09/20/16 3:15pm

SHELL’S DOWNTOWN OPERATIONS TO SHED OFFICES, SCURRY OVER TO LARGER WEST HOUSTON CAMPUSES One Shell Plaza Office Tower, 910 Louisiana St., Downtown HoustonMore than half a decade after the local fretting about it started, Shell has announced that it will leave One Shell Plaza, writes Cara Smith this morning. Moreover, the company will drop nearly all of its other Downtown holdings as well, including the previously announced removal of recently-ish acquired BG Group from BG Group Place. Smith writes that the only announced exception to the pullout is Shell’s trading group at 1000 Main; the rest of the company’s downtown workers will move by early 2017 into either the Technology Center at Hwy. 6 south of Richmond Ave. or into the company’s Woodcreek campus along I-10 (south of the Addicks reservoir). [HBJ; previously on SwamplotPhoto of One Shell Plaza: Antonio Foster-Azcunaga

08/02/16 3:45pm

Westlake Four, 200 Westlake Park Blvd., HoustonPlease don’t turn around and stare, but suddenly another entire office tower in the Energy Corridor has become available for lease — all 20 floors of it. Any takers?

So far, only one of the 2 extremely available towers appears to qualify as a genuine see-through building — that would be the 22-story completed-but-never-occupied Energy Center Four, at N. Eldridge Pkwy. and I-10, which back in June ConocoPhillips announced it was giving up on moving into but hoped some other company (or 32) would sublease from them. And now from Nancy Sarnoff comes the other dropping shoe: energy company BP, announcing that by early next year it plans to vacate Four Westlake Park, aka WestLake Four, a little more than a mile west along the freeway feeder road, at 200 Westlake Park Blvd. BP has 7 years to go on its lease for that 22-year-old property from New York-based Falcon Real Estate Investment Management.

Photo of Westlake Park Four: Steven Baker

Getting Lonely on the Katy Fwy.
03/18/16 11:15am

2244 Welch St., Vermont Commons, Houston, 77019

A reader notes that the 1938 house at 2244 Welch St. — just 60 ft. east of the new 17-story office tower neighbor at 2229 San Felipe (peeking in from the right in the frame above) — is up for sale. Renting residents of the house made the news during early construction of the “boutique” San Felipe Place highrise in 2014; the occupants complained of diesel fumes, noise, and structural damage to the property from equipment operating feet from the fenceline (including the giant crane planted in the lot next door). Hines’s efforts to patch up the neighborly dispute escalated from the hasty installation of “hobo-penthouse” plastic sheeting to an eventual payoff arrangement that helped the renting family move to Pearland around April of 2014.

The house went on the market for $789,000 last November, not long after the 2-time lawsuit-defying completion of the tower in September and the pickup of a handful of tenants. The Kinder Foundation announced in October that it would be leasing the top floor of the highrise, which can be seen peering in through the shutters in a few of the house’s listing shots: 


03/15/16 10:15am

H-E-B mapped on Washington Ave. by Braun Enterprises

Later update, 2:30pm:  H-E-B’s Cyndy Garza-Roberts tells Swamplot that plans to place a store in the area are only in the discussion phase, and that no agreements have been reached — more here.

Update, 3/16: H-E-B has confirmed to the HBJ that the company has been in talks over a new store on the Archstone property.

A recent flier produced by Braun Enterprises in an effort to lease the former club space at 1815 Washington features a surprising extra: an overlay of the H-E-B logo planted squarely over a map of the not-so-square site of the Archstone Memorial Heights apartments on Washington Ave. between Studemont and Waugh. A 5-acre chunk at the southwest corner of the 1996 apartment complex was cleared out in 2008, then repopulated, then cleared out again in 2012 for redevelopment as the taller, denser Memorial Heights Villages complex (visible just to the right of the word “WAUGH” on the above aerial). CityCentre developer Midway bought the remaining 23.4 acres of apartments with the Lionstone Group at the end of 2014.

Also featured on the aerial: shuttered-over-the-weekend Hughes Hangar, which CultureMap’s Eric Sandler reports has closed along with Paris-minded parking lot companion The De Gaulle. Further east down the corridor is the space Braun is hawking: the former Pandora-turned-Throne nightclub space at 1815 Washington, marked with a star below, across the road from Bovine & Barley B&B Butchers:


H-E-B Marks the Spot
02/29/16 10:15am

Fisher Homes, 832 Yale St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77007

Fisher Homes, 832 Yale St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77007

The custom home and office building of Heights homebuilder Fisher Homes at 832 Yale St. is currently up for sale or lease. Construction on the just-under-15,000-sq.-ft. building south of 9th St. wrapped up near the end of 2014; the property listing indicates that availability started in January of this year.

