05/14/15 4:30pm

Tree Cutting on Yale St. Between 5th and 6th Streets, Houston Heights

Landscape crews last week chopped down 16 live oak trees lining the west side of Yale St. just south of White Oak, along the eastern border of the second of Trammell Crow Residential’s Alexan Heights apartment complexes. A similar scene took place last year in front of the Alexan Heights north of White Oak and 6th St. (at right in the above photo).

A reader sent in pics of the recent street-tree sawfest:

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Chop ’n Plant
05/14/15 12:30pm

HOW TO BUY A HOUSE IN THE HEIGHTS FOR $150 213 E. 23rd St., Houston HeightsOr just pay $150 and don’t get a house at all! No, there are no missing zeros or Ks in that sale price, but there is a catch: Real estate agent and Houston Heights resident Michael Wachs says he’s accepting offers until June 13th, each accompanied by a nonrefundable offer fee of $150, for his family’s 2-bedroom, 1-bath bungalow at 213 E. 23rd St. The decision of which one to accept, he indicates, will be made by judging the best 200-word essay that accompanies it, not the offer amount. The required essay, he writes, should explain “why we should sell the house to you,” but include no names or identifying information: “The fee is nonrefundable if we find a buyer via this process. If we do not, we will refund the offer fee.” (He’s also discouraging his family and friends from applying: “It just would be fishy if our parents happened to have the best essay,” he notes.) Included on the website he set up to explain the sale — along with a handy form for collecting email addresses for his real-estate business and a bit of encouragement to support some hearing-aid legislation now under consideration in the Texas House — are a few photos of the property, a sellers disclosure, inspection report, and mold remediation certificate. Why’s his family selling? “We had longterm plans to fix-up our little place or build on the lot, but our baby is now going to school across the city and we don’t want to deal with traffic. (It’s a very Houston reason to move.)” HCAD values the 1,056-sq.-ft., 1920 home with 2-car garage on a 5,300-sq.-ft. lot at $394,129. [$150 House] Photo: Terrence Foster  

04/30/15 5:00pm

Fly High Little Bunny, 301 W. 19th St., Houston Heights

Fly High Little Bunny, 301 W. 19th St., Houston HeightsRunaway Shepherd St. jeweler Fly High Little Bunny has marked up the former Occasions Fine Gifts shop at the corner of Rutland and 19th St. in the Heights as its future home. A separate note posted to the store’s Facebook page late last week indicated that the new location at 301 W. 19th St. wouldn’t be open “for a month or so.

Photos: Swamplot inbox

19th St. Retail
04/29/15 5:00pm

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The asking price for the Heights Theater on bustling 19th St. in Houston Heights in today’s live-or-work listing is $1.9 million. The owners last toe-tested the reel deal in 2008, at $1.3 million. In the interim, surrounding neighborhoods have tipped even more hip. Though the future of the historic (but not protected) property is up for grabs, its past scrolls like an old film roll, with scenes of early prosperity, seedy decline, suspected arson, and restoration.

The exterior’s revamp earned the current owners a Good Brick Award 20-ish years ago. The interior, a shell space since its near destruction by fire in 1969, has been used for live theater, retail, events, and galleries. In the former lobby’s crossroads sits an original projector (top), a sculpture standing as both a testament and witness to passing eras.

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Film House for Sale
04/20/15 1:00pm

Holdout Properties at 610 and 606 Allston St., Adjacent to Alexan Heights Apartments, Houston Heights

Construction of Alexan Heights Apartments, 655 Yale St., Houston HeightsFrom a couple of Swamplot readers come images of the Little House at 610 Allston St. and a neighboring vacant lot. They’re the lone holdout properties on the block also bounded by 6th St., Yale St., and the Heights Hike and Bike Trail. The 5-story Alexan Heights apartments are going up on the entire rest of the block — including a 50-ft.-wide sliver to reach around and hug the 2 wouldn’t-sells (at right in the photo at top and the one directly below):

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Alexan Heights
03/09/15 3:00pm

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Fronting byways rather than bayous, a 1993 Creole-style cottage in the Houston Heights has room-like porches on the front and back. The bisque-hued property looks over more plantings and pavers than free-range lawn; in its initial listing last week, the price is $989K.

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Creole Cooking
02/20/15 11:45am

NO PARKING VARIANCE FOR HEIGHTS MERCANTILE RETAIL REDO ON 7TH AND YALE Proposed Heights Mercantile Retail and Office Complex,  7th St. at Yale St., Houston HeightsDespite a recommendation from the planning department staff to allow the development to proceed with significantly fewer parking places than required by ordinance, the planning commission yesterday denied a parking variance for the proposed Heights Mercantile mixed-use building complex along 7th St. between Yale St. and Heights Blvd., the longtime site of a warehouse complex for the Pappas Restaurant group. The Finial Group, the project’s developers, had hoped to be allowed to count 58 existing head-in public parking spaces along 7th St., many of them fronting the MKT Hike and Bike Trail, toward the development’s off-street parking requirements. [Previously on SwamplotRendering of proposed new building along Yale St.: Michael Hsu Office of Architecture

02/09/15 10:45am

Coltivare, 3320 White Oak Dr., Houston Heights

Red Tag at Coltivare, 3320 White Oak Dr., Houston HeightsHeights pizza-and-veggie spot Coltivare now sports a bright red tag (shown at right) next to its front door — after a city inspector found fault with its newly protected-from-weather patio space facing the side garden (the white tent-like structures in the photo above) last week. What’s wrong with covering a patio with a temporary structure for the winter?

