07/14/17 5:30pm

Here’s a view from last week of the former Express Wheel & Tire kiosk in Oak Forest, in the midst of its transformation into a yet-to-be-identified coffee drive-thru along Ella Blvd. at W. 34th St., at the eastern end of the shopping center redo Revive Development is working on at that intersection’s southwest corner. Demo crews are removing the overhang connecting the front canopy to the small building behind it. Renderings of the finished development on the Revive website show the canopy is meant to remain — to shade a few prime parking spaces at the eastern end of the development:

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W. 34th St. and Ella
07/14/17 11:15am

NEXT XSCAPE HEADING FOR THE FAR REACHES OF KATY The second of the 2 Xscape multiplexes planned for the “Houston” area will land at the far southwest corner of Katy, reports Virtual Builders Exchange — in an update to its story identifying the Kentucky-based theater chain’s Woodlands location. A 12-screen facility (marked down a couple from the typical 14 of the prototype) and accompanying 540-space parking lot will settle down at 26616 FM 1093, just east of FM 1463, in the southwest corner of the Westheimer Lakes North subdivision and across from Cross Creek Ranch — if contractors get their bids in to the company by the August 1 deadline. The plans for the 51,968-sq.-ft. Katy building appear virtually identical to those for the Woodlands theater. [Virtual Builders Exchange; previously on Swamplot] Rendering of Xscape prototype: Patoka Capital

07/13/17 10:45am

5 SLIM CHICKENS CAUGHT CROSSING HOUSTON BORDER The Slim Chicken drive-ups in Katy, Cypress, Spring, and Humble will soon be joined by 5 new locations of the restaurant franchise inside the Houston city limits. First up: wings and Texas-shaped waffles will become available at 9850 Louetta Rd. in Vintage Lakes, right by Aldi and just down the street from the fast-food mecca known as Vintage Marketplace. A Kingwood location at 30255 Loop 494 should open later this summer, though it isn’t clear if the Arkansas-based chain is counting that location as one of its 5 genuine Houston spots. [Eater Houston] Photo of the Slim Chicken opened late last year at  9255 FM 1960 Bypass Rd. in Humble: Edwin R.

07/12/17 11:00am

WHAT COULD GO UNDER WHEN I-45 MOVES UNDERGROUND AND EAST OF DOWNTOWN Jeff Balke tallies some of the expected carnage just east of Downtown should TXDoT proceed with its planned rerouting of I-45 from the west side to the east side of Downtown, widening the path of that stretch of Hwy. 59 (aka I-69) to Saint Emanuel St. Among the establishments expecting to have to shut down or relocate as a result of the expansion: the Bayou City Barber Shop, Vietnamese restaurant Huynh, Ahh Coffee, Tout Suite, one building of the Ballpark Lofts, low-income housing development Clayton Homes, a couple of nonprofits, SEARCH Homeless Services’ new building, the Loaves and Fishes soup kitchen — plus other assorted bars, barbecue joints, artist spaces, and office space. Among the questions Balke keeps hearing in reference to plans to put this portion of a new I-45-69 combo below grade, possibly (only if separate funding can be found) with a greenspace “cap” planted on top of it: “why [would] a freeway would be constructed lower than street level in a city that floods with seeming regularity, particularly when the highway in question is a hurricane evacuation route? TxDOT is quick to point out that we already have roadways below grade throughout the city that have not suffered major flooding problems since Tropical Storm Allison in 2001, which broke records and is widely considered a 500-year flood. Still, flooding is something the agency appears to have taken seriously. ‘No matter the situation, there’s a potential for flooding,‘ [TXDoT spokesperson] Perez explains, ‘but with anything below grade, additional pumps and detention ponds come into play.’ [Houston Press; previously on Swamplot] Rendering showing possible park behind GRB: HNTB and TxDOT

07/11/17 1:30pm

XSCAPE TO THE WOODLANDS BY NEXT FALL One of those 2 “Houston” locations a small, Kentucky-based movie-theater chain named Xscape is building will be in The Woodlands, reports Adolfo Pesquera. Last week, investment firm Patoka Capital announced that it was still in the process of acquiring land for a pair of $15 million, 55,000-sq.-ft., 14-screen theaters in Houston — its first in Texas. But Pesquera notes that contractors have been given until this Friday to bid on construction of an Xscape complex and accompanying parking lot at 16051 Old Conroe Magnolia Rd., just north of a planned Del Webb Woodlands development. The Woodlands location will be slightly smaller than the Xscape prototype (pictured above), with only 12 screens. It’s scheduled to open in the fall of 2018. [Virtual Builders Exchange] Rendering: Patoka Capital

07/07/17 4:00pm

The highrise hotel with apartments River Oaks District developer OliverMcMillan has been promising for a couple years as a tower feature of a promised second phase of the mixed-use development will be an Equinox, according to documents submitted to the city planning department. There’s already an Equinox fitness club in the River Oaks District, fronting Westheimer; the new Equinox hotel will be on the west side of Westcreek Ln., on the rear parking lot portion of the 3.4-acre Sullivan’s Steakhouse–Le Peep shopping center along Westheimer closer to the West Loop that OliverMcMillan leased almost 2 years ago.

The hotel portion of the site is 1.91 acres and set back from Westheimer. Equinox is seeking a variance from the city to allow the hotel to take access from Westcreek Ln., which further to the north also serves as an entry road for the SkyHouse River Oaks and the Wilshire condo towers.

The variance application doesn’t mention how tall the building will be, but renderings of the imagined hotel dating from 2015 (below) show a structure of approximately 25 stories, with a lower parking garage immediately to the west. A shorter building is shown on the 1.5-acre southern portion of the site facing Westheimer:

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Phase Two
06/30/17 11:15am

If you’re trying to justify the expense and hassle of mounting and maintaining a capable security cam outside your home, shouldn’t the ability to capture timelapse footage of demolition crews as they quickly dispose of cute fifties condo complexes across the street tip the scales in favor? Here’s a sample benefit: the above video from the Nest camera of Bill Curry, which documents in quickly digestible form the final dozen-plus hours last Friday of the 26-unit Googie-style complex at the southeast corner of Welch and Revere streets adjacent to River Oaks — as it gets eaten from behind by a Komatsu track excavator.

Another possible benefit: A much longer timelapse documenting the construction of the 32-unit 9-story condo midrise Pelican Builders now plans to put on the site.

Video: Bill Curry

Nest to Nothing, Next to River Oaks
06/28/17 11:30am

Among a few Fifth Ward buildings abutting a new railroad underpass scheduled to be installed near the intersection of Lyons Ave. and West St.: The warehouse pictured above at 2305 Lyons Ave., graced by a Wiley Robertson mural. The Gulf Coast Rail District plans to eliminate the at-grade railroad crossing west of I-69 and directly to the east of that corner by routing Lyons Ave. under the tracks. According to the district, 30 trains a day currently cross Lyons Ave. — on 3 separate sets of tracks. North of Lyons, 3 additional at-grade crossings will be eliminated by closing down West St. entirely from a little south of Lyons to a little south of Brooks St.

The earliest possible start date for the project, which would cost an estimated $28.5 million and take approximately 2 years to complete, is listed as the fall of 2020. At a meeting last night at the Saint Arnold Brewery, which is just west of the West St. intersection, the district and TXDOT showed these images of a widened Lyons Ave. with dual 12-ft.-wide car lanes as well as bike lanes and sidewalks passing under the HB&T rail line:

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Underpasses and Overpasses
06/27/17 2:30pm

The startup 3-barrel “nano-brewery” carving its ferment-and-serve spaces out of the former Bissonnet Auto Service Center garage on Bissonnet St. between Kirby and Greenbriar is scheduled for a Labor Day Weekend opening, according to a recent report in the Chronicle. New glazed overhead doors have been installed in the 2 garage bays, but according to this photo of the spot from earlier today, there’s still a bit of work going on inside.

If future passers-by do a double-take after seeing drinkers out on the front patio of the single-story structure at 2322 Bissonnet, it might be because the brewery-bar will be next door to the former Kay’s Lounge, also a single-story building serving drinks on a front patio, which was demolished last fall. These homes are scheduled to go up on that site.

Photo: Swamplot inbox

06/27/17 11:00am

Newly posted to MLS: a listing for 1 of the 6 townhomes patio homes from Frasier Homes intended for the site of the former Kay’s Lounge. Garages, spare bedrooms, and side yards only will grace the ground floors of the properties in this shared-driveway 6-pack, however, because Kay’s Lounge itself — an establishment that was founded back in 1939 — was demolished last year. The new residential compound covers both the Kay’s lot, formerly known as 2334 Bissonnet, and the one immediately to the west at 2332 Bissonnet, which formerly housed an adjacent structure as well as longtime bar’s parking lot.

