12/07/18 4:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE MONTROSE DUAL DEALERSHIP WELCOME THAT WASN’T “Too bad . . . I had imagined an identical building being constructed, and as bookends would have made a fantastic ‘gateway‘ into the Montrose/Museum area.” [city cynic, commenting on Stahlman Lumber Up for Sale by Landowner That Didn’t Replace It with a Car Dealership] Photo of Audi Central Houston: Audi Central Houston

12/03/18 3:30pm

Last Monday, Clear Creek ISD’s board of trustees put its stamp of approval on the design (shown above) for a new Clear View High School to be built on land adjacent to the existing one. The current building on S. Walnut St. is slated to be knocked down — but perhaps not entirely: According to a press release, the school district “is working with the City of Webster to salvage the art-deco entrance from the old building for a possible Visitor’s Center” that’d show up somewhere not visible in the rendering above. When architect Rudolph G. Schneider helped put the original entrance there in 1939, it was a standout piece of architectural flair for the tiny town. Its conspicuous forehead is flanked by a pair of reliefs depicting a discus-throwing athlete on the left, and a scholar mulling over a globe on the right.

Over time, renovations to the building (originally called Webster High School) did away with other portions of it that’d been around since the beginning. But a few more original features may still be present inside: According to Preservation Houston, “It is not clear how much of the Depression-era building was incorporated into later additions.”

Photos: Clear Creek ISD

Pre-War Webster, Texas
11/30/18 5:00pm

Images are leaking of the new tower Marathon Oil wants to build on a patch of recently-vacated land between CityCentre and the Katy Fwy. In an email sent out to employees on Tuesday, company CEO Lee Tillman set a tentative move-in date of 2021 for the imaginary building and wrote that its planned location was a plus partly because it’s closer to where the average Marathon employee lives, out in “west Houston and along the I-10 corridor.” The new whereabouts are just under 6 miles away from Marathon’s current ones in the eponymous Marathon Oil Tower at 5555 San Felipe, near the Galleria.

The rendering at top of the new building shows it looking a lot like the middle structure in this group of 3 that Midway proposed building on the site last year:

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On Deck Along I-10
11/28/18 10:15am

ONCOMING TEXAS BULLET TRAIN MODEL NOW KILLING TIME IN JAPAN AHEAD OF ITS STATESIDE DEBUT The general manager of Central Japan Railway Company, the Japanese firm designing the would-be Houston-Dallas bullet train, tells WFAA’s Jason Whitely it’ll be a spin-off of the company’s recently-revealed N700S model, 2 prototypes of which appear above. That new design — test runs of which began in July — is a half-size version of the N700 stock the company currently operates along Japanese rail lines: 8 cars instead of 16. They’re planned to start hurdling hurtling down the country’s Shinkansen rail network at 177 miles-per-hour in 2020, by which time Texas Central — our state’s own high-speed rail hopeful — expects to have broken ground already on its 240-mile right-of-way. It says its version of the trains — to be named the N700I (“I” for “international”) will start off running at 186 miles-per-hour but could later accelerate up to 205, “subject to regulatory approval and market demands.” [WFAA; previously on Swamplot] Photo of 2 N700S Shinkansen prototype trains: Texas Central

11/16/18 3:00pm

Here’s an eastward look at the new office building that could tuck in between the District at Washington and Pearl Washington apartments along T.C. Jester Blvd. north of Wash Ave. Not pictured: the parking garage and adjacent parking lot that the developer proposes to build — both to the north along Schuler St. Last week, Houston’s planning commission deferred a variance request for the site, calling the 3 curb cuts the developer had proposed along Schuler St. “excessive” and recommending it get rid of at least one before resubmitting plans.

Marshall Construction’s office and yard complex occupies the site right now and includes a southeastern carve-out for a couple of townhomes along Detering St.

