07/14/17 5:30pm

Here’s a view from last week of the former Express Wheel & Tire kiosk in Oak Forest, in the midst of its transformation into a yet-to-be-identified coffee drive-thru along Ella Blvd. at W. 34th St., at the eastern end of the shopping center redo Revive Development is working on at that intersection’s southwest corner. Demo crews are removing the overhang connecting the front canopy to the small building behind it. Renderings of the finished development on the Revive website show the canopy is meant to remain — to shade a few prime parking spaces at the eastern end of the development:

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W. 34th St. and Ella
07/06/17 3:00pm

Actual neighborhood hardware store East End Hardware (see inset second photo) went belly-up only a few years after its 2012 opening at 3005 Leeland St. (at the corner of Ennis St. in East Downtown). Now opened in its place, as of the first of this month, is a replacement (pictured at top): East End Hardware.

Among the changes: a revamped exterior, with the name of the establishment now rendered in vintage Houston blue tile; a dog-friendly patio; and a new beverage menu that includes 20 beers on tap, mixed drinks, and “boozy” New Orleans-style sno-balls in flavors such as piña colada, tiger’s blood, and screwdriver. Also: food.

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EaDo Hard Drinks and Wares
06/28/17 3:00pm

The latest of Gensler’s renderings of that midrise parking garage planned atop the recently evacuated location of nightclub and drag venue Meteor shows the structure rocking a swath of greenery in place of the decorative bicycles pictured across the facade in earlier drafts. Cara Smith reports in the Houston Business Journal this week that the garage is one of the projects that Gensler is “future proofing” — that is, designing with an eye to an eventual decline in Houston parking garage needs, whether spurred by the rise of self-driving cars or other shifts in transportation patterns. The firm was featured by Web Urbanist last month in an article discussing some of its other current garage projects, some of which are being outfitted with conversion-minded utility hookup spacing, as well as ceiling heights suited to something other than car stacking; modular features like easy-to-tack-on facades and removable ramps are also in the mix.

There appear to be 6 retail spots in the foot of the garage that will be ready for tenants before such time as the rest of the garage might hypothetically be repurposed (along with a slew of other spaces in the development, per Edge Realty’s leasing flier):

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Prepped for Obsolescence in Fourth Ward
04/13/17 11:00am

Design Options for Jennie Elizabeth Hughes Park, 6446 Sewanee St., West University, TX, 77005

6446 Sewanee Ave., West University, TX 77005Sunday’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:

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Sewanee Ave. Parking
12/28/16 2:45pm

Art Hous, 811 St. Emanuel St., East Downtown, Houston, 77003
wahlburgers

The folks at ACS studio architecture say that the insides of the former Art Hous art and interior design center on St. Emanuel St. are being cleared out for the planned installation of Burgr Hous. Demo permits for the interior walls of the space, which is wedged between Warehouse Live and Lucky’s Pub, came through early last month. When it’s wrapped up, the remodel may have a vibe kinda like the space shown above, which ACS currently has up on their website for the project as a visual reference for the redesign — though the image depicts the branding of the Boston-based reality-teevee-starring Wahlburgers chain. The firm has a floorplan out as well, however, showing a different layout:

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E-Less in EaDo
11/14/16 3:15pm

SPURNED BY NORWEGIAN, PRINCESS, BAYPORT CRUISE TERMINAL TURNS TO CHILLIN’ FRUIT, FIXING UP CARS Bayport Cruise TerminalBereft of tourist companionship after little more than a pair of brief affairs with Norwegian and Princess cruise lines (both of which ended abruptly in mid-2015), the $108-million Bayport Cruise Terminal is picking up and moving on next month, when the first shipment of automobiles for Auto Warehousing Inc. is scheduled to make landing. Andrea Rumbaugh writes that the company has a 3-year lease to use the former cruise facility to make after-market mods before sending cars on their way to dealerships; port commission chairwoman Janiece Longoria also tells Rumbaugh that port-owned areas near the terminal are being outfitted with more chilled storage space, possibly paving the way for the failed Ship Channel vacation destination to make a comeback as a fruit-and-veggie hub. [Houston Chronicle; previously on SwamplotPhoto: Port of Houston

