02/05/16 4:15pm

Williams Tower, 2800 Post Oak Blvd., Galleria Area, Houston, 77056

Update (2/9): The entire beacon fixture has been replaced. See this story for details.

The rotating spotlight on top of the 64-story Williams Tower in the Galleria area has been back on for a few weeks, following an autumnal hiatus. According to a representative of the tower’s property management office, the beam stayed dark during difficulties finding the correct kind of bulb for the fixture. A reader sent a report this week from a bedroom window overlooking the Galleria area:


Twinkle, Twinkle, Giant Bulb
02/05/16 3:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: KEEP CALM WHILE WAITING FOR FINAL GRADES ON MULTIFAMILY HOUSING Housing Grades“Yup. I saw another apartment crisis coming in Houston, and true to form, it’s here. . . . If you managed to keep your job, you’ll find that you can now afford a better apartment for the same rent due to concessions. But it could be a terrible, awful thing for older Class D apartments and the neighborhoods around them. Tenants in Class B apartments will find that they can now afford a Class A apartment, and so on down the line. The Class D apartments that lost their good tenants to Class C apartments will have nowhere to turn. Crime on the property will skyrocket as they give up on what little tenant screening they had. Maintenance will be deferred even more as they try to control the financial bleeding. Worst case scenario, the two problems will feed each other until the complexes are totally derelict and need to be condemned. Granted, this is just a worst case scenario. The damage could be limited to only a handful of complexes. Fingers are crossed.” [ZAW, commenting on Houston’s Multifamily Problem; River Oaks District Apartments Open for Business] Illustration: Lulu

02/05/16 1:45pm

BUILDING AROUND 1 CEMETERY AND POSSIBLY OVER ANOTHER IN CYPRESS’S ALDEN WOODS Site Plan for the Alden Woods Development, Huffmeister Rd., Cypress, TX 77429 “I said to the county attorney’s representative, this looks like the spot, this looks like a cemetery,” University of Houston anthropology professor Ken Brown told ABC 13’s Ted Oberg, discussing a visit two years ago to the land currently being developed as the Alden Woods subdivision. Darling Homes is developing the 70-acre tract off Huffmeister Rd., just north of the intersection with Maxwell Rd. in Cypress, into a gated community of 3,000-to-5,000-sq.-ft. homes with interior courtyards. Brown investigated another old cemetery on the land for the Harris County Historical Commission; neighbors took him to a site on the other side of the project area rumored to be the burial ground of the slaves held by nearby landowners (some of whom are thought to be buried in the graveyard Brown was sent to check out). The landowner’s cemetery got legal protection from development with the help of the county attorney’s office and still sits in a forested area in the subdivision. The slave cemetery site was not further investigated archaeologically, despite the alleged presence of an employee of the attorney’s office on the site with Brown as he identified groups of east-west-oriented depressions which “[suggested] family type plots within a cemetery.” A statement from the Harris County Attorney’s Office to ABC13 says that the office will now work with the subdivision’s developer to investigate the site. [ABC13] Alden Woods site plan: Darling Homes

02/05/16 12:00pm

410 Emerson St., Westmoreland Historic District, Montrose, Houston

Bedroom, 410 Emerson St., Westmoreland Historic District, Montrose, Houston

Please welcome today’s sponsor: This house at 410 Emerson St. in Montrose. Thanks for supporting Swamplot!

Patrick Banks with Coldwell Banker United has listed this colorful 1905 Victorian. Located within the Westmoreland Historic District in Montrose, the 2-story, 3,541 sq.-ft. home has 3 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms — and much more.

You’ll find original ornamental Victorian architectural elements throughout. Many of the original windows, with their unique glass patterns, are intact. Three 4-ft.-by-8-ft. sliding pocket doors connect the living room to the dining room and first-floor study. The study and first-floor sitting room both feature original corner fireplaces.

