05/25/18 3:00pm

Although not yet open to the public, the grounds of new soccer bar Pitch 25 have come a long way from their earthy beginnings (second photo) along Walker St., catty-corner to BBVA Compass Stadium. The indoor soccer field that bar owner and former Houston Dynamo Brian Ching pitched to prospective investors on NextSeed last fall as the venue’s centerpiece has germinated inside the 25,000-sq.-ft. warehouse that’s being redone.

Also realized as part of the renovations — plans to tear a hole in the building’s roof in order to ensure a bright future for these semi-outdoor trees:

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Walker St. Redo
05/15/18 5:00pm

Renovations are about to begin at 1304 W. Alabama in order to turn the shuttered dog boarding facility into a new wine bar. The former doghouse, dubbed Jackson’s Place, was originally converted from a 1928 bungalow. It advertised itself as a “cage-free pet resort,” and bakery that not only cared for pets, but also fed them with “yummy, all natural dog treats and pastries, made from premium ingredients.” The business closed down about 2 months ago, but an additional location remains open on Dunlavy 2 blocks south of W. Gray.

A lawn sign identifying Jackson’s Place has since been yanked from former its yard on the corner of Graustark St. — 2 doors down from hot dog restaurant Good Dog’s Montrose location — and the building’s windows are now browned out with paper. A construction permit issued yesterday for the space names Light Years Wine as its new occupant.

Photos: Swamplox inbox

Hair of the Dog
05/09/18 4:30pm

Construction broke ground in March on America Gardens, the star-spangled first venue Syn Hospitality has planned as part of a 4-bar complex dubbed Midtown Common it’s developing on Caroline St. And already, Core Church Midtown has fled the block and taken refuge in the CrossWalk Center, a 2-story structure in the Near Northside. Formerly home to Employment Training Centers Inc., it’s on N. Main 3 blocks south of Quitman — next door to Label Warehouse’s building — and houses a facility that assists convicts recently released from jail.

The 5,000-sq.-ft. now-vacant strip center in Midtown had been home to the church since 2016. When the neighboring construction wraps up, America Gardens and its 3 planned accomplices — Don Chingon, the Social House, and Wishful Drinking — will abut the empty building’s west side, as indicated in the map below:

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Midtown Common
05/04/18 5:00pm

UNEARTHING THE SPLENDORS OF HWY. 59’S EGYPTIAN TOMB “Unless people were here the first time,” a renovator at the mock-Egyptian temple on 59 tells the Chronicle’s Craig Hlavaty, “they had no idea of the magnitude of it inside.” (And even if they tried to find out, they might still be left in the dark: “There is no longer a lick of electrical wire inside,” adds another worker.) And so, for the crew’s next trick: “We need to tear everything out and start over.” In doing so, some of what’s been left behind in the shadowy former club known as Magic Island is now being brought to light: “A covered patio and valet area on the building’s east end is today a graveyard of tables and chairs ripped out of the dining rooms,” reports Hlavaty. “Egyptian art and murals sit idle, some covered in graffiti. Broken marble and glass are strewn about the grounds.” On the opposite side of the building, a few doors down, “renderings of what the two-story, 22,000-square-foot property could look like in the future reside on a table at a doctor’s office” where neurologist Mohammad Athari — who owns Magic Island — practices. After years of on-and-off work to revive it, his current plan is to have it back up and running by the end of the year as a “Houston nightlife destination.” [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Swamplox inbox

05/03/18 12:15pm

Opening-night observations from the new Truck Yard a block east of 59: “The Rockets game [just] finished so there were not a lot of people there yet. Ferris wheel did not seem to be operational and I’m not sure whether it’s just for looks or not. Either way, it was a bit of a maze walking around.”

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Fueling Station
04/12/18 1:00pm

Coming soon to the strip of vacant 1920s storefronts along Main — catty-corner to the Greyhound bus station at Webster St. and directly north of the Shell station at Hadley: a new bar dubbed Pour Behavior. The 12,600-sq.-ft. building — once home to the Houston Spinal Pain Center, Ambassador Shoe Repair, Liviko’s Printing, Gold & Silver Buyers & Sellers, and the Salvation Army — sits on just over 3 quarters of an acre. A parking lot neighbors it on the corner of Travis and Webster where Downtown Body Shop was demolished a couple of years ago.

The aerial above pictures the whole property with some two-tone manipulation courtesy of the Oxberry Group, which had — but dropped — plans to redevelop it and bring in new restaurants and retailers a few years after the auto shop vanished. A new developer bought the building last year. The rendering above — released on Facebook by the bar’s proprietors last week — views the building from the corner of Travis and Webster streets and shows a patio fronting the current parking lot. Further down Webster to the east, a few windows reopen what was once the entrance to Webster St. Pharmacy, adjacent to the parking lot.

Here’s what the Salvation Army’s front face next to the gas station looked like before it closed:

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Pour Behavior
03/14/18 11:45am

At least 4 different breeds are at play on the central lawn in front of Houston Dogbar & Boarding, but only humans are depicted with drinks in hand. Still, animals might be the ones that spend the most time in the new venue planned across from Hubcap Grill on W. 19th St.: preliminary permits filed for the project describe it as a “Dog Boarding House and Bar/Lounge.

