02/21/19 4:00pm

Amid the hodgepodge of roadside restaurants and retailers shown fronting the I-10 westbound feeder in the leasing map for the Village Plaza at Bunker Hill shopping center, a newcomer has cropped up: Chuy’s Tex-Mex. Its mark is shown on the 5,800-sq.-ft. portion of the building at the west side of the complex that previously housed Boudreaux’s Cajun Kitchen.

Whether the new Chuy’s is planned as a replacement or companion for the chain’s existing standalone restaurant 3 miles away on Westheimer near Gessner is anyone’s guess seeing as that location’s still doling out burritos the like. Unlike the existing spot however, the new location will have a bit of competition to contend with: Freebirds World Burrito is at the opposite end of the building it plans to move into. In the space between, Bora Bora Nails, the Sacred Heart emergency medical clinic, Clear Direct Orthodontics, Memorial Tailors, Great Clips hair salon, and skin care clinic Skin 101 fill out the rest of what’s leaseable.

Photo: Jon B. Map: Fidelis Realty

Off the Katy
02/21/19 2:00pm

Months after the chain that once operated them declared bankruptcy and retreated to Canada, the pair of empty Toys R Us stores situated almost directly opposite each other off the Katy Fwy. at Bunker Hill Rd. are getting ready to go their separate ways. Off the highway’s westbound side, the more recently vacated toy store pictured above at 9730 Katy Fwy. will give way to a new 40,000-sq.-ft. Burlington clothing store, but not entirely; its former Babies R Us portion remains unleased, as indicated by blank blue rectangle in the site plan at top of the Village Plaza at Bunker Hills shopping center.

The shopping center was brand-new when Toys R Us opened there in 2010 as a replacement for the chain’s older, standalone location at 9655 Katy Fwy., on the other side of the highway about half a mile east of Memorial City Mall. Developer Moody National bought the older Toys R Us in 2016, by which time it had been empty for just about a decade (although the building’s distinct rainbow trim is still intact). Along with an adjacent single-story retail strip and the 164-unit La Renaissance apartment complex at 970 Bunker Hill, directly west of the toy store, the developer now controls nearly 10-acres near where the I-10 feeder meets Bunker Hill Rd. (According to county records, however, the BBVA Compass bank on the corner isn’t included in that tract.)

Its plan is to swap out the apartments, strip building, and Toys R Us and put a pair of 6-story office buildings with ground-floor retail on the site:

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Toy Story
02/19/19 11:30am

Work is underway to turn the 2-story brick house Kaye Marvins Photography occupied for 70 years into a new location of Memorial Tailors, currently a 2-spot chain with shops in Cypress and the Village Plaza at Bunker Hill shopping center. The photo at top shows all the doors and windows torn out of the 1920s-era former photo building as part of the renovations that the builder Ecological Living is overseeing. Also vanished: the long green awning that once extended out from the front door to the curb on the east side of Montrose Blvd.

Here it is from across the street:

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Roseland Estates
01/30/19 11:00am

And that’s a wrap over at the 18th St. H-E-B, closed since yesterday so as not to distract from the new, double-decker H-E-B that opened today at 2300 N. Shepherd Dr. between 23rd and 24th streets. The photos above show the old store’s front entrance stripped of all red, hyphenated signage, blockaded by shopping carts, plastered with closure notices, and — in case that wasn’t enough — fronted by stack of wooden pallets with a blaze yellow flyer addressing anyone who’d still hoped to get inside. A few weeks ago, workers inside stopped restocking the aisles, slapped a few discounts on what they had left, and watched as the store’s inventory dwindled up until it shut down.

By 5 p.m. yesterday, reports a Swamplot reader, the parking lot was mostly empty:

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1511 W. 18th St.
01/23/19 5:00pm

The last remaining Sears Appliance & Hardware store in the vicinity of Houston — and one of the last dozen or so left in the country — sits in the Mason Center at the corner of S. Mason Rd. and Kingsland Blvd. out in Katy. And it’s a goner. Management began liquidating everything inside last Thursday and has been advertising discounts on its Facebook page in the days since.

The store, shown above, and its counterparts were spun off from the parent company behind full-sized Sears stores in 2012. (Along with Sears Outlets, Sears Hometown, and Sears Home Appliance Showrooms, the hardware stores are now folded under Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores, Inc., while standard Searses answer to the recently-auctioned-off Sears Holdings Corporation.) At one time, the Appliance and Hardware stores — which carry the full line of Sears hardware and appliances, but in smaller, often less urban locations — blanketed the Houston area, with spots in The Woodlands’ Panther Creek Village Center, in First Colony Marketplace off Hwy. 6 in Sugar Land, in the Northpark Plaza shopping center in Kingwood, in the Corum Station shopping center in Spring, in the Crossroads Centre in Pasadena, in the strip building off Fuqua St. just west of I-45 by Almeda Mall, and where West Rd. meets Hwy. 6 north in northwest Houston.

Statewide, the only other remaining Appliance and Hardware store is in Huntsville, at the south end of the Sears- and Target-anchored shopping center on the southbound side of I-45.