The second floor includes a kids’ play area with floor-to-ceiling shelving. A cozy reading nook connects to the child’s bedroom (pictured above); inside, a petite “Alice in Wonderland”-style door leads to a large closet. The large second-floor master suite features a vaulted ceiling, a private sitting area, and a private screened porch. The 9,375-sq.-ft. lot has covered parking for 2 vehicles, a tree house in a live oak and a large separate art studio in the back yard.

Check out more details about 410 Emerson St. on the property website; an extensive walk-through video is also available. Or see it all in person on Valentine’s Day: An open house is scheduled for Sunday, February 14th, from 2 to 5 pm.

Got a special someone you’re trying to reach among Swamplot’s more than 100K monthly readers? Becoming a Sponsor of the Day on this site is the perfect way to send a not-at-all secret message.

Sponsor of the Day
02/05/16 11:30am

Fitzgerald's, 2705 White Oak Dr, Heights, Houston, TX 77007

Trashed interior of Fitzgerald's, 2705 White Oak Dr, Heights, Houston, TX 77007

Cleanup and updates are planned over the next month for Fitzgerald’s, as owner Sara Fitzgerald returns to management following the previous operator’s recent eviction. Fitzgerald told the Houston Press that the venue at the corner of White Oak Dr. and Studemont St. will be redoing its back patio with an eye to making it food-truck-friendly, as well as painting and cleaning the space. Fitzgerald also says the venue will have to get its liquor license reinstated, and that the bar might have to “give something away” during shows they hold in the interim; the venue will likely not fully book until the cleanup and changes are complete.

The venue’s newest former management team left the space earlier this week, kicking up a cloud of photos purportedly documenting the satanic-graffiti-and-toilet-paper-heavy aftermath of a farewell gathering of the former tenants the night before their planned exit date.  The termination of the tenants’ relationship related at least in part to a rent disagreement: Freshly-ex-GM Josh Merritt told the Houston Press that the rent rates being charged were unfair given the building’s condition, while Sara Fitzgerald maintained that the rent was merely unpaid. Merritt emphasized that the former tenants wouldn’t have done anything to the building that would jeopardize their $50,000 security deposit.


Party Like a Rock Star
02/05/16 8:30am


Photo of the Southwest Freeway: Russell Hancock via Swamplot Flickr Pool

02/04/16 4:30pm

Center for Science and Health Professions, University of St. Thomas, 3800 Montrose Blvd, Houston, 77006

Center for Science and Health Professions, University of St. Thomas, 3800 Montrose Blvd, Houston, 77006

Here’s a peek from Colquitt St. at the early stages of the new science and healthcare center shooting up where the University of St. Thomas’s athletics fields used to be. Construction kicked off back in November, and at least part of the complex is expected to be ready for action some time in 2017. First off the line in Phase I should be the nursing school, along with the biology and chemistry departments.

No signs yet on the site of the winding astronomy tower that appears to be floating up through a hole in the trellis canopy enclosing the complex’s central courtyard, in the renderings from EYP. The planned tower would send students spiraling up above the center’s roof to an astronomy observation deck. The glassy base of the structure is shown hovering above a water feature:


To Astronomical Heights
02/04/16 2:30pm

IMAGINING A PEOPLE-FRIENDLY ALLEN PKWY. CROSSING Integrated Urbanism Design Project“Texas is not a safe place to walk and bike,” writes Allyn West on OffCite this morning, taking a closer look at one of the entries released by architects at Gensler as part of a January exhibition of speculative design projects for neglected sites and structures around Houston. The Integrated Urbanism plan sets a towering mixed-use commercial and residential development on a narrow 11-acre plot of land along Buffalo Bayou; the entire complex is sewn together by a zig-zagging “park link,” which connects areas of greenspace and culminates in a bridge across Allen Pkwy. into the Buffalo Bayou trail system. West notes that projects in Houston can only do so much to make themselves pedestrian-friendly if pedestrians can’t get to those spaces: “Even our best mixed-use projects tend to be islands — walkable from within, once you arrive, but disconnected from the city. Houston, it seems, is good at fences, less so at bridges. [OffCite] Rendering of Integrated Urbanism from Buffalo Bayou Park: Gensler

