08/23/16 10:30am

17695 Hwy. 249, Willowbrook, Houston, 77064

With the Mattress Firm peeking in from the left and the Office Depot edging in from the right, here’s the former 59 Diner across Hwy. 249 from Willowbrook Mall. The jagged freestanding building went up for lease around the same time as all those other 59 locations opened up in the wake of the chain’s March shutdown; now, as other former 59s are beginning to pick up new tenants, the Willowbrook spot is being spruced up to reopen as a branch of Dimassi’s Mediterranean Buffet. That boxy framework hanging around over the entrance looks to be the leftovers of the 59 signage, shown below in this previous listing shot of the restaurant (taken before the structure’s teal-heavy retro color scheme got beiged away):

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Ups and Downs Willowbrook
08/23/16 8:30am

pride-wall-montrose

Photo of Pride Wall Montrose: Russell Hancock via Swamplot Flickr Pool

Headlines
08/22/16 5:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: RETURNING TO RESTORE MONTROSE AND MIDTOWN’S RIGHTFUL TERRITORIES Raising Cane's, 1902 Westheimer Rd., Vermont Commons,  Houston, TX 77098“I spent some time away from my beloved Houston. When I returned I found that ‘the Fourth Ward’ had been replaced with ‘NearTown’, and no one quite knew where Montrose was, let alone River Oaks. Please allow me to elucidate: the Fourth Ward ends at Taft; Montrose is precisely between Shepard and Taft, and Dallas and Richmond. ‘NearTown’ is a word invented by a half-drunk Realtor. It is that place on Allen Pkwy. directly underneath the I-45 overpass. ‘Midtown’ is the intersection of Main Street and Buffalo Bayou from which all house numbers in Houston radiate.” [Pat Bryan, commenting on Raising Cane’s Now Raising the Midtown Banner in Vermont Commons] Photo of Raising Cane’s at 1902 Westheimer Rd.: Swamplot inbox

08/22/16 4:30pm

THE UT AUSTIN SEGREGATION LAWSUIT THAT MADE TSU HOUSTON’S FIRST PUBLIC UNIVERSITY Thurgood Marshall School of Law 3100 Cleburne St., Texas Southern University, Houston, TX 77004A recounting of some Houston higher-ed history comes from Ben Werlund this past weekendnamely, how University of Houston and Texas Southern University ended up as separate but adjacent public universities in the Third Ward. In 1927 the schools were founded as Houston Junior College and Houston Colored Junior College, segregated schools that eventually wound up on neighboring land after being renamed University of Houston and the Houston College for Negroes.  In 1946, black Houstonian Heman Marion Sweatt was denied admission to all-white UT Austin’s law school; as the resulting lawsuit worked its way up to the Supreme Court in the pre-Brown v. Board of Education landscape of separate-but-equal requirements, the state quickly bought and renamed the Houston College for Negroes and added a law school, trying to prove that black students had comparable options to the Austin campus. “And thus, Houston’s first public university was born,” writes Werlund, to keep the Texas school system “from having to integrate its flagship in Austin.” The Supreme Court, however, didn’t buy that the new Houston law offerings measured up to the nearly 70-year-old UT law program, and UT Austin had to admit Sweatt after a 1950 ruling. TSU law professor James Douglas tells Werlund that the state legislature proceeded to cut TSU’s budget by 40 percent the next year; the private all-white University of Houston didn’t start to admit black students until 1962, shortly after which it turned public. “This was in the ’60s,” notes Douglas — “In 1964, I don’t think the people in Austin really thought integration was going to stick . . . I don’t think they ever thought this whole idea of having 2 universities close to each other was ever going to be a problem.” [Houston Chronicle] Image of Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University: TSU

08/22/16 1:30pm

Buffalo Fred's Ice House, 2708 N. Shepherd Dr., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008

Buffalo Fred's Ice House, 2708 N. Shepherd Dr., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008After a month or so on the market at $3.75 million, the asking price on Buffalo Fred’s Ice House has dropped by half a million as of early last week. The 37,500 sq.ft. property, positioned right across the northern boundary of the potentially moistening Heights dry zone at 2708 N. Shepherd Dr., sits a few blocks north of the ongoing culinary redevelopment zone near the recent Fiesta Mart breakup. The HAR sales listing notes that leasing the space is an option (and a matching LoopNet leasing listing has been added for the property in the last few weeks).

The listing claims the early-1980s ice house is now running on a month-to-month lease; the bar building is up for grabs along with the 2,100-sq.-ft. building formerly occupied by Speedy Cycle Lube (on the right hand side, both above and below):

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Room to Roam in Houston Heights
08/22/16 12:00pm

Poster for Honey Art Cafe, 3516 S. Shepherd Dr., Upper Kirby, Houston

Poster for Honey Art Cafe, 3516 S. Shepherd Dr., Upper Kirby, Houston

Our sponsor today is Honey Art Cafe, set to open this fall at the northwest corner of Richmond and S. Shepherd Dr. in Upper Kirby. Thanks for supporting Swamplot!

