04/15/15 11:45am

Olive Garden Restaurant, 2929 Southwest Fwy., Upper Kirby, Houston

Could’ve been a Red Lobster or a Longhorn Steakhouse, but Darden Restaurants went the Olive Garden route with the brand-new feeder-side building-in-a-parking-lot the company built in place of the Greenway Inn & Suites — the hotel at 2929 Southwest Fwy. formerly known as the Houstonaire Motor Inn and the Colonel Sanders’ Inn, which was demolished last fall. The signs on the building, which is still under construction, went up yesterday, reports the reader who snapped these pics:

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Tablet Service
04/14/15 12:16pm

STAG’S HEAD PUB CAN’T RENEW ITS LEASE, IS CALLING IT QUITS FOR NOW The Stag's Head Pub, 2128 Portsmouth St. at Sandman, Shepherd Plaza, HoustonThe Stag’s Head will be closing later this month, the owner of the Shepherd Plaza pub at 2128 Portsmouth St. reports. “The Landlord has decided not to renew our lease,” writes Michael Holliday on the 15-year-old establishment’s Facebook page. Attempts to negotiate something short term, he indicates, were not successful. “I have been looking to move The Stags to another location for some time but have been unable to find a suitable site.” Holliday says he isn’t giving up on the search, though. [The Stag’s Head on Facebook] Photo: Marc Brubaker

04/13/15 3:15pm

NEW INSTALLATION MARKS LOCATIONS OF KIRBY DR. WENDY’S OAKS WITH THICK YELLOW RIBBONS Protection for New Trees, Wendy's Restaurant, 5003 Kirby Dr., Upper Kirby, HoustonSpotted at the corner of North Blvd. and Kirby Dr., just north of Rice Village: 6 holes, 6 staked-off areas, and 6 fabric wraps around the Wendy’s drive-thru at 5003 Kirby. Is this another art installation in memory of the removed oaks? Naaah. Probably just the work of city crews, getting ready to plant their replacements. Expenditure of up to $300K for new live oaks — matching the amount paid by the franchise owner as part of a legal settlement for last year’s nighttime tree-hacking incident — was approved by city council back in February. Photo: Swamplot inbox

04/01/15 11:15am

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An updated condo with courtyard in a complex dubbed River Oaks Square splits its airspace between a 2-story ceiling in the living room (top) and 2 stories elsewhere in the floor plan. Built in 1978, the Upper Kirby community has about 50 units and is located north of W. Alabama and 2 blocks east of Lamar High School’s playing fields. The porch entry fronts a landscaped mews that’s flanked by lowrise buildings containing neighboring units. Its listing last week asks $415K.

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Basics Bumped Up
02/25/15 11:45am

TREE-CUTTING SETTLEMENT BUYS NEW LANDSCAPING AROUND KIRBY DR. WENDY’S Wendy's Restaurant, 5003 Kirby Dr., Upper Kirby, HoustonCity council approved a measure last week to spend $300,000 from a special fund for Houston parks on the installation of 6 new live-oak trees on the right-of-way surrounding the Wendy’s drive-thru restaurant at 5003 Kirby Dr. That’s the now-mostly treeless corner of North Blvd. pictured here, where crews hired by the franchise owner, Mohammed Ali Dhanani of Haza Foods, removed 6 old live-oak trees at night last October. The budget for the replacement includes removing what remains of the 6 stumps, installation of irrigation and subdrainage systems, and a 2-year warranty for the new trees, which will measure between 14 and 16 inches in diameter. The allotted budget matches the amount Dhanani paid in a settlement to the city for the incident last year. Any amount left over will be used for “additional improvements within City rights-of-way or park lands” approved by the Houston Parks Board director. [City of Houston; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Swamplot inbox

02/17/15 12:00pm

Mr. Santos Fashion Designs, 2150 Westheimer Rd., Glendower Court, Houston

Mr. Santos Fashion Designs, 2150 Westheimer Rd., Glendower Court, HoustonConstruction on the lot behind the Mr. Santos Fashion Design HQ on Westheimer Rd. at Kingston doesn’t mean Mr. Santos is closing up shop. It just means that his neighbor, the St. Anne Parish, is adding onto its parking lot along Kingston Dr. The dress designer and tailor, who’s operated out of the former house at 2150 Westheimer Rd. just west of Shepherd for a mere 32 years, tells Swamplot his shop, which specializes in wedding dresses, isn’t going anywhere.

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The Cars of St. Anne’s
02/13/15 5:15pm

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It’s a different kind of ice house on this corner: A sparkle finish fittingly fashions a gem-like setting for the Quenton Elliott custom jewelry store in Upper Kirby’s Ferndale neighborhood. Stacks of glass block encapsulate the property, which anchors the furnishings end of a semi-retail block. Raze or remodel, shouts the listing posted earlier this week, noting a $799K asking price. It carries no details on the 1945 building’s interior other than to note that it’s livable as a residence but likely heading toward land ho.

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Ice Cubes
02/06/15 2:00pm

Thor Equities came out with a video this week showing whiz-around views of the Kirby Collection, its ready-to-go but (as of late January) still seeking construction financing mixed-use complex on the Kirby Dr. block surrounded by W. Main, Colquitt, and Lake St. And the New York development group is at long last dropping the (big) name of the design architect for the long-promised $125 million project: Richard Keating Architecture, which operates out of L.A. (Houston’s Kirksey Architecture is producing the construction documents.)

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Kirby Collection
01/28/15 2:30pm

Kirby Court Apartments, 2612 Steel St., Upper Kirby, Houston

The end of the year marked the end of residency for all tenants of the Kirby Court Apartments. Renters of the 2-story 1949 townhouse-style units fronting oak-lined Steel St. across Kirby Dr. from the Whole Foods Market were required to move out no later than December 31st. Houston-based Hanover Co. had a portion of the complex under contract, and was planning to complete the transaction early this year.

But funding for the apartment tower Hanover had planned for that parcel (marked down to 30 stories and 300 units at last report) fell through sometime in December, a company rep tells the Houston Business Journal‘s Paul Takahashi; since then, the company has been “scrambling to find new investors.” Hanover has now postponed completion of the purchase until August. The architect, Solomon Cordwell Buenz, is still reportedly working on the design.

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Funding Dries Up
01/27/15 11:45am

Plaque on Wendy's Drive-Thru, 5003 Kirby Dr. at North Blvd., Upper Kirby, Houston

Oak Tree Stumps, North Blvd. at Kirby Dr., Upper Kirby, Houston

Plaque on Wendy's Drive-Thru, 5003 Kirby Dr. at North Blvd., Upper Kirby, HoustonJaws have been dropping along North Blvd. at the intersection of Kirby Dr. at the sight of a prominently placed inscription that now greets drive-thru customers of the Wendy’s at 5003 Kirby Dr. Is this just one of those obliviously coincidental following-corporate-guidelines things, or is the management of this Wendy’s going out of its way to draw attention to the under-cover-of-night street-tree massacre it orchestrated late last year to clear away 6 oaks on the corner and that cost the franchise owners a well-publicized $300,000 settlement from the city’s legal department? Or is the assembly of words attached directly to the brick wall, which honors “SERVICE THAT DOESN’T CUT CORNERS,” meant to apologize for the hired landscaping crew’s actions — which y’know, really did cut a corner — and emphasize that the hardworking burger-makers inside are trying to do something . . . different?

In full, the signage reads, “QUALITY SERVICE THAT DOESN’T CUT CORNERS IS OUR RECIPE,” though the part about corner-cutting service in the middle is clearly meant as an add-on to the fast-food chain’s more famous “Quality is our recipe” tagline. For those of you who haven’t been following the saga closely enough to appreciate the . . . humor? chutzpah? contrition? obliviousness? involved here,  here’s the backstory:

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Corner Cutting
01/23/15 5:30pm

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A ski-slope of a roof tops a 1974 townhome complex designed by Burdette Keeland — on land his mother owned in College Heights, now part of  the Upper Kirby District. The late architect taught at University of Houston’s College of Architecture for 40 years and served on the City of Houston’s planning commission for 30 years. Located at the center of the 5-plex property, the contemporary home is described as being in near-original condition. Since mid-December, the listing has been priced at $379,900. You can hit the slopes with a look-see scheduled by Houston Mod for this Sunday afternoon.

