- 3505 Sage Rd. #410 [HAR]
The markings left behind by the Key Maps store in the wake of its second move since 2015 are still hanging out this afternoon alongside the leasing notice near the shop’s former place at the east end of the Richmond Avenue Shopping Center strip mall, just east of Fountainview Dr. The Key Maps folks are back inside the Inner Loop again, this time on Durham St. next door to the Dirty Hairy Dog Wash. The most recently former Key Maps location, shown above, has picked up a new neighbor itself since the cartographymonger’s departure: the ex-Subway at the end of the strip is about to reopen as essentialist fried chicken joint Krisp Bird & Batter. A sign on the door says Krisp will be open on Monday:
A new lawsuit was filed yesterday against TIRZ 16, the Uptown Development Authority, and the city, alleging that the creation of the reinvestment zone in the Galleria area was in violation of Texas law, since the zone can’t reasonably be considered “unproductive, underdeveloped, or blighted.” Rather, the filing claims, the city ordinance that originally created the TIRZ used the justification that the Uptown area needed traffic decongestion to avoid losing its status as one of the wealthiest districts in the city, and to avoid draining business to the city’s ever-expanding suburban fringe. A hearing is going on today over a possible injunction on further spending or work on Uptown projects, and Mike Morris says that city council delayed a vote yesterday on allowing Uptown an additional $65 million in debt.
There’s a 7-entry roster of Total Wine & More locations now included in the Yellow Pages listing for the Houston area — though the first Houston outpost of the Maryland-based liquor store only opened up in late October, in the decommissioned Office Max near Willowbrook Mall. But apparent new addresses for the store (known in Connecticut for its run of criminally low alcohol prices) include the former sites of 3 of Houston’s 4 remaining Fresh Market locales (all of which shut down in May). Those old Fresh spots (the ones of Holcome Blvd., Memorial Dr., and San Felipe St.) have all been issued recent remodeling permits with Total Wine noted as the occupant. Other locations apparently in the works are in Baybrook Mall (which is hiring) and a box site in Richmond at 5472 W Grand Pkwy., reclaimed following Sports Authority’s fall and retreat from Texas.
Photo of Total Wine & More at 7640 Cypress Creek Pkwy. in Willowbrook: Total Wine & More
The back-alley Post Oak strip center corner previously occupied by a franchise of not-quite-ice-cream purveyor Tasti D-Lite appears now to be operating under the banner of New Orleans-based Merchant Cafe, whose signature noun list was spotted over the weekend by a reader in the shopping center. The new cafe is catty-corner to Berryhill Baja Grill, and flanked by Five Guys Burgers and Fries and The UPS Store. The city planning department started issuing permits for a remodel of the space by September of last year, though some appear to have been given the OK as recently as October.
The vicinity’s softserve niche is currently filled by a branch of pay-by-the-pile California frozen yogurt shop Pinkberry, facing San Felipe right across Post Oak Blvd. Tasti D-Lite, meanwhile, appears to have largely pulled out of Houston altogether over the last few years, with a lone holdout franchise remaining in Katy.
The graffiti on the tall face of the former Big Woodrow’s spot at 3111 Chimney Rock Rd. has been joined lately by new signage for Rotana Mediterranean Restaurant. The 2-story 2-bar space north of Richmond Ave. shut down near the end of August last year after a planned temporary closure for building repairs turned into an unplanned permanent landlord dispute, and the building went up for lease around the same time. Some of those repairs to the 5,928-sq.-ft. space may have been getting done over the past year since the closure, if building permits issued in March and at the start of this month are any indication.
The torches along the stairway to the former Canyon Cafe space at 5000 Post Oak Blvd. are not part of the plan for the southwestern grill’s northern replacement, Dallas hockey owner Tom Gaglardi’s Canadian fusion chain Moxie’s. Renderings of a potential remodel for the space (submitted as part of a variance request for Post Oak Centre) show the whole staircase missing, and depict the restaurant’s footprint spreading out as it adds part of the ground floor of the shopping center to the original restaurant space. The drawings depict an entrance canopy to the south of the development, and a new 2-story covered patio to the eastern side of the building, edging close to Post Oak Blvd.:
Following this week’s report from the HBJ that the Loews hotel chain is currently considering an Uptown locale, a sharp-eyed reader points to a lot previously marked for 2 more towers to keep the BBVA Compass building company, just north of 2200 Post Oak Blvd. The land has been owned by Loews since 2014 (or by someone using the address of the company’s NYC headquarters); a tipster separately tells Swamplot that the company has been pricing out construction work on that particular spot, though nothing was official as of mid-May.
