- 6701 Brompton Rd. [HAR]
The arrival of chain link fencing outside the arched office complex at 2715 Bissonnet known as The Upper Kirby Building last week caught the attention of several Swamplot tipsters, who’ve sent in photos looking across the street at the new perimeter and the vacant scene beyond it. The image at top looks southwest to show the complex’s largest building, an L-shaped structure that fronts the central parking lot on 2 sides. In the second photo, you can see where that building abuts its neighbor, a smaller, rectangular structure that runs along the east side of the parking lot on its way out to the curb. Not depicted: a pair additional small 2-story buildings and their adjacent parking lots to the west, which take up the rest of the block ending at Wakeforest St.
An entity connected to Cornerbrook Development bought the whole 1.56-acre tract housing the 4 buildings last December and since then has filed a few permits to disconnect the plumbing, but it hasn’t laid a hand on the structures themselves yet. They all went up in late ’60s and early ’70s and — though currently vacant — recently played host to Montage Bridal, Synergy Day Spa, an Allstate insurance office, and an assortment of hairdressers.
Photos: Swamplot inbox
THE MARQUIS II IS GETTING ITS SECOND ENCORE Well, that was fast. After shutting down on Sunday without any timeline for a return, the Marquis II reopened at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, according to a note posted on Facbeook by longtime bar employee Al Jara. According to the Chronicle’s Marcy de Luna, Jara is now the owner of the place, having purchased it from his boss during the 2-day timeout. The last time a Marquis employee pulled a stunt like this, it was a pair of devoted cocktail waitresses who bought the place after the owner, their boss at the time, died in the late ’60s. (Adding “II” to the name was their idea.) In this case the former owner is still alive, just sick of dealing with the sustained construction activity outside the bar on Bissonnet St., which Jara says has cost the business $1.2 to $1.5 million since it began in 2014. “They’ve broken up our parking lot and we are not getting business because people can’t access us,” he tells de Luna. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Marquis II
A flyer posted on the Marquis II at 2631 Bissonnet yesterday announces that the place is now closed indefinitely, leaving West University almost entirely devoid of bars (except for the one inside the Whole Foods on Bellaire Blvd.). The Marquis II’s predecessor, the Marquis, opened in the then-fledgling River Oaks Shopping Center in 1945. After the bar’s original owner died in the late 1960s, a pair of cocktail waitresses bought it and decamped to Bissonnet and Buffalo Spdwy., where the suffix became part of the venue’s name.
Following a stint at Bissonnet and Weslayan, the bar wound up in its current spot near Kirby in 1985. Houston architect Lars Bang had originally designed the building to house a branch of California donut chain The Big Donut, which it did until the 1970s when a gentleman’s lounge dubbed The Bunny Club blacked out the windows and took over. It left after a fire in the early ’80s, but not entirely: During the Marquis II’s last major remodel in 2011, workers uncovered a painting of a women wearing a low-cut outfit with a bushy tail that had been hiding behind one of the building’s walls, an unmistakable relic of the shuttered strip club. “Although badly charred,” according to the bar’s website, “the painting underwent a little restoration and still hangs proudly on our wall.”
Photos: Marquis II
A Swamplot reader sends photos of a few street-fronting changes over at the new Pizza Motus moving in next to West University Masonic Lodge No. 1292: There’s now a sign on the storefront and some benches on the sidewalk outside it. A bit tougher to spot is the door in the middle of the concave façade; it recently turned green.
Former tenant Edloe St. Cafe had the whole place painted red during its time inside:
A FLOOD OF CHRISTMAS DINERS AT VIETOPIA An impromptu performance surrounding a centerpiece aquarium greeted Christmas dinner diners at Vietopia yesterday. Loud screams accompanied the appearance of twin streams springing from a leak in the glass on the dining side of freestanding structure at the Vietnamese restaurant in the Plaza in the Park (better known as the Kroger shopping center just south of the Southwest Fwy. on Buffalo Spdwy.) As a steady fountain of fishwater aimed itself at a nearby table or 2, the restaurant’s staff sprung into action: Large plastic garbage cans were deployed quickly to catch the water, and waiters used nets to collect the fish and transport them to new homes. [Wendy G Young Lightwalker, via abc13] Video: Wendy G Young LightWalker
Work is almost complete on Pipeline Realty’s conversion of the 2-story office building at 2617 Bissonnet (seen at top in a recent photo) into a new second-story coworking space called Local Office. The 13,500-sq.-ft. building, pictured above before the 2 trees standing in front were removed and larger windows were poked into its north and west facades, previously served as the offices of Industrial Audio/Video.
Local Office, due to open sometime next month, will be joined early next year by a ground-floor coffee shop, labeled “Local Coffee” on the rendering below but more likely to be a third outlet of the growing local Cavo Coffee chain:
The structure now being finalized at the once-on-Cleburne-St. Cleburne Cafeteria’s space at 3606 Bissonnet St. is notably bigger than the single-story building it’s replacing — a 2-story steel frame went up around the beginning of February, and the restaurant is shooting to open in its newest home by the end of the summer. (The view included here of the old building shows it just shy of the restaurant’s 75th anniversary, last spring; the shot up top shows progress on the new building just shy of the fire’s 1-year anniversary in late April.) Other reasons why this round of recovery has taken longer than the 3-month closure that followed the restaurant’s 1990 fire at the same address: Owner George Mickelis tells Katherine Feser this week that (relatively) new regulations and inspection requirements have drawn out the process, too.
Sunday’s the deadline for giving the city of West University some honest feedback on which of 3 proposed park layouts you think would best flatter this residential lot at 6446 Sewanee Ave. — along with any specific details you like about the other 2 options. The home’s former owner, architect James M. Hughes, passed away just over a year ago; Hughes bequeathed the property and some funds to West University for conversion into Jennie Elizabeth Hughes Park (named after his mother, who bought the empty lot back in 1928).
Option A of the choices highlights the corner lot’s time as a residence by adding a rocking-chaired, freestanding front porch as an entryway (though of a totally different design from the existing front porch). That option would also include a partial outline of the house’s foundation: