10/24/16 11:15am

3100 Smith St., Midtown, Houston, 77006

The former Social Security Administration office at 3100 Smith St. and its gorilla-hawking mural wall are no more, following some weekend excavator grazing. Demo permits were issued last week for structure, which sat north of Elgin on part of the planned site of developer Morgan’s next Pearl-branded apartment development (the one with the built-in ground floor Whole Foods).

City permission for the planned mixed-use building to cozy up to the street were approved in February; the project will also straddle that now-closed segment of Rosalie St. between Smith and Brazos onto a section of the previously cleared block to the north.  Here’s what the layout might look like from above, per the plans included with the variance request:


Rosalie Redecoration
10/10/16 10:45am

H-E-B WILL DOUBLE DOWN ON A HEIGHTS DRY ZONE STORE OR NOT BUILD AT ALL 2-story H-E-B proposed at 5106 Bissonnet St., Bellaire, TX 77401The H-E-B proposed for the former N. Shepherd Fiesta site at W. 24th St. would be another 2-story store, Houston H-E-B president Scott McClelland tells Jack Witthaus. The grocery chain is backing the Houston Heights Beverage Coalition’s dry-zone dampening campaign and showed up for the press conference last week on the now-cleared 4-ish-acre site. The company has already been planning its first double-decker Houston location (rendered above) on the 3-acre site of the existing H-E-B in Bellaire; plans for that development show about 75,000 sq. ft. of store stacked on top of an all-parking ground level. McClelland tells Witthaus that the proposed H-E-B in the dry area of the Heights would be about 80,000 sq. ft. and come with a 2018 expected completion date, but that H-E-B won’t build in the zone at all if the upcoming election doesn’t go their way. [Houston Business Journal; previously on Swamplot] Rendering of proposed 2-story H-E-B in Bellaire: Terra Associates

10/06/16 5:30pm

H-E-B Heights Proposed Dry Zone Site

The marker above (showing a now-officially-proposed H-E-B on N. Shepherd Dr.) is a little out of place, if it’s aiming for the former Fiesta site on N. Shepherd between W. 23rd and W. 24th streets as H-E-B says — but you get the idea, and the Houston Heights Beverage Coalition held a press conference on the site this morning to drive the point home. The red line on the map also only roughly shows the boundary of the nominal dry zone that the H-E-B-backed PAC is hoping to get loosened up a bit via that upcoming local election on take-home beer and wine sales. But you can find out for sure whether or not you’re close enough to be eligible to vote in the Houston-Heights-only election by checking your ballot at at HarrisVotes.com — and also check whether or not you’re registered, which you’ve only got until Tuesday to do. (If printing out a form is too much of a hassle, maybe try your nearest taco truck.)

Map of proposed H-E-B in Heights Dry Zone: Houston Heights Beverage Coalition

Campaign Fiesta
09/30/16 4:30pm

Whole Foods Montrose, 701 Waugh, North Montrose, Houston, 77019

View of New Whole Foods Market, 701 Waugh Dr., North Montrose, HoustonFrom the AIG tower neighboring to the north, a reader peers down behind the construction fencing now up at the corner of Waugh Dr. and D’Amico St., in an effort to figure out what might be gettin’ real in the Whole Foods Montrose parking lot. An employee tells Swamplot over the phone that the store is planting additional parking spaces on top of what was previously a walkway lined with grass and picnic tables, adding parking has been a squeeze on the weekends (which lines up pretty well with earlier reports from the scene). The rep also says that the tables (positioned across Waugh from BMW service garage Bavarian Machine Specialties and catty-corner to the health-and-beauty-shop-laden strip center across D’amico), were almost never used. Permits for the pave-over were issued at the end of May.

Photos: Randy Saad (top), Swamplot inbox (bottom photo showing opening day, 2011)

Leaner Green
08/31/16 1:00pm

Former Site of Planned HCC College of Health Sciences’ Medical Science & Technology Early College Charter High School, Hwy. 288 and North MacGregor Way, Third Ward, Houston

A meeting is set for September 7th to take public input on the city’s plan to purchase the long-vacant land at the northeast corner of SH 288 and MacGregor to let H-E-B build a store on the site (at the edges of a few of Houston’s USDA-defined food deserts). The city says the meeting and comment period (which lasts through September 11) are standard parts of its 8-step program when developing within the floodplain — Brays Bayou is just to the left of the frame above (snapped back in 2014), which the southeastern corner of the land as the facade-and-foreclosure-twin Mosaic and Montage towers peek over from west of 288.

The land is currently owned by Houston Community College; the college system bought the tract (reportedly for the second time) back in 2013 as the proposed site of the elaborately monikered HCC Coleman College of Health Sciences’ Medical Science & Technology Early College Charter High School. The city would bundle the land together with some adjacent already-city-owned property to lease it to H-E-B, and the grocery chain would be able to buy the whole package once all 72,000 sq. ft. of new store are constructed and certified for occupancy. 

Photo: Swamplot inbox

Flood Plain Food Desert
08/29/16 12:15pm

2-story H-E-B proposed at 5106 Bissonnet St., Bellaire, TX 77401

H-E-B Bellaire Market, 5130 Cedar St., Bellaire, TexasDrawings submitted this month to the city of Bellaire for approval outline how H-E-B plans to fit 6-acres of parking and replacement store onto its 3-acre lot at the intersection of Bissonnet and Cedar streets. The renderings and accompanying documentation show a roughly 75,000-sq.-ft. single-story store footprint sitting on the upper level of the planned structure, with an acre-plus of parking out front atop the all-parking lower level. The drawing at the top shows the would-be view of the design from Bissonnet (near the late-50’s supermarket building currently occupied by Randall’s); below are the proposed layouts of the upper and lower story once the existing H-E-B (also pictured above) and its retail strip friends are cleared of the way:


Building Up on Bissonnet
08/11/16 4:00pm

YES, THE HEIGHTS DRY ZONE PETITIONERS REALLY DID COLLECT ENOUGH SIGNATURES FOR A VOTE TABC regional headquarters in Heights Medical Tower, 427 West 20th Street, Suite 600 Houston Heights, Houston, 77008Tuesday’s city council meeting gave the formal OK to the H-E-B-backed Heights Beverage Coalition’s petition for a local option election on whether or not to allow the take-home sale of beer and wine within the boundaries of the nominal dry zone formerly known as City of Houston Heights. The number of signatures required was set as 35 percent of the voters in the affected zone who voted in the 2014 governor’s election — which county clerk Stan Stanart pegged at 1,511 in early July. The city secretary announced the petitioner’s total as 1,759 valid signatures; Tuesday’s vote to approve those findings means the measure will be on the ballot in November. [City of Houston, Houston Public Media; previously on SwamplotPhoto of TABC regional headquarters at 427 W. 20th St.: LoopNet

08/08/16 10:45am

Seiwa Market in Ashford Village Center, 1801 S. Dairy Ashford Rd., Westchase, Houston, 77077

The credit card machines at the new Seiwa Market at 1801 S. Dairy Ashford Rd. weren’t up and running yet as of Friday, but the Japanese grocery store did open its doors this weekend to cash-only customers as part of a test run soft opening. The market and its internal food court options will eventually be flanked by other Japanese restaurants, from the looks of things: Ramen House Ichi is currently under construction next door, and the Seiwa store manager told the HBJ last month that a high-end Japanese seafood house is planned for the same shopping center somewhere on the other side.