But if it’s the idea of living very close to storied nightlife that attracted you to this property in the first place, don’t be disappointed: Just next door to this property, in the former Bissonnet Auto Service Center at 2322 Bissonnet, a new brewery and lounge called Baileson Brewing Company is about to open. The fourth-floor patios at the top of the homes at 2332 Bissonnet (pictured at top right in the rendering above) will overlook Baileson’s driveway-turned-drinking-patio directly.

Here’s the second view from the listing, showing how the shared-drive fronts of the 3 units on the Baileson side might look if they’re completed before the other 3 are begun (they’d be in the foreground):

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New Neighbors in Rice Village
06/21/17 4:45pm

It may not look like a hole lot is going on in there in this photo taken a few months ago, but the 2,492-sq.-ft. 1940-vintage retail building at the southeast corner of White Oak Dr. and Oxford St. in the Heights — a crooked saunter across the street from Onion Creek Coffee House and a lot and a street down from the Heights hike-and-bike trail (and this) — will be filled with bagels this summer, promises its new proprietor. Behind its plywood poker face, the property at 3119 White Oak Dr. has been stuffed with a bagel oven, tile-front counters, and a walk-in refrigerator, according to the social media accounts of the establishment, known as Golden Bagels and Coffee. Soon to be on the menu, in addition to the comestibles promised in the shop’s name: local cured and smoked fish.

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Bagels for the Heights
06/21/17 3:00pm

A flyer from NewQuest Properties is now hawking an imagined retail-or-restaurant building at 3215 White Oak Dr., across the street from the parking lot for Juiceland and Black Swan Yoga. The lot, which spans from the corner of Columbia St. to the western edge of the Heights hike-and-bike trail that slices diagonally across White Oak, is currently home to an Aqua Hand Car Wash (seen from Columbia St. above), as well as a few rented-out residences behind it and next to the trail.

The included renderings show the building fronting the sidewalk on White Oak, with a patio in front:

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Signage!
06/19/17 10:15am

Signs of impending construction — including new chain-link and erosion-control fencing around the perimeter — are now visible on the 3.15-acre site at 2601 Citadel Plaza Dr., tucked between the 2600 Citadel Plaza office building that serves as Weingarten Realty’s HQ and the Boy Scouts of America Cockrell Scout Center along the south side of the North Loop in Shady Acres. The land, which was once owned by Weingarten, was purchased by an entity controlled by apartment developer the Allen Harrison Company just shy of 11 months ago.

A few months before that sale was completed, Allen Harrison’s Will Harper told HBJ reporter Paul Takahashi that the company was planning to build a 5-story midrise apartment building with 290 units wrapped around a parking garage on a 3-acre site in the “Greater Heights” area. (He also mentioned the taller apartment complex planned for South Main Street near the Texas Medical Center.)

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Plans for Shady Acres
06/13/17 4:30pm

In advance of a public hearing scheduled for this Thursday, Weingarten Realty has submitted these drawings of the 29-story apartment tower it’s calling the Driscoll, and which it’s proposing to build across the from the northern end of Driscoll St. The site at 1958 W. Gray also happens to be occupied currently by the eastern end of the 69-year-old northern portion of the River Oaks Shopping Center, which has city historic landmark status despite the numerous inconsistent alterations Weingarten has made to the Art Deco complex over the years. As suggested by the included diagram above, the tower will knock out most of one wing of the complex, leaving Brasserie 19 in place, but deleting 18,000 sq. ft. of space currently housing Café Ginger, Local Pour, and some office space above — as well as 2-and-a-half bays of parking to the east.

As part of its package for the required hearing before the Houston Archaeological and Historical Commission, Weingarten presented this photographic evidence in support of its claim that its existing property, which it altered significantly during renovations conducted in 2011, is in a “deteriorated state“:

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Here Comes the Driscoll
06/08/17 1:45pm

What’s going on with the Astrodome, after state senator John Whitmire’s plan to require a vote on a planned reconfiguration of the long-vacant former stadium was blocked last month? The project is still in a “design phase” that continued through the legislative session and is expected to last through the end of this year, and which includes some rather unglamorous tasks — such as verifying existing drawings and digging up the facility’s drainage pipe to see what condition it’s in. But officials won’t wait until the design phase is complete before getting estimates from construction managers. “After we get all the estimates, we’ll go back to commissioners court for approval to proceed,” county engineer John Blount tells Community Impact reporter Shawn Arrajj.

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Offices and Restaurants and Retail Too