01/15/19 11:00am

MIDTOWN APARTMENT DEVELOPER COULD OUTDO ITSELF ON THE OTHER SIDE OF LA BRANCH ST. The developer with a 7-story apartment complex underway at 2111 Austin St. “is debating putting a 12- or 20-story high-rise on a second piece of land” across the street,” its president tells the HBJ’s Fauzeya Rahman. Winther Investments bought both the formerly vacant parcels in 2013 and broke ground on the first project last June. It’s going up catty-corner southwest of the St. Josephs Professional Building off the Pierce Elevated. [HBJ ($)]

01/14/19 1:15pm

NEW TEXAS SENATE BILL: IF HOME LIES IN ANY FLOOD ZONE, SELLER MUST SAY SO State Senator Joan Huffman filed a bill last Friday that, if passed, would require sellers to tell buyers if their homes are located in a 100- or 500-year floodplain, a reservoir, or a flood pool — the area next to a reservoir that’s expected to fill up with water during major flooding events (but that most were unaware of until reporters blew the lid on their existence in late 2017). The bill, S.B. 339, would also force owners to disclose whether the home they’re listing has flooded before, whether it might flood under “catastrophic circumstances,” and if it’s located less than 5 miles downstream from a reservoir. “If a seller doesn’t disclose the information,” reports the Texas Tribune’s Kiah Collier, “the law would allow buyers to terminate the contract — or sue.” [Texas Tribune] Photo of flooding at Creech Elementary School, Katy, near Barker Reservoir: Breta Gatlin

01/11/19 12:00pm

BELLAIRE FOOD STREET SCRAPS FOOD HALL PLANS, WILL GO FULL STRIP-STYLE INSTEAD The 10,000-sq.-ft. food hall that had been planned as part of the 24,000-sq.-ft. pan-Asian restaurant building just in side Beltway 8 dubbed Bellaire Food Street will not come to be, reports Eater’s Alaena Hoestetter. Instead, that space will be used to give a 3 more not-yet-named restaurant their own individual storefronts. So far 10 restaurants — Shi Miao Dao, Fat Ni BBQ, Peppery Lunch, Beard Papa’s, Popfancy, Migo, Meet Fresh, Waistation, Chatime, and a South Korean coffee chain called Tom N Toms that serves a “baked sweet potato latte” — have been announced as tenants. Upstairs is reserved for developer Kevin Kan’s office. [Eater Houston; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Bellaire Food Street

01/10/19 9:30am

ALDI IS MAKING ITS MOVE AT THE CROWDED CROSSROADS OF WESTHEIMER AND S. GESSNER Aldi punched its ticket for entry into the Tanglewilde Center yesterday by filing a building permit to convert the closed 21,300-sq.-ft. Batie’s Ace Hardware at 9525 Westhimer into a supermarket. It’ll be the third grocery store within a 2,000-ft. radius of the intersection of Westheimer and S. Gessner Rd. Randall’s sits at the northeast corner, and Kroger is just west of the crossroads. The hardware store being converted closed down late last year. [Previously on Swamplot] Photo: Swamplot inbox

01/09/19 4:30pm

MEMORIAL PARK GOLFERS WORRY THAT JUST-APPROVED COURSE REDESIGN COULD MESS UP THEIR HANDICAPS Houston’s city council just approved that $13.5 million plan to redesign the Memorial Park Golf Course so that the Houston Open can be held there in 2020. The vote passed unanimously at city hall this morning, but not before a few course regulars had a chance yesterday to vent about how the upgrades will skew the playing field: “I want to be an average Houstonian who plays with everybody else on the same level,” said Joseph Kratoville, who’s out there 4 or 5 times a week, adding that in its present state, the course is “the anti-country club. I get to meet people from all walks of life.” Baxter Spann, whose firm Finger Dye Spann renovated both the Memorial Park and Gus Wortham courses previously, spoke similarly: “I’m concerned that the focus may be on making this a tour-level course without adequate regard for the everyday golfer,” he told the council. The course closes tomorrow, although the driving range and on-site Becks Prime will remain open. It’ll need to be back open by November 1 in order for the PGA Tour stop to be held there the following year, report the Chronicle’s David Barron and Robert Downen. Meanwhile, 2019’s Houston Open will take place at the Golf Club of Houston (in Humble) like it has since relocating there in 2003. [Houston Chronicle] Rendering: Nelson Byrd Woltz

