04/19/18 11:30am

CLEANUP CREWS NOW POLISHING DOWNTOWN HOUSTON’S MOST FAMOUS ABANDONED BUILDING A reader in the KBR Tower 2 blocks east of the former Days Inn at 801 St. Joseph Pkwy. reports sightings of several different crews that have appeared outside the north face of the hotel within the past week. A pair of crane trucks have been parked at the foot of the hotel’s garage, and a swing-stage scaffold is hanging near the top of the podium. Also noted: Workers have cleared out debris from inside the garage, and accumulated trash has been removed from the pool of the 31-story hotel-turned-Vedic-school. [Previously on Swamplot] Photo: Kimberly Knight

04/18/18 4:30pm

One week oil and gas equipment warehouse just north of the Katy that Work America Capital is converting into a place of business has been partially skinned. Its street-fronting side is now open and the illuminated sign that spelled out the Surefire Industries name atop the front entrance has been replaced with Burton Construction’s unlit banner.

Work America says the structure at 1336 Brittmoore will anchor a 25-acre business campus it’s developing, dubbed The Cannon. It’s slated to include co-working offices, as well as an event center, athletic facility, restaurants, retail and some sort of living space.

Here’s a view of what the barn-like structure will look like re-sided and with new windows:

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The Cannon
04/13/18 5:00pm

Crews are now peeling back the corrugated metal paneling that covers over the original façade of the Sears building on the corner of Main and Wheeler, exposing some of the 1930s art deco details underneath. The plain skin was added onto the 4-story structure in the 1960s. It remained in place after the company that manages Rice University’s endowment bought out Sears’ lease on the property 6 months ago and the department store closed in January.

Yesterday, Mayor Turner announced that an extensive redo of the building — overseen by Hines and designed by Gensler along with New York-firm James Carpenter — would transform it into a startup incubation center, the anchor of a 4-mile “innovation corridor” planned between Downtown and the med center. The vertical mosaic pattern pictured above on the south side of the building is one of the first hidden touches to see the light of day as part of the work that’s now beginning to restore the exterior.

Also uncovered is the row of metal beams used to mount the outer shell:

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Art Deco Unveiling
04/13/18 3:00pm

The former Haliburton manufacturing plant at 1907 Sabine St. is now the eighth structure to take on a post-industrial life by joining the group of First Ward art buildings collectively dubbed Sawyer Yards. Developer Jon Deal oversaw the redo of what he’s now calling Sabine Street Studios. Its new look consists of freshly-installed siding as well as added clerestory windows and doors along the parking lot on the corner of Silver and Spring streets. Spring Street Studios — another Sawyer Yards building — is just north across the street.

To the south, the building spans the entirety of Shearn St. between Silver and Sabine:

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Done Deal
04/13/18 12:15pm

What’s going on at Greenway Plaza besides the coming Lifetime Fitness and the patio addition west of Edloe? A new covered walkway now traverses the complex’s Fountain Green — linking buildings 9 and 11 to each other at ground level. The path divides the quadrant into 2 separate lawns: one to the north where the fountain pictured at top bubbles up behind the row of flags that line Richmond. The other, to the south, is a smaller strip along City Club Dr.

A rendering of the renovated plaza from its then-owner Parkway (which was bought by the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board last year) shows the full partition:

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Office Park Pathway
04/12/18 1:00pm

Coming soon to the strip of vacant 1920s storefronts along Main — catty-corner to the Greyhound bus station at Webster St. and directly north of the Shell station at Hadley: a new bar dubbed Pour Behavior. The 12,600-sq.-ft. building — once home to the Houston Spinal Pain Center, Ambassador Shoe Repair, Liviko’s Printing, Gold & Silver Buyers & Sellers, and the Salvation Army — sits on just over 3 quarters of an acre. A parking lot neighbors it on the corner of Travis and Webster where Downtown Body Shop was demolished a couple of years ago.

The aerial above pictures the whole property with some two-tone manipulation courtesy of the Oxberry Group, which had — but dropped — plans to redevelop it and bring in new restaurants and retailers a few years after the auto shop vanished. A new developer bought the building last year. The rendering above — released on Facebook by the bar’s proprietors last week — views the building from the corner of Travis and Webster streets and shows a patio fronting the current parking lot. Further down Webster to the east, a few windows reopen what was once the entrance to Webster St. Pharmacy, adjacent to the parking lot.

Here’s what the Salvation Army’s front face next to the gas station looked like before it closed:

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Pour Behavior
04/06/18 4:30pm

Aside from some interior remodeling and roof repairs, the 5,362-sq.-ft. Hilliard House on Del Monte Dr. has been mostly untouched since J. Leon Osborn built it in 1936. According to the city planning department’s historical commission: “no updates to any electrical, structural or other systems have been performed.” In February, that commission approved the owners’ application to tack an extra 3,000-sq.-ft. onto the backside of the structure. The portion they’re now set to build — adjacent to a new pool — will include a network of new living rooms on the first floor and a new master bedroom suite with an adjacent office and exercise room upstairs. An added 2-car garage should also bring the property’s parking situation up to modern speed; right now, the only garaging option is a carriage house.