09/15/16 12:30pm

St. Elizabeth Hospital RFP, 4514 Lyons Ave., Fifth Ward, Houston, 77020

St. Elizabeth Hospital RFP, 4514 Lyons Ave., Fifth Ward, Houston, 77020 The cross still standing above the entrance of the former St. Elizabeth Hospital building can just barely be seen peeking out over the top of the structure in the color photo up top, included with some black-and-white historical shots in the Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation’s recent call for ideas on what to do with the place. The hospital at 4514 Lyons Ave. opened in 1947 and later gigged as a detox center, substance abuse treatment facility and halfway house before being bought by Riverside General in 1995. The structure was renamed the Barbara Jordan Healthcare Facility until it was shut down in 2014 when Riverside wasn’t able to make ends meet (financially or building-code-wise). The Fifth Ward redevelopment folks bought the property in April.

A site plan drawn up by Gensler shows the current layout of the property, including the original 3-story E-for-Elizabeth main building. Some now-doomed subsections and add-ons are shaded in red, and the convent building, which looks like it might stay in the picture if somebody makes a good case, gets just a warning coat of pink:

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Rehab on Lyons
09/09/16 1:00pm

Cafeza at 1720 Houston Ave., First Ward, Houston, 77007

As of tomorrow morning, any missed-the-memo visitors to the former Blank Slate Laser Tattoo Removal space at 1720 Houston Ave. will at least have the option to drink to forget (assuming that’s not what got them into trouble in the first place). Spanish-Latin-American-themed cafe Cafeza will open to the public around 6 a.m. with coffee, food, and wine on the menu. The shop is tucked into northern storefront of the 1925 building at the corner with Crockett St., with Belgium-minded companion Cafe Brussels occupying the adjacent space next door. The view above is from the Crockett side, where the scribbles-welcome Grateful Heart chalkboard hangs out these days:

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European Influences on Houston Ave
07/26/16 1:00pm

Former Barbara Jordan Post Office, 401 Franklin St., Downtown, Houston, 77002

Barbara Jordan Post Office, 401 Franklin St., Downtown HoustonThe former Barbara Jordan Post Office campus at 401 Franklin St. is on its way toward a new career (as highlighted by yesterday’s news that trippy music and art festival Day for Night will be hosted on the property this year). The new stage name for the 16-acre planned mixed-use space near Buffalo Bayou isn’t quite set yet — PaperCity says that Lovett has been calling the property Central Post, but an active Facebook account using the name Post HTX (and staking claim to the 401 Franklin address) has been posting photos of the inside and promising updates on progress at the site.

Demo permits for some interior walls were issued back in October after the property’s summertime sale last year. Those concrete fins on the outside of the post office’s Franklin-facing midrise section are creating the stripy light pattern visible in the interior shot up top; here’s more of Post HTX’s photos of the building, pre-redo:

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Franklin St. Remake
07/20/16 12:00pm

4215 Washington Ave., Houston

A reader sends a set of quick driveby shots of the former home of Walter’s on Washington, which has been getting some cosmetic attention of late. After a 2009 relocation announcement, Walter’s slowly made its move to a former car and cabinetry warehouse on Naylor St.; the Washington Ave property was passed around to a few different owners (including corporate entities called Ay Papi and Carnegie Homes and Construction) before landing in the hands of The Mosaic Group in June of last year. Mosaic appears to have sold or transferred the property to one Joe F. West last August, but is still listed as the owner-slash-occupant of the space on the building permits that have been issued since then (including a few from as recently as May).

Mosaic also snapped up the empty lot next door last summer, which was bundled with the property during the August sale (and had been wrapped up together with the building behind the same now-absent construction fencing):

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Up Next on Wash Ave
03/08/16 2:30pm

Renovation of Sunset Coffee Building at Allen's Landing, Downtown, Houston, 77002

A shiny new cistern is now in place at the former Sunset Coffee building at Allen’s Landing, which Buffalo Bayou Partnership and Houston First have been redeveloping into an office-topped boat-and-bike-rental spot.  The 1910 coffee roasting facility has once again donned walls after moving past a Summer 2014 minimalist phase, and is currently decked out in a muted Café du Monde orange.

