04/10/14 2:00pm

Proposed Dedicated Bus Lanes on Post Oak Blvd., Uptown, Houston

Proposed Dedicated Bus Lanes on Post Oak Blvd., Uptown, Houston

Here are some of the purty watercolor renderings the Uptown District has been presenting of what Post Oak Blvd. will look like after the addition of 2 dedicated bus lanes down its middle. The proposed changes to the thoroughfare won’t take away any of the 6 existing car lanes or 13 existing left-turn-signal lanes. There’ll be a few modifications, though: new protected-left-turn signals will be put in at West Briar Lane and Fairdale, for example, and 3 median openings will be closed. The space for the buses and 8 transit stations along the Boulevard between the West Loop and Richmond Ave will come from acquiring 8 feet of right-of-way from each side of the existing street. The bus lanes and light-rail-style stations will go in the median:


Uptown Transit
04/09/14 11:00am

Aerial View of Galleria McDonald's and Astoria Condo Tower Under Construction, San Felipe St. at Garretson, Uptown, Houston

Rendering of Astoria Condo Tower, Post Oak Blvd. at Garretson, Uptown, HoustonThe photo above — sent to Swamplot by a HAIF user who goes by the handle SkylineView — is our best view yet of the project themed-condo developer Randall Davis has been working on for more than 5 years: convincing the Galleria McDonald’s to scooch over just a smidge and sell him part of the fast-food restaurant’s parking lot so he could build a 30-story highrise on it with all the benefits and cachet of drive-thru adjacency. Davis’s $70 million Astoria (portrayed in more glamorous circumstances at left) is being funded in part by the immigration dreams of 29 well-to-do foreigners, who have ponied up $1 million a piece to gain themselves status as U.S. residents, a path to citizenship, and a piece of whatever action the investment brings.


Between Whole Foods and Fast Food
02/20/14 11:00am

Proposed Alterations to Uptown Park, Post Oak Blvd., Uptown Houston

The owner of Uptown Park, Houston’s favorite Europe-in-a-parking-lot shopping center, plans to add a sleek dash of density to the collection of stucco-and-styrofoam-fronted pad buildings. AmREIT has announced that it is teaming up with an unnamed “major national developer” to replace the parking-space fronted shopping island at the northwest corner of the complex with a “contemporary” highrise residential tower. Currently, Baker Furniture, Peluche Decor, and the Bella Rinova Salon occupy the single-story structure on that spot.

But the addition of residents directly above Uptown Park shouldn’t take away from the shopping opportunities below: Renderings included in a promotional video released by the company show that the tower will have replacement retail spaces on the ground floor, and possibly on a second level as well — though the shopping pod’s existing head-in parking and adjacent spaces would be replaced by a porte-cochère and garage entrance ramp.


Towers in the Parking Lot
12/13/13 1:15pm

Construction at Galleria Plaza, Sage Rd. at West Alabama St., Galleria, Houston

A fence is up and some demo work appears to be beginning at Galleria Plaza, across Sage Rd. from Galleria III. The mixed-use site, which stretches between Westheimer and West Alabama, is indeed the planned location of the new Hyatt Regency hotel that Swamplot reported on last month. The 14-story hotel, which was designed by Gensler and is being developed by Songy Highroads and the Carlyle Group, will fit into the surface parking lot at the northwest corner of Sage and West Alabama shown here:


Making Rooms
12/06/13 2:30pm

FLUSHING AWAY ALLEN STANFORD’S LEGACY AT 5050 WESTHEIMER Former Headquarters of Stanford Financial Group, 5050 Westheimer Rd., HoustonNoting the extensive changes to the office building at 5050 Westheimer across the street from the Galleria that once served as headquarters for the Stanford Financial Group but has since been taken over completely by real estate firm Keller Williams, Real Estate Bisnow’s Catie Dixon zeroes in on the big news: “Stanford’s gigantic personal bathroom is gone.” Reuters reporter Chris Baltimore described the rarely seen first-floor spectacle back in 2009, after an exclusive crime-scene tour, as “a chamber of black granite and mahogany, with a gigantic mirror and granite countertop, flanked with shelves of fluffy white towels and toiletries, including a bottle of ‘Brilliant Brunette’ shampoo.” Notable features: the separate black-toilet room, the huge walk-in shower, and the blank door next to it which served as Sir Allen’s private escape route to the parking deck. Stanford’s entire personal magnet-key-access-only first-floor domain has now been replaced by the offices of KW-affiliated lender and title companies; the Gensler redo of the building has kept some of the green marble but added some red walls, replacing stone-carved messages like Stanford’s HARD WORK, CLEAR VISION, VALUE for the CLIENT with “inspirational and wacky sayings like ‘Complaining=garbage magnet.’” [Real Estate Bisnow; Reuters; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Wikimedia Commons

11/19/13 10:30am

Northeast View of Planned Hyatt Regency Hotel for Songy Highroads

The Mathis Group will be starting construction later this month on this 14-story Hyatt Regency hotel designed by Gensler for Atlanta developers Songy Highroads, according to a post on the construction company’s Facebook page. The post and mid-August rendering don’t indicate the project’s location, but commenters on HAIF are noting that the alignment of the building jibes with possible additions to the 425,000-sq.-ft. Galleria Plaza office complex immediately west of the Galleria — which Songy purchased last spring. Back then, Songy’s CEO hinted the company might try to fit more buildings into the complex fronting Westheimer, Alabama, and Sage, which includes the Telecheck Plaza and 5333 Westheimer office buildings, a shopping center called Sage Plaza (not to be confused with another shopping center and office building of the same name nearby), Michaelyndon, and a standalone bank building: “The seven-acre site allows us to develop another project while sharing existing parking.”


Galleria Plaza
11/13/13 3:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: A LINEAR SHOPPING DISTRICT FROM HIGHLAND VILLAGE TO THE GALLERIA “I love that all these projects are coming to fruition on Westheimer. As more and more private investment comes to this area of Westheimer between Post Oak and Weslayan, will the city of Houston invest in the walkable infrastructure to make this one coherent district as it fills in? What would we call it? East Uptown? Lower River Oaks? Highland West?” [DNAguy, commenting on The River Oaks District’s New Box of Dior] Illustration: Lulu

09/06/13 10:00am

Remember that unusable and really vague tip sent to Swamplot back in January? The one promising that a “major (non-residential) Houston property is about to make a significant change”? And it wasn’t Macy’s? Well, the in-the-know tipster now reports, we can let that cat out of the bag, since the Houston Business Journal and Houston Chronicle already have: The “Houston landmark” the tipster couldn’t tip us off about is the Galleria — which, it was announced yesterday by developer Simon Property Group, will be undergoing extensive renovations and partial demolition to create about 100,000 new sq. ft. of retail and restaurant space.

The plan calls for the Galleria III portion where Saks Fifth Avenue is currently located to be demolished — though the tipster says the Philip Johnson façade will be maintained — to make room for a bumped-out food court (shown in the rendering above). That freed-up Saks space will provide room for 35 new retailers and restaurants. Meanwhile, Saks will be moving into the Macy’s spot on Sage, and that Macy’s will be merging with the other Macy’s on Hidalgo. (Makes sense.) Also, a standalone box will be built in the parking lot for a few tenants who can afford to be more conspicuous to the stop-and-go crowd on Westheimer.


08/28/13 4:30pm

Who says Houston isn’t fast-paced and funky when the sun goes down? If you’ve got a minute, check out this time-lapse video made by Spenser Harrison. It takes in all the lit-up hotspots in H-Town: Main St., the Galleria, Reliant Stadium — heck, even the Pierce Elevated!

Video: Spenser Harrison

07/22/13 10:00am

Here’s another of the occasional photos a reader sends of the construction progress of the Whole Foods at the mixed-use BLVD Place just north of the Galleria. Thanks to the photos that span almost a year now, you can watch the development develop here at the intersection of San Felipe and Post Oak Blvd.: Witness the preliminary site work beginning last August to the installation of piers and rebar in October and the rising of the parking structure in February. So what else is new? That parking structure appears just about ready, and even more dirt has been moved around — where those cars are parked in the foreground — for the proposed Hanover apartment tower.

Photo: Swamplot inbox

05/28/13 12:21pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE COMING AUTO-AUTO UTOPIA WILL SAVE THE GALLERIA FOR WOODLANDSERS “. . . I think you have a good point. Except that ‘travel is good for the soul’ bit. It is, but commuting isn’t travel, and I defy you to find more than a dozen people who think commuting from the Woodlands to the Galleria is good for their souls. (I work with a couple, their descriptions are more along the lines of ‘the soul-crushing hell of my day.’) But this actually becomes a driver for density. If you have really fast trains and you pair that with dense destinations, commuting by the maglev from Columbus to Houston becomes practical — you have to be able to get somewhere when you hop off that train. And technology changes will figure into this, which is why ‘freeways vs transit’ is a busted argument. Take a look at the self-driving car technology that’s developing really fast. When that hits usability, and you turn the roads into smart networks, you have a situation where they can handle a lot more capacity (because networked smart cars can use it far more efficiently than distracted primates). You also have the possibility of breaking the one-car-per-person paradigm, when you can order up a self-driving car to show up at work and take you home — cars no longer need to sit unused 95% of the time, and can be parked farther from destinations (‘Car — leave the parking structure to be at my door at 5PM, please’) which also makes density more practical — you don’t have to account for all those cars and junk up the streets with parking.” [John (another one), commenting on Comment of the Day: First We Crowd]

03/07/13 11:45am

THE SPORTS BAR THAT’S REPLACING THE SAXOPHONE ON RICHMOND Will we soon see a 70-foot red pitchfork here? Now that the Orange Show has moved that big blue horn out of the way, the former Billy Blues club at 6025 Richmond near Fountain View is getting a new sign and a renovation, a Swamplot reader notes, for the sports bar Diablo Loco Wings y Mas. Last week, Bob Wade’s 70-foot “Smokesax,” made out of Beetle parts, was trucked across town to the Orange Show’s Munger St. warehouse. [Previously on Swamplot] Photo: Swamplot inbox