A pet reception area borders the park on its west side, opposite the bar:

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Booze and Hounds
03/09/18 11:00am

No longer the Eternal Food Ministry food pantry, the awninged brick building at 6801 Hwy. Blvd. is about to become Katy’s first board-game-themed brewery. The location is a short drive west from Katy High School and was abandoned when the food bank relocated to Pin Oak Rd. within the past few years. Now, the owners of the new competitive drinking venue, dubbed Wood for Sheep Brewing, are getting ready to resurface their parking lot and pipe in new plumbing for the 6,000-sq.-ft. building. Only a fifth of the space in the brewery will be devoted to its main feature: a pub and cafe area with a library of board games. The rest of it will be used for brewing, storage, offices, and other logistical functions.

Photos: Wood for Sheep Brewing

Wood for Sheep Brewing
03/05/18 4:15pm

Yet another sign of incoming retail is up on the Mid Main Lofts, where both Kura Revolving Sushi Bar and a 9Round kickboxing gym made their marks last week. Big Mike’s Entertainment LLC is the applicant named on the TABC notice that’s posted on the apartment building’s Travis St. side, near the corner at Holman and across the street from the Holman Draft Hall bar. The photo at top — taken by a Twitter user who’s been monitoring street-level activity outside the Lofts — shows where the storefront is situated, just north of the entrance to the garage that occupies nearly all of the complex’s frontage along Travis.

Photos: Natalie W

Big Mike’s
03/02/18 2:00pm

Repairs on PJ’s Sports Bar’s patio have the outdoor space back up and running after a sports car hopped the curb near the corner of W. Gray St. and Stanford and nearly totaled the seating area in January. One driver was hospitalized, but there were no major injuries at the scene pictured above; it was past last call when the accident occurred. The bar’s patio, however, remained in pieces for nearly 2 months after emergency workers removed the projectile.

Now, only one pre-crash item remains absent from the bar’s frontage at 614 W. Gray: the fluorescent crosswalk sign shown on the ground in the photo below:

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High-Speed Corners
02/12/18 4:30pm

Coming soon to the long-vacant lot next to the Cemex cement plant on Navigation east of Lockwood: El Segundo Swim Club, a swimming pool bar shown still under construction but already watered in the photos above. Work on the 1,350-sq.-ft. pool and its surroundings began last July, 2 months after an entity connected to developer Matthew Healey bought the property on the corner of Avenue L and N. Edgewood St. The photos above look over the barbed wire up on the corner of Avenue L to show the 15,000-sq.-ft. yard planted with umbrellas, chairs, a hammock, and a converted shipping container.

A view from N. Edgewood St. shows the freight container fronting the pool:

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Adult Swim
02/05/18 4:30pm

TABC signage tacked to the 2-story office structure at 1803 Pease St. notes that AZ Furniture is applying for permission to serve beverages into the late hours on site. Could it be that a boozy cabinetry boutique is in the works, or a couch showroom that fronts a speakeasy? No, according to building permits filed to convert the 5,952-sq.-ft. building into a bar. The name listed on those permits is more suited for a venue located 3 blocks southeast of the Toyota Center — it’s Slam Dunk Bar & Grill.

Renovations began on the building last year. The photo below views it from its adjacent parking lot on the corner of Pease and Chenevert:

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The Hard Court
02/05/18 10:00am

I-45 STRIP CLUB SAYS HPD’S 3-FT. DEAL WITH COMPETITORS IS DRIVING IT OUT OF BUSINESS A new lawsuit filed by Fantasy Plaza — just south of North Bank Rd. at 8503 N. Fwy. — accuses the city and other strip clubs of working together on what Fantasy claims “amounts to a commercial bribery scheme.” Five years ago, 16 of Fantasy Plaza’s competitors — some of which had been accused of facilitating human trafficking — settled a series of lawsuits with the city. As part of the settlement, the clubs agreed to get rid of their “VIP rooms” and also “to donate annually to a fund that maintains a Houston Police Department unit dedicated to investigating human trafficking,” writes the Chronicle’s Francisca Ortega. The clubs now pool together at least $1 million each year for the fund. In return, HPD agreed not to enforce a law that prohibited topless dancers from coming within 3 ft. of customers — but only for the 16 clubs making payments. Fantasy Plaza wasn’t one of them. Now, according to the club’s suit: “Because Fantasy Plaza must abide by city law, Fantasy Plaza cannot compete for customers in the same manner as the Clubs. This has caused-and will continue to cause, Fantasy Plaza to lose business and ultimately fail.” [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Fantasy Plaza

02/02/18 1:15pm

SOUTH BEACH IS TAKING A BREAK IN AVONDALE A bulletin posted on South Beach Houston’s Facebook page announces that the nightclub on the corner of Pacific and Grant streets is closed immediately and indefinitely for “remodeling.” The venue opened in 2001 at 810 Pacific St. in place of owner Charles Armstrong’s previous bar in that location, Heaven. Last December, Armstrong sold the former Montrose Mining Company across the street from South Beach to developer Fred Sharifi. South Beach’s Facebook message now directs would-be club-goers to JR’s Bar & Grill next door — also owned by Armstrong. [South Beach Houston] Photo of South Beach: Lou C.

01/31/18 11:45am

The turf is down and the Adirondack chairs are seated in the front courtyard of Frank’s Backyard — the new 2,520-sq.-ft. beer garden wedged in Frank’s Pizza’s side yard on Travis St. Frank’s opened the lawn 2 days ago in place of a parking lot that once spanned all the way from the historic restaurant building on the corner of Travis and Prairie — home to both Frank’s and El Big Bad — north to Preston St. Hines’s Aris Market Square apartment has since taken over the northern portion of that lot along Preston. Its ground floor tenant Bravery Chef Hall borders Frank’s Backyard’s northern side.

At the end of the courtyard, an Airstream trailer-turned-bar sits parked beyond the garage door:

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Downtown Beer Garden