05/24/16 4:15pm

UH Downtown STEM Building Purchase

Outlined in red is the next addition to University of Houston Downtown’s campus, per last Thursday’s meeting by the UH system’s board of regents. The image above comes from a marketing flier included in the board’s agenda notes (as presented by board member and real estate reality TV star Tilman Fertitta). The 17-acre parcel on the north side of I-10 runs along the Daly St. Park ‘N Ride lot by the Burnett Transit Center station light-rail station, and includes several areas west of N. Main St. already in use by UHD as faculty and student parking.

The land, bounded on the southwest by White Oak Bayou,  will likely house a new science and engineering building — though it may have to cozy up with some additions to the downtown freeway system still in the planning phase. UHD VP David Bradley tells Nancy Sarnoff that the parts of the tract that may end up inside the expanded right-of-way will hang around as green space until TxDOT’s map lines are firmed up.

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Rail Yard Revival
05/24/16 1:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: ELEVATING HOUSTON’S FREEWAYS TO GLOBAL MASCOT STATUS Inner Loop“If you want transit to be ‘Great for Tourism,’ then you’ve got to look at transit systems such as in NYC, London, and Tokyo that are not only exceptional but that serve as cultural iconography for the city. There has to be some showmanship. Houston’s METRO was never building a cultural icon, even if some people embraced it as such back in 2004 for lack of any sort of imagination otherwise. Ironically, I’ve given rides to the airport from international visitors from places as different as India and Australia, and they seem to really enjoy riding on the freeways, taking in the vast expanse of concrete and the tangle of overpasses and underpasses. Houston’s freeways are a spectacle! Houston’s freeways are cultural iconography!” [TheNiche, commenting on Feds: Unused Richmond Light-Rail Funding Offer Now Expired, Getting Thrown OutIllustration: Lulu

05/24/16 12:30pm

9000 Main St., Reliant, Houston, 77025

That’s 5 stories of sticks now stacked up at 9000 Main St., the triangular former site of the Medical Inn & Suites complex that met its unmaker late last year. The property was bought in 2013 by an entity named Shree Shriji LLC, which shares an address with the Days Inn & Suites near Hobby Airport at 9114 Airport Blvd. The land sits a half block north of Broadmead Dr., directly across Main from Superbowl-prepping NRG Park’s parking lot (the one spanning between Murworth Dr. and McNee Rd.).

The land wasn’t empty for long following deconstructive operations — but another reader did manage to snap a view of the property back in January, when the freshly emptied spot provided a clear view all the way to the since-sold land 2 parcels north, where Regency Car Wash holds soapy court:

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More Rooms on Main St.
05/24/16 10:30am

BULLET TRAIN BACKERS: NOT TRYING TO TAKE ANY LAND YET, JUST WANT TO KNOW HOW MUCH WE’D OWE YOU Texas Central Proposed Alignment Overview MapTexas Central Railway is seeking approval from the federal Surface Transportation Board to start the ball rolling on eminent domain negotiations on land it would need to take to construct its planned high-speed line between Houston and Dallas, writes Eric Nicholson in the Dallas Observer this week. Granted, it’s not totally clear where all the needed land is yet, as the finalized route has yet to be confirmed or permitted. The company is nonetheless asking the board for permission to get a jump on what it purports is just an administrative aspect of the process: namely, negotiating land values of potentially condemned tracts with landowners. The company argues that this part doesn’t involve actually taking any land, and therefore doesn’t need the railroad agency’s approval. The company is trying to get going on acquisitions “as soon as possible” to meet an investor schedule requiring construction to start next year so service on the line can start in 2021. [Dallas Observer via Houston Press; previously on Swamplot] Map of proposed high-speed rail routes: Texas Central Railway 

05/24/16 8:30am

houston-skyline-bayou

Photo: Russell Hancock via Swamplot Flickr Pool

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05/23/16 5:00pm

14303 Harvest Glen Ct., Clear Lake, Houston, 77062

14303 Harvest Glen Ct., Clear Lake, Houston, 77062

This Clear Lake home overlooking a golf-course-adorned stretch of Horsepen Bayou to the north is now for sale for $1.75 million (dropped in February from the $1.8 million requested when the house first hit the market last July). If you are allowed into the walled inner garden, you’ll find the yellow-and-cerulean structure above perched at the top of a glass-brick staircase. Ivy-League-turned-Rice-turned-University-of-Virginia architect Peter Waldman, who designed the 1990 home, referred to the multicolored elevated landing as a Trojan Horseinvading” the larger space. Roll right in through the front gates to see for yourself:
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Hidden In Bay Oak Country
05/23/16 2:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHERE COULD TRAINS GO THAT BUSES COULDN’T? Trains to Office Buildings“Light-rail transit the way METRO has built it is slow, and actually adds somewhat to congestion by taking up a vehicular lane and messing up traffic flows (i.e. no left turns).  . . . Frankly, buses accomplish the job just about as well, even if they aren’t glamorous to some people. DART built grade-separated rail out to the [Dallas] suburbs and to the airport. It does go faster, since it doesn’t contend with stoplights and traffic. It also doesn’t clog up arterial roads. It was a different approach, but I think that it was the correct one.” [ShadyHeightster, commenting on Feds: Unused Richmond Light-Rail Funding Offer Now Expired, Getting Thrown Out]

05/23/16 12:00pm

Corporate Plaza I Demolition, Kirby at Norfolk, Upper Kirby, Houston, 77098

Here’s this morning’s view of the former Corporate Plaza site, now sans the skeletal midrise that spent much of May wasting away. Standing at the edge of the rubble is the Texas Direct Auto billboard, visible here from its non-dayglo-yellow backside above the cluster of excavators picking over the last of the former midrise. On the left (at the corner of Kirby and 59) is the separately-owned Shell service station property, boxed in by the increasingly empty lot throughout the entire demo spectacle.

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And Then There Was Shell
05/23/16 10:00am

2410 Woodhead St., Hyde Park, Houston, 77019

The retail strip at 1927 Fairview St. is now being gutted and cleaned out into a large dumpster parked in front of the former Te House of Tea and Trudy’s resale boutique. Permits to clear out some interior walls and redo the space were issued at the start of this month to an entity named Riel Restaurant; also listed on those permits are the company phone number and CEO of South Union-based seafood importer Marine Foods Express. 

Out back behind the retail strip, the nextdoor 1935 bungalow at 2410 Woodhead St. appears to be joining Te’s former backyard garden in becoming a parking lot — purportedly a green one:

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Something Fishy on Fairview
05/23/16 8:30am

galleria

Photo: elnina via Swamplot Flickr Pool

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