Remodeling along the lines of what’s depicted here is now underway on Amherst St. between Kelvin St. and Kirby Dr., according to a Rice Village District rep. A couple of newly released drawings shown here fill in details to some of the previously mentioned changes planned for the south side of Amherst, including the conversion of part of the roadway itself into more walking and sitting room behind some protective planters. And that narrow passageway in the building, running between Amherst and University Blvd., appears to be getting its own signage labeling it as The Alley (complete with light-up arrow directing shoppers inside).
The plans also call for some rooftop greenery and the chopping off of some pointy brick pediments — a swap which the District says will make all that 2-hours-free rooftop parking more visible, in the wake of the recent parking scheme changes:
The 26th will be the last day of business for the La Madeleine on Kirby Dr. at Amherst St., a rep for the Rice Village District says this afternoon. After that the space’ll get a significant makeover, part of the ongoing de-suburbanization of the 1990s Village Arcade buildings. Changes planned for the space appear to include a total blackout of the corner’s pediments, a gutting of the existing canopy level (paired with a boxy see-through enclosure of that area) and a hip-high hashtag-biscuitpaintwall-style landscaping feature (replacing the existing hedge as Amherst’s walkable zone gets widened). The company says the burger place should be ready to open sometime around November.
The sculpted birds above are now staring intently in various directions from just south of the entrance ramp for the Rice Village’s rooftop parking lot between University Blvd. and Amherst St. The new bird-studded cage hangs around the upper half of the Kelvin St. access staircase for the lot, previously shielded from prying eyes by a since-removed blinder of brick (as pictured second above at the start of the work last year, before much of the paint-up or knock-out action had taken place on the eastern side of the structure). The birds are the work of Californian metalworker and periodic perched bird sculptorNathan Mabry. Changes to the building roughly align with the older renderings of the remodel, though the space was previously depicted with an extra new window (along with some ghostly stand-in art):
The latest edits to the Rice Village area’s look include the installation of the above parking meters for the spaces along Morningside Dr., as captured by a reader this morning. The Rice Village District folks announced in January that the formerly free spots around shopping complex will become pay spots in February. There will still be free parking in the area, for those who watch the clock: parking in the garage between Morningside and Kelvin St. and on the rooftop lot on across Kelvin will be free for the first 2 hours.
The changes appear to fall in line with some of the suggestions made in a 2015 Kinder Institute report on the area’s parking congestion and access inefficiencies; the authors noted at the time that the shopping district always had at least 1,000 unused parking spots even at times when parking seemed hardest to find (like during the peak of the weekday lunch rush).
The to-be-metered zones are marked in light blue in the map below; those zones include the spaces around the former Village Arcade structures between Kirby Dr. and Morningside along University, as well as parts of Times and Rice boulevards and parts of Amherst St.:
A few sketches show the gist of Method Architecture’s plans for converting the former Bissonnet Auto Service Center at 2322 Bissonnet St. into Baileson Brewing Company. The auto shop’s original carport structure looks to be incorporated into the plans for the space as a patio shade-provider, while the 2 former garage bay doors look to be getting glassy replacements. The brewery will enter the area beer niche vacated last year by no-longer-next-door Kay’s Lounge, which met its end in October, and by Hans’ Bier House half a mile a way (last seen bearing signage announcing a planned coffee shop). Here’s a few more angles on the potential redo:
The sign in front of the former Hans’ Bier Haus (which after 21 years shut down last month as previously announced) now reads a little differently: ChristoMio Coffee Bar is setting up shop at 2523 Quenby (in the shadow and projectile range of the nextdoor 2520 Robinhood condo tower). The new logo appears to have been planted onto the old sign just a few days after Hans’ mid-July final hurrah; no official opening date has yet been announced.
The latest work by sanctioned graffiti artist Gonzo247 is dry this rainy morning, hanging back from Morningside Dr. on the sheltered stretch of shopping center wall between Black Walnut Cafe and New York & Company. (That’s along the eastern edge of the Rice Village building group currently being rebranded away from its long-running gig as the Village Arcade.) The new piece is a little more coy in its messaging than some of the artist’s previous work (which includes the edited Houston Is Inspired Hip Tasty Funky Savvy mural commissioned by the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau near Market Square in 2013) — though it does include a lot of letters. Take your own shot at deciphering the close ups below of the piece, around the corner from the space on University recently vacated by the theater-hearkeningVillage Arcadesign:
Compare and contrast the 2 images above, which together show the former Village Arcade at University Blvd. west of Kelvin Dr. both as is and as it may become. The rendering above appears in a marketing brochure released earlier this year by Trademark Property, which manages Rice University’s Village-area properties. The brochure shows potential update plans to a number storefronts in the former Village Arcade buildings (which Trademark is collectively rebranding as just “the Rice Village“); the changes range from simple color swaps to major reshaping and remodeling.
The U-shaped patio above, which currently houses a fountain and a bronze copy of the Italian boar statue Il Porcellino, is shown in the corresponding rendering housing tables in front of a round kiosk ringed with bar-style seating. The drawing also depicts those PoMo-style pediments of the second floor facade replaced with a large sign labeling the structure as Rice Village Market. The building also appears to be painted white.
