04/20/17 3:30pm

BART TRUXILLO, 1942-2017 Brewery Tap, 717 Franklin St., Downtown, Houston, 77002In 2006, the former brewery structure now hosting the Magnolia Ballroom was the first building in Houston to get protected landmark status — and was not the last, probably thanks in part to the life work of its restorer. Bart Truxillo bought the then-vacant building on the edge of Market Square in the late sixties, not too long before buying and restoring the crumbling Queen Anne Mansfield house in the Heights; both structures are now on the National Register of Historic Places. Truxillo later helped found what’s today known as Preservation Houston, and start the organization’s Good Brick Awards during the demolition-rich years of Houston’s first oil boom, as Lisa Gray notes today in the Chronicle; after years of work restoring historic buildings around town and serving a bunch of other history-minded groups, he died yesterday at age 74. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo of Magnolia Ballroom building on Franklin St.: Brewery Tap HTX

04/06/17 11:30am

Retail Center planned for 628 E. 11th St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008

628 E. 11th St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008

628 E. 11th St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008Retail plans along the stretch of E. 11th St. west of Beverly St. look to be moving in a more concrete direction once again — SRS has started advertising available square footage in a double-decker strip center planned on the eastern half of the block. The design for the site has been totally overhauled since the original ads for a Park Place on 11th development (the weathered signage for which is still hanging around on the property, and has been for the better part of a decade.)

The potential footprint of the retail space spreads all the way from Beverly St. to just east of metals brightener Bright Metals of the Heights.  A leasing siteplan shows the center insulated from the 11th St. traffic by a breathable dual layer of parking spaces — and even a triple layer on the Beverly St. side:

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2X 11th
04/04/17 10:00am

Down House, 1801 Yale St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008

Down House Ventures, the legal entity behind Treadsack’s oldest Heights-area technically-a-private-club, has filed for bankruptcy this morning, lagging just a few days behind last week’s Bernadine’s and Hunky Dory filings. The company preemptively included Down House in a Facebooked list of Treadsack restaurants that would stay open for now despite the legal and financial question marks now hanging over the company, given the sudden mid-winter departures of side-by-side restaurant and bar duo Foreign Correspondents and Canard and the details of payroll and tax issues subsequently dredged up; D&T Drive Inn and Johnny’s Gold Brick were placed on the still-truckin’ roster as well. This morning’s filings also look to have included a motion asking for funds to pay current Down House employees, as Craig Malisow reports was granted in the case of last week’s Chapter 11 initiates.

Photo: Down House

Going Down in the Heights
03/31/17 11:45am

HUNKY DORY AND BERNADINE’S ARE NOT DEAD YET Patio, Hunky Dory Tavern, 1801 N. Shepherd Dr., Houston HeightsIn a statement posted simultaneously yesterday to the Bernadine’s and Hunky Dory Tavern Facebook pages, Treadsack’s management team says the twin restaurants at 1801 N. Shepherd (along with the company’s remaining establishments: Down House, D&T Tavern, and Johnny’s Gold Brick) remain open — and that it’s hoping customers will support the decision by continuing to eat there:We’ve filed Chapter 11 Bankruptcy for Hunky Dory and Bernadine’s so we can restructure our debt and continue to operate. This was a very difficult decision, and not one we came to lightly, but the chance to save the businesses that all of our employees have worked so hard to build and so many of you, our guests, have supported, made it a risk worth taking. We love these restaurants and will continue to fight for them.” [Eater Houston; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Hunky Dory

03/29/17 2:30pm

WITH BETTER LUCK TOMORROW, DRY CREEK IS ABOUT TO GET VERY WET LATER THIS MONTH Dry Creek Cafe, 544 Yale St., Houston HeightsThe spot on the corner of White Oak Dr. and Yale St. where Dry Creek Cafe (pictured) closed down last year is expected to open next month as a “neighborhood bar with food that meets restaurant standards.” Proprietors Bobby Heugel (who got his start at Anvil) and Justin Yu (who shut down Oxheart) know a bit about each, respectively. The newly renovated space at 544 Yale will be called Better Luck Tomorrow, they announced today. [Eater Houston; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Andy M.

