05/29/14 10:45am

Fifth Floor Elevator Landing, Decorative Center Houston Parking Garage, 5120 Woodway Dr., Houston

“The doors do actually open on that floor and the elevator is functional,” insists the Swamplot reader who sent us these photos of the elevator landing on the fifth floor of the attached parking garage for the Decorative Center Houston at 5120 Woodway Dr. north of the Galleria. Yes, getting in and out would likely be a little difficult for those wider of girth or packages. But if you do end up stuck, you can always go down to a lower floor, switch cars, and come back up where there’s a little more space to maneuver:

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Sleek Designs
05/28/14 11:30am

A.D. PLAYERS SAYS IT’S READY TO BUILD ITS GIANT GALLERIA THEATER COMPLEX, FOR REALS THIS TIME Proposed A.D. Players Theater, Westheimer Rd. at Westheimer Way, Galleria, HoustonA mere decade after the installation of the first “coming soon” sign on the organization’s (then) new never-built-on 4-acre lot on Westheimer Rd. just west of Yorktown, A.D. Players appears ready to begin building the sparkling new theater it’s been promising — and fundraising for — all these years. The company, which produces plays “rooted in Christian values,” has announced it will break ground on the project — sometime this summer. The company hasn’t specified the budget for the building, or how much it’s raised in its 10-year capital campaign, but it is touting a recent $2 million gift from the Houston Texans owner’s Robert and Janice McNair Foundation. The facility will include a 450-seat mainstage, a 300-seat children’s theater, and a 150-seat black box theater. It’ll sit between the 5444 Westheimer office building and CVS. [Houston Business Journal] Rendering: A.D. Players

04/24/14 10:45am

ST. PHILIP PRESBYTERIAN IS NOT FOR SALE Saint Philip Presbyterian Church, 4807 San Felipe St., Uptown, Houston“The enduring themes of conversation here include traffic and real estate,” intoned Pastor John Wurster in his Easter Sunday sermon in front of the blue tiled chancel wall in the sanctuary of the St. Philip Presbyterian Church, which is sited on a prime slice of Uptown land at 4807 San Felipe St. “The real estate conversations seem to happen exclusively with those outside of the church. These are the people who call expressing an interest in buying the church property. I explain that we’re not looking to sell. Of course, you are. Everyone is willing to sell at some point. Just tell us what that point is. No, really, we feel like this is where God has called us. This kind of theological talk tends to bring no response beyond bafflement, as if it’s not possible that one could be in a place and not be willing to leave it if the price were right, as if it’s not possible that decisions and actions might be motivated by something besides money.” Saint Philip’s congregation merged with Central Presbyterian Church a few years ago, shortly before that congregation sold its Richmond Dr. facility to the Morgan Group. Central Presbyterian was torn down for apartments in 2011. [St. Philip Presbyterian; previously on Swamplot] Photo: church member Jeromy Murphy

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:

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Uptown Transit
04/09/14 11:00am

Aerial View of Galleria McDonald's and Astoria Condo Tower Under Construction, San Felipe St. at Garretson, Uptown, Houston

Rendering of Astoria Condo Tower, Post Oak Blvd. at Garretson, Uptown, HoustonThe photo above — sent to Swamplot by a HAIF user who goes by the handle SkylineView — is our best view yet of the project themed-condo developer Randall Davis has been working on for more than 5 years: convincing the Galleria McDonald’s to scooch over just a smidge and sell him part of the fast-food restaurant’s parking lot so he could build a 30-story highrise on it with all the benefits and cachet of drive-thru adjacency. Davis’s $70 million Astoria (portrayed in more glamorous circumstances at left) is being funded in part by the immigration dreams of 29 well-to-do foreigners, who have ponied up $1 million a piece to gain themselves status as U.S. residents, a path to citizenship, and a piece of whatever action the investment brings.

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Between Whole Foods and Fast Food
02/20/14 11:00am

Proposed Alterations to Uptown Park, Post Oak Blvd., Uptown Houston

The owner of Uptown Park, Houston’s favorite Europe-in-a-parking-lot shopping center, plans to add a sleek dash of density to the collection of stucco-and-styrofoam-fronted pad buildings. AmREIT has announced that it is teaming up with an unnamed “major national developer” to replace the parking-space fronted shopping island at the northwest corner of the complex with a “contemporary” highrise residential tower. Currently, Baker Furniture, Peluche Decor, and the Bella Rinova Salon occupy the single-story structure on that spot.

But the addition of residents directly above Uptown Park shouldn’t take away from the shopping opportunities below: Renderings included in a promotional video released by the company show that the tower will have replacement retail spaces on the ground floor, and possibly on a second level as well — though the shopping pod’s existing head-in parking and adjacent spaces would be replaced by a porte-cochère and garage entrance ramp.

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Towers in the Parking Lot
12/19/13 10:30am

Rendering of Proposed Office Building at 1885 St. James Place, Houston

Wedding, Courtyard on St. James Place, 1885 St. James Pl., HoustonThis striped confection is what developers are planning to put in place of the Courtyard on St. James Place, an ivy-bedecked wedding venue beloved — or at least remembered — by hundreds of Houston spouses and divorcees and tucked into the southwest corner of the office-building complex near the corner of San Felipe and Yorktown, northwest of the Galleria. Though the rendering doesn’t reveal much about the surfaces planned for the new structure, a comment from Jones Lang Lasalle’s Chris Decker, in charge of marketing the 13-story office building, says that “upper-level floors will feature exterior balconies and decorative masonry that will complement the sophisticated look of the limestone aggregate block window wall.” A colleague refers to it as a “niche-type jewel.” The 135,000-sq.-ft collection of offices — with what appears to be an attached 2-story segment modeled after a smaller groom’s cake — will sit on top of a parking-garage-podium base.

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Fondant Memories
12/13/13 1:15pm

Construction at Galleria Plaza, Sage Rd. at West Alabama St., Galleria, Houston

A fence is up and some demo work appears to be beginning at Galleria Plaza, across Sage Rd. from Galleria III. The mixed-use site, which stretches between Westheimer and West Alabama, is indeed the planned location of the new Hyatt Regency hotel that Swamplot reported on last month. The 14-story hotel, which was designed by Gensler and is being developed by Songy Highroads and the Carlyle Group, will fit into the surface parking lot at the northwest corner of Sage and West Alabama shown here:

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Making Rooms
12/11/13 12:00pm

5345-longmont-01-2

5345-longmont-22

Sampling life in Tanglewood got a little less expensive yesterday when the $20,000 per month leasing rate of this 1986 Georgian-style property with lagoon-like pool and fancy finishes dropped $5K after 2 weeks on the rental market. Don’t expect to get too comfy for long, however: The listing still says the owner prefers a 6-to-12-month arrangement.

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25 Percent Off
12/06/13 2:30pm

FLUSHING AWAY ALLEN STANFORD’S LEGACY AT 5050 WESTHEIMER Former Headquarters of Stanford Financial Group, 5050 Westheimer Rd., HoustonNoting the extensive changes to the office building at 5050 Westheimer across the street from the Galleria that once served as headquarters for the Stanford Financial Group but has since been taken over completely by real estate firm Keller Williams, Real Estate Bisnow’s Catie Dixon zeroes in on the big news: “Stanford’s gigantic personal bathroom is gone.” Reuters reporter Chris Baltimore described the rarely seen first-floor spectacle back in 2009, after an exclusive crime-scene tour, as “a chamber of black granite and mahogany, with a gigantic mirror and granite countertop, flanked with shelves of fluffy white towels and toiletries, including a bottle of ‘Brilliant Brunette’ shampoo.” Notable features: the separate black-toilet room, the huge walk-in shower, and the blank door next to it which served as Sir Allen’s private escape route to the parking deck. Stanford’s entire personal magnet-key-access-only first-floor domain has now been replaced by the offices of KW-affiliated lender and title companies; the Gensler redo of the building has kept some of the green marble but added some red walls, replacing stone-carved messages like Stanford’s HARD WORK, CLEAR VISION, VALUE for the CLIENT with “inspirational and wacky sayings like ‘Complaining=garbage magnet.’” [Real Estate Bisnow; Reuters; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Flushed