11/26/14 11:14am

FERTITTA: THAT WAS NOT ME IN THAT STUDEWOOD ST. DIVE fertitta-bloombergBillionaire 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

11/21/14 1:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: ZONE D’ EROTICA IS A SYMBOL OF HOUSTON FREEDOM Zone d'Erotica, 2626 West Loop S. Fwy, Galleria, Houston“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

11/20/14 3:15pm

Galleria-blue-lot-jewel-box

As of December 1, Galleria tenants and workers who park in the Blue Garage fronting Westheimer (labeled “Construction Zone” in the above site plan) will have to find another place to stash their rides. Explains an official “communiqué from the management office” of Unilev, operators of Galleria Tower II: “This relocation is to due to impending construction by Simon Properties of a free-standing retail structure that will be erected on the surface lot directly above the Blue Garage.” That structure will be going on the 14,000-sq.-ft. pad site in front of the portals to the Cheesecake Factory; it’ll be known colloquially as the “luxury jewel box.” Simon Properties intends the building to house up to 3 high-end retailers.

A user going by the name of JJ18 posted these renderings of the proposed structure to HAIF back in March:

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Bling!
11/04/14 12:30pm

whole-foods-post-oak-cosmo

Swamplot culled through the best of the many media previews of the Whole Foods Market Houston-area flagship on Post Oak Blvd. — so you don’t have to! Yes, the much-hyped supermarket is finally throwing open its doors to the public Thursday. (Free reusable shopping bag to the first 500 customers!) So here is a quick round-up of the wonders within the 8-years-in-the-making anchor development in BLVD Place:

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Post Oak Supermarket Tizzy
11/03/14 1:30pm

TXDOT LIKELY TO CUT FUNDING FOR WEST LOOP BUS LANES, SHIP MONEY SOUTH Proposed Dedicated Bus Lanes on Post Oak Blvd., Uptown, HoustonIn a move that could spell doom for the Post Oak Bus Rapid Transit project, TxDOT’s planning director said Thursday that his agency is now recommending it ax a $25 million commitment to expanding connecting bus service along the West Loop. The plan called for elevated bus lanes  running along 610 from Post Oak Blvd. to the Northwest Transit Center near the Katy Fwy. and 610. The agency now claims that the $25 million would be better spent on an improved Texas 288–Beltway 8 interchange. [The Highwayman, previously on SwamplotRendering: Uptown Houston   

10/07/14 12:00pm

BIGGER GALLERIA APPLE STORE FOR BIGGER IPHONES OPENS THIS WEEKEND Apple Store Closed for Construction, Houston Galleria, HoustonOnly a few weeks after beginning sales of a pair of embiggened iPhones, Apple is ready to unveil its latest enlargement: the newly expanded Galleria Apple Store. That’s it hiding on the second level in the photo at left, behind the 60-ft.-long black wall. A grand reopening is scheduled for this Saturday. The store moved to a temporary location over the summer to allow for the widening, described in detail here. [Previously on SwamplotPhoto: David Ruiz

09/15/14 1:00pm

GALLERIA WHOLE FOODS MARKET OPENING NOVEMBER 6, WILL INCLUDE AUSTIN-IMPORT BEER-ON-A-TRIKE BLVD Place Whole Foods Market Under Construction, 1700 Post Oak Blvd., Galleria, HoustonThe long-awaited BLVD Place Whole Foods Market will finally open on November 6, reports the HBJ‘s Jenny Agee-Aldridge. And the grocery juggernaut has fed her another notable market-marketing nugget: Shoppers at the new 55,000-sq.-ft. store at 1700 Post Oak Blvd. will be able to make beer orders and receive deliveries while shopping — from a beer-toting store employee riding a tricycle around the market. The non-motorized alcohol delivery setup, Agee-Aldridge notes, is an Austin import. But the beer source is a Houston first: The store will be the first Whole Foods’ anywhere to have its own brewery on the premises, and will feature beer-themed breads and desserts as well. [Houston Business Journal; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Russell Hancock

09/11/14 12:00pm

Proposed Development at 1600 West Loop, Galleria, Houston

Proposed Development at 1600 West Loop, Galleria, HoustonLandry’s is planning a multi-use development including a 30-story hotel, a parking garage, and a conference center for a site adjacent to the restaurant and entertainment company’s headquarters on the Loop 610 feeder road in the Galleria area. The proposed address for the new structures is 1600 West Loop, but the tower, conference center, and garage would be tucked back from the freeway toward Hollyhurst St., according to a site plan (above, tilted clockwise 90 degrees) submitted to the city. Along with it, the developers have submitted a variance application asking for a reduced setback for the development along Hollyhurst.

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1600 West Loop
09/10/14 12:00pm

Parking Garage, 1525 Garrettson Ln., Galleria, Houston

The Winhall Townhomes complex at 1525 Garrettson Ln. — tucked behind Willie G’s on Post Oak Blvd. — appears to be vacant, notes a reader who snapped the above photo of an empty (and chained shut) parking garage on one side of the Galleria-area residence. That’s notable because — unlike various other complexes around town that have been given the all clear in recent months — the Winhall consists of more than 30 independently owned condos. But sure enough, a for-sale listing has been posted online for the almost-2-acre site, which includes 285 ft. of frontage on Garrettson.

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All Together Now
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?