12/06/16 11:00am

Former Alamo Drafthouse, 114 Vintage Park Blvd Bldg H, Ste J, Vintage Park, Houston, 77070

As of a few minutes ago, Star Cinema Grill has officially announced its purchase and takeover of the Alamo Drafthouse in Vintage Park, plus plans to redo the interior with some “modern decór”. An unusually-light-and-getting-lighter December schedule tipped some movie hounds off to an impending change, though neither company was ready to confirm anything by the end of last week; Alamo closed as Alamo for the last time on Sunday, however, and as of earlier today the theater appeared to have completed its Facebook identity swap (and to have fielded answers to at least one skeptical Alamo customer’s since-deleted commentary on the matter).

The shift knocks Alamo back down to just 1 Houston-area location in Mason Park, following several years of floated potential expansion plans for Midtown and maybe-moving-forward-again Regent Square; the Austin export still has plans listed for a new theater in Sugar Land’s Imperial Market complex. Star Cinema, meanwhile, says the Vintage Park spot will reopen under the new name by Friday, and claims the chain’ll be up to 6 Houston-ish locations by the end of 2017. 

Photo of former Alamo Drafthouse in Vintage Park: Casey W.

Vintage Update
12/06/16 8:30am

carvana

Photo of Carvana: elnina via Swamplot Flickr Pool

Headlines
12/05/16 5:00pm

Merchant, 1707 Post Oak Blvd., Uptown, Houston, 77056

The back-alley Post Oak strip center corner previously occupied by a franchise of not-quite-ice-cream purveyor Tasti D-Lite appears now to be operating under the banner of New Orleans-based Merchant Cafe, whose signature noun list was spotted over the weekend by a reader in the shopping center. The new cafe is catty-corner to Berryhill Baja Grill, and flanked by Five Guys Burgers and Fries and The UPS Store. The city planning department  started issuing permits for a remodel of the space by September of last year, though some appear to have been given the OK as recently as October. 

The vicinity’s softserve niche is currently filled by a branch of pay-by-the-pile California frozen yogurt shop Pinkberry, facing San Felipe right across Post Oak Blvd. Tasti D-Lite, meanwhile, appears to have largely pulled out of Houston altogether over the last few years, with a lone holdout franchise remaining in Katy.

Photo: jatorres

NY to NOLA
12/05/16 3:45pm

COTD: IS A LITTLE BIT OF HISTORIC PRESERVATION WORSE THAN NONE AT ALL? freedmens-town-hist-dist-marker“A little late for that. There are so many new homes and townhomes and vacant lots in the area that there is almost no historic character left. It’s a prime area for redevelopment anyway — might as well let the developers finish the job and do it right so it’s not just a hodgepodge.” [Christian, commenting on City Wants To Create Historic District To Protect What’s Left of Freedmen’s Town Historic DistrictPhoto of Freedmen’s Town Historic District sign: Freedmen’s Town Preservation Coalition

12/05/16 2:30pm

8153 River Dr., Park Place, Houston, 77017

8153 River Dr., Park Place, Houston, 77017A few readers were curious about the detached backyard room densely strewn with drawings of clowns and other cartoonish figures that made an appearance as Swamplot’s Home Listing Photo of the Day late last month. If you were waiting for more info on the property to make an offer, you’re too late — the place is already listed as under contract, along with the interior furnishings. Here’s a few more shots of the leftover memorabilia in the space, formerly known as Tootsie’s Birthday Hut:

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Hanging Around Out Back
12/05/16 12:30pm

Last Tuesday we started introducing the categories for the 2016 Swamplot Awards for Houston Real Estate — that means this Tuesday is the last day to send in nominations for the year’s first Swamplot Awards for Houston Real Estate Ribbon Logo2 awards — Favorite Houston Design Cliché and Best Demolition. You’ve got until midnight tomorrow to submit your top choices for those 2; after that, their 1-week submission windows will snap shut.

And 2 more categories will close each day after that, as the official ballots begin to roll out (stay tuned for more info on the voting process). Some of the categories that opened mid-week — that’s Best Industrial Incident, the Houston High Water Award,  the “Where Are They Now? Award, and the Swamplot Award for Special Achievement in Parking — could still use your creative keyboardery to help pack their ranks with the city’s most award-worthy contenders. And of course, nominations for the coveted 2016 Neighborhood of the Year and Greatest Moment in Houston Real Estate categories will close last — be sure to send your top picks for those by midnight on Friday. 

Making a nomination is easy — just visit any of this year’s category description pages and leave your suggestions as a comment (along with a quick explanation of why you picked it). Feel free to further elaborate on a nominee someone else has already suggested, as that’ll help it wind up on the final ballot.  Alternatively, you can email your choices to us by way of the tip line. Got any lingering questions? Check here for the official nomination guidelines.

The 2016 Swampies
12/05/16 11:30am

Construction at Shepherd and Allen st.

Now rising at 1202 Shepherd Dr., atop the former sites of the Sarco Enterprise used car lot and its various adjacent industrial-retail odds and ends: a 4-story self-storage building from Provident Realty. The Dallas-based developer (which is also behind the redo of the former Texaco building Downtown and its potential future companion highrise) bought the land in October of last year from an entity called Shepnett Holdings, which also owns the land across Nett St. at 1112 Shepherd  — on that site, the former graffiti-slathered home of relocated art and framing shop Alva Graphics is being converted into the burger restaurant initially planned for the ex-Ruggles Grill lot on Westheimer.

The Provident storage facility will be conveniently located about 4 minutes by car from the Uncle Bob’s Life Storage building that just opened along Washington Ave across from the former Wabash Feed & Garden store. A storage-atuned reader in the neighborhood sends a few more angles on the new building’s in-progress skeleton — the building extends from Nett St. toward the southern of Allen St.’s 2 parallel roadways, laid along either side of the Southern Pacific railroad line:

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Boxes of Brunner
12/05/16 8:30am

discovery-green-lights

Photo of Enchanted Promenade installation at Discovery Green: Marc Longoria via Swamplot Flickr Pool

Headlines
12/02/16 5:45pm

JUSTIN YU TO CLOSE OXHEART, SPEND SOME TIME IN THE HEIGHTS Oxheart, 1302 Nance St., Warehouse District, Downtown HoustonNext in the line of succession for the corner spot at 1302 Nance St. currently occupied by Oxheart: . . . well, something else. So says James-Beard-ed chef and owner Justin Yu, who announced today that the restaurant will close on its 5th birthday in mid-March — to reopen with a new name, a redone interior, and former Oxheart sous chef Jason White at the helm in the kitchen. Eric Sandler notes that Yu will eventually be splitting his hours between the yet-unnamed redo of the Nance space, wine and whiskey bar Public Services in the Cotton Exchange building on Travis, and whatever he’s doing with Bobby Heugel over on Yale St., in the former home of Dry Creek Cafe. [CultureMap; previously on Swamplot] Photo of 1302 Nance St.: Ken L.

12/02/16 4:30pm

We’ve come to the eighth and final category for this year’s Swamplot Awards for Houston Real Estate. So far this week we’ve opened up nominations for Favorite Houston Design Cliché, Best Demolitionthe “Where Are They Now?” AwardBest Industrial Incident, Special Achievement in Parking,  The Houston High Water Award, and — just this morning — Neighborhood of the Year.

Here’s the last one — and perhaps the most sweeping of them all: What was 2016’s Greatest Moment in Houston Real Estate?

Covering the real estate moments that make, change, and define the city is the whole point of Swamplot. So tell us: What real estate happenings from the past year stand out above the others? Was it something Swamplot wrote about? Or did we miss something that you think takes the real estate cake? Your nominated moments need not have taken place within city limits — but they should include sufficient Houston-ish qualities to be deserving of the award.

For this same category last time, the top spot went to the unexpected salvation and restoration of the Weingarten Mansion. The 2013 winner was Urban Living’s failed lawsuit against its own former customer, and in 2012, the award went to voter approval of funding for the Bayou Greenways Initiative.

We’ll need your help to pinpoint this year’s most award-worthy moment. Add your comments to this post or send us an email describing the moments you’d like to nominate — and don’t forget to tell us why. If you need to jog your memory, browse back through the site. And if you have any questions about how to make a nomination, you’ll likely find the answers here.

Now nominate away! As with each of the other categories, you’ve got a week to send in your top picks — so make sure you get your entries in by midnight on Friday, December 9, when the window to submit your choices will close for good.

The 2016 Swampies
12/02/16 1:45pm

CITY WANTS TO CREATE HISTORIC DISTRICT TO PROTECT WHAT’S LEFT OF FREEDMEN’S TOWN HISTORIC DISTRICT Following last month’s sudden brick relocation incident, Mayor Turner has announced a plan to make a plan to create a “cultural district in Freedmen’s Town — one that would preserve historic churches, schools, and homes,” as Andrew Schneider describes it this week. A section of the Fourth Ward roughly bounded by W. Gray, W. Dallas, Genessee, and Arthur streets has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places since 1985 as the Freedmen’s Town Historic District — but that national designation didn’t provide much local protection to the area’s architecture, and many of the buildings listed in the district’s nomination form to the register have since been demolished. Archi-historian Stephen Fox told Claudia Feldman back in February that a city of Houston historic district designation, however, would be different; Fox noted that “it might require gerrymandering to pick up the proper concentration of historic buildings. But it could be done.” [Houston Public Media and Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo of Freedmen’s Town Historic District sign: Freedmen’s Town Preservation Coalition

12/02/16 12:00pm

Downtown Houston Skyline

Our sponsor on Swamplot today is Houston’s own Central Bank. Thank you for the continuing support!

Central Bank has 4 (central) Houston branches available to meet your business or personal needs: in Midtown, the Heights, West Houston, and Post Oak Place.

Central Bank believes that change is essential to its success; the company actively pursues the latest in service, technology, and products. Central Bank aims to know its customers personally and to be their primary business and personal financial resource. The bank’s staff values relationships and strives to be available when you need them.

To learn more about how Central Bank can meet your banking needs, please call any of the following Senior Vice Presidents: Kenny Beard, at 832.485.2376; Bonnie Purvis, at 832.485.2354; Gary Noble, at 832.485.2366; or Ryan Tillman, at 832.485.2307. You can also find out more on the bank’s website.

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