04/25/17 11:30am

Transmission Line Tower Installation, Westpark Dr., 77081

Transmission Line Tower Installation, Westpark Dr., 77081Bits and pieces of the electrical towers formerly stringing CenterPoint’s transmission lines between 59 and Westpark Dr. were spotted laying around just west of West Loop 610 this weekend, though the feet of at least one of the structures were still standing at the ready. The old towers appear to have been fully relieved of their duties at this point, 3 months or so after the taller, sleeker towers started going skyward. Here’s one of the last full-length portraits featuring both kinds of towers, taken in the final days before the changeover began in earnest:

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West Loop Heights
04/19/17 4:30pm

2241 Richmond Ave., Upper Kirby, Houston, 77098

Pothole in Parking Lot for Hobbit Cafe, Blue Fish House, and Yelapa Playa Mexicana, 2241 Richmond Ave., Upper Kirby, HoustonThe folks at Rim Tanon (the Thai place that recently replaced the former Blue Fish House sushi spot on Richmond) send word that the hole-spangled brick, asphalt, and rubble parking lot at the center of the Portsmouth Square restaurant clump has been freshly paved over. The spot, which won top honors on a 2011 list of Houston’s worst restaurant parking lots, was resurfaced from Richmond to Portsmouth St. just in time for Tax Day. Above and below are a couple of damp shots of the lot circa some 2010 gawking:

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Flattening the Competition
03/23/17 12:00pm

Former Exxon Upstream Facility, 3102-3120 Buffalo Spdwy., Greenway/Upper Kirby, Houston, 77098Former Exxon Upstream Facility, 3102-3120 Buffalo Spdwy., Greenway/Upper Kirby, Houston, 77098

More angles on the ongoing obliteration of structures at the freshly former Exxon Upstream Research facility on Buffalo Spdwy. at W. Alabama St. come this week from one of reader MontroseResident’s more elevated perches. The most prominently visible act of deconstruction has been the shattering breakup of the parking garage in the campus’s northwest corner, due south of the now-mostly-reskinned River Oaks Luxury Apartments midrise on Westheimer (which was stripped down to the slabs in the last 2 years for retooling as The River Oaks condo tower, visible below on the far left):

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Crushing on Buffalo Spdwy.
03/23/17 10:30am

2241 Richmond Ave., Upper Kirby, Houston, 77098

2241 Richmond Ave., Upper Kirby, Houston, 77098

One of the low-slung spots fringing Portsmouth Square (the gravelly picket-fenced space between Portsmouth St. and Richmond Ave. which a reader refers to as “arguably Houston’s worst parking lot”) has been getting worked over for an identity swapout planned to take effect later this month. The former Blue Fish House sushi restaurant, just north of vegetarian- and Lord-of-the-Rings-geek-friendly Hobbit Cafe and facing off with Capone’s Oven and Bar, is now decked out in signage for Rim Tanon, billed by its Richmond-facing banner as a Thai street food joint.

Some of the Blue Fish’s old signage was still visible on the back side of the building as of earlier this week (as seen above), though the space’s hanging placard sign has already been replaced. And the building’s trees-in-the-holes front patio area has been getting a little bit of retooling:

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Tradeoff on Richmond Ave
03/17/17 5:30pm

Corporate Plaza site, Kirby at Norfolk, Upper Kirby, Houston, 77098

A sky-high reader (and self-proclaimed messenger of love) sends this shot of the lonesome-heart-shaped puddle sequestered away these days behind the wooden wall around the former site of Corporate Plaza and its Swamplot Award-winning parking garage. The increasingly grassy land doesn’t appear to have gotten much action since the erection of the heavier-duty fencing last Octoberno plans to change that any time soon seem to have been announced yet by the lands new owners, California-based developer Triyar.

