05/14/15 2:15pm

Rendering of Proposed New Employment Services and Care Headquarters for Search Homeless Services, 2015 Congress Ave., East Downtown

Here’s a rendering of the new employment services and care center Midtown-based nonprofit SEARCH Homeless Services is just about ready to start building on a 10,000-sq.-ft. vacant lot at the northwest corner of Congress and St. Emanuel. The site is one block east of the Hwy. 59 overpass, at 2015 Congress Ave. Arch-Con Construction will begin construction on the design by Studio Red Architects after a groundbreaking ceremony next Monday. The nonprofit plans to leave its current HQ in the fifties Mod building at 2505 Fannin St. in Midtown for this new East Downtown perch. In addition to offices, the smaller, 27,105-sq.-ft. facility will include a chapel, training rooms, workspaces, and a terrace.

Rendering: Studio Red Architects

Congress & St. Emanuel
05/12/15 5:00pm

Former Houston Post Facility, 2410 Polk St. at Dowling, East Downtown, Houston

Former Houston Post Facility, 2410 Polk St. at Dowling, East Downtown, HoustonA number of readers have sent in pics of the sign just posted by Lovett Commercial in front of the former Houston Post building (the earlier one, not this one seeing a Chronicle redo) at the corner of Polk and Dowling in East Downtown. A company connected to Lovett owner Frank Liu purchased the former newspaper facility from the Houston Chronicle a year and a half ago. It encompasses the entire double block bounded by Polk, Dowling, Bell, and St. Charles streets. The signs advertise a restaurant-and-shopping rehab for the facility at the 2410 Polk St. address, which sits on 3.32 acres — looking something like this:

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Retail and Restaurant Redo
05/11/15 4:00pm

2101 Polk St., East Downtown, Houston

Who’s been tagging the former Malloy’s Register Company building at the corner of Polk St. and St. Emanuel St. in East Downtown with Simpsons graffiti, an assortment of wheatpaste posters, and a TABC license application? The building’s future tenants, who bear the mysterious name The Secret Group. For now, The Secret Group has been arranging and promoting a series of comedy and music performances in various spots around town. But come November, the promoters plan to open up their own native bar, comedy club, and music venue in the building at 2101 Polk St.

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El Barto Was Here
04/22/15 2:00pm

WHEN SYSTEMS BREAK DOWN East Downtown, HoustonA reader writes: “The non-profit I work for is currently looking for a new office. We found a great location in East Downtown, near the new rail line, recently renovated, and a great price. It is essentially our dream office. During the lease negotiations the realtor said that after 90 days into the 3 year lease, if any plumbing, electrical, or HVAC issues arise, we would be responsible for paying it. Including any replacement and labor. When countered with a ‘no,’ the realtor stated that this was a normal practice in Houston and ‘good luck trying to find a place that will let you get away with that.’ Being new to this process, we are curious if this is true. The current office we are in does not require that and I personally have not heard of it other places.” Photo: Russell Hancock

03/12/15 12:15pm

Rendering of Proposed High School for Law and Justice, Scott St. Between Coyle and Pease, East Downtown, Houston

HISD says it’s completed the purchase of land on Scott St., just north of the Gulf Fwy. between Coyle St. and Pease, for its new High School for Law and Justice, pictured above in a rendering from the DLR Group and Page, the building’s architects. HISD jettisoned the criminal enforcement elements of the school’s name last year; it was formerly known as the High School for Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice. The site is near the southern edge of East Downtown, adjacent to the Leeland station of the about-to-open Purple light-rail line.

Notable features of the new 104,866-sq.-ft. building include a courtroom and law library, special spaces for both ROTC and visual arts programs, a gym, and a black box theater. The facility also appears to be designed for easy surveillance: “From the ground floor, transparent walls will allow visibility into labs on the second level for a crime scene area, fire science and a 911 training call center,” an HISD account notes. And that’s just how principal Carol Mosteit wants it: “I love the idea of having all this transparency and glass because we’ll be able to see the learning that’s taking place throughout the building,” she told an HISD blogger. “The way traditional schools are set up, it’s almost like an interruption when you open up a classroom door. We won’t have to worry about that with a 21st century building design.”

