08/15/14 12:00pm

Proposed Site Plan for Shoppes at Uptown Crossing Shopping Center, S. Rice Ave. and Westpark, Houston

The site plan for the Shoppes at Uptown Crossing shopping center planned for a 3.5-acre lot at the southeast corner of Westpark and S. Rice Ave across from Sam’s Club has undergone a big change since Swamplot last featured it in April. A giant Walmart Supercenter is now shown in the southeast corner of the L-shaped parcel, facing S. Rice Ave. but shielded from the street by a sprinkling of fast-foody pad sites — including spots earmarked for an El Pollo Loco, a Chick Fil A, a Jack-in-the-Box, and a Starbucks. The requisite huge parking lot stands between the Walmart and its chain-store add-ons.

The new 32,000-sq.-ft. building for the soon-to-be-relocated Micro Center is going north of the Walmart, pushed close to Westpark, taking its entrance from S. Rice Ave. directly across the street from Sam’s Club. Shown tucked just south of Micro Center is a new TownePlace Suites hotel.

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South of the Galleria
08/08/14 1:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE GALLERIA’S BEST-KEPT SECRET Secret Parking Space“It’s true; the secret to making a visit to the Galleria tolerable (even *gasp* enjoyable) is to have a secret parking spot that’s always available. Like many commenters here, I hated going there. But when I finally found my spot, I no longer dread going there even on weekends! (Forget about the holidays though . . . ain’t nobody got time for that). And no, I’m not telling any of you where it is.” [crono_clone, commenting on A Longtime Houstonian’s Guide To Surviving the Recent Onslaught of New Developments and Residents] Illustration: Lulu

07/22/14 1:15pm

Former Houston Post Building, 4747 Southwest Fwy., Houston

Yesterday afternoon’s news came couched in pillowy fluff: Houston’s largest news-gathering organization will be moving to an exciting new state-of-the-art facility in the Galleria area! No, the Houston Chronicle isn’t leaving the heart of the city it covers: Key reporters will remain downtown!

But here’s a rougher-edged reading of the newspaper’s apparent retreat: The Hearst Corporation is getting ready to sell off one of its most valuable Houston assets — a block and a half of prime Downtown real estate — so it’s telling Chron editorial staffers to find room for themselves somewhere in or around the austere 440,000-sq.-ft. concrete fort where the company’s distribution, circulation, local sales, and press operations have been camping out, on 21 acres in the lower right armpit formed by the intersection of Hwy. 59 and Loop 610.

The former Houston Post compound at 4747 Southwest Fwy. (above), designed by Wilson, Morris, Crain & Anderson in 1970 as a stark Brutalist follow-up to their work on the Astrodome, was part of the booty obtained by the Chronicle when it bought out its rival paper in 1995. The announcement calls the complex its “future campus,” but the extent of renovations or any new construction planned on the site is unclear.

What about that downtown foothold the paper is promising?

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A Newspaper Retreat
06/16/14 11:30am

COMMENT OF THE DAY: MY GALLERIA DREAM IS BIGGER THAN YOURS New and Imagined Buildings for the Houston Galleria“The Ritz Carlton Hotel & Residences (50+ Floors) or W Hotel and Residences (50+ Floors). Both are deciding where to locate in Houston, and either would be great there. As for the church across the street, it will move or be incorporated/absorbed into Galleria 5 (which a new relocated Dillard’s will anchor with additional shops). Galleria 5 will also feature a 2nd new state-of-the art ice-skating chalet. I have a developer friend in New York who says Donald Trump wants in on the Houston action, and plans to use the old Dillard’s and its parking lot for a major development. Three 55 story towers surrounding an elegant courtyard: Trump International Hotel, Tower & Residences: Houston Galleria.” [KB, commenting on If You Really Want To Live in the Actual Galleria, This Is Where Your Home Might Go] Illustration: Lulu

06/13/14 11:30am

Aerial View of Planned Construction at the Galleria, Houston

Sure, there are plenty of highrise towers to live in in the Galleria . . . area. But what if you want to live in the Galleria mall itself? As in, step out the front door and take in a little Burberry, L.K. Bennett, or Apple Store, maybe still in your Neiman Marcus PJs? The folks at Simon Property Group, the mall owners, began mentioning the possibility of a 300-unit residential highrise at the corner of West Alabama and Sage last fall, when they announced the big Galleria III redo (going on now), which is scooting Saks Fifth Avenue over to the former Macy’s spot fronting Sage and open up about 100,000 sq. ft. of new retail space in its wake. And now they’ve gone and shown on a map where the new tower might go.

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Mall Residential or More?
06/03/14 10:45am

Collapsed Parking Garage at One Riverway Office Building, Riverway Dr. at S. Post Oak Ln., Uptown, Houston

A Swamplot reader writes in with a report on the aftermath of last night’s collapse of a top-story section of the very long parking garage for the One Riverway office building north of the Galleria, on S. Post Oak just south of Riverway Dr. No one was hurt in the accident, which occurred before 8 pm, but abc13 reports that vehicles were still exiting the structure at that time. S. Post Oak Ln. is now closed to traffic while officials determine if the concrete structure is safe, and workers are already mourning the lost parking spaces.

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Ramp Down
05/28/14 11:30am

A.D. PLAYERS SAYS IT’S READY TO BUILD ITS GIANT GALLERIA THEATER COMPLEX, FOR REALS THIS TIME Proposed A.D. Players Theater, Westheimer Rd. at Westheimer Way, Galleria, HoustonA mere decade after the installation of the first “coming soon” sign on the organization’s (then) new never-built-on 4-acre lot on Westheimer Rd. just west of Yorktown, A.D. Players appears ready to begin building the sparkling new theater it’s been promising — and fundraising for — all these years. The company, which produces plays “rooted in Christian values,” has announced it will break ground on the project — sometime this summer. The company hasn’t specified the budget for the building, or how much it’s raised in its 10-year capital campaign, but it is touting a recent $2 million gift from the Houston Texans owner’s Robert and Janice McNair Foundation. The facility will include a 450-seat mainstage, a 300-seat children’s theater, and a 150-seat black box theater. It’ll sit between the 5444 Westheimer office building and CVS. [Houston Business Journal] Rendering: A.D. Players

05/27/14 10:00am

galleria-apple-expansion

A construction wall is up around the former French Connection store in the Galleria. That’s where the Apple Store to its immediate left will be stretching. The MacBook, iPad, and iPhone showroom, which dates from September 2002, is old enough to have lived through a couple periods of relative ungainliness, Apple Store chronicler Gary Allen reports. At 6,000 sq. ft., it once measured almost twice the size of the typical Apple mall location. But the 2,900-sq.-ft add-on will bring the Galleria location in line with the larger standards for similar spots the company has established more recently. Here’s a map from Allen’s ifo Apple Store site showing how the storefront will double, from 30 ft. to 60 ft. wide:

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Bigger Mac
04/24/14 10:45am

ST. PHILIP PRESBYTERIAN IS NOT FOR SALE Saint Philip Presbyterian Church, 4807 San Felipe St., Uptown, Houston“The enduring themes of conversation here include traffic and real estate,” intoned Pastor John Wurster in his Easter Sunday sermon in front of the blue tiled chancel wall in the sanctuary of the St. Philip Presbyterian Church, which is sited on a prime slice of Uptown land at 4807 San Felipe St. “The real estate conversations seem to happen exclusively with those outside of the church. These are the people who call expressing an interest in buying the church property. I explain that we’re not looking to sell. Of course, you are. Everyone is willing to sell at some point. Just tell us what that point is. No, really, we feel like this is where God has called us. This kind of theological talk tends to bring no response beyond bafflement, as if it’s not possible that one could be in a place and not be willing to leave it if the price were right, as if it’s not possible that decisions and actions might be motivated by something besides money.” Saint Philip’s congregation merged with Central Presbyterian Church a few years ago, shortly before that congregation sold its Richmond Dr. facility to the Morgan Group. Central Presbyterian was torn down for apartments in 2011. [St. Philip Presbyterian; previously on Swamplot] Photo: church member Jeromy Murphy

04/21/14 3:30pm

Future Site of Micro Center, 5205 S. Rice Ave., Uptown Crossing, Houston

The 3.5-acre field at the corner of S. Rice Ave. and Westpark shown here, where the Wald Relocation Services complex stood until 6 years ago, will be the site of the new Micro Center store later this year. The site plan for the Uptown Crossing shopping center intended for this location shows a big-box store set way back in the right distance, at the end of a new curvy street-drive thing cut through to it from S. Rice, across from Sam’s Club. That’s the most likely spot for the 32,000-sq.-ft. building Micro Center is planning. Micro Center sold off its larger 47,759-sq.-ft. West Loop location to Amegy Bank earlier this year. Here’s a rendering of the new, terrifically brown-and-boxy big box Micro Center:

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Big Computer Box in Field
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:

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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.

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Between Whole Foods and Fast Food