09/18/17 11:15am

The retreat of floodwaters has revealed the extent of the silt that Harvey-triggered flooding deposited along Buffalo Bayou. A beachgoing reader sends Swamplot these pics of the new dust-colored landscapes that have taken shape along Buffalo Bayou Park and adjacent former green spaces.

The silt-covered bench shown above sits across Buffalo Bayou from the Houston Police Officers Memorial, near Glenwood Cemetery. Here’s a view from further back:

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Silt Deposits
08/28/17 11:00am

With water levels on Buffalo Bayou around Shepherd Dr. now forecast to recede, this drone video of one stretch of the waterway — taken yesterday during a lull in the rains — may turn out to be one of the best views available of the extent of flooding at the northwest corner of Montrose. A few video highlights, still visible above the floodwaters: The top floor of The Dunlavy, high above the now-complete-subsumed Lost Lake; the fuzzy treetop semi-circles formed by the twin stands of crape myrtles at Waugh Dr.; the Waugh Dr. bridge itself, now looking like a causeway; and the patterned grounds of the Beth Yeshurun Cemetery.

Video: Evan Mallett

Dunlavy to Waugh
08/16/17 4:00pm

Maybe that for-lease sign up in the window at Tila’s Restaurante and Bar on the Shepherd Curve for the last few months worked: The restaurant closed for business on Sunday — after 20 years at the same location. Owner Tila Hidalgo reports on the restaurant’s Facebook page that her business was given 25 days notice to vacate the property at 1111 S. Shepherd Dr. — it will be out of the space entirely by the end of the month.

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Now on Wheels
07/21/17 4:00pm

THE INVENTION OF UPPER KIRBY Among Houston’s grids, strips, and cul de sacs, let a million neighborhoods bloom! Perhaps the story of how the area around upper Kirby Dr. came to be known as Upper Kirby can form some sort of template for this city’s vast numbers of undifferentiated districts just waiting to be branded? “We weren’t Greenway Plaza, we weren’t Montrose, we weren’t Rice Village,” Upper Kirby Management District deputy director Travis Younkin tells reporter Nicki Koetting. It was a section of town that lacked identity. “This nameless neighborhood, Koetting adds, “was the sort of place you drove through on the way to other, named neighborhoods.” One helpful step along the way: Planting the shopping areas with red phone booths. “The authentic British phone booths are an homage to Upper Kirby’s acronym, and actually operated as phone booths for a few decades until cellphones became the norm,” Koetting notes. “Now, the telephone booths are lit from within and locked, serving today as a visual indication to visitors that they’ve arrived in Houston’s own UK.” [Houstonia] Photo: WhisperToMe

07/18/17 10:45am

Does tearing down historic Houston architecture run in the family? The 1930’s house built for Harry C. Hanszen at 2945 Lazy Lane Blvd. (which showed up on Wednesday’s Daily Demolition Report last week) did in fact get the full knockdown treatment over the weekend, a couple of stunned readers tell Swamplot. The River Oaks home, designed by architect John F. Staub, was owned for a few decades by John Mecom Jr.; more recently, it was sold in 2014 to Matthew B. Arnold, per county records. The 5-acre-ish lot sits right across the road from Bayou Bend, and from the Lazy Lane spot where the historic home known as Dogwoods used to stand — before former Enron trader and experimental drone surveillance funder John D. Arnold knocked it down to make room for a boxy replacement. (Staub also designed Bayou Bend, and collaborated with Birdsall Briscoe on the Dogwoods design.)

It’s worth noting that the Hanszen house was majorly added-onto between 1979 and 1981, back when it was owned by the Mecoms — and it was largely stripped of its original interiors during that time, archi-historian Stephen Fox tells Swamplot. It’s now been stripped of its exteriors as well — which previously looked like this:

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Bye Bye by Bayou Bend
07/06/17 12:30pm

Neighbor-with-a-security-cam Bill Curry has now posted to YouTube 6 additional time-lapse videos covering days 2 through 8 of the demo of the Googie-style River Oaks Manor condo complex at 2325 Welch St. The structure went down at the end of last month across from his home just east of Revere St., in an unnamed neighborhood real close to River Oaks.

