06/16/16 11:00am

shops-at-sawyer-yards-rendering
Leasing Materials for Lovett's Sawyer Yards

Lovett Commercial’s latest
markup of the warehouse-turning-strip-mall at the corner of Edwards and Sawyer streets includes the B&B Butchers logo, which has wandered about a third of a mile from the carve-it-themselves steakhouse’s year-old spot 6 blocks away on Washington Ave. All of the other logos included on the Shops at Sawyer Yards flier seem to check out: Hair salon Satori and tooth salon Bayou City Smiles are already up and running in the space, while nail salon Polish Parker & Roe, stop-calling-us-Crossfit gym chain Orange Theory Fitness, and Vietnamese noodle shop Local Pho all appear to have at least a few of their permits in place.

Both the updated rendering of the site (up top, facing southeast) and the labeled plan show a restaurant space at the end of the development with a patio facing Sawyer; the flier also labels the slot as a brasserie (as opposed to a steakhouse). The shaded aerial view below shows the development (labeled as just Sawyer YARDS) in place amid a few of the nearby artsy redevelopment projects (marked in green), new townhomes (marked in purple), and the Lovett office:

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First Ward
02/03/16 10:30am

Slide 13 of US CSB Public Meeting, Waco, TX, January 28, 2016

The image above, showing a fertilizer-grade ammonium nitrate (FGAN) facility loitering as close as 529 ft. from the edge of an unidentified school campus, appeared on slide 13 of a US Chemical Safety Board presentation in Waco last week. But where is this place? And where are the other Texas locations where similar facilities storing large quantities of ammonium nitrate are sited within half a mile of a school? The Board warns that there are 18 such cozy-ups in Texas, but doesn’t identify their locations — even the image shown above, grabbed from Google Earth and outlined, omits any street labels.

The Waco presentation talked through the safety agency’s recently released findings on the 2013 explosion in West, Texas (located in Central Texas). A school and a nursing home were among the nearby buildings that received serious damage from the fertilizer blast, which killed 15 people and injured hundreds; the safety board report indicates that holes in that city’s zoning laws allowed the storage facility to be slowly grandfathered into a residential area.

Finding out where chemical storage facilities are located, and what they store, is now more of a fun guessing game than it was before the West explosion: In 2014, then-attorney-general-now-governor Greg Abbott’s office ruled that state Tier II data, which documents hazardous chemical storage at private facilities, would no longer be accessible to the public. But those open records weren’t really necessary, not if you’re really trying to find the facilities: “You know where they are, if you drive around,” Abbott told reporters.

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West Explosion Aftermath
01/19/16 12:30pm

UT Houston Campus Site, Buffalo Lakes, Houston

The deal is sealed on the University of Texas’s purchase of a 100-acre hunk of land south of South Main St. as of last Friday. The sale marks the first concrete move toward UT’s planned Houston campus, though closings on the parcel patchwork comprising the rest of the 300-ish ac. likely won’t wrap up until early 2017, according to a press release from the school’s Office of Public Affairs.

The sold land is a forested tract northwest of the wiggly intersection of Willowbend Dr. and Buffalo Spdwy.; the property is split along a northwest-southeast diagonal by a linear drainage feature which makes an appearance in those preliminary campus designs (shown from the north in the image above).

That land was owned previously by Buffalo Lakes Ltd., an entity associated with UT grad John Kirksey of Kirksey Architecture. A plan for a Buffalo Lakes master-planned community (see below) was drawn up more than 4 years ago by Kirksey for the same space:

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South Main Master Plans
12/01/15 10:00am

UT Houston Campus Site, Buffalo Lakes, Houston

Some zoomy conceptual renderings of the University of Texas’s coming Houston campus, centered on the largely undeveloped intersection of Buffalo Spdwy. and Willowbend Blvd., made their debut at last month’s Board of Regents meeting, where the intended purchase of land for the project was announced. Buffalo Spdwy. gently winds through the drawings of the new campus to a track and several baseball diamonds along Holmes Rd. (which runs horizontally across the top of the image above).

