02/19/19 11:30am

Work is underway to turn the 2-story brick house Kaye Marvins Photography occupied for 70 years into a new location of Memorial Tailors, currently a 2-spot chain with shops in Cypress and the Village Plaza at Bunker Hill shopping center. The photo at top shows all the doors and windows torn out of the 1920s-era former photo building as part of the renovations that the builder Ecological Living is overseeing. Also vanished: the long green awning that once extended out from the front door to the curb on the east side of Montrose Blvd.

Here it is from across the street:

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Roseland Estates
02/13/19 2:00pm

International fitness chain Barry’s Bootcamp plans to pick up where Luke’s Locker left off in the easternmost portion of the River Oaks Shopping Center south of W. Gray, and before doing so, will dress the storefront in the full military-style regalia that’s typical of its existing locations. The photo above looks south to show the space shortly after the former running store left it. At top: Barry’s’s chevron-heavy vision for what it will become.

As indicated by the awning on the right, some kind of retail component appears to be planned inside, along with room for a fitness studio. With a just a bit more detail, the windows drawing might also show a reflection of the new 30-story highrise, dubbed The Driscoll, that Weingarten’s got going on the opposite of W. Gray, in place of Café Ginger and a few of its former neighbors.

Photo: Katie Schon. Drawing: Houston Archaeological and Historical Commission

Fitness Invasion
01/25/19 4:30pm

This pair of drive-by shots shows what remained on Tuesday of the Hyde Park building that until recently housed South and Central American craft store Corazon. After receiving a series of short-term lease extensions, the store’s owner Chris Murphy told Swamplot last October that he only had a month left in the space at 2318 Waugh Dr., which had housed the store since 1998 and served as a canvas for Houston’s fifth red dot on its Fairview-St. side. (It opened a year earlier on Montrose Blvd. a few blocks south of 59 in a spot within the former Gramercy Apartments that’s now occupied by the Museum Tower.)

Murphy began renting the blue and gray building that’s now collapsing for $650 a month over the discouragements of his friends, reported the Chronicle’s Ileana Najarro, who warned him of its location in “the middle of nowhere” and of the visibly lopsided posture it’d assumed over its 100-year lifespan. (Joke’s on them: the building, wrote Najarro, went on to survive 8 car crashes during the time Corazon was inside.) Harris County’s appraisal district dates its construction to around 1880. Since then, it’s done stints as a smithy, glass-blowing studio, antique store, general store, and furniture refinishing shop.

Once the dust has settled from the demolition, a set of 3 townhomes are set to rise in its place. Murphy plans to continue dealing products from South and Central American artists online.

Photos: Grey Stephens

Fairview Farewell
01/23/19 1:15pm

The development team that had hoped to put a 7-story, 24-unit condo building dubbed Mandell Montrose on the corner of Commonwealth and Fairview streets appears to have given up entirely on that effort now: 3 days ago, the property — which includes the house-turned-leasing-office pictured above — was listed for sale at a price of $2.6 million. It’s the second condo project that failed to get off this particular ground in the past 2 years. The seller Midtown Uptown Development Partners picked up on the site after a different developer’s plans to put an 8-story building called Flats on Fairview there fell through.

The good news is that this porch view from the adjacent house remains totally unobstructed:

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Condo, Discontinued
01/16/19 4:00pm

The shopping center at the southwest southeast corner of Montrose Blvd. and 59 known as Chelsea Market has just recently gotten the chain-link wraparound, as shown above from the west (top) and east (above). Its days had been numbered ever since plans showing a Broadstone apartment tower in place of the 3-building retail complex surfaced online last year.

Renderings of the tower, to be named Broadstone Museum District, show it rising 16-stories high:

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Montrose Blvd. at 59
01/07/19 1:15pm

Documents put out by Houston’s planning commission reveal that Sweetgreen isn’t the only tenant signed up to take over Doc’s Motorwork’s empty structure at 1303 Westheimer; there’s also a Steel City Pops on the way to the back of the building. The site plan at top shows it grabbing about 900 sq.-ft along Graustark St., leaving the rest of the 4,400-sq.-ft. building reserved for the plant-based anchor tenant.

This is Sweetgreen’s first step into Texas, according to Eater’s Alaena Hostetter (or second, if you count the other not-yet-open location it has planned for Rice Village) and it wants to make Doc’s building look like this before setting foot in it:

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On Deck Along Westheimer
12/20/18 10:30am

In just under a month, longtime Richmond Ave record shop and turntable repair destination Sound Exchange will move from the brick house pictured above to a Second Ward spot near the corner of N. Milby and Commerce. The 39-year-old business didn’t originally open in Montrose, but it got there right away: After a one-year stint in Rice Village, it moved to the strip at 1617 Westheimer, where it spent 19 years before relocating to its present digs at 1846 Richmond.

Already in the works for the block where Sound Exchange sits: rejiggering the property lines to create a new 29,466-sq.-ft. parcel out of the lot shown above, plus 2 additional lots behind it on Colquitt St. that house apartments. Houston’s city planning commission is set to review the proposed replat at the beginning of next year.

