06/22/18 5:00pm

About 2-and-a-half floors of the soon-to-be-5-story Broadstone Studemont apartment building are now standing on a 4-acre parcel between Hicks and Summer streets. The shot above takes a look at the complex from an extension of Summer St. laid down west of Studemont — and Kroger — prior to the apartments’ groundbreaking in February.

The road segment cuts between the north side of the apartments and the planned Studemont Junction retail center opposite them, highlighted in the site plan below:

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Graveside Mid-Rise
06/04/18 1:00pm

Engineering firm The Interfield Group is hoping to score a trio of variances that will allow it to swap out its existing dingbat office building (above) at the Heights landing point of the Studemont St. bridge for a much larger mixed-use development (depicted at top) dubbed Heights Gateway. The new 8-story complex rests on the stealth-bomber-shaped parcel at 401 Studewood outlined in the aerial above. It’s split between a residential portion (shown beneath the lettering in the rendering) and a glass curtain-walled office section to the north — all of which rests atop a floodable 2-story parking garage plinth.

Its lowest parking level — indicated in the site plan below — includes a main entrance off Studewood that runs between the work and live sections of the complex:

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Heights Gateway
05/31/18 11:00am

HHA’S FIRST NEW MIXED-INCOME COMPLEX IN A DECADE DEBUTS AT CROSSTIMBERS AND N. MAIN The Houston Housing Authority has finished building its first development in 10 years: the 154-unit Independence Heights Apartments. Situated at the southeast corner of Crosstimbers and N. Main St., the garden-style complex has units available to tenants who earn less than $41,500 per year and have qualified for public housing vouchers. (The median household income in Independence Heights is around $25,000.) Mayor Turner okayed the project back in November, 2016 — 2 months after he killed a similar mixed-income complex that had been proposed for Briargrove, in place of one of the housing authority’s own office buildings on Fountain View Dr. That decision prompted a federal investigation in which HUD eventually found that the city’s rejection “was motivated either in whole or in part by the race, color or national origin of the likely tenants.” Of the $45 million Houston has received from HUD since 2011 (in response to Hurricane Ike) only $12 million has been spent — all of it on this just-built project. [Previously on Swamplot] Photo of Independence Heights Apartments under construction: Apartments.com

05/17/18 2:30pm

The Tree Tops at Post Oak apartment complex on Briar Hollow Pl. has been abandoned since August, “with many windows and doors open as well as no maintenance to the yards,” writes a reader. Also noted: survey markers, like the one stuck between the fence and the curb in the photo included. First floor units at the complex sit below street level, and had water “up to the ceilings,” during Harvey.

From the corner of Briar Hollow and Post Oak Park Dr., you can see wooden scaffolding fronting the lower-level units, behind the fence — and the overgrowth — that separates them from the street:

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Out of Order
05/11/18 4:00pm

Houston’s City Planning Commission approved a variance yesterday permitting a developer that plans to build a 4-story apartment building on the corner highlighted above not to extend Dunlop St. through the site, as otherwise required. Instead, plans call for the street to end at the south side of the complex, where it’ll be bounded by a new, 8-ft. tall fence.

The request first showed up on the commission’s agenda on April 26, at which time a couple of residents came forward to complain about the heavy traffic on nearby Karcher and Angelo streets — which northbound drivers use to avoid the light at the intersection of Link and Fulton. Extending Dunlop through the site, they argued, would clear up some of that congestion.

But a 60-ft.-wide swath of road like that would run over the garage, parking lot, pool, and dumpster area the developer plans to build at the center of the complex, as shown in the site plan below:

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Transit Corridor
05/08/18 2:30pm

Shots of the massive waterfront development planned in Kingwood east of Woodland Hills Dr. show it situated around 2 adjacent and existing lakes that neighbor both the San Jacinto River and the Clubs of Kingwood golf course. The 300-acre project — dubbed Herons Kingwood Marina and recently stumbled upon by online architectural sleuth Urbannizer — lays out a plan to link the 2 bodies of water and transform them into marinas with docks, pedestrian paths, and outdoor amusements.

