11/17/16 11:30am

Smoke from Holmes Recycling Plant Fire

The fire that started late yesterday afternoon at the Holmes Road Recycling Center (just west of 288 south of 610) is still on the Houston Fire Department’s list of active incidents at the moment, after about 19 hours.  KHOU reports that the firefighting has been complicated by the need to cool off the heat-retaining piles of burning scrap metal on the scene, as well as a lack of water supply in the industrial patchwork around Pierce Junction. Hazmat crews reportedly say there’s no out-of-the-ordinary chemical concerns related to the smoke this time, though HFD captain Ruy Lozana did note to KHOU last night that the smoke’s strong smell and darker color is probably from leftover fluids in crushed cars catching fire.

Wind coming primarily from the south and southeast pushed smoke and haze from the fire across 610 all the way to the Texas Medical Center, some 3 miles north. Nearby Rice University sent out an alert around 4:45 warning folks with respiratory issues to stay indoors for a bit — below is a view (from several hours after that warning) of the haze from the Rice campus parking lot on Greenbriar, east of the stadium:

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Blowing In the Wind
10/18/16 2:30pm

Bethany United Methodist Church, 3511 Linkwood Dr., Linkwood, Houston, 77025

Bethany United Methodist Church recently posted some FAQs and answers about its plans to put a nonprofit senior living development on its property, a reader in the area tells Swamplot. The land south of the intersection of Linkwood and Bevlyn drives, and may be one of the 4 potential adult active-living housing projects Stream Realty mentioned to Paul Takahashi back in April, as the church’s website says the project’s developer is currently working on the Solea Copperfield senior living complex in Northwest Houston (just south of Birkes Elementary on Queenston Blvd.). The website also notes that 51 of the 101 living units would be rented out to folks with a household income between 33,000 and 45,000 at below-market rates.

The church’s main entrance is about a third of a mile from that set of lots stretching from Buffalo Spdwy. to Main St. where some stirrings were seen in July; a drawing submitted as part of a variance request put in for that land calls that project Traditions Buffalo Speedway Senior:

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Plans Maturing in Braeswood Place
10/06/16 11:00am

8800 S. Main St., NRG, Houston, 77025

The long-vacant former home of Samaritan Assisted Living was brought to the ground yesterday after demo crews got permission to knock it down, a reader tells Swamplot. The owners of the property at 8800 S. Main St. have been trying to get the scrawny strip (a full 68-by-640-ft. acre) into a new long-term ground-leasing relationship for at least the past year, and appear to have found one in September, per documents filed with the county — including a lease for a smidge less than the next 25 years  for an entity housed in Tuscon, AZ, which shares an address with the converted-church-school corporate headquarters of Mister Car Wash. 

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Car Wash Cleanout
06/01/16 11:00am

3055 S Loop W Fwy., South Main, Houston, TX 77054

The jutting, Tyvek-wrapped facade of the under-construction Krispy Kreme donut shop at 3055 S. Loop W. has looked like this for a while now, says a reader curious about the store’s progress. Following the North Carolina pastry chain’s complete retreat from the area in 2006 after a lawsuit with its main regional franchisee, the company opened 2 new Houston stores in 2015, though the announced-then-retracted February grand opening date of the Hwy. 6 location turned out to be much more December-ish than originally planned.

Eater attributed the slow-off-the-line opening to permitting delays, though regional franchise manager Guillermo Perales told the HBJ that the delays had to do with fears that the crowds would be too large for the store’s originally-planned infrastructure to handle. As for the South Main store? Posted to the inside of the front window is a highlighted letter from October documenting the donut stand’s theoretical ability to withstand hurricane-strength winds:

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Slow Rise in South Main
02/08/16 9:30am