 

 

 

Off T.C. Jester
11/16/18 12:00pm

PHOENIX TOWER DOUBLING DOWN ON PARKING A new 8-story parking garage will be built next to the Phoenix Tower’s existing 8-story parking garage writes Ralph Bivins over at Realty News Report. The planned “garage annex,” he reports, “will adjoin Phoenix Tower’s original eight-story garage and also provide direct, covered access to The Hub,” the restaurant-heavy core of Greenway Plaza, between Buffalo Spdwy and Edloe St. Architect HOK has already signed up for the project, which the developer says should start before the end of the year. [Realty News Report] Photo: Parkway Properties

11/07/18 12:30pm

League City’s city council voted to relegate the Chester L. Davis Sportsplex on I-45 to a less prime spot on the other side of the interstate so that a whole bunch of buildings — collectively dubbed Epicenter League City — can take its highway-adjacent place and hopefully, “make League City a dynamic cultural center and national destination,” according to the official press release. (The map above shows the plans with east facing up.) Freeway exposure for it all is limited by the pair of car dealerships — Mac Haik Toyota and Clear Lake Nissan — situated right up on the northbound feeder road. But behind them lies the 106-acre development’s urban nucleus, a shop-lined central green space bookended by some kind of water park and an opposing “Live/Work Village,” with an outdoor entertainment complex and convention center to the immediate north. Beyond that core, things give way to the parking lot, retail, and office hodgepodge that’s more of a familiar sight.

While a private developer has signed up to fund the Epicenter’s construction, League City officials appear to have their work cut out for them on the new, larger sportsplex — which they want to look something like this:

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The Epicenter off I-45
11/06/18 10:00am

Rice is getting ready to plop a few units of student housing on the corner lot long-occupied by the Morningside Court Apartments, a 54-unit building just south of Rice Village that the school bought in 2001. Wasting no time, Rice kicked all the tenants that weren’t students out of the complex that same year — according to Nancy Sarnoff — but kept the 5 buildings standing until last summer. (During that limbo period, the school’s attention was on the opposite side of the Shakespeare St., where the 4-story Rice Village Apartments, also for students, went up in 2008 in place of houses and smaller apartments.)

Three stories of townhouse-like dwellings appear now to be planned for the former Morningside Court corner, where their main entrances will front Shakespeare St. On Thursday, Houston’s planning commission decides whether they can be built up close to that road — about 20 ft. from it as opposed to what’d typically be some extra distance.

Images: Houston Planning Commission

2401 Shakespeare
11/05/18 9:30am

HARRIS COUNTY MAKING ROOM FOR ALL THE STRAYS IT ISN’T PUTTING DOWN ANYMORE Good news for Harris County’s homeless animals: The odds of getting out of the pound alive more than quintupled over the past 7 years — reports Community Impact’s Zac Ezzone — up to 78.8 percent in 2017 from a grim 15.1 in 2010. But it’s become a tight squeeze inside. Built in 1986 to hold 150 dogs and 100 cats, the current shelter at 612 Canino Rd. between Airline Dr. and the Hardy Roll Rd. “is often forced to house close to 200 of each animal,” he writes. Hence the idea to put a new builidng (depicted above) with about twice the capacity of the existing one right next to it — and start construction today, he reports. The county’s human population put up the $24 million for the facility through a 2015 bond referendum. Along with the kennels and veterinary clinic planned inside, an outdoor trail and 4 dog parks will crop up on the grounds. [Community Impact] Photo: Harris County

11/01/18 10:15am

  

A handful of building permits filed recently over at the Marq’e Entertainment Center indicate that kids training center Soccer Hub is kicking off renovations directly behind the spot reserved for the new Spaghetti-Warehouse-like eatery the brand’s parent company is calling Warehouse 72. Together, both new venues will be taking over the space Korean buffet Kpop gave up last year on the shopping center’s non-movie-theater side, across the arch-fronted alley from Dave and Buster’s‘s almost-but-not-entirely standalone building. (There’s now a mystery-themed escape room up in its business, as indicated on the map above.)

It’s not an entirely even split: Soccer Hub is getting about 6,000 sq.-ft. while Warehouse 72 will have 8,600 — enough room for seating, prepared food retail fixtures, and a double-sided bar serving both the restaurant’s insides and a planned 750-sq.-ft. patio, reports Eater‘s Alaena Hostetter. Until the 2 get situated — or get beat to the punch by the Hugh O’Connors Irish-themed restaurant opening in space number 25 on the map —specialty soda and candy shop Rocket Fizz will remain the only thing inside the Marq’e’s center building. It’s been there by itself since Cafe Adobe closed in what’s shown on the map as spot number 26, leaving 10,000 sq.-ft. up for grabs.

Photo: Kpop. Map: Levcor

Tag Team Takeover
10/22/18 10:15am

Note: This story has been updated

Late last week, associates of Capital Retail Partners filed a building permit to get started on the pair of back-to-back gabled buildings it’s had planned for Durham and 18th St. in place of 2 side-by-side houses torn down there earlier this year. It’s the second spot where Capital will begin replacing a pair of old Heights houses with 2 new house-like retail buildings, having already begun work 4 blocks north between Durham and Shepherd on its planned Bungalows on 22nd St. a few months ago. Despite the decidedly less bungalow-like design proposed for 18th St., the firm’s going with the same nomenclature for the duo (shown at top), dubbing it the Bungalows on 18th St.

