10/21/16 1:30pm

Trail construction along White Oak Bayou near Leonel Castillo Community Center, 2101 South St, Near Northside, Houston, 77009

A reader caught some shots last week of the current trailblazing going on between the Leonel Castillo Community Center and the White Oak Bayou greenway trail in Near Northside. The new connector should hit the path roughly between the south end of the building and the nearby Thomas Street Health Center HIV-slash-AIDS service building, just north of where the Heights hike-and-bike trail crosses over the bayou and under the Hogan St. bridge to merge with the White Oak trail on the way into Downtown:


Closing Distance to Downtown
10/20/16 9:45am

CITY RED TAGS WHITE OAK MUSIC HALL FOR ILLEGAL OUTDOOR STAGE CONSTRUCTION Rendering of White Oak Music Hall, 2915 N. Main, Houston, 77009A city inspector issued a red tag to White Oak Music Hall on Tuesday to stop what appears to have been unpermitted construction work on a permanent outdoor stage, Zach Despart reports this morning. The venue’s permit for the long-term temporary stage it had been using for outdoor shows expired on October 5th, a few weeks after mayor Turner publicly nixed the organizers’ just-take-it-down-real-quick renewal plans; this week a real estate agent who lives in the area handed out photos to city council ostensibly showing that crews were already at work to put up a new structure, despite the plans for the stage still not having passed the city’s permitting review process. Despart also notes that a show previously billed on the outdoor stage for this Saturday is now marked on its ticket purchase page as planned for one of the venue’s indoor performance spaces. [Houston Press; previously on Swamplot] Original renderings of White Oak Music Hall with planned outdoor stage:  Schaum /Shieh

09/09/16 11:15am

Hardy Yards sign, Burnett at Main St., Near Northside, Houston, 77026

Hardy Yards sign, Burnett at Main St., Near Northside, Houston, 77026The letters strung out under the Red Line overpass at Burnett St. and N. Main to label the area as Hardy Yards are now back in place once again, Chris Andrews notes. After a few ups and downs earlier this year the letters were removed altogether for a bit; they’re now back in place, standing on what appear to be some slightly buffed-up legs. The ones shown above are on the north side of Burnett; here’s the southern companion piece, with the stairs leading to the Burnett Transit Center visible on the left:


Knocked Down, But Up Again
09/07/16 1:30pm

CITY NIXES WHITE OAK MUSIC HALL’S DEJA-VU STAGE PERMIT PLAN White Oak Music Hall April Construction and Temporary Stage Setup, 2915 N. Main St., Northside, Houston, 77009The city isn’t planning to renew a permit for White Oak Music Hall’s temporary-but-kinda-not-temporary outdoor stage once it expires next month, Erin Mulvaney reports this week. Tickets have already been sold for concerts scheduled later in October and November, but the public works department now says that the temporary stage’s operating permit will expire on October 5th when the structure has been up for 180 days — and no, says Mayor Turner, the venue can’t just take the stage down and put it back up again to get a new one, as the developers told Mulvaney they were planning to do. Mulvaney writes that the White Oak folks applied for permits for a planned permanent outdoor stage several times in the winter and spring, but took a break from resubmitting after the plans failed code review a few times; another set of application materials was submitted last Wednesday. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo of White Oak Music Hall’s temporary stage during setup in April: Swamplot inbox

08/19/16 2:45pm

WHITE OAK MUSIC HALL READY FOR FULL OPENING, NOISE CITATION HEARING Rendering of White Oak Music Hall, 2915 N. Main, Houston, 77009This week marks the official opening of White Oak Music Hall’s 2 indoor stages, writes Erin Mulvaney. Construction on the permanent concert spaces has wrapped next to the temporary-but-indefinitely-employed outdoor stage where the venue has been holding concerts since April. Per Jennifer Ostlind of the Houston Planning Department, all required parking for the venue is in place, though Mulvaney notes that “the temporary stage, which the partners plan to use in perpetuity for roughly 30 shows a year, did not require a permit or parking to accommodate the crowds.” Mulvaney also writes that the developers are getting ready for a September hearing on the noise ordinance citation the venue received in May; a study by hired sound scrutinizers on the night of the citation reportedly shows that sound at the venue didn’t pass 75 decibels. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Rendering of White Oak Music Hall complex: Shau

