07/05/17 11:00am

The metal garage-and-office structure that once housed the Neff Rental location at the southwestern corner of Independence Heights has now been obliterated, a reader notes — sending the above photograph to serve as evidence of the building’s absence. Site work began at the property last month.

When construction is complete next year, a 30,000-sq.-ft. 365 by Whole Foods Market will face the North Loop feeder road, in front of an attached tilt-wall 12,000-sq.-ft. structure slated for a Houston Heights ER. A parking lot of 242 spaces will front Yale St. Immediately to the north on Yale, a 19,200-sq.-ft. strip center will be surrounded by additional parking.

Photo: Swamplot inbox

Enough for Neff
06/12/17 3:30pm

Back in March, excavators were cleared from the site at the northeast corner of Yale St. and the 610 North feeder road after heavy-equipment rental facility Neff Rental shut down. But at least one of them is back again today, reports a Swamplot reader who passed by the site. It’s shown in the left side of the photo above, performing what appears to be some site prep work for the future home of Houston’s first-ever 365 by Whole Foods market. Also on site, in the foreground of the photo taken from Yale St.: a new construction trailer.

Opening date for the mini-Whole Foods Market at 3004 N. Yale St. at the southern border of Independence Heights — originally scheduled for 2017 —has been pushed back to next year, according to the Houston Business Journal.

Photo: Swamplot inbox

Groceries for Garden Oaks
05/05/17 2:30pm

More details on the planned Yale Marketplace development centered around the 365-branded mini Whole Foods planned for Independence Heights (but picking up the Garden Oaks moniker) come this week from Adolfo Pesquera, who posted the rendering above over at VBX of that companion strip mall planned just to the north of the grocery store. The structure looks to be slated for the narrow parcel of land where the long, low, industrial-slash-office park that until January hosted the Potter’s House Christian Church still stands.

Pesquera also reports that Houston Heights ER has officially signed on as the urgent care clinic that’ll be stuck to the side of the 365 (to the left, in the rendering below):

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Independence Heights
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
10/21/16 11:15am

Yale St. Commons Variance Request, Yale St. at 34th, Independence Heights, Houston, 77018

The name Yale Street Commons is currently sprinkled about the edge of the Pine Forest Business Center northeast of Yale and 34th St. in the form of a few variance request notices (like the one shown above standing by the abandoned strip of rail track running along the 36th St. side of the warehouse park).  That notice is for a request to merge 2 chunks of land within the rectangle made by Yale, 34th, 36th St., and the north-south line where E. 35th St. currently dead ends into the industrial-slash-office park, a few residential doors west of Cortlandt St.  The applicant also appears to be asking for permission not to extend E. 35th St. all the way through the property, which sits near the border between Independence Heights and Garden Oaks.  The 6-acre center, which in recent years has housed a variety of construction contractors, was sold in May to Stonelake Capital — currently at work on the Westheimer Oaks center and that Westheimer-fronting 5-acre make-it-a-park-for-now on either side of Mid Ln.

Photo: Swamplot inbox

Yale Street Commons
02/19/15 11:30am

Proposed Oaks on Shepherd Shopping Center, 4000 N. Shepherd Dr., Independence Heights, Houston

Sears, 4000 N. Shepherd St., Garden Oaks, HoustonA scheme to demolish the 1949 Sears building at 4000 N. Shepherd Dr. and the Pine Forest Business Park behind it and replace it with an “Americana”-themed shopping center headlined by a new Sears store and a supermarket is only part of an unsolicited proposal sent to the national retailer, a representative of Weingarten Realty tells Swamplot. A brochure describing aspects of the proposal, which would replace the Streamline Moderne department store between Garden Oaks and Independence Heights with a higher density shopping center that the body copy implied would be styled in a manner akin to the residential designs of Frank Lloyd Wright, was posted online by the publicly traded REIT earlier this week.

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Oaks on Shepherd
02/18/15 1:00pm

Proposed Oaks on Shepherd Shopping Center, 4000 N. Shepherd Dr., Independence Heights, Houston

Proposed Oaks on Shepherd Shopping Center, 4000 N. Shepherd Dr., Independence Heights, Houston

Update, 2/19: Weingarten says the brochure was a “vision book” that was released to the public in error.

“The time is right for redevelopment” of the Sears at 4000 N. Shepherd Dr., declares a brochure published online earlier this week by Weingarten Realty. The brochure, which appears to be part of a proposal to Sears, which owns the 11.7-acre western portion of the site, says the REIT plans to partner with the retailer to turn the sleepy department store and the Pine Forest Business Park directly to its east into a “wonderfully connected and designed retail shopping destination for Garden Oaks, Oak Forest and neighborhoods around it,” including a new grocery store and restaurants.

No site plan is included in the presentation, but Weingarten notes that it plans to keep “the 2nd longest operating Houston Sears” open in some form throughout the redevelopment. “Weingarten’s vision is to acquire adjacent land,” then “temporarily relocate Sears into an existing building” — the Family Bingo Center at 641 W. Crosstimbers — before scraping and redoing the whole site.

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Oaks on Shepherd
11/21/14 11:00am

BT-Washington-Hood5

Demos appear to be ready to commence on a good-sized swath of Independence Heights surrounding Booker T. Washington High School at 119 East 39th St.

“Seems everything between Yale and Main is about to be bulldozed… an entire neighborhood vanishing,” writes a reader. “It’s really kinda spooky looking — like an abandoned ghost town”:

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Independence Heights
10/16/14 11:30am

ANOTHER IMPORTANT HISTORICAL SITE IN HOUSTON THAT DESERVES RECOGNITION Olympic Motel, 5714 Werner St., HoustonThe account may be a tad more florid, but Harbeer Sandhu’s satirical tale of an inmate-turned-entrepreneur’s plan to create a Houston museum dedicated to the private prison industry is only slightly more bizarre than the true story behind the birth of the Corrections Corporation of America, the world’s largest for-profit prison operator, in the still-operating Olympic Motel at 5714 Werner St. (less than a half-mile down I-45 from Gallery Furniture). Fences, barbed wire, and iron bars went up on the former hot-sheet motel in early 1984 to create the world’s first for-profit private prison, a detention center for 87 undocumented immigrants. Much has changed in the private prison industry since those humble feeder-road beginnings, where several detainees were able to escape by dislodging the air-conditioning units and climbing out through the holes. [Free Press Houston; previously on Swamplot] Photos: Harbeer Sandhu

02/26/14 12:45pm

Bungalows in Starkweather Historic District, E. 31st 1/2 St., Independence Heights, Houston

A collection of a couple dozen or so bungalows along E. 31st 1/2 St. between Yale and Cortlandt in Independence Heights just a block or so north of the 610 Loop is the city’s newest historic district — and perhaps the one with the most colorful name: Starkweather. The subdividing of the neighborhood predates the establishment of Independence Heights as an actual independent city in 1915, but most of the homes were built between the late 1920s (when the city was annexed by Houston) and the 1940s. They were originally marketed to the African American community in the neighborhood. Here’s a map:

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Independence Heights
06/25/13 2:00pm

GIGGLING CO-FOUNDERS OF NATION’S LARGEST PRIVATE PRISON FIRM RECALL HIJINX BEHIND THE CONVERSION OF HOUSTON’S OLYMPIC MOTEL TO IMMIGRANT DETENTION CENTER And that motel is still standing, says a rep from Corrections Corporation of America; you can drive by the history yourself at 5714 Werner Rd. — just north, incidentally, of Independence Heights. Of course, the motel doesn’t seem to be taking reservations; the phone has been disconnected. But if you can’t book a room in the building, you can watch these fellas — CCA founders Tom Beasley and Don Hutto — reminisce about it. Though CCA’s practices have been called into question recently by Grassroots Leadership and Hair Balls, you wouldn’t know it from the fondness with which Beasley and Hutto tell the story of flying to Houston on New Year’s Eve in 1982, seeing the motel sign, and fixing up the place for the INS. It was quite a turnaround: Just a few weeks later, on Super Bowl Sunday, Hutto says, the facility was open, processing “87 undocumented aliens” its very first day. You can watch the video here. [Hair Balls; Grassroots Leadership; CCA] Video still: CCA

05/10/13 10:30am

The finishing touches are being put on this somewhat totemic new building at the ReUse Warehouse site in Independence Heights. This one’s built on the concrete slab and with the steel beams of the old Public Works machine shop here at 9003 Main St., downcycling that building’s roof for use as its ceiling. It’ll serve as office space for Solid Waste Management staff; it’ll also house a workshop to process donated materials (usually the leftovers from new builds and the salvaged stuff from demos) and feature a recycled-art gallery. Zen T. C. Zheng reports that the building should be ready to go by June.

Photo: Allyn West

12/04/12 4:11pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: ART THAT EVEN A BANKRUPTED DEVELOPER COULD MAKE “It’s actually a field of sewer hookups that never grew into being the apartments (presumably) that they were meant to become. The Art Guys simply appropriated the site for an afternoon to be a sculpture. It’s what they do.” [Robert Boyd, commenting on Headlines: Parking Meters on Washington Ave; Census Finds 812 Missing Houstonians] Photo: The Art Guys