Architecture firm Ziegler Cooper has posted some renderings (including the one above) of a mixed use project apparently designed for the same BBVA-adjacent land (though labeled only as Confidential Hotel & Mixed Used Development). TRC Capital (formerly The Redstone Company) currently has some very similar renderings more prominently displayed on its website, once again labeling the residential piece of the project as the Perennial Hotel and Apartments, along with another office tower marked as 2100 Post Oak:
A northern ambassador to the Houston restaurant scene appears to be moving into the Uptown spot recently vacated by southwest-centric Canyon Cafe. The logo for Canadian fusion chain Moxie’s Grill & Bar now shows up on Weingarten’s leasing flier for The Centre at Post Oak, across Westheimer Rd. from the Galleria. Tom Gaglardi, the current owner of both the Moxie’s chain and the NHL’s Dallas Stars, told the Dallas Business Journal early last year that he was planning to push Moxie’s into the US market by way of several major Texas cities.
CRIMINAL COMPLAINT FILED ON BEHALF OF COSMO RESIDENTS OVER POST OAK BUS LANE LAND PURCHASES Former ABC13 investigative reporter Wayne Dolcefino, representing residents of the Cosmopolitan condo tower on Post Oak Blvd., filed a criminal complaint with the Harris County district attorney last week over the way the Uptown Development Authority has gone about acquiring land for the dedicated bus lanes planned along Post Oak. The complaint asserts that officials of that group and the Uptown TIRZ may have violated Texas conflict of interest law, as well as the Open Meetings Act. Nancy Sarnoff writes that Dolcefino’s complaint also calls out Uptown’s purchase-agreement-less purchase of a piece of land at San Felipe and Post Oak, from an associate of Dinerstein (which is preemptively suing the Cosmo residents over a tower planned at the same intersection). Uptown District president John Breeding tells Sarnoff that it’s not unusual for public entities to buy land without a formal sales agreement, and that details of the transactions will be available after they’re complete. The Uptown group either has bought or is working on buying about 80 percent of the land needed for the project; the city council voted in December that eminent domain could be used to acquire the rest, if necessary. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Rendering of proposed dedicated bus lane on Post Oak Blvd.: Uptown District
This could someday be part of the north-bound view on Post Oak Blvd., if plans that have been filed for a new 40-story highrise tower from Dinerstein at the corner of Post Oak and San Felipe Rd. come to be. The Vantage tower, shown above in a south-side elevation by Gensler, would include 32 stories of apartments atop 2 floors of retail; 2 of the 7 parking levels would be tucked underground, below an amenities deck.
The tower is slated for the same spot as a previously proposed 50-story tower from AmREIT, which back in 2014 spurred the formation of a political action committee by residents of the next-door Cosmopolitan condo highrise directly behind the property. The committee claimed that opposition to the proposed tower had nothing to do with any potential blocking of the condo’s views — though the renderings of the AmREIT proposal did show a ghostly sketch of the Cosmopolitan lurking very close behind in the background:
COMMENT OF THE DAY: VERTICAL SPRAWL AND OTHER HIGH CONCEPTS “Since every time they ‘fix’ the West Loop it immediately fills up, I think we have the makings for the 11th Wonder of the World: the first freeway skyscraper! Perhaps we can make it a mixed-use freeway by adding some small shops and apartments along the side of the road (with a parallel parking lane), some microtel rooms like they have in Tokyo, and — just to prove we have a penchant for ‘green living’ — one level could be an extension of Memorial Park! Don’t forget: we also need ground-floor retail, a multiplex theater, and on the very top level, a replacement for AstroWorld, with the world’s longest linear roller coaster! It will have to have a new name — perhaps ‘Westlooptopia’?” [sjh, commenting on Look! Up in the Air! It’s Second Story West Loop Express Lanes!] Illustration: Lulu
Love that rush of vertigo from driving up the entrance ramp at Hidalgo St. onto the southbound West Loop? Freeway thrill-seekers may have some new options in a few years. The above rendering of new elevated express lanes along the West Loop between I-10 and 59 made an appearance at last night’s TxDOT Open House, where plans for the proposed project were presented for public comment. The drawing faces southwest across the intersection of San Felipe and 610 toward the Williams Tower (far left), and shows the lanes flying high over the existing freeway.
TxDOT also showed schematics and cross sections of the proposed additions — which include previously-considered dedicated bus lanes elevated along the path of the feeder road, from just south of I-10 to the junction with Post Oak Blvd.
Drive through the cross sections below, from north to south: