06/29/15 8:30am

rice-hotel

Photo of Rice Hotel: Curt Littlejohn via Swamplot Flickr Pool

Headlines
06/26/15 2:45pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE KIND OF ZONING HOUSTON DOES HAVE Building Setbacks“. . . I always chuckle a bit when someone thinks that the free market governs Houston because the City doesn’t have zoning. Aside from land-use restrictions, every regulation that is usually found in a zoning ordinance is in force in Houston. Tree and landscape requirements. Setbacks. Sign ordinance. Curb cut requirements. Buffering. Parking requirements. Traffic study requirements. Plan reviews for subdivisions. Regulations for building in flood plains and finish floor elevations. The list goes on. And like every other city, Houston enforces building, electrical, fire, residential, and plumbing codes (with amendments). So contrary to what a lot of a lot of people think, Houston is not a developer’s free for all. (Not that it wasn’t in the 1970s, but I digress) If anything, it’s harder to build in Houston because the regulations are so damned hard to find sometimes. In most places, it’s all neatly packaged in a Zoning Ordinance. In Houston, it’s all over the Code of Ordinances, and you have to know where to look. As HouCynic noted, Houston enforces neighborhood deed restrictions, but the County Clerk actually records those Restrictions, so it’s not a one-stop-shop. . . .” [ZAW, commenting on Medistar’s Planned Webster Sprawl Plaza; The Most Congested Roads in Texas; Free Metro Rides] Illustration: Lulu

06/26/15 12:00pm

WESTBURY SQUARE HEADED FOR SALE, EXILE OF REMAINING TENANTS The Company OnStage Theater, 536 Westbury Square, Westbury Square, Westbury, HoustonA sales contract is pending on the remaining portions of faded pedestrian shopping district Westbury Square, a note posted to the home page of The Company OnStage and sent to the group’s subscribers announces. The note does not address rumored plans to divide the purchased site near the intersection of West Bellfort and Chimney Rock into more than 100 townhome lots, but does indicate that completion of the sale will likely bring an end to the company’s 33-year residency at 536 Westbury Square (pictured here). The theater group is postponing the announcement of its upcoming season, and says it is looking to relocate. Two buildings in the complex were torn down early last year. [The Company OnStage; previously on Swamplot] Photo: The Company OnStage  

06/26/15 8:30am

dolce-living-houston

Photo of Dolce Living Midtown on West Gray: Marc Longoria via Swamplot Flickr Pool

Headines
06/25/15 4:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE REAL DIFFERENCE NOT HAVING ZONING MAKES Residential Density“For a city without zoning, development in Houston isn’t much different that it would be if we DID have zoning. Most retail development happens on major commercial thoroughfares, and most industrial sites are either along railway lines or otherwise clustered together. And development still has to comply with our (idiotic) setback requirements and parking minimums. The main difference Houston has over other cities with stricter land use regulation, is the ability to increase residential density in a fairly timely manner. This has helped keep housing costs from rising higher than they otherwise would have. The kinds of land use regulation in cities like New York, Washington and San Francisco generally benefit wealthy landowners at the expense of younger, poorer new-comers. Even current middle-class homeowners don’t really benefit: you can’t bank the appreciation until you sell, at which point you still have to live somewhere, and in the meantime, your property tax bill is higher.” [Angostura, commenting on Medistar’s Planned Webster Sprawl Plaza; The Most Congested Roads in Texas; Free Metro Rides] Illustration: Lulu

06/25/15 3:30pm

Signature Care Center, 1007 Westheimer Rd., Montrose, Houston

Signature Care Center, 1007 Westheimer Rd., Montrose, HoustonIf something bad happens to you at the Spec’s Liquor store, 369 Oriental Bistro, Half Price Books, or the Mattress Firm or Mattress Pro stores in the Westmont Shopping Center (known back in its Art Deco days as the Tower Community Center) at the corner of Westheimer and Montrose, you won’t have far to go for medical help. A new 24-hour emergency care center is opening up early next month between the mattress store duo and the Chinese restaurant, in a space that’s been vacant for a while.

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SignatureCare
06/25/15 1:30pm

YOUR UPGRADE FROM SHEPHERD DR. TO THE NORTH FWY. WILL BE MUCH SMOOTHER STARTING TODAY New Shepherd I-45 Connector Ramp, Acres Homes, HoustonToday at noon TxDOT opened the brand new connector ramp pictured here, which has been under construction since December 2013. It links northbound traffic at the northern end of Shepherd Dr. to northbound I-45. Wasn’t there a way to get from Shepherd to I-45 already? Yes, but it brought cars into the freeway’s left lane. The new flyover crosses over the freeway to bring drivers onto I-45’s right lane; it hops over the Little York, Victory Blvd., and Veterans Memorial intersections on the way. A separate connector from I-45 south to Shepherd is scheduled to open later this summer. [TxDOT] Photo: TxDOT

06/25/15 11:15am

Western Facade of The Secret Group, 2101 Polk St. at St. Emanuel St., East Downtown

It’s not clear how quickly interior work is progressing on the planned comedy club and music venue in the former Malloy Register Company building at the corner of Polk St. and St. Emanuel in East Downtown, but notable changes have taken place to the building’s exterior since Swamplot reported on the project last month. The graffiti scene spray-painted onto the building’s western wall earlier this year, facing the I-69 overpass a block away (at top in photo above) has been updated to show police chief Clancy Wiggum — wearing an HPD shoulder patch — apprehending Bart Simpson, a stand-in for the site’s own tagging team (at bottom). Also added: the Twitter username for the Secret Group.

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East Downtown Building Funnies
06/25/15 8:30am

buffalo-bayou-park-bridge

Photo of Buffalo Bayou Park: Marc Longoria via Swamplot Flickr Pool

Headlines
06/24/15 4:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: NEW HOMES HAVE BEEN GROWING BIGGER FOR LESS Large House“The funny thing is that back in the 1930s, people actually needed more space than they do today. The average size of a household in the 30s was just over 4 people. It has shrunk to ~2.5 today (although some rich folk do breed like rabbits for some reason). In the olden days, people would have large libraries of books. Now, all that can be kept on an iPad or kindle. People used to have large record collections and “hifi” stereos that were their own pieces of furniture. Now, you can store all your music on your phone and plug it into a massive sound system that is completely built into the wall of each room. Same goes for a TV set. I remember my mom chewing me out for leaving my soda cans on top of the old RCA because it left a ring on the wood. Now, the TV hangs on the wall and is just a few inches thick. Rich folk today do like to have a closet full of clothes that look like a small version of a high end retail clothing store. But today, most people, even rich folks, dress casual all the time. Back in the 30s, 40s, 50s, etc., people would dress up to ride on a plane, men would wear suits all the time, and women would have a collection of hats in large hat boxes to fill up the closet. But houses just keep getting bigger and bigger and bigger as people have fewer reasons for living in such huge houses.” [Old School, commenting on Daily Demolition Report: Lakes Out] Illustration: Lulu

06/24/15 3:15pm

Pre-Demolition Work on Kirby Court Apartments, 2700 Steel St. Between Kirby Dr. and Virginia St., Upper Kirby, Houston

Pre-Demolition Work on Kirby Court Apartments, 2700 Steel St. Between Kirby Dr. and Virginia St., Upper Kirby, HoustonThe casement windows are out from the 1949 Kirby Court Apartments along oak-lined Steel St., just west of Kirby from the Whole Foods Market. There’s been no formal announcement of plans for the site; Hanover, for the time being, is laying back from its plans to build an apartment tower and restaurant row along the Kirby frontage at the north side of the street.

The last residents of the 2-story, townhome-style apartments moved out at the beginning of the year. Here’s a quick tour of the scene on the very quiet street, which appears ready for demolition:

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South of West Ave