04/14/14 8:30am

astrodome facade

Photo of the Astrodome: Paul via Swamplot Flickr Pool

04/11/14 1:45pm

Proposed Marriott Marquis Hotel, Downtown Houston

A groundbreaking ceremony today is marking the construction start of the new $335 million Marriott Marquis hotel on Walker St. and Crawford next to the George R. Brown Convention Center downtown, which will face the existing Hilton Americas hotel across Discovery Green. The newly updated rendering shown below confirms that the hotel will be the first institution anywhere to sport an island shaped like Texas in one of its lower rooftop pools:


On Discovery Green
04/11/14 12:15pm

Vacant Strip Center, 4122 Willowbend Blvd. at Craighead Dr., Westwood, Houston

Former Carolyn's Bar at Vacant Strip Center, 4122 Willowbend Blvd. at Craighead Dr., Westwood, HoustonCarolyn’s, the dive bar at the corner of Craighead and Willowbend Blvd. across the train tracks from the Willowbend subdivision closed sometime around the end of last month, a reader notes. Back in 2008, the bar at 10711 Craighead Dr. won the Houston Press award for Best Hidden Bar. For years, Carolyn’s (pictured at right, behind the “canopy”) was the sole remaining tenant in the dilapidated but once-stylin’ classic 1959 strip center with vintage details stretched along that corner. Now, reports the reader, it appears the 18,600-sq.-ft. center is entirely empty — despite the remaining sign facing Willowbend for the Fruit of the Spirit Community Church (“Developing Fruitful Lives,” above).


Everybody Out of the Strip Center
04/11/14 10:45am


The restaurant spot at 4319 Montrose Blvd. just south of Richmond Ave (at left in the photo above) that until mid-February was home to Thai Sticks — and was earlier the longtime home of Monica Pope’s Boulevard Bistro — will soon be home to an unidentified new restaurant run in part by Dan and Mark Zimmerman. Four years ago, the Zimmermans turned the restaurant at their parents’ La Colombe d’Or into Restaurant Cinq; they later opened and closed Zimm’s Little Deck in the 610 Richmond spot also owned by their parents (that spot is now home to the Brooklyn Athletic Club).


Replacing Thai Sticks
04/11/14 8:30am

billboards and high-masts

Photo: Paul via Swamplot Flickr Pool

04/10/14 5:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: HOW MUCH HOUSE YOU CAN AFFORD Slice of Butter House“. . . Affordable is in the eye of the beholder. My brother wants to buy his first house, and I explained it to him thusly: To see how much house you can afford, NEVER start with one of those mortgage calculators. Instead, do the following: Evaluate your month to month finances. Figure out how much you can comfortably spend on housing every month, using your own situation of debts, expenses, etc. Multiply by 2/3 to see how much you can pay on a mortgage (the remaining 1/3 is escrow fees to cover required insurance, taxes, etc, which the mortgage calculators leave out.). THEN go to the mortgage calculator and work it backwards to see what price range you should be in. This will be your threshold for affordability. You will then probably want to knock off 10 or 12% and give that number to a realtor (this way if they show you something over your price range that you like, you can still go for it). That said, on a macro scale, the affordability indices do have merit. Large corporations use the data to help determine where to locate offices. Federal and State governments use them to help determine who gets housing dollars. But it is important that we not treat those numbers as gospel for what we, individually, can afford in terms of housing.” [ZAW, commenting on Where Houston Ranks for Affordability; The Rise of Bicycle Commuting] Illustration: Lulu

04/10/14 2:00pm

Proposed Dedicated Bus Lanes on Post Oak Blvd., Uptown, Houston

Proposed Dedicated Bus Lanes on Post Oak Blvd., Uptown, Houston

Here are some of the purty watercolor renderings the Uptown District has been presenting of what Post Oak Blvd. will look like after the addition of 2 dedicated bus lanes down its middle. The proposed changes to the thoroughfare won’t take away any of the 6 existing car lanes or 13 existing left-turn-signal lanes. There’ll be a few modifications, though: new protected-left-turn signals will be put in at West Briar Lane and Fairdale, for example, and 3 median openings will be closed. The space for the buses and 8 transit stations along the Boulevard between the West Loop and Richmond Ave will come from acquiring 8 feet of right-of-way from each side of the existing street. The bus lanes and light-rail-style stations will go in the median:


Uptown Transit
04/10/14 12:00pm



One of the storied properties in the Tall Timbers niche of River Oaks quietly arrived on the market this week. Restrained and almost dainty in its design by the then in-demand architect Hiram Salisbury, the 1941 main building features columns and balconies accenting a brick exterior. The east-wing addition in 1950, meanwhile, was by another go-to architect: John Staub. The resulting work by 2 premier architects blended in one estate sits on a large lot measuring more than an acre and a half. All that land can be subdivided, ”for 2 building sites, already approved” by the River Oaks Property Owners association, the listing says. The asking price is $8.1 million.


Twice as Nice
04/10/14 10:15am

Demolition of 3400 Montrose Blvd., Montrose, Houston

Demolition of 3400 Montrose Blvd., Montrose, HoustonThe top-down demo of the 10-story building at 3400 Montrose has reached its moment of smooth-jazzy truth. Having taken care of the parking garage in back, demo crews are now hard at work dismantling the 10th-floor portion of the building, which formerly housed Scott Gertner’s Skybar — and before that, Cody’s. These views from across Montrose Blvd. and Hawthorne St. taken yesterday by a Swamplot reader show the south and west portions of the top floor are already gone, and come-aparts are headed for the corner. Hanover is planning to build a significantly taller apartment tower on the site once the 1953 stone-clad structure is gone.

Photo: polyester

The Cody’s, Scott Gertner Liftoff