POST OAK BRT THAT MUCH CLOSER TO GETTING ITS MONEY After a month’s delay to take a longer look at the project, the transportation arm of the Houston-Galveston Area Council finally decided to go ahead and recommend that Uptown receive $62 million in federal funds to pay for the proposed Post Oak Blvd. bus rapid transit system. This is just a provisional step, of course, since 2 actual approvals, not mere recommendations, are needed — but it does move things along. Through tax revenue, Uptown is already paying for about half the estimated $148 million project. The Houston Chronicle’s Dug Begley is reporting that this federal money would help buy up $30 million of land so Post Oak could be widened for the bus lanes. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Drawing: Uptown Management District
If this deluxe 26-story residential tower is built, as proposed by Interfin and Pierpoint, it’ll add 44 new condos and 2 penthouses to Uptown’s deluxe stock. And it’ll come at a premium: The Houston Business Journal is reporting that the Kirksey-designed, so-called Belfiore will be built with just 2 4,650-sq.-ft. condos per floor, each going for about $600 per sq. ft. These pricey places are planned to start going up in 2014 on a site inside Uptown’s recently expanded tax zone, just west of the Loop on S. Post Oak Ln., near that horseshoe of Wynden Dr.
Since its beam-boosting renovation in 2009, a Briarcroft corner-lot property on an oxbow street off Chimney Rock has been listed a few times — and offered itself up as a rental property. A year-and-a-bit-long break from the market for the updated 1963 home ended earlier this month when the agent upped the asking price to $825,000 for its latest run. That’s just shy of $150K more than the previous 2 efforts, both of which gave $675,750 a shot back in 2011 and 2012. Back in 2009, though, the pre-reno property sold for $282,150. If you want to rent this home today, it’ll run you $5,850 a month.
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So the days are numbered for Ruth’s Chris on Richmond — that much is obvious. And a reader sends us this photo showing the steakhouse’s next location, in that Uptown pad site where Prosperity Bank used to be at 5433 Westheimer. (And you can see the aloft Hotel in the background.) A rep from Ruth’s Chris says it should be open by July. And marketing materials from building owner AmREIT seem to position the steakhouse as an anchor for a redevelopment project on this triangular slice of property bound by Westheimer, W. Alabama, and Yorktown: A flyer on the company’s website mentions “a renovated office building” that doesn’t seem to have had a named tenant since Prosperity moved out and took its logo away almost 3 years ago. There’s also a second, 3,000-sq.-ft. retail space that AmREIT’s advertising as available on that building’s first floor. Attempts to contact AmREIT for details about the project haven’t been returned.
Photos: Swamplot inbox
GETTING TO THE BOTTOM OF THE WILLIAMS TOWER The $412 million sale last week of the Williams Tower seems to have provoked some curiosity in the Houston Chronicle’s Katherine Feser: Pursuing a lead from a retired employee that, were it not for those pesky FAA regulations, the record-breaking 64-story skyscraper would have been even taller, Feser goes into the paper’s archives and finds evidence that the tower’s slab was something to behold, too: ”The foundation pour . . . started at midnight Friday and was completed early Saturday night. The contractor, J.A. Jones Co., said it was believed to be the largest continuous pour ever made in Houston — more than 10,000 cubic yards of concrete. There have been larger pours but they have been completed in several stages. The area of the poured mat is 200 feet by 200 feet, almost an acre.” [Prime Property; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Russell Hancock
And here’s what BHP Billiton Petroleum’s new 30-story tower might look like. The company announced yesterday that construction will begin at 1500 Post Oak in November on the fifth skyscraper at Four Oaks Place; the proposed 560,000-sq.-ft. building, going up where a vacant 24-Hour Fitness now sits, will be connected by a skybridge to the company’s existing 1360 Post Oak building. BHP says that the twinnish towers are meant to consolidate the company’s entire workforce in Uptown.
Rendering: Houston Business Journal
THE LUXURY POST OAK IMMIGRANT EXPERIENCE NEXT TO MCDONALD’S Randall Davis has completed the purchase of (most of) the 1405 Post Oak property where that long-standing McDonald’s was getting in the way of his Astoria development (the rendering of which is shown here), reports the Houston Chronicle‘s Nancy Sarnoff: The McDonald’s that appeared in last Monday’s Daily Demolition Report is expected to be replaced with a smaller one near the edge of the
30,466-sq.-ft. 1.23-acre property, making room for the 70 28-story luxury tower — with 3-bedroom units going for $1.3 million — that’s being marketed as a path of upward mobility: “Davis has been luring investors through the federal government’s EB-5 visa program where wealthy would-be immigrants can put $500,000 or $1 million into a job-creating commercial enterprise and become lawful permanent residents of the United States.” [Houston Chronicle ($); previously on Swamplot] Rendering: Randall Davis Company
They grow up so fast: Sending photos in August and October, a reader has been documenting from on high the progress of BLVD Place near San Felipe and Post Oak — and now here’s one more. What’s new? Well, what used to be nothing but grass in the foreground has been stripped for the Hanover apartment tower. And the Whole Foods shell appears to be shaping up, too.
