07/12/18 10:00am

One keenly observant HAIFer who’s been watching for signs of change at 5521 Navigation Blvd. has now pieced together what’s happening there: it’s planned to house a new beer venue dubbed Symbolic Brewing. Renovations haven’t begun yet on the empty brick warehouse — shown see-through from its east side in the photo above — but according to a recent Facebook post from the business, brewers are now in talks with contractors about what to do with the place.

The building sits on narrow, just-under-an-acre plot that fronts Navigation — as shown in the photo at top — and backs up to a rail line running along the southern oxbow in Buffalo Bayou dubbed Turkey Bend. Roughly five times its size is the Farmer Brothers coffee plant across the street, where production emits strong notes of java.

Photos: Swamplox inbox

East End Uppers and Downers
07/11/18 9:30am

WHAT’S ON TAP ACROSS FROM THE MATCH A building permit filed just recently reveals the latest tenant in the group that’s been ganging up in the ground floor of the double-block-long Mid Main Lofts over the past few months: The Brass Tap. With 8 locations already open in Texas — but none in Houston — the Florida-born, alloy-themed franchise had been looking around town for a good spot to make its local debut, reported the Chronicle back in January. It’s settled on 922 Holman St., putting it around the corner from newcomer Kura Revolving Sushi Bar on Main St. (pictured above in advance of its opening earlier this year), close to that other bar now cropping up on the apartment’s Travis-St.-side, and directly across the street from the MATCH. The number of actual taps that can be expected to operate inside: roughly 60, with supplementary bottled offerings bringing the total beer count to about 200 national and international selections. [Previously on Swamplot] Photo of Kura Revolving Sushi Bar: Natalie W

07/06/18 10:00am

Despite the bare-bones look, construction on Saint Arnold’s drinking and entertainment complex across Semmes St. from its existing brewery is nearly complete. Renderings put out earlier by the brewery called for the steel beams supporting the roof over its back patio to extend beyond the covering, leaving the southernmost portion of the seating area unshaded. New landscaping now adds to the decor below it all.

But the big thing still missing is the lettering that’s planned to spell out the brewery’s name along the extended cupola, as shown at the top of the rendering below:

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Fifth Ward
07/05/18 2:00pm

Permanent closing time has arrived at Upper Kirby bar Hops Meet Barley — which is now sporting leasing signage from Parkway Partners next to its own grains-themed marquee at 2245 W. Alabama St., between Revere and Greenbriar. The venue checked out just shy of a 2-year run in the space formerly home to Überrito and more formerly Mission Burrito — both of which fronted a playground that once stood in the patio pictured above.

West of the building’s entrance, a parking lot wraps around and behind the structure as part of the 19,036-sq.-ft. lot it sits on: CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Tapping Out
06/29/18 3:45pm

AN UNDERCOVER BARFLY’S REPORT FROM DOWN THE STREET From the report of former Texas peace office and expert bar witness Darren K. Coleman who recently performed an assessment of Cottage Grove bar Down the Street at 5746 Larkin St.: “On April 20, 2018, Mr. Coleman made an anonymous visit to the Bar to make personal observations. During his visit, Mr. Coleman observed numerous cars parked along the street, some being cars belonging to Bar patrons and some belonging to residents and/or residents’ guests. He observed that traffic was not impeded by cars parked along the street; however, two cars could not pass at the same time. He assessed that this was not uncommon for any neighborhood where cars are parked along the street. Mr. Coleman did not observe litter in the area. Additionally, he observed the patrons to be well-behaved and polite. No one was intoxicated or displayed belligerent, loud, aggressive, or lewd behavior. The indoor music was at a moderate volume and was not loud enough to interfere with normal conversation.” Coleman’s report was included in testimony presented to a state judge after a group of neighbors protested the bar’s request to renew its TABC license. Based in part on Coleman’s outside opinion, the judge found Wednesday that the bar wasn’t violating any TABC rules and recommended the TABC approve its requested renewal. [Texas Office of Administrative Hearings] Photo: Down the Street

06/25/18 3:45pm

Get ready to bid goodbye to Etro Lounge’s current location on Windsor St., where it splits a building with Anvil. Tucked back from Westheimer behind the wider front face of its bar neighbor, the ’80s-themed club has been around for over a decade. Its plan now — after a last dance on July 28 — is to relocate to a twice-as-large downtown space on the 100 block of Main St.

That’s where developer Dan Zimmerman of NewForm Real Estate recently finished up renovations on the Raphael, Dorrance, and Brewster buildings — at 114, 110, and 108 Main, respectively — which he’s folded into a mixed-use complex dubbed Main & Co, pictured below:

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Anvil’s Other Half
06/19/18 11:00am

The curbside rendering above from Schaum/Shieh Architects shows off the changes coming soon to 612 Live Oak now that developer Bercon is redoing it for Brass Tacks, a coworking space with on-site kitchen and bar. Both the TABC notice heralding the bar’s arrival and the door it’s posted on will vanish in the redo, replaced by the single window to the right of the main entrance shown at top. A current garage entrance will also give way to the double-doors and surrounding glass planned in the middle of the facade. Stripped of their existing awnings, newly-uncovered stained glass openings will bookend the building’s face. A fenced-off patio sits adjacent along Live Oak.

Lifting the lid, you can see all kinds of business planned inside, between the single-story structure’s 2 side parking lots

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Coworking Conversion
06/13/18 4:15pm

The mark of shuttered Rice Military drinking spot R Bar is now cropping up in the site plan for Kaldis Development’s planned redo of the former Montalbano Tire building (top photo) at 1302 Houston Ave.

Back in March, the signage came down from the sports bar’s previous and now-shuttered location in the L-shaped Memorial Dr. strip center half a mile west of Shepherd, where it mediated between Memorial Park Vision and the dental office of Dr. Catalina C. Johnson:

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First Ward Redo
06/12/18 2:00pm

A construction permit filed yesterday reveals that Astral Brewing — the new beer venue headed to 4816 N. Shepherd — is beginning renovations to turn 9,208 sq. ft. of the 27,575-sq.-ft. warehouse building once home to Southern Truck Pros into a hub for brewing and drinking. The structure’s parking lot off Shepherd is shown full of trucks in the photo above, taken back before the auto shop shuttered.

A site plan posted on the brewery’s Facebook page indicates a combination of public amenities and mission-critical brewing facilities included in the redo:

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Independence Heights
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