Photo: Swamplot inbox

Hopes Up on Upper Kirby
03/15/17 11:15am

Former Exxon Upstream Facility, 3102-3120 Buffalo Spdwy., Greenway/Upper Kirby, Houston, 77098

Former Exxon Upstream Facility, 3102-3120 Buffalo Spdwy., Greenway/Upper Kirby, Houston, 77098Permissions started to trickle in earlier this month for the  knockout of various buildings on the newly former Exxon Upstream research facility at the corner of Buffalo Spdwy. and W. Alabama St. California-based Spear Street Capital and Transwestern admitted to buying the property last week but stayed mum on plans for the site. A reader took a wandering tour around the edge of the 1950s lab complex yesterday afternoon, noting the parking garage teardown shown above, and the various signs of deliberately accelerated wear-and-tear around the rest of the structures:

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Upstream Going Down
03/09/17 10:45am

3801 Farnham St., Shepherd Triangle, Houston, 77098

3801 Farnham St., Shepherd Triangle, Houston, 77098As a couple of commenters pieced together recently, the original 59 Diner spot at the curvy intersection of Farnham St. and Shepherd Dr. is back up for lease again, after a number of name- and face-changes in quick succession. After a 2-month interlude as El Beso Cantina, new signage and menus were deployed to rebrand the spot as Another Broken Yolk Cafe — which advertised itself online as a non-24-hour spot, though still bearing the tiny 24-Hrs Breakfast dot above the main entrance.

Almost immediately after that, the spot shut down again — another reader grabbed these photos of the building yesterday, noting that the only remaining signage on the site is the dot above the main entrance and the Closed For Remodeling note on the door. The property appears to have gone back on the market for lease around the last week of February, shortly before or after that new signage (shown below, but since removed) was being installed along Shepherd:

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Sticking Around on Shepherd
02/28/17 11:30am

Former Exxon Upstream Facility, 3102-3120 Buffalo Spdwy., Greenway/Upper Kirby, Houston, 77098Former Exxon Upstream Facility, 3102-3120 Buffalo Spdwy., Greenway/Upper Kirby, Houston, 77098

Pieces of the fencing surrounding the MacKie and Kamrath-designed ExxonMobil Upstream Research facility on Buffalo Spdwy. were spotted sprawled out on the grass yesterday along the campus perimeter after being plucked from their stations; more barriers are getting yanked up this morning, as seen in the second shot above. The property (which appears to have been transferred to the nonprofit Exxon Foundation in 2015 after the oil giant’s plans to offload the site were announced) was  sold this month to an entity directing its mail to real estate investment and development firm Spear Street Capital. A couple of readers report that other major shuffling around and cleaning out appear to have been going on at the facility for at least the last few weeks, with vehicles bearing the Precision Demolition logo making periodic guest appearances on the scene.

Across W. Alabama St. from the building’s more curvaceous end, the spot occupied until early last year by the empty shell of honky tonk Blanco’s has since been filled in with athletics stuff for St. John’s School:

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Exxon Exit
02/27/17 11:15am

 under-construction Kirby Collection, Kirby Dr. at Colquitt St., Upper Kirby, Houston, 77098
 under-construction Kirby Collection, Kirby Dr. at Colquitt St., Upper Kirby, Houston, 77098

Rendering of under-construction Kirby Collection, Kirby Dr. at Colquitt St., Upper Kirby, HoustonAn extra crane was spotted standing around in oncoming Kirby Dr. traffic on Saturday morning just north of Richmond Ave., helping to disassemble the tower crane that’s been used to lift pieces of the Kirby Collection’s under-construction office building into place over the last year-and-a-few-months. A representative from Thor Equities tells Swamplot this morning that the office midrise should be wrapped up by the end of 2017. The ellipse-footed residential tower (peaking over the top of the rectangular office building’s frame in the shot above) hit its full height earlier this month as well:

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Down To Earth
02/22/17 11:15am

Another Broken Yolk, 3801 Farnham St., Shepherd Triangle, Houston, 77098

Some time between the morning and evening rush hours yesterday, says a reader, the new sign above for Another Broken Yolk Cafe went up at 3801 Farnham St., the original location of the 59 Diner chain prior to its lawsuit-clouded closure. The building adopted the persona of optionally halal Tex-Mex and pancake joint El Beso Cantina for a brief interlude starting around Christmas, after which the building’s “Eat Here!” dot was redone to read “24 Hrs Breakfast.” The website for the latest redo, however, currently lists the restaurant’s hours of operation as 7am to 10pm.