07/25/16 4:00pm

1901 N. Main St., Near Northside, Houston, 77009

Chris Andrews has caught a few snapshots of what appears to be a soil sampling crew at work at 1901 N. Main St., formerly the site of Uncle Johnny’s Good Cars. Most of the 37,679-sq.-ft. property, occupying the block on the east side of N. Main between Hogan and Gargan streets (including the 1950s auto shop and the next door 1930s Beer’s Building), was transferred to a legal entity called Cerveza Four in May of 2015. Shortly thereafter, Keller Williams Realty posted the cheerily-soundtracked video listing below showing the ins and outs of the property, nestled between the Casa De Amigos city health clinic to the south and the former home of Alamo Thrifty Bail Bonds (now bike shop HAM Cycles 2) across Gargan:


Movement on N. Main
05/11/16 5:15pm

Glen Park resident and
periodic White Oak Music Hall critic Beth Lousteau sends along this Tuesday retelling of a Mother’s Day encounter with a work crew apparently having a go at some vegetation along Little White Oak Bayou near 210 Glen Park St. The property, including the warehouse across an unpaved road, was bought last spring by White Oak W2 Investments, an entity controlled by the White Oak Music Hall developers. Lousteau says that workers on the site told her they’d been tasked with clearing a nicer view to the water, but that the boundary between the purchased property and the county-owned floodway land wasn’t marked.

Here’s a brief glimpse of the scene reportedly taken that Sunday, when Lousteau encountered the work crew mid-whir:


Glen Park
05/09/16 12:30pm

RAVEN TOWER’S TOWER TEMPORARILY CLOSED, BUT THE SHOWS WILL GO ON Raven Tower Bar, 301 North St., Northside, Houston, 77009The blue bar-on-a-stick at the northwest corner of the White Oak Music Hall complex temporarily shut down last week so W2 Development Partners can add more railings and make the space more physically accessible. The elevated 1970s former bachelor pad reopened as a bar and rooftop patio in January, 3 months before the first show on the semi-temporary main stage next door; a set of concrete stairs wrap around the elevator shaft leading up to the main space.  The non-tower sections of the Raven Tower venue, including the downstairs bar and the outdoor patio and performance space, are scheduled to stay open and host concerts as planned. Across the parking lot, White Oak Music Hall has another lawn concert scheduled for tomorrow night. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo of Raven Tower: Swamplot inbox

04/25/16 12:30pm

Fulton at Cavalcade streets, Northside, Houston ,77009

Stare directly into the snapshot above from the corner of Fulton and Cavalcade streets, which now bears a sun-saluting mural echoing a loteria card. The painting is part of the mini mural series that began appearing on utility boxes across the southwest side of town last summer, at which time only 31 of the boxes were slated for colorful fates. The current count is closer to 60 murals (per the photo-laden interactive map available here); additional artists were recruited last fall.

While the majority of the completed projects are still concentrated between 59 and 288 inside Beltway 8, more than a dozen are now scattered north and east throughout the rest of the Inner Loop — with a few further north around Greenspoint, 1 beyond the Beltway to the west in Westchase, and another as far southwest as Missouri City. Here’s another recent addition to the collection in Aldine, next to the Shipley’s Donuts at the southwest corner of Airline and W. Dyna drives:


