04/13/16 12:30pm

Drew at Helena streets, Midtown, Houston, 77006

Here’s the current scene along the north side of Drew St., where the acre-plus of emptied land previously planned for development as the Pearl on Helena now hosts a Morgan Group for sale sign. The block bounded by Helena, Drew, Albany, and Dennis streets was marked a few years back as another addition to Morgan’s string of Pearl midrises; the Helena site’s application went dark during the variance request process in mid-20014, but the land was cleared of its former hospital and mansion occupants near the end of that year.

Morgan Group currently has a Pearl in Greenway Plaza, with another getting polished up on Washington Ave near T.C. Jester; a planned Pearl on Smith (at the site of the former Social Security office right across Smith St. from the Pearl on Midtown) appeared to have been removed from the company’s immediate focus in 2014, only to resurface in renderings the following year as part of an apartment-midrise-grocery-store complex containing a Whole Foods.

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New Treatment Plan in Midtown
03/28/16 11:00am

Midtown Park Site Plan, Early 2015, Midtown, Houston, 77006

Some permits came through last week for the apartment-straddling park planned for the Midtown Superblock (the long and mostly-long-vacant 6-acre stretch between McGowen and Anita on the west side of Main St.). Freshly permitted structures on the docket include a 4,297-sq.-ft. pavilion, a ticket canopy, and a bathroom building. Broader sitework has also been given the go-ahead, as has a foot bridge (possibly over the wetland area previously mentioned in announcements for the project).

The spotlight-heavy rendering above shows the park from Anita St., looking north at the ghostly form of the Camden McGowen Station apartments currently on their way up in the middle of the site. The park’s largest greenspace and lawn will spread out atop the underground parking garage that’s wrapping up, once it’s fully underground. HAIF user hindesky snapped a recent photo of the burial site, also showing the Camden building starting to rise in the background to the north under the guidance of the remaining crane:

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Midtown Superblock
03/23/16 10:30am

TABC Notice at 1916 Baldwin St., Midtown, Houston, 77002

A notice of a TABC application, requesting permission from the agency to serve mixed drinks and stay up late, is now up by a door of the 1930s house-turned-office-building at 1916 Baldwin St. The 2-story home, which was remodeled as office spaces in the early 2000s, is currently listed as the home of D’Olive Law Firm, the Texas Passport Center and Bibby, McWilliams, & Kearney, among the latest in a string of law-minded businesses to inhabit the space 1 block north of Gray St.

The bar-to-be sits between the condos at 207 Pierce St. and the RISE Lofts and Edge condo complexes across Baldwin; the Camden City Centre apartments hedge in the parking lot from the north. The space is also just across Pierce St. from Komodo Pub, another house-gone-bar tucked back a block from the restaurant-filled stretch of Gray to the south.  The building changed hands in early January; the TABC permit notice, naming Basilio Investments as instigator, is hanging to the right of that side entrance visible left of the oak tree nearest to the parking lot — here’s a closer look:

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Taking the Bar on Baldwin
03/11/16 4:00pm

Obama Mural, Travis St. and West Alabama, Midtown, Houston

The president has just wrapped up his keynote speech at hippie-turned-techie-festival SXSW in Austin — but he’s been sighted all over the place today, including at the oft-redecorated corner of Alabama and Travis streets across the street from the Breakfast Klub. The newest mural was finished up last week in the recently whitewashed spot that has hosted various incarnations of Obama’s likeness over the last few years (and been vandalized several times).

Obama was also photographed earlier this afternoon at a Torchy’s Tacos in South Austin, where he reportedly ordered a Democrat, a Republican, and an Independent before heading back to the motorcade:

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On the Trail
03/04/16 1:00pm

Whitewashed Obama Mural, Travis St. and West Alabama, Midtown, HoustonNew Reginald Adams' Mural of President Obama, Travis St. and West Alabama, Midtown, HoustonAs polling dates roll through the country, the oft-transformed mural outside of the former Obama campaign headquarters in Midtown has been spotted sporting a fresh coat of background white. Allyn West, who first noticed the political banner’s changed stripes on Super Tuesday, sends this Disillusioned Thursday snapshot of the now-blanked wall. So far, the site has featured various incarnations of Obama: in the sky-gazing HOPE poster from Shephard Fairey, in a sunglassed hip-with-the-kids pose, and most recently in the above star-spangled baby-on-banner scene that first appeared in 2013.

The past murals have been the subject of political displeasure for at least one person, judging by 2 previous acts of similarly-angled paint vandalism:

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State of the Mural
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:

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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Pearl on Smith on Elgin