08/04/16 10:30am

Demolition of Kicks Indoor Soccer, 611 Shepherd Dr., Rice Military, Houston

Here’s a view of the scene this morning at 611 Shepherd Dr., which until late last year was the home of Kicks Indoor Soccer. The metal structure that housed the indoor artificial-turf field and bar is being kicked to the curb in anticipation of a new apartment complex planned by Mill Creek Residential, which is now in control of the full block bounded by Shepherd, Floyd, Blossom, and Durham, lodged between Rice Military and Magnolia Grove.

Photo: Mosaic Clinic

Kicks Out
08/01/16 4:30pm

Revised Plans for Heights Central Station, Heights Blvd. at 11th St., Houston Heights

Fresh from the architects (Kirksey), here are revised plans (above) for Heights Central Station, the retail-and-office center MFT Interests is planning for the site at the corner of Heights Blvd. and 11th St. (and Yale) in the Heights where the former main post office for the Heights still sits, awaiting its fate. And whaddya know, the strip-mall-style parking that in the previous plan for the new development was shown fronting Yale and 11th St. has now been stripped away, allowing twin 10,000-ish-sq.-ft. 2-story buildings to front 11th St., right on up to the sidewalk:


Heights Station
08/01/16 1:00pm

Exxon Gas Station with McDonald's, 11035 Katy Fwy., Wilchester, Houston

Exxon Gas Station with McDonald's, 11035 Katy Fwy., Wilchester, Houston

Do not mourn the Exxon station with the McDonald’s inside on the eastbound feeder road of the Katy Fwy. Yes, there’s a new fence around the property, and it’s about to be demolished. But the replacement is well worth waiting for: It’ll be a brand new Exxon station — with a brand new McDonald’s! Ah, but the more things stay the same, the more they change: A reader who contacted the burger chain’s regional office reports the new McDonald’s will sport McDonald’s “next generation” design, and will feature free wifi when it opens — around mid-October Election Day.

Photos: Swamplot inbox

Exxon and McDonald’s, Together Again
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.


Nearing Launch at Allen’s Landing
03/02/16 10:15am

New HSPVA Building at Austin St. and Texas Ave., Downtown, Houston, 77002

The first act of construction of the new downtown facilities for the High School for Performing and Visual Arts featured an extended solo by a lone excavator supported by a small cluster of white vehicles, per photos of the site released yesterday. Work on the former parking lot bounded by Austin, Capitol, Caroline, and Rusk streets got the go-ahead in late February now that some budget issues are settled, according to HISD.

Here’s a ground-level shot that introduces a few more characters to the production — in this scene, the Excavator meets with the Man in Yellow, as a Blue Semi observes in stony silence:


Encore on Austin St.
02/16/16 4:17pm

Rendering of Slowpokes Coffee and Wine Bar, 1203 W. 34th St., Garden Oaks, Houston, 77018

Remodeling is underway at the former Primary Purpose Alcoholics Anonymous meeting space, as Suite D of the strip center at 1203 W. 34th St. is converted into Slowpokes wine, beer, and coffee bar. The new business is busy building its digital presence as it rehabs its physical space just south of the corner with Alba Rd.

The bar’s Instagram page shows the above photo of a screenshot of a rendering of the suite under renovation, which depicts a large patio spreading out into what is currently the strip center’s parking lot. Photos of carpet removal and wishful floor-taping have also been posted as interior construction begins:


Repurposed in Garden Oaks
12/22/15 3:45pm

Hobby Airport New Parking Garage, 7800 Airport Blvd, Houston, TX 77061

Direct flights to Cuba from the US are back on the table (probably, eventually) per last week’s agreement between Havana and the State Department — and whenever that happens, Southwest Airlines is looking to get in on the action from its newly-minted international concourse at Hobby Airport. The concourse has been launching passengers to Central America and the Caribbean since its mid-October opening, which marked the airport’s return to the international game for the first time since IAH opened in 1969.

Other major additions to Hobby include a 3,000-spot parking garage (shown above) still partially under construction on one of the former EcoPark lots, just west of the original garage (now labeled the Red Garage). The new structure (known as the Blue Garage) is rising in phases: Phase I opened just in time for Thanksgiving, and the rest of the structure should be ready to receive rather less anxious travelers some time next year. The pedestrian bridge shown in the photo above connects Level 3 of the new garage to the newly-expanded Terminal area:


Park and Fly
12/08/15 11:30am

Melrose Building, 1121 Walker St., Houston, 77002

After more than 2 decades of abandonment, the Melrose Building at 1121 Walker is getting some TLC: a total makeover as part of conversion of the building to a Le Meridien hotel. Permits were issued the week of Thanksgiving to begin a complete overhaul of the interior; the exterior will receive an update as well.

The remodel will attempt to restore the youthful good looks of Houston’s oldest Modern skyscraper — as shown in the rendering below, the renovation will bring back the building’s original color scheme:


Going Retro
12/01/15 1:30pm

Meteor, 2306 Genesee St, Montrose, Houston

Wholesale changes could be coming to East Montrose next summer, if all goes according to the grand lower-Fairview plans of restaurateur-turned-developer Fred Sharifi. The stated goal for his latest development — planned along 3 blocks of Fairview stretching from Taft to Genesee — is to bring a little more diurnal activity to the area, better known for its narrow, potholed streets and vibrant nightlife. That nightlife seems likely to dim, as the new plans call for the eventual extinguishing of Meteor, a mainstay of Houston’s drag community.

