05/22/17 12:30pm

The pointy glass Gardens of Bammel Lane conservatory isn’t the only structure on the block southeast of Bammel Ln. and Earl St. getting picked up and hauled elsewhere as part of the block’s cleanout for the 26-story Villa Borghese condo highrise. A handful of Cherry House Moving trailers were spotted on the site this weekend, hanging around and under several of the bungalows on the block (which date between 1900 and 1950 per the county’s records, and were used most recently as commercial spaces). As of Saturday, the conservatory structure (shown above in wedding attire) had already departed the site (presumably headed for its new home at the Madeley Gardens events space in Conroe).

Some of the bungalows have already been shuffled around on the block. The former law office at 2714 Sackett St. was spotted stripped of its hedge and address markers, with a moving trailer poking out from beneath the front porch:

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Upper Kirby Shuffle
04/19/17 4:30pm

2241 Richmond Ave., Upper Kirby, Houston, 77098

Pothole in Parking Lot for Hobbit Cafe, Blue Fish House, and Yelapa Playa Mexicana, 2241 Richmond Ave., Upper Kirby, HoustonThe folks at Rim Tanon (the Thai place that recently replaced the former Blue Fish House sushi spot on Richmond) send word that the hole-spangled brick, asphalt, and rubble parking lot at the center of the Portsmouth Square restaurant clump has been freshly paved over. The spot, which won top honors on a 2011 list of Houston’s worst restaurant parking lots, was resurfaced from Richmond to Portsmouth St. just in time for Tax Day. Above and below are a couple of damp shots of the lot circa some 2010 gawking:

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Flattening the Competition
04/12/17 5:15pm

Westheimer Plumbing & Hardware, 3600 Kirby Dr., Upper Kirby, Houston, 77005

Westheimer Plumbing & Hardware, 3600 Kirby Dr., Upper Kirby, Houston, 77005Michael Morrow (that’d be the -morrow in kinneymorrow architecture) sends along this update from his latest visit to Westheimer Plumbing & Hardware’s showroom at 3600 Kirby Dr., which turned out to be still closed in the wake the February incident that shut it down temporarily. (You know — the one where a driver hit the wrong pedal and fell off the 7th story of the nextdoor River Oaks Tower’s parking garage, landing on and through the roof of the strip mall.) A somewhat incredulous but friendly note on the door from the hardware store’s owner says that, though the 17-year-old driving luckily sustained surprisingly little injury, the showroom has been pretty roughed up, including severed water, sprinkler, and electrical lines (not to mention the hole). The note says that the business is currently operating out of its warehouse on E. T.C. Jester Blvd., and will be back in its spot on Kirby as soon as possible. (Neighboring sugar pusher Dessert Gallery, however, reopened just a few days after the accident in early March.)

The damage to the parking garage itself is still visible from ground level:

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Upper Kirby Progress Report
03/23/17 12:00pm

Former Exxon Upstream Facility, 3102-3120 Buffalo Spdwy., Greenway/Upper Kirby, Houston, 77098Former Exxon Upstream Facility, 3102-3120 Buffalo Spdwy., Greenway/Upper Kirby, Houston, 77098

More angles on the ongoing obliteration of structures at the freshly former Exxon Upstream Research facility on Buffalo Spdwy. at W. Alabama St. come this week from one of reader MontroseResident’s more elevated perches. The most prominently visible act of deconstruction has been the shattering breakup of the parking garage in the campus’s northwest corner, due south of the now-mostly-reskinned River Oaks Luxury Apartments midrise on Westheimer (which was stripped down to the slabs in the last 2 years for retooling as The River Oaks condo tower, visible below on the far left):

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Crushing on Buffalo Spdwy.
03/23/17 10:30am

2241 Richmond Ave., Upper Kirby, Houston, 77098

2241 Richmond Ave., Upper Kirby, Houston, 77098

One of the low-slung spots fringing Portsmouth Square (the gravelly picket-fenced space between Portsmouth St. and Richmond Ave. which a reader refers to as “arguably Houston’s worst parking lot”) has been getting worked over for an identity swapout planned to take effect later this month. The former Blue Fish House sushi restaurant, just north of vegetarian- and Lord-of-the-Rings-geek-friendly Hobbit Cafe and facing off with Capone’s Oven and Bar, is now decked out in signage for Rim Tanon, billed by its Richmond-facing banner as a Thai street food joint.