The water-level rendering above from Italian architecture firm Torrisi & Procopio shows a boat parking lot fronting a shopping center that’s planned beside the west marina. From the air in the rendering at top, you can see the eastern marina neighbored by skyscrapers, described by the architect’s website as home to hotels, restaurants, shops, and apartments. A narrow channel leads to the other, aquatic area in the distance.

Here’s where both lakes sit now, just south of Barrington Kingwood — a 200-acre, loop-shaped neighborhood:

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The Liveable Lake
05/04/18 2:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE DOWNTOWN APARTMENTS THAT RAN IN MY FAMILY “My uncle, J. Holly Brewer, bought the Plaza Court and Peacock apartments sometime about 1942. It was managed by his mother, Kate Lillian Brewer, and my mother, Edith Fox Bannerman, until J. Holly Brewer and my father, James Knox Bannerman, returned from service in the U.S. Navy during World War II. J. Holly Brewer then operated the apartments alone until his death in 1984. Edith Fox Bannerman and her sister, Frances Marion Marchiando, then inherited the property and jointly managed it. After Mrs. Marchiando passed away her son, Michael Marchiando, jointly managed the buildings with mom until 1995. At that point I, James Knox Bannerman II, and my mother, Edith Bannerman, shared the management of the buildings until we sold them in 2014. I felt it was time to sell them as [my] mother was 97-years young. Mother did not speak to me for a week after the sale. When she did speak her first sentence was, ‘You took my job away.’ Go figure. She is amazing. She drove the Houston freeways until she was 93 with never a citation or accident. Mom is 100 now and occasionally we drive her to visit some of the long-term tenants. These buildings have many stories to tell. I am delighted to see they are to be updated and preserved.” [James Knox Bannerman II, commenting on The Changes Coming to the Pre-War Peacock & Plaza Apartment Complex Downtown] Photo of apartment courtyard: LoopNet

05/03/18 2:45pm

THE CHANGES COMING TO THE PRE-WAR PEACOCK & PLAZA APARTMENT COMPLEX DOWNTOWN The new owner of the Peacock & Plaza Apartments at 1414 Austin St. — a 2-building, 32-unit complex that sports a colorfully feathered mosaic a block west of the Toyota Center — tells Swamplot what’s in store for a portion of the property: “We plan to heavily upgrade each unit in one of the two buildings. New plumbing, electrical, upgrade of HVAC systems, all new kitchens, appliance, bathroom.” In the other building: “We’ll clean the units up but we’re going to try to leave it somewhat original,” says the representative of the buyer, Fat Property. Before Colorado-based FVMHP took over the complex in 2014, it had been owned by the same woman for 80 years, according to the current buyer. Designed by Houston architect Lenard Gabert, its first building went up in 1926; the second followed 14 years later. [Previously on Swamplot] Photo: Fat Property

04/19/18 1:00pm

Crescent Communities sent a letter last week to all residents of The Georgian apartments at 2511 Willowick, just north of Westheimer, letting them know that they’ll be kicked out of the complex in 6 months. The existing 114 units — home to residents over 55 — will be torn down and replaced with what the letter describes as “a new apartment building with integrated retail.” Crescent closed on the 53-year-old complex in 2015 after the purchase stalled the previous year.

Obviously, the redevelopment of this site will require you to find a new home, and we are dedicated to assisting in this transition,” reads the letter. To that end, the owner is letting people out of their leases early, offering some financial assistance to relocate, and “engaging a relocation specialist to assist residents.” The final move out date is October 15.

At the northern end of the 3.4-acre property, townhouses line Wickersham Ln.:

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Aged Out of Highland Village
04/16/18 1:00pm

The marketing materials for Hunington Properties’ new apartment building planned in place of Bethel Church a block north of Wash Ave come chock full of cultural references. There’s the Seinfeldian restaurant sign depicted on the corner of Shepherd and Center St, pick-up and drop-off zones adjacent to the parking garage’s entrances labeled Uber (sorry, Lyft!) in the site plan — and if that’s not enough, the leasing brochure notes that tenants “will be given latitude to incorporate unique elements into their storefronts promoting their individual brand identity.

