07/12/17 11:00am

WHAT COULD GO UNDER WHEN I-45 MOVES UNDERGROUND AND EAST OF DOWNTOWN Jeff Balke tallies some of the expected carnage just east of Downtown should TXDoT proceed with its planned rerouting of I-45 from the west side to the east side of Downtown, widening the path of that stretch of Hwy. 59 (aka I-69) to Saint Emanuel St. Among the establishments expecting to have to shut down or relocate as a result of the expansion: the Bayou City Barber Shop, Vietnamese restaurant Huynh, Ahh Coffee, Tout Suite, one building of the Ballpark Lofts, low-income housing development Clayton Homes, a couple of nonprofits, SEARCH Homeless Services’ new building, the Loaves and Fishes soup kitchen — plus other assorted bars, barbecue joints, artist spaces, and office space. Among the questions Balke keeps hearing in reference to plans to put this portion of a new I-45-69 combo below grade, possibly (only if separate funding can be found) with a greenspace “cap” planted on top of it: “why [would] a freeway would be constructed lower than street level in a city that floods with seeming regularity, particularly when the highway in question is a hurricane evacuation route? TxDOT is quick to point out that we already have roadways below grade throughout the city that have not suffered major flooding problems since Tropical Storm Allison in 2001, which broke records and is widely considered a 500-year flood. Still, flooding is something the agency appears to have taken seriously. ‘No matter the situation, there’s a potential for flooding,‘ [TXDoT spokesperson] Perez explains, ‘but with anything below grade, additional pumps and detention ponds come into play.’ [Houston Press; previously on Swamplot] Rendering showing possible park behind GRB: HNTB and TxDOT

07/06/17 3:00pm

Actual neighborhood hardware store East End Hardware (see inset second photo) went belly-up only a few years after its 2012 opening at 3005 Leeland St. (at the corner of Ennis St. in East Downtown). Now opened in its place, as of the first of this month, is a replacement (pictured at top): East End Hardware.

Among the changes: a revamped exterior, with the name of the establishment now rendered in vintage Houston blue tile; a dog-friendly patio; and a new beverage menu that includes 20 beers on tap, mixed drinks, and “boozy” New Orleans-style sno-balls in flavors such as piña colada, tiger’s blood, and screwdriver. Also: food.

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EaDo Hard Drinks and Wares
05/23/17 10:15am

New scribbles on a siteplan show a Sprouts Farmers Market marked in as a tenant for the planned redo of the former East Downtown Houston Post building over on Polk St. at Dowling Emancipation Ave. (Don’t get this spot confused with the former postal office Downtown, which is also being redeveloped by the Lovett Commercial folks — nor with the other former Houston Post building recently resuscitated by the Chronicle.) The leasing plan appears to show some new construction toward the currently empty Bell St. end of the double-wide block, making room for the Sprouts and for a few layers of parking garage. It also notes a drive-thru CVS on the northern side, along Polk:

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East of East Village
05/12/17 3:45pm


In between showing off various multicolored interchange tangles, the new flyover preview video of the huge changes proposed for I-45 North and the downtown freeway circuit glides viewers by a handful of areas where freeways will dive underground — while splicing in some new renderings of the tops of those tunnels-to-be as they could look, if somebody wanted to pay up to turn them into a park. (The animation is careful to emphasize once again that said parks would have to be developed and funded by a source other than TxDOT — and so far, there are no signs that anyone has stepped up.)

The rendering up top shows the would-be-parallel sections of 45, 59, and SH 288, running behind the convention district where 59 sits now — the whole bundle would be pulled down below flood grade and covered up, evidently with concrete if the park thing doesn’t work out. (A clip of just that section of the 10-minute animation is included above; a tiny rendered version of the Cheek Neal Coffee building can be spied along the edge of the freeway, though SEARCH Homeless Service’s new building one block north isn’t specifically drawn in next to it.)

The video also gives the section of 59 from Main to San Jacinto streets the same burial and dressup treatment:

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Bridging the Gaps
12/28/16 2:45pm

Art Hous, 811 St. Emanuel St., East Downtown, Houston, 77003
wahlburgers

The folks at ACS studio architecture say that the insides of the former Art Hous art and interior design center on St. Emanuel St. are being cleared out for the planned installation of Burgr Hous. Demo permits for the interior walls of the space, which is wedged between Warehouse Live and Lucky’s Pub, came through early last month. When it’s wrapped up, the remodel may have a vibe kinda like the space shown above, which ACS currently has up on their website for the project as a visual reference for the redesign — though the image depicts the branding of the Boston-based reality-teevee-starring Wahlburgers chain. The firm has a floorplan out as well, however, showing a different layout:

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E-Less in EaDo
12/14/16 10:45am

Long Sing Market Leasing Flier, 2017 Walker St., East Downtown, Houston, 77003

The Long Sing Supermarket building is now up for grabs, per a fresh leasing listing that appeared last week. The 8,260-sf.-ft. retail space and its internal lunch counter sit across Walker St. from physicist-mascotted Neil’s Bahr, and next to Little Woodrow’s EaDo (visible in yellow to the right, with its face toward the corner with St. Emanuel St. where Warehouse Live hangs out). The pagoda-topped grocery store was listed for sale a few times since 2014 — back before the glassy Marriott Marquis highrise started photobombing the building’s listing shots from across 59, as it does in the photo below:

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Market To Market
12/13/16 2:30pm

East Village leasing and renderings

The latest sketchup of the site plan for Ancorian’s East Village project in East Downtown shows what may be a second distillery nestled into the 2 blocks of warehouses now in various states of conversion between Polk and Lamar streets along St. Emanuel and Hutchins. Meanwhile, a group of rum distillers going by the name Revolution Rum has laid claim to an address next to the development (in a warehouse just north of 8th Wonder Brewery’s, across Hutchins from the planned Houston location of chain craft vodka distillery Our/Vodka). It’s not clear whether the spot marked on the leasing flier is a separate project, or if one of the 2 potential liquor operations might have a satellite storefront in the complex, facing St. Emanuel St.

Other additions to the siteplan include the name of Agricole Hospitality, now on the map at the corner of Dallas and St. Emanuel (and embellished with the logos for the group’s existing Heights trifecta of Revival Market, Coltivare, and Eight Row Flint). Fort Worth-rooted beer and burger joint Rodeo Goat and Dallas-based trailer-bar Truck Yard have territories staked out as well, next to a thin slice of retail space labeled Poku. The architects at māk have also released another few renderings up of design ideas for various parts of the 2 block complex, including a shiny restaurant mockup depicted along Polk St. near the now-silver-skinned Secret Group comedy club:

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Spirits of EaDo
12/12/16 1:00pm

HTX Sports Creek, 2619 Polk St., East Downtown, Houston, 77003

A 3-block jaunt from the proposed site of the recently reincarnated Ivy Lofts development will land you at 2619 Polk St., where do-it-yourself sports bar Sports Creek is setting up. The developers look to be planting a series of sand volleyball courts and blue-turfed soccer fields on the long-paved-over block bounded by Polk, Live Oak, Nagle, and Dallas streets (catty-corner from the former Kings warehouse building slated for a wholesale-to-retail makeover).

One of the involved developers recently told Maggie Gordon that the new place should open in January, and that there will be 3 volleyball courts; the above rendering shows the latest published update to the bar’s planned layout of the space (though it appears to show 4 courts instead). It’s also not totally clear which side of the development that drawing is meant to show, as none of the site’s depicted neighbors appear to quite match up with the array of townhomes, warehouses, and electrical substation that ring the block.

Older renderings released earlier this year showed the business with only 1 and 2 fields and courts respectively, on a much skinnier piece of land:

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Courting Polk St.
11/17/16 1:15pm

Start Houston HQ, 1121 Delano St., East Downtown, Houston, 77003

The current East Downtown home of startup kickstarter Start Houston is on the market at the moment, as the organization looks for a new space to host its growing techie crowd. A rep tells Swamplot that the group can’t say yet where the new digs will be — but the old digs at 1121 Delano St. are currently listed for sale at around $795,000. The 1963 building’s features include the human-robot peace wall facing Dallas St.:

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Starting Again Elsewhere
11/03/16 10:00am

Ivy Lofts renderings with new EDI design

The new, new design views of the Ivy Lofts highrise have been trickling out this week, and the glossy view above is fresh out into the digital ether as of late last night. The project’s marketing folks are prepping for a Saturday afternoon sales relaunch party at the converted grocery warehouse on the site (bounded by Nagle, Leeland, Live Oak, and the would-be path of Pease St., just north of the Texas Art Asylum and 59).

The tiny-condos highrise developers swapped architects a few months ago, midway through a redesign intended to turn the place into a double-lobbied condo-hotel mashup; the latest design, from EDI Architecture, is back to no hotel component and is down to just 1 main tower, with a 5-story parking garage filling in the extra space on top of a layer of ground floor storefronts. As for the building’s tiniest units, the 360-ish-sq.-ft. Tokyo, they’ve put on a little floorspace (and now measure in closer to 400 sq. ft.).

Here’s a closer view of some of those 14,228-sq.-ft. of retail space, from the corner of Live Oak and Leeland:

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EaDo Pre-Do Redo
09/28/16 3:30pm

2700 Polk St., East Downtown, Houston, 77003

A construction fence has gone up around the former King’s Wholesale building in East Downtown, a reader tells Swamplot. The rendering above shows a planned renovation for the structure at the corner of Polk and Nagle streets, just a few blocks northwest of the purportedly-reopening-in-October Ivy Lofts sales center. The curved awning-fin isn’t new, but the glass storefronts are — below is a shot of the building’s pre-redo state, from when it last hit the market:
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Opening Up in East Downtown
09/23/16 5:30pm

Ivy Lofts Retail Listing Images, September 2016

Actually, the rendering above is not the newest look for the Ivy Lofts, PR head Jared Anthony tells Swamplot this afternoon. Anthony says that the 3-week-old images posted in Wednesday’s since-pulled listing for ground floor retail space in the development had been planned for release that same day during a meeting with folks who have reserved units in the project — but some totally different designs came in from the new architect on Tuesday. Anthony says the newest plans will be shown off in mid-October when the sales center relaunches (complete with another scale model of the planned building), and that groundbreaking is now planned for January, with no change to the estimated completion date.

Images: Powers Brown Architecture

East Downtown Loft Swapping
09/22/16 5:15pm

Ivy Lofts Retail Listing Images, September 2016

Update, 9/23: Ivy Lofts PR director Jared Anthony tells Swamplot that another even newer design is in the works following an architect switchup — more info here.

Ivy Lofts Rendering, Leeland at Live Oak, East Downtown, HoustonIs this the new look planned for the Ivy Lofts? A fresh LoopNet listing is now using the top rendering (and another view from the back) to advertise retail space on the yet-unbroken ground at 2604 Leeland St. The images show a building with roughly the same J-shaped double tower proportions seen in the original Ivy Lofts renderings, but with a smoother, gently curved facade and some vertical green striping.

Novel Creative Development VP Wen Pin Tsai did tell Paul Takahashi back in July that there were major condo-hotel-hybridization-related changes being hashed out for the planned highrise after the initial buy-up went more slowly than planned: the 550 units got attention from only 68 buyers — most of whom were actually investors looking to lease out the condos to that same coveted young professional set that wasn’t signing up to purchase them.

Most of the renderings and details up on the Ivy Lofts’ marketing webpage were taken down some time in the wake of the missed June groundbreaking date, and not many new ones been posted yet — but a new floor plan is included with the retail leasing info, showing distinct condo and hotel lobbies: 

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New Angles in East Downtown
06/13/16 5:00pm

New Headquarters for Search Homeless Services, 2015 Congress Ave., East Downtown

The new home of homeless services center SEARCH opened at 2015 Congress Ave. this morning, next to the Loaves & Fishes soup kitchen and across 59 from Minute Maid Park. The 27,105-sq.-ft. facility’s design has been greened up since last summer‘s pass-around of renderings for the space — in addition to the color on the exterior walls, renewable energy company and regular grocery-store-front proselytizers Green Mountain Energy footed the bill for some solar paneling and other energy-efficient upgrades. Operations at the organization’s fifties-mod space on McGowen St. (which got that unintentional contemporary update to its facade back in 2014) will end around June 24th. 

Below is a recent-but-still-mid-construction look at the new building from the corner of Franklin and St. Emanuel streets, showing the structure in place across Congress from the Cheek-Neal Coffee building, (which, unlike the homeless services building, appears to be explicitly spared by some of TxDOT’s potential future freeway expansion plans):

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Congress at St. Emanuel