03/22/17 4:30pm

Crane at under-construction Capitol Tower, Capitol St., Downtown, Houston, 77002

Another shot of that crane that took to the air this weekend by the economy-stalled stub of Skanska’s Capitol Tower comes from a reader peering over the site’s parking structure from Rusk St. yesterday. (That’s the neighboring Chase Tower looming over the scene in the background.) Bank of America was outed as being in talks with Skanska about leasing space in the tower (which might add the bank’s current home in Bank of America Center to the list of recent abandonments of Downtown office towers by their namesake tenants). The other sign of life on the site this year was the addition of a street-level mural to the parking garage’s corner, which was dry in time for the Super Bowl last month:

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Sprouting Downtown
03/14/17 5:15pm

construction at 299 W. Gray St., North Montrose, Houston, 77019

That empty lot at the southeast corner of Taft and W. Gray streets has been getting its concrete skin broken up and cleared out lately, a number of readers note, as early work for the Alta at West Gray apartment midrise and its basement parking gets going. (The particularly dramatic shot above of the Downtown skyline peering over the wreckage was captured during the Friday morning mist by reader MontroseResident, though a few other cameras were on the scene before and after.) Until 2009 the site housed the Good Neighbor Healthcare Clinic (a conversion of another ex-Weingarten’s grocery, according to the business); Good Neighbor had plans to build a midrise healthcare and community center on the site, but ended up selling the land to serial Alta developers Wood Partners early last year. The new plan for the site may look something like this:

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Alta Altitude
02/23/17 4:00pm

Demo of Houston Chronicle Building, 801 Texas Ave., Downtown, Houston, 77002
Rendering of One Market Square Parking Garage

First on Linbeck’s docket for the block across Prairie St. from the slowly dissolving former Chronicle building: the 11-story parking garage rendered above. The structure is planned for the southern half of the block between Prairie St. and Market Square, which means the restaurant space depicted in the rendering will face Travis St. (presuming the retail spot is not just part of a clever disguise). The garage is being branded as One Market Square until such time as something a little taller goes up next to it and takes the name, joining Market Square Tower and Aris Market Square along Preston St. to either side.

Back across Prairie St., the wrapped-together collection of buildings formerly housing the Houston Chronicle‘s operations has been getting slowly disassembled since a judge ruled over the summer that Hines could carefully demo the structures. A couple of high-up shot from this morning (above, and below) shows the current state of affairs inside the rubble-in-progress:

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Rising and Falling on Prairie St.
11/30/16 1:15pm

Construction of Hotel Alessandra, Fannin St. at Dallas St., GreenStreet, Houston, 77002

Second Proposed Design for Hotel Alessandra, GreenStreet, Downtown HoustonToday’s look at up-and-coming personified downtown highrises includes a reader’s fresh snap of Hotel Alessandra, which reached full height in August and has been filling out a bit since then. The latest rendering (released after the original question mark design was scrapped) depicts mostly the buildin’s glassier Dallas-St.-facing side; the shot up top is facing the structure’s beige-er south corner. Midway announced a few weeks after the Tax Day flood that the hotel wouldn’t be open in time for the Super Bowl after all, citing weather-related logistical issues. The developers are now planning to open up later on in 2017.

Meanwhile, at the opposite corner of the GreenStreet complex — where Polk and Caroline streets meet — Randall Davis’s Marlowe condo tower is getting off the ground behind The Dirt Bar and Reserve, at the edge of a sea of parked cars:

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Up and Out Around GreenStreet
10/28/16 10:15am

WHITE OAK MUSIC HALL TRUCE: REBUILD TEMPORARY STAGE TEMPORARILY, GO PERMANENT IN FEBRUARY Rendering of White Oak Music Hall, 2915 N. Main, Houston, 77009The city and the developers of White Oak Music Hall have hammered out an agreement over the outdoor stage situation, reports Erin Mulvaney: the temporary stage can come back up for the shows that have already been booked, and stay up through February. Then the freshly-permitted permanent stage will start going up — and a bunch of other conditions will have to be met, as detailed in a letter from the city to W2 partner Will Garwood on Wednesday. On the list: the construction of “38 bathrooms and 9 lavatories” (also permanent), and the use of a sound monitor at all outdoor events, which (other than next Wednesday’s planned outdoor Pet Shop Boys concert) will have to be on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Rendering of original outdoor stage plans: White Oak Music Hall

10/20/16 9:45am

CITY RED TAGS WHITE OAK MUSIC HALL FOR ILLEGAL OUTDOOR STAGE CONSTRUCTION Rendering of White Oak Music Hall, 2915 N. Main, Houston, 77009A city inspector issued a red tag to White Oak Music Hall on Tuesday to stop what appears to have been unpermitted construction work on a permanent outdoor stage, Zach Despart reports this morning. The venue’s permit for the long-term temporary stage it had been using for outdoor shows expired on October 5th, a few weeks after mayor Turner publicly nixed the organizers’ just-take-it-down-real-quick renewal plans; this week a real estate agent who lives in the area handed out photos to city council ostensibly showing that crews were already at work to put up a new structure, despite the plans for the stage still not having passed the city’s permitting review process. Despart also notes that a show previously billed on the outdoor stage for this Saturday is now marked on its ticket purchase page as planned for one of the venue’s indoor performance spaces. [Houston Press; previously on Swamplot] Original renderings of White Oak Music Hall with planned outdoor stage:  Schaum /Shieh

10/18/16 11:00am

Worcester's Annex site, 1433 N. Shepherd Dr., Houston Heights, 77008

The Kirby Group folks (behind Midtown beer and cocktail bar Wooster’s Garden and those since-demolished converted funeral home bars in Upper Kirby) look to be setting up for their Worcester’s Annex cocktail project south of N. Shepherd and 15th St.  The new bar (which is taking off the linguistic gloves and using the full-on British spelling of the name) is being built on the far southern end of the former Longhorn Motor Company lot at 1433 N. Shepherd, previously tapped as the intended site of the Heights Bier Garten; Greg Morago reported this summer that the 2 developments would be near one another. The bar is going up across the street from legally-tangled tortilla factory La Espiga De Oro (which was infiltrated and raided by ICE officers last year, after which the company’s owners were indicted for allegedly hiring undocumented immigrants).

Photo: Worcester’s Annex

Seeding the Heights
09/14/16 4:45pm

Rendering of under-construction Kirby Collection, Kirby Dr. at Colquitt St., Upper Kirby, Houston

Rolling-sphere-themed restaurant and entertainment chain Pinstripes has just leased up some space in the under-construction Kirby Collection (and hey — there might even be some bocce players nearby still looking for a new court!) That’s the first confirmed tenant for the project, which Thor Equities wants to open by the end of next year; the 33,600 sq. ft. of leased space makes up around half of the total retail space available, and is split across both retail floors of the complex (shown in the foreground above, with a row of trees peeking down at Kirby Dr. from the edge of the roof). Pinstripes will take over a 7,260-sq.-ft. subdivision of first floor space, out of the segment labeled 23,900 in the ground floor plan below:

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Leasing Ball Rolling
09/06/16 11:00am

The Victoria Condo Midrise, 829 Yale St. Houston Heights, Houston, 77007

Renderings of The Victoria Condo Midrise, 829 Yale St. Houston Heights, Houston, 77007The balcony-loaded face of Fisher Home’s The Victoria condo midrise is now stretching up past the halfway mark of the structure’s planned Heights ascent, notes a reader. The 6 residential levels will sit atop a few above-and-below-ground parking levels, per the rendering that showed up in unit listings earlier this summer. Camelot Realty’s listing for the 40-unit property currently touts prices starting at $300,000 and a Christmas-time move-in date.

That’s the 1950s apartment complex at 821 Yale to the left in the drive-by shot at the top; here’s a snap of the building buddied up with the century-old home-turned-law-office at 833 Yale on the other side:

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Half-Height in the Heights
09/01/16 3:30pm

Moody Center for the Arts, Rice University, Houston, 77005

Moody Center for the Arts, Rice University, Houston, 77005The skirt of first-story glass now appears to be in place along the northern side of Rice University’s in-progress Moody Center for the Arts, per the shot above from Allyn West this week. The second photo, taken a few weeks before as part of a sunset set, shows the facade looking a little bit blue — the magnesium oxide coating covering the building’s exterior bricks picks up different colors in different light conditions, as Molly Glentzer notes, contrasting with the pinkish St. Joe bricks used throughout most of the rest of the campus (as demonstrated by the nearby Shepherd School, shown here peeking through the sculptural hole and pipeburst on the end of its new artsy neighbor).

