03/16/17 3:30pm

6749 Airline Dr., Northline, Houston, 77076

6749 Airline Dr., Northline, Houston, 77076The Kroger Market at the not-quite-intersection of Airline Dr., Parker Rd., and Fulton St. in Northline is shutting down next month, an employee at the store tells Swamplot this afternoon (confirming a rumor from a reader in the vicinity). The store’s last day is planned for April 20th, after which it will cede the area to its nearest grocer competitors: the Food Town just over half a mile up Airline, at the intersection with Little York Rd.; the other Food Town a little over a mile further west down Little York; and the not-quite-an-H-E-B Joe V’s Smart Shop on N. Shepherd Dr., just across I-45.

Behind its cube-on-a-spindle signage, the store sits at the northern end of a classic array of strip mall companions (capped to the south by South Texas Dental, whose space and streetside signpost once belonged to a Blockbuster Video); standing alone at the southeast corner of the center sits El Muelle Seafood & Oysters, housed in a former Taco Bell.

Photos: James T.

Northline Line Drawn
03/10/17 5:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: YOUR WEEKEND HEIGHTS-CREEP FORECAST Future Yale Marketplace site at Yale St. and 610 Loop, Garden Oaks/Independence Heights, Houston, 77018“Garden Oaks and Oak Forest are [already] part of The Heights (the same way they are calling Spring Branch ‘Memorial’, and a lot of long time residents were angry that new residents called Northside Village ‘Tampico Heights’). I have bad news for the purists out there: if you live in Cottage Grove, Independence Heights, Shady Acres, Brooke Smith, Timbergrove/Lazybrook, those areas are now part of The Heights [as well].  . . . These hoods that have the 365 stores are gonna get more pricey and popular, since they are close to Downtown.” [Dj, commenting on Whole Foods’s 365 Garden Oaks Spot Now Emptied of Neff Rental Rentals] Rendering of 365 Garden Oaks: Boucher Design Group

03/08/17 4:30pm

Future Yale Marketplace site at Yale St. and 610 Loop, Garden Oaks/Independence Heights, Houston, 77018
Neff Rental at Yale St. and 610, Garden Oaks/ Independence Heights, Houston, 77018Several readers reported this morning that the Garden Oaks-Independence Heights border location of construction equipment rental shop Neff Rental, on the northeast corner of Yale St. and the North Loop, has been clearing out this week. That’s a prerequisite step before any new construction equipment can be moved back onto the site, to start work on the 365 Garden Oaks store Whole Foods has planned for the property (as rendered above).

Plans for the corner depict the mini-store accompanied by both attached and freestanding retail spots, 3 of which have pending leases with a dentist, a cellphone company, and a medical business respectively, according to the marketing materials trying to hawk the remaining space (highlighted in yellow):

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Yale Marketplace Marketing
03/02/17 3:45pm

FACEBOOK COMMENT OF THE DAY: CARL SANDBURG ON GROCERY STORE AESTHETICS Signage at Kroger, 239 W. 20th St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008“Pile the carts high at Auchan and Weingarten. / Shovel them under and let me work— / I am the beige. I cover all. / And pile them high at Globe / And pile them high at Sage and Gemco / Shovel them under and let me work. / Two years, ten years, and shoppers ask the manager: / What place is this?/ Where are we now? / I am the beige. Let me work.” [Jerry Wright on Swamplot’s Facebook page, commenting on Secretly Preserved Weingarten History Quickly Erased from Side of Weingarten-Owned Heights Kroger; original poem here] Photo of briefly revealed Weingarten’s signage at W. 20th St. Kroger: Chris Barnes

Facebook Comment of the Day
03/01/17 11:30am

Signage at Kroger, 239 W. 20th St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008

Signage at Kroger, 239 W. 20th St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008The removal of the “Right Store Right Price” sign tacked onto the side of the Kroger at 239 W. 20th St. briefly revealed long-buried evidence of the building’s long-hidden relationship with Weingarten, a parking lot cruising reader notes. Yes, that Weingarten (which currently owns the shopping center): the company’s account of its own history notes that the Weingarten family started out in the grocery biz, then got into real estate to build its own stores. The company dropped supermarkets altogether in the early 1980s and went into real estate full time.

By mid-afternoon yesterday, the newly unearthed traces of the company’s former association with the building had already been beiged out:

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Uncovered on W. 20th
02/22/17 3:45pm

Demo site of Archstone Memorial Heights Apartments, Studewood at Washington Ave., Houston, 77007

Demo site of Archstone Memorial Heights Apartments, Studewood at Washington Ave., Houston, 77007

The excavator treatment is complete for that subset of Archstone Memorial Heights apartment buildings that’ll be replaced by a mixed-use midrise with an H-E-B at the bottom, a neighbor notes. The shot above shows one of the buildings midway through the deconstruction process, which began earlier this month after that fenceless gate showed up on the site. Also noted during the demo weeks — a handful of firefighters rappelling down the side of the empty unit above.

As of about sunset yesterday, the site is now fully emptied out:

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Climbing the Walls on Wash Ave
02/15/17 1:30pm

Planned Spring Pines Shopping Center, Spring Cypress Rd. at Holzwarth Rd., Spring, TX 77388

Planned Spring Pines Shopping Center, Spring Cypress Rd. at Holzwarth Rd., Spring, TX 77388

The tree evictions appear to have begun on the 14 acres of wooded land near the intersection of Holzworth and Spring Cypress roads marked for that Kroger Marketplace announced last year. A reader snapped some shots of spread gravel and a log stackup on the site (a piece of the larger 50-acre tract outlined in red in Read King’s leasing flier, as shown here). Preliminary plans for the broader Spring Pines Shopping Center include a slew of new retail spots near the Kroger; leasing plans for the soon-to-be-former forest note that the Kroger is almost directly across Spring Cypress from the area’s H-E-B, itself right across FM 2920 from the Aldi grocery store that moved into the area a few years ago:

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Groundwork in Spring
01/31/17 5:15pm

New Paint Job for Trader Joe's, Petsmart at Former Alabama Theater, 2922 S. Shepherd Dr., Upper Kirby, Houston

The front of Weingarten Realty’s Alabama Shepherd Shopping Center now sports some big dark blocks on its Shepherd-facing facade, Houstorian James Glassman notes in a drive-by of the scene this afternoon. The gradated yellow vertical fluting above the movie-theater-turned-bookstore-turned-sandbox-turned-grocery store’s marquee sign (which the city’s landmark designation writeup says is made of enameled steel) has been done over in a single swath of brown, matching the shade applied above the formerly tan Petsmart facade as well. Marketing materials on Weingarten’s website for the shopping center still show the old color scheme:

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Trader Joe’s Trade
01/09/17 4:00pm

Kroger Signature Grocery Store, 1990 Old Spanish Trail at Cambridge St., Houston

An employee confirms to Swamplot this afternoon that the Kroger at 1990 Old Spanish Tr. will be shutting down on January 24th. The formerly 24-hour grocery store (referred to previously as Slow Jam Kroger in Jeff Balke’s 2010 Inner Loop Kroger census, though arguably having earned the nickname Bank Robbery Kroger in the years since) has already reduced its hours and is closing up at midnight these days. Readers report low morale among car-less residents of the nearby apartments; they also report a few slightly mismatched rumors that the land has been sold to a big name  in the Medical Center.

Photo of Kroger at 1990 Old Spanish Tr.: Edgar V.

Slow Jam Countdown
12/29/16 10:45am

J. Black's, 110 South Heights Blvd., Memorial Heights, Houston,  77007

J. Black's, 110 South Heights Blvd., Memorial Heights, Houston,  77007The building housing the Houston expansion of Austin’s J. Black’s at the southwest corner of Washington Ave and Heights Blvd. now bears a new for-info-please-call sign, a reader notes. The bar appears to have events planned through at least New Year’s Eve; the 5,948-sq.-ft. space was only listed online as up for lease about 2 weeks ago. Back before 2012, the property was home to Phil’s Texas Barbecue, for about the same amount of time as it took Phil himself to restaurantize the corner’s original muffler shop setup. And soon another corner at the intersection will be getting a full workover as well, if all goes as planned — J. Black’s sits across Heights Blvd. from the subsection of the Memorial Heights apartments slated to go away some time next quarter, to make way for that planned Midway midrise with the H-E-B at the bottom:

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Cornered in Memorial Heights
12/14/16 10:45am

Long Sing Market Leasing Flier, 2017 Walker St., East Downtown, Houston, 77003

The Long Sing Supermarket building is now up for grabs, per a fresh leasing listing that appeared last week. The 8,260-sf.-ft. retail space and its internal lunch counter sit across Walker St. from physicist-mascotted Neil’s Bahr, and next to Little Woodrow’s EaDo (visible in yellow to the right, with its face toward the corner with St. Emanuel St. where Warehouse Live hangs out). The pagoda-topped grocery store was listed for sale a few times since 2014 — back before the glassy Marriott Marquis highrise started photobombing the building’s listing shots from across 59, as it does in the photo below:

