“It looks amazingly shiny without the 50 years of grime,” notes the reader who late last week snapped these photos of the former Houston Post building at 4747 Southwest Fwy., tucked into the lifted right armpit of the I-69-610 intersection. The brutalist main building of the 7-building campus, designed in 1970 by Astrodome architects Wilson, Morris, Crain, and Anderson, is being powerwashed — with a significant portion of the work complete just in time for this week’s heavy rains.
HOUSTON’S UNACCOUNTABLE TIRZS AFFLICT BOTH THE POOR AND THE ULTRA-RICH “The TIRZ system benefits high-dollar commercial areas and essentially ignores poorer neighborhoods that are primarily residential,” writes reporter Steve Jansen in a longish article that attempts to explain Houston’s arcane and secretive system of Tax Increment Reinvestment Zones. But there’s seething at the other end of the economic spectrum as well — especially over the Uptown TIRZ’s plan to install dedicated bus lanes down the center of Post Oak Blvd. Comments University Line light-rail and Uptown bus lane opponent Daphne Scarborough, who’s attended some anti-TIRZ gatherings, to Jansen: “I’ve never seen so many angry multimillionaires and -billionaires in one room.” [Houston Press; previously on Swamplot] Drawing of proposed Post Oak bus lanes: Uptown Management District
SAVING UPTOWN, HOUSTON’S MASTERPIECE, FROM THE SCOURGE OF DEDICATED BUS LANES The Uptown Property and Business Owners Coalition is out today with a new website (portrayed here) meant to drum up opposition to the Uptown District and Metro’s plans to install dedicated bus lanes down Post Oak Blvd. The lanes, the last vestige of what was once a plan for an Uptown light rail line, would run from dedicated bus lanes linking to the Northwest Transit Center all the way to the proposed Bellaire/Uptown Transit Center near U.S. 59 and Westpark, where they might someday intersect with a University Line traveling eastward from that point. But the team behind the website wants none of it: “Uptown is a Houston masterpiece. Why do they want to ruin it?” reads the copy on the home page. Meanwhile, an introductory blog post on the site encourages readers to attend a friendly “town hall” meeting, tomorrow night at the Uptown Hilton, in the company of “hundreds of angry business owners and Uptown area residents.” [Save Uptown; previously on Swamplot]
THE SHOCKING REASON WHY SUPERMAN, BATMAN, AND THE FLASH WERE WASHING WINDOWS AT THE HOTEL DEREK TODAY No movie to promote. No pay squabble to publicize. No pediatric cancer patients to visit. Just: ’cuz. After a SkyEye HD copter spotted superheroes on the roof around lunchtime today, abc13 investigators called the Hotel Derek on Westheimer at the West Loop to get the marketing message. But none was available: “A hotel spokesperson says a standard window cleaning was scheduled, and guests and passersby just got a little something extra, courtesy of the window washers, who apparently took it upon themselves to show up for work in costume.” [abc13]
COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHY THEY WON’T BE LINING POST OAK BLVD. WITH POST OAKS “So close! Just imagine how impressive it would be to have a forest of 800 post oaks on Post Oak Blvd. Unfortunately, post oaks don’t tend to transplant well compared to live oaks, which is why we use live oaks in our landscaping instead of post oaks. (Source: Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center)” [GoogleMaster, commenting on Boxed Forest of 800 Trees in Tomball Preparing for March Down Post Oak Blvd.] Illustration: Lulu
For Arbor Day, the Uptown Houston District is showing off the 800 live oaks earmarked for Post Oak Blvd. now being trained in Tomball for a life on the streets. The tree reboxers and transplanters at Environmental Design are breeding the trees on the company’s Tomball campus at 23544 Coons Rd.
“Remember, I’m the guy that took the old fire station and made it an aquarium,” Tilman Fertitta explains to Nancy Sarnoff. “I took the old Flagship and made it the Pleasure Pier. I took an old fishing village and made it the Kemah Boardwalk.” All of which might help explain the simple concept behind the Landry’s CEO’s latest venture: taking a surface parking lot next to the Landry’s corporate headquarters near the Galleria and turning it into a 35-story hotel-apartment-office-tower with a 2-story auto showroom in front, then filling out the rest of the 10-acre site with a parking garage and couple of pad-site restaurants facing the West Loop southbound feeder.
A row of 4 large lit-up diamonds facing east across the freeway will festoon the forehead of the Gensler-designed tower at 1600 West Loop South. Fertitta calls the not-really-a-sign a “subtle message.” It’s meant to stand in for the 4 diamond shapes in the Landry’s logo — dining, hospitality, entertainment, and gaming — though until a few pesky laws can be changed not all can be offered on site.
Framing of the new “Jewel Box” on-garage drive-up pad site Galleria add-on has begun. A reader sends in this view from above, showing how the building has been perched onto the next-to-top level of the Blue Garage, which underlies the mall’s parking-lot approach from Westheimer. Westheimer runs from left to right at the top of the photo.
Photo: Swamplot inbox
NO BIG HURRY FOR APACHE’S BLVD PLACE TOWER Permits for Apache Corporation’s planned 34-story tower on Post Oak Blvd. next to the new Whole Foods Market have “just been granted approval” from the city, writes Roxanna Asgarian. The reporter also notes that the permits for the project were filed way back in December 2013. But any regulatory delays appear to be no big deal for the independent oil and gas company. Apache “has no immediate plans for the site,” she reports. [Houston Business Journal; previously on Swamplot] Rendering: Hines
COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHAT A DIFFERENCE A TWIST IN THE HIGHWAY WOULD MAKE “Pretty sure inside the Loop/outside the Loop won’t matter once TXDOT completes the planned half twist there at the 610/59 interchange. Cars will then be able to drive on the top and bottom of the Möbius 610 Loop, which should greatly reduce congestion.” [Memebag, commenting on Houston Chronicle Building Goes on Sale Tomorrow, the Chronicle Reports] Illustration: Lulu
FERTITTA: THAT WAS NOT ME IN THAT STUDEWOOD ST. DIVE Billionaire Landry’s CEO Tilman Fertitta categorically denies that he was recently seen in venerable Houston Heights dive bar the Shiloh Club, knocking back cocktails and peppering regulars for local information. “I was not there,” the world’s richest restaurateur tells the Houston Chronicle‘s Nancy Sarnoff. He also denied rumors of a pending Landry’s land invasion of the Heights. (His Shepherd Dr. Saltgrass-and-Cadillac-Bar mini-stronghold will stay in Cottage Grove south of I-10 for now.) He’s about volume, something the Heights can’t provide him in ample measure: “The way that I’m set up, I have to do a lot of business, and they’re more smaller restaurants.” With one potential exception: “Brenner’s on the Bayou could be there. But that’s probably around here the only (Landry’s) restaurant that could be in the Heights.” Fertitta went on to reiterate and expand on a bearish short-term real estate market forecast he first delivered on Bloomberg TV earlier this month. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Bloomberg TV
COMMENT OF THE DAY: ZONE D’ EROTICA IS A SYMBOL OF HOUSTON FREEDOM “I’ve always thought the Zone D’Erotica placement was one of the most charming things about Houston. Welcome to Houston: you own it, you use it, however you want. Other cities would be finding a way to declare the parcel blighted at Simon’s behest, but in Houston that would be rightly considered outrageous.” [Spoonman, commenting on Construction Set To Begin on the Luxury Jewel Box, the Galleria’s Chi-Chi Pad Site] Photo: Candace Garcia