- 7 Boulevard Grn. [HAR]
Bits and pieces of the electrical towers formerly stringing CenterPoint’s transmission lines between 59 and Westpark Dr. were spotted laying around just west of West Loop 610 this weekend, though the feet of at least one of the structures were still standing at the ready. The old towers appear to have been fully relieved of their duties at this point, 3 months or so after the taller, sleeker towers started going skyward. Here’s one of the last full-length portraits featuring both kinds of towers, taken in the final days before the changeover began in earnest:
The view this week around Westpark Dr. at the West Loop includes both the old lattice towers currently holding CenterPoint’s electrical transmission lines and the taller, skinnier single pole models that will be taking over the gig. A reader captured some side-by-side portraits of the old towers and their replacements, which CenterPoint is deploying to raise the lines out of the way of TxDOT’s proposed future edits to the 610-59 interchange tangle. The cherry picker above is shown tethered to one of the new towers in the easement just west of 610; the top shot shows a pole up on the east side of the freeway between the Loop Central office midrises and the Danny Jackson Family Bark Park (which closed down last summer so CenterPoint could work on the land the county had been using as the park’s parking lot).
Here’s a ground-level shot at the base of an old-and-new tower pair just outside the dog park, with some Houston Garden Center inventory in the background for scale:
The density of fast-food chicken options at S. Rice Ave. just south of 59 is increasing precipitously, a couple of readers note. The most recent addition: the newly-constructed Chik-Fil-A at 5325 S. Rice Ave. (visible above on the right, just south of Pollo Loco and across the street from Raising Cane’s). The Chik-Fil-A is not yet officially open for fowl distribution (though it does appear to be giving away prizes on Facebook. The Pollo Loco and Chik-Fil-A represent the fulfillment of the Wal-Mart Supercenter version of the Shoppes at Uptown Crossing site plan, passed around back in 2014; the Marriott Town & Place shown on that plan has since come to be as well:
The little and not-so-little red dots on the map above show off sites on the EPA’s list of plants and refineries required to have a Risk Management Plan due to their potential for accidental hazardous chemical releases — with the larger dots showing the places that have already had an accident (or, in some cases, as many as 43). Clicking each dot will tell you what the facility’s name is, as well as how much toxic or flammable material it stores on site (to the nearest thousand pounds or so).
The Union of Concerned Scientists and t.e.j.a.s. put together the interactive map as part of a report released late last week, which compares the EPA’s data on air quality and cancer rates in a few neighborhoods on the west side of town (specifically in Bellaire and in the West Oaks and Eldridge area, just inside Hwy.6 near the Barker reservoir) with the same data in a couple of east side spots (Galena Park and Manchester).
HITTING THE BRAKES ON THE BELLAIRE HIGH SCHOOL CHEVRON CAMPUS SWAP TALK Prior to this afternoon’s closed HISD executives meeting, trustee Mike Lunceford told Charlotte Aguilar that he’ll no longer be supporting that plan to turn the former Chevron campus at 4800 Fournace Pl. into a new campus for Bellaire High School, citing the potential price and a lack of support from the HISD board for the plan. Bellaire got money to replace the 1955 school at its existing location along S. Rice Ave. during the 2012 bond election; Aguilar writes that the redo “has lagged behind schedule and increased in cost because of the complexities of dealing with Bellaire’s tight zoning regulations, and the question of what to do with the school’s 3,500-plus students during construction.” [InstantNewsBellaire; previously on Swamplot] Photo of Bellaire High School at 5100 Maple St.: Houston ISD
HISD TOSSING AROUND A BELLAIRE HS REBUILD ON THE CHEVRON CAMPUS UP THE STREET On Monday some HISD folks pitched the idea of buying Chevron’s soon-to-be-empty land on Fournace Place to a committee overseeing the lately-stagnant push to rebuild Bellaire High School, Charlotte Aguilar reports this week. The 28-acre tract, which goes on sale on Saturday, is about 2 miles north of the school’s existing 17-acre campus and also fronts S. Rice Ave. HISD trustee Mike Lunceford tells Aguilar that Bellaire, “while one of the largest high schools in HISD, is on the smallest property.” Principal Michael McDonough emailed stakeholders to say that if HISD decides to back the plan and is able to buy the land, funding would probably be put to a bond election; meanwhile, the existing school would still need some work while a new one was built. The Chevron land currently has a 10-story office midrise on it; the shot above looks out the window of that building toward the West Loop and the freeway-side Shell station next door (also up for sale). [Instant News Bellaire; previously on Swamplot] Photo from 4800 Fournace Pl.: Alvin A.
Drawings submitted this month to the city of Bellaire for approval outline how H-E-B plans to fit 6-acres of parking and replacement store onto its 3-acre lot at the intersection of Bissonnet and Cedar streets. The renderings and accompanying documentation show a roughly 75,000-sq.-ft. single-story store footprint sitting on the upper level of the planned structure, with an acre-plus of parking out front atop the all-parking lower level. The drawing at the top shows the would-be view of the design from Bissonnet (near the late-50’s supermarket building currently occupied by Randall’s); below are the proposed layouts of the upper and lower story once the existing H-E-B (also pictured above) and its retail strip friends are cleared of the way:
CHEVRON TO SELL OLD BELLAIRE CAMPUS, ALL THAT NEW LAND ON CLAY RD. Nancy Sarnoff notes this afternoon that Chevron will be selling off that 103-acre Clay Rd. tract it bought in 2014, along with the company’s Fournace Place campus in Bellaire (whose sale was noted last week by Michelle Leigh Smith). Despite assurances last year that the office midrise at 4800 Fournace would remain occupied, the company says it will move all of those employees to some of its downtown offices by the end of next year, and will start shopping it around in October. Leigh also notes some of the 28-acre property’s recorded history, including the 1940s and 50s laboratory buildings previously demolished on the site, and Chevron’s (then Texaco’s) purported 1970s request to the Bellaire city council to rename the road to something not reminiscent of their competitor Gulf Oil — the property was originally listed on Gulfton St., which now changes abruptly to Fournace Pl. at of the intersection with S. Rice Ave. [Houston Chronicle; Southwest News via Realty News Report] Photo of Chevron’s office tower at 1500 Louisiana St., previously Enron Center South: Jordan R.
Evidently none of these facades will appear on the Jessamine St. entrance of the new police and municipal court building planned for Bellaire’s Town Square. The latest design, as presented at last week’s town hall meeting, appears to be a blend of several of the choices above. Architect PGAL put together a set of possibilities earlier this spring for both a new police building and a planned city hall redo; a committee spent the last few months choosing the parts they liked.
The approximate sites of the police station and the new city hall appear in gold on the conceptual site plan below, showing the S. Rice Ave. land bounded by Jessamine, 5th St., and the houses south of Linden St.: