Coming Soon in a Much-Recycled Fannin St. Landmark: 3-Story Sports Lounge The Vanderbilt


Next up at 3704 Fannin, known to some as the old Evelyn Wilson Interiors building, The Vanderbilt Sports Lounge.

It’s a block or two from the bustling Ensemble MetroRail stop and the under-construction Mid Main mixed-use development.

Once complete, the Vanderbilt promises 55 teevees airing football, baseball, basketball, hockey, soccer, boxing, and UFC, an “upscale menu,” and a third-floor cocktail lounge with a panoramic view of the city.

The building is owned and being renovated by Cody Lutsch of Fat Properties Property, a frequent Swamplot commenter and until now, known more as a purchaser of aging Inner Loop apartment buildings.

Lutsch sent us a few pics of the Vanderbilt’s ongoing renovations, along with a few “before” shots:


Here we see it before:


And after a paint job and palm tree excision:


Now we go around to the Winbern St. side of the building, first before, back when the building was adorned with what looks like an illegal, somewhat interactive homage to I Get Wet-era Andrew WK:


And after:


Now let’s take a peek inside, into an interior once described as “beautiful, bordering on Pretty Baby bordello“:






And after:





“I’ve wanted this property for years,” Lutsch tells Swamplot. “I’d walk by when I went to Tacos a Go Go or that area. As I saw it sitting there, empty, I knew that it was most likely going to be bought by someone that was going to blow it up. Add all the work the city wanted done, and I figured it would be a goner. This is the type of place that sits there, no one wants to take it on, it rots, then someday it shows up on the Swamplot demo list and everyone gets upset and chants ‘Greedy developers!'”

The building once housed antique emporium Herzog Galleries.After Wilson retired in the 1990s, the 1930s structure has gone through a head-spinning succession of incarnations, including the restaurants Valentino’s and Route 66 Classic Cafe and nightclubs Club Level & Charlie’s Lounge, Les Deux Dior, Cobalt Lounge, Incognito Club, the Corridor, and Vivid Lounge.

Lutsch thinks the timing is right to de-jinx the location. (He’d hoped to open this month but is dealing with City of Houston red tape at the moment. “One inspection failed because the wall color chosen for the bathroom was too dark,” he says. “Never knew there were rules controlling that.”)

“Like some of the other abandoned, boarded-up places we’ve bought, I’m glad this could be saved,” he says. “Ironically the last few properties we bought in Montrose that were boarded-up were about the same age (late 1920’s, early 30’s). Oh, but while I’m glad we could save these properties, I’d be lying if I also didn’t think this was a good investment and [that’s] a major factor in my purchase.”

Photos:Robert Boyd via Facebook, (first “after” shot of exterior); Loopnet (first “before” shot of exterior); Cody Lutsch via Swamplot inbox (all others) 

Fannin The Flames

43 Comment

  • Why does the before picture look nicer than the after (exterior)? Is it the lighting?

  • I’m just curious where people are going to park? Unless you’re getting their by the rail, the neighborhood is not best to walk around at night.

  • I love it, but it seems huge. I wonder if the top floors will often be closed like how Royal Oak does it during the week.

  • The area is surrounding by what seems like half-way houses and some pretty sketchy characters…
    I’m sure the owners took that into consideration and have a plan to still attract customers.

  • I appreciate saving old buildings, but Anon is right, the before shots look better. Can’t wait for Sawyer Park to open in my area. I hope there’s a dress code!

  • The bronze stair & mezzanine railings were made in France for the Herzogs, Much of the bastardization was done during the reign of Valentino’s restaurant. The Route 66 people removed the original 3rd
    story mansard roof details and somehow illegally built & enclosed said roof structure. Connie’s Health Food got the two exterior front railings and the bronze is missing from at least one of the Winbern St
    doors. Hopefully this, Weights & Measures, Leon’s and Mongoose can start to turn the tide on that
    side of the tracks. The rooming house on Caroline has to go! How can that hellhole for men be legal?

  • It’s just Fat Property. Not “Properties”, but your forgiven :)
    There are some “before” shots that would look worse. Those were the better “before” shots I took. The paint and ext plaster was falling off. With a lot of rot.
    Sadly, you’ll see two large palms in front on the before shots. The city (or maybe centerpoint?) came by and chopped them down >:(

  • Mark it down: closed within 12 months.

    Should have left the top floor open with no windows at all for a totally-shaded-patio-on-the-roof effect. Perfect for the smokers/drinkers that keep bars in business.

  • The area is cleaning up quickly. Huge new high-end apartments recently opened a couple of blocks away. Once Mid-Main and MATCH are completed, it will be a whole different feel to the area. They are already well into construction.

    Plenty of street parking around here too – no different than Midtown but way less developed right now.

    Overall, I think a good spot and good investment.

  • I’m with you anon…I preferred the white exterior. And dare I say it…what the heck was wrong with those palm trees??

  • I love it. The exposed brick and wide open first floor are to die for, and I imagine game day will be awfully fun there. Not sure why anyone thinks the graffiti and plain white painted exterior from the before pictures looks better than the after pictures. Glad to see some historic charm saved in Houston.

  • wait, I thought this area was already changing 7 years ago and it seemed perfectly fine and hip at the time. has it still not changed enough, aren’t all of these surrounding blocks filled up bumper to bumper with cars on the weekends and tons of foot traffic? I only remember this place as the corridor so only saw the top floor, but the bottom looks really great with good bones. great part of town getting better, thanks Cody.

