07/21/16 5:00pm

downtown-tour-1

A set of skeletal construction updates are the product of Bob Russell’s downtown photo hunt earlier this week. The view above is a Hines 2-fer: Behind James Surl’s spiky Point of View sculpture is the 32-floor apartment building on its way up at the corner of Travis and Preston (now going by Aris Market Square), with a sliver of all-business 609 Main visible on the right. The office tower has been getting its last few bits of steel stuck into place this week — check out a more centered portrait of the rooftop action (plus more covert snaps of bare beams from around the area) below:

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All On The Way
07/19/16 11:30am

First Church of Christ, Scientist, 1720 Main St., Downtown, Houston, TX 77002
First Church of Christ, Scientist, 1720 Main St., Downtown, Houston, TX 77002A dumpster was spotted last week loitering around the Travis St. entrance of the Mod-ish Brutal-ish teal-ish former Christian Science church downtown, which, per the language on a building permit issued this month, is now being converted into a nightclub. The name listed on the permit (Club Spire) marks something of a shift in the tone previously set by the new owners this spring, when the group connected to Clé bar sought a TABC permit for the building under the name 1720 Main Reception Hall.

A curious reader sends the Friday afternoon shot above, along with an inquiry as to the fate of any interior furnishings and materials to be stripped away (the outside being fairly naked already, save for the gold-and-blue soon-to-be-eponymous spire). Here’s a last look from inside, around, and on top of the church’s sanctuary and courtyard as it was just prior to the finalization of the sale this spring — the elongated diamond-slash-triangle motif that covers the area behind the altar is carried through much of the rest of the building, from the stained-glass windows to the furniture: 

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Born Again on Main St.
07/14/16 1:00pm

Time for Thai, 930 Main St., Downtown Tunnels, Houston, 77002

Swamplot’s anonymous tunnel correspondent sends the following deep-Downtown restaurant updates (and a few other subterranean readers send along photos to illustrate):

The location formerly occupied by Prince’s at 930 Main St., [beneath the] McKinney Place Garage (unoccupied since early March) will soon be home to Time for Thai, whose sign says that they are an offshoot of Thai Cottage:

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Coming Up Downtown
07/08/16 12:45pm

Capitol Tower Tunnel Closures
The connections to the Downtown tunnel system beneath the planned future site of 35-story Capitol Tower at 811 Rusk St. should reopen by the end of the year, a Skanska representative tells Swamplot, though a hard date hasn’t been set yet.  The developer told Cara Smith of the HBJ last month that the bulk of the project wouldn’t go forward until leasing conditions look better, regardless of the explosive eviction of the former Houston Club building from the site, and last August’s foundation pour. The closures have cut off 601 Travis, the rebranding former Gulf Building, and all 3 of the buildings tangled up in that Hines-Linbeck-Houston-Chronicle tunnel lawsuit from the rest of the system since work on the spot first started in 2014. Take a look at the once-and-future underground crossroads in broader context:

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Under Downtown
07/05/16 4:45pm

Site of Nosh in Tunnel beneath 919 Milam, Downtown, Houston, 77002

The subterranean snapshot above comes from a reader roaming the Downtown tunnels, where a curved privacy-please construction barrier for a coffee-snacks-and-breakfast operation labeled Nosh now arcs around the spot formerly occupied by the ATM beneath 919 Milam. The change comes in the wake of other food-related shuffling beneath the 24-story tower this year; Genesis Energy also spread out onto another of the tower’s floors back in February.

Photo: ThaChadwick

Downtown Down Low
06/27/16 11:30am

Marlowe Condo Tower site, 1311 Polk St., Downtown, Houston, 77002

Marlowe Condo Tower site, 1311 Polk St., Downtown, Houston, 77002An elevated reader sends a snapshot this morning of an excavator rooting around by 1311 Polk St., where Randall Davis is laying the groundwork for his 20-story tower of actor-themed condominiums named Marlowe. The development’s sales center and 5-sided billboard (formerly a 713-TICKETS.com kiosk) is still in place across Caroline St. from the House-of-Blues-containing GreenStreet development (visible in the top frame, in the bottom right corner) and Dirt Bar (bottom left).

The marketing for the tower (another Davis project to seek funding from the EB-5 invest-your-way-to-citizenship program) appears to be a little less insult-forward these days than was previously the case. The tower’s website now also includes the drone footage collage and Stairway to Heaven remix below, showing off the surrounding downtown area with the would-be tower sketched into place in white lines:
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Looking Down Around Downtown
06/23/16 2:45pm

Allen Center Skybridge Remodeling, 500 Dallas St., Downtown, Houston, 77002

Currently underway: the partial disassembly of 1 of the 2 skybridges connecting One and Two Allen Center at the corner of Dallas and Smith streets downtown. The bridge pictured above is expected to survive the planned 3-tower redevelopment — a permit to remodel it was issued on Monday with some other OKs on the work, which includes turning the rubble-filled space to the east into a Smith-St.-facing events lawn and concert space. Renderings previously released by Brookfield suggest that the other skybridge, from which the above photo was taken, won’t be so lucky:

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Last Days Downtown
06/23/16 9:15am

UH READY FOR LEGAL ACTION OVER SOUTH TEXAS COLLEGE OF LAW’S HOUSTON REBRANDING University of Houston Law Center, Third Ward, Houston, 77004“It has come to the University of Houston’s attention that South Texas College of Law has announced that it is changing its name to Houston College of Law. . . . The University of Houston is concerned about the significant confusion this creates in the marketplace and will take any and all appropriate legal actions to protect the interests of our institution, our brand, and our standing in the communities we serve.” [University of Houston; previously on SwamplotPhoto of University of Houston Law Center: Douglas R.

06/22/16 2:30pm

DID SOUTH TEXAS LAW JUST BECOME HOUSTON’S FIRST “COLLEGE”? 1303 San Jacinto St., Downtown, Houston, 77002 Downtown’s South Texas College of Law just announced that the 93-year-old school is changing its name to Houston College of Law. A press release issued by the school this morning calls the name swap part of the institution’s ongoing effort to “distinguish itself regionally and nationally” — and indeed, the name is distinct from those of both law-school-containing University of Houston (located 2 miles southeast) and same-chancellor-separate-institution University of Houston Downtown (a mile to the north), though all 3 schools employ a red and white color scheme. Unlike other recent Houston school renamings,  today’s announced change appears to be effective immediately; the law school’s logos have already been updated, though its website address has not. [Houston College of Law] Photo of Houston College of Law at 1303 San Jacinto St.: Houston College of Law

06/21/16 4:45pm

Sky Lobby, 600 Travis St., Downtown, Houston, 77002sky-lobbyYou’ve missed your last chance to catch a view like these from the Chase Tower at 600 Travis St., unless you’re there on business. Craig Hlavaty reports that Hines has permanently closed the downtown skyscraper’s 60th floor Sky Lobby to the public, just 3 years after that 2013 redo by Gensler, to cut down on tenant-bothering “extra non-business-related traffic” on the floor (which is also an elevator swapout zone.) Time to update that list.

Photos: Bill Barfield (top) and Russell Hancock (bottom) via Swamplot Flickr Pool

Grounded Downtown
06/10/16 11:00am

Spirit of the Confederacy Statue, 1000 Bagby St., Downtown, Houston, TX 77002

Spirit of the Confederacy Statue, 1000 Bagby St., Downtown, Houston, TX 77002Chronicle reporter Gabrielle Banks snaps a fresh photo of the Spirit of the Confederacy, the well-labeled century-old statue standing around by the lake on the west side of Sam Houston Park (near the split of Allen Pkwy. into Lamar and Walker streets downtown).  The statue’s placement was funded in 1908 by Houston’s still-active Robert E. Lee chapter of the national United Daughters of the Confederacy and is inscribed to “all heroes of the South who fought for the principles of states rights.” Despite the statue’s unambiguous Confederate sympathies and nearness to City Hall, the bronze statue has largely flown beneath the radar of the past year’s scrutiny of Houston school and street names.

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Sam Houston Park
06/07/16 2:45pm

Proposed Prairie Tunnel Map, per Theater Square lawsuit filings

The management at 717 Louisiana St. has sent out word to tenants that the tunnel segment beneath the vacated downtown Houston Chronicle building is now open again, even though the newspaper’s former headquarters at 801 Texas Ave. are still standing on top of it. Documents filed with the Harris County district clerk’s office show that Hines agreed to hold off on the demo for a while, after Linbeck’s Theater Square group filed a lawsuit to stop them.

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Downtown Downtime
05/26/16 5:15pm

1301 Leeland St., Downtown, Houston, 77002

1301 Leeland St., Downtown, Houston, 77002From a largely-barren expanse of surface lot west of Toyota Center, a reader sends a few fresh images snapped during a street-level fly-by of the 1930s office building at the corner of Leeland and Caroline streets, where Texas Direct Auto has recently taken up both residence and a new advertising tack. Following in the wake of a previous foray into Downtown real-estate-billboard crossover, the company’s newest mural encompasses 3 of the 4 sides of the building (including the dog in an astronaut suit on the side opposite Leeland). Painting started in January, and a we’re-done-now party was thrown in early April. 

As was the case for the company’s red-tagged Main St. doggie-in-the-window signage, the newer mural incorporates some of the structure’s actual windows into the design — this time as a set of questionable-utility solar panel arrays on an artificial astronaut habitat:

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Leeland at Caroline
05/24/16 4:15pm

UH Downtown STEM Building Purchase

Outlined in red is the next addition to University of Houston Downtown’s campus, per last Thursday’s meeting by the UH system’s board of regents. The image above comes from a marketing flier included in the board’s agenda notes (as presented by board member and real estate reality TV star Tilman Fertitta). The 17-acre parcel on the north side of I-10 runs along the Daly St. student parking lot by the Burnett Transit Center light-rail station, and includes several areas west of N. Main St. already in use by UHD as faculty and student parking.

The land, bounded on the southwest by White Oak Bayou,  will likely house a new science and engineering building — though it may have to cozy up with some additions to the downtown freeway system still in the planning phase. UHD VP David Bradley tells Nancy Sarnoff that the parts of the tract that may end up inside the expanded right-of-way will hang around as green space until TxDOT’s map lines are firmed up.

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Rail Yard Revival
05/13/16 11:30am

WAXING POETIC OVER THE DEMOLITION OF AN ALLEN CENTER SKYBRIDGE Planned Remodel of One Allen Center, 1200 Smith St., Downtown, Houston, 77002“The age of confinement is over,” pens Realty News Report editor Ralph Bivins this week in his first foray into real estate poetry. Bivins was moved to verse by the details released last week on the upcoming redo of the 3 Allen Center towers at Smith and Dallas streets — more specifically, by the fact that Brookfield’s plans for the site includes the removal of one of the skybridges between One and Two Allen Center, as well as the earthen berm beneath it. The demo will turn the long-sequestered landscaped green space between the buildings into a street-accessible events lawn. The rest of the poem, entitled A quick verse by R. Bivins for Kenneth Schnitzer, Texas Eastern and the prior generation of downtown development, can be read here. [Realty News Report; previously on Swamplot] Rendering of planned Allen Center redo:  Studio AMD