08/16/17 12:15pm

The multi-level steel antenna-support tower that’s long stood on top of the window-deficient AT&T building at 3303 Weslayan St. just north of Greenway Plaza was removed by crane over the last week, a reader reports. At least, that’s what appears to be the case from the ground: The Beck Group construction firm received permits for a partial demolition of the building’s cell tower in June. Also permitted by the city that same month: a Beck Group office remodel of the structure, which is referred to in the permit as the AT&T Weslayan Toll Building.

Here’s a view of the now-dismantled tower from a couple of years ago, as it loomed poolside at the neighboring 3333 Weslayan apartments:

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Hats Off
08/09/17 3:15pm

The final portion of the 6-story former Town & Country V office building at 908 Town & Country Blvd., including its elevator shaft, came down in an awkward curtsy yesterday, leaving workers in the lower floors of the neighboring 15-story CityCentre Five with nothing left to block their views of the Katy Fwy. Demolitions of the adjacent Town & Country III and Town & Country IV office buildings preceded it.

The unobstructed freeway view won’t last forever: Developer Midway is planning 2 new office buildings — as well as a residential highrise — for the cleared site.

Video: Swamplot inbox

Last Fall at I-10 and Beltway 8
08/08/17 1:45pm

Wrecking balls may have gone out of style, but cable hookups still put on a good Houston show. A reader with a front-row view of the soon-to-be north end of CityCentre shows us how, in videos and a photo showing the continuing section-by-section disappearance of the 1977 office building at 908 Town & Country Blvd. known as Town & Country V.

First, demolition workers weaken some of the building’s steel support beams by heating them with torches and making a few strategic snips. Then they attach one end of a cable to the beam:

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Cable Hookups and Yanks
03/30/17 12:30pm

THE CONTINUING UNTOLD STORY OF WHAT HAPPENED WHEN EXXONMOBIL MOVED NORTH Former Exxon Upstream Facility, 3102-3120 Buffalo Spdwy., Greenway/Upper Kirby, Houston, 77098We’ve been following the separate stories of various former ExxonMobil facilities around Houston individually after the company moved operations to its massive new North Houston campus. But if you want a good, quick rundown of the resulting real-estate fallout, take a look at this summary by veteran reporter Ralph Bivins, who chronicles the current status of the oil giant’s abandoned outposts Downtown, in Greenspoint, and elsewhere around town. The former upstream research campus on Buffalo Speedway between West U and River Oaks (pictured here), Bivins declares, “is expected to be transformed into a major mixed-use development.” The 24-acre Brookhollow campus near Hwy. 290 and Dacoma, which he notes is “not far” from the proposed terminal site for the Texas Central Houston-to-Dallas bullet train, “may be redeveloped for retail use.” The 35-acre former ExxonMobil Chemical facility at 13501 Katy Fwy. in the Energy Corridor, now called Republic Square, is the site of a proposed 2.6-million-sq.-ft. mixed-use project that might include a beer garden and art studios. But until that happens, owner Third Palm is “doing something very un-Exxon like — allowing the public to venture onto the grounds.” [Realty News Report; previously on Swamplot] Photo of demolition of former ExxonMobil facility on Buffalo Spdwy. and West Alabama: MontroseResident

03/29/17 10:45am

Demolition of Town & Country III, 10565 Katy Fwy., CityCentre, Houston

A perch in one of the upper floors of CityCentre Five affords views of the dramatic exits of Town & Country III, IV, and V, 3 seventies-era office buildings fronting I-10 at Beltway 8 — which began last Friday. First to go is the 4-story Town & Country III at 10565 Katy Fwy., shown disappearing above. Next on the list (and cordoned off by the perimeter fence that went up earlier this month): Town & Country V at 908 Town & Country Blvd. (the 6-story structure on the left) and Town & Country IV at 10575 Katy Fwy. (4 stories, and hiding behind it).

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The Taking of Town & Country III, IV, V
10/18/16 4:45pm

CityWestPlace Parking Garage, Briarforest, Houston, 77042

A reader sends a shot of the roof of the last of the 4 former BMC Software campus parking garages to get put on the parking-space straight-and-narrow. Last Friday the angled stripes got powerwashed off of the top floor of the turn-of-the-millenium structure, which sits along CityWest Blvd. north of the new Phillips 66 campus just outside Beltway 8. All of the remaining garages on the site appear to have been restriped one at a time over the past decade or so with 90-degree parking spots (as can be seen on the roof of another of the garages in the upper right, further north along CityWest). The office complex goes by CityWestPlace these days; the complex is one of the properties held by new Houston-only REIT (New) Parkway, which was formed earlier this month when old Parkway and Cousins Properties merged then dumped all of their Houston holdings into a new, separate REIT.

Perpendicular spaces will better fit in with the campus’s general rectilinear motifs — for example, with this series of narrow rectangular water features on the other side of that northern parking garage:

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CityWestParkingPlaces
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.
07/28/16 3:45pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: HOW GREENSPOINT COULD TURN OVER A NEW LEAF fig-leaves“A 50 percent occupancy rate created because a company moved a slew of employees to a shiny new corporate megacampus is a good thing.  . . . This is just a good composting of office space. The piles of old office space will turn into new low cost space that will hopefully attract some diversification for the Houston economy.” [Old School, commenting on Comment of the Day: Don’t Try To Lump All That Empty Houston Office Space Together] Illustration: Lulu

04/27/16 4:45pm

Corporate Plaza I Demolition, 2600 Kirby Dr., Upper Kirby, Houston, 77098

That’s 2 stories down and 8 left to go for the last holdout in the former Corporate Plaza office park, seen here from the northeast looking across Kirby Dr. toward 59. The freeway-facing and side facades of the once-10-story midrise have been totally removed, and the remaining facade is beginning to look a bit patchy around the top; piles of debris can be seen stretching out to the north of the structure, across the now-barren Upper Kirby plain where the partially demolished Corporate Plaza parking garage nearly demolished part of the demo team back in February.

Photo: Lulu

Office-Appropriate Cut on Kirby
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
03/08/16 2:30pm

Renovation of Sunset Coffee Building at Allen's Landing, Downtown, Houston, 77002

A shiny new cistern is now in place at the former Sunset Coffee building at Allen’s Landing, which Buffalo Bayou Partnership and Houston First have been redeveloping into an office-topped boat-and-bike-rental spot.  The 1910 coffee roasting facility has once again donned walls after moving past a Summer 2014 minimalist phase, and is currently decked out in a muted Café du Monde orange.

The no-longer-see-through structure is back to limiting the view from the Harris County Jail across the bayou (visible on the far right, above). A set of stairs are in place alongside the new cistern, along with railings around what appears to be the planned rooftop terrace.

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Nearing Launch at Allen’s Landing
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
02/26/16 3:00pm

Demolition of Solvay America Building, 3333 Richmond, Greenway Plaza, Houston, 77098

A reader caught a glimpse of the 1992 Solvay America building taking some more nasty blows from a demo crew out back behind the new 3737 Buffalo Spdwy. office tower south of the corner with Richmond Ave. (That’s the 2727 Kirby condo highrise glancing over at the scene from the right edge of the shot, while the distant Huntingdon tower looks away.) [Previously on Swamplot] Photo: Lufti Rukab

Octa-goner
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