10/03/18 5:00pm

WHO PUSHED THE BUTTON THAT BLEW UP THE DOWNTOWN MACY’S According to the Vice President of Demolition at Cherry Companies, which oversaw the demo: “the person who bought the building had his son do it.” His push triggered 1,500 pounds of explosives — the demo exec estimates on the Chronicle’s latest episode of LoopedInobliterating the structure and clearing the way for the 23-floor Hilcorp Energy Tower his dad would later commission Hines to build in its place at Dallas and Main St. Although technically a partnership connected to Doug Kelly, president of Hilcorp Ventures, “bought” the building around the time of the teardown in 2013, it was more of a shuffling-around than a hand-off. Hilcorp had already owned the former Foley’s since 2010; the later transaction just transferred it over to different entity under the same umbrella of corporate oversight. [Previously on Swamplot]

08/27/18 12:00pm

A pile of building parts is now all that stands in the way of the 4,500-sq.-ft. strip that Houston developer Ancorian wants to place at Yale and E. 27th, opposite the other shopping center it’s now ushering tenants into across the street. In place of the standalone Church’s Fried Chicken drive-thru — pictured above before and after its demo last week — a rendering now shows 3 newcomers lined up next to each other at 2702 Yale.

One of them carries on the site’s fast-food legacy with more of a niche focus:

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Chickening Out on Yale
08/02/18 2:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: DEMOLITION FOR A BETTER FUTURE “When we do not preserve our past, we are able to have a wide open future. A future with more efficient, ecologically congruent buildings. Buildings with modern HVAC, windows, flood control. Tearing down old cool looking buildings is just that. We lose cool looking buildings from another time. I personally live in a renovated old house, and before that lived in another cool-looking old house. I preserved each. I don’t think renovating/preserving has anything to do with the future of either location. So, while the Deco style is great and would be fantastic if someone saw the residual value, it’s not crucial to anything. The market has spoken. If they build an unappealing, out-of-touch new building — the buy side will also speak, and not reward the owner with their business. This is how the world should work. Forcing a property owner through regulation to appreciate the styling of yesteryear is anti-productive. I have a heart a for gray area on this when it comes to public buildings. Then it is owned by the public, and needs to be considered more broadly on how the tax-paying public feels about the continued use/retention of a historic or interesting-looking, dated building. Think City Hall.” [Bo Darley, commenting on Daily Demolition Report: Fannin Flames] Illustration: Lulu

05/24/18 3:30pm

This just in: Photos from a Swamplot reader show the wreckage at KHOU’s 58-year-old Buffalo Bayou–side headquarters, abandoned since staff fled it for Houston Public Media’s less flood-prone Elgin St. newsroom shortly after Harvey. Following a few days of demolition, the building at 1945 Allen Pkwy has been almost entirely leveled.

The second photo above shows the Service Corporation International building looming over the dead news building. An entity connected to SCI — a national funeral home business — recently acquired KHOU’s former 3.2-acre spot.

KHOU’s antennastripped of its lettering since February — is now the only thing that fronts the neighboring tower’s west side:

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Breaking News
05/07/18 3:30pm

ORTHODOX SYNAGOGUE MULLS CROSSING THE LOOP TO SOMEWHAT HIGHER GROUND The roughly 820 homeowners in Willow Meadows are now voting on a deed restriction change that — if passed — would allow the United Orthodox Synagogue to build a new structure outside The Loop, in place of 5 houses that sit 3 quarters of a mile south down Greenwillow St. from the congregation’s previous home at the corner of S. Braeswood. Many congregants walk to the synagogue — which could soon be leaving the 100-year floodplain for the 500 after flooding 6 times in the last 25 years, including 3 in the last 3. “According to preliminary renderings,” reports the Jewish Herald Voice’s Michael C. Duke on Studio Red’s proposed design, “the synagogue would be a single-story structure, measuring an ultimate height of 30 feet. Based on new building codes, the finished floor of the building would be built some 3 feet above curb height, and the building itself would have the same 25-foot setback as homes in Willow Meadows.” Passage of the proposal “would prompt Houston’s largest Orthodox congregation to hold its own congregation-wide vote on whether to stay at its current location north of I-610 South and rebuild portions of its campus at a significantly higher elevation; or, to move.” Most of the congregation’s 57-year-old building was demolished last month, except for a few portions including its social hall and mikvah. [Jewish Herald Voice; previously on Swamplot] Photo of United Orthodox Synagogue’s demolition, 9001 Greenwillow St.: United Orthodox Synagogues of Houston

03/27/18 4:00pm

MEMORIAL BEND’S WILDER DAYS “My family was the first to own 419 Electra back when it was first built and I was 6,” a reader writes. “My siblings and I loved playing in the bird sanctuary beyond the back fence (Is the treehouse we built still there?) And swinging on rope swings over the creek with all the water moccasins! One time the dad at the house next door pulled out a tree stump in his backyard and a whole nest — literally dozens — of baby rattlesnakes crawled out. All the dads in the neighborhood ran to the house with hoes and shovels and the moms kept all the kids back. On summer nights, there were so many tiny baby frogs on the sidewalks you couldn’t walk without stepping on one. I imagine all those kinds of critters are gone now. It was a sweet, family neighborhood, with lots of kids playing games, biking in the street, and listening for the dinner bell. Of course, there was the peeping tom who lived next door in the now-McMansion, and the exhibitionist across the street who stood in the doorway with his open robe when all the neighborhood kids home from school, but doesn’t every neighborhood have its charms?” The house came down last month — one of about 19 demolitions approved for the neighborhood since Harvey. [Previously on Swamplot] Photo of 419 Electra Dr.: Memorial Bend Architecture

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