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They’ll Be Watching
01/21/15 5:00pm

Demolition of International Mailing Systems, 815 Live Oak St., East Downtown

Sure, we all know the future of East Downtown is townhomes, and that the industrial structures that once dominated that landscape are on their way out. But have you seen a set of photos that better illustrates the transformation than this gallery of views taken by reader Jeff Peoples this morning? It shows the demolition of the former International Mailing Systems warehouse building at 815 Live Oak St. Not much more need for them to be close to downtown.

You can see the townhomes marching from the background of the above photo, smashing everything in their way.

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International Mailing Systems Gone
11/10/14 1:45pm

2901 Rusk St., East Downtown, Houston

The proprietor of The Green Bone is hoping to turn this former office warehouse at the far eastern edge of East Downtown into a new home for the doggie daycare, hemp-treat outlet, and espresso stop. The Green Bone currently operates in this still-for-sale building at 2104 Leeland St., 1 mile to the southwest. Its envisioned future home in the warehouse at the corner of Rusk and Paige, which The Green Bone purchased at the beginning of this year, would encompass 3,429 sq. ft. at the corner of Rusk and Paige.

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09/10/14 5:00pm

2102-leeland-02

Were it nighttime and the glass a bit more seamless, this mod industrial storefront might work as a stand-in for the scene of Edward Hopper’s iconic Nighthawks. The contoured corner hugs the corner of Leeland and St. Emanuel St., a block past the Eastex Fwy. overpass and the eastern border of Downtown. The building’s 4,250 sq. ft. footprint sits on a 5,000-sq.-ft. corner lot in a warehouse-y district within eyeshot of the Toyota Center. It was listed on the MLS for $600K last summer, but has stayed on the market through various relistings since October 2013 for a bit more: $650K.

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Chinatown Printing
09/08/14 10:00am

Cleared Lot at St. Charles and Capitol Streets, East Downtown, Houston

A second block adjacent to BBVA Compass Stadium in East Downtown was cleared by giant yellow machines this past week; a reader has sent us the above photo to prove it. The metal shed once occupied by Tool Mart, which formerly stood on a portion of the site, is no more. (The company has decamped for Missouri City.) Space is being cleared for an apartment project on this block — surrounded by Dowling St., Texas Ave., Capitol St., and St. Charles St., and fronting a bit of the soon-to-open Southeast light-rail line just past where it combines with the also soon-to-open East End line — as well as the block immediately south, which was cleared late last month. Renderings of apartments on this same site were shown last year by Mill Creek Residential before that it backed out of the project; the company that took it over instead, JLB Partners, hasn’t released any drawings showing its plans.

Photo: Swamplot inbox

Tool Mart Is Gone
09/02/14 1:30pm

2600 Block of Capitol St. with Signs from Veterans Memorial Dr., Houston

If you were wondering how a street-facing block of neat-in-a-row East Downtown townhomes might appear after being taken over by the opportunistic spirit exemplified by a bunch of north Houston strip-center businesses, rest your aching brain: Artist Carrie Marie Schneider has already done some of that hard a-visualizing work for you. Her mashup above combines signs from independent businesses along Veterans Memorial Dr. (the stretch between I-45 and Richey Rd.) with a row of recent townhomes on the 2600 block of Capitol St., between Live Oak and Nagle. The image, a projection of which constitutes a small part of her recently opened exhibition at the Contemporary Arts Museum, is one way to imagine a “real free-enterprise” conquest of more corporate-seeming block-by-block townhome developments. Blocks like the one pictured under all that signage “once seemed uncanny in Houston for their enforced coherence,” she writes in OffCite. “Now they’re difficult not to encounter.”

Image: Carrie Marie Schneider

Mixed Use Mashup
08/28/14 11:45am

Demolition of 2414 Capitol St., East Downtown, Houston

Demo crews are clearing away a metal warehouse building and chopping up the surface concrete on the block surrounded by Dowling, Rusk, Capitol and St. Charles streets, across Dowling St. from BBVA Compass Stadium in East Downtown. Last year, Mill Creek Residential announced and then canceled plans for a possibly mixed-use apartment development it was calling EADO Station on that block and the one immediately north, facing Texas Ave.

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JLB in East Downtown
08/26/14 12:15pm

Former Meridian Nightclub, 1503 Chartres St., East Downtown, Houston

A little more than a year after settling into the new location it rehabbed from the former Phillips Paper Company warehouse at 1100 Elder St. in the First Ward, Ecclesia Church appears ready to begin another renovation project and move — this time to East Downtown. The church, which began its life 15 years ago as part of the Taft St. Coffee House complex in Montrose, signed a contract last Friday to purchase the 50,000-sq.-ft. former Meridian nightclub building at 1503 Chartres St. for $3.75 million, pastor and church founder Chris Seay announced during his sermon over the weekend.

The church plans to continue its serial-renovation, just-add-coffee-house growth strategy in the new space. (Taft St. Coffee House’s successor cafe in the First Ward is Paper Co., built into the church’s space there.) The Meridian building, where the nightclub closed in 2010, lies south of the George R. Brown Convention Center and the Toyota Center on the east side of the 59 overpass. The church had originally made several attempts to purchase the building back in 2009, Seay said. But a new chance arose recently, after a bankruptcy sale:

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Stripping Buildings in East Downtown
06/02/14 2:30pm

With an entertaining, droll video (see above), a close-to-Downtown location already picked out, and a “first ever in Houston” concept, the fundraising effort for the Press Start Bar seemed to have a lot going for it. Alas, the Kickstarter game plan for the planned console-videogame-themed nightspot has failed to reach its high-score goal. After 30 days on the crowdfunding platform, the crew garnered $18,483 in pledges from 81 different backers. That’s impressive for a first try at the controls, but a bit shy of the stated $50,000 its founders said they needed to secure the proposed location — “off Rusk and St. Emanuel” (between the 59 overpass and BBVA Compass Stadium) — obtain building permits, and get started with TABC licensing, to be able to serve craft beers and Pokemon-themed cocktails, among other menu items.

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Press Restart
05/15/14 11:15am

Proposed Aspen Heights Dorms, Cullen Blvd. at Coyle St., East Downtown, Houston

A company that’s been building a growing chain of private college dorms is seeking a 10-year tax abatement from the city to help it build a $56 million 305,076-sq.-ft. complex just north of the Gulf Fwy. from the University of Houston. Houston’s version of Aspen Heights (as the company and all its dorms are named) would sit on 7.7 acres just north of the Catholic Charismatic Center on Cullen Blvd., across the street from the former Finger Furniture warehouse recently purchased by developer Frank Liu. The dorms would sit in the far southeast corner of East Downtown, backing up to the railroad tracks that form the neighborhoods northern and eastern boundary:

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A Quarter Mile from Campus
12/27/13 12:45pm

Repairs on Metro Southeast Line at McKinney, Houston

Why were crews yanking out and replacing a brand-new 240-ft.-long stretch of rail and concrete on the not-even-opened-yet Southeast Line at McKinney St. (above), next to the Columbia Tap trail in East Downtown, earlier this month? Because back on May 30th, a 7.2kV CenterPoint Energy electrical line fell onto the tracks and their overhead line three-quarters of a mile to the south, at Scott St. and Coyle St.

Zzzzzzap!

In addition to the McKinney St. burnout, 20-ft. sections of rail and track slab got zapped near crossings at Nagle St. and Elgin. At the incident site, 80 ft. of concrete and anti-vibration insulation had to be scrapped and replaced.

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Hot Rails