Pictured but unconfirmed plans of the Bungalows  show its half-as-large north building taken up by some sort of restaurant fronted by a patio and corner landscaping including street-address topiary. A main parking lot sits west of the building and its encircling new sidewalks and crosswalks. You can see a few angled parking spaces peeking out in the aerial rendering below:

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The Bungalows on 18th St.
10/19/18 3:45pm

The map above shows the land (in red) that Rice is confirmed to have grabbed around the Midtown Sears (orange) it bought out last October, including 2 new parcels (green) it snatched up through holding companies within the last few months. In an email sent out to university staff on Monday, Rice U. President David Leebron said the school “will ultimately redevelop approximately 14 acres of Rice-owned property,” near the Sears building into what it’s calling the Midtown Innovation District. So what are the latest spots it’s gotten its hands on? The first, catty-corner to the Sears building itself at the corner of Wheeler and San Jacinto, is Jack in the Box‘s nearly half-acre lot; Rice bought it in August.

More recently, the school pushed east by picking up 4201 Caroline St., the brick office building shown below that occupies a quarter-acre directly next to Fiesta:

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Sears and Friends
10/17/18 4:00pm

The 2 new buildings that the River Oaks Baptist School plans to start constructing side by side next month don’t have much in common with each other besides their location. The brick one — shown left to right at the video’s 9-second mark — mimics the look of the existing campus structures north of Westheimer and west of Willowick, one of which it abuts. Dubbed the school’s “Leadership Center,” it’s planned to house administrative staff along with some other adults. The taller, southern building on the other hand takes things in an entirely new direction with its multi-level, saw-tooth-edged terraces. Each one of its 4 floors will belong to a specific grade: fifth, sixth, seventh, or eighth. Right now, they all share space  with pre-K through fourth grade students in the existing campus north.

By adding on 160,000-sq.-ft., ROBS will more or less double its existing footprint — reports the HBJ‘s Fauzeya Rahman — and push out to front Westheimer directly (where a new “guard entrance” will go), displacing the former Walgreens building that sits behind Pinkberry and Zoë’s Kitchen’s shared restaurant structure in the process. It’ll also make room for the school to start adding “10 students per grade level,” to what’s now an 853-kid count, Rahman writes, over an unspecified period of time. Follow along to the spot about 35 seconds in, when the camera glides into the first floor of the modern building offering a view of where its youngest tenants will congregate.

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Virtual Video Tour
10/12/18 2:45pm

A local franchisee of nationwide chain Camp Bow Wow is getting started transforming about 8,000 sq.-ft. within the 30,000-sq.-ft. warehouse building shown above into something more pet-friendly than what’s inside now. About 150 Camp Bow Wow kennels are currently spread across the U.S. and Canada, according to the chain’s promotional materials, but this so-called “Greater Heights” location would be the first in Houston.

The building is one of 3 with identical exteriors that make up the Wynwood Park industrial complex, part of the even larger landscape of industrial buildings north of Hempstead Rd. and just east of 610. Some of the dog facility’s soon-to-be neighbors in those whereabouts: laser printer retailer Alpha Laser, construction tool supplier Expert Equipment, and a distribution center for specialty food purveyor Swiss Chalet.

Photo: First Industrial Realty

Camp Bow Wow
10/12/18 11:45am

Spotted on the Instagram story for a not-yet-open venue calling itself The Gypsy Poet: TABC signage going up where it plans to move into Core Church Midtown‘s former home at 2404 Austin St. It’s the fifth liquor-purveying establishment planned for the block — bounded by McIlhenny, Austin, McGowen, and Caroline streets — in the past year-and-a-half, none of which are open yet. But which together have now succeeded in reserving almost all of the space there for themselves.

According to its pastor Jim Stern, Core Church had been negotiating to move into a smaller spot at the back 2404 when the landlord tabled that option and switched its current lease over to a month-to-month agreement. Shortly after, in mid-February, the church was given 60 days to hit the road. It left in mid-March. “I am wondering if we were ‘pushed’ out because of the bars,” Stern tells Swamplot.

Photos: The Gypsy Poet (sign); Core Church (Jim S.)

Change Comes Knocking