03/26/15 1:00pm

Marlowe Sales Office, 1311 Polk St., Downtown Houston

The dude with the squinchy eyes and razor-deprived face plastered along the side of the former ticket booth at 1311 Polk St. downtown is hawking highrise condos in Randall Davis and Roberto Contreras’s 20-story Marlowe building, meant to go up on that very site, across Caroline St. from the eastern end of GreenStreet. And Marlowe is his name, too. “Marlowe is smarter than you,” declares the accompanying website:


03/19/15 1:15pm

Dallas St. Streetscape Improvements, Downtown Houston

Chopped Trees on Dallas St. Near Milam St., Downtown HoustonIf you’ve been waiting to see what changes are coming to Dallas St. after the street-tree-chopping event earlier this month, here’s your scoop: the Downtown Redevelopment Authority is redoing the streetscape from Milam St. to Discovery Green with hopes of identifying Dallas St. as an actual shopping district. The plan was hatched back when one of the buildings facing Dallas was Downtown’s lone remaining department store, but it’s still going forward with the Macy’s out of the picture (actually, its former site is just behind and to the left of the view in the rendering above).

Instead, the repaving and re-treeing plan is intended to allow a bit more pedestrian activity and street parking for the remaining retail — including the entire northern flank of GreenStreet, the Houston Pavilions redo — and encouraging more to move in.

The changes will shrink the number of car lanes on the one-way street from 4 to 3, but add a parking lane to its north side.


Tree Chopping for Street Shopping
03/18/15 3:45pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: JUST A SUGGESTION FOR NAU Incarnate Word Academy, 600 Crawford St., Downtown Houston“There is a solution to this situation and it’s a little ironic. The sisters of incarnate word want to stay downtown, but they say there’s no room. John Nau and his group own the block right next door to the campus. They just announced that they were canceling their fund raising efforts and giving all of the money donated back to the donors for a Houston history museum. It seems to me if John Nau wants to save some of Houston history, he could donate the block adjacent to the school so that that the historically important Nicholas Clayton building could be saved. That way his efforts to preserve history could still be accomplished, the nuns could stay downtown and the Nicholas Clayton building could be saved. Now that’s a lot easier than trying to figure out what to do with the dome!” [Bob R, commenting on Tearing Down Downtown’s Historic Incarnate Word Academy Building; A ‘Central Park’ for the Energy Corridor] Photo of Incarnate Word Academy, 600 Crawford St.: elnina

03/06/15 1:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY RUNNER-UP: THE BEST VIEWS IN EVERY SKYHOUSE Plan Detail, SkyHouse Houston, Downtown Houston“I love how the big picture windows in some of the units allow residents to actually sit on the toilet and look out onto the street. I can’t say I want to SEE a resident doing this but it does make this tower unique.” [Daphne Graham, commenting on Have a Look Where Crews Have Begun Digging for the Second Downtown SkyHouse] Plan detail: SkyHouse Houston

03/05/15 12:00pm

Chopped Trees on Dallas St. Near Milam St., Downtown Houston

A Downtown reader sends in pics of a row of street trees on 6 blocks of Dallas St. that were chopped down over the weekend. The trees are distinctive because most of them were planted in the actual street, not on the adjacent sidewalk. They were planted in the street between parking spaces about 6 years ago, around the same time a single-lane-wide section of sidewalk that now serves a bus stop was installed in front of the HPD headquarters building at the corner of Travis and Dallas.

Here’s a view from above of a row of stumps that sits in front of the McDonald’s at 808 Dallas St.:


Right of Way
03/05/15 11:00am

Barbara Jordan Post Office, 401 Franklin St., Downtown Houston

A reader who maintains a post office box at the Barbara Jordan Post Office at 401 Franklin St. Downtown has forwarded Swamplot a notice that showed up with the mail earlier this week, inviting box renters to a “town hall” meeting about the upcoming move of post office services at the facility. “Our projected move date is fast approaching,” the flyer reads — though it doesn’t identify when it will be.


Barbara Jordan P.O.
03/05/15 10:00am

Construction of SkyHouse Main, 1725 Main St., Downtown Houston

Work has begun on Houston’s third SkyHouse apartment tower — the second one Downtown. To distinguish it from the similar building just topping out across the West Loop from the Galleria on the former site of one the Westcreek Apartments (the SkyHouse River Oaks), and its twin, the SkyHouse Houston, which also lines Main St., the developers from Atlanta’s Novare Group are calling the new building the SkyHouse Main. The new building and parking garage, at 1725 Main St., will be a block to the south, on the former surface parking lot shown here, on the block also bounded by Pease, Jefferson, and Fannin. Like the SkyHouse Houston, which opened last year, the 24-story SkyHouse Main will have 7,200 sq. ft. of retail space on the ground floor.

The 336-unit highrise is expected to be complete in the first half of 2016.

Photo: Swamplot inbox

Twin Tower
03/03/15 12:00pm

Architecture Center Houston, 315 Capitol St. Suite 120, Downtown Houston

With 2 years to go on its current lease in a Bayou Place II space at 315 Capitol St. downtown, the Architecture Center Houston has begun searching for a new home. Buy and renovate or build? Sure — as long as it’s a “long term solution,” the center’s director tells Swamplot. A new HQ should have more space than its current 5,000 sq. ft. spot (through the main doors under the canopy in the photo above), plus “more visible street presence and a better parking situation than we have now,” writes Rusty Bienvenue.

