12/05/17 3:30pm

There’s nothing left standing at Michelangelo’s Restaurant since its demolition yesterday — except for the tree that used to grow in its dining room, visible in the photo at top. The restaurant’s days had been numbered since March, when its owners sold the building and adjacent parking lot on Westheimer to a developer with plans to build a gym-anchored strip center.

The gym will be Houston’s first Spenga fitness studio, brought here by a Chicago-based chain that signed a 4,011-sq.-ft. lease for the replacement building’s entire second floor back in June. Here it is up above street level:

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Avondale
06/08/17 11:30am

THE PIERCE ELEVATED SKYPARK PLAN ISN’T DEAD YET “You can’t just wait until the day that TxDOT asks you what to do with it,” Tami Merrick tells Stephen Paulsen in the Houston Press this morning, in reference to her involvement with the small group working toward publishing an economic study some time next year of those speculative plans to turn the Pierce Elevated into the Pierce Skypark. The segment of I-45 may ultimately be torn down so the right-of-way can be sold, once the planned spaghetti-riffic Downtown freeway reroute wraps up in a decade or so. But Paulsen writes that the planning group is nonetheless optimistic about getting a foot in the door when the moment is right: “At some point, the Pierce Elevated will stop serving cars. And when it does, the group argues, why wouldn’t the city want an innovative, prearranged plan for the abandoned stretch of freeway?” [Houston Press; previously on Swamplot] Rendering of Pierce Elevated as a park: Page/Marcus Martinez via Pierce Skypark

06/05/17 10:15am

That cluster of demo work along Liberty Rd. lately appears to be clearing the way for the boxy flock of yet-unbuilt townhomes drawn out above, one of which is now listed on HAR for a smidge below $270,000. The homes are shown as a set of 12 in the listing, with the development’s baker’s dozen rounded out by a new retail structure filling the southwest quarter of the block. (Not shown: the former Lucky 7 supermarket building at the corner with Des Chaumes St., which went up for lease a couple of times over the past few years.) (Also not shown: the gate around the development, as mentioned in the listing.)

Both the proposed retail spot and the townhomes are shown with rooftop hangout spaces (or at least are described as able to have a rooftop patio added, for a price bump). The homes themselves, the listing also notes, can be tweaked to include a downstairs kitchenette to give them that special Air-BNB flavor.

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Popping Up in Fifth Ward
06/02/17 12:45pm


The partially ruined former Jefferson Davis Hospital nurses quarters at 1225 Elder St. — until very recently in the running for a spot on the National Register of Historic Places — was recommended for demolition at last week’s Harris County Commissioner’s Court meeting following a public hearing the day before. The building, tucked west of the elevated freeway tangle where I-45 splits from I-10 near Downtown, would have joined the nextdoor former Jefferson Davis Hospital itself on the historic registry — instead, it looks like the structure will finally meet meet the ‘dozers after its long slow decline, accelerated by damage from a fire in 2013 that lead to last year’s semi-collapse.

Next door, the 4-story hospital structure (built in 1924, and replaced by 1938 with another Jefferson Davis Hospital where the Federal Reserve building now stands on Allen Pkwy.) cycled through various modes of use and disuse until its early 2000’s restoration into the Elder Street Artist Lofts, which serve as low-rent apartments and studios for artsy types. That redevelopment, of course, involved carefully digging around the dozens of unmarked graves turned up on the surrounding land, which beginning in 1840 had served as the second city cemetery (and as the final resting place for a hodgepodge likely including  Confederate soldiers, former slaves, victims of the 1860s yellow fever epidemics, people who died in duels, Masons, and a variety of others). The hospital’s name is still carved above the lofts’ entrance:

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First Ward Fire Damage by HFD
05/26/17 11:30am

Perpetually hungering for on-the-scene updates on the ongoing demolition of KPRC’s old broadcast station south of Beechnut St. along the Southwest Freeway? Here’s one means of getting your fix: A construction webcam set up above and nearby is still posting updates on the site every 12-to-13 minutes at all hours of the day and night. The 1972 building is coming down right next door to the station’s newly opened replacement, designed to fit Tetris-style into a handy nook on the back of the original — that’s it wearing a protective blue tarp in the shot above, which was captured around 10:15 this morning. You can even follow the action all the way back to December 2015, before the breakup of the surface parking lot where the new building now stands.