02/04/16 12:45pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: JOCKEYING FOR POSITION IN HOUSTON’S VERTICAL FUTURE Planned Development“77004: THE new construction hotspot for townhomes, low/mid/highrises . . . Of course , the funny part is all of the leasing/real estate agents are going to tout the “views” from their respective buildings — which will probably get blocked by newer highrises. Just like on Post Oak Blvd., between Loop 610 and San Felipe Rd: The Hanover highrise apartment building had killer views south down Post Oak to the Galleria. Now Randall Davis built another awful high rise: the Astoria, which has some heinous, cheap-looking aluminum “crown” on top. And Interfin is completing its Four Leaf Place tower #5, where 24 Hour Fitness used to be . . . That stretch of Post Oak is becoming crowded. Thank Goodness my dentist’s office on the upper floors of the Wells Fargo Tower is on the NORTH side of the tower. Sitting in the chair, his patients have unobstructed views north over Tanglewood (which can never be built up) . . . Anyway, Houston keeps growing by leaps and bounds. Change: get in front of it, go with it, or get left behind. [Padraig, commenting on Strip Center Art Gallery Makes Room for Installation of Highrise in Museum Park] Illustration: Lulu

02/04/16 12:00pm

Wine Storage at Nos Caves Vin, Houston

Wine Storage by NCV Custom Wine RoomsToday’s Sponsor of the Day is the wine-storage experts at Nos Caves Vin. Thanks for your support of Swamplot, NCV!

Nos Caves Vin provides “downstream” services for discerning wine collectors. Secure, climate-controlled wine storage is available at 2 locations: one in the Rice Village and the other in the Memorial City area. Each facility also accepts deliveries, has a private lounge, and is available for private tastings.

For storage at your property, NCV Custom Wine Rooms can bring your dream wine room to life. The team has years of experience designing and building award-winning custom wine rooms in both residential and commercial spaces. NCV’s work can be found in ranches in the hills of Boerne, in homes on Lake Travis, in highrises in Houston and The Woodlands, and in gorgeous homes throughout Houston, San Antonio, and Austin. The company also features a unique racking showroom, where you can discover the type of storage that best suits your needs. NCV repairs defective wine rooms as well.

Nos Caves Vin provides a full suite of wine collection management services — including inventory, packing, transporting, and short-term storage — and is an authorized installer for eSommelier.

If you’re interested in racking up interest in your company’s offerings, consider becoming a Swamplot Sponsor of the Day. Check out this page to find out more.

Sponsor of the Day
02/04/16 11:30am

Proposed Apartment Tower at 6750 Main St., Medical Center Area, Houston, 77005

Greystar plans to squeeze a 375-unit apartment highrise on the same 1.35 acre lot at 6750 S. Main St. as an in-the-works hotel from Medistar. That Medistar project, which was originally planned as a 220-unit hotel-slash-apartment building on the same spot, will now be a 357-room just-hotel, and will share a lobby with Greystar’s apartment tower on the southern half of the block between Travis St. and S. Main at Old Main St. (across the street from the Texas Women’s University building.)

The two towers (rendered above styled as 1850, seemingly in reference to the Old Main address) will slip in between a Best Western and a Wyndham Hotel, and would total in the neighborhood of 800,000 sq.ft. of floorspace, Greystar’s David Reid tells the HBJ’s Cara Smith.  The apartment unit floorplans range significantly in size— the largest 2 suites measure in around 3,800 sq.ft., and the smallest bottom out at an Ivy-Lofts-esque 349 sq.ft.


Old Main St. at Main St.
02/04/16 9:00am

Lancaster Hotel and Calpine Center, Louisiana St., Downtown, Houston, 77002

Photo of the Lancaster Hotel and Calpine Center: Fritz Dickmann