01/03/12 1:00pm

HIGHLAND VILLAGE APPLE STORE REBOOT Did you know the shiny new Apple Store with the glass roof and front and back walls in Highland Village was scheduled to open very soon? Well, not any more, says Nancy Sarnoff. A source tells her the opening of the first Houston-area non-mall store has been pushed back until March. [Prime Property; previously on Swamplot] Drawing: Jeffrey Djayasaputra

12/09/11 11:40am

Dedicated Houston Apple Store sleuth Tracy Evans has posted a revised sketch of the glass-ceilinged retail space going up at 4012 Westheimer Rd. in the Highland Village Shopping Center, showing a number of details he’s figured out from careful study. The new sketch shows the store’s glass facade extending beyond the front of the bookending limestone-clad slabs on the east and west sides, as it does in the Upper West Side store this location is clearly modeled after. And contrary to an apparently mistaken report from another source, Evans says the Highland Village Apple Store will feature an entrance in its all-glass back wall, facing the back parking lot and Marmi and Francesca’s behind it.

The 3,100-sq.-ft. Houston store across Drexel St. from Crate and Barrel will be Apple’s first glass-ceiling structure to have glass walls and entrances at the front and back. So where will the back-of-house space go? Evans thinks it’ll be masquerading as part of the cupcake shop next door:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

12/08/11 9:19pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: APPLE’S CRYSTAL CATHEDRAL “Also, does anyone else think that the design looks more than a little like a protestant church, with the vaulted roof, minimal design, and the identical tables setup in rows looking like pews?” [JL, commenting on Comment of the Day: Apple Store Symbolism]

12/07/11 12:37pm

How might a Houston building with an all-glass roof stand up to the Gulf Coast’s formidable sun, heat, and gloppy rainfall? We all should be able to find out after Apple’s Highland Village store opens early next year. Thanks in part to the sleuthing of Houston production company owner Tracy Evans, the building going up at 4012 Westheimer next to the Sprinkles cupcake store has been identified as a smaller and somewhat altered version of the patented design for the Apple store the company opened 2 years ago on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Unlike that design, however — which lists the late Steve Jobs as one of its creators — the company’s first outside-of-a-mall store in Houston will feature not just a glass ceiling and facade, but a glass back wall as well.

Evans’s friend Jeffrey made the napkin sketch above showing the likely appearance of the finished building — based on Evans’s description of what he saw at the Highland Village construction site. Here are a couple of views of the UWS store:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

06/03/11 5:12pm

JUST DROPPING IN AGAIN TO SAY HELLO Business is booming at Sprinkles, next door to the site of the future Apple Store in Highland Village, David Kaplan reports. During the demolition of the vacant retail building on the site, pieces of structural steel crashed into the cupcake shop on 3 separate occasions. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot]

04/19/11 12:19pm

Maybe that spec retail block at the Highland Village Shopping Center wasn’t good enough for Apple, after all. A couple of readers have written in to report that the never-been-occupied eastern portion of the relatively recent building at 4012-4018 Westheimer — where Houston’s first-ever mall-free Apple Store is supposed to go — has been torn down completely. The foundation and portions of the parking lot have been jack-hammered, writes one reader: “It’s like someone took a big pair of scissors and cut it off, through the beams, etc. The rest of the structure that houses Sprinkles, Paper Source, and what will be Restoration Hardware is still there. But the end where the Apple Store is/was going to be is gone.”

A permit for the “partial” demo of the building at 4012 Westheimer appeared on Swamplot’s Daily Demolition Report back on Valentine’s Day. An Apple retail fan site notes that according to its sources the Highland Village store when it opens “will bear some resemblance to the Scottsdale Quarter store.” Which looks like this:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

02/17/11 11:12am

Apple fans, don’t be distracted — as Swamplot was earlier this week — by the construction being set up on the west side of the newish Highland Village Shopping Center building that houses Sprinkles Cupcakes at 4012-4018 Westheimer. Unless, of course, you’re wanting to know where the new Restoration Hardware will go once it relocates from across the street. The newly expanded housewares store will take up all of the space on the Galleria side of Paper Source.

Meanwhile, here are your verified coordinates for Houston’s first non-mall Apple Store: After a little bit of demo work, it’ll go on the east side of the same building (shown above), at the Drexel driveway. Across the street, there appears to be less urgency now that Tootsies has fled to West Ave, but the shopping center’s management still plans to tear down the stylish but now-vacant building the women’s clothing boutique occupied at 4045 Westheimer:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

02/14/11 12:12pm

Apple signed a lease last month on a storefront in the Highland Village Shopping Center, a source tells Swamplot. Houston’s first-ever not-in-a-mall Apple Store is heading for the street-front retail block that houses Paper Source and Sprinkles Cupcakes, across Westheimer from the old Tootsies, in a location that formerly housed the Gap. But which side of that building? There’s evidence of construction activity on the west end of the block (shown in the foreground above), but rumors dating from last summer — as well as the “partial” exterior demo permit for the space that appeared in this morning’s list of demolitions — point to the east side of the structure, adjacent to the shopping center’s Drexel St. driveway. That’s where this older map from Gary Allen’s Apple retail fan website had placed it:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

01/12/11 11:49am

Highland Village owner Haidar Barbouti “probably didn’t get hung up on the legal nuances” of how to shake Tootsies free of its Westheimer store when its lease ended, a source explains to Swamplot. But both he and Tootsies owner Mickey Rosemarin are ready to move on. Now that the court skirmish over the eviction and the store’s subsequent request for a restraining order have been formally resolved in Tootsies’ favor, Rosmarin’s clothing boutique will be able to stay at its Highland Village location through the end of the month. At which point, according to a store spokesperson, “The store will close one night and open the next business day” at West Ave. The new mixed-use complex at Kirby and Westheimer reportedly lured the retailer into a lease with generous terms: forgoing base rent in exchange for a percentage of Tootsies’ sales.

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

01/10/11 1:41pm

There’s a whole lot more drama to the Highland Village Tootsies shutdown battle than just that little overnight lockout, jackhammered walkway, and side-door goodbye sale customers got to enjoy late last week: The Chron‘s Purva Patel reports Tootsies sought a restraining order against the Highland Village Shopping Center, claiming the center was “interfering with its business.” Oh, but that was only after the landlord began eviction proceedings against the women’s clothing boutique on January 4th, a full 5 days after the long-term lease on its only Houston store expired.

The store paid rent of $159,834 at December’s end, but Highland Village plans to return the money, according to court records. The store plans to send it again.

Swamplot photographer Candace Garcia has pics of the scene in front the store at 4045 Westheimer from Saturday morning, just as workers were beginning to scrape off what sure looks like a fresh coat of black paint from the store’s windows. Oh, but that’s not all the trouble Highland Village CEO Haidar Barbouti‘s merry band of graffiti artists caused for its extended tenant. Painted over, and possibly beyond recovery: those “Tootsies Parking” signs on the curb in front!

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

01/07/11 8:05pm

HIGHLAND VILLAGE LOCKOUT DRAMA: STEP AWAY FROM THE TOOTSIES! What tenant lockout techniques at the Highland Village Shopping Center lack in effectiveness, they make up in chutzpah: Employees and shoppers arriving for the second day of the big sale at Tootsies this morning found the stores’ windows blacked out, the sign blocked, and the concrete path to the front entrance jackhammered and blocked off with cones and temporary fencing. But that’s no obstacle at all for the sale-obsessed: Black-booted employees of the upscale women’s boutique simply ushered shoppers in through a side entrance for deals on dresses, handbags and shoes! Shopping center CEO Haidar Barbouti announced plans last year to demolish the Tootsies building and replace it with 100,000 square feet of multi-level retail space and an underground parking garage. Tootsies’ long-term lease expired on December 31, but the company’s new store at West Ave hasn’t opened yet. Can’t they work something out? A Highland Village spokesperson tells Culturemap that landlord and tenant have not met “in several years.” Bring on the lawyers! [Culturemap]

01/07/09 1:12pm

“Our primary emphasis is a dedication to achieving an overall balance between the interior and outdoor living environment,” reads the copy on the home page of the Mecox Gardens website.

A tour of the new Mecox Gardens store that just opened in the Highland Village Shopping Center reveals part of the magic Mecox formula for achieving that inside-outside balance: Bring in the prints of animals. And bring in the animal prints!

Paloma Contreras, who runs Houston’s La Dolce Vita blog, took these photos on a recent visit. Mecox Gardens features “vintage and reedition” home and garden furnishings.

So here’s a reader challenge:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

05/29/08 1:06pm

Construction on Top of Waterworks, Highland Village Shopping Center, Houston

A reader who lives near the Highland Village Shopping Center reports that work on “the structure being built (so slowly) on top of Waterworks” at the corner of Drexel and Westheimer appears to have started up again, after a long period of nothing-going-on. Plus: he hears it’s going to be a French restaurant. Wasn’t last year’s rumor that it was going to be a wine bar?

And speaking of rumors, the same reader wants to know what’s going to happen on the opposite corner of the same intersection, where the Gap used to be:

I have hear that it will be either a 5 story boutique hotel or 2 story retail, and, as of a few weeks ago, that they would be deciding between retail vs hotel by mid May.