Amenities at the Morrison Heights and Studemont Mid-Rise developer’s mixed-use space include an indoor basketball court, downtown views from the above-3rd-story rooftop terrace, and various conference rooms. Floorplans of the building show the middle-of-the-house driveway (which provides access to the backyard parking lot) separating a 437-sq.-ft. apartment (circled in dotted red below) from the main structure:


For Sale on Yale
02/25/16 12:30pm

609 Main St., Downtown, Houston, 77002

Update, 5pm: In an email sent to the Houston Business Journal, a spokesperson for the airline confirms that 609 Main will become United’s Houston headquarters. This story has been updated.

A source tells Swamplot that United Airlines is about to announce an upcoming flight to the new tower rising at 609 Main St. Employees were briefed this morning on plans to move into Hines’s 41-plus-7-more-story skyscraper going up on the former site of the 1931 Texas Tower. The source says that United’s operations at 1600 Smith and 600 Jefferson streets (formerly known as Continental Center I and II, in the days before the 2010 merger of the 2 air giants) will be consolidated into the new space.

United employees may get a little lift from the underfloor air system incorporated into the tower’s design. The Chicago-based company should also feel at home moving in with fellow northern exports Kirkland & Ellis; the law firm announced its tenancy in the building back in December.


With The Wind Beneath Their Feet
07/01/15 11:45am

1055 Gessner Rd., Energy Gateway District, Spring Branch, Houston

MetroNational appears to have concrete plans for the new development it’s putting together for the 24-acre corner of Gessner Rd. and the Katy Fwy. feeder directly across I-10 from the company’s distinctive headquarters: It’s already signed up building materials company Cemex USA to become the lead tenant in a new office building intended for a portion of the site, a source tells Swamplot. The company will be leasing around 80,000 sq. ft. of space in the Energy Gateway District.


06/15/15 5:15pm

BLACK LAB EDGES OUT MELANGE CREPERIE FOR EATSIE BOYS SPACE Eatsie Boys, 4100 Montrose Blvd., Montrose, HoustonThe old “circumstances beyond our control” got in the way of Melange Creperie’s previously announced move into the former Eatsie Boys spot in the Campanile center at 4100 Montrose Blvd., the crepe stand’s proprietor announced late last week. Eric Sandler reports that the location’s neighbor, The Black Labrador pub, will instead expand into the space. In an email sent to backers of the Kickstarter through which $52,215 was raised for the crepe stand’s move to an indoor site, owner Sean Carroll reported he’s still looking in Midtown and Montrose for a lease space. In the meantime, Melange Creperie will begin operating regular hours next to the freezer case inside the Montrose H-E-B. [Culturemap; Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo of 4100 Montrose Blvd.: Local Sugar

05/20/15 4:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE RENT RUSH Drawing of Apartments“One of the reasons rents have gotten pretty high in the last decade is people finally realized that owning a house is not what it’s cracked up to be. You can have a pretty decent apartment inside the loop for $2k a month which will only buy you about a $200k house which means you get an old small house between the loop and beltway, or a decent new house outside of the beltway. Also, you don’t start building real world equity in the house until after year 7 and coincidentally average time people live in a house is 5-7 years. Renting also allows for extreme flexibility in case your job changes, you create little clumsy clones of yourself, or simply don’t like changes in your neighborhood. There was a study that showed that during the great recession there was a much higher rate of unemployment in Home Owner vs. Renters because after losing their job, Home Owners either were unable to sell or refused to sell their homes and simply move to an area with better job prospects.” [commonsense, commenting on Houston’s Most Expensive, Deadest Neighborhoods; The $10 I-10 Toll; Drinking from Lake Conroe] Illustration: Lulu

05/15/15 11:15am

Kahn's Deli, 2429 Rice Blvd., Rice Village, Houston

Kahn’s Deli was open at 2429 Rice Blvd. for more than 30 years. Now it’ll be closed at that location for at least the same amount of time. The deli’s history stretches back well before the move to that spot in 1984, though: The original Kahn’s opened in 1948, a few blocks away. The last pickles were served yesterday.