Photo: Sears Appliance and Hardware

Another One Bites the Dust
01/22/19 2:30pm

Renderings that Houston developer Sluco Realty has released of the new double-decker retail building it’s planning on Shepherd show 2 sides to what it hopes will eventually fill the structure: to the north (above) your typical ground-floor restaurant setup, and to the south (top), something a little more potentially lifesaving. For privacy’s sake, the planned urgent care clinic forgoes the windows that open up the rest of building, dubbed Heights Forum. But the all-caps signage perched atop the awning shown at top should make clear what’s going on inside.

Additional therapeutic offerings like a dance studio and martial arts dojo appear to be planned upstairs. To get there, take the highlighter-green staircase at the front of the building or the side stairwell shown below behind the restaurant:

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Heights Forum
01/22/19 11:30am

Those dark green awnings and the sign shown below are now the only exterior traces of Barnes & Noble’s multi-decade presence in the east-facing building in the Westheimer Crossing shopping center just west of Voss Rd. It’s the only business ever to inhabit the 38,700-sq.-ft. standalone structure since it went up along with the rest of the retail complex in the mid-90s.

Unlike the rest of the shopping center — now home to Academy Sports + Outdoors, Michaels, REI, Designer Shoe Warehouse, Petco, Thai Spice and a smattering of roadside fast food and retail buildings — the former bookstore is owned separately by National Retail Properties, a real estate investment trust that puts money into shopping centers across the U.S.

Photos: Rex Solomon

Epilogue
01/22/19 10:00am

BUC-EE’S HAS OPENED ITS FIRST BRANCH OUTSIDE OF TEXAS, AND MORE ARE TO COME Buc-ee’s opened its fourth location along I-10 yesterday morning at 6 a.m. . . . in Robertsdale, Alabama. With 124 gas pumps, the new 50,000-sq.-ft. store, writes the Chronicle’s Julian Gill, “is almost identical to the one that recently opened in Katy,” except it doesn’t have a car wash. Next up: another out-of-state Buc-ee’s in Daytona Beach, Florida according to the Daytona Beach News-Journal, whose reporter Clayton Park notes that it too will have a 120-pump setup. “Plans also show a 125-foot-tall sign pole for Buc-ee’s,” he adds, “featuring the head of a cartoon beaver above the word ‘Daytona.’” [Houston Chronicle] Photo of Lake Jackson Buc-ee’s: Judy Baxter [license]

01/17/19 2:15pm

Jim McIngvale, more widely known as Mattress Mack, told radio host Michael Berry this morning on KTRH that Gallery Furniture’s 30,000-sq.-ft. store at 2411 Post Oak Blvd., shown above, will close following the end of its lease in a year. “The traffic went down by half because they tore up the road,” said Mack, referring to the construction on the new Uptown BRT that now has the street peppered with blaze orange cones and barricades. Gallery Furniture opened the Uptown location in 2009 inside what used to be a Pier One at the Post Oak Shopping Center. The closure will bring the chain down to 2 branches: the one in Richmond off the Grand Pkwy. and its original spot on I-45.

Photo: Isiah Carey

Mattress Pad Available
01/16/19 4:00pm

The shopping center at the southwest southeast corner of Montrose Blvd. and 59 known as Chelsea Market has just recently gotten the chain-link wraparound, as shown above from the west (top) and east (above). Its days had been numbered ever since plans showing a Broadstone apartment tower in place of the 3-building retail complex surfaced online last year.

Renderings of the tower, to be named Broadstone Museum District, show it rising 16-stories high:

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Montrose Blvd. at 59
01/16/19 1:45pm

Like some kind of otherworldly brand ambassador, this large larger-than-life-sized inflatable now looks dutifully out over the strip center parking lot off Belway 8 and Woodforest Blvd., its antennae twitching in the wind. The building it tops — home to Jenny Nails II, J Donuts, Betlway Beverage, Dominos, a hair salon, and Boost Mobile — was once part of the Randalls-anchored retail complex dubbed the Eastbelt Centre that stopped being a thing when Galena Park ISD moved its administrative offices into the supermarket’s building nearly 2 decades ago.

That converted structure lies just next door to the strip building . . .

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Roadside Attractions of Beltway 8
01/14/19 10:45am

A Swamplot reader perched up in the SkyHouse Main Apartments has been documenting the evolving scene 3 blocks away from his living room, where the block once home to U-Haul Moving and Storage of Midtown at San Jacinto now completely demolished — is now giving rise to a larger, replacement U-Haul building. The photo at top looks east down Pease St. to show workers planting the earth with beams for the new structure. On the left, you can see what the previous moving and storage building looked like during its final stand at the end of last year.

The demolished building consisted of 28,376 sq.-ft. for self-storage, moving supplies retail, and truck parking. Building permits filed for its replacement indicate it’ll be 220,160-sq.-ft.:

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Downtown Block 348
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

01/04/19 1:15pm

Sure, there’s been a whole lotta talk lately about how In-N-Out Burger is on its way to the redo of Texas Instruments’ 192-acre Stafford campus that developers have dubbed The Grid. But what about those not-yet-named retailers that renderings put out by Gensler, the architect for the project, show taking over the air conditioning towers that TI left behind at the site? The photo above shows what those decommissioned cooling units looks like right now.

They sit behind the centerpiece of the site, TI’s abandoned office building:

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Adaptive A/C Reuse
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