Some of the Blue Fish’s old signage was still visible on the back side of the building as of earlier this week (as seen above), though the space’s hanging placard sign has already been replaced. And the building’s trees-in-the-holes front patio area has been getting a little bit of retooling:

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Tradeoff on Richmond Ave
03/17/17 5:30pm

Corporate Plaza site, Kirby at Norfolk, Upper Kirby, Houston, 77098

A sky-high reader (and self-proclaimed messenger of love) sends this shot of the lonesome-heart-shaped puddle sequestered away these days behind the wooden wall around the former site of Corporate Plaza and its Swamplot Award-winning parking garage. The increasingly grassy land doesn’t appear to have gotten much action since the erection of the heavier-duty fencing last Octoberno plans to change that any time soon seem to have been announced yet by the lands new owners, California-based developer Triyar.

Photo: Swamplot inbox

Hopes Up on Upper Kirby
03/15/17 11:15am

Former Exxon Upstream Facility, 3102-3120 Buffalo Spdwy., Greenway/Upper Kirby, Houston, 77098

Former Exxon Upstream Facility, 3102-3120 Buffalo Spdwy., Greenway/Upper Kirby, Houston, 77098Permissions started to trickle in earlier this month for the  knockout of various buildings on the newly former Exxon Upstream research facility at the corner of Buffalo Spdwy. and W. Alabama St. California-based Spear Street Capital and Transwestern admitted to buying the property last week but stayed mum on plans for the site. A reader took a wandering tour around the edge of the 1950s lab complex yesterday afternoon, noting the parking garage teardown shown above, and the various signs of deliberately accelerated wear-and-tear around the rest of the structures:

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Upstream Going Down
02/28/17 11:30am

Former Exxon Upstream Facility, 3102-3120 Buffalo Spdwy., Greenway/Upper Kirby, Houston, 77098Former Exxon Upstream Facility, 3102-3120 Buffalo Spdwy., Greenway/Upper Kirby, Houston, 77098

Pieces of the fencing surrounding the MacKie and Kamrath-designed ExxonMobil Upstream Research facility on Buffalo Spdwy. were spotted sprawled out on the grass yesterday along the campus perimeter after being plucked from their stations; more barriers are getting yanked up this morning, as seen in the second shot above. The property (which appears to have been transferred to the nonprofit Exxon Foundation in 2015 after the oil giant’s plans to offload the site were announced) was  sold this month to an entity directing its mail to real estate investment and development firm Spear Street Capital. A couple of readers report that other major shuffling around and cleaning out appear to have been going on at the facility for at least the last few weeks, with vehicles bearing the Precision Demolition logo making periodic guest appearances on the scene.

Across W. Alabama St. from the building’s more curvaceous end, the spot occupied until early last year by the empty shell of honky tonk Blanco’s has since been filled in with athletics stuff for St. John’s School:

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Exxon Exit
02/27/17 11:15am

 under-construction Kirby Collection, Kirby Dr. at Colquitt St., Upper Kirby, Houston, 77098
 under-construction Kirby Collection, Kirby Dr. at Colquitt St., Upper Kirby, Houston, 77098

Rendering of under-construction Kirby Collection, Kirby Dr. at Colquitt St., Upper Kirby, HoustonAn extra crane was spotted standing around in oncoming Kirby Dr. traffic on Saturday morning just north of Richmond Ave., helping to disassemble the tower crane that’s been used to lift pieces of the Kirby Collection’s under-construction office building into place over the last year-and-a-few-months. A representative from Thor Equities tells Swamplot this morning that the office midrise should be wrapped up by the end of 2017. The ellipse-footed residential tower (peaking over the top of the rectangular office building’s frame in the shot above) hit its full height earlier this month as well:

