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

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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
11/19/13 10:30am

Northeast View of Planned Hyatt Regency Hotel for Songy Highroads

The Mathis Group will be starting construction later this month on this 14-story Hyatt Regency hotel designed by Gensler for Atlanta developers Songy Highroads, according to a post on the construction company’s Facebook page. The post and mid-August rendering don’t indicate the project’s location, but commenters on HAIF are noting that the alignment of the building jibes with possible additions to the 425,000-sq.-ft. Galleria Plaza office complex immediately west of the Galleria — which Songy purchased last spring. Back then, Songy’s CEO hinted the company might try to fit more buildings into the complex fronting Westheimer, Alabama, and Sage, which includes the Telecheck Plaza and 5333 Westheimer office buildings, a shopping center called Sage Plaza (not to be confused with another shopping center and office building of the same name nearby), Michaelyndon, and a standalone bank building: “The seven-acre site allows us to develop another project while sharing existing parking.”

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Galleria Plaza
11/13/13 3:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: A LINEAR SHOPPING DISTRICT FROM HIGHLAND VILLAGE TO THE GALLERIA “I love that all these projects are coming to fruition on Westheimer. As more and more private investment comes to this area of Westheimer between Post Oak and Weslayan, will the city of Houston invest in the walkable infrastructure to make this one coherent district as it fills in? What would we call it? East Uptown? Lower River Oaks? Highland West?” [DNAguy, commenting on The River Oaks District’s New Box of Dior] Illustration: Lulu

09/26/13 10:00am

Here’s a concept that HKS came up with for a site just behind the Hotel Granduca, Montebello, and Villa d’Este towers in Uptown Park. The concept shows how it might go if you wanted to build a conference center and a combo hotel-condo tower on 14 green acres between Tilbury and N. Wynden off S. Post Oak, just west of the Loop. This rendering shows the boxy exterior of what appears to be the conference center flanking a linear park shooting off from the banks of Buffalo Bayou.

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09/06/13 10:00am

Remember that unusable and really vague tip sent to Swamplot back in January? The one promising that a “major (non-residential) Houston property is about to make a significant change”? And it wasn’t Macy’s? Well, the in-the-know tipster now reports, we can let that cat out of the bag, since the Houston Business Journal and Houston Chronicle already have: The “Houston landmark” the tipster couldn’t tip us off about is the Galleria — which, it was announced yesterday by developer Simon Property Group, will be undergoing extensive renovations and partial demolition to create about 100,000 new sq. ft. of retail and restaurant space.

The plan calls for the Galleria III portion where Saks Fifth Avenue is currently located to be demolished — though the tipster says the Philip Johnson façade will be maintained — to make room for a bumped-out food court (shown in the rendering above). That freed-up Saks space will provide room for 35 new retailers and restaurants. Meanwhile, Saks will be moving into the Macy’s spot on Sage, and that Macy’s will be merging with the other Macy’s on Hidalgo. (Makes sense.) Also, a standalone box will be built in the parking lot for a few tenants who can afford to be more conspicuous to the stop-and-go crowd on Westheimer.

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08/19/13 3:00pm

Maybe attracted by the gravitational pull of the hulking 185,000-sq.-ft. Idylwood Walmart going up on the other side of S. Wayside Dr., Shipley Do-Nuts is moving into this strip center. This location is about 2 miles closer in than the one near HCC Southeast, also on the northbound Gulf Fwy. feeder.

Photo: Allyn West

07/23/13 12:00pm

This crosshatched highrise shows up in a recently published marketing video as a potential development to densify the low-slung Uptown Park. The 50,000-sq.-ft. site HFF and AmREIT seem to have in mind for these apartments-upon-retail is right off the Loop, across Uptown Park Blvd. from the Ziegler Cooper-designed 27-story Villa d’Este condo tower — a site occupied now by a 12,000-sq.-ft. 1-story building at the northern end of the low-density Euro-style shopping spread.

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