A tower crane and accompanying high-altitude construction equipment are now hovering over the northwest corner of S. Braeswood andGreenbriar where work on a new 14-story Houston Methodist office midrise is underway. Eight of those levels will be devoted to parking, the project manager over at Hunt Construction tells Swamplot. It’s all taking off on what used to be the Astrodome Marriott hotel, torn down after the Methodist system bought the land in 2000.
For more than a decade the 10-acre parcel remained unbuilt until a new single-story daycare for Houston Methodist employees’ kids (ages 0 through 5) sprung up on its western portion last year. The center — a brightly-painted and multi-gabled structure to the left of what’s shown in the photos above — enrolled 130 kids when it opened. Once some of them age out, it’ll consider taking on children of Methodist’s business partners, too, as well as those without any parental ties to the hospital system.
If a year or so from now you find yourself holed up in acute or intensive care in the North Campus Tower of the Houston Methodist hospital in the Texas Medical Center and for some reason start to wonder how that bathroom behind you was constructed, have we got a video for you! (It’s posted above.) It’s a time-lapse showing how workers from interior finishes contractor Marek pieced together 207 prefabricated restroom pods in the McCorvey Sheet Metal Works warehouse at 4800 Fidelity St. (just southeast of the intersection of I-10 and the East Loop), then shrinkwrapped and transported them, 1 or 2 at a time, to 6551 Bertner St., where they were they were lifted and dollied into place and hooked up to the building’s plumbing.
How’s construction on the $700 million, 960,000-sq.-ft. 22-story north tower Med Center expansion going so far? Here are a couple of views from today — from construction cams trained on the project:
The little swatch of test facade tilted up at 7551 Main St. north of Brays Bayou earlier this spring is still standing, a reader’s drive-by snap attests this week. The piece, which shows off the look of a handful of warmer and cooler beige-and-brown pairings, is likely related to the much taller project planned on the site by Allen Harrison Company, which bought the land last year. The developer has the spot marked for an 11-story residential building (the top 7 of which’ll hold 186 apartments, and the bottom 4 of which’ll hold 285 parked cars). A reader over on HAIF also spotted the recently completed review of the building by the Federal Aviation Administration folks, who okayed the plans for the 125-ft.-tall structure as not a flight hazard.
The little house on the corner with Lehall St. is no longer standing in the would-be shadow of that hotel planned on the 7100 block of Bertner Ave. (seeing as it’s no longer standing at all). Developers with Zhejiang Blossom Tourism Group Houston had originally sketched up a 9-story hotel with a footprint dipping around the holdout corner lot. Adolfo Pesquera notes over at VBX that the latest plans now show a 16-story structure, and an expanded footprint of the site was okayed for commercial use by the planning commission after the property sold.
Here’s a glance back at what the hotel looked like in its earlier iteration, minus a few floors and motarboards:
The sign above announcing the proposed abandonment of the short dead-end stretch of N. Braeswood Blvd. running east of Main St. was captured in situ by a reader over the weekend. The roadway currently serves as the access road for the remainingSaint Nicholas School campus, though the school is planning to be all moved in at that new facility further south along Main St. in about a year and a half. That’ll free up the landf for whatever might be in the works by shell corporation 7200 Main St., which now owns both the school property and the 8-plus-acre tract north of the N. Braeswood segment, former site of barn-shaped restaurant The Stables.
To the east of the orange-roofed soon-to-be-former Saint Nicholas school, HCC’s Coleman College for Health Sciences building looks to be just about wrapped up, at least in terms of exterior finishes:
An employee confirms to Swamplot this afternoon that the Kroger at 1990 Old Spanish Tr. will be shutting down on January 24th. The formerly 24-hour grocery store (referred to previously as Slow Jam Kroger in Jeff Balke’s 2010 Inner Loop Kroger census, though arguably having earned the nickname BankRobberyKroger in the years since) has already reduced its hours and is closing up at midnight these days. Readers report low morale among car-less residents of the nearby apartments; they also report a few slightly mismatched rumors that the land has been sold to a big name in the Medical Center.
The double hypodermic needles atop the Cesar Pelli-designed O’Quinn Medical Building have just gotten brightened up: a lighting designer from FUSE sends Swamplot these bare-all shots of the Madonna tower’s roof following the company’s just-wrapped installation of a new LED setup around the tips. Down below, Texas Children’s Hospital announced earlier this week that it has bought the tower from Baylor-slash-St.-Luke’s, along with a Baylor outpatient clinic down the street. Texas Children’s told the Chronicle that it isn’t planning to boot tenants until they can move into that under construction campus on Cambridge St., somewhere around 2020.
Nor does the new owner have plans to change the tower’s name right away — though many of the physicians who petitioned against the building’s O’Quinn christening in 2005 aren’t likely to mind if they do. At the time, dozens of doctors signed a document insisting that the current namesake, Houston’s own John O’Quinn (of fen-phen and breast implant lawsuit fame), “bears partial responsibility for the litigious environment in which we work,” and that it was offensive “to have money we earned — and which he took by suing us — going to name after him a medical building in which we work every day.”