Photo: Vinylhub

Winlow Place
12/18/18 10:30am

THE ALLEN’S LATEST MIXED-USE MAP NIXES THE PEDESTRIAN BRIDGE ACROSS ALLEN PKWY. Remember that pedestrian bridge that previous maps and renderings for The Allen showed crossing Allen Pkwy. in order to link the planned development to Buffalo Bayou Park? Well, it appears to be gone now: New marketing materials put out by Transwestern include no indication of it whatsoever. (Earlier versions of the map above had shown it plugging into the building labeled 1, a lowrise retail structure.) All 6 acres of the site — between Allen Parkway Village and the Federal Reserve building — remain vacant right now, except for a tiny portion near the southwest corner where a newly-poured concrete foundation has given rise to a yet-unidentified wood-framed structure over the past couple of days. [Transwestern (PDF) via HAIF; previously on Swamplot] Map: Transwestern

12/17/18 1:30pm

WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN THE MONTROSE SHAKE SHACK OPENS THIS THURSDAY Aside from the standard beefy fare, here’s what you can expect to encounter at the chain’s new Burger-King-replacement location on Westheimer west of Montrose Blvd. when it opens this Thursday: tabletops made from “reclaimed bowling alley lanes,” a mural from local artist Michael Rodriguez (the same guy behind new female astronaut artwork next to Shake Shack’s Rice Village location and the colorful first floor of the former Battelstein’s building downtown), and a free Shake-Shack-themed holiday ornament for the first 100 customers (doors open at 11 a.m.). There are also a few Montrose-specific menu items planned at the 1002 Westheimer restaurant including custards acquired from nearby UB Preserv and less-nearby Fluff Bake Bar, as well as a carrot cake offering served with coffee grounds from the location’s next-door neighbor Blacksmith. [Previously on Swamplot] Photo of construction on Montrose Shake Shack: Swamplox inbox

12/10/18 5:30pm

A Swamplot reader sends these 2 photos showing what longtime Avondale brunch spot Baba Yega Cafe looks like after a Friday night fire did a number on the building. Damage to the roof has mostly been covered up now by a blue tarp. At ground level, new orange fencing signals the business’s current status: closed until sometime next year, say the owners.

Next-door, scattered debris and furniture are at rest in the parking lot behind the former Montrose Mining Company. Both the Mining Company and its lot are owned by one of the same partners behind Baba Yega, Fred Sharifi, and have remained empty for the past few months while the shuttered gay bar gets reshaped into Houston’s second Postino Wine Bar.

Photos: Swamplox inbox

Avondale
12/05/18 9:45am

Last Wednesday, a new paintjob completely erased the blue and gold artwork on Reeve’s Antiques’ Taft-St. side. The whitewashing, Reeves owner Matt Reeves tells Swamplot, has created a blank canvas upon which a rotating series of new murals will appear over the next few months before a final, more permanent work takes their place.

He didn’t comment on the flying fish now levitating above it all:

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And Aerial Fish
12/04/18 5:00pm

The building that the Texas Junk Company left in 2016 is now home not only to a brand-new Verizon 5G broadband connection, but a whole array of gadgets designed to show off the service that the carrier launched in Houston a few months ago. Pictured above is the mock living room where for the next week, anyone can make themselves comfortable in front of a 4K resolution TV and a host of other mobile devices while they stream video through the telecom company’s new, purportedly higher-speed lines.

For a more immersive experience, try the virtual reality basketball range shown below off to the right:

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East Montrose
11/28/18 3:00pm

At least one resident of 224 Emerson St. doesn’t appear to be going anywhere. “The model” — dubbed Francis by the homeowners  — “isn’t attached,” writes the listing agent, “but everything is negotiable.” His current kitchen counter hangout is tucked back on the ground floor of the condo — the furthest east of 6 on the block south of Hawthorne St. in Westmoreland — leaving the house’s more prominent spots available for other kinds of decor.

To get to the first one, head through the gate to the right of the garage door and step through the front door:

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Counter Offer
11/27/18 12:00pm

The former Ascent Fitness building next to West Alabama Ice House is taking on a new life as Blue Mambo Hair Salon, according to a building permit filed yesterday. The gym’s 3-year run in the 4,260-sq.-ft. space at 1911 W. Alabama ended last October following the on-site sale of all no-longer-needed exercise equipment. (It took over the building in 2015 from 713 Pilates, now located down the street in the strip center it shares with Siphon Coffee.)

“For lease” signs went up early this year around the property, which includes a back parking lot that wraps the next-door hardware store and kicks out onto Hazard St. That arrangement should give Blue Mambo a bit more space than it’s got currently in the Chelsea Market shopping center off Montrose Blvd., long rumored for some kind of highrise replacement.

Photos: Margo

Dearborn Place
10/30/18 11:45am

RANDALLS READY TO SLIP OUT OF SHEPHERD SQUARE A spokeswoman for the grocer tells the Chronicle’s Nancy Sarnoff this morning that the Shepherd Square Randalls Flagship store will be closing, but doesn’t say when. It’s been at Shepherd and Westheimer for about the past 2 decades, back before the brand got bought in 1999 by national chain Safeway — which itself was acquired by Albertsons in 2015. The 128,000-sq.-ft. shopping center housing the store went up in 1989. (It’s shown above before Randalls’ signage was flipped, elevating the “Flagship” branding to a spot above the retailer’s own name.) Over the past year, several Houston-area Randalls have already shut down: at the Coles Crossing shopping center in Cypress, on 34th St. in Oak Forest, and on W. Bellfort in Stafford. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Denise W.