07/21/16 10:45am

Thornsen Streetlab Silver St. Redo

In the small but growing city tradition of redoing street plans in your spare time, urban planner and general Houston improvement brainstormer Jesse Thornsen has recently launched a website to showcase weekly ideas for making bits the local streetscape easier to navigate (by bike, foot, car, or other means). This morning’s addition: how to smooth out the westward jog in Silver St. as it crosses Dart St. The spot (shown in the above left-to-right conceptual before and after) is southeast of Annex Houston automobile storage and the Silver Street Studios complex; not quite due west lies the Shops at Sawyer Yards warehouse retail redevelopment.

Thornsen’s plan adds sidewalks and a landscaped median (to discourage vehicles from taking the most direct route straight through the jagged intersection). Thornsen points out that the section is designated for both bikes and cars by the Houston Bike Plan; his redo includes bike lanes, including a queuing spot big enough for multiple cyclists to cozy up together as they wait to turn north. Here’s a close up and a cross section:

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Squaring Up in First Ward
06/29/16 3:45pm

Mecom Fountain from COH
2120 Sabine St., First Ward, Houston, 77007This morning the city announced that it’s giving protected historic landmark status to the Mecom Fountain, in the wake of this year’s partial tuscanization of the 1960s mod landmark (and subsequent crowdfunded reversal thereof). All that bright blue primer has been cocooned over, and full de-restoration was scheduled to be finished by the end of last month.

Also getting the same protective status bump today: the 1883 house at 2120 Sabine St., formerly the First Ward home of state representative August von Haxthausen, who in the late 1800s ran Houston’s German language newspaper the Texas Deutsche Zeitung. That house got its own (more permanently) colorful restoration in 2015 — below are some close-up photos of the newly-technicolor wraparound porch from a previous listing of the property on HAR:

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Colorful Histories
06/24/16 11:15am

Avenue Grill, 1017 Houston Ave., First Ward, Houston, 77007

Avenue Grill, 1017 Houston Ave., First Ward, Houston, 77007 The holdup on Houston Ave. this morning, reports a reader stuck in the resulting traffic, is the aftermath of a minor fire at the Avenue Grill on the corner with Center St. The 1940s structure (which the restaurant’s operations purportedly moved into in 1962 after 12 years of business across the street) appears unharmed by the flames, which HPD tells Dale Lezon started in the building’s electric sign. The restaurant’s property went stealthily onto the market back in August of 2014 before it was found out the following March; county records don’t appear to show a change of hands since then.

Photos of fire response at Avenue Grill at 1017 Houston Ave.: Swamplot inbox

What’s Cooking in First Ward
06/20/16 1:45pm

Former New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, 1221 Crockett St., First Ward, Houston, 77007

The Texas Revolution-themed southeast corner of Goliad and Crockett streets looks to be getting blanked out to make way for more townhomes in the increasingly formerly industrial section of First Ward between Sawyer St., Washington Ave., and White Oak Bayou. Chris Andrews  noted the planning commission application asking  the city to chop up the land beneath the former New Hope Missionary Baptist Church buildings into 7 smaller pieces. Also probably getting chopped up into smaller pieces: the structures themselves, which the city’s archaeological and historical commission says may have been among those designed by 1940s African-American church architect James M. Thomas.

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Remember Goliad Grove
06/16/16 11:00am

shops-at-sawyer-yards-rendering
Leasing Materials for Lovett's Sawyer Yards

Lovett Commercial’s latest
markup of the warehouse-turning-strip-mall at the corner of Edwards and Sawyer streets includes the B&B Butchers logo, which has wandered about a third of a mile from the carve-it-themselves steakhouse’s year-old spot 6 blocks away on Washington Ave. All of the other logos included on the Shops at Sawyer Yards flier seem to check out: Hair salon Satori and tooth salon Bayou City Smiles are already up and running in the space, while nail salon Polish Parker & Roe, stop-calling-us-Crossfit gym chain Orange Theory Fitness, and Vietnamese noodle shop Local Pho all appear to have at least a few of their permits in place.

Both the updated rendering of the site (up top, facing southeast) and the labeled plan show a restaurant space at the end of the development with a patio facing Sawyer; the flier also labels the slot as a brasserie (as opposed to a steakhouse). The shaded aerial view below shows the development (labeled as just Sawyer YARDS) in place amid a few of the nearby artsy redevelopment projects (marked in green), new townhomes (marked in purple), and the Lovett office:

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First Ward
06/15/15 1:00pm

1720 Houston Ave., First Ward, Houston

1720 Houston Ave., First Ward, HoustonBlank Slate Tattoo Removal decamped from the corner spot of this building at Houston Ave and Crockett St. at the end of January. (You can head for 5320 Cornish Rd. in Cottage Grove now to correct your body-inked misspellings.) In its place, there’s a new sign up at 1720 Houston Ave., providing evidence that a new beer-and-wine-serving cafe is getting ready to move in — right next door to Café Brussels. The street-front First Ward building just north of downtown was built in 1925.

Photos: Swamplot inbox

Cafeza
04/22/15 3:00pm

1304-bingham-03

1304-bingham-01

Quiet zone status applies not to the perky exterior’s bold paint combo but to the railroad tracks running behind this restored 1898 Victorian east of Houston Ave. and just south of Winter St. in the First Ward. The corner-lot property, which is also near the Heights bike trail, has been on the market for a month, during which the price has increased by $10K — to $468,000.