Although the images are only “concepts”, the pictures do provide a sense of how the campus might unfold: For example, that linear water feature shown at the center of the campus aligns with an existing drainage ditch on the property, and the 3 long, low structures in the foreground are good candidates for parking garages, which will be needed regardless of the new institution’s yet-to-be-decided purpose.

Existing residential communities and industrial parks are here rendered as sparsely-treed fields — the boundary of the land slated for purchase by UT currently houses several apartment complexes on the north side and the Orkin Industrial Surplus facility to the south.

But another conceptual rendering (this one looking northwest across Holmes Rd. towards the distant Williams Tower) shows the campus in place amongst some of its eclectic neighbors:

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Welcome to the neighborhood
07/09/14 2:15pm

Proposed Studemont Junction Development, Studemont St. at Hicks St., First Ward, Houston

Signs are up at the soon-to-be-former Grocers Supply distribution center across Studemont from Kroger just south of I-10 announcing Studemont Junction, the name meant to bring some . . . uh, conjunction to the odd-shaped 15-acre food-storage facility Capcor Partners bought late last year. To judge from the proposed site plan for the project, that’ll be quite a task.

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Many Functions for Studemont Junction
12/23/13 12:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHAT DO YOU CALL THE TRANSFORMED INDUSTRIAL DISTRICT SOUTH OF THE HEIGHTS? Katyville“I think the stretch of land North of Washington but South of I-10, where all the big-box retailers are going in, should be called Katyville.” [el duderino, commenting on Grocers Supply Sale Will Supply 15 Acres for Apartments, Shops Across from Studemont Kroger] Illustration: Lulu

12/20/13 12:00pm

Grocers Supply, 3000 Hicks St., Houston

Grocers Supply, 3000 Hicks St., Houston

The group that completed the purchase of a 15-acre agglomeration of tracts at the southwest corner of I-10 and Studemont this week says it’s planning a mixed-use development for the site, including an apartment complex. Most of the land was owned by Grocers Supply, which has operated a 232,352-sq.-ft. produce warehouse and big-rig parking lot there for 42 years. The facility at 3000 Hicks St. is yet another chunk in the First Sixth Ward-area once-industrial swath south of the Heights that’s been turning to big-box-flavored retail bit by bit over the last decade, and now stretches from Target on the east near Sawyer to Walmart just west of Yale St. Here’s an aerial view of that district from 1990, when it was still entirely industrial (you can see the western edges of Downtown in the background):

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A Couple Years To Think About It
09/16/13 12:30pm

So it turns out that Lovett Commercial is planning to put a new restaurant with retail space on an old industrial site in the First Ward — just not the site we thought. Those 1950s metal warehouses a reader photographed in the midst of demolition were taken down, says a Lovett rep, for the space. And the rep says Lovett has no plans to speak of for that site. But that restaurant, rendered here, will be just across the street on the southeast corner of Sawyer and Edwards. There, says the rep, the long building that stands parallel to the street at 2313 Edwards and backs up against the railroad tracks will not be torn down but renovated into something like what you see here.

More renderings:

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09/11/13 4:00pm

Note: Story updated below.

A reader sends this photo of the demolition of the 1950s metal warehouses across the street from the former Johnny Franks Auto Parts at the corner of Sawyer and Edwards St. in the First Ward. County records show that both this 1.2-acre lot and the larger 2.4-acre Johnny Franks lot are owned by the same entity: Westheimer Retail Center Ltd., located at 1520 Oliver St. And it just so happens that retail developer Lovett Commercial, also located at 1520 Oliver St., has posted on its website a pair of pretty pictures of a new cafe — at the corner of Sawyer and Edwards!

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02/07/12 1:06pm

“They have been taking down buildings like crazy the past few weeks and we are wondering what is planned,” writes a reader from the lower Fifth Ward, who wants to know what’s going on along Clinton Dr. near Jensen. More’s been coming down, apparently, than just the former KBR warehouses. “This morning,” read a note sent to Swamplot yesterday, “there was a Sheriff substation across the street, this afternoon it is a pile of twisted metal.” The demo work on Clinton Dr. just east of Gregg St. continues: “I can hear the bulldozer over there piling up debris as I send this,” reads a note from this morning. And here’s a pic from today of what’s left of it:

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12/22/11 11:55pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THEY STILL MAKE IT HERE “Houston isn’t a small, postindustrial city like Portland where PhDs drive cabs because they’re there for the ‘quality of life.’ Houston is a big industrial city that still makes stuff. You can’t look at a ‘cruddy’ low-rise industrial or manufacturing district and wish to replace it with trendy lofts, because those industrial districts are a big part of the city’s prosperity. The oil company office jobs could choose to locate *anywhere*; they choose to locate in Houston because it’s close to where their industrial operations are.” [Keep Houston Houston, commenting on The Swamplot Award for Special Achievement in Sprawl: The Official 2011 Ballot]

10/18/11 2:53pm

The Heights Life passes on drawings and details of the new Kroger grocery store and gas station planned for the former industrial property between Arne’s Warehouse and Party Store and I-10 at 1400 Studemont St. — from notes taken by a Super Neighborhood 22 representative who met with Kroger reps and council member Ed Gonzalez. Though at a planned 79,087 sq. ft. the store would be about 10,000 sq. ft. smaller than the recently renovated Heights store on 11th St. and Shepherd, it’ll look quite similar. The most interesting part of the site plan is the proposed connection of Hicks St., which turns off of Studemont south of the new store, to Summer St., which dead-ends into a parking lot currently filled with the heads of ex-Presidents, just south of the Sawyer Heights Target:

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10/17/11 10:41am

STUDEMONT KROGER AIMS FOR A CITY TAX DEAL A couple of news bits about the new grocery store Kroger is planning for an 8.5-acre site it purchased in February at 1400 Studemont, just south of I-10 and just north of the Arne’s Warehouse and Party Store: It’ll measure 79,000 sq. ft., and will have a gas station. Plus, Chris Moran reports, Houston’s city council will consider sales and property tax reimbursements to the company of as much as $2.5 million. The proposed deal would require the company to create 170 jobs at the location for 13 years and donate $40,000 for improvements to Olivewood Cemetery across the street. [Houston Politics; previously on Swamplot]

02/08/11 10:47am

Kroger has bought 8.5 acres of former industrial land on Studemont, just south of I-10, the Chronicle‘s Purva Patel reports. The land, which was once part of Houston’s Sixth Ward, sits just north of Arne’s Warehouse and Party Store and across the street from Grocers Supply. Kroger closed on the larger portion — a 7.2-acre cleared parcel at 1400 Studewood, listed for sale at $15.7 million — just last week. A spokesperson for the grocery chain wasn’t ready to announce a new store on the site, but did say the company had already taken possession of 1.3 acres just to the south, at 1200 Givens St. If Kroger does build a new supermarket there, the parking lot would have 450 ft. of frontage on Studemont; other industrial properties, many of them accessed from Summer St., would still be sandwiched between it and the Sawyer Heights Target.

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08/25/10 2:56pm

Just ahead of tonight’s meeting, Ainbinder Company has released the requisite mostly-empty-parking-lot and pedestrians-standing-in-a-median renderings of the Walmart the company is hoping to seat off Koehler and Yale in the West End. The renderings come from a 5-page brochure for the company’s Washington Heights development that includes an aerial view and plenty of lovely images documenting the site’s industrial recent past, going so far as to call the former Trinity Industries plant on the site — where beams, columns, and other structures were fabricated from supplied raw materials — a “steel mill.” But no official (or updated) site plans for the current proposal are included.

Here’s a view of how the Walmart might look in the early dawn, as you drive up:

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