08/15/14 3:00pm

WHEN HOUSTON HAD A PLAN, AND FUNDING, FOR A DOWNTOWN PEOPLE MOVER Rendering of Proposed Downtown People Mover, Main St., HoustonDigging into 40-some-year-old documents resting comfortably in the Houston Metropolitan Research Center at the Julia Ideson Library, Christopher Andrews pieces together the story behind the Downtown People Mover once planned for Houston. Houston was approved to receive $33 million in federal funding for the project in the mid-seventies, along with 4 other cities, but withdrew its application shortly after Harris County voters approved the creation of Metropolitan Transit Authority in 1978. After Houston dropped out (along with Cleveland and St. Paul), actual downtown people movers ended up getting built in Detroit and Miami. “The City of Houston’s 1976 proposal to the UMTA,” writes Andrews, “called for a 1.09 mile system, composed of 2.25 lane miles of track bisecting the ‘heart of the downtown core,’ stretching from the Cullen Center to the Harris County complex. It was intended to be fully owned, operated, planned and financed by the City of Houston, and was said to garner ‘strong and wide local support.’” A later report commissioned by the city showed alternatives to that north-south route along Milam St., including an elevated line running down Main St. past (and into) the (recently demolished) Foley’s building. [Not of It] Renderings: Sperry Systems Management/Houston Metropolitan Research Center

08/15/14 2:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: RAILROADED Drawing of Southern Pacific Train Station, Houston“Southern Pacific (not Union Pacific, as one writer claimed), demolished this station in 1959. Critics may blame Houstonians for failing to rally and save the building, but the fact is that the modern architectural preservation movement didn’t start until the early 1970s, and even my architecturally hip home town of Chicago let some classic beauties like Louis Sullivan’s Stock Exchange slip away before public sentiment for preservation began to build. The first downtown railroad-station preservation-restoration project did not take place until 1973, when the Southern Railway’s vacant Terminal Station in Chattanooga was transformed into a restaurant and hotel complex. If anybody has any photos of the interior of the SP station in Houston I would like to examine them for a book I’m writing about what happened to each of the big downtown stations in North America. SP’s Houston Station was designed by Texas’s most celebrated architect, Wyatt C. Hedrick, who also designed the Shamrock Hotel, the T&P station in Fort Worth, and dozens of admired hotels, factories and commercial buildings. Photos of his T&P station are all over the Internet but SP demolished his Houston station before anyone had a chance to make any good photos.” [F.K. Plous, commenting on The Secret Train Station Hidden Downtown] Illustration: Lulu

08/15/14 12:00pm

Proposed Site Plan for Shoppes at Uptown Crossing Shopping Center, S. Rice Ave. and Westpark, Houston

The site plan for the Shoppes at Uptown Crossing shopping center planned for a 3.5-acre lot at the southeast corner of Westpark and S. Rice Ave across from Sam’s Club has undergone a big change since Swamplot last featured it in April. A giant Walmart Supercenter is now shown in the southeast corner of the L-shaped parcel, facing S. Rice Ave. but shielded from the street by a sprinkling of fast-foody pad sites — including spots earmarked for an El Pollo Loco, a Chick Fil A, a Jack-in-the-Box, and a Starbucks. The requisite huge parking lot stands between the Walmart and its chain-store add-ons.

The new 32,000-sq.-ft. building for the soon-to-be-relocated Micro Center is going north of the Walmart, pushed close to Westpark, taking its entrance from S. Rice Ave. directly across the street from Sam’s Club. Shown tucked just south of Micro Center is a new TownePlace Suites hotel.

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South of the Galleria
08/15/14 9:00am

sam houston statue hermann park

Photo of the Sam Houston Statue at Hermann Park: elnina via Swamplot Flickr Pool

Headlines
08/14/14 3:15pm

1815 Cortlandt St., Houston Heights

Relocation Map of 1815 Cortlandt St., Houston Heights to 1026 Lathrop St., Denver Harbor, HoustonHouston’s city council voted last week to allow the owner of the home pictured above at 1815 Cortlandt St. in the Houston Heights to move the 1942 bungalow to 1026 Lathrop St. in Denver Harbor. It was a notable decision, if only for the fact that the council was voting on a housemove at all. According to the attorney who presented the case for the homeowners, this was not just the first time that the council had overturned a decision from the city’s architectural and historical commission; it was the first time a historic-district appeal had even reached the city council.