That drone view of the demo that Russell Hancock snagged last week shows a broader view of both building still (mostly) in place together (and makes it marginally clearer why some station affiliates claim the seventies structure was meant to look like an old camera:)

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24 Hour News Demo Cycle
05/11/17 12:30pm

A siteplan and the latest renderings of Melbourne-based Caydon Property Group’s residential highrise, planned in place of the now-erased mental health building and lowrise mural canvas at 2850 Fannin St., show a bit more clearly how the 27-story structure might look amid its more squat Midtown neighbors (not counting that other highrise planned a few blocks down Main St.). The aerial view of the site shown here (tilted so that Main St. is horizontal, with Downtown off to the left) shows the building’s footprint in yellow, alongside the light-rail line and Midtown Park to the west.

One of the new drawings of the project also depicts what appears to be a closeup of the Drew St.-facing side of the building, with a good deal more than just the typical rendering entourage: the block across the street is shown with another multistory development in place of what’s currently a parking lot by the Art Supply on Main lowrise, and a section of the street itself is shown fully pedestrianized.

Neither of these changes make an appearance in any of the other zoomed-out renderings, however:

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Drawing Out Drew St.
05/05/17 2:30pm

More details on the planned Yale Marketplace development centered around the 365-branded mini Whole Foods planned for Independence Heights (but picking up the Garden Oaks moniker) come this week from Adolfo Pesquera, who posted the rendering above over at VBX of that companion strip mall planned just to the north of the grocery store. The structure looks to be slated for the narrow parcel of land where the long, low, industrial-slash-office park that until January hosted the Potter’s House Christian Church still stands.

Pesquera also reports that Houston Heights ER has officially signed on as the urgent care clinic that’ll be stuck to the side of the 365 (to the left, in the rendering below):

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Independence Heights
04/18/17 11:30am

Demo of Elysian St. Viaduct, Near Northside/Downtown, Houston, 77002

The rapidly disappearing elevated segment of Elysian St. pointing north out of Downtown is the latest aging roadway structure to be crumbled apart, though it won’t be the last. But death is a natural part of the Houston roadway cycle! And a healthier, brawnier replacement viaduct is planned to take its place along roughly the same right-of-way — this one with broad shoulders and a sidewalk. TxDOT spokesman Danny Perez told Houston Public Media‘s Gail DeLaughter last month that work on the new structure, which connects Downtown to Near Northside by funneling drivers over Buffalo Bayou and I-10, should start before the demo of the mile-and-a-half-long original wraps up.

hunched excavator was spotted helping to bring the aging bridge down from above:

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Traffic Cycles in Near Northside
02/28/17 5:15pm

4211 Bellaire Blvd., Southside Place, TX, 77025

Black Eyed Pea, 4211 Bellaire Blvd., HoustonBankruptcy and, today, demolition — so ends the journey for the Black-eyed Pea at 4211 Bellaire Blvd. Swirling rumors and previously filed variance requests suggested that apartments would go up on the site, and an actual design for a multifamily midrise was even floating around as early as last year — but the property changed hands again in the fall, as a reader noted.  The new plan for the site, evidently part of Dallas-based serial apartment developer Ojala Holdings’s bid to cash in on the Texas big-box storage market, looks to be a 4-story storage facility. And permitting reviews look to have started in the fall, not long after Ojala’s Uncle-Bob’s-turned-Life Storage got wrapped up across from the no-longer-listed-for-lease Wabash Feed Store:

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Clean Plat in Southside Place
02/23/17 5:30pm

Cafe Ginger, 1952 W. Gray St., River Oaks Shopping Center, Houston, 77019

What with that  30-ish-story tower planned for on top of them, the businesses at the far end of the River Oaks Shopping Center (including Café Ginger, the King Ranch Saddle Shop, and Local Pour) now appear to have an ambiguous expiration date on their current locations. Café Ginger has already found a new place to crash when the time comes: staff at the restaurant confirmed today that they’ll be moving just a few blocks down W. Gray St. to River Oaks Plaza, which hosts Marshall’s, T.J. Maxx, and Office Max in some of its bigger boxes. The move probably won’t happen until next year, but restaurant’s name is already included in the leasing flier for the center (as is the new Carter’s Babies & Kids scheduled to open in the complex at the end of March).

