03/02/16 5:00pm

Carvana Vending Machine construction site, 10939 Katy Fwy., Memorial, Houston, 77079

Carvana has confirmed that the work going on now at the former Big Tex Tree Nursery lot at 10939 Katy Fwy. is setup for the giant car vending machine referenced in September bid documents labeled with the site’s address. Building permits issued in January were applied for under the name of largely-non-digital used-car chain DriveTime, an investor in the Phoenix-based startup that also allows Carvana to borrow facilities to prepare vehicles for sale.

The new vending machine could be the first in Texas; Carvana opened a vending machine in Nashville last November, and also has a pickup site in Atlanta for those who don’t want to deal with delivery service. A reader sends some fresh shots of the action at the site, as well as a glimpse at a building plan:

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Going Digital on I-10
02/24/16 1:00pm

Update, 3/2: A Carvana spokesperson has confirmed to Swamplot that the company’s first Houston vending machine will be located at 10939 Katy Fwy. This story has been updated.

Online car dealership Carvana appears to have been planning to place a multi-story robotic car delivery system on the I-10-side lot that Big Tex Tree Nursery vacated after the December holidays wrapped up. A reader notes some construction bid documentation dating from September listing a project for the company at the 10939 Katy Fwy. address: The documents show a search for construction contractors for a ‘car vending machine’, scoped to involve multi-level car storage and an automated lift to bring vehicles down to the 1st floor on command.

But it looks like those plans fell through — at least as far as the location on the former Big Tex lot. Permits were issued last month to non-digital car dealer chain DriveTime for construction of a new sales building on the site. DriveTime currently has 4 locations around the Houston area, including one further west on the Katy Fwy. past Highway 6.

Carvana plugged in its first vending machine in Nashville last November, after jumping into the Houston market in October. The above video shows the Tennessee machine in action: cars are shuffled down from their glassy perch after users place a Carvana token into a coin slot.

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Pick Up or Delivery
01/29/16 3:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: CYCLING THROUGH TRAFFIC JAMS ON THE ROAD TO THE AMERICAN DREAM Cars in Traffic“The real crux of the issue here is that Americans are constantly sold on the idea that cars represent ultimate freedom and prosperity. That image breaks down when crowds of commuters start forming giant, slow-moving, panic-inducing trains of automobiles. The cognitive dissonance causes automobilists to latch on to the only solution they can imagine: ‘wider roads will restore that feeling of freedom.’ Of course, it never really works out that way.” [Derek, commenting on Which Came First: the Traffic or the Freeway Lanes?] Illustration: Lulu

01/29/16 9:45am

WHICH CAME FIRST: THE TRAFFIC OR THE FREEWAY LANES? Sam Houston Tollway Overpass Over Katy Fwy., Houston“Population growth doesn’t happen independently of transportation infrastructure—it’s profoundly shaped by it,” writes Daniel Hertz over at City Observatory this week. Hertz’s commentary comes in response to pushback following an article in which the blog weighed the outcome of the Katy Freeway’s 2008 expansion (calling out 30- and 55-percent increases in morning and afternoon commute times between 2011 and 2014). Pro-expansion readers purportedly commented that while travel times along the corridor did actually get worse, those same slowdowns would have been even stickier had the expansion not taken place when it did.  But that’s backwards, argues Hertz, or at least a simplification: “In fact, research dating back at least to the 1950s has found over and over that highway construction in the urban periphery is associated with more housing construction there—and the depopulation o[f] urban neighborhoods. . . . Part of the way that highways fill themselves up with cars is by creating demand for housing near them.” [City Observatory, previously on Swamplot] Photo of I-10 West: Andres Lombana [license]  

04/12/13 1:00pm

This flag-flying 12-story tower planned for the under-development Block 10 West Office Park might end up hiding the renovations underway on the former Great Indoors, which you can see peeking out in the distance in the rendering above. Real Estate Bisnow’s Catie Dixon reports that Hicks Ventures is building out the out-of-business big box into a 2-story, 245,000-sq.-ft. spec office building. Plans include the construction of a 5-level parking garage behind the new building and a 6-level garage between it and this proposed I-10-facing tower.

Here’s an aerial view of the park and its neighbors:

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01/11/10 3:11pm

The city’s official new “Welcome to Houston” sign for travelers approaching from the east west was moved further west to Brookshire over the weekend, as the ginormous new Rooms To Go Super Center facing the Katy Freeway opened for business. The distribution center and store stretch a mere 1,600 ft. along the I-10 frontage road, directly across from the Igloo plant and almost 6 miles west of the Katy Mills Mall. The entire facility takes up more than 1,000,000 sq. ft. A quick partial drive-by view:

Photos: Pankaj (top) and JimmyxBoi (bottom)

04/13/09 1:03pm

MANAGING THE NEW KATY FREEWAY MANAGED LANES Those new center sorta-HOV lanes on the new Katy Freeway will go toll starting this weekend. Here’s a little primer to help you make intelligent purchase decisions at 65 mph or more: “The lanes will now be open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Outside of rush hours, they’re a toll road: every car, regardless of how many people are in it, pays $1.10 to go the full length of the lanes. During rush hour, in the rush hour direction, single occupant cars pay between $2.00 and $4.00 and 2+ carpools are free. Those rates will need to be adjusted if the lanes are too popular, because HCTRA (who operates the lanes) has promised METRO (who gave up the HOV lane to make room for them) that buses will keep moving at full speed. Single occupant vehicles and carpools will be sorted out by a three-lane toll plaza: left lane for carpools, right two lanes for SOVs.” [Intermodality; details]

02/06/09 12:19pm

KATY FREEWAY REPORT “Has anyone else noticed that traffic on I-10 is still not great? I have a ‘reverse’ commute on I-10 every day. Before the expansion traffic was fine inside the loop outbound in the morning, slow outside the loop. Inbound in the evening it was slow outside the loop, fine inside, except near the 10-45 interchange. Now things are much smoother outbound, no delay at all. Inbound, however, is a nightmare. Traffic comes to nearly a complete stop approaching the 10-45 interchange, and is usually very slow all the way back to Shepherd / Durham. Observing the ‘regular’ commuters across the median, things are of course worse. In the mornings the backup to get onto the loop or through the 10-45 interchange is insane, it’s bad in the evenings as well.” [NeoHouston]

03/24/08 11:25pm

Rendering of Proposed Hines Office Building Adjacent to First Baptist Church, Houston

A reader directs our attention to this proposed 16-story office building facing the south side of the Katy Freeway, just outside the Loop — on the current site of a Houston’s First Baptist Church parking lot.

Hines plans to build the office building and an 11-level, 1,500-car parking garage on the lot, which the developer would lease from the church. The congregation has already voted to authorize church representatives to finalize and sign a 99-year ground lease for the property.

The garage would help solve the church’s chronic parking problems: According to the HFBC website, 300 cars currently park off-site on weekends. With the Hines development, the church would lose the 480 spaces in the lot now available during the week, but gain 1,500 spaces for church use on weekends and after office hours.

Below the fold, lots more images of the proposed office building and garage on HFBC property.

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