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A Moving, Historic Decision
08/14/14 1:15pm

Swiss Alp Dance Hall, 7024 N. US Hwy. 77, Schulenberg, Texas

Swiss Alp Dance Hall, 7024 N. US Hwy. 77, Schulenberg, TexasSeeking a spot about halfway along the drive from Houston to San Antonio where you might be able to kick up your heels — and hang your shingle? Look no further than the tin-roofed Swiss Alp Dance Hall on Hwy. 77 between Schulenburg and La Grange. The concert and wedding venue, which was built in the early 1900s but “remains very much as it was back in the 1950s,” was listed for sale earlier this week.

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Swiss Alp
08/14/14 11:15am

Variance Sign in Front of Hollywood Vietnamese Restaurant, 2409 Montrose Blvd., Montrose, Houston

A variance notice now up on the south side of Fairview St. at the corner of Montrose Blvd. is one sign that a full-block apartment complex is being planned for the site. Another clue: A reader tells us the Hollywood Vietnamese & Chinese Cuisine restaurant at 2409 Montrose Blvd., which occupies the only building on the block, is planning to shut down before the end of the month. A spokesperson for the planning department says a complete set of documents for the variance hasn’t been received yet.

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Farb Montrose
08/14/14 8:30am

San Felipe

Photo of San Felipe St.: Russell Hancock via Swamplot Flickr Pool

Headlines
08/13/14 1:46pm

Schatz and Eamon House, 5906 Grace Ln., MacGregor Terrace, Houston

Schatz and Eamon House, 5906 Grace Ln., MacGregor Terrace, HoustonHouse-porn hub Houzz visits the MacGregor Terrace home of M+A Architecture Studio‘s Mark Schatz and Anne Eamon, after their recent upgrade from the 700-sq.-ft. residence they built for themselves back when they were architecture students at the University of Houston to the far-more-expansive slate-tile-clad concrete home they designed, constructed, and then added onto next door for their current family of 4. The finished size of their new 2-bedroom, 2-bath living space? A whopping 980 sq. ft.

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Little House on MacGregor Terrace
08/13/14 12:30pm

Proposed Office Building and Parking Garage for Greater Houston Partnership, Avenida de las Americas at Capitol St., Downtown Houston

Proposed Office Building, Hotel, and Parking Garage for Greater Houston Partnership, Avenida de las Americas at Capitol St., Downtown Houston

Earlier this month, Houston First showed off renderings of the office building it’s planning to build for itself and 3 other Houston-boosting organizations (top), headlined by the Greater Houston Partnership, one block north of and linking to the George R. Brown Convention Center. (A massive attached 1,900-car parking garage would share the skybridge to the George R. Brown and fit between the building and the Hwy. 59 overpass.) Yesterday, the operator of the city’s performing arts and convention facilities pulled out an additional pic (above), highlighting another aspect of its plan, and showing how the same building would look with a 15-story add-on perched on top of it. The rendering of the tower portion by WHR Architects, the same firm that’s designing the office building and parking garage, is meant to be “conceptual”; Houston First announced it will begin taking proposals for the hotel from developers, who might choose a different design team.

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Launch Pad
08/13/14 11:00am

Kuhl-Linscomb, 2424 W. Alabama St., Upper Kirby, Houston

Penguin Arms Apartments, 2902 Revere St., Upper Kirby, Houston (4)The application for a parking variance submitted to the city by the owners of design store Kuhl-Linscomb last week is notable for the details it reveals about the company’s plans for a 17,489-sq.-ft. addition to the Googie-monument Penguin Arms Apartments (pictured at right) it bought in 2011. But it’s also an entertaining read for the stories Pam Kuhl-Linscomb and Dan Linscomb tell about their own retail venture, in making the case that their soon-to-be 7-building campus in Upper Kirby doesn’t need as much off-street parking as city ordinances otherwise require: “Kuhl-Linscomb sells expensive, high-end designer goods, furniture and kitchen systems in a 6 building campus near Kirby and West Alabama,” the application reads. And it goes on to explain why its parking situation is different from those of other design and home-goods stores:

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Reaching for Penguin Arms