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
06/24/15 1:45pm

Embassy Suites and ExxonMobil Building at Hughes Landing, The Woodlands, Texas

Real Estate Bisnow reporter Catie Dixon comes back from another tour of Hughes Landing with a couple pics showing construction progress on the 2 office buildings ExxonMobil is leasing as a pied à lac for a few select employee groups, 7 miles north of its new main campus. You can see part of one of the buildings at left of center in the photo above — next door to the unskinned Embassy Suites. And here’s a closer view:

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Satellite Offices
06/24/15 8:30am

University of St. Thomas demo

Photo of demolition at 1124 Colquitt, next to University of St. Thomas: Alex Steffler via Swamplot Flickr Pool

Headlines
06/23/15 1:45pm

REVEALING THE FULL PLAN FOR SKANSKA’S DOWNTOWN BLOCK WILL TAKE SOME TIME Construction of Temporary Parking Garage, Houston Club Building, 811 Rusk St., Downtown HoustonThe Chronicle‘s Nancy Sarnoff does her level best to decipher and explain the strange sequence of events at Skanska’s ongoing demolition-construction-demolition-construction project across the street from Pennzoil Place: “The developer planning Capitol Tower, the 35-story office building slated for downtown’s former Houston Club building site, is planning to pour the foundation for the structure next month, but as of now, there are no plans to construct the tower portion of the project. So what’s with all the construction on the property? The Houston Club building was imploded last year, but the garage on the site was to remain because of an existing parking contract. During the implosion, however, the garage was damaged and had to be demolished. Project developer Skanska USA Commercial Development is now building a new garage on the southern half of the block. ‘We’re still executing our project plans,’ said Michael Mair, executive vice president and regional manager for Skanska USA in Houston.” Left out of the explanation: The multi-story steel parking structure and ramps Skanska built for the garage before it was demolished — pictured here under construction in front of the then-still-standing Houston Club Building last March. The downtown block, surrounded by Rusk, Travis, Milam, and Capitol streets, is now empty. [Prime Property; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Swamplot inbox

06/23/15 12:30pm

Prince's Hamburgers, 3899 Southwest Fwy., Houston

Prince's Hamburgers, 3899 Southwest Fwy., HoustonYou can see the “SORRY WE’RE CLOSED” sign on the door at Prince’s Hamburgers at the end of the feeder-road-facing shopping center at 3899 Southwest Fwy. in the photo at the top, sent to Swamplot by a reader. This Prince’s near Weslayan hasn’t been open for about a month, but the local chain still lists the location on its website, and at least one employee at another location was told by a manager that the site will reopen soon. Meanwhile, the Chronicle‘s Syd Kearney appears still to be waiting for a call back from the company’s management for info on the closure. All equipment inside appears to have been removed, a passer-by tells Swamplot.

Photos: Joe Carl White (door); Prince’s Hamburgers (store)

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