Honey Art Cafe will be a gallery, a cafe, and a space for art lessons. All of the food and drinks will be made with natural ingredients, and the cafe will feature art by local artists and offer weekly beginner-friendly art classes.

In addition, there will also be a lot of free events for the community — like live painting demos, doodle dates, and weekly artist meet-ups.

If you’d like to be one of Honey Art Cafe’s first patrons, you can get a jumpstart by reserving a “One of Everything” Dessert Tasting or a month of unlimited art classes through the Honey Art Cafe Kickstarter.

For more info, visit the Honey Art Cafe website or its Kickstarter page, or follow the cafe on Facebook or Instagram.

Taking a turn as a Swamplot Sponsor of the Day is a great way to get attention for your new venture. Find out how to do it here.

Sponsor of the Day
08/22/16 11:30am

Richmont Square apartments, 1400 Richmond Ave., Montrose, Houston, 77006

Richmont Square apartments, 1400 Richmond Ave., Montrose, Houston, 77006The remaining 2 thirds of the vacant Richmont Square complex are getting a few exterior decorating touches, a reader notes — among the increasingly wild parking lot median strips, many of the trees lining the Richmond-facing parking lot are sporting some new ribbons as of last week. The complex’s final tenants received an early-spring everybody-out notice, with the promise of demolition left hanging some time after the now-past May 1 move-out deadline.

What’s planned next for the space, once the last of the late-1960s apartment buildings are cleared out? Some clues come from the campus master plan map released in the Menil Collection’s 2014 annual report — 2 separate blocks south of the under-construction Drawing Institute are depicted where Richmont Square’s leftovers still stand, respectively hosting a wiggly-trailed park and a pale blue rectangle labeled for “future mixed-use” development:

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Menil Collection Curation
08/22/16 8:30am

609-main

Photo of 609 Main: elnina via Swamplot Flickr Pool

Headlines
08/19/16 4:15pm

Raising Cane's, 1902 Westheimer Rd., Vermont Commons,  Houston, TX 77098

Catty-corner to the middle school both formerly and henceforth to be known as Lanier, another spat of place-name confusion is brewing: A reader notes that the Raising Cane’s (whose Vermont Commons branch sits on the corner of Hazard St. and Westheimer Rd. on the lot previously vacated by Martha Turner Properties) has been pledging its affections to Midtown. But is the message one of tribute or defection? “Do they think they’re in Midtown?” wonders the tipster. “Is there something else I’m not getting?”

Photo of Raising Cane’s at 1902 Westheimer Rd.: Swamplot inbox

Midtown Creep
08/19/16 2:45pm

WHITE OAK MUSIC HALL READY FOR FULL OPENING, NOISE CITATION HEARING Rendering of White Oak Music Hall, 2915 N. Main, Houston, 77009This week marks the official opening of White Oak Music Hall’s 2 indoor stages, writes Erin Mulvaney. Construction on the permanent concert spaces has wrapped next to the temporary-but-indefinitely-employed outdoor stage where the venue has been holding concerts since April. Per Jennifer Ostlind of the Houston Planning Department, all required parking for the venue is in place, though Mulvaney notes that “the temporary stage, which the partners plan to use in perpetuity for roughly 30 shows a year, did not require a permit or parking to accommodate the crowds.” Mulvaney also writes that the developers are getting ready for a September hearing on the noise ordinance citation the venue received in May; a study by hired sound scrutinizers on the night of the citation reportedly shows that sound at the venue didn’t pass 75 decibels. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Rendering of White Oak Music Hall complex: Shau

08/19/16 1:15pm

LyondellBasell flare plume on August 18, 12000 Lawndale St., Pasadena, Houston, 77017

Yesterday’s entry in Houston’s recurring game of what’s-that-mysterious-black-cloud was brought to you by LyondellBasell’s Pasadena refinery at 12000 Lawndale St. (the same one that caught fire back in early April). The shot above was taken from an overpass near the junction of Loop 610 with Hwy. 225, though for parts of the afternoon the trail was visible from at least 7 miles away at the Hilton Americas building downtown. A LyondellBasell spokesperson tells Swamplot that flaring was triggered just before noon after a Calpine facility sending steam to the refinery lost power, reportedly due to a lightning strike. The company sent a message to the East Harris County Manufacturer’s Association’s emergency response info hotline stating that observers “may notice a bright orange flame, black smoke or a rumbling noise,” but that it was no big deal, and no one in nextdoor Manchester or Deer Park needed to do anything like leave or tape their windows shut this time.

Photo: Michael Muguerza via t.e.j.a.s.

Pasadena Smoke Signals