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Trim Build
04/22/15 1:00pm

Demolition of Former Riviana Foods Processing Building, 1702 Taylor St., First Ward, Houston

A portion of the Riviana Foods complex at Summer and Taylor Streets in the First Ward was torn down this week. Reader Rony Canales’s panoramic photos of the former Riviana processing building and a few accompanying structures show the demo in process (above) and a little further along in the process (below):

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After the Rice Is Gone
03/31/15 11:15am

avenue-grill-sale-sign

The Avenue Grill could close sometime soon, but not if somebody doesn’t hurry up and buy the place. Or maybe buy the place and keep it running for the cops, firefighters, judges, judges, lawyers, and other frequenters of the neighboring municipal court and police complex that regularly eat breakfast and lunch there? To hasten either outcome, a small sign went up a week or 2 ago at the corner of Houston Ave. and Center St., a block north of Washington Ave., indicating that the 1940 building and a total of 19,600 sq. ft. of land is available for sale. That spurred attention from a Swamplot reader who — like most people — hadn’t been aware that the property had been on the market since last August.

The $1.5 million asking price includes 4 lots — one where the building sits at 1017 Houston Ave., 2 adjacent parking lots, and an additional surface parking lot across Center St., just where the Houston Ave. underpass begins. That lot is visible just beyond the building in this view from the corner of Washington Ave:

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Over Not So Easy
12/19/14 11:30am

riviana-silos-exterior

Clarification, 12/22: Jon Deal of Deal Properties writes: “Just wanted to clarify that Studio Red is not specifically working on the silo project, rather they are studying a master plan of approximately 35 contiguous acres owned by Frank Liu, Steve Gibson and myself of which The Silos are part. Jason Logan and Matt Johnson of LOJO architects is working on the facade.”

Under the sign of the merry Mahatma, workers are sweeping out what stray grains of rice may linger within the 38 silos at the old Riviana Foods complex at 1520 Sawyer, which last contained the cereal crop in 2008.

They are prepping for its new purpose as the Silos on Sawyer, a 79,000 sq.-ft. art space and the latest addition to the Deal Company’s pre-existing Spring Street Studios, Winter Street Studios and Silver Steet Studios complex in the heart of the State of Texas-recognized Washington Avenue Arts District.

Reader Noah Brenner ventures inside, camera in hand:

riviana-silos-interior1

A total of 55 workspaces are now available for lease, along with 20,000 sq.-ft. set aside for flexible buildouts such as restaurants, galleries or retail.

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Granaries To Galleries
12/03/14 1:00pm

johnson-st-lawsuit-repairs

Urban Living was added as a defendant last month to a lawsuit filed in February by 8 plaintiffs against 2 companies run by Saeed Qazi and Saleem Qazi, both of whom are also being sued individually.

The suit revolves around 6 adjacent homes in the First Ward — 1919 through 1929 Johnson St. — built around 2008 by the Qazis and their companies, Zenith Urban Homes and Zenith Signature Homes. Once built, the homes were exclusively marketed and sold by Urban Living.

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Sawyer Heights Lawsuit
07/09/14 2:15pm

Proposed Studemont Junction Development, Studemont St. at Hicks St., First Ward, Houston

Signs are up at the soon-to-be-former Grocers Supply distribution center across Studemont from Kroger just south of I-10 announcing Studemont Junction, the name meant to bring some . . . uh, conjunction to the odd-shaped 15-acre food-storage facility Capcor Partners bought late last year. To judge from the proposed site plan for the project, that’ll be quite a task.

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Many Functions for Studemont Junction
05/28/14 2:00pm

HIGH FIRST WARD HISTORIC DISTRICT GETS CITY COUNCIL HIGH FIVE Boundary of High First Ward Historic District, First Ward, HoustonThe High First Ward is the newest historic district in Houston, having been voted in by a 12-5 count of city council members this afternoon. The stringy selection of 55 lots (pictured at right), marked down from the original 149, includes properties along Spring, Shearn, Crockett, Summer, White, Silver, Sabine, and Colorado streets in the First Ward, west of Houston Ave. and south of I-10. According to tweeting Chronicle reporter Mike Morris, a motion by council member Stephen Costello to redraw the district map in order to exclude a couple of properties was rejected by a 4-to-13 vote. [Twitter; previously on Swamplot] Map: HAHC

04/25/14 10:15am

Map of Proposed and Revised High First Ward Historic District, Houston

The city’s historic commission voted 6 to 1 yesterday to give its approval to a new High First Ward historic district — but it’s a considerably smaller district than the proposed one area property owners squabbled over and then voted on in February. The colors in the map above show the city’s tabulation of the results of that vote. The dashed lines show the original boundaries; after the ballots came in, the city’s planning director redrew the boundaries so that the district would be in an area where at least 67 percent of the owners supported the district. Of the 55 tracts in the new district, 37 owners voted to approve it, 10 opposed it, and 8 didn’t return survey cards (which counts as a “no” vote). to the count, Next and final stop for the proposed district: A final vote by city council.

Map: HAHC (PDF)

55 Properties