07/20/18 2:00pm

Lovett Commercial won’t be building that new northwest corner structure on the former Houston Post site previously slated to house a Sprouts Farmers Market at Emancipation and Bell avenues, but it does plan to move ahead with this blocky new entryway housing an elevator and stairway on St. Charles St. — that is, if Houston’s city planning commission gives it the go ahead. The developer fired off an application asking the commission for permission to plant the cube (shown in yellow above) right at the property line, as opposed to 10 ft. from it as would typically be required, but then postponed its consideration for 2 weeks during which it plans to gather more supporting information. The structure would go right outside the existing 3-story building between Emancipation and St. Charles St. that Lovett plans to preserve.

Other portions of that 1944 building already toe the line in similar fashion along St. Charles and Emancipation. They were grandfathered in to the current setback rules, along with the entire north façade of this slightly smaller, abutting structure that lines Polk St.:

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East Downtown
06/19/18 11:00am

The curbside rendering above from Schaum/Shieh Architects shows off the changes coming soon to 612 Live Oak now that developer Bercon is redoing it for Brass Tacks, a coworking space with on-site kitchen and bar. Both the TABC notice heralding the bar’s arrival and the door it’s posted on will vanish in the redo, replaced by the single window to the right of the main entrance shown at top. A current garage entrance will also give way to the double-doors and surrounding glass planned in the middle of the facade. Stripped of their existing awnings, newly-uncovered stained glass openings will bookend the building’s face. A fenced-off patio sits adjacent along Live Oak.

Lifting the lid, you can see all kinds of business planned inside, between the single-story structure’s 2 side parking lots

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Coworking Conversion
06/18/18 5:30pm

Inside the facility at 419 Emancipation that federal contractor Southwest Key Programs plans to use as a detention center for immigrant children, vestiges of the structure’s homeless-shelter past remain untouched. Christian nonprofit Star of Hope decked out the hallway of the smaller, 13,222-sq.-ft. building shown in the foreground of the aerial at top with both Old and New Testament scenes during its time on-site. It sold the property between Preston and Prairie streets in 2016 and moved into a bigger shelter on Reed Rd. near Hwy. 288.

In March, the complex wrapped up a 5-month stint as a temporary housing facility for 300 single adults displaced by Harvey. Its current owner (an entity tied to Dave Denenburg, the most recent renovator of Schlumberger’s former headquarters a quarter mile south) then leased it to Southwest Key, a nonprofit that operates facilities for unaccompanied minors in Texas. The organization plans to house as many as 240 children from infants to 17-year-olds inside — although most of the kids will be under 12, reports the Chronicle’s Lomi Kriel. That would make it “the first residential center in the nation detaining such small children without their relatives or other foster parents,” she writes.

A site plan shows how the 2 buildings sit on their 2-acre parcel, 3 blocks from BBVA Compass:

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Immigrant Kids Campus
06/11/18 2:15pm

NEW RESTAURANT COMES KNOCKING AT WAREHOUSE BY BBVA COMPASS A TABC flyer up on the front door of 612 Live Oak signals some impending action for the brick warehouse building, one block east of BBVA Compass Stadium’s frontage on Emancipation and south of the light rail line along Texas Ave. Brass Tacks Workspace LLC is applying for both mixed beverage and late hours permits. Residential developer Bercon bought the 5,000-sq.-ft. parcel on which the building sits — along with almost the entire rest of the block — in early 2017. However, there’s nothing residential about the new owner’s plans for this particular structure: a permit filed for it last month — 10 days before the liquor sign appeared — included plans to turn the building into a yet-to-be-named restaurant. Photo: Swamplox inbox

06/11/18 11:00am

I-45’s new, longer flyover is creeping steadily west toward 59 north following about 7 months of work to get there. The farther-away photo above looks south from the corner of Hutchins and Jefferson streets to show where the partly built roadway currently drops off, about 2 blocks east of its planned merge with 59.

The existing ramp toward 59 north — which diverges from the Gulf Fwy. just east of Emancipation — shut down last December 1. Its soon-to-be-built successor branches off from 45 a few blocks further east, giving drivers more time to swerve onto it than they had previously:

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Cliffhanger
06/06/18 10:00am

Asbestos abatement crews are on the scene at the former Houston Post building on the corner of Polk and Emancipation that Lovett Commercial plans to redevelop. The photo at top from St. Charles St. looks east to show the building’s parking lot — now serving as a staging area for contractors that have been there all week, according to a Swamplot reader. The other shot views the building’s corner at Polk and St. Charles, which — according to a site plan put out by Lovett last May — would be demolished to make room for more parking.

Fronting all those parking spaces would be a CVS at Polk and Emancipation and a newly-constructed Sprouts Farmers Market off Bell St.:

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Seeds of Sprouts?
05/30/18 1:00pm

Here’s the latest rendering of the Hotel RL that’s planned for the block of St. Emanuel St. just north of recently-opened bars Rodeo Goat and Truck Yard. Complete with a roughly 6-story high Texas flag dangling from its hamster-wheel-like facade, the building itself — designed by STOA Architets — stands at 27 floors. It’s planned in place of the 2-story Kim Hung Market building at 1005 St. Emanuel, pictured above outside its entrance. That structure currently backs up to Hutchins St., at the edge of a block-long parking lot to its west.

Rendering: STOA Architects. Photo: Greg D.

Deep in the Heart
05/25/18 3:00pm

Although not yet open to the public, the grounds of new soccer bar Pitch 25 have come a long way from their earthy beginnings (second photo) along Walker St., catty-corner to BBVA Compass Stadium. The indoor soccer field that bar owner and former Houston Dynamo Brian Ching pitched to prospective investors on NextSeed last fall as the venue’s centerpiece has germinated inside the 25,000-sq.-ft. warehouse that’s being redone.

Also realized as part of the renovations — plans to tear a hole in the building’s roof in order to ensure a bright future for these semi-outdoor trees:

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Walker St. Redo
05/03/18 12:15pm

Opening-night observations from the new Truck Yard a block east of 59: “The Rockets game [just] finished so there were not a lot of people there yet. Ferris wheel did not seem to be operational and I’m not sure whether it’s just for looks or not. Either way, it was a bit of a maze walking around.”

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Fueling Station
11/27/17 3:15pm

Yo dawg, they heard you like dog parks. So they put a dog park in EaDo and called it . . . EaDog Park.

The fenced-off big-dog, little-dog assemblage is on the Bastrop St. right-of-way at 2216 Polk St., between Hutchins and Emancipation Ave.; the official opening is this evening.

Photo: EaDo Houston

Ruff Neighborhood
11/07/17 4:00pm

Interior demo work is mostly complete on a 75-year-old single-story brick warehouse lining Walker St. in East Downtown, ahead of its opening next spring as what its promoters are calling Houston’s premier soccer bar and restaurant. What might confer premier status on this venue, called Pitch 25  — beyond its location across the street from BBVA Compass Stadium? Perhaps the presence of an actual indoor soccer field inside, hosting league play.

Among the transformations planned for the 25,000-sq.-ft. structure in its coming rehab: knocking a large hole in the roof off the building’s Hutchins St.–facing west end — to let sunlight and rain into an outdoorish beer garden planned for the interior. Also, to provide sunlight for the interior trees:

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And a Hole in the Roof
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