Café Ginger is shown filling in the pair of retail spots on the strip mall corner near Dunlavy St. that previously housed Austin pan-Asian chain Mama Fu’s and Austin Mediterranean chain VERTS Kebap:

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River Oaks Shopping Around
02/14/17 12:45pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: HIDDEN COSTS OF THE HOUSTON DEMOLITION REFLEX 2 Tiel Way, River Oaks, Houston, 77019“I know nothing about this particular situation — but having seen some examples of this sort of renovation scene play out, I wonder whether there is a lot of anti-renovation bias that pushes the estimates beyond what they really need to be. I have family on the East Coast that have done renovations of homes built in the early 1800s. These were homes that at some point fell into disrepair and had pretty serious issues with wood rot all over, and expensive foundation issues. But there was never a second thought about tearing the building down, even though there was no historic protection in place. All the builders up there do historic renovations all day long and can price them reasonably. I think builders in Houston just do not have the experience and are afraid of taking on the job so they provide an astronomical bid to try to get the owner to tear down.” [Old School, commenting on River Oaks Mid-Century Preservation Turns Demolition, with Reincarnation In the Works] Photo of demolished to-be-rebuilt 2 Tiel Way: HAR

02/10/17 5:45pm

JUDGE EMMETT ON THE NEW PLAN TO REIN IN THE NEW ASTRODOME PLAN Proposed Astrodome Parking Garage PlansHere’s the statement judge Ed Emmett’s office just released to FOX26 in response to this afternoon’s news of District 15 senator John Whitmire’s about-to-be-filed bill to require a Harris County voter okay on that plan to turn the Astrodome’s bottom into a parking garage: “It’s frustrating that while the Astrodome stood vacant for more than 15 years, very few people stepped forward to offer real solutions. But now that we on Commissioners Court have finally arrived at a way to preserve the Dome as a revenue-generating asset for the people of Harris County, Sen. Whitmire’s legislation risks derailing that solution. The Astrodome is a paid-for asset that needs to be used for the benefit of the overall NRG Park complex. Creating more than 8 acres of covered usable space along with 1,400 indoor parking spaces will generate revenue that will allow the county to maintain NRG Stadium and the rest of the complex.” The bill could potentially shut down the parking garage plan, if county-wide support can’t be mustered to support the project; demolition plans, on the other hand, are now subject to review by the Texas Historical Commission, as of late last month’s State Antiquities Landmark designation. [FOX26; previously on Swamplot] Astrodome parking plan schematic: Harris County Engineering Department

02/10/17 2:45pm

Former City of Houston Code Enforcement Building, 3300 Main St., Midtown, Houston, 77002

Those Swamplot commenters who’ve been taking particular and unabashed pleasure in the long, slow demise of the former city code enforcement office at 3300 Main St. may also enjoy the shot above of the flooded pit spotted recently where the Mod office building once stood. Reader Diaspora (who sent in the photo late last week) suggests the site as potential competition for the folks behind the Houston Needs a Swimming Hole campaign, which Kickstartered a feasibility study a few years ago (and also passed around an illustration of an optimistically blue-watered bayouside beachfront, shown below):

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Lakes of Main St.
01/20/17 11:00am

Demo of former MHMRA building, 2850 Fannin St., Midtown, Houston, 77003

The former Mental Health and Mental Retardation Association building at 2850 Fannin St. and its many murals are now rubble, a reader notes. The shot above catches the destroyed structure next to Sebastien Boileau’s Preservons la Creation mural across the street on the back of 2800 San Jacinto St., juxtaposed with what appears to be some carefully timed oncoming traffic to add that dramatic glow to the painted figure’s outstretched spray paint can. The reader also caught one of the excavators climbing atop its defeated adversary earlier in the day, beneath the giant cross of the St. Joseph Professional Building:

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Cycles of Midtown
01/12/17 3:45pm

Murals at former MHMRA building, 2850 Fannin St., Midtown, Houston, 77003Demolition setup at 2850 Fannin St., Midtown, Houston, 77003

The colorful faces behind the chain-link fencing surrounding the former Mental Health and Mental Retardation Authority building at 2850 Fannin St. have been joined this week by a few pieces of bright yellow knock-down equipment. Permits came through last week clearing the site for clearance in advance of a planned 27-story apartment highrise going by the name Main Midtown. The tower was okayed for a parking variance in late October, as part of which Australian developer Caydon Properties agreed to install over 200 bike spaces. 

The long-empty MHMRA structure got its last hurrah this fall when much of the street-level wallspace was painted over in tan, making way for new muralage. A nearby resident buzzed around the site recently taking some final snaps of the paintings (like the one featured at the top of the page) before the demo gets going in earnest — here’s a sampling below:

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Midtown Breakdown