12/17/15 11:30am

FUTURE PAST-ORIENTED COFFEE SHOP TOPS THE CITY’S LIST OF NEW HISTORIC LANDMARKS former Gulf Oil Filling Station, 3709 La Branch, Midtown, Houston, 77004Among the structures designated as historic landmarks by the City yesterday: an abandoned gas station at 3709 La Branch St. in Midtown. The interior of the 1925 Gulf Oil filling station has been unemployed for the past 30 years, though the exterior has occasionally taken gigs as a canvas for grafitti artists. The structure, which is now under protection in perpetuity, will become Retrospect Coffee Bar in coming months, as part of the larger Almeda Yards development planned for the area. The shop will offer local coffee and sweets, and will attempt to preserve the structure’s original feel. [Paper City] Photo: City of Houston

12/16/15 3:45pm

 3809 Main St, Midtown, Houston, 77002
The sobriety services nonprofit formerly known as The Men’s Center is demolishing two buildings this week at 3805 and 3809 Main (pictured above), just south of Alabama St. Construction of the $12-million facility that will replace the 1940s structures is expected to be completed in 2017, on the same site at 3809 Main. In the interim, the organization (now calling itself ReCenter after adapting its programs this past summer to include women) will continue to serve food and offer sobriety meetings out of a nearby former convenience store at W. Alabama and Fannin.

The new building, designed by BRAVE architecture, is planned for the spot at 3809 Main:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

ReCentering on Main St.
12/03/15 9:15am

Leon's Lounge, 1006 McGowen St., Midtown, Houston

Leon’s Lounge is back in business: following an abrupt January shutdown and months of rustling behind closed doors, the undisputed reigning oldest bar in Houston (comma, sorta-continuously-operating-under-the-sameish-name, comma, that-was-not-a-restaurant-or-ice-house-first) is once again serving drinks beneath those signature chandeliers. Leon’s closed in January with the colorful severance of the leasing relationship between building owner Scarlett Yarborough (daughter of Leon himself) and then-operator Pete Mitchell (proprietor of Under The Volcano on Richmond Bissonnet), including the swift dismantling of the outdoor patio.

A new patio is now in place, and service resumed following the bar’s soft opening in the weeks before Halloween. An official Grand Reopening under new operators Duane Bradley and Jim DeFoyd (joint owners of The Davenport, purveyor of “quality lounging” on Richmond just off Shepherd) took place last Saturday. While many of Leon’s familiar features remain intact following this round of renovations, the updated interior may no longer qualify the longtime Midtown dive for full dive status.

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Back To Lounging Around
07/08/15 12:15pm

Sign Advertising 3003 Louisiana, 3003 Louisiana St., Midtown, Houston

Here’s the sign that went up at the southwest corner of Anita and Milam in Midtown late last month — at the northern end of the block where the empty hull of Van Loc still sits, reminding you of bún gone by. It’s advertising a 16-story office tower on the full block, with 3 separate retail spaces on the ground floor and a 6-level parking garage above. Senterra Real Estate Group’s website for 3003 Louisiana first appeared online last October — just as the Midtown Vietnamese restaurant was closing up shop. The view shown in the rendering is taken from Anita St., to show off the north-facing Downtown views available from the structure’s 9 office floors.

Photo: Marco Hernandez

3003 Louisiana
05/29/15 10:30am

MIDTOWN SUPERBLOCK IN ITS FLOODED MUDPIT PHASE So as not to sully the footwear, yesterday’s groundbreaking ceremony for a park, underground parking garage, apartments, another smaller park, and a restaurant space or 2 on the Midtown Superblock was staged on a small imported pile of dry dirt next to a driveway facing Anita St., far from the giant holes filled with stormwater and mud that now take up much of the 6-acre site between Travis and Main St. south of McGowen. Here’s your aerial view of the scene. [Previously on Swamplot] Video: Adam Brackman