03/29/17 9:30am

Houston Heights Run Resembling the Shape of Texas

Swamplot reader Brendan Mahoney, an Aussie transplant, writes in to report a discovery he and his running partner made just a few weeks ago while out on a run in the Heights area: “The new 2 mile section of the White Oak Bayou Greenway that opened recently looks like the great state of Texas.” Mahoney’s kinda-familiar path (and split times) are visible in the screenshot of his running app, above. Here’s a closeup:

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Heights Lone Star-ish Lap
03/28/17 11:45am

WE’VE REACHED CHAPTER 11 IN THE HUNKY DORY, BERNADINE’S STORY Hunky Dory, 1801 N. Shepherd Dr., Houston HeightsHere’s an update to continuing reports on the financial health of the Treadsack restaurant group, the company behind Heights-area establishments Down House, D&T Drive Inn, Johnny’s Gold Brick, Hunky Dory, Bernadine’s, Foreign Correspondents, and Canard: Mothership Ventures, LLC, an entity owned by Treadsack partner Chris Cusack and — according to Houston Press reporter Craig Malisow, the business entity that operates as Bernadine’s and Hunky Dory — filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection over this past weekend. Foreign Correspondents and its next-door-neighbor bar Canard closed for business in the shopping center at 4721 N. Main St. suddenly at the end of last year; in February, Malisow published a detailed saga of payroll and tax problems behind the shutdown, alleging Treadsack restaurants had become subject to IRS and state liens totaling more than $1.3 million, and that at one point the Texas Comptroller’s office had threatened a seizure of assets at Down House if taxes were not paid. Bernadine’s and Hunky Dory have been operating since late 2015 in a new building constructed for them at the corner of 18th St. and N. Shepherd. Update, 1:30 pm: An investor has filed suit against the owners of Treadsack, the Houston Press now reports. Craig Malisow also notes that the debtor in the bankruptcy filing has been granted funds to pay for the next employee paychecks. Photo: Hunky Dory

03/28/17 10:45am

191 Heights Blvd., Katyville, Houston, TX 77007

191 Heights Blvd., Katyville, Houston, TX 77007Some signage for Starfish is now stuck to the side of the former location of yes-that-Bradley Bradley’s Fine Diner at 191 Heights Blvd. (next to Koehler St.), Heights-area-restaurant cartographer Brie Kelman notes. The aquatic theme, expected to extend to the menu, extends to the interior of the space as well, which Kelman says sports a large fish tank near the entrance. Cherry Pie Hospitality (which also owns Pi Pizza down at the south end of the strip center) says it’s looking for Starfish employees, now, too.

Photo: Brie Kelman (top), Chris S. (bottom)

Diner Goes Cherry Pie
03/22/17 1:00pm

721 W. 19th St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008 

Work has moved into the buildout and dressup phase for Phase II of the high-glycemic-index strip center at the corner of W. 19th St. and N. Shepherd Dr., a reader notes during a recent catty-corner oil change. The Benjamin Moore signage spotted around the new second building last year during the site’s flat-slab days is now reflected by buildout permits for the paint store, which should take up about 1,820 sq.ft. of the building’s 4,298. What’ll be filling up the rest of the space? Looks like the leftovers will house Austin export Tarka Indian Kitchen’s first inside-the-Beltway location.

The cameraman also captured a glimpse of Dallas pizzeria Cane Rosso‘s statue of a somewhat confusingly labeled suina rosso, which overlooks the intersection from its browsing position near the parking lot:

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Heights Austinites
03/20/17 2:00pm

Chase Bank at 500 W. 20th St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008

Heights Reservoir land saleAs the digging around has started recently across the road, the Chase Bank on W. 20th street has gone up for sale, a reader notes. Most of the land west of Nicholson St. between 19th and 20th streets is owned by Chase (which has a drive-in on the block), as is the parking lot on 20th across Lawrence. The property is wedged in with those 2 pieces of Heights Waterworks land (outlined here in red) that the city sold last year to Alliance; the apartment developer’s plan for the catty-corner sites includes a pair of 8- and 6-story midrises plus a conversion of the protected reservoir structure itself for restaurant and-or retail use. The signage at the corner of 19th and Lawrence St. (shown above) note that the bank will be seeking its fortune elsewhere.

Images: “Random Property Gossip” (top); City of Houston (bottom)

Banking on Heights Densification
03/16/17 11:00am

Former trailer park at W. 11th St. and Allston St.

Trash cans, cinder blocks, and other debris strewn around the southeast corner of W. 11th and Allston streets are what remain of the huddle of 9-or-so trailers that has occupied the lot since at least the mid-1990’s. A set of permits on file with the city for Jozzie’s Mobile Home Park expired at the end of December, and the final exodus looks to have occurred in the last few weeks. Have the homes been given a new space to hang out in? And what will take their place, here on the 13,200-sq.-ft lot backed up against Citgo-station-turned-whiskey-bar Eight Row Flint?

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Sticks and Stones on Allston St.
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

03/09/17 5:30pm

610 Allston St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77007

The 2-bedroom home snuggled into the western side of the Alexan Heights apartment complex has hit the market this week, lagging a few days behind this weekend’s discovery of an unidentified skeleton in a wall cavity accessible from the attic. The holdout house was foreclosed on in early 2015 after then-owner Mary Cerruti stopped making mortgage payments; it’s not clear exactly when she went missing, but she reportedly sent someone a Valentine, the Chronicle‘s Emily Foxhall reported earlier this week.  Foxhall noted that while the bones were uncovered along with a pair of cheap red glasses like the ones Cerruti was known to wear, the skeleton had not yet been officially identified (nor had foul play been ruled either in or out).

The recently remodeled house is currently on the market for $439,900; the 1,161-sq.-ft. building sits on a 6,600-sq.-ft. lot, spooned on 3 sides by the Alexan:

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Selling the Scene
03/08/17 12:30pm

2723 Yale St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008
2723 Yale St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008

As heralded by last Wednesday’s daily demolition report, the low-slung insurance and marketing office building at 2723 Yale St. is now in tatters. The post-smashing shot above was taken in a drive-by by a reader yesterday (who notes this morning that most of the debris has since been hauled off).

Planned for the lot is a new strip center being marketed by East Village developer Ancorian as a retail-office-restaurant mashup, “anchored” by the mini Whole Foods in the works across 610. The property is loosely sandwiched between the combination KFC-Taco Bell to the south and the side-by-side Burger King and new El Rey sitting along the North Loop feeder road (visible to the right).

Renderings of the proposed strip show a mix of brick, wood, metal grating, glass, and patches of other skin materials; a Newquest Properties leasing flier shows the building turning away from Yale St. to face W. 28th St., behind a thick protective later of parking:

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Cleaning Up in the Heights
03/06/17 10:45am

HUMAN SKELETON DISCOVERED IN THAT HEIGHTS HOUSE THAT WOULDN’T SELL TO TRAMMELL CROW 610 Allston St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77007A skeleton and some tattered cloth were discovered this weekend in an attic crawlspace in that house on Allston St. now neighbored on 3 sides by the 5-story Alexan Heights apartment complex, which occupies most of the Yale St. block between 6th St. and the Heights hike & bike trail. The home’s then-owner, Mary Cerruti, was reported missing in September of 2015, having been last seen for sure in the spring. ABC13 reports that investigators reportedly searched the house when Cerruti disappeared, but found only the bodies of several dead cats. Police are now trying to figure out whether or not the skeleton is Cerruti’s; it’s also not yet clear whether the skeleton came to land in the crawl space with assistance, or by its own doing. [ABC13; previously on Swamplot] Photo of 610 Allston St.: HAR