  • I like the after of the exterior as well. I prefer the lighter interior, but it looks like it may be the lighting. The exposed brick and columns are beautiful. I wished the parquet floor could’ve stayed, but I know that’s just the grandma in me talking.
    Can’t say I miss the palms because I have a personal vendetta against palm trees (read: previous owner decided to plant two of them less than 3 ft away from my house). I think the property looks better without them. Before I had my palms hauled away and replanted on Lake Conroe, I noticed a lot more pests on these trees as a result of their sap and required spraying in order to keep pests at bay. Also, after they reach a certain height, they can no longer be properly pruned by an individual; then you have have the dead brown fronds hanging as the tree continue to grows upwards, and it just looks like shit – as demonstrated in the picture posted. (Sorry, Cody.)

  • I miss the palm trees as well….Cody, glad it wasn’t you who removed them. We just don’t have enough street trees in these dense areas, and palms are good for that…don’t tear up sidewalks, ruin sewer/water, and look stately. Good luck with the project, and thanks for saving another building.

  • The Brookster: I tried to get the guys with chainsaws to stop but they said they were too close to power lines. Sucks. I happen to be a palm tree fan.
    This is why we couldn’t leave the exterior the way it was. Not just about the color:
    aero: I’m with you. Thanks. That whole area is being redone. It’s about 20 feet from the rail stop and there are tons of new class A apt buildings literally across the street (not to mention the giant new mixed use being put up on that corner of Main). Not to mention it’s about 5 minute walk to Montrose (depending where you are in Montrose). I walk to the building from my Montrose place all the time. Of course I cut though that “Westmoreland Oaks” (or whatever it’s called) which you may not be able to do much longer.

  • This place looks better suited for a strip club than a sports bar lounge

  • With 55 TV’s going full blast, the noise level in that place — even when it’s filled with sound-absorbing warm bodies — will be deafening! On another note, how is the new owner going to keep the daytime and after-hours homeless crowd from using the covered porch as a privy or a place to sleep?

  • Ha… I used to go Salsa dancing there on the weekends when it was Valentino’s. Even back then the place looked run down, however, I still appreciated that the old building was still standing and even came to appreciating the fact that it was not torn down already.

  • Guess swamplot isn’t the place to come for encouragement and support for new business ventures.

    I wish you the best Cody. I appreciate you giving that building new life and hope it works out for you guys!

  • Coconutbutter: The parquet floors stayed! They were in bad shape, but the Vanderbilt guys put a lot of work into saving them. In fact they’ve put a lot of work into saving a lot of the original details. The property was built in 1930 and has a lot of cool little features, when you look closely, that you don’t see in most buildings.
    Even if lobster Tacos and some of the other interesting menu items are not your thing, it’ll be a place worth checking out for sure.

  • If it wasn’t stated what was before and after I wouldn’t be able to tell what was before and what was after.

  • I’m with diggity…. Good luck, Cody!

  • How exciting! I love the cluster of bars on Mid Main and always wondered why no one’s built on the other side of Main yet. Hopefully this place will anchor an explosion of other cool nightlife choices on that side.

  • Once I was in a Restoration Hardware and I overheard a sales associate telling a customer that a certain set of ‘window treatments’ came in Graphite, Slate, Charcoal and Fog, fewer gray options than Behr provides, but certainly more than necessary. I applaud Mr. Cody’s renovation efforts, but I did like that French Quarter Fitzcarraldo vibe that white exterior was putting out there.

  • Hope this place works out just don be racist like a lot of midtown establishments…

  • Go Cody!

  • I suggest Cody throw a Swamplot happy hour for the comment section movers and shakers to drum up word of mouth.

  • Good luck! I think there is a lack of good sports bars that aren’t breast related in the SW quadrant of the loop, so I for one will be taking the train over to check it out.

  • I applaud Cody’s efforts to restore this building. Thank you!
    Just curious – how are you meeting parking requirements? Is it in the downtown zone?
    Based on your other preservation work, I am sure it will be great!

  • The property is far from finished so the pictures really should be labeled “before” and “during”.
    Also, the “before” pics were the best before pics I could use as I took them for my original listing on loopnet. The bad “before” pictures were too scary :)

  • Congrats to Cody for repurposing this building. Every time someone saves a zero-foot-setback building, a walkability angel gets its wings.

  • Did I overlook the projected opening date?

  • I think the before picture looks better because 1) it was taken on a sunny day 2) it’s a more flattering angle – doesn’t showcase the power liness 3) the palm trees 4) white paint + palm trees + blue awning is pleasing.

  • Diggity, you are right. I revise my comment accordingly: “Too dark. That said… thank you for saving this building!”

  • Cody great job! I will definitely be going and taking my friends once everything is finished.

  • I like it the grey – stands out, considering every other building in the photo frames are some shade of white, beige or sand. Best of luck, Cody!

  • Does anyone know exactly when Eveyln Wilson Interiors was in this building? She was located in my space around the corner at 3917 Main Street in the Isabella Court Building on the southwest corner. This Main Street address is listed as the address of the business on Bizapedia from the time the company was founded in November 1964. Just curious if she was in this building before or after (or during?) her time at Isabella Court. I was not aware she had two spaces.

  • The pictures of the exterior do not do it justice. I drive by this building on my way to work and I must say that before it was a run down old building in need of some work that I had worried would be lost. Now with the new paint and fixes to the details it looks fresh and better then it has in easily 10 years.

  • Nathan: thanks. Means a lot.

  • All I have to say is BRAVO Cody!