09/23/16 5:30pm

Ivy Lofts Retail Listing Images, September 2016

Actually, the rendering above is not the newest look for the Ivy Lofts, PR head Jared Anthony tells Swamplot this afternoon. Anthony says that the 3-week-old images posted in Wednesday’s since-pulled listing for ground floor retail space in the development had been planned for release that same day during a meeting with folks who have reserved units in the project — but some totally different designs came in from the new architect on Tuesday. Anthony says the newest plans will be shown off in mid-October when the sales center relaunches (complete with another scale model of the planned building), and that groundbreaking is now planned for January, with no change to the estimated completion date.

Images: Powers Brown Architecture

East Downtown Loft Swapping
09/22/16 5:15pm

Ivy Lofts Retail Listing Images, September 2016

Update, 9/23: Ivy Lofts PR director Jared Anthony tells Swamplot that another even newer design is in the works following an architect switchup — more info here.

Ivy Lofts Rendering, Leeland at Live Oak, East Downtown, HoustonIs this the new look planned for the Ivy Lofts? A fresh LoopNet listing is now using the top rendering (and another view from the back) to advertise retail space on the yet-unbroken ground at 2604 Leeland St. The images show a building with roughly the same J-shaped double tower proportions seen in the original Ivy Lofts renderings, but with a smoother, gently curved facade and some vertical green striping.

Novel Creative Development VP Wen Pin Tsai did tell Paul Takahashi back in July that there were major condo-hotel-hybridization-related changes being hashed out for the planned highrise after the initial buy-up went more slowly than planned: the 550 units got attention from only 68 buyers — most of whom were actually investors looking to lease out the condos to that same coveted young professional set that wasn’t signing up to purchase them.

Most of the renderings and details up on the Ivy Lofts’ marketing webpage were taken down some time in the wake of the missed June groundbreaking date, and not many new ones been posted yet — but a new floor plan is included with the retail leasing info, showing distinct condo and hotel lobbies: 

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New Angles in East Downtown
08/12/16 12:45pm

VACANT DOWNTOWN DAYS INN TO GET A TOTAL FACELIFT, BECOME WHATEVER HOTEL IT’S BECOMING 801 Saint Joseph Pkwy., Downtown, Houston, 77002SFK Development’s Nadeem Nasir tells Craig Hlavaty that the owners of the long-vacant hotel highrise at 801 Saint Joseph Pkwy. are, in fact, currently “in the process of rehabbing the building,” though they’re still “waiting to get on the same page as a hotel franchise.” Hlavaty writes this morning that the group won’t answer questions about which hotel franchise that might be, but that the structure will be getting a full strip-down and facial reconstruction as part of the process (in the face of a minimum $25-million cost to tear the structure down and build new). Swamplot’s reader on the scene sends fresh word from a worker earlier this week that the site may become a Sheraton — a story which matches up with a few previous rumors — but no official nods or confirmation have come from either the owners or the hotel chain. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo of 801 Saint Joseph Pkwy.: Garrett Robles

08/10/16 1:30pm

801 Saint Joseph Pkwy., Downtown, Houston, 77002

Is this time the charm for the long-vacant all-but-freeway-side former hotel at 801 Saint Joseph Pkwy., on at least its 3rd round of intended redevelopers since it was vacated in 1998? The building began its career in the early 1970s as a Holiday Inn, later becoming a Days Inn before being turned into Heaven on Earth hotel by a group founded by embraced-then-renounced Beatles spiritual advisor Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. That group eventually shut down their increasingly dilapidated hotel and turned the place into a Vedic school before code violations forced the structure’s not-just-for-summer vacation; the spot has been courted by fickle would-be-remodelers on and off ever since.

