06/28/17 11:30am

Among a few Fifth Ward buildings abutting a new railroad underpass scheduled to be installed near the intersection of Lyons Ave. and West St.: The warehouse pictured above at 2305 Lyons Ave., graced by a Wiley Robertson mural. The Gulf Coast Rail District plans to eliminate the at-grade railroad crossing west of I-69 and directly to the east of that corner by routing Lyons Ave. under the tracks. According to the district, 30 trains a day currently cross Lyons Ave. — on 3 separate sets of tracks. North of Lyons, 3 additional at-grade crossings will be eliminated by closing down West St. entirely from a little south of Lyons to a little south of Brooks St.

The earliest possible start date for the project, which would cost an estimated $28.5 million and take approximately 2 years to complete, is listed as the fall of 2020. At a meeting last night at the Saint Arnold Brewery, which is just west of the West St. intersection, the district and TXDOT showed these images of a widened Lyons Ave. with dual 12-ft.-wide car lanes as well as bike lanes and sidewalks passing under the HB&T rail line:

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Underpasses and Overpasses
06/22/17 11:00am

A congregation of relocated trees — many of which have been plucked out of the way of the bus lane work going on along Post Oak Blvd. in Uptown right now — was spotted this week by a Fifth Ward resident checking out the former KBR site along Clinton Dr. CityCentre developer Midway is gearing up the process of rebranding its new old campus along the industrial stretch of Buffalo Bayou as East River; early marketing materials now floating around say they’ve collected some 300 trees from the Uptown work and are saving them for later redeployment in and around the 136-acre development, as part of parks and streetscaping.

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Save the Trees for Later
06/05/17 10:15am

That cluster of demo work along Liberty Rd. lately appears to be clearing the way for the boxy flock of yet-unbuilt townhomes drawn out above, one of which is now listed on HAR for a smidge below $270,000. The homes are shown as a set of 12 in the listing, with the development’s baker’s dozen rounded out by a new retail structure filling the southwest quarter of the block. (Not shown: the former Lucky 7 supermarket building at the corner with Des Chaumes St., which went up for lease a couple of times over the past few years.) (Also not shown: the gate around the development, as mentioned in the listing.)

Both the proposed retail spot and the townhomes are shown with rooftop hangout spaces (or at least are described as able to have a rooftop patio added, for a price bump). The homes themselves, the listing also notes, can be tweaked to include a downstairs kitchenette to give them that special Air-BNB flavor.

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Popping Up in Fifth Ward
05/19/17 10:30am

ELYSIAN VIADUCT WORK UNEARTHS HISTORIC HOUSTON HERITAGE TRASH PILE The real value of the long-buried dump uncovered by the ongoing replacement of the Elysian St. bridge over I-10 and Buffalo Bayou, write Doug Boyd and Jason Barrett this week in the Chronicle, is in the opportunity it provides “to document the often-unwritten parts of our industrial heritage.” The dump, apparently built up over the early half of the 1900s in a former gully, serves as a springboard for the authors to talk trashHouston, they write, was one of the first cities to adopt widespread municipal garbage incineration, and lagged decades behind as most cities chose to stop doing it out of concern for public healthSpots like the one under Elysian St., they add, help fill in the gaps of knowledge of what happened to all the other trash that didn’t end up in a city incinerator or landfill — and who tended to live nearby. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot]  Photos: Adam J Williams

02/16/17 3:00pm

Saint Arnold Brewing Company Expansion renderings, 2104 Lyons Ave., Near Northside, Houston, 77020Saint Arnold Brewing Company Expansion renderings, 2104 Lyons Ave., Near Northside, Houston, 77020

A fresh batch of renderings from the Office of James Burnett have been filed with the city planning commission this month as part of Saint Arnold Brewing Company’s request for a setback variance for that previously mentioned beer garden next door. Early permits have been trickling in since last fall for the ex-tow lot at 2104 Lyons Ave., across Semmes St. from the brewery’s new-ish downtown headquarters in the former HISD Food Service building (even more formerly the home of the Bemis Bag Company).

The new designs show what might be the site’s intended layout, including a restaurant structure which dissolves into an outdoor patio and garden space, a set of bocce courts, and more parking, including an area set aside for display of art cars (as shown up top featuring the company’s own tie-dye vehicles). Here’s the full tentative layout:

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Gardens of Fifth Ward
09/15/16 12:30pm

St. Elizabeth Hospital RFP, 4514 Lyons Ave., Fifth Ward, Houston, 77020

St. Elizabeth Hospital RFP, 4514 Lyons Ave., Fifth Ward, Houston, 77020 The cross still standing above the entrance of the former St. Elizabeth Hospital building can just barely be seen peeking out over the top of the structure in the color photo up top, included with some black-and-white historical shots in the Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation’s recent call for ideas on what to do with the place. The hospital at 4514 Lyons Ave. opened in 1947 and later gigged as a detox center, substance abuse treatment facility and halfway house before being bought by Riverside General in 1995. The structure was renamed the Barbara Jordan Healthcare Facility until it was shut down in 2014 when Riverside wasn’t able to make ends meet (financially or building-code-wise). The Fifth Ward redevelopment folks bought the property in April.

A site plan drawn up by Gensler shows the current layout of the property, including the original 3-story E-for-Elizabeth main building. Some now-doomed subsections and add-ons are shaded in red, and the convent building, which looks like it might stay in the picture if somebody makes a good case, gets just a warning coat of pink:

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Rehab on Lyons
07/14/16 4:45pm

1709 Dan St., Fifth Ward, Houston, 770201709 Dan St., Fifth Ward, Houston, 77020

Much of the front of container-composed 1709 Dan St. still sports that distinctive shipping container crimp, though the actual entrance to the 2-box structure has been partially camouflaged behind siding and a gabled-roof-sporting porch. The misalignment between the 2 boxes makes room for a matching patio space in the back of the home, which sits about a block and a half north of the intersection with Lyons St. in Fifth Ward. The house was put together by container enthusiast Build-a-Box (whose website says it’s also working up a 50-unit shipping container apartment complex for the neighborhood).

All the sections of the 2-bedroom, 2-bath structure add up to about 1,228 sq.ft.; the house went on sale last month for $189,995. The crimping has been completely masked on the inside of the house:

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Building With Boxes
07/07/16 2:30pm

MIDWAY: GIANT FIFTH WARD KBR SITE WON’T BE CALLED NORTHBANK BUFFALO BAYOU, BUT SOMETHING ELSE MIGHT Former KBR Campus, 4100 Clinton Dr., Fifth Ward, HoustonA representative from Midway tells Swamplot that, while the company has been working on a trademark for the name Northbank Buffalo Bayou, it won’t be used for whatever the company is planning for the 136-acre former KBR site in Fifth Ward (which was recently bought by a Midway affiliate). The name is actually connected to another project floating around on the company’s drawing board — no confirmation yet as to exactly where that development might be located, if it comes to be, but the north bank of Buffalo Bayou seems like a reasonable guess. Wherever the moniker is applied, the US Patent and Trademark Office lists the name as intended for use related to both commercial and residential real estate marketing and construction. Also on the list of things the brand could be used for: wine and food tastings, and presenting live musical performances. [Previously on Swamplot] Listing photo of KBR site: LoopNet

07/05/16 10:00am

Former KBR Campus, 4100 Clinton Dr., Fifth Ward, Houston

Whatever’s in store for the 136-acre former KBR site along the the Ship Channel at 4100 Clinton Dr., CityCentre developer Midway now looks to be involved. Documents filed with the county clerk’s office near the end of May reveal that Cathexis Holdings recently sold the site to KBRN, an entity connected to Midway through a recently minted corporate partnership (and officially located down the hall from Midway’s CityCentre office.)

And might Midway — which also heads the team that turned failed Downtown Mall Houston Pavilions into GreenStreet, and is developing the Kirby Grove park-and-office-building complex along the banks of the Southwest Fwy. in Upper Kirby — have some big office-shopping-residential-and-park-y plans in mind for this vast property, which lies about a mile and a half downstream from Downtown? A couple of clues are out there:

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Sold on the Ship Channel
05/17/16 5:00pm

Eado Edge subdivision, Clinton Dr. at Jensen Dr., Fifth Ward, 77020

A reader sends fresh snaps from north of Buffalo Bayou in Fifth Ward, where Urban Living’s long-time cornerside “coming soon” sign at the intersection of Clinton and Jensen has been joined by a more specific banner advertising the planned Eado Edge subdivision. A 2014 replatting created 80 new lots out of the former Standco Industries warehouse complex at 2701 Clinton Dr., which Colliers sold following the oil equipment company’s bankruptcy proceedings a few years prior. The not-yet-townhomes sit across Clinton from the former KBR site bought by Cathexis back in 2012; the currently empty land is also just west of InTown Homes’s Regent Park subdivision.