Blazing in Near Northside
04/13/16 3:00pm

THE SHAKEUP AROUND WHITE OAK MUSIC HALL’S OUTDOOR STAGE Rendering of White Oak Music Hall, 2915 N. Main, Houston, 77009The permanent outdoor concert stage suggested by renderings of N. Main St.’s newest music venue, Erin Mulvaney writes this week, wasn’t included in the building permits approved for the venue; for now, it appears that the blue-roofed temporary stage used for the music hall’s first concert this past weekend will be covering the outdoor gig indefinitely. Meanwhile, Houston police documented at least 17 noise complaint calls from the immediate area on Saturday night, and 1 during the leadup week; multiple residents near the spot tell Mulvaney that their homes were vibrating to the music of French electronica group M83. Area resident Kerry Whitehead remarks to Swamplot on her observations from her home nearby: “I recently read a quote in a 1983 Texas Monthly article about our stretch of Main Street . . .  seeing I-45 in proximity to Hollywood Cemetery (an ‘old, lush place’ then, as it is now), the author remarked that he imagined ‘the bones of the nineteenth-century dead rattling in resonance with the vibrations from the freeway.’ Well, if those bones resting in peace hadn’t been rattled yet, they were rattled on Saturday night — as was I.” [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Rendering of White Oak Music Hall complex: White Oak Music Hall

04/04/16 10:00am

Hardy Yards sign, Burnett at Main St., Near Northside, Houston, 77026

The recent restoration of the Hardy Yards district sign’s upright stature and youthful good looks appears to have been short-lived — Christopher Andrews found the H sprawled flat on its back over the weekend, with a few of the other letters also looking less than fully vertical in the late-night shot above (peering east down Burnett St. from the corner with N. Main under the light-rail overpass). Metro says it’s on the case, again.

Photo of Hardy Yards signage: Christopher Andrews

N. Main at Burnett
03/30/16 4:30pm

Hardy Yards sign, Burnett at Main St., Near Northside, Houston, 77026

Hardy Yards sign, Burnett at Main St., Near Northside, Houston, 77026

The second A, R, and D of the signage at the intersection of Burnett St. and N. Main are now back in action (up top) beneath the Red Line light-rail overpass. The letters have been patched up and sent back to their assigned places above a freshly-repaired concrete planter, following an unfriendly run-in (or -into) near the end of January (pictured second, with the A dramatically sprawled backward onto the mulch).

The sign, marking the intended redevelopment of the former Hardy Rail Yards into a mixed-use complex in Near Northside, was added as part of the street and infrastructure work that’s been going on at the 43-acre brownfield site. Some of that work is visible in the site plan for the property posted by landscape architecture and planning firm Design Workshop: 


Near Northside
07/15/15 1:45pm

2223 N. Main St., Near Northside, Houston

2223 N. Main St., Near Northside, Houston

Hop on or off the Red Line train at Quitman and you’ll find this 1940 red-brick structure a-renovating at the northwest corner of N. Main St. What’s being fixed up? Here are a couple of before-and-during shots showing the transformation of the 11,850-sq.-ft. office building at 2223 N. Main St. so far:


07/14/15 2:30pm

Burnett St., Near Northside, Houston

With a row of Downtown towers looking on from the south, 2 lanes are being added to Burnett St., along the northern boundary of the 50-acre site formerly known as the Hardy Rail Yards. The thickening runs between N. Main St. and Hardy St. At the western end of that stretch, next to the Burnett Transit Center stop on the Red Line’s northern extension, a new baby intersection has been born at Freeman St. just in front of the rail overpass, just up a ways from the N. Main tunnel:


Grid Growth
07/02/15 11:45am


Coyote at Glen Park and Hyacinth St., Glen Park, HoustonHere’s a coyote who stepped out in the early evening hours yesterday for a little daylight walkabout in Glen Park — not far from its normal howling grounds in and around the nearby Hollywood Cemetery, Little White Oak Bayou, and Moody Park. These pics were taken at the corner of Glen Park St. and Hyacinth, just one block north of North Main St. and the future site of the White Oak Music Hall.


Wildlife in the Near Northside