The new digs don’t have to be downtown: “Our membership doesn’t mind being pioneers and we believe we bring a cool factor to an area that few other organizations can match.” But it’s now or . . . back to plain ol’ office space, he adds. If the center, which combines gallery and meeting space with the Houston offices of the American Institute of Architecture and the Houston Architecture Foundation, can’t find something to buy in the next couple of months, it’ll go back to looking at lease space.

This flyer detailing the options went out to members last week:


02/13/15 10:45am

Houston Skyline Photo by Visual Contrabrand

Alice Barr and her KHOU camera crew spend an authorized-by-building-management evening on top of an unnamed Downtown hotel to feature the photography and highrise hijinx of the “rooftopper” who goes by the name of Visual Contrabrand. The photographer (pictured above) tells Barr he’s afraid of heights, and that even after climbing down, glances at some of the images he’s taken “still make my palms sweaty.” But that doesn’t stop him from finding a way to access various tall structures around town (“without destroying any property,” he says) and snapping daredevil pix with his Canon 70D.


Night Pix
02/09/15 12:45pm

Construction of Lamar St. Bike Lane, Downtown Houston

Construction of Lamar St. Bike Lane, Downtown HoustonOver the weekend construction began on the new bikeway meant to connect the heavily used trails along Buffalo Bayou west of Downtown with the Columbia Tap trail on Downtown’s east side — and from there to the trails along Brays Bayou and the Medical Center. The 2 blocks of Lamar St. between Smith and Bagby now have this green zone installed along their southern side, replacing curbside parking spaces on the one-way street. Additional construction is scheduled for every weekend between now and March 8, when the steadily growing green bike path will reach Discovery Green.


Bayou Bike Connector
01/20/15 3:30pm

Construction of Hines Market Square Tower, Travis and Preston Streets, Downtown Houston

Construction of Hines Market Square Tower, Travis and Preston Streets, Downtown Houston

Proposed Hines Market Square Tower, Travis and Preston Streets, Downtown HoustonA week later than promised, trucks and equipment have been moved onto the southeast corner of Preston and Travis streets downtown, ready to carve a 32-story highrise apartment building out of this surface parking lot, a reader reports (sending the above pics).

Meanwhile, Ziegler Cooper’s design for the tower has grown more brick-y and a bit less sleek and Mod than renderings featured a year ago on Swamplot appeared to show. The building has contracted since then as well: It’s now 1 floor shorter, and — at 274 units — 15 apartments lighter than indicated previously.

The building will still feature street-facing retail space on the ground level of its (now) 8-floor garage podium, and a pool deck above, according to the architects:


One Market Square
01/16/15 11:00am

Proposed Hotel Alessandra, Dallas and Fannin Streets, GreenStreet, Downtown Houston

If the giant 25-story-tall question mark built into the profile of the Hotel Alessandra — the Modern tower pictured above, planned for a spot directly behind the XXI Forever store along Fannin — spurred any of you to wonder when or whether construction of the promised residential expansion of GreenStreet (formerly Houston Pavilions) might begin, here’s an answer: Next Monday, MLK Day, workers will begin blocking access to the urban mall’s center court at 1201 Fannin St. and other areas to begin demolition work. Their target: The much shorter structure that once housed the Houston Pavilions’ Yao’s restaurant, owned by family members of Houston Rockets star Yao Ming, which stands in the way.


Clearing Yao’s Away
12/08/14 4:28pm


According to Harris County Clerk documents, the Peacock & Plaza apartments at 1414-1416 Austin St. downtown across the street from Root Memorial Square were sold late last month to a Colorado-based development company.

The two Spanish-tinged, red-brick pre-war buildings — one of which is adorned with an eye-catching tile mosaic of a proud peacock, both of which are studded with dark green and white awnings — hold a total of 32 studio apartments.

There’s no off-street parking, but that’s offset in part by “crazy low rents in a prime location,” according to a reader. Prime it is indeed, just across Root Memorial Square from the Toyota Center and blocks from Discovery Green and the convention center. And cheap it is indeed too, at least as of last year, when units were being advertised for $520 a month.


History For Sale
11/25/14 11:30am

002HOUSTON MAGAZINE GETTING RID OF ITS DOWNTOWN ZIP Cover of 002houston MagazineFor its seventeenth birthday, sleek-stuff-about-downtown glossy 002houston magazine is stripping away the Zip Code part of its name to indicate its (longstanding) willingness to venture into Discovery Green (010), East Downtown (003), Bellaire (401), Montrose (swinging both ways: 006 and 019), the Energy Corridor (079), The Heights (007, 008, and 009), Pearland (584), Sugar Land (478 and 479), The Woodlands (380, 381, and 389), or wherever a nearby polo match is to be found. Starting with the January issue, the free publication’s new name will be Local Houston Magazine. “Local will continue to provide relevant news targeting those who live and work downtown, but with increased coverage throughout Greater Houston,” reads a notice sent out yesterday from 002houston magazine’s Spring St. editorial offices (in 007), “with editors covering food, culture, art and style for Houstonians who make Houston one of the coolest cities in America.”