Photo: Swamplot inbox
FUNDING THE POST OAK BRT Metro board chair Gilbert Garcia throws in his $.02 on Uptown Houston’s proposed Post Oak bus rapid transit system that Swamplot reported last month: “There are transit needs everywhere. We know all about them. But Metro’s resources are finite,” Garcia tells the Houston Chronicle‘s Dug Begley. “‘If we can solve the transit needs in this region without stretching Metro resources, like this does, that is great.’” The project is expected to cost $177.5 million, Begley reports, though TIRZ-powered Uptown Houston will pay up to $92 million of that. “The rest would come from $24 million in state transportation funds, and a $45 million grant from the Houston-Galveston Area Council, using federal money the region received,” Begley reports. And the buses could start running as soon as 2017. Uptown Houston’s president John Breeding adds, ‘”We’re the guys who put arches across the street. . . . We’re the guys who put giant granite balls from China at the entrances.’” [Houston Chronicle ($); previously on Swamplot] Image: Uptown Management District
Seem familiar? This 1952 mod appeared in the HBO boob-job exposé Breast Men, starring David Schwimmer as Houston’s early-’60s boob pioneer Dr. Kevin Saunders. Or maybe that two-faced fireplace sparks your memory: Last July, the 4-bedroom, 3,558-sq.-ft. home was listed for sale at $1.1 million. (It was the one with the bomb shelter underneath the patio?) Well, in December it was sold for an even $1 million. And it showed up in today’s Daily Demolition Report.
Why not take one last peek, before it goes?
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The driving force of a project that Uptown Houston District has proposed to the city to transform Post Oak Blvd.? Big beautiful buses. With both residential and commercial developments like Skanska’s 20-story office building popping up along the major transit corridor and METRO’s Uptown/Gold Line nowhere in sight, the District has developed a $177-million project featuring light rail-like BRT to update Post Oak — a street “that has long outlived its original use,” says John Breeding, the District’s president.
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Back in 2010, Skanska said it was going to build and finance an office building in the Galleria all on its own. Swamplot showed you the first and second Kirksey-designed renderings. This one’s the third. And there’s another detail to add to the story: Skanska announced today that Datacert will be the first tenant. Though the planned 20-story, 300,000-sq.-ft. building at 3009 Post Oak is still under construction, Skanska says that Datacert should be able to move in on the 10th and 11th floors later this summer. Right now, the 15-year-old “enterprise legal management solutions” company is headquartered in a building a few doors down at 3040 Post Oak.
Rendering: Swamplot inbox
BRINGING THAT LADY HOME FROM MAGGIE RITA’S UH restaurant management student Catherine Martin is already eyeing the decor of the Maggie Rita’s at 1650 Post Oak Blvd. — doomed, she imagines, for lack of parking at least — for when the Carlos Mencia property follows the Kirby location on its path from former Ninfa’s to shutter-dom: “I even liked the soup, I thought it tasted good. There was this really pretty painting of the Mona Lisa, it was just her face and it was all done in blues and greens. . . . Maybe when this location goes out of business I’ll buy that painting for real cheap on the side of the road. Do restaurants have garage sales? Like in their front yard, in their garage? . . . It’s not too far from my apartment I wonder if I’ll see the signs posted at the corner of my block. I just really liked that painting, you know? The thing is I don’t know where I’d put it in my apartment, I have several blank walls in my apartment, but it’s kind of a long painting, you know, real tall, the only thing is on those blank spots, like I have a book shelf underneath, or my desk or my dresser or something. It’s just not enough space all at once. I’d have to completely rearrange all my furniture and the only problem with that is I’m a bit of a slob, so to rearrange all my furniture I’d have to completely clean my room and there’s a pizza box underneath my bed that’s been there for a while that I’d have to throw away . . . it just kind of seems like a hassle. Maybe I could put it in the kitchen . . . but then it would get, like, oil and stuff on it when I cook, I feel like that stuff gets in the air, you know, and it would ruin the painting . . . you know what, forget it, I’ll figure it out.” [Arbitrary Criticism; previously on Swamplot] Photo of Maggie Rita’s in former guise as Ninfa’s, 1650 Post Oak Blvd.: AmREIT