“We are not going to have any bars in the neighborhood,” Sharifi recently told Mark Boyle of KPRC, apparently classifying his own Max’s Wine Dive on Fairview at Taft as either beyond the neighborhood or not a bar. Sharifi’s other nearby holdings on Fairview include Gratifi and Cuchara, the Mexico City-style restaurant with rule cards for kiddos.

A 5- or 6-story parking garage perched atop 10,000 sq. ft. of office and retail space (labeled “E” in the rendering below), is proposed for the Meteor site at 2302-2308 Genesee St.:


East Montrose Overhaul
07/10/15 2:00pm

CVS Pharmacy Under Construction, 3112 S. Shepherd Dr., Westlawn Terrace, Houston

CVS Pharmacy Under Construction, 3112 S. Shepherd Dr., Westlawn Terrace, HoustonThe new CVS Pharmacy that’s replacing a couple of former veterinary clinics on W. Alabama — as well as the Shepherd Corner shopping center that until late last year housed Roeder’s Pub, Ruchi’s Taqueria, and Oaks Cleaners — is almost ready to show off the 40 shiny new parking spaces that will front the S. Shepherd Dr. corner a block south from the Trader Joe’s-ified Alabama Theater.

Don’t worry that parking will be scarce, though — more spaces will be available along the side and back of the new building, which faces S. Shepherd Dr. behind 2 full parking lanes. If you’re looking for a development that might be a little more street-fronting, you’ll have to wait: Construction hasn’t even begun yet on the fast-food drive-thru planned for the adjacent former site of jewelry store Fly High Little Bunny; it’ll go in where the big pile of dirt is, at the left of this photo:


07/08/15 4:45pm

Construction Trailer for Freddy's Frozen Custard and Steakburgers, 1111 N. Dairy Ashford St., Memorial, Houston

From the street, a Swamplot reader notes, the roll-on vehicle pictured here looks just like your typical construction trailer. But come around the side you can see the banner pinned to it, announcing a new Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers. The latest link in the growing fast-food chain is about to arrive on the former site of the Lucky Village Chinese Buffet that was torn down at 1111 N. Dairy Ashford last year. The new Freddy’s between St. Mary’s Ln. and Barryknoll will join a parade of beef purveyors (Sam’s Burgers, Lynn’s Steakhouse, Hebert’s Specialty Meats) and fast-food joints (Jack-in-the-Box, Sonic, and the Raising Cane’s right next door) lining the west side of Dairy Ashford, roughly opposite Spring Branch ISD’s AstroTurf-lined Darrell Tully Stadium.

Photo: Brian Walz

07/08/15 2:15pm

Demolition of Strip Center at 4122 Willowbend Blvd., Willowbend, Houston

The 1959 strip center that once hid the top-secret bar known as Carolyn’s — as well as the Fruit of the Spirit Community Church — is all gone now. Demolition crews tore down the 18,600-sq.-ft. center at 4122 Willowbend Blvd. 3 blocks west of S. Main St. last week and the week before (see in-action shots below, sent to Swamplot by an area resident). And in late May, the planning commission approved a couple of variances to allow the all-in-a-line seeding of 29 3-story townhomes on the lot, in 2 rows facing Willowbend, like so:


Summer Crop
07/08/15 12:15pm

Sign Advertising 3003 Louisiana, 3003 Louisiana St., Midtown, Houston

Here’s the sign that went up at the southwest corner of Anita and Milam in Midtown late last month — at the northern end of the block where the empty hull of Van Loc still sits, reminding you of bún gone by. It’s advertising a 16-story office tower on the full block, with 3 separate retail spaces on the ground floor and a 6-level parking garage above. Senterra Real Estate Group’s website for 3003 Louisiana first appeared online last October — just as the Midtown Vietnamese restaurant was closing up shop. The view shown in the rendering is taken from Anita St., to show off the north-facing Downtown views available from the structure’s 9 office floors.

Photo: Marco Hernandez

3003 Louisiana
07/02/15 1:00pm

Westbury Square, West Bellfort Ave. Near Chimney Rock Rd., Westbury, Houston

Westbury Square, West Bellfort Ave. Near Chimney Rock Rd., Westbury, HoustonConfirming a rumor Swamplot noted last week, the HBJ’s Roxana Asgarian reports that “one of the largest residential developers in Houston” has plans to transform two-thirds of the site of former pedestrian shopping district Westbury Square into 100 to 125 townhomes. Camelot Realty Group’s Tom Cervone tells Asgarian a group of developers going by the name of Villas at Westbury Square has the property on West Bellfort near Chimney Rock and West Bellfort under contract from its longtime owner, Alfred Antonini.

All 11 remaining Westbury Square buildings — including the longtime home of the Company OnStage theater group — will be torn down in 30 days, the real estate agent says. Two of the more dilapidated structures from the complex were demolished last year; the Home Depot next door (visible in the distance in the photo below) was built on land that previously belonged to the complex.


06/30/15 11:15am

1055 Gessner Rd., Energy Gateway District, Spring Branch, Houston

What looks to be the last structure standing in the way of MetroNational’s hush-hush Energy Gateway District project across I-10 from its headquarters is now ready for its exit. The 32-year-old PoMo style strip center at 1055 Gessner Rd., which formerly housed an HPD substation, Terrace Limousine, and the Asiana Garden restaurant, appears fenced off and ready for demolition in this photo sent to Swamplot by a reader. The center stands at the far northern end of the 24-acre property, which — following the city’s approval of a variance request last month — will be bisected by the extension of Mathewson Ln. to Gessner Rd. from Conrad Sauer Rd.

Photo: Bayan Raji

Going Soon