The $30-million center should be done in February, according to last month’s announcements, and the building is starting to look a lot like the renderings released by Michael Maltzan Architecture: 

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Changing Campus Colors
08/31/16 4:00pm

Wharton T-Buildings at Gregory Lincoln Education Center, 1101 Taft St., Fourth Ward, 77019 Wharton T-Buildings at Gregory Lincoln Education Center, 1101 Taft St., Fourth Ward, 77019

A fresh batch of temporary buildings have recently made an appearance in the W. Dallas-adjacent field at the Gregory Lincoln Education Center, a reader notes. The buildings, some 21 in all, are a complete temporary campus set up for use by elementary school Wharton Dual Language Academy, whose own land less than half a mile away at W. Gray and Columbus streets is being turned over to construction crews for a $35.6-million expansion.  A 3-story building will be tacked onto the north side of the existing Wharton structure, closing off a new interior courtyard; below is a look through the renderings and floor plans for the expansion, as well as the layout for the anticipated 2-year-long of Gregory Lincoln squeeze-in:

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Sporting Something New
08/16/16 10:15am

Carvana, 10939 Katy Fwy., Memorial, Houston, 77079

The frame of the octagon-footed tower now rising at 10939 Katy Fwy. suggests that Carvana’s first Houston used vehicle vending machine may be a few stories taller than the 5-story Nashville machine that opened last year (the one featured dispensing a car in the mostly-online company’s noisy promotional video). Reader Tyler Battenfield sends the rainy day update above, showing the tower rising in place next to a more down-to-earth part of the structure, as shown in the construction plan preview that made its way to Swamplot back in early March:

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Katy Fwy. Auto Auto Dealership
05/24/16 12:30pm

9000 Main St., Reliant, Houston, 77025

That’s 5 stories of sticks now stacked up at 9000 Main St., the triangular former site of the Medical Inn & Suites complex that met its unmaker late last year. The property was bought in 2013 by an entity named Shree Shriji LLC, which shares an address with the Days Inn & Suites near Hobby Airport at 9114 Airport Blvd. The land sits a half block north of Broadmead Dr., directly across Main from Superbowl-prepping NRG Park’s parking lot (the one spanning between Murworth Dr. and McNee Rd.).

The land wasn’t empty for long following deconstructive operations — but another reader did manage to snap a view of the property back in January, when the freshly emptied spot provided a clear view all the way to the since-sold land 2 parcels north, where Regency Car Wash holds soapy court:

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More Rooms on Main St.
05/04/16 10:30am

Plan for Ivy District, Pearland, TX, 77583

Ralph Bivins tells Swamplot that lots of dirt is being shoved around on the foreclosed former site of the WaterLights District project, west of 288 and just south of the Beltway where all those heads of former heads of state used to hang out. Pearland’s Ivy District is now being planted on the site instead: plans for the $300-million development include a multifamily complex, condos, a senior living community, townhomes, office buildings, and room for retail.

Part of the project’s funding will come from the EB-5 visa program, which allows wealthy foreigners and their immediate families to immigrate to the US in exchange for a necessary investment expected to create at least 10 jobs. Sueba USA and Beijing-owned American Modern Green are developing the site; American Modern’s parent company Modern Land of China has worked on projects in China (including Steve Holl’s twisty Linked Hybrid in Beijing) and Vancouver, but the Ivy District is its first US venture.

American Modern Green bought the land straddling the Harris-Brazoria county line back in late 2012 following the 2010 foreclosure. Here’s the breakdown of what will go where, per the current plans on the Ivy District’s website:

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Planting in Pearland
03/02/16 10:15am

New HSPVA Building at Austin St. and Texas Ave., Downtown, Houston, 77002

The first act of construction of the new downtown facilities for the High School for Performing and Visual Arts featured an extended solo by a lone excavator supported by a small cluster of white vehicles, per photos of the site released yesterday. Work on the former parking lot bounded by Austin, Capitol, Caroline, and Rusk streets got the go-ahead in late February now that some budget issues are settled, according to HISD.

Here’s a ground-level shot that introduces a few more characters to the production — in this scene, the Excavator meets with the Man in Yellow, as a Blue Semi observes in stony silence:

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Encore on Austin St.