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Market To Market
12/01/16 4:15pm

Big Tex Montrose, 1810 Richmond Ave., Dearborn Place, Houston, 77006

richwood-market-freaky-foods-west-viewThe doors opened last week at that 4-story 100,000-sq.-ft. storage facility that has replaced the boarded-up Shell Food Mart just west of the corner of Richmond  and Woodhead — itself a makeover of the 24-hour Richwood Market, known back in the day as Freaky Foods (affectionately or not). The 4-story building started going up next to King Cole Liquor some time after the nearby trees got cleared out about a year ago (with the city’s OK, Annise Parker said at the time).

Big Tex has since widened the sidewalks and added some new baby trees in a series of landscaped rectangles along Richmond; the company’s press release also says there’s gonna be an Art Wall.

Photos: Big Tex Storage via Urbannizer (panoramic of Big Tex at 1810 Richmond Ave.), Swamplot inbox (2014 shot of 1810 Richmond Ave.)

Boxes on Richmond
11/10/16 4:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE NUMBERS ON HEIGHTS WETTING AND THE PRESIDENCY Map Showing Dry Area of Houston HeightsProp. 1 passed by 2087 votes. There were 654 undervotes (voters who voted but didn’t vote on Prop 1.), of which only 143 were on election day. By the way: 78 percent turnout in the damp Heights, and 72 percent of registered voters voted on Prop 1. — compared to about 60 percent county-wide and 55 percent nationally for the Presidential election.” [Angostura, commenting on Your Heights Dry Zone Ballot Problem Didn’t Affect Yesterday’s Moist Election Outcome] Map of proposed H-E-B in Heights damp zone: Houston Heights Beverage Coalition

11/09/16 5:45pm

Voting Signs, Houston

A pair of electorally-minded readers send in 2 separate claims that Prop. 1 — the H-E-B-backed Heights alcohol sales one, not the provoke-Texas-into-reforming-education-funding-by-messing-with-the-system one — didn’t show up on their ballots yesterday, even though they were each registered to vote in what the Tax Assessor’s office calls the boundaries of the historic dry zone. Hector DeLeon of the Harris County Clerk’s outreach department told Swamplot earlier today that in the 1 case of a missing ballot option they’d heard about and looked into — in the context of around a 25 percent and thousands-of-voters margin of victory for the pro-beer-and-wine-sales folks —  the problem appeared to be a voter not seeing where on the ballot the proposition was listed, rather than an actual missing option.

DeLeon does say, however, that while it’s extraordinarily rare, it’s not impossible that the local option election could have be left off of a few ballots. An election worker has to select some location info by hand in the process of generating the 4-digit voting machine access codes that voters get upon signing the polling place ledger; DeLeon says that can (and occasionally, does) leave room for a who-votes-on-what mistake, especially in the case of certain unusual election zones (like, say, the Lost City of Houston Heights). One reader claims a poll worker at the Helms Community Learning Center on W. 21st St. told him that this sort of input error had been made on some ballots shortly after the polls opened, and had been corrected for the voters who stuck around to sort it out and get a new code issued. (The reader, who had already cast their ballot and came back later to learn more about what had happened, says they didn’t get to cast a new one.) DeLeon also says that the county clerk’s office doesn’t keep any records of access code issues if they’re caused by human error and considered resolved at the site — so there would be no official documentation to check against the reader’s story.

Photo: Ed T [license]

Not Rigged, Just Human
11/08/16 3:45pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE CHICKEN, THE EGG, AND THE HOUSTON SPRAWLSCAPE Proposed Heights H-E-B with 10 ft. building setback“I do usually avoid stores with no bike parking or unfriendly pedestrian/bike access, so I see the other side of [the parking lot] coin. Stores need to cater to their customers; it’s customer demand that’s ultimately at fault for hideous parking lots and runoff and heat islands and sprawl and all the rest. But one way to drive demand is creating feedback loops, and one way to start that is stores building less parking.” [Sid, commenting on H-E-B’s Plan and Backup Plan for the Double Decker Heights Dry Zone Store] Rendering of preliminary parking garage plans for N. Shepherd H-E-B: Houston Planning Commission