01/09/19 10:30am

IS ANOTHER HOUSTON FOOD HALL ON ITS WAY TO RICE VILLAGE? Whispers of a forthcoming food hall at University Blvd. and Morningside Dr. have been audible ever since Trademark Property put out renderings in 2016 showing the eastern Rice Village Arcade building there rebranded as “Rice Village Market.” Since then, the building’s remained mostly untouched, but now, with the help of one particularly sharp fact-finder over on HAIF, Eater’s Alaena Hoestetter offers this detail: “the forthcoming project,” she writes, “is from the same entity responsible for St. Roch Market in New Orleans.” It would be the second third time St. Roch’s operators attempted to branch out beyond their native NOLA. Last February, the food hall’s parent company opened an “identically named spinoff in Miami,” writes Hoestetter, prompting the City of New Orleans to file a lawsuit alleging unauthorized use of the moniker. The company’s principle later “confirmed to Eater that the new project wouldn’t bear the St. Roch moniker,” reports Hoestetter, though the suit is ongoing. (No final word yet on what another St. Roch spinoff planned for Chicago will be called.) In Rice Village, company representatives appear to be playing it safe so far: The LLC they established in Texas last September is known simply as Rice Village F&B. [Eater Houston via HAIF; previously on Swamplot] Rendering: Trademark Property

01/08/19 2:15pm

OTHER LOCAL RECIPIENTS OF THE UAE’S HARVEY FOREIGN AID CHECK: LIBRARY, HOMELESS SHELTER, KIDS HEALTH SQUAD Also receiving a chunk of that $6.5 million check that the United Arab Emerites announced its cutting Houston: the city’s Flores Neighborhood Library branch at 110 N. Milby St. It’s been closed since Harvey, but the books and equipment inside the building at Milby and Canal are mostly in decent shape, a spokesperson for Councilwoman Karla Cisneros told the Chronicle‘s Alyson Ward last summer. (The floor and drywall, she says, are another story.) $800,000 will go toward repairs as well as “upgrades to the library’s programming and computer lab and the purchase of new furniture,” according to the city’s press release. Beyond the library, a new homeless shelter to be built in an unspecified location will also get in on the UAE aid money: $2 million of it. Dubbed The Navigation Center, it’ll provide temporary housing for folks waiting on somewhere else more permanent and will also function as a disaster recovery shelter during storms. And last but not least, Houston’s health department is getting $1.1 million, which it’ll use to fight environmentally-induced illnesses in children. How so? By bringing its asthma education program into 3 more ISD schools, testing kdis for blood lead poisoning, and creating a new illness screening team its calling the Children’s Environmental Health Mobile Unit. [City of Houston] Photo: Houston Public Library

01/08/19 11:45am

TIMBERGROVE H-E-B TO CLOSE JUST AHEAD OF SHEPHERD H-E-B’S END-OF-MONTH OPENING January 29 will be the last day of service at the 1511 W. 18th St. H-E-B, reports The Leader’s Landan Kuhlman. And the next day, he writes, H-E-B’s new double-decker location at 2300 N. Shepherd Dr. will open just under a mile away (with legally-offered beer and wine on the shelves). It’s the second 2-story store the grocer has opened in Houston — the first was in Bellaire — and has been in the making between 23rd and 24th streets since late 2017, by which time the block had been devoid of its former Fiesta tenant for over a year. A third H-E-B of the same breed is currently on the rise in Meyerland Plaza. [The Leader; previously on Swamplot] Photo of new H-E-B at 2300 N. Shepherd Dr.: Brandon DuBois

01/07/19 3:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THERE’S A BIG ORANGE ARROW OF DEMOLITIONS POINTING TOWARD DOWNTOWN “Play around with the zoom level on the map while centered roughly on the Galleria. What you find will shock you (or probably not if you’re a regular here).” [TimP, commenting on Every Houston Demolition of 2018, Mapped; previously on Swamplot]

01/04/19 10:00am

NINTH HOUSTON-AREA SPROUTS DEBUTS IN SUGAR LAND THIS MONTH Workers are putting the finishing touches on the Sprouts Farmers Market inside Sugar Land’s new University Commons Shopping Center off 59, a 150,000-sq.-ft. complex that includes everything depicted in the rendering above, plus a whole extra crop of retailers and restaurants that are already open on the other side of University Blvd. The grocery store’s opening date: January 16, at which time it’ll become the ninth Sprouts store operating in the Houston area (and the only second one in Fort Bend County). About 150 new hires will be on duty inside following a successful job fair Sprouts hosted on December 6 at the Hilton Garden Inn Houston-Sugar Land just up the street in the University Plaza shopping center. [Houston Chronicle] Site plan of University Commons Shopping Center Phase II: Capital Retail Properties

01/02/19 3:45pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE DIAGONAL LINE BETWEEN FIRST WARD AND SIXTH “. . . Congress Street was used as a boundary in the ward system, but that boundary, extended, does not run along Washington Avenue. It instead runs well north of Washington. A look at 1913 and 1920 maps of Houston that designate the wards shows this . . . The upshot: That church is 6th Ward, not 1st.” [Houstonreader, commenting on Vatican’s ‘Supreme Court’ Rules Shuttered First Ward Church Must Reopen, But It Hasn’t Yet] Section of 1920 Houston street map: Houston Past

01/02/19 10:30am

LEAGUE CITY’S LONGHORN CATTLE MUSEUM REOPENS All bovine exhibits at the house-turned-museum-and-events-venue at 1220 Coryell St. are now back on view following months of renovations to address flood damage, reports the Chronicle’s Jennifer Bolton. Opened in 2009, The Butler Longhorn Museum, focuses specifically on the iconic cattle breed and the 19th century efforts of the Butler family, members of which helped save the animals from extinction through work on their land in what’s now League City, Kemah, Friendswood, and a few mainland portions of Galveston County. “While most of the exhibits could be — and were — redone, there were murals painted on the downstairs walls of the museum that had to be torn apart,” reports Bolton. Also out of commission: a separate education building that sits on the same 10 acres as the museum itself. [Houston Chronicle] Photo: Butler Longhorn Museum

12/28/18 4:00pm

HOW TIKI ISLAND CAME TO BE, AND TO BE CALLED TIKI ISLAND “I wanted to call it” — wait for it — “Buccaneer Bay,” says the peninsula’s developer Welcome Wilson Sr. in a recent interview with the Chronicle‘s Nancy Sarnoff. For all its alliterative charm, however, Wilson’s business partner Bill Sherrill vetoed the suggestion, and Wilson dropped it because he owed Sherrill one. Indeed, it was Sherrill, Wilson tells Sarnoff, who “noticed that when we drove to Jamaica Beach” — the duo’s first project together — “he would see this land over on the right that was about 6 in. above sea level, at the causeway. So he began to wonder: Is that privately owned?” It was, by about 5 different entities, says Wilson. “So he came to me and said, ‘You know, this is 25 minutes closer to Houston than Jamaica Beach,'” adding that if they dug canals as part of the development, the resultant dirt would be enough to elevate the surrounding land. Wilson gave his sign-off and Sherrill bought the land. “Then, just as we got going,” in the late ’60s, says Wilson, “the President of the United States, Lyndon Johnson, appointed [Sherrill] to the Federal Reserve Board in Washington and he left town, sold it out to me.” But the name stuck — and was formalized when the area incorporated as The Village of Tiki Island in 1982. “It was all Bill’s idea,” says Wilson. “No question about it.” [Houston Chronicle] Photo of Tiki Island: HAR

12/28/18 10:30am

CANINO PRODUCE WILL CLOSE ON MLK DAY After 60 years in business, Canino Produce is shutting its doors,” reports KTRK. The Houston Farmer’s Market mainstay plans to stick around until January 21 and then vacate its 20,000-plus-sq.-ft. space on Airline Dr., according to its 2 owners. After that, it’ll be MLB Partners’ call what to do with the hole and how to integrate it into the touristy farmer’s market redo it’s had underway since shortly after buying the whole collection of vendors last year. [abc13; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Chris S.