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
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:
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:
TXDOT LIKELY TO CUT FUNDING FOR WEST LOOP BUS LANES, SHIP MONEY SOUTH In 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 Swamplot] Rendering: Uptown Houston