Heights (the same way they are calling Spring Branch ‘Memorial’, and a lot of long time residents were angry that new residents called Northside Village ‘Tampico Heights’). I have bad news for the purists out there: if you live in Cottage Grove, Independence Heights, Shady Acres, Brooke Smith, Timbergrove/Lazybrook, those areas are now part of The Heights [as well].  . . . These hoods that have the 365 stores are gonna get more pricey and popular, since they are close to Downtown.” [Dj, commenting on Whole Foods’s 365 Garden Oaks Spot Now Emptied of Neff Rental Rentals] Rendering of 365 Garden Oaks: Boucher Design Group

03/09/17 5:30pm

610 Allston St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77007

The 2-bedroom home snuggled into the western side of the Alexan Heights apartment complex has hit the market this week, lagging a few days behind this weekend’s discovery of an unidentified skeleton in a wall cavity accessible from the attic. The holdout house was foreclosed on in early 2015 after then-owner Mary Cerruti stopped making mortgage payments; it’s not clear exactly when she went missing, but she reportedly sent someone a Valentine, the Chronicle‘s Emily Foxhall reported earlier this week.  Foxhall noted that while the bones were uncovered along with a pair of cheap red glasses like the ones Cerruti was known to wear, the skeleton had not yet been officially identified (nor had foul play been ruled either in or out).

The recently remodeled house is currently on the market for $439,900; the 1,161-sq.-ft. building sits on a 6,600-sq.-ft. lot, spooned on 3 sides by the Alexan:

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Selling the Scene
03/08/17 12:30pm

2723 Yale St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008
2723 Yale St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008

As heralded by last Wednesday’s daily demolition report, the low-slung insurance and marketing office building at 2723 Yale St. is now in tatters. The post-smashing shot above was taken in a drive-by by a reader yesterday (who notes this morning that most of the debris has since been hauled off).

Planned for the lot is a new strip center being marketed by East Village developer Ancorian as a retail-office-restaurant mashup, “anchored” by the mini Whole Foods in the works across 610. The property is loosely sandwiched between the combination KFC-Taco Bell to the south and the side-by-side Burger King and new El Rey sitting along the North Loop feeder road (visible to the right).

Renderings of the proposed strip show a mix of brick, wood, metal grating, glass, and patches of other skin materials; a Newquest Properties leasing flier shows the building turning away from Yale St. to face W. 28th St., behind a thick protective later of parking:

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Cleaning Up in the Heights
03/06/17 10:45am

HUMAN SKELETON DISCOVERED IN THAT HEIGHTS HOUSE THAT WOULDN’T SELL TO TRAMMELL CROW 610 Allston St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77007A skeleton and some tattered cloth were discovered this weekend in an attic crawlspace in that house on Allston St. now neighbored on 3 sides by the 5-story Alexan Heights apartment complex, which occupies most of the Yale St. block between 6th St. and the Heights hike & bike trail. The home’s then-owner, Mary Cerruti, was reported missing in September of 2015, having been last seen for sure in the spring. ABC13 reports that investigators reportedly searched the house when Cerruti disappeared, but found only the bodies of several dead cats. Police are now trying to figure out whether or not the skeleton is Cerruti’s; it’s also not yet clear whether the skeleton came to land in the crawl space with assistance, or by its own doing. [ABC13; previously on Swamplot] Photo of 610 Allston St.: HAR

03/02/17 11:30am

Renderings of 2401 N. Shepherd, Houston Heights, Houston, 77008

Renderings of 2401 N. Shepherd, Houston Heights, Houston, 77008The skewed look of the retail center planned by Braun Enterprises for 2401 N. Shepherd Dr. comes in large part from the misaligned footprints of the upper and lower stories of the eastern building, each twisted in opposite directions off of the right angles of the Heights street grid (though the lower layer appears to get mashed flat up against a setback line on the north side). Renderings of the site posted recently by Tipps Architecture show the twisty building paired with another single-story structure stretching west along W. 24th St., with some hangout space wedged between the 2. Some bent vertical strips and boxcutter window angles add that sat-on-the-delivery-box touch to the upper story of the eastern building, tentatively labeled with spots for retail, a café, and an upstairs fitness studio. 

