02/09/16 11:30am

Scaffolding on the Williams Tower, 2800 Post Oak Blvd., Galleria Area, Houston, 77056

A more senior representative of the Williams Tower’s property management office wrote in yesterday with a correction to Friday’s note about the recent return of the rotating spotlight at the top, after another employee told Swamplot that the beam had been off while a new bulb was being hunted down. In fact, the source tells Swamplot, the entire beacon fixture has been replaced, as part of a redo of the tip of the tower itself.

The current work on the top started in November 2014 and includes the replacement of the “apex roof” (consisting of the sloping panels directly beneath the beacon, and the vertical panels directly below those, above the start of the glass skin). The above photo shows those vertical panels missing late last spring as the swap was underway. The new spotlight turned on in late December, and final touches to the roof should be done by March, if the weather cooperates.

Here’s what the roof looked like back before the work began:

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Spotlight on the Roof
02/05/16 4:15pm

Williams Tower, 2800 Post Oak Blvd., Galleria Area, Houston, 77056

Update (2/9): The entire beacon fixture has been replaced. See this story for details.

The rotating spotlight on top of the 64-story Williams Tower in the Galleria area has been back on for a few weeks, following an autumnal hiatus. According to a representative of the tower’s property management office, the beam stayed dark during difficulties finding the correct kind of bulb for the fixture. A reader sent a report this week from a bedroom window overlooking the Galleria area:

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Twinkle, Twinkle, Giant Bulb
01/21/16 10:00am

51Fifteen, 5115 Westheimer, Galleria, Houston, 77056

While you’re waiting for that Galleria redo to wrap up, renderings have been released of the new home of 51Fifteen, the upscale bistro tucked into the existing Saks Fifth Avenue location along with its sister bar Bar 12 (currently located “amidst the men’s fashion selections”). The restaurant will follow Saks 5th Avenue to its new home, landing in its own swanky new space designed by the Contour Interior Design folks. The restaurant’s website is now booking events at the new location for dates as soon as April 2016.

Here’s a rendering from Beck Architecture of the new Saks building’s boxy exterior, slated for the spot where the Galleria III used to be:

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51Fifteen at 5115
01/15/16 10:15am

2016 Houston Marathon Closures

For a few early hours this Sunday, the Southwest Freeway will be the only conduit into or out of the box of land framed by Kirby Dr., Montrose Blvd., Bissonnet St. and W. Gray St. (give or take a traffic peninsula leading up to Allen Pkwy., which will also be closed for much of the morning).

The Houston Marathon will launch from 4 corrals leading to Congress Ave. at San Jacinto St., and loop through the city along the route outlined in black above. The Half Marathon route (outlined in yellow) will pant alongside until just before mile 8, when it will skive off north back toward the shared finish line at Discovery Green.

A larger version of the map is show in 2 parts below, complete with start and end times (in red and green respectively) of each mile marker’s street closure:

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The Runaround
01/13/16 12:30pm

Rendering of Shake Shack Houston, 5015 Westheimer Rd., Uptown, Houston, 77056

Shake Shack’s planned Galleria location made an appearance at the company’s quarterly investor presentation yesterday — the new rendering scraps the outdoor patio present in the previously released depiction, and an exterior wall appears to be covered in greenery. The Shack currently anticipates a late-2016 opening, depending on progress of the surrounding Galleria redo.

Rendering of Shake Shack planned for 5015 Westheimer: Simon Property Group

 

5015 Westheimer Rd.
12/28/15 11:30am

SIMON SAYS DON’T BRING YOUR GUNS TO THE GALLERIA Nieman Marcus Interior, Galleria, Houston Galleria manager Greg Noble released a statement last week on developer Simon Property’s decision not to allow open carry on Galleria premises: “As a private property owner, Simon will continue to enforce its existing policy of not allowing possession of any weapon on its property whether concealed or displayed openly, other than licensed weapons carried by law enforcement personnel. Once the law goes into effect, any shopper in possession of a weapon will be individually notified of Simon’s existing policy by a member of the security or management team and asked to comply.” Olivia Pulsinelli of the Houston Business Journal also notes that grocery chains H-E-B, Whole Foods, and Randall’s have posted the signage required to refuse open carry; so far, Kroger’s has not. [HBJ, previously on Swamplot] Photo of Nieman Marcus in the Galleria: Russell Hancock via Swamplot Flickr Pool

12/11/15 12:30pm

Proposed 610 Express Lanes, West Loop Between 59 and I-10, Houston

Love that rush of vertigo from driving up the entrance ramp at Hidalgo St. onto the southbound West Loop? Freeway thrill-seekers may have some new options in a few years. The above rendering of new elevated express lanes along the West Loop between I-10 and 59 made an appearance at last night’s TxDOT Open House, where plans for the proposed project were presented for public comment. The drawing faces southwest across the intersection of San Felipe and 610 toward the Williams Tower (far left), and shows the lanes flying high over the existing freeway.

TxDOT also showed schematics and cross sections of the proposed additions — which include previously-considered dedicated bus lanes elevated along the path of the feeder road, from just south of I-10 to the junction with Post Oak Blvd.

Drive through the cross sections below, from north to south:

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Up High in Uptown
06/15/15 11:15am

Former Houston Post Building, Future Houston Chronicle Headquarters, 4747 Southwest Fwy., Houston

“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.

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Powerwashed!
06/09/15 1:00pm

HOUSTON’S UNACCOUNTABLE TIRZS AFFLICT BOTH THE POOR AND THE ULTRA-RICH Proposed Dedicated Bus Lanes on Post Oak Blvd., Uptown, Houston“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

05/18/15 4:30pm

SAVING UPTOWN, HOUSTON’S MASTERPIECE, FROM THE SCOURGE OF DEDICATED BUS LANES Website of The Uptown Property and Business Owners CoalitionThe 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]

04/29/15 4:15pm

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]

04/27/15 4:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHY THEY WON’T BE LINING POST OAK BLVD. WITH POST OAKS Post Oak Forest“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

04/24/15 1:00pm

Post Oak Live Oaks Growing at Environmental Design, 23544 Coons Rd., Tomball, Texas

Post Oak Live Oaks Growing at Environmental Design, 23544 Coons Rd., Tomball, TexasFor 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.

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Live Oaks Training for New Post