TEXAS A&M WEIGHS HOUSTON EXPANSION AS UT COLLECTS LAND FOR ITS PLANNED CAMPUS UT Houston Campus Site, Buffalo Lakes, HoustonFollowing the University of Texas’s recent start on buying up that land in southwest Houston for a proposed campus of yet-ambiguous-purpose, Texas A&M is now sizing up the city as well, writes Benjamin Wermund of the Houston Chronicle. A&M president Michael Young suggested that those watching the university’s plans for the Houston area “stay tuned” as the school weighs strategy. UT’s November announcement that it would buy around 300 acres at W. Belfort Ave. and Buffalo Spdwy. triggered responses from University of Houston supporters including Texas senator John Whitemire. Whitmire’s December letter to UT chancellor Bill McRaven cited fears that a new UT Houston campus would pull resources and top-tier faculty away from U of H, in part due to the structure of the state’s Permanent University Fund allocations (which go only to UT and A&M campuses). Young, however, suggested that backlash over UT’s ongoing purchases south of Reliant was premature (as, perhaps, was UT’s broadcasting of its plans): “I guess I’m a little confused about the spat at the moment, because I don’t know that UT has really said what they’re going to do,” Young told the Chronicle. “So far it’s a land deal, and I must say an amusing one, because I didn’t know you announced you were going to buy property before you actually bought it.” [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Conceptual rendering of UT Houston campus: Houston Public Media

01/26/16 12:30pm

Oakmoor Pkwy. at Acaciawood Way, South Main, Houston, 77051

A ‘dozer was sighted this past week roaming across the newly-cleared plains at the dead end of Acaciawood Dr. into Oakmoor Pkwy., just south of Airport Blvd. between Almeda Rd. and a disconnected stretch of Kirby Dr. (nearly 2 miles southeast of where the main section of Kirby halts, on Holmes Rd. next to the intended UT Houston campus). Workers clearing the land last week told a reader that new apartments were planned for the spot (shown above); the tract, however, is sliced up into single-family-home-sized bites in County Appraisal District records. The land sits south of the Oakmoor Apartments, which sprouted up around the end of 2006. The short neighborhood streets on the other side of Oakmoor were in place by 2008, though the homes now lining them didn’t begin too appear until 2012.

In the distance, the photo above also catches a view of the nearby Harbor Hospice Houston Inpatient Facility (to the left of center, behind a brushpile), and the Citadel on Kirby (to the right), which hosts weddings, galas, and corporate events. Across Kirby lies the Houston Sports Park — work on the first 7 fields at the Houston Dynamo’s professional training facility started at the end of 2009 and wrapped up by 2012. The Houston Parks Board is now fundraising to add an additional 11 fields at the complex, which is also open for public recreational use.

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Oakmoor Oaks No More
01/19/16 12:30pm

UT Houston Campus Site, Buffalo Lakes, Houston

The deal is sealed on the University of Texas’s purchase of a 100-acre hunk of land south of South Main St. as of last Friday. The sale marks the first concrete move toward UT’s planned Houston campus, though closings on the parcel patchwork comprising the rest of the 300-ish ac. likely won’t wrap up until early 2017, according to a press release from the school’s Office of Public Affairs.

The sold land is a forested tract northwest of the wiggly intersection of Willowbend Dr. and Buffalo Spdwy.; the property is split along a northwest-southeast diagonal by a linear drainage feature which makes an appearance in those preliminary campus designs (shown from the north in the image above).

That land was owned previously by Buffalo Lakes Ltd., an entity associated with UT grad John Kirksey of Kirksey Architecture. A plan for a Buffalo Lakes master-planned community (see below) was drawn up more than 4 years ago by Kirksey for the same space:

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South Main Master Plans
07/17/14 12:15pm

3451-clearview-02

3451-clearview-01

Does navigating to and through a gated community in which all streets have the same name ever get confusing? Amid the 125 or so homes comprising The Park at Clearview, glommed onto the south side of S. Main St. just south of West Bellfort, a handful face the development’s main interior roadway. One of them, on a corner lot looking east from its fanciful entryway, popped up on the market on Monday. Asking price: $230,000.

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Off South Main
12/01/09 11:26am

Just what was going on at this property just a quarter-mile south of the South Main Super Target over the holiday weekend? A bit of land clearing, reports a reader, who says the machines are gone now — but so are a fair number of trees: There’s now a pile of logs at the back of the lot.

Its the Northernmost never-developed lot on South Main . . . For-Sale signs have been up forever, so its interesting to see bulldozers hard at work. . . . This combined with the demolition of the Speedway Inn at 10000 South Main is starting a trend for new development.

The L-shaped, 3.36-acre lot wraps behind the car wash to the north. Across the street is the westernmost Reliant Park parking lot. Here’s an aerial view from the listing:
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