Nothing, but it does trigger some permitting issues. ”An uncovered patio isn’t considered an occupied space,” a Swamplot reader familiar with Houston building regulations writes. But: “A lot of folks don’t realize covered patios count as building square footage and must be permitted.”

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Restaurant Creep
02/05/15 12:45pm

Proposed Heights Mercantile Retail and Office Complex,  7th St. at Yale St., Houston Heights

Proposed Heights Mercantile Retail and Office Complex,  7th St. at Yale St., Houston HeightsResidents near the section of 7th St. between Yale St. and Heights Blvd. have been discussing plans to turn the group of warehouse buildings long held by Pappas Restaurants into a 4-building “creative neighborhood and shopping destination” called Heights Mercantile. The Finial Group, which bought the properties from Pappas and a few other landowners last year, hired Austin architect Michael Hsu to come up with plans for renovating 3 of the buildings lining 7th St., tearing down the long warehouse lining Yale St. and replacing it with the new 2-story structure pictured above. The new project is a joint venture between Finial and a local investment firm called Radom Capital.

A notable feature of the 1.4-acre site plan is 3 stretches of head-in parking along 7th St. The plan shows 36 spaces on the north side of the street, facing the row of wooden bollards lining the hike-and-bike trail converted from the path of the former MKT rail line and 2 banks of 11 spaces in a row on the opposite side. Although head-in parking configurations dominate in some portions of the city (Rice Village, for example), new stretches of more than 4 spaces in a row have been prohibited by city regulations for decades.

The Pappas warehouses have head-in parking along 7th St. The developer not only wants to preserve and adjust that arrangement for the new development, but is asking the city to count these on-street spaces toward the required number of off-street spaces. The planning commission is scheduled to rule on the associated parking variance application this afternoon.

Here’s a site plan:

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Retail Revamp
01/20/15 12:30pm

Future Equilibrium Social House, 1030 Heights Blvd., Houston Heights

The latest in a stream of coffee shops to grace the bungalow at 1030 Heights Blvd. will open next month, the owner of the new establishment reports. Equilibrium Social House will serve coffee, teas, and baked goods in a building that’s been repainted (see above) since the departure of Boulevard Coffee. Inside, there’s a new counter and serving area and new furniture. New sliding doors will allow some interior spaces to be closed off for private meetings. The EQ patio will be open to both humans and dogs.

Photo: Equilibrium Social House

Three for Coffee
01/05/15 2:45pm

USPS NOW SAYS IT WILL CLOSE AND SELL THE HEIGHTS POST OFFICE Heights Finance Station Post Office and Notice, 1050 Yale St., Houston HeightsA new public notice taped to the door of the Heights Finance Station post office at the corner of Heights Blvd. and 11th St. last Friday indicates the U.S. Postal Service has moved on from “considering” moving out of the property and is now prepared for a full-on “disposal” action: “This property has been determined by the Postal Service to be excess and is no longer necessary for Postal operations,” reads the notice, which also indicates that “Postal Service policy requires the property to be sold at Market Value.” Though public comments are still being encouraged, it typically takes more than a few discouraging words to prevent a local post office from shutting down. The 6,161-sq.-ft. building at 1050 Yale St. sits on more than an acre of land. [Previously on Swamplot] Photos: Swamplot inbox (post office); Nick Panzarelli (notice)

12/29/14 2:15pm

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Looks like that long-vacant, wheatpaste poster-festooned former service station and repair shop in the heart of the Houston Heights will finally be reincarnated. Eater Houston’s Jakeisha Wilmore is reporting that Morgan Weber and Ryan Pera, the team behind Revival Market and Coltivare, have snatched up the former Citgo at 1039 Yale St., an address less than a mile from both Coltivare and Revival. Exactly what Pera and Weber will be dishing out in lieu of unleaded and 10W-40 remains to be seen; a spokesman told Wilmore that the rumored restaurant’s concept is still secret.

Photo: Jakeisha Wilmore

Combustibles To Comestibles
12/29/14 10:30am

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You’re looking at Harris County’s very first Cherry Berry Self-Serve Frozen Yogurt Bar. It’s going in at 949 N. Shepherd Dr., into a Merchants Park shopping center storefront that most recently housed an AT&T Wireless shop.

Froyo’s arrival in Merchants Park caps 5 years of steady transformation among the tenants in the Kroger-anchored shopping center that sprawls more than 2 blocks south down N. Shepherd and N. Durham Dr. from W. 11th St.

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Retail
12/05/14 3:00pm

Proposed Strip Center, 1835 N. Shepherd Dr., Houston Heights

Proposed Strip Center, 1835 N. Shepherd Dr., Houston Heights

Houston Alternator’s West Heights location is getting a tuneup. Owners of the 6,000-sq.-ft. auto center, located on the busy N. Shepherd–W. 19th St. intersection’s southwest corner, are remodeling the 1960 vintage building for restaurant and retail use. But remixing N. Shepherd’s former auto care zone of used car dealerships and repair shops won’t stop there.

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Auto Center to Retail Centers