Helen Launching Next
04/28/15 12:30pm

SUSANNE DISCOVERS THE GROCERY LURE H-E-B Montrose Market, 1701 W. Alabama St., Lancaster Place, Montrose, HoustonHow nice to live where there’s a grocery store just across the street! And how nice to have your apartments across from the supermarket — at least when you’re trying to fill them up: Ellie Sweeney, property manager for Finger Companies’ 396-unit Susanne apartment complex on the site of the former Montrose Fiesta Mart at 3833 Dunlavy St., tells reporter Catie Dixon that 80 percent of traffic to the leasing office from potential residents has been from shoppers at the Montrose H-E-B across the street (where the Wilshire Village apartments once stood). The Susanne’s website speaks highly as well — though somewhat distractedly — of its neighbor: “You’ve got your very own café right across the way,” the marketing copy announces, explaining that the H-E-B was “Designed to be the flagship Lake /Plato [sic] extravaganza.” Nine people have already moved into the Susanne’s first floor; the second floor opens for move-ins next month. All construction should be complete by the end of October. [Real Estate Bisnow; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Finger Companies

04/22/15 2:00pm

WHEN SYSTEMS BREAK DOWN East Downtown, HoustonA reader writes: “The non-profit I work for is currently looking for a new office. We found a great location in East Downtown, near the new rail line, recently renovated, and a great price. It is essentially our dream office. During the lease negotiations the realtor said that after 90 days into the 3 year lease, if any plumbing, electrical, or HVAC issues arise, we would be responsible for paying it. Including any replacement and labor. When countered with a ‘no,’ the realtor stated that this was a normal practice in Houston and ‘good luck trying to find a place that will let you get away with that.’ Being new to this process, we are curious if this is true. The current office we are in does not require that and I personally have not heard of it other places.” Photo: Russell Hancock

04/21/15 12:00pm

EATSIE BOYS SPACE ON MONTROSE WILL GO CREPE Eatsie Boys, 4100 Montrose Blvd., Montrose, HoustonMelange Creperie will be taking over for the Eatsie Boys at the 1,200-sq.-ft. former Kraftsmen Bakery space in the same ivy-covered Campanile complex that houses the Black Lab at 4100 Montrose Blvd., according to a quartet of local media reports. The Montrose crepe stand raised $52,000 toward a move indoors in a Kickstarter fundraising campaign earlier this year. After its lease on the property ends at the end of this month, Eatsie Boys will continue to operate its food truck, but the team behind it plans to focus on its other venture, the 8th Wonder Brewery. [Culturemap; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Local Sugar

03/16/15 10:00am

CAFE JAPON, MISSING FROM KIRBY DR. SINCE LATE LAST YEAR, DISCOVERED IN FORMER ZUSHI SPOT AT MEMORIAL AND WESTCOTT 5900 Memorial Dr. at Westcott St., Rice Military, HoustonA World of Beer is headed into 3915 Kirby Dr. spot just north of the Southwest Fwy. that Café Japon quietly left near the end of last year, after a $14K-a-month listing for its 4,000-sq.-ft. space went up over the summer. Meanwhile, the exiled sushi restaurant reopened late last week in the slightly larger space formerly occupied by Zushi Japanese Cuisine in the bottom of the small office building at 5900 Memorial Dr. [Eater Houston] Photo: Greenberg & Company

03/06/15 11:30am

WHERE MONTROSE’S FAVORITE CREPE STAND WILL GO AFTER SCORING $52K TO MOVE INDOORS Melange Creperie, 403 Westheimer Rd., Lower Westheimer, Montrose, HoustonWith $2,215 to spare and a crepeload of promised food orders to fulfill, Montrose food stand Melange Creperie concluded a successful Kickstarter this morning. Meeting the $50K fundraising goal means the stand will be moving to an actual indoor location . . . somewhere. Owner and chief crepe-folder Sean Carroll tells Swamplot he’d like the restaurant to stay as close to its current regular location (403 Westheimer, at the corner of Taft St.) as possible — but exactly how close depends on the amount of additional investment that comes in. As a result of the Kickstarter, Carroll says, the restaurant has received a lot of inquiries about — and promises of — equity investment. “As we stand now with our Kickstarter plus our current equity promises . . . we can open a restaurant but it will be smaller and not in Montrose.” If he finds sufficient additional investment, he says, he’ll aim for a Montrose spot that’s about 2,000 sq. ft. and has a patio. [Kickstarter] Photo: Suzanne R.