But some work permits have been issued this year to the most recent owner, SFK Development, which bought the site in late 2012 per county records, and Catie Dixon reported last fall that the building will be turned into a Sheraton (an assertion backed up by some more recent tidbits from the structural scrutinizers over at HAIF). Meanwhile, reader Garrett Robles reports that the site is now the most active he’s seen it in 5 years of wandering around the area. Robles sends this set of recent photos peering at, around, and into the ground floor of the structure:

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Rebuilding Heaven on Earth
02/04/16 11:30am

Proposed Apartment Tower at 6750 Main St., Medical Center Area, Houston, 77005

Greystar plans to squeeze a 375-unit apartment highrise on the same 1.35 acre lot at 6750 S. Main St. as an in-the-works hotel from Medistar. That Medistar project, which was originally planned as a 220-unit hotel-slash-apartment building on the same spot, will now be a 357-room just-hotel, and will share a lobby with Greystar’s apartment tower on the southern half of the block between Travis St. and S. Main at Old Main St. (across the street from the Texas Women’s University building.)

The two towers (rendered above styled as 1850, seemingly in reference to the Old Main address) will slip in between a Best Western and a Wyndham Hotel, and would total in the neighborhood of 800,000 sq.ft. of floorspace, Greystar’s David Reid tells the HBJ’s Cara Smith.  The apartment unit floorplans range significantly in size— the largest 2 suites measure in around 3,800 sq.ft., and the smallest bottom out at an Ivy-Lofts-esque 349 sq.ft.

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Old Main St. at Main St.
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
07/09/15 2:15pm

Fire at Courtyard By Marriott Hotel, 18010 Park Row Dr., Ten Oaks, Park Row, Energy Corridor, Houston

12 hours after the Courtyard by Marriott under construction at the corner of Park Row and Barker Cypress burst into flames, fire crews are still dumping water on the building, a reader reports. Here’s a post-conflagration view of the soaking going on at Texas Western Hospitality’s hotel project. The 135-room, 4-story hotel on a 5.2-acre site at 18010 Park Row Dr., next door to the West Campus of Texas Children’s Hospital, had been scheduled to open in October. No injuries have been reported.

Photo: Brian Walz

Courtyard by Marriott
04/29/15 4:15pm

THE SHOCKING REASON WHY SUPERMAN, BATMAN, AND THE FLASH WERE WASHING WINDOWS AT THE HOTEL DEREK TODAY No movie to promote. No pay squabble to publicize. No pediatric cancer patients to visit. Just: ’cuz. After a SkyEye HD copter spotted superheroes on the roof around lunchtime today, abc13 investigators called the Hotel Derek on Westheimer at the West Loop to get the marketing message. But none was available: “A hotel spokesperson says a standard window cleaning was scheduled, and guests and passersby just got a little something extra, courtesy of the window washers, who apparently took it upon themselves to show up for work in costume.” [abc13]

04/23/15 12:00pm

Landry's Proposed Post Oak Hotel Complex, 1600 West Loop South, Galleria, Houston

“Remember, I’m the guy that took the old fire station and made it an aquarium,” Tilman Fertitta explains to Nancy Sarnoff. “I took the old Flagship and made it the Pleasure Pier. I took an old fishing village and made it the Kemah Boardwalk.” All of which might help explain the simple concept behind the Landry’s CEO’s latest venture: taking a surface parking lot next to the Landry’s corporate headquarters near the Galleria and turning it into a 35-story hotel-apartment-office-tower with a 2-story auto showroom in front, then filling out the rest of the 10-acre site with a parking garage and couple of pad-site restaurants facing the West Loop southbound feeder.

A row of 4 large lit-up diamonds facing east across the freeway will festoon the forehead of the Gensler-designed tower at 1600 West Loop South. Fertitta calls the not-really-a-sign a “subtle message.” It’s meant to stand in for the 4 diamond shapes in the Landry’s logo — dining, hospitality, entertainment, and gaming — though until a few pesky laws can be changed not all can be offered on site.

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Landry’s Post Oak
01/22/15 3:15pm

Second Proposed Design for Hotel Alessandra, GreenStreet, Downtown Houston

The company that’s adding a new hotel to GreenStreet, the renamed and reconfigured Houston Pavilions mall downtown appears to have made some dramatic changes to the design of the tower. Midway Companies first showed off the sleek design by Gensler for the Hotel Alessandra (shown at left) last March, describing a design that featured a top-floor lobby, with a bar on the same floor and a pool under a retractable roof. Renderings of the design are still featured in marketing materials for GreenStreet’s retail redo.

But HAIF user Urbannizer, who’s had a pretty solid track record of discovering renderings of proposed projects if they’re available anywhere, posted a revised rendering to the online architecture forum late last night. The image, shown at right, shows what appears to be the latest design for the Alessandra, which will be operated by the Valencia Group. The Valencia Group already operates Midway’s Hotel Sorella at CityCentre.

Here’s a slightly larger view of the newer, far more rectilinear design:

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Straightening Up GreenStreet
01/16/15 11:00am

Proposed Hotel Alessandra, Dallas and Fannin Streets, GreenStreet, Downtown Houston

If the giant 25-story-tall question mark built into the profile of the Hotel Alessandra — the Modern tower pictured above, planned for a spot directly behind the XXI Forever store along Fannin — spurred any of you to wonder when or whether construction of the promised residential expansion of GreenStreet (formerly Houston Pavilions) might begin, here’s an answer: Next Monday, MLK Day, workers will begin blocking access to the urban mall’s center court at 1201 Fannin St. and other areas to begin demolition work. Their target: The much shorter structure that once housed the Houston Pavilions’ Yao’s restaurant, owned by family members of Houston Rockets star Yao Ming, which stands in the way.

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Clearing Yao’s Away
09/26/14 10:00am

HOUSTON’S HOTEL BUILDING BOOM Proposed Hampton Inn and Homewood Suites, Crawford St. Between Capitol and Rusk, Downtown HoustonIf you’ve been adding up the new Embassy Suites planned for Hughes Landing in The Woodlands, the 14-story combo Hampton Inn and Homewood Suites now beginning construction on Crawford St. between Capitol and Rusk downtown (illustrated at right, directly behind the Marriott Marquis going up one block to the south), and other recent reports of new hotels coming to town, keep counting: Arch-Con’s Michael Vaughn tells Real Estate Bisnow’s Catie Dixon that 66 new hotels will be built in the greater Houston area over the next 2 years, and “that’s mostly just the major brands” that he knows about. [Houston Business Journal; Real Estate Bisnow] Photo: American Liberty Hospitality

09/11/14 12:00pm

Proposed Development at 1600 West Loop, Galleria, Houston

Proposed Development at 1600 West Loop, Galleria, HoustonLandry’s is planning a multi-use development including a 30-story hotel, a parking garage, and a conference center for a site adjacent to the restaurant and entertainment company’s headquarters on the Loop 610 feeder road in the Galleria area. The proposed address for the new structures is 1600 West Loop, but the tower, conference center, and garage would be tucked back from the freeway toward Hollyhurst St., according to a site plan (above, tilted clockwise 90 degrees) submitted to the city. Along with it, the developers have submitted a variance application asking for a reduced setback for the development along Hollyhurst.

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1600 West Loop
09/03/14 4:15pm

Demolition of Greenway Inn and Suites, 2929 Southwest Fwy., Upper Kirby, Houston

Demolition of Greenway Inn and Suites, 2929 Southwest Fwy., Upper Kirby, HoustonLike the Houstonaire Motor Inn, the Colonel Sanders’ Inn, and the Ramada Inn before it, the Greenway Inn and Suites on the south side of Hwy. 59 between Kirby Dr. and Buffalo Speedway is only a memory now. But it took more than a name change to off it: This redo is final. Thanks to a reader, we have these postcard-ready images from the final checkout proces over the weekend to remember it by. The buildings at 2929 Southwest Fwy. were built in 1965.

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Chickening Out
09/03/14 11:30am

Former Heaven on Earth Plaza Inn, 801 St. Joseph Pkwy., Downtown Houston

Former Heaven on Earth Plaza Inn, 801 St. Joseph Pkwy., Downtown HoustonWill all the gawkable dark mystery disappear from Downtown once the last few long-abandoned towers standing get cleaned up or knocked down? Maybe, but in the meantime we have these latest events to consider, around and about the former Heaven on Earth Plaza Inn at 801 St. Joseph Pkwy. (at Travis), which was operated by an organization affiliated with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi for most of the nineties (before the city shut it down, in 1998).

A couple of readers have reported seeing some recent activity in and around the 31-story building, which was built as a Holiday Inn in 1971 and later converted to a Days Inn — before taking a different spiritual path:

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Falling to Earth from Heaven on Earth