The sunset shot above looks west across the Rice campus (that’s the stadium that played backdrop to JFK’s go-to-the-moon speech, given 54 years ago this past Monday, on the right above the octagonal base); the itty-bitty silhouette of the distant Williams Tower can be seen poking up from the horizon on the left. Here’s the tip itself, so close you can almost see the filament in the flashing bulb:
The commute northward along Almeda Rd. from the corner with Hermann Park Ct. is much less shady of late, reports a reader in the area who snapped these photos last week. The tipster says that some 15 trees have been cut up and shuffled around by the Marquis Lofts (the ones at the edge of the Med Center, not the ones that once hosted a James Harden rooftop photo shoot). Most of the trees appear to have been directly alongside the road, though a few of the felled were reportedly rooted on the other side of the sidewalk. (That’s the formerly bankrupt and bank-rupturingMosaic condo highrise in the distance, north across MacGregor and Brays Bayou in the shot above.)
Below is a graphic closeup of some of the arboreal aftermath (a warning here to those uncomfortable with the sight of sap and shredded cellulose):
Here’s a preview of the 9-story hotel planned for the stretch of now-mostly-cleared land along Lehall St. at Bertner Ave. south of the Texas Medical Center. The land slated to hold the Blossom Hotel Houston is right across Bertner from where the TMC wants to build a double helix park and collaborative campus; Zhejiang Blossom Tourism Group has been buying up lots on the east and northeast of the block, which have held a mixture of homes, a commercial building, and nothing over the last few decades.
Not shown in the rendering: the lone house still standing right on at the corner of Lehall St. and Bertner Ave.:
Greystar plans to squeeze a 375-unit apartment highrise on the same 1.35 acre lot at 6750 S. Main St. as an in-the-works hotel from Medistar. That Medistar project, which was originally planned as a 220-unit hotel-slash-apartment building on the same spot, will now be a 357-room just-hotel, and will share a lobby with Greystar’s apartment tower on the southern half of the block between Travis St. and S. Main at Old Main St. (across the street from the Texas Women’s University building.)
The two towers (rendered above styled as 1850, seemingly in reference to the Old Main address) will slip in between a Best Western and a Wyndham Hotel, and would total in the neighborhood of 800,000 sq.ft. of floorspace, Greystar’s David Reid tells the HBJ’s Cara Smith. The apartment unit floorplans range significantly in size— the largest 2 suites measure in around 3,800 sq.ft., and the smallest bottom out at an Ivy-Lofts-esque349 sq.ft.
Ground-level retail will remain and expand — a siteplan released by Transwestern shows most of the building’s remaining restaurant tenants still in place, with an existing parking garage ramp exiting onto Fannin seemingly replaced by a 1,670-sq.-ft. storefront spot (Retail E in the plan below):
After a 4-year coma and slow recovery, the Baylor College of Medicine’s McNair Campus at the corner of Cambridge St. and Old Spanish Tr. may be back on track to eventually lead a normal life — new renderings released late last week to Joe Martin of the HBJ show the next phase of construction for what is now being called the Baylor College of Medicine Medical Center facility. Following a bleed-out of construction financing and subsequent failed merger negotiations between Baylor and Rice University, the building’s shell was completed in early 2010 and sat empty until a partial buildout gave the structure new life in late 2013.
St. Luke’s (owned by Catholic Health Initiatives) teamed up with Baylor shortly thereafter and made plans to move its Texas Medical Center hospital operations to the new facility. The Texas Heart Institute, which operates independently in St. Luke’s existing building, will also be transplanted into the new facility.
The newly released site plan ties in to the double-helix-reminiscent campus recently proposed by the TMC for the parking lot next door — the campus is shown at the top of the site plan below:
Genetics play a major role in Houston’s economic landscape — if the Texas Medical Center has its way, a twist on the structure of DNA will become part of the city’s physical landscape as well. A new research campus proposed by the organization would center around a 250,000-sq.-ft. park reminiscent of a double helix, pictured above. The TMC3 Innovation Campus is designed to take the place of an existing parking lot bisected by William C. Harvin Dr. between S. Braeswood and Old Spanish Trail, just south of Braes Bayou. The 30-acre facility would represent the TMC’s official expansion across the bayou, linking the existing campus to research institutions further south; the once-again-developing Baylor-slash-St.-Luke’s complex on Cambridge would also be right next door (pictured above with some already-in-the-works glassy expansions, and linked to the helix’s surrounding structures by a skybridge over Staffordshire).
Texas A&M, Baylor College of Medicine, M.D.Anderson and the University of Texas would anchor the 1.5-million-sq.-ft. collaborative research facility — if they agree to do so. The institutions have yet to formally sign off on participation (or partial funding) of the project, which is estimated to cost on the order of $1.5 billion; UT is currently pushing plans for its own campus of yet-ambiguous purpose nearby.
Designs for the campus are still largely conceptual. The helix would be open for use as public greenspace: