11/05/18 2:30pm

Lovett Commercial’s latest post-industrial venture in East Downtown will take place just 4 blocks down Polk St. from the one it’s already got going at the former Houston Post building. The target this time: 2 blocks between Delano and Ennis streets now home collectively to more than 99,000 sq.-ft. of buildings — including the one where Frankel’s Costume Shop closed early this year. Most of the existing structures will stay standing with new shops, offices, restaurants, and some kind of art exhibition or creation spaces shoved inside them. The aerial at top shows off the whole thing in not-so-fine detail from the corner of Delano and Polk. And the street-level rendering looks in the opposite direction, depicting a patio-ed and pedestrian-ized eastern block with its western counterpart in the background.

A cold-storage box once home to Freedman Meats takes up the whole eastern block right now, shown below from Polk.:

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Polk & Ennis
11/01/18 3:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: CONGRESS AVE. COLLAPSE WAS A LONG TIME COMING “Yeah, if you look on the street view of the building prior to collapse: nice big cracks in the masonry, which looks like a double or single wythe on the front and triple wythe in the sides. All of the bracing for the masonry appears to be missing, too. (You can see the slots at the higher elevations for the roof joists, which would have acted as a diaphragm for the structure.) Kind of amazing it took this long to collapse. Guess last night’s winds were enough to push it over the edge.” [Purdueenginerd, commenting on The Impromptu Collapse of a Congress Ave. Strip’s Most Worn-Out Pioneer] Photo: Arch-ive

11/01/18 12:45pm

The vacant, red-brick building on Congress Ave. shown above just west of Bastrop St. demolished itself this morning, leaving a gap between its turn-of-the-century contemporaries to the south and the metal-roofed warehouse north of it. During its earlier days, the building’s second floor was rented to boarders — a typical setup in this section of the Second Ward, which remained “almost entirely residential,” according to historian Stephen Fox, until Union Station opened in 1911, prompting warehouse and industrial redos nearby.

For about the last decade, it’s been roofless:

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Early Morning Breakdown
10/30/18 5:00pm

SOUTHWEST KEY SEEKS CONTRACT EXTENSION FOR FACILITY IT HASN’T OPENED YET A spokesman for Southwest Key, the nonprofit that houses immigrant kids, tells the Chronicle’s Mike Morris that federal officials are giving it more time to open its stalled Casa Sunzal facility 3 blocks from BBVA Compass than they’d originally allowed now that the deadline of October 28 has passed. That’s the date by which Southwest Key previously claimed federal officials would terminate their contract for the facility if it wasn’t yet open. What’s been the holdup? Local officials, who — the nonprofit claims in its ongoing lawsuit against the city — are refusing to grant it the permits it needs to operate. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo: LoopNet

10/05/18 2:00pm

WHY ALL THE FOOD TRUCKS VANISHED FROM EAST DOWNTOWN’S TRUCK YARD Health department officials ousted all food trucks from the open-air structure pictured adjacent to outdoor seating in August — reports Samantha Morris over at Houston Food Finder — nearly 4 months after the Lamar St. bar opened. Their justification: City code bans food trucks from parking within 100 ft. of dining areas and from parking underneath “any canopy, awning or other covering,” that isn’t attached to the truck itself. (If the covering’s already there for another purpose, and the truck just happens to park under it, the city lets it slide.) As a partial fix, “We’re going to take the roof off,” Truck Yard’s general manager tells Morris. Until the city okays plans for that change, cheesesteaks from the bar’s in-house kitchen will be the only food source available. [Houston Food Finder; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Truck Yard Houston

09/25/18 12:00pm

A Chronicle article dug up by the group proposing to renovate 612 Live Oak St. into a coworking space called Brass Tacks reveals that the 4,750-sq.-ft. building — 2 blocks from BBVA Compass Stadium — was originally put there by architect S.R. Slaughter in 1938 to house Oliver Armature Works, a manufacturing plant that produced electrical doodads. It’s now up to Schaum/Shieh Architects to make room inside for a variety of different business professionals who’ll come and go as they please from both private and communal work areas (and a bar).

New previews of the planned venue showcase one way of accomplishing that task: by installing a hive of productivity cubbyholes along the side of the main room. They’re shown at top lining the building’s north wall, with open-air booths on top of them.

To get down from the upper level, take this narrow side corridor up to the spiraling stair structure by the door:

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Brass Tacks
09/18/18 12:00pm

EMPTY LEELAND ST. FURNITURE WORKSHOP NOW HAS A WINE SIGN ON IT A reader tells Swamplot one of those TABC posters is up on the building at 3107 Leeland St., and the applicant it names: The Wine House, LLC. The last tenant Metamorphose Studios did double-duty in the 2,800-sq.-ft. space: dealing furniture and also guiding visitors in the art of refurbishing items themselves (“I recommend the chairapy class,” wrote the venue’s sole Yelp reviewer in 2016, adding that of the items for sale: “The hand painted and embellished cattle skulls are to die for!“) Despite its departure from Houston, the workshop lives on as part of an antique store up in Navasota. Photo: Metamorphose Studios

09/17/18 2:45pm

In a lawsuit it filed Friday against the City of Houston, the government contractor tasked with housing thousands of child immigrants across Texas, Arizona, and California says it’s got until October 28 to open the building it leased at 419 Emancipation Ave. — now preemptively dubbed Casa Sunzal — otherwise the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement will pull its funding for the planned facility.

The nonprofit’s biggest beef with the city (and in particular the Mayor, who grinned in June at the idea of a permitting “slow-walk” for the center) is that the compound shouldn’t be classified as a detention facility but rather a residential one. Yes, the company says in its filing, “children are verbally discouraged from leaving,” the campus, but they “are not physically restrained if they try to.” 240 kids ages “0 to 17,” were originally slated to shack up in the compound, according to the Chronicle’s Lomi Kriel. The majority of them — Southwest Key says now — would be minors that crossed the border by themselves, as opposed to those separated from their parents upon arrival in the U.S.

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Casa Sunzal
09/04/18 1:30pm

The city’s latest proposal to eliminate off-street parking requirements in Midtown and East Downtown got a vote of confidence from the management districts of both neighborhoods when staff members presented it to them last Monday. Shown above are the new areas (in blue and green) that’d supplement Downtown’s existing Central Business District (red) where developers are free to build without leaving room — like the rest of Houston must — for on-site parking spots. To the east, the designation extends out to the Union Pacific Railroad tracks and then down to I-45. And to the south, it follows the 527 spur, ending at 59. (If put in place, the whole contiguous zone would fall under a new term the city’s invented for it: Market Based Parking.)

There’s still a ways to go before the map becomes more than a pretty picture: A 30-day public comment period will culminate in a recap next month. Then city council gets its final say on things at a meeting proponents hope will take place before the end of the year.

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Deregulatory Roadmap
08/21/18 12:30pm

BROTHERS TACO HOUSE’S BACKYARD COULD CHANGE HANDS ANY DAY NOW The 1.3 acres situated behind Brothers Taco House are now under contract after just over a month on the market. Aside from the 6,000-sq.-ft. northeast portion of the block occupied by the restaurant and its parking lot, the rest has long been empty. It’s all overlooked by a row of townhouses put up along Bastrop St. in 2008. [HAR via HAIF] Photo: Swamplox inbox

08/08/18 1:30pm

Add F45 Training to the list of businesses taking over warehouses next to where I-45 will run over a few of its own once its rerouted through East Downtown. That’s the gym’s black box in the photo at top, neighbored by the Ferris wheel that new-ish bar Truck Yard recently installed in its own next-door lot. North of an adjacent portion of the building that F45 hasn’t touched, exterior work added new horizontal siding a couple shades darker than the previous off-white onto the structure, as well as the doorway — pictured above — atop which the national fitness chain has been flexing its COMING SOON signage for the past few months.

A permit filed yesterday for the building at 1110 Hutchins indicates rehab work is about to head inside to deal with a 2,650-sq.-ft. portion of its space. It’s 10,000 sq.-ft. total and backs up nearly halfway down the block on Lamar St. where it stands off from the south side of the Kim Hung Supermarket, long-whispered to be about to be demolished for something much taller.

Photos: F45 Training

Bodybuilding Buildings
08/03/18 3:00pm

Fasten your seat belts — it’s time for a detour down the new ramp TxDOT just opened off I-45 north to 59 north. Included in the footage: new views of the downtown skyline, along with some of an adjacent ramp now under construction between the 2 highways that’ll offer freeway sightseers an even higher vantage point when its open.

You can see it taking shape off to the left in the still photo below:

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Dashcam Footage
08/02/18 10:30am

SOUTHWEST KEY SAYS EMANCIPATION DETENTION CENTER NEARLY READY TO WELCOME KIDS, CITY SAYS NOT WITHOUT PROPER PAPERS The nonprofit looking to house unaccompanied children who crossed the border illegally in the complex at 419 Emancipation Ave. tells the Chronicle‘s Lomi Kriel and Mike Morris it’s only seeking one more permit — okaying a commercial kitchen — before it plans to open the East Downtown facility. And even if that paperwork doesn’t arrive, company officials say, they could just open up anyway with food procured by some other means. But according to city officials, 2 permits the building received back in June — a certificate of occupancy and safety survey — are void because both came through based on the structure’s designation as a “shelter.” Houston’s fire chief now says the complex is more of a “custodial care facility” — a classification with different requirements for city sign-offs since “the occupants are not going to be free to enter and exit as they wish.” His recommendation: start the application process for those 2 documents over from scratch. [Houston Chronicle ($); previously on Swamplot] Photo: LoopNet

07/31/18 3:00pm

THE BUILDUP TO TEAR THINGS DOWN FOR THE NEW I-45 HAS BEGUN “I’ve noticed a trend in lower Fifth Ward to start building or planning to build in the path of the upcoming I-45 reroute,” writes a Swamplot reader. “Is there a chance that developers can make more money on their buyout if they have developed plans?” Developed or not, there’s certainly been some action along the right of way that TxDOT plans to crater for the new highway segment — like that recent buying and selling in East Downtown across from the GRB. No one’s signed up to build anything new on those parcels yet — but with roadwork not slated to start until 2020, that’s plenty of time to get something ready ahead of the demolitions the highwaymen have planned to make way for the reroute. [Previously on Swamplot] Diagram of I-45 reroute: TxDOT

07/30/18 2:15pm

THE EAST DOWNTOWN BLOCK WEST OF TRUCK YARD HAS A NEW OWNER A group connected to Houston developer Ancorian has snatched up nearly the entire block directly west of recently-opened bars Rodeo Goat and Truck Yard in East Downtown, according to documents filed with the county. The quadrant — bounded by Dallas, Lamar, Chartres, and St. Emanuel streets — is where contractor Britain Electric had its facilities, pictured above, for more than 6 decades before moving out to Brittmore Rd. about a mile and a half north of I-10 just over a year ago. All of its buildings are Ancorian’s now (including a few auxiliary ones across the street), along with everything else on the block except 3 parcels fronting Chartres St. on the northeast corner — one of which played host to the former Silver House Theatre performing arts venue. Photo: Yellowpages