Rolling-sphere-themed restaurant and entertainment chain Pinstripes has just leased up some space in the under-constructionKirby Collection (and hey — there might even be some bocce players nearby still looking for a new court!) That’s the first confirmed tenant for the project, which Thor Equities wants to open by the end of next year; the 33,600 sq. ft. of leased space makes up around half of the total retail space available, and is split across both retail floors of the complex (shown in the foreground above, with a row of trees peeking down at Kirby Dr. from the edge of the roof). Pinstripes will take over a 7,260-sq.-ft. subdivision of first floor space, out of the segment labeled 23,900 in the ground floor plan below:
Looks like the glassy structure above will be jumping gardens, per the announcement last week from the wedding venue formerly known as the Gardens of Bammel Lane (which took the new name Gardens of River Oaks late in July). The conservatory building will head north to the Gardens at Madeley Manor in Conroe once the Bammel Ln. venue shuts down in December. The rest of the garden’s structures and landscaping will likely be removed by less delicate means to make way for the planned 26-story Villa Borghese highrise, depicted below with Downtown peeking over its shoulder from the east:
The Richmond Ave branch of La Tapatia at the corner of Woodhead St. is back in operation this week after the late summer toasting of its 1969 building, a few readers report. Up top is a shot of the July 22 response from the Houston Fire Department (whose Station 16 is located a convenient half-block away across Richmond at the corner with Dunlavy St.). That’s Fairmont Museum District looking on worriedly from the background; the poop-scrutinizing Richwood Place apartment complex’s older half would have had a clear view of the action from the western turret.
SOMETHING HOT MOVING IN ON 59 DINER’S FORMER FARNHAM SPOT With the ghostly reflection of the restaurant’s milkshake-shaped beacon hovering to the far left, a reader sends a shot of the TABC notice now replacing the hand-scrawled closed-indefinitely signage on the door of the former S. Shepherd 59 Diner location. The sign lists Alcaliente Houston as the applicant; 2 restaurants currently operate in Katy and the Woodlands respectively under the name Alcaliente, serving halal-and-also-very-non-halal Mexican food. The diner spot cleared out beneath a cloud of worker payment disputes in early March, shortly after The Halal Guys moved in to the west. [Previously on Swamplot] Photo of TABC notice at 3801 Farnham St.: Swamplot inbox
The former Kirby Dr. site of Chinese fast food outpost O’Yeah Cafe (which ousted General Joe’s Chopstix) appears to be getting ready to open again, this time as restaurant-sportsbar On The Kirb. Temporary signage beneath the venue’s more permanent marker (still framed within General Joe’s octagonal medallion) indicates that would-be recruits should apply inside. The restaurant will sit at the northernmost extreme of the 5000 Kirby strip center (located in the thick of Goode Company’s Inner Loop territory, just south of the North St. McDonald’s). The new spot will share the strip with long-time residents Upper Kirby Nails Salon and Joe Omar Hair & Makeup, as well as bisyllabic sister clubs Lumen and Crimson (protected by a few segments of low wall and hedge from the prying eyes of nextdoor neighbor Mr. Carwash).
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.