Of the 4 corner retail segments planned — 25,000 sq. ft. total — 3 include patios. To accommodate them, Hunington is requesting several modifications to the setbacks: on Center St., on Durham, and the boldest on Shepherd — where the patio would sit only 5 ft. from the roadway, 20 ft. closer than is typically allowed. Last Thursday, Houston’s planning commission deferred the variance request. It’s now waiting on more information regarding the proposed patios before reconsidering the developer’s plans.

Bethel Church’s building currently takes up half of the block:

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The Interpose
03/23/18 4:00pm

Tradition Senior Living has kicked off construction on a new, 23-story tower it’s building on the site of the Ripple Creek Townhomes just east of the Second Baptist Church complex on Woodway Dr. — which were demolished last year. The tower will overlook the concrete-lined Bering Ditch as shown in the rendering at top — taken from the website of a Vietnamese firm that’s touting the project as a way for foreigners to earn green cards by investing in it.

The new apartment’s parking lot and landscaping on Woodway are shown hugging Texas Dow Employees Credit Union’s branch building on the corner of S. Ripple Creek Dr. East of the bank — in place of what are now 2 vacant strip buildings — a dog park, water feature, porte-cochère, and driveway onto Woodway are planned:

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Waterfront Property
03/22/18 5:00pm

Orange barricades now flank the far east side of the northern portion of the River Oaks Shopping Center where a 30-story highrise — dubbed The Driscoll — is planned in place of Café Ginger’s original corner spot on W. Gray. The saucer-like tower shown in the photo above was appended to the retail building as one of many modifications its owner Weingarten Realty has made to the originally Art Deco structure over the years. When the new apartment rises, it’ll tower over 5 storefronts in the retail center, as opposed to just one.

Café Ginger’s northern neighbor Local Pour also shuttered in the portion of the building that’s replaced by The Driscoll’s lobby in the rendering below from architect Ziegler Cooper:

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The Driscoll
02/27/18 1:15pm

A Swamplot reader holed-up in a hotel room at the Hilton Americas sends photos looking past Root Square and the Toyota Center to show the new tower crane being lifted on the site of the coming Camden Downtown apartment tower last weekend. Camden Property Trust broke ground on the 1.4-acre block adjacent to the Toyota Center’s garage at the end of last year. The finished tower will sit on the north side of the parcel — formerly a parking lot — on Bell St. between Austin and La Branch.

A rendering from architect Ziegler Cooper shows the 21-story building neighboring the parking garage and fronting the park:

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Grandstanding
02/08/18 4:00pm

UT STUDY: HOUSTON SUFFERING FROM EPIDEMIC OF DILAPIDATED APARTMENTS A new study from the University of Texas School of Law says that Houston is full of deteriorating apartments, has weak building standards, does a bad job enforcing its own rules, responds slowly to residents who seek help with unsafe homes, fails to keep track of its own building data, and struggles to communicate clearly between departments overseeing different aspects of safety. Houston has the third highest number of occupied apartments in any U.S. city — but of all the complexes in the city, nearly a third are missing Certificates of Occupancy, according to the researchers. The yellow dots on the map above indicate the 1,000-plus multifamily structures that lack the document, which certifies that a building has passed a basic inspection for structural, electrical, mechanical, and plumbing issues. On top of that, the city only employs 2 health inspectors to check for sanitation problems like bedbugs, rodents, mold, and sewage leaks inside Houston’s 320,000 occupied rental units. “In summary,” says the study, “the City of Houston is operating a largely dysfunctional system for addressing tenant safety that appears to have little or no oversight by city leaders.” [UT School of Law Entrepreneurship and Community Clinic; more info] Map of multifamily properties without Certificates of Occupancy as of July 2017: Texas Low Income Housing Information Service

02/07/18 1:00pm

Been a while since your last Kirby Dr. drive? Here’s a look over developer Thor Equities’s collected works — dubbed the Kirby Collection — now standing tall between Colquitt and W. Main. The complex just north of Richmond began rising back in 2015 on the site of Cafe Express and a set of bars carved out of the former Settegast Kopf funeral home. A few pioneers have already settled in the 25-story ribbed apartment tower, shown on the left in the photo above. A boxier 13-floor office building rises at the south end of the block, on the right.

On the complex’s Kirby-fronting side, you can see where street-level shops will move into the Collection’s 65,000 sq. ft. of retail space, north of its ringed entrance court:

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In the Upper Kirby Air