07/15/13 10:00am

“Soon!” You can almost hear this dormant excavator warning the Montrose Fiesta. The first one started sneaking up on the strip center at Dunlavy and W. Alabama back in March, but it wasn’t until late last week that the permits were granted and the real smashing began. The Fiesta closed for good almost exactly a year ago, not long after the H-E-B Montrose Market went up across the street where the Wilshire Village apartments once stood. Fittingly, developer Marvy Finger has said he plans to replace the soon-to-be-felled grocery store with apartments.

More shots of the carnage:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

07/09/13 10:00am

A WEST AVE SUSHI SHUTDOWN Friday was the last day for West Ave sushi joint Katsuya in Upper Kirby. Next up to throw its use into the mix? Nara, which claims in a press release that it will be Houston’s first Korean restaurant inside the Loop. Katsuya was open here for about a year and a half, reports Eater Houston, feeding the likes of NFL pals Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow, but seemed to lose a certain something: “One Eater tipster reported that things had become grim at the end, with the restaurant only serving sushi but not prepared entrees.” Nara is expected to open this fall. [Eater Houston] Photo: Ryan Forbes

07/05/13 10:00am

MONTROSE ART COLLECTIVE TO HAVE SEX CHANGE BEFORE REPLACING DOMY BOOKS Culturemap is reporting that Westheimer Rd. purveyors of fine comics and doodads Domy Books will be closing July 14. Apparently, building owner Dan Fergus (who also owns Brasil next door and the smaller building next to that that Space Montrose is trying to raise money to leave) has already secured a new tenant: Cody Ledvina, the painter of weiner dogs and poolside cats and co-founder of Montrose art and performance whatchamacallit the Joanna. And though it seems this relocating incarnation will be undergoing gender reassignment to become the Brandon, Ledvina says that that won’t alter the quality of what goes on there: “The programming, as far as the art goes, will be basically the exact same. Not any more refined or professional.” [Culturemap; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Larami Culbertson

07/02/13 10:15am

Where’s Mini? A reader sends this photo of the burned rubber sticking to the stucco wall of design and furniture store Internum at 3303 Kirby Dr., where the 350-lb. promotional fiberglass shell of a Mini Cooper had been not-quite-parallel parked since December. And parked illegally — at first, anyway, garnering a red tag on December 27 from city inspectors to go with that red holiday garland wrapped around the Upper Kirby street lamps.

Photos: Lisa Garvin (Mini); Creative Accidents (wall)

06/27/13 3:45pm

A tilted 2-story skylight provides a star-command view within a 1970 townhome just behind West Ave. The area was dubbed the Upper Kirby District decades after this home and 4 related properties appeared on their stretch of block north of W. Alabama in the antique-shop-and-eatery hinterlands east of Lamar High School. The group of townhomes have varying facades of stucco, glass brick, timber and awnings, each over a 2-car garage. This home, slightly taller than its brethren, counters its contemporary origins with Old World-y flourishes. It was listed the first week of June, for $469,000.

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

05/08/13 1:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THAT SLOW-MO BUILD DOWN THE STREET “Builders started 6442 homes, but how many have been finished? One house on my street broke ground almost exactly a year ago and as of today, it has a foundation, framing, Tyvek wrap, most of a roof, a little plumbing, and a little drywall. The house and its ‘dry’wall have been open to the elements for a few months now, including during the torrential rains of a few weeks ago. There have been only 2 workers working on it at a time, and no one has been working on it at all in the past couple weeks. It’s not like I’m in a slow-moving undesirable area; on the contrary, I’m near the border of 77098 and 77006 where houses are going under contract within a week of landing on the MLS, and asking prices are 1.5x –- 2x what they were 5 years ago. I’ve read that all of the construction employees have defected to work on commercial sites. Maybe that rumor is true.” [GoogleMaster, commenting on Headlines: Houston Tourism Boost; Downtown MegaBus Congestion]

05/06/13 12:20pm

A few more views of the renovations from Cisneros Design Studio planned for the office buildings at 3701 and 3801 Kirby Dr., near the Elevation Burger and the closed Maggie Rita’s on Richmond: To be removed from the façade, it appears, is that throwback turquoise-and-red detailing, replaced with what architect Tim Cisneros tells the Houston Chronicle is a kind of stretchy vinyl skin.

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

04/25/13 11:00am

The Problem: “As traffic backs up on 59 past the Spur, drivers are faced with a dilemma. Do I sit and queue here in the right three lanes, which aren’t moving? Or do I get over and zoom past until right before the split? Many, understandably, choose the latter. But what this does is create a new bottleneck at the point where the Spur diverges, because traffic is merging into the left lane and then trying to cross over to get to 288 or stay on 59.” The (Not So Obvious) Solution: “Add a couple miles of barrier and put the split (‘gore point’ in traffic engineer speak) at Shepherd. If you’ve driven this route once, you can see how it would immediately shave several minutes off the trip to Downtown/Midtown/Montrose. The Spur is never jammed in the reverse direction, so anything that effectively lengthens the Spur lengthens the distance of hassle-free 60mph cruising. But such a configuration would also help drivers continuing on 59.”

Photo: Flickr user jfre81 [license]

04/23/13 3:45pm

This rendering of the apartment building that Hines is replacing Cafe Adobe with isn’t current, says a company rep. And details about the building are few — though the rep says that the midrise Hines is planning for the soon-to-be-former restaurant and parking lot at Westheimer and South Shepherd will contain 215 units and no retail space.

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

04/19/13 10:00am

A project to improve a 2.9-mile stretch of the Southwest Fwy. feeder road between South Shepherd Dr. and Newcastle St. could get started as early as May 1, a rep from TxDOT says. And the Upper Kirby Management District contributed some funds to the $19 million project, which might give you an idea about what to expect.

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

04/04/13 4:16pm

Behind the curbside growth gone wild, a far tidier contemporary home has been hiding (above) in plain view since 1998. The Upper Kirby property dropped its price April Fool’s Day to $745,000, down from an initial $770K when listed in mid-March. Facing west — and located across from older apartments and the back of a more recent mid-rise complex — this home on an end-cap lot not too far from Whole Foods Market saves its outdoor impact for the back side of the fenced lot (above) and uses the scene as its view from rooms within.

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

03/21/13 2:00pm

So the excavator is sneaking up on the old Fiesta. You knew one was coming. And you know there will be more. As of this morning, the low-slung building at the corner of Dunlavy and West Alabama hasn’t yet received a demolition permit, but it’s been on the smashing block since closing in July, not too long after H-E-B opened the Montrose Market across the street. Developer Marvy Finger, who now owns the property here in Lancaster Place, has said he plans to build something Mediterranean — a 6- to 8-story apartment complex that might or might not have some retail, too: “We’re going to try to create something really beautiful,” he’s told the Houston Chronicle’s Nancy Sarnoff.

Photo: Loves swamplot

02/22/13 10:15am

MINI COOPER PARKED ON KIRBY STORE WALL NOW PERMITTED Call it the artifice on the edifice: It took a few months, but the City of Houston seems to have embraced — or, at least, bureaucratically allowed — the fake Mini Cooper parked on the wall that was slapped with a red tag in early January at Internum, the interiors and design store at 3303 Kirby: ”After some back and forth about permitting,” explains The Highwayman’s Dug Begley, “the city granted a permit in late January. Turns out you need to let the city know when you hang something over the sidewalk, even if it is a temporary ad and not a permanent sign. Otherwise, you get a lot of attention . . . .” [The Highwayman; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Lisa Garvin