How does one stray from the straight-and-narrow of classic Houston strip mall design while still fitting in all those required parking spots? Braun’s leasing flier shows a parking lot behind the 2 buildings, some angled-in street parking along W. 24th, and — perhaps taking a hint from the double-decker design of the H-E-B planned catty-corner across N. Shepherd — an additional level of parking tucked away on the roof:

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Rising Above on N. Shepherd
03/01/17 11:30am

Signage at Kroger, 239 W. 20th St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008

Signage at Kroger, 239 W. 20th St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008The removal of the “Right Store Right Price” sign tacked onto the side of the Kroger at 239 W. 20th St. briefly revealed long-buried evidence of the building’s long-hidden relationship with Weingarten, a parking lot cruising reader notes. Yes, that Weingarten (which currently owns the shopping center): the company’s account of its own history notes that the Weingarten family started out in the grocery biz, then got into real estate to build its own stores. The company dropped supermarkets altogether in the early 1980s and went into real estate full time.

By mid-afternoon yesterday, the newly unearthed traces of the company’s former association with the building had already been beiged out:

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Uncovered on W. 20th
02/01/17 11:30am

Rice Box, 300 W. 20th St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008

Rice Box, 300 W. 20th St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008The Chinese chicken takeout swapout at 300 W. 20th St. is now more or less complete, as of the space’s soft opening on Saturday (just in time to celebrate the Lunar New Year, which kicked off, as it happens, the start of the year of the rooster). The restaurant’s official kickoff is planned for this weekend, the day before the Super Bowl. Rice Box owner John Peterson told the Chronicle years ago that the now-catering-only food truck was loosely inspired by the movie’s White Dragon noodle shop; the new restaurant’s prominent neon signage and dense Asiatic business district patio mural offer a more overt visual cue. (Incidentally, Peterson isn’t the only person interested in ushering in the movie’s dystopian aesthetic for culinary purposes — celebrity food guy Anthony Bourdain is reportedly working on a whole Blade Runner-themed food marketplace on a pier in New York.)

Interior renovations include the addition of several beer taps, in line with that TABC permit notice spotted last year (though some of the taps reportedly dispense nitrogenated tea.) Here’s a look from W. 20th St. at the refurbished exterior, and the building’s new side patio:

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Heights Chicken Switch
01/27/17 9:30am

DECADES-OLD JIMMY’S ICE HOUSE ON WHITE OAK DR. TO TURN BRAUN, CHANGE NAME, TENANTS Jimmy's Ice House, 2803 White Oak Dr., Houston Heights, Houston, 77007 The current owners of Jimmy’s Ice House at the corner of White Oak Dr. and Threlkeld St. are in the middle of working out a sales agreement with serial redeveloper Braun Enterprises, Jim Reynolds reports this week. The late eponymous Jimmie Murray opened the place back in the late 1940s; the bar is currently owned by a group including Jimmie’s son’s widow. Current co-owner Eric Quinn says the likely plan is for Braun to lease the space out to a new tenant, who definitely won’t use the Jimmy’s Ice House name; he also notes that various grandfathered building code violations mean remodeling may be prohibitively expensive. Jimmy’s Ice House sits across Threlkeld from the Studewood BB’s Cafe, and across White Oak Dr. from the South Heights Retail Center, near both Fitzgerald’s and Christian’s Tailgate. The -ie to -y swap looks to have happened around the time the current owners bought the place in 2008, as part of the signage switch from Jimmie’s Place. [The Leader] Photo of Jimmy’s Ice House at 2803 White Oak Dr.: David Richmond/Houston Ice House