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EaDo Creeping North
04/20/16 3:45pm

Sims Metal Management Proler Southwest Scrap Recycling Facility, 90 Hirsch Rd, Galena Park, Houston, 77052

Bryan Parras snagged some after-shots of Buffalo Bayou’s up-and-down number near Tony Marron Park just east of Hirsch Rd. this week, as the rain let up on Monday afternoon and again yesterday morning. Across the channel on the north bank is the Sims Metal Management’s Proler Southwest recycling facility, whose scrap piles shown above were still soaking their toes beneath the freshly-elevated water line at the time of the Monday photos.

Below is a view of both the park’s trails and the Sims facility, looking east from the Hirsch bridge across the bayou’s confluence with somewhat-redecorated Japhet Creek from the north:

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Piled High in Fifth Ward
12/15/15 10:00am

Deluxe Theater, 3303 Lyons Ave, Fifth Ward, 77020

No fewer than 11 pairs of scissors reached to cut the ribbon in front of Fifth Ward’s DeLuxe Theater at 3303 Lyons Ave. as it formally reopened yesterday. The 1941 movie-theater-briefly-turned-art-gallery, which has sat empty since 1973, will now host plays, classes, and other community and art events put on by Texas Southern University; TSU jazz students performed at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The original facade and marquee have been restored and updated:

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Now Playing Off 59
05/07/15 4:15pm

Mural by Wiley Robertson, 3301 Cline St., Fifth Ward, Houston

A couple of brick walls adjacent to the Lower Fifth Ward home of online retailer Spectrum Audio are now graced with a mural meant to pay tribute to an earlier Upper Fifth Ward audio enterprise. Peacock Records, founded in 1949 by Don Robey, captured recordings by Big Mama Thornton, James Booker, Little Richard, and other jazz and gospel artists at its studio at 2809 Erastus St. — now the home of Charity Baptist Church. A couple miles to the southwest at 3301 Cline St., artist Wiley Robertson painted a version of the record label’s Peacock logo — adjacent to another of his signature “Love” murals:

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Sounds of the Fifth
05/04/15 1:45pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE ART OF OBTAINING CITY PERMITS Moving House for Fifth Ward Jam“When Havel Ruck Projects was commissioned to create ‘Fifth Ward Jam,’ it was under the premise that it was temporary (although 5th Ward CRC decided to keep and maintain it). We needed to obtain a permit to move the shack we used for the piece to the empty lot where it stands today. With the help of Fifth Ward CRC, we met with city permit people and discussed that we were not creating a dwelling, but a work of art. They said we needed a building permit to move the house. We said it was our desire that we did not need a building permit after moving the house because it was going to be made into a work of art. So, saying they never have done this before, they wrote us up a creative permit that deemed the house a dwelling while it was being picked up and moved, but it would be officially deemed an ‘art structure’ after it was on the site, thus allowing us not to need building permits to construct the piece. With a little education and persuasion, the permit people can be pretty accommodating . . . seems back in the day, us artists did stuff and then apologized later.” [Dan Havel, commenting on Saving Houston’s Unzoned Artistic Spirit] Illustration: Lulu

03/31/15 4:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: HOW THOSE NEW FIFTH WARD DRIVEWAYS CAME TO REACH ALL THE WAY INTO THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET Townhomes Under Construction, 400 Bayou St., Fifth Ward, Houston“Here’s how you get to this point. (i) Neighborhood gets built with gravel streets, ditch drainage. (ii) City goes in and widens most of the streets in the neighborhood in the 1960s. 40′ asphalt, curb and gutter. Baron St. misses out on the neighborhood-wide repave because it has a railroad track in the middle. (iii) Railroad track gets abandoned, trackbed gets paved over, no one ever improves Baron. (iv) Townhome developer comes in and wants to put in a driveway. Houston Infrastructure Design Manual says any culvert in City right-of-way has to be 24″ minimum. Developer’s engineer knows if he touches that old 60s curb inlet he’ll have to replace it to current spec, better to match the flowline and save eight or ten large. Culverts go in and look huge because 24″ on top of the existing flowline is above the crown of the road. (v) Swamplot readers are confused because the 60s-era curb and gutter doesn’t match the existing right-of-way.” [Purple CIty, commenting on Here’s One Way To Get Extra Long Driveways for Your Fifth Ward Townhome] Photo: Swamplot inbox