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Down To Earth
02/22/17 11:15am

Another Broken Yolk, 3801 Farnham St., Shepherd Triangle, Houston, 77098

Some time between the morning and evening rush hours yesterday, says a reader, the new sign above for Another Broken Yolk Cafe went up at 3801 Farnham St., the original location of the 59 Diner chain prior to its lawsuit-clouded closure. The building adopted the persona of optionally halal Tex-Mex and pancake joint El Beso Cantina for a brief interlude starting around Christmas, after which the building’s “Eat Here!” dot was redone to read “24 Hrs Breakfast.” The website for the latest redo, however, currently lists the restaurant’s hours of operation as 7am to 10pm.

The building’s exterior has had a bit of a makeover since 59 Diner’s departure: the chrome and teal went more brick, yellow, and red for El Beso’s brief tenure, though other elements (like the BREAKFAST LUNCH DINNER labels) have remained in place. A teal hole can be spied where some El Beso signage hung until recently, in the same over-the-doorway spot previously occupied by the bubble-gum pink 59 logo:

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Flipping Breakfast Concepts
02/03/17 1:45pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHEREFORE ART THOU, ALABAMA THEATER? Olivia Hussey in Romeo and Juliet at the Alabama Theater, Upper Kirby, Houston“My elementary school class (can’t remember which grade) saw Romeo and Juliet there. The one with Olivia Hussey as Juliet. I remember the seats were velvet and rocked. If you kicked the seat in front of you really hard it sent the person’s popcorn flying for several rows.” [Tangyjoe, commenting on Former Alabama Theater’s Pastel Modernistic Forehead Browned Out]

02/01/17 3:45pm

Lighting of Bridges over US-59

The newly LED-equipped crossings over US-59 between Shepherd Dr. and Midtown should be getting officially flipped on around 8 pm tomorrow, after a few weeks of on-and-off testing. The 2 Gandys of Gandy² Lighting Design tell Swamplot that the lights will likely run from sunset to sunrise; the tentative plan in the leadup to the Super Bowl is for the bridges to show off the competitors’ team colors. The Patriots’ red-white-and-blue are demoed above, but here are some shots of what else the new fixtures can do, now that all the tuning up is largely finished:

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Getting Turned On
01/31/17 5:15pm

New Paint Job for Trader Joe's, Petsmart at Former Alabama Theater, 2922 S. Shepherd Dr., Upper Kirby, Houston

The front of Weingarten Realty’s Alabama Shepherd Shopping Center now sports some big dark blocks on its Shepherd-facing facade, Houstorian James Glassman notes in a drive-by of the scene this afternoon. The gradated yellow vertical fluting above the movie-theater-turned-bookstore-turned-sandbox-turned-grocery store’s marquee sign (which the city’s landmark designation writeup says is made of enameled steel) has been done over in a single swath of brown, matching the shade applied above the formerly tan Petsmart facade as well. Marketing materials on Weingarten’s website for the shopping center still show the old color scheme:

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Trader Joe’s Trade
01/13/17 10:45am

Lighting testing of 59 bridge

Upate, 4pm: The text has been updated to clarify the bridge’s color capabilities and include more info on current setup from the design firm.

Hazard St. Bridge Lighting TestsThe curvy crossings over Hwy. 59 east of Spur 527 have been caught on camera glowing at passing drivers this week as workers test out the new colored lighting systems. Sarah Gandy of Gandy² Lighting Design tells Swamplot that the plan is to have all 6 bridges lit nightly by the first week of February as the pre-Super Bowl hullaballoo ramps up, but that final tweaks and adjustments are still being made (as seen here).

Gandy tells Swamplot that the bridge’s color patterns are still being programmed, and that they’ll soon be capable of a full range of groovy multi-tone modes like those shown in renderings previously released by the Montrose Management District (shown below):

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Pre-Super Bowl Exhibition