04/06/16 10:45am

Yale St. Bridge over White Oak Bayou, Houston Heights, Houston, 77007

Yale St. Bridge over White Oak Bayou, Houston Heights, Houston, 77007 An orange and black construction marquee is now advertising the upcoming closure of the Yale St. bridge over White Oak Bayou just south of I-10, starting the Monday after next and running until the New Year’s Eve after next. The 1931 bridge, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is slated for replacement after years of asking crossers to please watch their weight (with 10,000 pounds per axle being the most recent upper limit). The per-axle limit was at 8,000 pounds prior to a 2012 drop to 3,000 (which disqualified some SUVs and minivans). The addition of carbon strips to the structure caused TxDOT’s weight limit to yo-yo back up to 10,000.

The plans for the new bridge floated by TxDOT in 2014 included wider outside vehicle lanes and slightly narrower sidewalks (down to 5 feet from 6). But summary and followup notes from the public meeting held at the end of July 2014 say the design has been updated to include 8-foot-wide shared bike and pedestrian pathways on either side of the bridge, in response to the public comments on the project.

The TxDOT meeting summary notes also documents the agency’s attempt to sell the bridge in the Houston Chronicle:


Coming Back a New Bridge
03/28/16 1:00pm

Former Tune-Up, 1818 N. Shepherd, Houston Heights, Houston, 77008

A slew of updates from N. Shepherd Dr. come from a nearby dermatology office with a regular lens on the rapidly-redeveloping retail scene. Above is the former site of Tune-Up Plus (on the southeast corner of N. Shepherd with 19th St.) which has been decked out in yellow, lately. A remodeling permit issued on the 23rd for the spot at 1818 N. Shepherd now refers to it as a Take 5; the oil-change and auto-repair chain currently has locations dotted all along I-10 I-85 between Beaumont and the Blue Ridge Mountains, along with some Dallas locales; the first Houston-area Take 5 is purportedly on its way to Louetta Rd. just east of Steuber-Airline Dr. up in Spring.

Meanwhile, across N. Shepherd, the former Houston Alternator store that’s been getting the restaurant-retail treatment is almost ready to open as Cane Rosso’s first Houston spot, ahead of its also-under-construction Montrose branch:


Heights Retail Replacements
03/17/16 3:00pm

H-E-B SCOPING OUT ITS OPTIONS IN THE HEIGHTS H-E-B Bellaire Market, 5130 Cedar St., Bellaire, TexasIn response to questions about the possibility of building an H-E-B near the corner of Studemont St. and Washington Ave, H-E-B public affairs director Cyndy Garza-Roberts tells Swamplot that no contracts have been signed, and that the grocery store chain is talking to area developers that have “several tracts of land” in and around the Heights. Garza-Roberts told the Leader in 2015 that the Heights dry zone makes it hard to find suitable store locations, which also need to be at least 6 acres; the company is also eyeing the Garden Oaks/Oak Forest area. [Previously on Swamplot] Photo of H-E-B at 5130 Cedar St.: Wayne A.

03/17/16 10:45am

For Sale sign at the Banta House, 119 E. 20th St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008

A for sale sign has appeared on the fence outside of the 1918 house on the northwest corner of 20th and Harvard streets, notes a reader. The 2-story brick-over-concrete home, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983 as the Banta House, was listed for sale in February along with the Ink Spots Museum next door at 117 E. 20th. The 21,120 sq.ft. now mentioned by the sign as up for grabs and division appears to include the parking lot behind the 2 buildings, along with the land holding the blue house at 2005 Harvard St. (also penned in by the fence).


Houses Divided
03/15/16 3:15pm

Construction at former Texas Cafeteria, 2400 N. Shepherd Dr., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008

A construction crew is currently at work around and on top of the bare former site of Texas Cafeteria, shielded from prying eyes on N. Shepherd Dr. by a small dirt pile. MFT Development (the group currently planning new and mixed uses for the site of the increasingly romantic former Heights Finance Station post office) is dressing up the space at the corner with 24th St. as another restaurant and maybe some retail, following the joint’s sale, shutdown, and stripping in early 2015. Behind the property to the right, the Fiesta Mart can be seen across 24th counting down to its March 27th closing, as the flags from Monterrey Tire Center peek over the former cafeteria’s roof.

Here’s a rendering of what the planned buildout could look like, plus or minus some tenant signage:


Where the Fiesta’s Ending
03/15/16 11:15am

2200 Yale St., Heights, Houston, 77008

Alabama Furniture & Accessories’ 2-decade locale is getting cleared out for its planned redo, a neighbor notes. The building at 2200 Yale St. got a demo permit yesterday and started coming down later in the day. The site at the corner with 22nd St. is being cleared for another Braun Enterprises project: a third non-mobile Bernie’s Burger Bus location, as confirmed in October. The furniture store (named for its original 1992 location on Alabama St.) cleared out of its Yale home by the start of March, and has flown even further north to 4900 N. Shepherd Dr. between W. 43rd St. and Tidwell Rd.

Photo of demo at 2200 Yale St.: Mosaic Clinic team

Migrating North
03/10/16 3:30pm

THE FIESTA ON N. SHEPHERD WILL BE SHUT DOWN IN 17 DAYS Fiesta at 2300 N. Shepherd Dr., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008 The Heights branch of parrot-adorned grocery store Fiesta Mart at 2300 N. Shepherd Dr. will be shuttered for good after closing time on March 27th, the store’s assistant manager told Betsy Denson of The Leader. The land has been owned by 2ML Real Estate since mid-2015, but 2ML president Jim Arnold, who’s other company owned the Fiesta until a few years ago, tells Denson it was Fiesta’s choice to bow out. As for the land itself, Arnold has “been approached by someone wanting to put in apartments – but any decision will wait for land studies and surveys. When asked if he’d like to see an H-E-B on the land, Arnold said he wouldn’t rule it out.” [The Leader; previously on Swamplot] Photo of Fiesta Mart at 2300 N. Shepherd Dr.: Terah K.

03/04/16 4:30pm

Proposed Mellow Mushroom, 1919 N. Shepherd Dr., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008

A reader notes a notice of an application to sell alcohol posted on the door of the former Dealer Sales building at 1919 N. Shepherd Dr. The HBJ reported last August that Atlanta-based pizza-and-recently-burger chain Mellow Mushroom leased the space at the corner with 20th St. from serial redeveloper Braun Enterprises. The chain, which dropped its first Houston-area spore up in Spring, appears to be sprouting its second location within the somewhat ambiguous boundaries of the Houston Heights’ nominally dry zone.

The pizza place may provide more savory counterbalance to the sugar-laced shopping strip just to the south on the same block — where Fat Cat Creamery, Hugs & Donuts, and Smoothie King all nestle in with Finch Properties and hair salon Black Sheep Parlor along 19th St., sheltered by N. Shepherd-facing Ka Sushi. Renderings released last year for the redeveloping building show the Mushroom popping open in line with some additional retail space; the strip could also get lawyered up:


Sober News on N. Shepherd
02/29/16 10:15am

Fisher Homes, 832 Yale St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77007

Fisher Homes, 832 Yale St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77007

The custom home and office building of Heights homebuilder Fisher Homes at 832 Yale St. is currently up for sale or lease. Construction on the just-under-15,000-sq.-ft. building south of 9th St. wrapped up near the end of 2014; the property listing indicates that availability started in January of this year.

Amenities at the Morrison Heights and Studemont Mid-Rise developer’s mixed-use space include an indoor basketball court, downtown views from the above-3rd-story rooftop terrace, and various conference rooms. Floorplans of the building show the middle-of-the-house driveway (which provides access to the backyard parking lot) separating a 437-sq.-ft. apartment (circled in dotted red below) from the main structure:


For Sale on Yale
02/19/16 10:15am

Proposed Development at Yale and 21st streets, Heights, Houston, 77008

Proposed Development at Yale and 21st streets, Heights, Houston, 77008Here’s the latest cloud-edged rendering of what could be coming to the corner of Yale and W. 21st streets, if Wellington Development gets its requested setback variance wish granted. A reader noticed the notice of the request posted outside of the building currently at 2105 Yale, which formerly housed Dorsey’s Beauty Academy prior to a decade of abandonment.

Wellington bought the spot last July, around which time Collum Commercial put out a leasing flyer showing a new floor-slash-parking plan for the property, which is boxed in on the non-Yale-and-21st-streets sides by the 2125 Yale apartments. Planned renovations to the building, which is listed in county records as 13,000 sq.ft.,  appear to involve some major trimming and resculpting to fit in new off-street parking spaces:


Yale Street Plaza
12/07/15 4:15pm

Fly High Little Bunny, W. 19th St., Heights, Houston, 77008

The sign isn’t up yet, but sales are already taking off: Fly High Little Bunny commenced regular business hours yesterday at its new location on W. 19th St. and Rutland, following Saturday’s opening for the Holiday in the Heights shopping event. The former Shepherd landmark left its old storefront at the corner of W. Alabama earlier this year to make way for a CVS and pad site.

Photo: Swamplot inbox

Flight From West Alabama
06/17/15 12:00pm

Construction of Lee's Fried Chicken & Donuts in Former Church's Fried Chicken, 601 Heights Blvd., Houston Heights

Work has begun transforming the former Heights Blvd. Church’s Fried Chicken — which left its longstanding spot on the corner of 6th St. (aka White Oak across the street) back in March — to the long-promised Lee’s Fried Chicken & Doughnuts. Back in 2012, the team behind Liberty Kitchen (and BRC Gastropub as well as Petite Sweets) had intended to open a Lee’s Fried Chicken in the long-vacant drive-thru behind Liberty Kitchen at 1132 E. 11th St. — after initial plans to open a coffee house in that space were switched.


Church’s to Lee’s and Donuts
06/16/15 11:45am

$150 HOUSE HEADED FOR THE MLS, EXPECTING MUCH HIGHER OFFERS 213 E. 23rd St., Houston HeightsHere’s the final tally for real estate agent Michael Wachs’s failed attempt to sell his Heights bungalow at 213 E. 23rd. St. for $150: After a flurry of late entries, the total number of essays-with-$150-application-fees came to more than 1000, though a slightly larger number of essays came in without any fees at all. Wachs and his family are now rich in heartfelt stories documenting the residential yearnings of strangers, but the total funds received were not enough to “make it work,” Wachs writes in a new note on the house-offer website. He’ll soon be listing the house on HAR at a much higher price, and accepting what he terms “traditional” offers, though he does encourage interested buyers to attach a “heartstrings” letter. A FAQ about fee refunds has been posted to the website as well. [$150 House; previously on Swamplot] Photo: $150 House.