10/20/17 4:45pm

Without providing too much detail on the scope of the accompanying construction (“a remodel the owner wants to do”), KHOU’s Marcelino Benito yesterday interviewed one of the proprietors of Oak Forest coffee house and occasional goat-yoga venue Slowpokes, who along with several customers and neighbors has been protesting landlord Naushad Momin’s apparent plans to chop down 2 large oak trees on site — to add more paving and parking spaces.

The oak trees sit at the southern end of the strip center at 1203 W. 34th St., which faces Alba St., and shade a lawn (pictured at top) adjacent to the Slowpokes patio deck. Chopping down trees to add more parking might appear to be a landlord’s prerogative, despite tenant opposition. Except possibly not in this case:

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Oak Deforesting
09/19/17 4:45pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: DISASTER EVICTION DISASTERS “This just brings into focus how landlord tenant law is totally inefficient when it comes to natural disasters. When a landlord cannot repair the leasehold in a timely manner, they have no choice but to terminate the leases. While it certainly makes sense that you would want to free people from having to pay rent on a residence that was not habitable, the unintended consequence is that people are uprooted from their community and scattered about the city with little chance of returning to their homes. Likewise, landlords are forced to empty out their premises and pray that they will be able to fill up their building once renovations are completed. Why not give the landlord the option to obtain temporary housing for tenants and keep the lease in place. When repairs are complete, the tenants can move back in without worrying about breaking a lease and do not have to compete with other tenants for space. Tenants could keep their address, which is very helpful for getting credit.” [Old School, commenting on Residents of 2100 Memorial Senior Highrise Now Have 5 Days To Move Out of Their ‘Uninhabitable’ Apartments] Photo of fire-safety warning sticker at 2100 Memorial: Swamplot inbox

07/27/17 2:30pm

Here’s a glance at how the now-redone North Shepherd strip center that used to house the Texas Cafeteria is looking this week, about a month before the second-ever location of sandwich joint Krisp Chicken & Batter opens up on the building’s south end. A raised bit of concrete slab seen on the near side of the building in the photo above will form the foundation of a planned dining patio. According to the building’s leasing flyer, a 1,825-sq.-ft. space in the building is still available for lease adjacent to Krisp; the rest of the building will become a Verizon store.

The center at 2400 N. Shepherd Dr. is immediately north of the former Fiesta lot where H-E-B plans to start construction on a new Heights market late this summer.

According to Culturemap’s Eric Sandler, the owners of Krisp are already planning to open additional locations in Memorial, Bellaire, and Downtown in the next few years — and possibly Pearland and Cinco Ranch after that.

Photo: Swamplot inbox

Next Month
07/27/17 10:30am

EMPTY ‘END HUNGER’ WAREHOUSE BY I-45 NORTH TO BE FILLED WITH WORKERS MAKING SOUTH AFRICAN FOOD AND SEASONINGS The former Mary Barden Keegan building at 2445 North Fwy. a couple of exits north of Downtown that for more than 10 years was home to the Houston Food Bank will soon make some adjustments to its culinary mission. The Peli Peli restaurant group has announced that the 15,000-sq.-ft. building — which includes a 9,362-sq.-ft. commercial kitchen as well as office and warehouse space — will henceforth become the food-preparation hub of the growing 5-restaurant chain’s Houston operations. The kitchen that once provided space for the creation of 5,000 meals a day for needy individuals will soon house Peli Peli’s catering operation and provide space for the production of Peli Peli–brand bottled sauces and spices. (“That includes piri piri pepper, also known as bird’s-eye chili, which is used to flavor chicken and seafood and to rim martini glasses,” notes the Chronicle‘s Katherine Feser.) Peli Peli partner Thomas Nguyen tells Feser the company plans to keep the building’s signature END HUNGER graphic embedded into the building’s tilt-up-concrete panels on its freeway side, which were originally painted red when the building was constructed in 2006 but are now rendered in green. “We’re not messing with it,” he tells her. “If anything, we would like to enhance it later on.” The Houston Food Bank sold the building to Virgata Property Company last year, leasing it back until it could complete construction of an even larger kitchen operation in the much larger facility it constructed out of  the former Sysco warehouse at 535 Portwall St. near I-10 and the West Loop. [Houston Chronicle; PR Newswire; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Virgata Property

05/01/17 3:00pm

Update, 5/2: Yep, it’s an ALDI. More here.

The end of the 95,000-sq.-ft. N. Shepherd Dr. strip mall just south of Garden Oaks Blvd. is being cleared out shortly, a handful of readers tell Swamplot. Endcap tenant Yoga Collective announced recently that the studio’s lease is being terminated at the end of June, and has been hinting on social media that something bigger is taking over the space (and possibly a few other adjacent spaces in the row). The nearest spot in the strip appears to have been vacant since about 2015, when the domestic-minded shop next door (apparently operating now as A&B Vacuum and Sewing Machines) moved further up N. Shepherd, and out from under the since-removed VACUUM & SEWING CANDLES signage:

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N. Shepherd Swapout
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: 

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Neighbors
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:

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Helen Launching Next