08/05/14 11:00am

Demolition of 2107 Milam St., Midtown, Houston

The vacant 2-story building at 2107 Milam St. in Midtown, which long ago was home to a President Health Club — but is likely better remembered as a blank-faced, boarded-up building with a for-sale sign on its corner — is being smashed to bits this morning. A reader sends in this view of the scene at Milam and West Gray St. taken from the Metro HQ building at 1900 Main St. The 14,975-sq.-ft. soon-to-be empty lot is next door to Central Square Plaza (at left in the photo), which is currently undergoing renovations. County records show a company called Hobby Place LLC purchased the smaller property in April.

Photo: Swamplot inbox

2107 Milam
07/14/14 11:00am

THERE SHALL BE NO NET LOSS OF SUGAR ON GRAY ST. IN MIDTOWN Former Sweet Lola Yogurt Shop, 304 Gray St., Midtown, HoustonTop Chef: Just Desserts contestant and $53,580 Kickstarter winner Rebecca Masson has finally announced the exact Midtown location of the Fluff Bake Bar storefront she’s been working on since late last year, on account of she just signed a lease last week: It’s set to go in place of the shuttered Sweet Lola Yogurt Bar, (pictured) which ended its reign at 304 Gray St. in Midtown last September. The spot is one of the city’s relatively small number of to-the-sidewalk retail spaces with actual apartments above. Downstairs, customers will be able to dig into Fluff’s Chocolate Stout Syllabub, risotto fritters with gingered blueberries, or chocolate beet cake with cream cheese ice cream — along with beer and wine — but give her another 3 or 4 months to build out the space before you come knocking, please. [Food Chronicles; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Bluebirds and Butterflies

07/07/14 1:00pm

Central Square Plaza Building, 2100 Travis St., Midtown, Houston

Central Square Plaza Building, 2100 Travis St., Midtown, HoustonThere’s been a bit of action in the ongoing demo-and-rehab of the long-vacant Central Square Plaza complex at 2100 Travis St. in Midtown. Roving photographer Marc Longoria catches the shot from the building’s backside above, showing where you can now see through portions of the 14-story complex, which was originally developed by Houston oil tycoon Glenn McCarthy (of Shamrock Hotel fame) and designed by architects Lars Bang and Lucian Hood. And from the Twitter account of the building’s owner, Claremont Property Company, this morning comes the scene portrayed at left, showing crane work on the north-facing Gray St. side of the building.

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Office Redo Doings
07/01/14 11:45am

Damage to Search Homeless Services Building, 2505 Fannin St., Midtown, Houston

Damage to Search Homeless Services Building, 2505 Fannin St., Midtown, HoustonIt’s the kind of façade mangling that could only happen to a fifties-mod office building: A reader sends pics showing damage to the front of the 1959-vintage Search Homeless Services headquarters at 2505 Fannin St. just north of McGowen in Midtown in the aftermath of last month’s vehicle-meets-building drive-up accident. The collision twisted one of the embedded steel columns along the sidewalk into a nonprofit-organization-logo-worthy S shape. Where’d the extra steel come from to allow that to happen? Look up, and you’ll see:

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A Unique Fifties Fender Bender
05/15/14 3:15pm

HCC IS PLANNING A STUDENT DORM BUILDING TOO, AT ALABAMA AND ALMEDA 1625 Alabama St., Midtown, Houston, and Tobin Lofts, San AntonioA report from Houston Community College says the commuter school is “in the early stages of planning” its own new dorm complex on the 6 acres of land it bought late last year at the northeast corner of Alabama and Almeda, just southeast of the system’s central campus. The only building currently on the site is the trashed but still brightly painted 107-year-old house at 1625 Alabama St. (pictured at top left) that most recently served as a temporary satellite space for DiverseWorks. The dorms, which would include first-floor retail space and a parking garage, would be modeled after the Tobin Lofts at Alamo Colleges’ San Antonio College in San Antonio (bottom photo). They’d be built and leased out by a private company “until the business makes a predetermined return on its investment,” according to the report. “After approximately seven years, the complex would be given to HCC to own and manage from then on.” [The Chalkboard] Photos: HCC (top); Tobin Lofts (bottom)

05/13/14 4:45pm

AN APARTMENT DEVELOPER’S NEW MIDTOWN PEARLS ARE MISSING Site of Proposed Pearl on Smith, 3100 Smith St., and Pearl on Helena, 105 Drew St., Midtown, HoustonThe Morgan Group’s Pearl Midtown apartment building is still under construction at the corner of Elgin and Smith streets in Midtown, but a couple of follow-on projects have recently drifted away from the process for gaining city approval — for now, at least. Signs announcing a variance request for the Pearl on Smith went up last month in front of the 1940 building at 3100 Smith St. that used to house the Social Security Administration’s offices (pictured at top), across the street from the Pearl Midtown. And on the block surrounded by Helena, Dennis, Albany, and Drew, a sign is still up for a variance request to allow construction of the Pearl on Helena. On that block is the building that until last fall housed the Kindred Hospital Midtown (bottom photo) — along with this 1930 mansion. Applications for both projects showed similar 5-story apartment complexes built around a small courtyard on top of 2 garage levels. But both projects have now gone quiet in the city’s tracking system. The variance application for the Pearl on Smith was withdrawn before its scheduled April 17th hearing. And the Pearl on Helena is listed as an “inactive application” in the city database, even though it was originally scheduled for a hearing on the same date. Photos: O’Connor & Associates (3100 Smith St.); Swamplot inbox (Kindred Hospital)

05/05/14 12:30pm

Construction of Broadstone Midtown Phase II, Milam at Alabama St., Midtown, Houston

Alliance Residential hasn’t even finished construction on the 203-unit Broadstone apartment complex at 3800 Main, on the southwest corner of Main St. and Alabama in Midtown — but already equipment crews are tearing up a neighboring 1.03-acre lot across Travis St. for a second phase of the development. Last week a Swamplot reader sent in this photo of the scene, looking east from Milam St. south of Alabama, showing earthwork on the vacant lot, for a Broadstone Midtown Phase II. The 3800 Main building is under construction in the background; the Spur is directly behind the camera.

Photo: Swamplot inbox

Broadstone Midtown Part Deux
05/02/14 11:00am

Rendering of MATCH from Main St. and Holman, 3400 Main St., Midtown, Houston

Having matched the $20 million it decided it needed before beginning building its full-block Main St. arts complex, the organizers behind MATCH (the strikingly nicknamed Midtown Arts & Theater Center Houston) have decided to kick off construction work after an on-site event next Wednesday. The $25 million shared facility for more than a dozen independent arts groups (it was originally called the Independent Arts Collaborative) will go up on the 3400 block of Main St., also known as the former parking lot for the city’s former code enforcement building on the next block toward Downtown. The new rendering above of the design by San Antonio’s Lake Flato and Houston’s Studio RED shows the view from Main St. and Holman, looking north.

Here’s a fly-through in and around the main breezeway corridor of the 59,000-sq.-ft. collection of theaters and galleries and plazas and office spaces, starting from the same corner:

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Could Use $5 Million More
03/17/14 2:30pm

Intersections with Security Cameras, Bagby St., Midtown, Houston

Intersections with Security Cameras, Bagby St., Midtown, HoustonA sharp-eyed reader has spotted what appear to be security cameras popping up on traffic signals at intersections in Midtown over the last couple of weeks. “I assume this is an extension of the downtown camera system that was announced in December,” notes the camera-watcher, who submitted these uh, surveillance photos of the installations at Gray and Bagby (top) and Webster and Bagby in front of the Capital One bank branch (above right). “They appear to be spreading south. Currently I see them on Gray and Webster. The intersections at Bagby got 2 cameras each. Microwave backhaul antennas are visible in the photos.”

Photos: Swamplot inbox

It’s Springtime for Surveillance
03/07/14 5:15pm

Former City of Houston Code Enforcement Building, 3300 Main St., Midtown, Houston

Former City of Houston Code Enforcement Building, 3300 Main St., Midtown, HoustonNotice anything different about the vacant former city code-enforcement building at 3300 Main St. lately? Well, go around to the Travis St. side (at left) and you’ll see it: A sign indicating the property is for sale went up there quietly last month. So quietly, in fact, that there doesn’t appear to be any information about the sale on the website of the building’s owner, the Midtown Redevelopment Authority, which purchased the full-block property from the city in a curious deal 3 years ago for $5 million, and — as a public entity — isn’t required to pay any property taxes on it. “Everything real estate wise that Midtown does is very hush hush,” notes a reader who brought the sale to Swamplot’s attention.

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Hey, Pssssst!
03/07/14 11:15am

THE MIDTOWN GARDEN PLOT THAT WENT FOR JUST SHORT OF A MILLION Midtown Community Garden, Baldwin and Drew St., Midtown, HoustonCraig Hlavaty’s writeup on the abrupt closing of the Midtown Community Garden has a few additional details about the fate of the 3-and-a-half-year-old garden space at the corner of Baldwin and Drew, in amongst his chronicling of the efforts of member gardeners to yank out their tubers before the property was shuttered: The 13,000-sq.-ft. vacant-but-for-vegetables lot that Swamplot reported on earlier in the week was sold to developer Urban Living for $975,000. (On MLS, the asking price was $799,000.) The company plans to build townhomes on the site. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Update, 11:30 am: According to this later version ($) of the story, 2 garden-friendly potential buyers of the property who submitted offers were outbid. Photo: Swamplot inbox

03/06/14 4:45pm

View of Midtown from Downtown, Including Site of Proposed Alexan Midtown, Main St. at Hadley, Midtown, Houston

Some earth-moving work has begun on the half-block surrounded by Main St., Hadley, and Travis, where a new red-colored 7-story apartment block called the Alexan Midtown is about to go up on land once reserved for a Houston Fire Museum expansion. “Not exactly the January groundbreaking we were expecting, but I’m glad it is finally happening,” writes the photographer who sent in this aerial view from the north. The 1.44-acre apartment site is the naked dirt portion smack dab in the center of the photo, on the near side of parking lot. Here’s a zoomed-in view:

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Looking Down on Midtown
03/05/14 11:00am

Midtown Community Garden, 2720 Baldwin at Drew St., Midtown, Houston

The barbecue scheduled for this coming Sunday at the Midtown Community Garden at Drew and Baldwin has been canceled, along with all attendant fruit and vegetable growth. On account of: The property’s been sold. Harvest time will have to be quick: A for-sale sign  quietly appeared early last month outside the 13,000-sq.-ft. green space, which had been operating as an allotment garden for 3 years. “Just as quickly,” a source tells Swamplot, a SOLD placard was slapped on it. The listing, with an asking price set at $799K, described the property tersely as an “amazing opportunity.” A buyer has now claimed it.

How much notice would the new owner give the gardeners? Late yesterday afternoon, members of the gardening collective received an abrupt email from the organization’s president announcing that — by request of the new owner — everyone will need to get out, by the scheduled closing date. That’s tomorrow, March 6th.

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Garden Turnover