05/22/15 3:30pm

Parking Garage, Mix at Midtown, Milam St. at Elgin St., Midtown, Houston

Parking Garage, Mix at Midtown, Milam St. at Elgin St., Midtown, HoustonThe parking garage behind the Mix at Midtown retail center between Louisiana and Milam south of Elgin St. is still in operation after last week’s fire, but photos sent to Swamplot yesterday from the scene show that the steel 3-level structure behind 24 Hour Fitness, Holley’s Seafood Restaurant, Piola, and other businesses facing Milam St. isn’t operating at capacity. At least a dozen parking spaces on the middle and top level are blocked off, noted as unsafe because of fire damage to the structure:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Stand Back
05/18/15 3:00pm

THE GREATEST CONCENTRATION OF NEW HOUSTON APARTMENTS IS IN AND AROUND MONTROSE Rendering of Proposed Encore CC&G Apartments, 1341 Castle Ct., Montrose, HoustonThe Susanne, the Lofts at Mid Main, 3400 Montrose, Camden McGowen Station, The Carter, Broadstone Skyline, The Southmore, Alexan Midtown, Encore CC&G (pictured here), the Axis, and the DLC at Midtown. That’s Catie Dixon’s list of 11 multifamily complexes with more than 200 units each now going up (or about to). Together, they add up to 3,195 new apartments — but a bunch of smaller buildings brings the total number of new apartments now scheduled to debut this year and next in Montrose, Midtown, and the Museum District to just under 4,400, she calculates: “That’s almost one-third of multifamily development underway in Harris County, PMRG director of research Ariel Guerrero tells us.” [Real Estate Bisnow] Rendering of Encore CC&G apartments: Encore Enterprises

05/15/15 2:30pm

Fire at Mix at Midtown Parking Garage, Elgin St. at Milam St., Midtown, Houston

Click2Houston is now reporting that the garage at Elgin and Milam streets behind the 24 Hour Fitness at 3201 Louisiana St. “sustained heavy structural damage” after 3 cars parked inside caught on fire this morning. The confusing sounds of popping tires had some bystanders running for cover as flames were blazing, a reader tells Swamplot; with the fire out now, police are on site, along with 3 fire marshal Priuses now parked along Milam.

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

The Fire Mix at Midtown
05/13/15 2:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY RUNNER-UP: THE SCREWBALL MIDTOWN GENTRIFICATION COMEDY YOU’VE BEEN WAITING TO SEE Drive-In Movie“The whole fooders trying to gentrify the post-grad frats out of midtown would be a good subject for a Vince Vaughn movie. The frats won’t take loss of their party town laying down. There will be hijinks before the eventual migration of the frat houses to EaDo.” [Houstonian, commenting on New Midtown Whole Foods Market Will Stand Apartments on Its Head, Shut Down a Street, Become Center of Universe] Illustration: Lulu

05/08/15 3:30pm

Rendering of Proposed Whole Foods Market in Pearl on Smith Apartments, 3100 Smith St. at Elgin, Midtown, Houston

Now we know why the Morgan Group, the developer that applied for a variance last year to allow for a Pearl on Smith apartment complex to fit onto the block surrounded by Elgin, Smith, Brazos, and Rosalie streets, later withdrew the request: To expand the project so that it could include a 40,000-sq.-ft. Whole Foods Market on its ground floor. And here’s a rendering of the design of the whole thing by Houston’s Ziegler Cooper Architects.

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Pearl on Smith on Elgin
05/08/15 11:00am

Sam Houston Station, 1500 Hadley St., Midtown, Houston

Barbara Jordan Post Office, 401 Franklin St., Downtown HoustonOne advantage of tearing down the Pierce Elevated: Doing so would bolster the argument that the station that’s about to take over as Houston’s central post office — after the Barbara Jordan Post Office closes later this month — should be considered a part of Downtown. For now, though, Sam Houston Station (pictured at top) is pretty clearly in Midtown, at the corner of Hadley and LaBranch streets, across the street from the former VA building that now houses the La Branch Child Development Center. The address is 1500 Hadley St., and the Zip Code is still 77002, though USPS officials for some reason have confusingly labeled it 77005 in several recent notices. 77001 boxholders exiled from their longtime home at 401 Franklin St. Downtown (pictured directly above) took up residence here at the beginning of the month:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

1500 Hadley St.
05/07/15 2:45pm

3100 Smith St., Midtown, Houston

What better encapsulation of the recent trajectory of Midtown could you find than today’s news that Whole Foods Market plans to build a new 40,000-sq.-ft. store on the former site of the city’s Social Security Office (pictured above) at 3100 Smith St. in Midtown?

Well, a few details to the story of the ramshackle block surrounded by Smith, Brazos, Elgin, and Rosalie give it even more color as a Houston gentrification parable: Noting, for example, that the former government office, across the street from a couple of bars, had been shuttered by the feds a couple years ago. Or that plans for a Morgan Group apartment complex on the same site were submitted to the city and then abandoned sometime last year. (It would have been called the Pearl on Smith.) Also: When it opens at the end of 2017, Whole Foods Market’s new Midtown location may turn out not to be a Whole Foods Market. The company says it’s developing an unnamed “sister chain” of smaller stores targeting younger buyers, but did not indicate whether the Midtown Houston store would be part of it.

Photo: O’Connor & Associates

The Midtown Story in a Nutshell
05/04/15 10:45am

Construction of Underground Parking Garage, Midtown Superblock, McGowen at Main St., Midtown, Houston

Other apartment developers have been rushing to complete their latest construction projects. But not Camden Property Trust. Not only has the company put 2 Downtown projects on hold, CEO Ric Campo tells the Houston Business Journal‘s Paul Takahashi, it’s also dawdling as best it can on its planned 8-story, 315-unit apartment complex on the Midtown Superblock.

Writes Takahashi: “Camden has deliberately slowed work on Camden McGowen Station in hopes that construction costs will come down, Campo said. Camden plans to begin vertical construction on the apartment this fall, he said. ‘We’re going really slow on our buyout on the job,’ Campo said. ‘Hopefully we’ll be in a favorable pricing later this fall.’”

Photo of Midtown Superblock, between Main and Travis, south of McGowen: Adam Brackman

Camden McGowen Station
04/23/15 5:30pm

Proposed Changes to I-45, I-10, and I-69, Houston

There’s so much to say and gawk at in the latest “proposed recommended alternatives” for reshaping I-45 now being shopped around by TxDOT and a host of freeway-happy consultants — enough for a fourth round of public meetings scheduled for tonight and next week, plus hours of extra-curricular speculation. The plans encompass dramatic changes to the North Freeway all the way from Beltway 8 to a new split adjacent to the Third Ward, including eye-opening widenings, all sorts of exciting tunnels and high-flying overpasses, a slew of spaghetti-like interchanges, and — the pièce de résistance — the wholesale give-up of I-45’s current L-shaped wrap around Downtown, including the Pierce Elevated.

These 5 images from our highway overlords’ exciting imagined future sum it up best:

1. The X-ing-out of the Pierce Elevated (diagrammed above). If the elevated portion of I-45 along the path of Pierce St. goes away, how will anyone be able to tell where Downtown ends and Midtown begins? Don’t worry, a few proposals are being shopped around to turn a de-automobiled structure into a High Line—like public park or bikeway. (Though much bigger, ′cuz Houston.)

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Freeway Frenzy!
04/14/15 3:15pm

2207-austin

2207-austin-51

In Midtown, a 2003 townhome in one of the neighborhood’s pioneer gated-off blocks appears to be a step up — actually, several steps up, particularly from the dual entry threads of treads (top). Interior staircases lead to levels 3 and 4. The property last changed hands in 2005, at $260K, and asks $350K in the listing posted last week. Located at the north end of Midtown, the home faces west (and east) a block or 2 south of the Pierce Elevated. Access to Hwy. 288 on the cross street is a straight shot east.

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Take Flight