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Lift Lines
01/12/15 1:46pm

Reopened Wendy's Restaurant at 5003 Kirby Dr., Upper Kirby, Houston

Burger King and Diminished Oak Tree at 5115 Kirby Dr., Upper Kirby, Houston

A regular Kirby Dr. street-tree watcher sends in this pair of recent images showing the Wendy’s drive-thru at 5003 Kirby Dr. (at the far western end of oak-tree-bedecked North Blvd.), which reopened after renovations the week before Christmas, and its neighbor a few driveways down, the Burger King at 5115 Kirby Dr. (at the far western end of similarly shaded South Blvd). The photos show the aftermath of a series of chainsaw incidents that took place last year.

The daring but probably not death-inducing trimming of the lone surviving Kirby Dr. street tree in front of Wendy’s (shown at top) took place after the franchise’s owner, Ali Dhanani of Haza Foods, paid the city a $300,000 settlement for the nighttime removal of 6 other oaks on city property surrounding the restaurant shortly before Halloween. A report in November indicated that the city’s legal team was investigating the more aggressive paring of oak limbs in front of the neighboring Burger King, as well as another Burger King owned by Houston Foods, the second-largest Burger King franchisee in the country, which is run by Dhanani’s brother, Shoukat Dhanani.

Photos: Swamplot inbox

The Giving Trees
01/09/15 10:45am

Fly High Little Bunny, 3120 S. Shepherd Dr., Upper Kirby, Houston

From the Swamplot reader known as Googlemaster comes this parting photo of jewelry store Fly High Little Bunny at 3120 S. Shepherd Dr., featuring — in the view from Sul Ross St. — a new mural. The building stands in the way of a new drive-thru building meant to add heft and balance to a new CVS Pharmacy going in at the corner of Shepherd and West Alabama St. Sunday was the last day of business at the shop.

Photo: Googlemaster

Resistance Is Futile
01/05/15 5:00pm

Ruggles Green, 2311 W. Alabama St., Upper Kirby, Houston

Gables Upper Kirby, 2305 W. Alabama St., Upper Kirby, HoustonThe last day of business for the original Ruggles Green location, in the Persona Day Spa shopping center at 2311 West Alabama St. east of Kirby Dr. (above), was New Year’s Eve. But the restaurant claims it won’t be gone from the neighborhood for too long. A new Ruggles Green is scheduled to open up in the street-facing retail space on the ground floor of the Gables Upper Kirby apartments going up next door (portrayed above left), once construction on that project is finished. That’ll be this spring, a note on the Ruggles Green website promises. The new address, 2305 W. Alabama St., will be one door down from the former Mission Burrito, recently renamed Überrito Mexican Grill to avoid tortilla torts.

Meanwhile, up in The Woodlands, a brand new Ruggles Green in the shopping center at 2501 Research Forest Dr. is scheduled to open any day now — “whenever the chairs arrive,” the company’s Facebook page declares. Here’s a pic of that standing-room-only (for now) location:

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But First, The Woodlands
12/31/14 10:00am

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Reader Sean McManus was on the spot for yesterday’s demolition proceedings at the southwest corner of W. Alabama St. and S. Shepherd Dr., where Roeder’s Pub, Ruchi’s taqueria, Fly High Little Bunny jewelry store and the River Oaks Dry Cleaners are being swept away in favor of a CVS pharmacy.

“As I was taking [the pictures], one of the deconstruction workers asked if he could help me,” McManus writes. “I told him that I was just taking a couple of quick photos. His response:Pfft… Memories.’”

More hot demo porn after the jump:

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Fly High, Little Ruchi and Roeder