07/15/15 4:30pm

Memorial City, Houston

From high atop its I-10-side rooftop robo-pineapple, the powers-that-be at MetroNational have heard of your desires to see a timelapse video illustrating the monstrous growth of Memorial City, just as it prepares to spill north across the mighty 30-lane Katy Fwy. Well, the company’s marketing department has, at least. And has bestowed upon Swamplot readers the next-best thing: the tetraptych pictured above, featuring aerial shots dating back almost 50 years and extending to . . . 4 years ago.

But what’s happened since? Edge City gotta keep up with the times! It now stands out above the expanse of west Houston sprawl in blazing color:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Big, Bigger, Biggiest Yet
07/07/15 4:30pm

Proposed Cemex Headquarters Building, 10100 Katy Fwy., Spring Branch, Houston

Developer MetroNational is calling the 6-story Energy Corridor District office building and parking garage it officially announced today “the first step in expanding Memorial City north of I-10.” The 240,000-sq.-ft. structure planned for 10100 Katy Fwy. will house 15,000 sq. ft. of retail space on its ground floor — but the rendering of the building designed by Powers Brown Architecture sent out by the company does make the development look like an outpost in an even more suburban office park. As Swamplot reported last week, Mexican building-materials company Cemex will be leasing 80,000 sq. ft. in the complex for its U.S. headquarters.

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

New Cemex HQ
07/01/15 11:45am

1055 Gessner Rd., Energy Gateway District, Spring Branch, Houston

MetroNational appears to have concrete plans for the new development it’s putting together for the 24-acre corner of Gessner Rd. and the Katy Fwy. feeder directly across I-10 from the company’s distinctive headquarters: It’s already signed up building materials company Cemex USA to become the lead tenant in a new office building intended for a portion of the site, a source tells Swamplot. The company will be leasing around 80,000 sq. ft. of space in the Energy Gateway District.

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

06/30/15 11:15am

1055 Gessner Rd., Energy Gateway District, Spring Branch, Houston

What looks to be the last structure standing in the way of MetroNational’s hush-hush Energy Gateway District project across I-10 from its headquarters is now ready for its exit. The 32-year-old PoMo style strip center at 1055 Gessner Rd., which formerly housed an HPD substation, Terrace Limousine, and the Asiana Garden restaurant, appears fenced off and ready for demolition in this photo sent to Swamplot by a reader. The center stands at the far northern end of the 24-acre property, which — following the city’s approval of a variance request last month — will be bisected by the extension of Mathewson Ln. to Gessner Rd. from Conrad Sauer Rd.

Photo: Bayan Raji

Going Soon
05/13/15 1:30pm

Conrad Sauer Detention Basin, Energy Gateway District, Spring Branch, Houston

Here’s a purty watercolor-filtered drawing that shows how a portion of the concrete-lined Conrad Sauer Detention Basin extending north from the I-10 feeder road between Gessner and Conrad Sauer Dr. is supposed to look after MetroNational and TIRZ 17 upgrade it into a grassy, bike-lane-crossed area with park space that improves on its current ditch functions. It sits directly across the little ol’ Katy Fwy. from MetroNational’s ‘Death Star‘ HQ; the normally secretive company reveals a tiny bit about its plans for the area around the detention basin, lining the northwest corner of Gessner and the outbound I-10 feeder, in a variance application that’s scheduled to be discussed and possibly voted on in a planning commission meeting this Thursday.

MetroNational is calling the cleared 24-acre site (shown below) the Energy Gateway District.

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

From the Death Star to You
01/13/15 3:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WEST HOUSTON’S PLAN FOR SUBURBAN DOMINATION Humpty Dumpty Houston“Houston does not have a centralized downtown district. After Gerry Hines built the Galleria, the city fractured into numerous regional shopping centers and has remained decentralized since. Perhaps Houston functions better this way. Humpty Dumpty fell off the wall and all the King’s men cannot put Humpty Dumpty back together again. MetroNational and Midway Cos. are determined to reconstruct Houston with a new centralized downtown district in CityCentre. They envision Memorial Drive and Gessner as commercial 8-lane thoroughfares. They envision the corridor of residential neighborhoods between the Katy Freeeway and Memorial Drive as one big mega shopping center, an expansion of Memorial City that stretches on for miles. They envision deed restricted neighborhoods of Walnut Bend and Briargrove Park as office parks. Don’t believe me? Just go to the West Houston Association website and click on 2050 map. They are serious about remapping Houston. And what are they going to do with all the storm water run-off from these commercial buildings? They are going to channel it into Buffalo Bayou, of course. To do this they have to deforest the bayou and widen and deepen and concrete it. They are determined to do it. And where are they going to get the money to do this? Out of TIRZ 17 and MetroNational Bank.” [Memorial Resident, commenting on Comment of the Day: Houston’s Westward Tilt] Illustration: Lulu

11/08/13 10:00am

BALLY’S I-10 SHOPPING CENTER TO BE BLASTED AWAY FOR NEW OFFICE TOWER MetroNational has immediate plans to tear down this 2-story 12-year-old former Bally Fitness Shopping Center on a 3.44-acre site facing the I-10 feeder at the northeast corner of the Memorial City Mall — and replace it with some sort of new office tower, Real Estate Bisnow‘s Catie Dixon reports. The health club (along with all 9 other Houston Bally’s locations) was taken over by Blast Fitness last year — and shut down entirely this spring. As of the end of last week, all remaining tenants in the building at 9801 Katy Fwy. have closed up shop as well. MetroNational (as usual) wouldn’t comment on plans for the site half a mile east of its headquarters, but Dixon gets the scoop from the stores themselves: Le Peep plans to be gone from the site only for 14 to 16 months, however; it’s been promised a ground-floor retail space in the new building. T.N. Tailor Alterations also says it has a spot in the new development; no word on the Starbucks. [Real Estate Bisnow] Photo of Bally Total Fitness at 9801 Katy Fwy.: MetroNational

10/17/11 1:56pm

What large-scale construction project is that about to go up on the north side of the Katy Freeway opposite the 35-story spike-headed Memorial Hermann Tower, a reader wants to know. A sign for MetroNational contractor Anslow Bryant recently went up on the Gessner Rd. site, which was until last year the home of the Gessner Place Shopping Center and Korean grocery store Komart. “It appears that a portion of it (the immediate corner) has been fenced off & the construction signs have gone up,” asks the reader, who also sent in these photos. “My guess is whatever goes here will be vertical.”

A bit east of the tower, and on the opposite side of I-10, Anslow Bryant is currently constructing a 14-story tower for future MetroNational tenant Nexen Petroleum.

Photos: Swamplot inbox

08/09/10 3:10pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: SECRETS OF THE METRONATIONAL DEATH STAR — REVEALED! “Could this be an air traffic control tower for getting the Chemtrail plane patterns accurately placed in skies… for desired weather pattern chemical fallouts… aluminum oxide, barium oxide and ethylene dibromide… very harmful to us. No one is allowed to go to these top five floors all owned by MetroNational Bank (who own the whole building plus more). The rest of the floors 28 and under are doctors offices and hospital. I thought that was a bit odd. It just looks so much like an air traffic control tower… but with no airport near-by… then one must ask…”what in the air.. are they controlling… if not planes landing?” Possibly Chemtrials floating? I invite any comments. Please research Chemtrails first. I am not a conspiracy theory person nor do I believe in UFO’s, ghosts, or [Morgellons] disease.” [CLD, commenting on There Will Be No Tours of the Death Star, and Other Details About the Hospital in the Belly of the Memorial Hermann Tower] Photo: Tony Sava

06/25/10 7:07pm

Got a question about something going on in your neighborhood you’d like Swamplot to answer? Sorry, we can’t help you. But if you ask real nice and include a photo or 2 with your request, maybe the Swamplot Street Sleuths can! Who are they? Other readers, just like you, ready to demonstrate their mad skillz in hunting down stuff like this:

Not sure the “answers” readers provided for this week’s Street Sleuths feature were satisfying enough to merit a summary post, but it’s nice at least to have another excuse to run Jason Tinder’s dramatic photo showing the end of the Komart Marketplace. Here’s what we, uh, “learned”:

  • Spring Branch: So yes, Tinder now does have some “clues” that might help him figure out what’s going on with the Gessner Place Shopping Center on the west side of Gessner just north of I-10, and the remains of Komart. The property is owned by MetroNational, but any redevelopment schemes the company is hatching from its Death Star overlook remain a mystery. Harmonica adds another tidbit to the Memorial City Mall area rumor mill:

    I also understand that they own the center on the other side of Kingsride from the professional building on the South side of 10 and have not been renewing leases.

    In this photo, the Death Star surveys its vanquished foe:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

11/30/09 10:17pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: COMMODITY, FIRMNESS, AND NOTORIETY “The design can’t possibly be that bad. People are talking about it. When was the last time anybody remarked on the designs of Energy Tower III or Energy Crossing II?” [TheNiche, commenting on There Will Be No Tours of the Death Star, and Other Details About the Hospital in the Belly of the Memorial Hermann Tower]

11/30/09 9:55am

Hospital executive Adam Lane tells the Houston Business Journal‘s Jennifer Dawson that the easiest patients to move into the new Memorial Hermann Tower on I-10 will be . . . the babies, “because they don’t know where they’re going.”

Also, it sounds like some of the interiors might prove a little disorienting for suburban kids:

A hospital floor dedicated to children has been elaborately designed as a town center. The hallway is made to look like a street with curbs, grass and storefronts.

Fortunately, more familiar surroundings will be nearby: the building is connected by skybridge to the Memorial City Mall.

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY