12/01/16 2:30pm

San Jacinto Memorial Green, 1300 HolmanSt., Midtown, Houston, 77003

That tiny replica of the San Jacinto Monument near San Jacinto and Holman streets is surrounded these days by the landscaping of Houston Community College’s San Jacinto Memorial Green, the green-space-turned-parking-lot-turned-back-to-green-space next to the adjacent building that once housed San Jacinto High School. A reader sends an early-evening out-the-window shot of the park, which is scheduled to formally open on Saturday.

That shot faces Holman St., with Caroline St. visible to the northeast and lined up with the green space’s lit walkway; most of the lawn seen to the left of that path was paved parking lotbetween the 1980s and 2014. The photo is taken from the former San Jac high school structure itself (now employed as part of HCC’s Central Campus, and referred to as the San Jacinto Memorial Building by the time of its 2012 addition to the National Register of Historic Places):

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Remembering Asphalt Gone By
11/09/16 11:15am

One Allen Center, 1200 Smith St., Downtown, Houston, 77002

Planned Remodel of One Allen Center, 1200 Smith St., Downtown, Houston, 77002

From over the fence at the corner of Smith and Dallas streets, a reader sends a shot of the ongoing scrape-out at One Allen Center. The glassed-in space protruding toward Smith will be undergoing a major reconstructive procedure to square up its corners, if all goes according to Brookfield’s previously depicted plan. Meanwhile, that skybridge in the back on the left is looking a good deal more put together than it did at the end of June, when it got the strip-down treatment; it’s now sporting a brighter, more silver-y skin to match the renderings, which show it backing up a band in that planned twixt-the-towers events space:  CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Going Gray Downtown
11/01/16 5:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: GREEN SPACE IS JUST A STATE OF MIND Hermann Park golf course“In my mind, green space isn’t something that has to be ‘used’. I enjoy jogging the trails next to the Hermann park golf course as much as I like jogging in or around any other green space — just like I enjoy jogging through a River Oaks neighborhood with immaculate landscaping. It is even nicer to see landscaping when you know someone else is paying (mostly) for it. I don’t have to be able to kick a soccer ball, watch a concert, or have a place for my dog to poop on it to enjoy its beauty. It can be ‘utilized’ without stepping foot on the space. Green space can be enjoyed from adjacent space or blocks away in its sights, smells, and sounds (or lack of).” [Rex, commenting on Grassy Knolls, Children’s Swamp Part of Possible Hermann Park Parking Coverup] Photo of Hermann Park Golf Course: Hermann Park Conservancy

08/18/16 3:15pm

DIVINING HERMANN PARK’S FUTURE TRANSIT NEEDS New Hermann Park TrainAnother 20-year master plan for Hermann Park is currently in the works as the last one gets wrapped up, writes Molly Glenzter this morning. Per designer Chris Matthews, who’s working on the project as part of landscape architecture firm Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, the planning isn’t all “fun things like choosing what tree to plant:” unlike the 1995 master plan redo, the design team this time includes a “consultant for all things mobile, which in the old days used to mean cars. Now it means cars, bikes, transit and pedestrians — how to balance all that stuff.” Matthews notes that the planning is further complicated by the need to predict what mass transit will look like 2 decades from now; Hermann Park Conservancy president Doreen Stoller adds that “with Houston getting ever more dense, each square inch of park space is becoming more precious and will need to be put to its highest and best use.” [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo of Hermann Park kiddie train: Lou Minatti

07/13/16 5:15pm

MIGHT WHITE OAK BAYOU DITCH ITS CONCRETE? white-oak-bayouThe Harris County Flood Control District is looking at removing the concrete lining from sections of the White Oak Bayou channel, writes Mihir Zaveri. The agency is conducting a study on redeveloping parts of the waterway along with the Memorial-Heights Redevelopment Authority (a.k.a. TIRZ 5); any future projects to come from the study would be within the TIRZ 5 boundaries, along sections of White Oak between roughly N. 610 and Houston St. Zaveri writes that the push “in part reflects the idea that waterways where flooding must be controlled don’t have to be eyesores, and in fact can become more natural settings for residents to bike, walk and gather. It follows decades-old conversations about how to shape waterways in a flood-prone region like Houston, where the rapidly growing population has increasingly come to demand improvements in quality of life.” With respect to balancing aesthetics against effective flood control practices, TIRZ 5 chairwoman Ann Lents tells Zaveri that “pretty is never going to trump functional . . . But because of new techniques, if we can find a way to do both better, I think that will be a great thing.” [Houston Chronicle] Photo of White Oak Bayou: Swamplot inbox

03/07/16 12:15pm

Proposed White Oak Bayou Village redevelopment, Antoine Dr. at W. Little York Rd., Near Northwest, Houston, 77088Livable Centers plan, Near Northwest, Houston, 77088

Plans are in the works to give the shopping center at the southwest corner of Antoine Dr. and W. Little York Rd. a thorough redesign and rebranding as White Oak Bayou Village. A spokesperson for Nankani Development tells Swamplot that the group is seeking both tenants and ideas for the center’s redevelopment, which will be geared toward drawing bicycle traffic. So far, plans include an about-face for the bayou-side building in the back of the shopping center (labeled Building B above) by way of new glassy storefronts opening toward the White Oak Bayou greenway now running behind it; the developers claim the center would become the first private development to cater explicitly to the expanding bayou trail system.

Per preliminary plans, car access to the back of the shopping center would be blocked off. Former parking spaces along the back Building B (currently home to Northwest Beauty School) would be made over into a covered patio leading to the bayou trail. For the pad site of the burned-down former restaurant next door, the development group is considering a park-like events plaza that could host a bi-monthly farmer’s market — along with a giant chess board, maybe, or even a bayou-side zip lining station. “We are open to anything at this point,” writes the Nankani rep.

Hoped-for tenants for the center currently include a coffee shop-slash-electric bike rental joint, an ice house-style music venue, and an outdoor obstacle course and adult gym — possibly from Sam Sann of American Ninja Warrior fame, who trains contestants at his Iron Sports gym in Cypress.

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Bayou Turnaround
03/01/16 11:30am

Art Guys Situation #4, Wheatley St. at Pinemont Dr., Garden Oaks/Oak Forest, Houston, 77091

Here’s the southernmost end of the newest work from the Art Guys: the designation of an existing ‘designated natural area’ in Garden Oaks/Oak Forest as part of their series of situation sculptures. The grassy median strip along Wheatley St. between Pinemont Dr. and Tidwell Rd. is evidently one of the no-mow zones labeled by the city’s parks and recreation department that spurred complaints in 2011, when area residents alleged that newly planted trees had blocked sight lines and created hazardous driving conditions.  According to the city’s website, the zones are carefully placed to “help promote the natural regeneration of the urban forest.

As for techniques employed by the artists: per their other pieces in the series, the duo appears to have left the area alone. They have, however, provided GPS coordinates and a Google map to help visitors avoid losing their way.

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Adventures on Wheatley St.