The no-longer-see-through structure is back to limiting the view from the Harris County Jail across the bayou (visible on the far right, above). A set of stairs are in place alongside the new cistern, along with railings around what appears to be the planned rooftop terrace.

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Nearing Launch at Allen’s Landing
03/04/16 4:30pm

Proposed Mellow Mushroom, 1919 N. Shepherd Dr., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008

A reader notes a notice of an application to sell alcohol posted on the door of the former Dealer Sales building at 1919 N. Shepherd Dr. The HBJ reported last August that Atlanta-based pizza-and-recently-burger chain Mellow Mushroom leased the space at the corner with 20th St. from serial redeveloper Braun Enterprises. The chain, which dropped its first Houston-area spore up in Spring, appears to be sprouting its second location within the somewhat ambiguous boundaries of the Houston Heights’ nominally dry zone.

The pizza place may provide more savory counterbalance to the sugar-laced shopping strip just to the south on the same block — where Fat Cat Creamery, Hugs & Donuts, and Smoothie King all nestle in with Finch Properties and hair salon Black Sheep Parlor along 19th St., sheltered by N. Shepherd-facing Ka Sushi. Renderings released last year for the redeveloping building show the Mushroom popping open in line with some additional retail space; the strip could also get lawyered up:

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Sober News on N. Shepherd
01/19/16 4:30pm

Encampment removal at Louisiana St. and Congress Ave., Downtown, Houston, 77002

The encampment under Louisiana St. (shown above) was dismantled earlier today; a reader sends both now-you-see-it and now-you-don’t shots. The camp was previously tucked above the south bank of Buffalo Bayou, about halfway between Sesquicentennial Park and Allen’s Landing.

The removal appears to have been carried out by workers for Houston First, responsible for maintenance of public venues such as Miller Outdoor Theater and the George R. Brown Convention Center, along with a list of downtown parks that includes Sesquicentennial and the Sabine Promenade. Houston First also works on marketing and branding for the venues (and more generally for “the Houston product”) in partnership with the Greater Houston Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Here’s what the spot looked like after today’s clear-out:

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Gone Downtown
12/08/15 11:30am

Melrose Building, 1121 Walker St., Houston, 77002

After more than 2 decades of abandonment, the Melrose Building at 1121 Walker is getting some TLC: a total makeover as part of conversion of the building to a Le Meridien hotel. Permits were issued the week of Thanksgiving to begin a complete overhaul of the interior; the exterior will receive an update as well.

The remodel will attempt to restore the youthful good looks of Houston’s oldest Modern skyscraper — as shown in the rendering below, the renovation will bring back the building’s original color scheme:

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Going Retro
12/02/15 9:00am

Ivy Lofts Showcase Warehouse, Leeland at Live Oak, East Downtown, Houston

Ivy Lofts Showcase Warehouse, Leeland at Live Oak, East Downtown, HoustonThe muffled whir of power tools could be heard last week through the razorwire-topped fence and metal siding of the former Leeland Wholesale Grocery, south of Leeland St. between Live Oak and Nagle. The 10,000-sq.-ft. warehouse is being converted into a sales center and showroom for the Ivy Lofts micro-unit condominium highrise, which will eventually spring up on the same city block. The warehouse will be outfitted with several full-scale models of the project’s adorably tiny floorplans, which start at a dorm-room-reminiscent 300 sq.ft. An Ivy Lofts marketing representative for the project assured Paul Takahashi of the HBJ that the lack of wasted space in the units “will change the way Houstonians live.”

Developer Novel Creative Development anticipates opening the sales center in April and selling all of the planned tower’s units before demolishing the warehouse as contractors break ground on the highrise itself in June. Plans for the tower (shown below from the south) include 7 floors of parking, ground-level retail space, and various recreational nooks:

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Ivy Lofts Sales Center