The building’s exterior has had a bit of a makeover since 59 Diner’s departure: the chrome and teal went more brick, yellow, and red for El Beso’s brief tenure, though other elements (like the BREAKFAST LUNCH DINNER labels) have remained in place. A teal hole can be spied where some El Beso signage hung until recently, in the same over-the-doorway spot previously occupied by the bubble-gum pink 59 logo:

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Flipping Breakfast Concepts
02/03/17 1:45pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHEREFORE ART THOU, ALABAMA THEATER? Olivia Hussey in Romeo and Juliet at the Alabama Theater, Upper Kirby, Houston“My elementary school class (can’t remember which grade) saw Romeo and Juliet there. The one with Olivia Hussey as Juliet. I remember the seats were velvet and rocked. If you kicked the seat in front of you really hard it sent the person’s popcorn flying for several rows.” [Tangyjoe, commenting on Former Alabama Theater’s Pastel Modernistic Forehead Browned Out]

01/31/17 5:15pm

New Paint Job for Trader Joe's, Petsmart at Former Alabama Theater, 2922 S. Shepherd Dr., Upper Kirby, Houston

The front of Weingarten Realty’s Alabama Shepherd Shopping Center now sports some big dark blocks on its Shepherd-facing facade, Houstorian James Glassman notes in a drive-by of the scene this afternoon. The gradated yellow vertical fluting above the movie-theater-turned-bookstore-turned-sandbox-turned-grocery store’s marquee sign (which the city’s landmark designation writeup says is made of enameled steel) has been done over in a single swath of brown, matching the shade applied above the formerly tan Petsmart facade as well. Marketing materials on Weingarten’s website for the shopping center still show the old color scheme:

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Trader Joe’s Trade
01/27/17 12:30pm

Rendering of Levy Park, 3801 Eastside St. at Richmond Ave., Upper Kirby, Houston

Levy Park, 3801 Eastside St., Upper Kirby/Greenway Plaza, Houston, TX 77098
Levy Park, 3801 Eastside St., Upper Kirby/Greenway Plaza, Houston, TX 77098The new swirls and swoops around Levy Park are starting to look more like those previously released renderings of the space’s total facelift, as a planned February 25th reopening date draws near. The Levy Park Conservancy is throwing an opening party that day, including art performances, workshops, gardening demos, and piano music (presumably from the moveable park piano.) The group sends along some photos of the increasingly colorful construction site, from the spiraling walking path both pictured and rendered above, to the repurposed double-decker bus that’ll eventually sit alongside the park’s main open greenspace to tend a beer garden. The bus previously made an appearance in this rendering of the lumpy triangular dog park:

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Sprouting in Kirby Grove
01/13/17 10:45am

Lighting testing of 59 bridge

Upate, 4pm: The text has been updated to clarify the bridge’s color capabilities and include more info on current setup from the design firm.

Hazard St. Bridge Lighting TestsThe curvy crossings over Hwy. 59 east of Spur 527 have been caught on camera glowing at passing drivers this week as workers test out the new colored lighting systems. Sarah Gandy of Gandy² Lighting Design tells Swamplot that the plan is to have all 6 bridges lit nightly by the first week of February as the pre-Super Bowl hullaballoo ramps up, but that final tweaks and adjustments are still being made (as seen here).

Gandy tells Swamplot that the bridge’s color patterns are still being programmed, and that they’ll soon be capable of a full range of groovy multi-tone modes like those shown in renderings previously released by the Montrose Management District (shown below):

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Pre-Super Bowl Exhibition