A reader snagged a few shots of the scene inside Seiwa’s space in Suite 116 of the late 1970s Ashford Village Center shopping strip, across from the Dairy Ashford Roller Rink:


Sushi To Come
06/10/16 12:30pm

Demolition of Fiesta at 2300 N. Shepherd Dr., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008

The flags have been lowered in front of the former N. Shepherd home of Fiesta Mart, now several days along on its journey toward pre-redevelopment flatness. A reader sends more photos of the action from yesterday afternoon, showing the demolition team munching its way east through the building:


Heights Dry Zone
06/09/16 4:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: A FINAL DESPERATE CRY FOR DEMOLITION PARITY IN THE HEIGHTS Demolition of Fiesta at 2300 N. Shepherd Dr., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008“The smashing has begun! Heavy machinery is on site, and the bricks are crumbling down. Where are the Friends of Heights Fiesta? Aren’t these bricks special enough to be saved???” [North Heights, commenting on Former Fiesta Site Preps for Teardown as Heights Dry Zone Petitioners Circle] Photo of demolition at 2300 N. Shepherd: Steven Byrne

06/09/16 10:30am

Demolition of Fiesta at 2300 N. Shepherd Dr., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008

Hobbyist demolition spotter Steven Byrne sends portraits of the end of the former Fiesta Mart at the corner of N. Shepherd and W. 23rd St. Byrne snapped these shots of the teardown action yesterday afternoon (right after the structure’s demo permit was issued), though there’s plenty more building left to rip apart today. The excavators at the site appear to belong to Cherry Demolition, which recently wrapped up the sometimes-slow sometimes-unsettlingly-fast takedown of the Corporate Plaza complex at Kirby Dr. and 59.

The Fiesta opened in the space in the mid-1970s and shut down in March. Here’s a few more closeups of the scene for further grocery-minded contemplation:


Heights Dry Zone
06/06/16 10:30am

Former Fiesta Mart, 2300 N. Shepherd, Houston Heights, Houston, 77008

Fiesta at 2300 N. Shepherd Dr., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008The glowing parrot and red neon lettering previously decorating the front of the former Fiesta Mart at 2300 N. Shepherd Dr. have been traded out for a construction fence and a few streamers of festive caution tape. A pre-demo permit to disconnect the 1965 building’s plumbing was issued near the end of May, and a reader snapped the top photo of the site during a break in Friday’s rain.


Cleanup on 23rd
05/31/16 3:45pm

Bissonnet at Beechnut streets, Robindell, Houston, 77074

Just in time for Thursday’s Aldi opening in a former strip center in Robindell, a reader sends photos of the newly de-limbed oaks along the edge of the grocery store’s new parking lot (looking along Bissonnet St. northeast from the intersection with Beechnut). Area residents on NextDoor claim the hacking occurred early Sunday morning, noting also that some fresh baby trees have been planted along the same stretch of road. Here’s another view down the same sidewalk, catching both the saplings and the stumps:


05/25/16 11:51am

WILCREST WHOLE FOODS NOW ON HOLD WHILE BEING TRANSFERRED TO RANDALLS Whole Foods Market, 11041 Westheimer Rd., Westchase, Houston, 77042A reader reports that the Whole Foods Market at 11145 Westheimer was closed forever as of 4:15 pm on Sunday afternoon. The store’s new spot directly across S. Wilcrest Rd. in the former Randalls grocery store will be opening early in the morning on Wednesday, June 1, amid a flurry of gift-card giveaways; a DJ’d grocery store party will be held the afternoon before for those who RSVP. [Previously on Swamplot] Rendering of Whole Foods Wilcrest Market at 11041 Westheimer Rd.: Whole Foods Market

04/22/16 4:45pm

Aldi Grocery Store at 6751 Bissonnet St., Robindell, 77074

New parking lot has been spread out around the under-construction Aldi grocery store in Robindell, as seen in this fresh dispatch from behind the Baskin Robbins on the corner of Bissonnet and Beechnut streets. The Germany-rooted grocery store, which is replacing the 1956 strip of shops previously arrayed from 6711 to 6755 Bissonnet St., has settled on 6751 for its new street number, according to county records. Signage is now up on the newly constructed structure itself, though the old marquee along Beechnut St. (far right) still lists the full roster of the departed.

Photo: Angela Spieldenner

Firming Up in Robindell