Earlier this year, a previously released rendering from the set got some grounding in reality when the former Sprint storefront on University west of Kelvin was whitewashed, to prep the space for beauty supply shop Blue Mercury:
YUM YUM CHA CLOSING HINTS AT RICE’S PLANS FOR RETAIL BUILDING IT BOUGHT NEXT TO VILLAGE ARCADE The owner of Rice Village dim sum spot Yum Yum Cha tells Eric Sandler that Rice University’s management company “can’t decide what they’re going to do” with the building it bought earlier at the corner of Times Blvd. and Kelvin St., but that demolition is possible. Yum Yum Cha was offered only a 6-month renewal on its lease. Instead, the restaurant, which has occupied the space at 2435 Times Blvd. for 10 years, will be shutting down June 15th or as soon as it runs out of food — whichever comes first. The 1955 building that houses it forms a small portion of a double block dominated by the Rice-owned Village Arcade shopping center — but lacks any off-street parking of its own. Remaining tenants in the building are Grace Anna’s boutique, Myth Hair Salon & Spa, Joseph Keith Jewelry, and — around the corner — Vietnamese restaurant Miss Saigon. Yum Yum Cha owner Lisa Mak says she and her father, the restaurant’s chef, are already looking for a new location. [CultureMap; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Swamplot inbox
Kahn’s Deli was open at 2429 Rice Blvd. for more than 30 years. Now it’ll be closed at that location for at least the same amount of time. The deli’s history stretches back well before the move to that spot in 1984, though: The original Kahn’s opened in 1948, a few blocks away. The last pickles were served yesterday.
Remember that incident last July when real estate investor and renowned neighbor-dismemberer Robert Durst — the Rice Village’s best-known resident — decided to spread his own bodily fluids in the CVS at 6011 Kirby Dr.? Thanks to the enterprising and patient reporting team at KPRC, surveillance video of the episode is now available for all to see. Together with the shocking scene included at the end of the HBO documentary The Jinx — in which Durst, retreating to the bathroom from an interview while wearing a still-live mic, appears to confess to multiple murders — the footage paints a portrait of a man prone to urination surprises. Durst pleaded no contest to charges of criminal mischief for the CVS episode, after he allegedly exposed himself to a cashier and then peed on a display of candy.
The newly released footage isn’t the clearest (and mercifully, any potentially offending images are blurred out) but it does reveal a few things, including where Durst stood when he began urinating — in case that matters to future customers of that CVS Pharmacy.
COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHAT THE HOUSE MEANT “My great-great grandparents purchased the land mentioned in the above article when there were just a few houses on the street, and the street was not yet paved. They built this house and 3 generations of my family lived together under its roof at one time. My grandparents met working at the movie theater that used to stand in the Village Arcade. My grandfather was an usher and my grandmother was a concession girl. He used to sneak her out of her bedroom window for dates when she was 15 and he was 16, a few years before he joined the Navy to fight in WWII. My great-grandfather planted rose bushes in front of his daughter’s bedroom window to stop her from climbing out. When my grandparents were first married, they lived in the house with her parents and grandparents. My parents lived in the house after they got married, and I lived my whole life on Chaucer until I got married. My grandfather remained in the house long after his wife passed, and himself lived there until he passed away early last year. All of my best memories were set within those walls, all the family meals, holidays and birthdays.
Driving past the muddy, empty lot felt like looking at someone’s usual armchair after they’ve passed away and expecting to see them sitting there, right as rain. Seeing those beautiful bone-colored porcelain bricks trampled under tire tracks . . . It took the air out of me. I hope that by sharing this history, people will understand that sometimes, a house is more than just 4 walls and a roof; this house was more than just a location and a parcel of land. Sometimes, it is the root that anchors us to our past, to our identity, to our origin.” [B Ferguson, commenting on Two Home Demos Mark Rice University’s Continuing March into Rice Village] Illustration: Lulu
Is it Rice’s manifest destiny to extend its land holdings all the way from the Texas Medical Center to West U? The university already owns a bit of frontage on Kirby Dr., on West U’s eastern border, between University Dr. and Amherst St., but the holdings between that far outpost of the Village Arcade and the main campus are a little spotty. Two recent purchases — and accompanying demolitions — appear poised to make the swath more continuous, however.
This week occasioned the demolition of the house at 5606 Chaucer Dr., 2 blocks west of Rice Stadium, directly over the back fence from Little Woodrow’s on Morningside Dr. The home appeared in this morning’s demo report — along with a neighbor at 5608 Chaucer St. (at center left and left in the top photo). County tax records show that an entity connected to Rice purchased both houses late last year. (The second house is listed as 5612 Chaucer St. on the tax rolls).
Rice U.’s real estate appetite for Rice Village property just picked up another choice tidbit: 2445 Times Blvd. That’s the 1955 flat-topped 7,500-sq.-ft. retail property on the southeast corner of Times Blvd. and Kelvin Dr. that’s spooned by mega-neighbor Village Arcade (which Rice also owns). In its listing by Davis Commercial, seller Rinkoff Rice Village LP’s asking price for the “trophy” corner was $3.995 million, though it initially sought $4.2 million. Who’s currently on display behind all the storefront windows?