Some yellow and white stripes have appeared recently at the northwest corner of Shepherd Dr. and Richmond Ave., just north of the similarly colored Subway signage. The upside-down Vs mark the spot where Honey Art Cafe is setting up shop in the former home of Ace Cash Express, next to Cigar Emporium in the retail strip bookended by Mattress Overstock and Accents By Phillipe. Longtime readers may be interested to note that the storefront is being painted up and built out by art duo Lulu Lin — which includes the same Lulu whose doodles and digital paintings often jazz up Swamplot’s Comments of the Day.
The pair is pulling their Houston Art Lessons business out of its River Oaks Shopping Center home to expand both the size and scope of operations under the new name; on top of regular classes, plans for the new space include gallery shows, artsy food and drinks, and meetups for creative types. The cafe is also looking for a leg up from the local Internet — the duo’s Kickstarter campaign, which is offering sweets, art, and classes in trade for some help with buildout costs, is running from now through early September.
It’s a good bet the kiddie playground that once stood in front of the Mission Burrito (and later Überrito, after the Mexican fast-food restaurant changed its name) at 2245 West Alabama St. won’t be returning for the dining and drinking joint now slated to take its place. Überrito shut down that location 11 months ago. But a couple of weeks ago a sign for a grains-and-greetings-themed establishment (above) emerged where once a plastic castle held court in a sea of mulch. And newer signs on the property, reports a Swamplot reader, indicate that staff is now being hired. According to Eater Houston’s Amy McCarthy, incoming beer destination Hops and Barley is a project of Stephen Long, an owner of the Reserve 101 bar at 1201 Caroline St. downtown.
A very quick summary of a long, long peek over the construction fence at Kirby Dr. and Colquitt St. shows the progress to date on the mixed-use Kirby Collection development. Developer Thor Equities has been working over the former site of the Kirby funeral bars since last fall, and has reached the top level of the complex’s parking garage. Thor plans to have the main skeleton of the office tower done by November and to put the last structural bits of the ellipse-footed residential tower in place by early 2017.
Here’s this morning’s view of the former Corporate Plaza site, now sans the skeletal midrise that spent much of May wasting away. Standing at the edge of the rubble is the Texas Direct Auto billboard, visible here from its non-dayglo-yellow backside above the cluster of excavators picking over the last of the former midrise. On the left (at the corner of Kirby and 59) is the separately-owned Shell service station property, boxed in by the increasingly empty lot throughout the entire demo spectacle.
Here’s the raw scene captured around lunch time today, when a small pack of excavators was sighted rooting through the debris at the base of the former Corporate Plaza I midrise. The increasingly see-through office building was fully de-striped some time between yesterday (second photo) and noon today (top); below is a quick video of the excavator crew gently yanking down a piece of what appears to be the 4th-story floor:
On the market as of 2 weeks ago: the home-slash-power-plant on the corner of Virginia and Colquitt streets, a block west of the now-rising Kirby Collection. The listing claims the building is Houston’s first LEED-Platinum certified home (though others have since followed suit), and by Houston standards, Adams Architects took extreme measures to reduce the 1,900-sq.-ft. house’s dependence on city utilities networks.
Rooftop solar panels send excess energy to the power grid during the day, and a back-up battery system is in place in case the grid ever goes down. Tucked out of sight below the 3-bedroom structure are geothermal conduits which circulate water down to hotter strata 300 ft. deep, collecting energy to heat and cool the house. A 7,000-gallon cistern beneath the recycled-plastic deck also collects rainwater for use in the space.
The original Shepherd-side location of 59 Diner is now up for lease, with teal-and-bubblegum exterior still intact. The whole 59 chain shut down suddenly at the end of February, amid a tangle of formal and informal disputes regarding employee pay. The listing indicates that the 6,000-sq.-ft. building (officially located at 3801 Farnham St.) can be divided, as long as the future tenant wants at least 2,000 ft.
The ex-diner property is next door to the smaller building now housing The Halal Guys, whose red-and-yellow striped canopy is visible on the right in the east-facing photo above. The former carwash reopened as the New-York-food-cart-gone-international-chain’s first Texas location a few weeks before the 59 closures; hundreds of customers lined up outside the tiny venue during the opening weekend rush, some allegedly filling 59’s parking lot while waiting for hours for gyros and chicken.
That’s 2 stories down and 8 left to go for the last holdout in the former Corporate Plaza office park, seen here from the northeast looking across Kirby Dr. toward 59. The freeway-facing and side facades of the once-10-story midrise have been totally removed, and the remaining facade is beginning to look a bit patchy around the top; piles of debris can be seen stretching out to the north of the structure, across the now-barren Upper Kirby plain where the partially demolished Corporate Plaza parking garagenearly demolished part of the demo team back in February.
The last fading rays of setting sun cast a dusty glow over the oak stump in front of 2048 Colquitt St. just east of Shepherd Dr., captured by a reader over the weekend. An employee of Au Petit Paris tells the photographer that the restaurant isn’t behind the removal of the tree, which shaded the French bistro’s front patio; the arboreal departure occurred during the still-ongoing move-in of 2 townhomes across the street at 2051 and 2053 Colquitt (the latter of which is visible above on the left, behind construction fencing). Construction on those structures started last summer after building permits were issued to 2201 Custom Homes in June.
Here’s a close-up of the stump, accompanied by a sprinkling of springtime sprouts:
Here’s a peek at the new space of Ruggles Green, back open this week at 2305 W. Alabama St. next door to the restaurant’s original shopping center spot by Persona Medical Spa. Ruggles announced the move out of the westernmost suite of 2311 W. Alabama at the end of 2014, and the doors closed on New Year’s Day. The restaurant has now reopened in the street-facing ground floor retail space at the northeastern corner of the 5-story Gables Upper Kirby apartment midrise, which opened across W. Alabama from the less-dense Gables Waterford Square complex last year.