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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

02/13/13 9:30am

Will the recent purchase, a reader wants to know, of a 105,000-sq.-ft. building out near Spring Branch by Admiral Linen & Uniform Services mean anything for the company’s much-smaller headquarters at 2030 Kipling St.? Well, Admiral Linen isn’t available for comment.

The company closed just after Christmas on the building at 8020 Blankenship Dr., near Hempstead and Bingle. Since 1998, according to city records, it’s owned the three-building, 24,000-sq.-ft. headquarters a block west east of South Shepherd and directly behind the Randalls on Westheimer.

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01/31/13 10:30am

One-stop shopping: you can see the signage and new (and presumably sterile) cabinetry through the second-floor windows of The Centre at River Oaks (in Upper Kirby, in fact), where a 25,000-sq.-ft. branch of Texas Children’s Hospital and Pediatric Associates is expected to open in March; the makeover of the shopping center at West Alabama and Kirby began last summer; Ainbinder announced that Ulta Beauty would be operating out of the first floor of the bankrupt Borders; Texas Children’s will sit atop both Ulta Beauty and Brio Tuscan Grille.

Photo: Swamplot inbox

01/30/13 1:30pm

No more le breakfast, no more le lunch: Catching workers moving equipment out of Le Peep in Shepherd Plaza, a Swamplot reader sends in this photo. That’s a U-HAUL — er, le trailer — backed up to the doors. “Closed without notice!” cries le tipster. “I asked a worker and he said this location is closed for good.” Le Peep has 6 other restaurants in Houston.

Photo: loves swamplot

01/23/13 12:38pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: ODE TO A DOOMED ALABAMA PLACE BUNGALOW, WITH CAVEATS “Poor, poor 2205 Branard. I know the standard Swamplottian response is ‘if you’re so sad to see it go, buy it.‘ I know that it was built in 1939, and wasn’t necessarily meant to last past 1989. I know that it may have structural problems, need electrical updates, and have a tiny kitchen. I know all those things, yet I can’t look at this adorable brick house, this poor condemned soul with its neck on the chopping block, and not get a lump in my throat. What did this house do to deserve such a fate? Did it not bow down to the ballroom-sized bathroom trend? Did it refuse to tart itself up in stucco to suit the Tuscan-craving masses? Did it commit the crime of having only (gasp!) 8′ tall ceilings?! Perhaps it was simply the offense of having a pleasing ratio of height, fenestration, and visual interest that doesn’t say ‘screw you, street, I don’t care what I look like outside, because I have granite countertops, slate backsplashes and crown moulding!‘ Does this make me a house-hugger? Probably. Will this earn me a thorough flaming from other commenters? Definitely. [Pours some out for fallen soldier 2205 Branard]” [Jennifer Mathis, commenting on Daily Demolition Report: No, Virginia]