If you thrilled to the jumpy frames from Curry’s Nest camera chronicling the removal of a 26-unit, 2-story structure dating from 1950 (in favor of a 32-unit, 9-story structure dating from 2018) but wanted to see what more it took to remove the row of Welch St.-facing carports left standing in the first video, follow the rest of the sequence, beginning with Day 2 (above) and continuing with the third day (June 27th) below:

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Clearing Out in River Oaks Adjacent
06/30/17 11:15am

If you’re trying to justify the expense and hassle of mounting and maintaining a capable security cam outside your home, shouldn’t the ability to capture timelapse footage of demolition crews as they quickly dispose of cute fifties condo complexes across the street tip the scales in favor? Here’s a sample benefit: the above video from the Nest camera of Bill Curry, which documents in quickly digestible form the final dozen-plus hours last Friday of the 26-unit Googie-style complex at the southeast corner of Welch and Revere streets adjacent to River Oaks — as it gets eaten from behind by a Komatsu track excavator.

Another possible benefit: A much longer timelapse documenting the construction of the 32-unit 9-story condo midrise Pelican Builders now plans to put on the site.

Video: Bill Curry

Nest to Nothing, Next to River Oaks
06/21/17 12:45pm

As heralded by yesterday’s daily demo report: Time is up for the little mod condo complex on Welch and Revere streets, which is being cleared out for Pelican Builders’ 9-story not-quite-in-River-Oaks The Revere at River Oaks condo midrise. A reader sends these up-close shots of the demo crew’s work this morning, including the extensive remodeling the once-narrow walkway between segments of the now-empty carport along the south side of Welch:

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1 If By Komatsu
06/15/17 1:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THERE’S MORE MONEY IN HISTORY “First of all, this really doesn’t make much difference, as the original art moderne lines of this center were destroyed several years ago with the addition of gun turrets on the corners of the buildings. What I do find interesting is that Weingarten talks about the alterations as being financially responsible decisions to their shareholders. Yet this is the 3rd oldest intact shopping center in the US, and the only two that predate it, AFAIK, are Highland Park Village in Dallas and Country Club Plaza in Kansas City. Both of those have owners that have restored them to essentially their original designs and have enjoyed much increased property values. In the case of Highland Park Village, Henry S Miller (a Dallas developer) bought HP Village in the later ’70’s as it was very run down and dumpy, and had the foresight to restore its original Spanish Colonial design and garner a better tenant mix. Though his company no longer owns it, HP Village commands far higher square foot rents than River Oaks Shopping Center. All this is to say that if Weingarten had invested money in restoring their property 10-15 years ago, they probably would have a more valuable asset today.” [ShadyHeightster, commenting on The Other River Oaks Shopping Center Knockdown Hearing Scheduled for This Week] Rendering of proposed alterations to River Oaks Shopping Center, 1997 West Gray St.: Aria Group Architects for Weingarten Realty Investors

06/14/17 12:45pm

Just a few blocks down the street from that River Oaks Shopping Center highrise site, a reader checks in this week on the French-esque midrise apartment complex that’s been slowly coming together at 1916 W. Gray St. The Houston Ballet’s converted clothing factory headquarters made a grand exit from the site back in the pre-oil-bust days; since then the project has been rechristened from Graybelle to Le Palais, and this sketchy view of a facade has been circulated by the developers:

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Gargoyles in the Wings
06/14/17 11:15am

Across and a little bit down the street from the site where the company proposes to tear down an already altered section of the River Oaks Shopping Center and erect a 29-story apartment tower with 2 floors of underground parking, Weingarten Realty has more plans to make changes to the landmark art deco center. At the corner of West Gray and McDuffie, the company wants to tear down the 2-story western end of the south half of the 1948 section of the shopping center — which now houses a California Pizza Kitchen and the remains of the Evolve Fitness Studio upstairs (and was previously the site of a Birraporetti’s with Sherlock’s Pub above it) — and reconstruct the section as a 12,730-sq.-ft. Perry’s Steakhouse & Grille with significantly taller first and second stories.

The design, by Chicago’s Aria Group Architects, “will maintain historical features” of the building at 1997 West Gray St., the submitted plans (PDF) explain. But not exactly in the same order. Stick-on stone facing was stuck onto lower portions of this section of the art deco structure in 2007 when it was given a new stucco-batter coating and turned into a CPK; the new design shows a tall curved panel of limestone wrapping the corner, but this time on the higher second floor, suspended above a rebuilt portion of the center’s signature curved soffit.

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Raising Perry’s Steakhouse