03/13/18 12:00pm

The teeth, eyes, and . . . uh, overall shape of the new shopping center Braun Enterprises is planning for N. Shepherd and 24th St. can be considered taken care of, now that Lovett Dental, Eyes on the Heights Optometry, and Club Pilates have each signed leases for space in the development. That leaves 11,555 sq. ft. still available in 3 separate end-cap spots for any nail salon, podiatrist, or dermatology clinic that wants to fill out the theming for the complex, which would go on the block catty-corner to the H-E-B Heights Market currently under construction.

This would fit in with N. Shepherd’s ongoing transformation: Braun plans to demolish the Miller’s Auto Body Repair Experts facility (as of now still open for business) as well a building formerly occupied by Auto Electric Service on the site in order to construct the 24,000-sq.-ft. shopping center, which includes structured parking as well as a parking lot on the roof of one of the 2 buildings.

A full human-body-part-focused buildout for this planned complex at 2401 N. Shepherd Dr. isn’t so far-fetched: the latest renderings released for the development include generic signage for both a nail salon and a fitness club:

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Body Shop to Body Shopping
03/09/18 4:45pm

With a few exceptions, new buildings are required to sit back 25 ft. from their property lines along major thoroughfares in Houston —  lending the city’s feeder roads, for example, their familiar drive-right-up demeanor. But the Gold Quest Group wants to do things a little differently along the westbound Katy Fwy. feeder, west of T.C. Jester.

The rendering at top, from architecture firm BDC Nomadas, shows the feeder-hugging 5-story office building Gold Quest is proposing: its 3 stories of offices on top of 2 garage levels are set back just 10 ft. from the property line. A 10-ft.-deep berm would block most of the lower-level parking from street view. Not pictured: the garden planned atop its roof.

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Off Shoulder
03/06/18 1:15pm

10-STORY CELL TOWER WANTS TO SPIKE UP ALONG FIFTH WARD RAILROAD TRACKS A new cell tower is proposed behind a warehouse on Schweikhardt St., just north of where the road ends at Clinton Dr. Vertical Bridge Development, an entity that manages towers for telecom companies, filed an application with the city’s Tower Commission for permission to build the 100-ft. tall structure just north of the train tracks that cross Schweikhardt late last year. The tracks are more or less the dividing line between the industrial zone that spreads out along Buffalo Bayou between Hirsch Rd. and Route 90, and the residential portion of the Fifth Ward that extends south of I-10. City rules require a waiver for towers to be built in residential neighborhoods, and in order to get one, the owner of the 1.5-acre lot where the tower is proposed argues that the parcel is deep enough for the antenna to hang back far from the road. Still, however, the nearest residential property would be just over 200 ft. away from the new sky wire. [Houston Tower Commission Agenda] Photo of signage at proposed tower site: Swamplot inbox

03/05/18 3:00pm

Changes are now slated to turn the Highland Village building at 2701 Drexel Dr. that Kate Spade took off from last year into what Sweet Paris Crepes & Café is calling its flagship location. The French pastry chain with 2 locations in Houston (and one in Mexico) plans to stuff a 136-seat restaurant into the former boutique just south of Westheimer in the fashion depicted at top, although some of those chairs will sit outside on the patio that’s planned in place of current slant parking spots. The fiery neon display behind the store’s transom window — pictured above with the lights off — will be removed, as will the lifesavers grids up above the storefront’s windows. Inside, the location’s 2,364 sq. ft. will include both a regular eating area and a private dining room.

Rendering: Sweet Paris Crepes & Café. Photo: Swamplot inbox.

Refashioned
03/01/18 4:30pm

Here’s a drawing showing some of the potential new waterways now being considered for the 35-acre tract that sits east of WetnWild SplashTowns aquatic amusement park on the North Fwy. The just-under-50-acre park opened just north of the Louetta Rd. exit off I-45 in 1984 as Hanna-Barbera Land. In 2014,  Premier Parks took the place over from Six Flags and tapped New York-based Aquatic Development Group to renovate its attractions and infrastructure — including the entrance shown above. The same firm is now brainstorming designs for the adjacent parcel, which  — when it’s hydrated — will nearly double the park’s size.

Here’s a look at some of the current waterworks from above:

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Wet’n’Expanding
02/27/18 10:30am

A new shopping center dubbed South Heights on White Oak has plans to land in the shared parking lot on White Oak Dr. just west of the former Jimmy’s Ice House at Threlkeld St. The rendering at top — taken from a leasing flyer for the development put out by Centric Commercial — views the proposed woodsy building from the north side of White Oak Dr., at the edge of the lot between Christian’s Tailgate and Barnaby’s Cafe. On the east side of the building, a deck fronted by a glass curtain wall cantilevers over a drainage ditch that runs north from White Oak Bayou through the woods between the site and the neighboring ice house.

A view across the parking lot from its southwest corner shows the low-lying area on the right:

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Low-Slung in the Heights
02/26/18 4:45pm

Last December a demolition permit was filed on the car hangar parked between Tacos A Go Go and Christian’s Tailgate on the north side of White Oak Dr. Now, a leasing flyer for a neighboring development indicates a new 244-car garage is proposed in place of the existing structure. But that lot measures only 100 by 140 ft. How could 244 parking spaces fit on a lot where fewer than 20 spots exist now?

Well, what if the owner of the property was connected to Easy Park, a developer specializing in automated parking garages? An entity associated with the developer bought the garage at 2912 White Oak in 2016 along with the strip of 3 buildings around it — that includes Tacos A Go Go, Pho Binh Heights, and Lucky Food Mart to the west, and Barnaby’s Cafe and Public House Heights to the east. The Chicago-based company manufactures parts for automated parking developments, finances them, and operates them. It’s been involved in past projects in New York, Philadelphia, Vancouver, Washington D.C., and Mexico City.

Here’s what a robo-valet with parts produced by Easy Park looks like inside The Lift at Juniper St., an 8-story, 228-car garage in Philadelphia:

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Double-Parked
02/22/18 4:30pm

Update, 7:00 pm: At the request of the copyright holder, the images of Caydon Properties’ proposed development have been removed.

The Australian company that’s already begun construction on a residential tower in place of the Mental Health and Mental Retardation Association building on the corner of Main and Tuam has plans for a pair of additional towers on the 2 blocks north of that site, along Metro’s red line. These renderings from visualization studio Large Arts show the extent of the complex — including a hotel, offices, residential space, and street-level retail fronting the rail up to McGowen St.

The rendering at top views the development from the corner of Main and Drew St. to show the new southern tower — home to a hotel — fronting Fannin while the northern one faces Main. Further up the tracks, a train pulls into the northbound McGowen St. station stop — shown lined with storefronts that sit below the north tower. An alley runs along the north end of the development, between the building and Greensheet Media’s former office — just out of view on the left at the corner of Main and McGowen.

More retail fronts the alley, adjacent to the McGowen platform:

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New Main Drag
02/22/18 11:30am

Radom Capital is entertaining 2 different ideas for the former Stages theater on the block of Rosine across D’Amico St. from its planned new complex: either a hotel or a combination of retail, restaurant, and office tenants. The developer bought Stages’ current spot in the long structure at 3201 Allen Pkwy — built in 1929 to house the Star Engraving Company — as well as the warehouse behind it last year. Renovations are now slated to begin on both the Star building and the warehouse behind it — both indicated in the site plan above — once the theater takes off in 2019.

The rendering of the warehouse at top put out by Radom shows new openings in its exterior, including a boxy balcony on its second floor and an entrance at ground level fronting D’Amico. An outdoor staircase ascends from where the greens-skinned building meets its western neighbor — the parking garage for the Reata at River Oaks condos — and heads up to a second-story entrance. Stages’ new theater sits across D’Amico, opposite a front lawn at the other end of the colorful crosswalk on the left.

Here’s a look at the new playhouse — dubbed The Gordy — sitting in its own renovated warehouse with touch ups by architecture firm Gensler:

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North Montrose Ensemble
02/21/18 3:30pm

Spear Street Capital is teasing a rendering of what it has planned for Exxon Mobil’s former Buffalo Spdwy. research campus, a new complex that takes the initials of River Oaks without daring to speak its name: The RO. The glossy new view above looks west across Buffalo Spdwy. to show 3 new highrises planted on the Upper Kirby site — the stockiest of which rests atop a 3-story windowed pedestal likely to house retail between W. Alabama and a new roadway.

The new street appears in place of the driveway that entered the 16.9-acre complex on Buffalo Spdwy. and ran just north of the 1962 building MacKie and Kamrath Architects designed for the oil giant. The aerial photo above shows what that building looked like from the south before crews began tearing at it last year. South of the new street and directly in place of the MacKie and Kamrath structure, a complex of retail buildings with upper-level patios retreats along a pedestrian corridor that starts at Buffalo Spdwy. and heads toward the 2 other highrises on the west side of the site, near Mercer St. A few outdoor seating areas front Buffalo Spdwy. — one by the footpath, another on the north side of the new street. A larger patio appears on the corner of W. Alabama.

The buildings shown shaded on the left in the rendering likely make up other additions planned for the block. Here it is viewed from its backside looking toward Buffalo Spdwy. last year:

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A Twilit View
02/14/18 11:45am

Braun Realty is gearing up to replace Johnny’s Gold Brick’s next door neighbor and redo the warehouse behind the 2 structures as part of a new retail development it has planned for the corner of Yale and Aurora. An entity connected to the developer snatched up the property on Yale — as well as a few adjacent parcels east on Aurora — last October. The site plan above taken from Braun’s leasing flyer for the complex now indicates all 3 buildings decked out with new adjacent patios. East of the buildings, a parking lot sports entrances on both Aurora and an alley that runs north of the site.

The photo at top shows the front door to Johnny’s Gold Brick next to the brown brick building that Lucas Craftsmanship contractors moved out of in 2015. Here’s the view from the corner of Yale and Aurora showing the 2-story structure that’s slated to replace the former construction office:

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Heights Corner Shake-Up
02/09/18 1:00pm

Here’s the block of land off Kirby between W. Alabama and Steel St. that H-E-B bought last month and plans to plant with a new store, across from the existing Upper Kirby Whole Foods. H-E-B’s idea, reports the Chronicle’s Paul Takahashi, is to pair up with developer Midway to build a new mixed-use complex on the site — mapped out in the middle of the survey above, just south of the block that Stolz Partners and Hanover have already divvied up for their respective Giorgetti Houston and Hanover River Oaks residential buildings. Renderings of what the grocer has planned for the site haven’t been released yet, nor have any details of its where its entrances will be. But plans submitted to the city last year for the 3.8-acre parcel dub it Kirby Crossing.

The block’s northern frontage along Steel St. is lined with dual rows of oak trees that once provided cover for the Kirby Court Apartments, torn down on both sides of Steel in 2015. South of the tree lines and the vacant field in place of the former residences behind them, a retail strip runs along W. Alabama. The photo at top looks across W. Alabama from Bed Bath & Beyond’s parking lot to view J Sussan Interiors former furniture store now repurposed as Giorgetti’s leasing office on the corner of Kirby. East of the office, Allen Cleaners does its business in a smaller building:

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Supermarket Corridor
02/07/18 1:45pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: TEXAS CENTRAL’S PARKING GARAGE ISN’T JUST A SIDE GIG “Site plans of both stations (Houston and Dallas) make it clear that the revenue model for this project isn’t selling train tickets — it’s selling parking. This site is ideal for that purpose: there’s no where nearby (walking distance) to compete for parking revenue, and it has a much cheaper land cost than Downtown. If you’re going to make the station 80 percent parking garage, why bother spending the extra money running it all the way to Downtown?” [Angostura, commenting on What Texas Central’s Proposed Houston Bullet Train Station Looks Like in Place of the Northwest Mall] Conceptual rendering of Houston bullet train station from W. 18th St.: Texas Central

02/06/18 2:00pm

RALPH BIVINS: BULLET TRAIN DEVELOPERS HAVE THE NORTHWEST MALL UNDER CONTRACT (BUT IT’S ALL A BIG MISTAKE) Veteran real estate writer Ralph Bivins reports that Texas Central already has the Northwest Mall site it proposed for Houston’s bullet train station under contract. Only a few retailers are open now in the shopping center, including the Palais Royal department store and Thompson’s Antique Center of Texas. A gas station and Burger King also sit at the northeast edge of the mall’s parking lot on the corner of W. 18th St. and the busy West Loop S. — which Bivins worries is about to get busier: “Why would anyone think it’s a good idea to be dumping an additional 10,000 or 20,000 train riders a day into the Northwest Mall area? The dumping ground that could really use them, he says, is getting snubbed: “Where is the dream for a world-class train station in downtown Houston? It should have restaurants, retail, hotels, nearby residential – and connections to light rail, buses and commuter rail.” [Realty News Report, previously on Swamplot] Conceptual rendering of bullet train station on current Northwest Mall site: Texas Central

02/06/18 10:15am

The video at top put out by Texas Central pans around the what’s now the Northwest Mall and its parking lot to show a new double-arched bullet train station and parking garage replacing them in the crotch where W. 18th St. and Hempstead Rd. meet the West Loop. Texas Central chose the 45-acre site over 2 others it was considering just south of the mall for the Houston terminus of the planned Houston—Dallas rail line. The terminal building — coded orange in the site plan above — sits between Hempstead and a new road that’s proposed just north of it. The parking garage would be located inside the gray zone indicated between W. 18th and the new street.

Elevated train tracks enter the station after crossing over a new extended segment of Post Oak Rd. Looking southeast from W. 18th St., one of Texas Central’s conceptual renderings of the site shows the tracks tracks heading into the terminal, next to the parking garage:

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Park and Ride