11/07/17 1:00pm

In case you were curious what the 9th-floor 1-bedroom condo in the Cosmopolitan owned by southwest Houston charter school Accelerated Interdisciplinary Intermediate Academy looks like, here are some photos taken when the property was listed for sale in February of 2011, for $468,500. The school purchased the condo that June. 250 elementary and middle school students attend Accelerated Interdisciplinary Intermediate Academy on its mostly bare 7-acre campus at 12825 Summit Ridge Dr., near the intersection of Alt. 90 and the Fort Bend Pkwy. Toll Rd. The taxpayer-funded school’s 2 buildings have no windows.

So what’s the condo for? An unidentified school representative emails the Chronicle‘s Jacob Carpenter to explain it’s used for “”back office support and SECURE storage of historical records.” Repeated break-in attempts, according to the representative, prevented the records from being kept at the school. “The writer also reasoned that the charter preferred buying property instead of paying rent, and that its options were ‘very limited,’” writes Carpenter. “The author didn’t explain why the school opted for the condo when cheaper storage and office space were available.”

The almost-floor-to-ceiling windows and balcony in the school’s Cosmopolitan condo face south, down Post Oak Blvd.:

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A Charter School’s Uptown Holdings
11/06/17 11:00am

THE NEW GALLERIA STORE THAT TRACKS YOUR GLANCES Dwight Silverman explores the tech offerings at products-from-startups-showcase b8ta, which opened in the Galleria last month a couple doors down from the new Saks Fifth Avenue: “The stores are also bristling with cameras, which is common in modern retail stores. However, these cameras — 170 of them in the Galleria store — don’t necessarily capture video. [b8ta CEO Vibhu] Norby said they turn images of individuals into data, and then track them as they move about the store.’ We are not tracking the person’s face, we are tracking the geometry of their face,’ he said. ‘We hash it, then we watch the hash as it’s interacting with products. There’s no identification information; this is just a blob doing these behaviors.’ Behavioral data are then shared with the product makers. Someone who walks into b8ta may look at two or three products before they buy one. Their pathway is provided to b8ta’s vendors.” [Houston Chronicle ($)] Photo: Vibhu Norby

10/02/17 3:30pm

Here’s evidence that the scheduled reconstruction of the entire West Loop—I-69 interchange just southeast of the Galleria is about to begin. “Crews have been ripping out trees and other vegetation,” reports reader and 610 traveler John Greiner: “Much more than could be argued for improving traffic sight lines.”

These pics show the scene:

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Foliage First
09/06/17 9:30am

HARVEY NOW READY TO HIT GALLERIA THEATER A WEEK LATER THAN EXPECTED Opening night for Mary Chase’s 1945 Pulitzer Prize–winning play Harvey at the Jeannette and L.M. George Theater is now set for September 15th — just a week after its originally scheduled opening date was preempted by a downgraded Hurricane bearing the same name. The A.D. Players‘ brand-new playhouse at 5420 Westheimer, just west of the Galleria, did not flood and suffered only “minor leaks” from the storm, but in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Harvey the theater-ministry group announced a decision to postpone its season-opening production, which stars an invisible rabbit named Harvey. New executive director Jake Speck says some new “arts-access and fundraising initiatives” will be announced soon. [A.D. Players; American Theatre; previously on SwamplotPhoto of George Theater: A.D. Players

08/29/17 12:15pm

HARVEY UPSTAGES HARVEY The A.D. Players‘ new 450-seat Jeannette and L.M. George Theater at 5420 Westheimer just west of the Galleria, which opened earlier this year, “has stood the storm well,” its operators report today on Facebook. But not so much the very first set of shows in the resident theater company’s new season: Because of Hurricane Harvey’s devastation, a production of Mary Chase’s 1945 Pulitzer Prize-winning play about a 6-ft., 3-and-a-half-in.-tall invisible rabbit named Harvey (scheduled to begin a 3-and-a-half-week run on September 8th) has been put off — for a while, at least: “Harvey the storm has not been our friend. ‘Harvey’ the show will go on — more details to come,” reads a note posted by the theater last night. “When it does, we want it to be a lighthearted lift to our beloved community, which has suffered so much in just a few short days.” The theater company began planning its production of Harvey months ago, but says it had been promoting the production “in earnest” for only a little more than a week. [A.D. Players] Photo of George Theater: A.D. Players

07/14/17 9:15am

MORE HOUSTON RETAIL BREAKUPS: ALFRED ANGELO BRIDAL CALLS IT QUITS Bridesmaid- and wedding-dress store Alfred Angelo appears to be shuttering all 62 of its locations nationwide, amid reports of a possible sudden bankruptcy filing. That would leave the Galleria-area Al’s Formal Wear all alone — it sits next door to the Alfred Angelo Bridal in the strip shopping center at 1801 Post Oak Blvd. It should leave the Al’s Formal Wear in the Baybrook Square shopping center kinda lonely too — it faces the Gulf Fwy. right next door to the Alfred Angelo Bridal at 1201 W. Bay Area Blvd. in Webster. The third Houston-area Alfred Angelo location — pictured above in the Commons at Willowbrook shopping center, across from the Willowbrook Mall at 7550-A FM 1960 West — is a little more sequestered from its tuxedo counterpart: Alfred Angelo sits between a DSW Shoe Warehouse and a Ross Dress for Less; the Al’s Formal Wear is wedged between a Panda Express and a Beck’s Prime on the opposite side of the shopping center parking lot. [abc13] Photo: Alfred Angelo Bridal

05/17/17 11:30am

Now hanging in the newly remodeled central nook on the Galleria’s curved facade along Westheimer Rd.: these strips of hexagonal rings spotted early last week by a passing bus rider. (That curved wall is where Saks Fifth Avenue used to be, before the store scooted into the boxy new building next door.) The rendering up top was released last fall, around the time Simon Properties confirmed that Nobu and Fig & Olive would be taking up 2 of the 4 restaurant spaces shown.

For comparison, here’s what the entry through the Philip Johnson-designed facade looked like as of last August, after the new windows had been cut (but before the top edge of the facade got trimmed off): 

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Westheimer Faceoff
04/06/17 1:30pm

Roostar Vietnamese Grill, 5551 Richmond Ave., Westheimer Gardens, Houston, 77056

Former Napoli at  5551 Richmond Ave., Westheimer Gardens, Houston, 77056Roostar Vietnamese Grill is just about done moving into the southern slot of the perpendicular 2-man segment of the Richmond Ave. strip center east of Chimney Rock Rd., a reader notes. The Vietnamese kinda-fusion restaurant’s first location opened in Spring Branch a few years ago as Vietnam Poblano, swapping to the new name and stylized but literal melded bird-star logo not long after. Ronnie Nguyen and Linda Nguyen, the 2-link chain’s forgers, had hoped the new location (in the space formerly occupied by Napoli) would be up and running in time for all that Super Bowl hubbub; looks like the new plan is for an April opening.

Next door to the nearly-hatched restaurant is the former Starbucks spot, which had shut down by the time that shiny new freestanding one opened up on the corner across the street last year:

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Coffee Out, Roostar In