The site plan above shows how the building will sit on its almost-21-acre just-over-half-acre lot after the add-on — designed by Rogelio Carrasco — is complete. Nearly everything running back adjacent to the pool is new.

Right now, the house’s backyard stretches straight back behind the rounded side tower:

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Hilliard House
03/27/18 12:00pm

The massive illuminated crosses that once adorned the St. Joseph Professional Building next to the Pierce Elevated have been stripped from the structure’s east and west sides by its new-ish owner, but haven’t yet been removed from the block. West of the tower and adjacent to the highway, the fenced enclosure pictured above now holds the de-crucified metal parts along with the Scrabble-like remnants of the lettering that once spelled out the building’s name below the crosses.

The scrap yard borders the surface parking lot that fronts the 135,586-sq.-ft. building’s garage podium on La Branch St.:

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Cross-Word Jumble
03/23/18 12:45pm

Workers are now applying paint to the 5-level garage stump of the former Americana building at 811 Dallas St. Over the last year, the 10-story office tower that sat atop the southern half of the garage was removed.

9-in. aluminum louvers were added to the portion of the parking podium pictured above on the corner of Dallas and Travis streets during a renovation in 2000. That exterior layer was stripped off as part of the recent work on the building, however, exposing the original clay block surface underneath.

30,000-or-so-sq.-ft. of ground-floor retail are also receiving touch-ups as part of the current work on the property.

Photos: Drew (parking garage); Boxer Property (Americana)

Clay Tile Refresh
03/22/18 9:45am

The building on the corner of Montrose Blvd. and Bomar St. is showing signs of rebranding as Les Ba’get’s owners prepare to open a new, more pho-friendly joint in its place — dubbed Les Noo’dle. February 2 was closing day for the original Vietnamese restaurant; it’s now getting situated in a new Oak Forest shopping center on Ella Blvd. where it will double its space.

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Apostrophe Intact
03/21/18 12:00pm

In the wake of Snooze, 2 more businesses with names suggesting AM activities are on their way to the new Lowell Street Market on 18th St. between Shepherd and Durham. Radom Capital began transforming the 3-building former warehouse complex in something retail- and restaurant-ready back in 2016. Since then, Snooze  has been the only restaurant to open in the development.

Building permits filed for the empty spots neighboring Snooze and Smoosh now show reveal the name of a third eatery that could be on its way to 718 W. 18th St.: Teapresso Bar. The Hawaiian tea shop chain has most of its current locations on Oahu, with a few on Maui as well. Lowell Street Market would be its first step onto the mainland.

The site plan below indicates all 3 buildings in the complex:

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The Early Risers
03/20/18 12:30pm

Crews are now digging a hole through the middle of the Sojourn Heights church campus off Gostick St., south of Aurora in Sunset Heights. The rendering above looks west across Gostick to show the fenced-off lawn that will eventually grow in place of the demolished building. The new green space is bookended by renovated street-fronting structures and backed by a smaller addition that’s planned on the far west side of the just-over-an-acre church property.

Before the takedown got started yesterday, the complex consisted of 3 buildings that lined Gostick:

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Prayer Semi-Circle
03/13/18 4:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHAT’S STILL MISSING FROM THE TOP OF THE CENTRAL SQUARE PLAZA REDO “After all the beautiful exterior enhancements, does Claremont plan to update and restore functionality of the enormous electronic retro clock on top of the building? The building now looks so nice. I can’t believe the clock sitting on top has not been restored, paint peeling off and not turned on, especially when it completes the whole retro-mod feel of the entire project.” [Unsure About This, commenting on Midtown’s Redone Central Square Plaza Looking To Lure Tenants to Its Empty Ground Floor] Photo of former Central Square Plaza clock: meltedplastic [license]

03/12/18 4:00pm

A building permit filed recently on the Central Square Plaza complex that takes up the block of Travis St. between Gray and Webster reveals Kraftsmen Coffee as the latest restaurant slated for the renovated tower’s empty ground floor. Work to install plumbing for the 1,768-sq.-ft. space that the owners of coffee shop plan to take over began last year.

The photo at top views the west portion of the building’s ground floor, which sits about halfway down the block on Gray St. and faces Milam. A parking garage is off-camera to the right. Around the corner — on the building’s north side — a TABC flyer for Malawi’s Pizza still hangs in the window of the empty storefront on Gray where it was originally posted back in 2016:

 

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Kraftsmen Coffee
03/09/18 12:45pm

Crews are now clearing out the northern portion of the strip center at the corner of Airline Dr. and Parker Rd. that Kroger departed last year. The photo at top, sent in by a Swamplot reader, shows the no-longer-automatic doors fronting the former grocery store space next door to Tostada Regia, Yumar Beauty Salon, Texans Discount Liquor, and others.

A building permit filed just over a week ago on location at 6749 Airline lists its occupant as El Ahorro. The grocery chain specializing in Mexican foodstuffs already has one nearby spot in Northline — on Irvington Blvd. just north of Berry Rd.

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Dietary Cleanse