07/12/16 1:30pm

Former City of Houston Code Enforcement Building, 3300 Main St., Midtown, Houston, 77002

The 1967 occupant of 3300 Main St., which previously housed the city code enforcement office, is currently getting its asbestos removed in anticipation of its impending demolition, according to a reader involved in the work. The structure and its parking lot grounds were bought from the city in 2011 by the Midtown Redevelopment Authority, who started trying to sell it in 2014; PM Realty (the developers of the glass-petticoated apartment tower at 2929 Weslayan, who are also currently working on the less-is-more-branded Ivy Lofts tiny condo complex in East Downtown) put the property under contract that year.

What’s going to take the code building’s place, between the new MATCH box theater collection and the Houston Community College buildings to the north on Main St.? The involved reader confirms that the rendering below shows the current design in place along the light rail line; materials from AECOM (a partner in the project) say the highrise should hold 336 apartments and 14,390 sq.ft. of retail space:

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Trading Up in Midtown
06/16/16 11:30am

HOUSTON’S ELECTRIFYING INSULT ART HAS ITS CRITICS graffiti at 1601 Alabama St.,  Midtown, Houston, 77004A roving Houston graffiti connoisseur issued a short but scathing review this week of the latest addition to the utility box at the corner of Alabama St. and Almeda Rd. via the automatic city complaint-filing app SeeClickFix. The user calls the scrawled proclamation ‘bad art’; the Midtown Management District says it’s on the case. The display, directly across Almeda from hammock-rich beer garden Axelrad, does not appear to be one of the coming-up-on-100 mini murals being placed on electrical utility boxes around the city by Up Art Studios. [Previously on Swamplot] Photo of electrical utility box at 1601 Alabama St.: SeeClickFix

06/03/16 11:15am

360 Skybar Patio, 500 McIlhenny St., Midtown, Houston, 77006

Some things have changed in the last few months at the corner of Brazos and McIlhenny streets in Midtown, where scandal-embroiled nightclub Gaslamp appears to have shut down to make way for a newly-opened bar called 360. The Gaslamp sign is gone, and the building’s new Facebook page also lists it as located at Google-baggage-free 500 McIlhenny instead of 2400 Brazos (though the number 2400 was still in place over the door as of last week).

The former second-floor club-within-a-club Elysium space upstairs appears to have been redecorated as well, and to have picked up the name The Hamptons. Other things remain the same, however — for example, the photo posted last week of 360’s rooftop patio (above) is remarkably similar to a view from the rooftop previously posted to Gaslamp’s webpage (below):

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Midtown Makeover
05/16/16 10:45am

Sterling House, 3015 Bagby St., Midtown, Houston, 77006

3015 Bagby St., Midtown, HoustonSome construction photos released yesterday by the prepping-to-open business at 3015 Bagby St. seem to provide a definitive answer to that lingering 2013 question of whether the century-old structure at the corner with Rosalie St. would be patched up for a new gig as a Midtown bar called The Sterling House, or just torn down to make room for it. The building (which belonged to members of Ross Sterling‘s family but not to the former governor himself) wasn’t totally demolished, though it did get gutted and largely rebuilt. The space then got shopped around last year by landlord Amir Ansari, who offered the spot with TABC licenses and other permits already in place. 

A Sterling House Facebook page got a coming-soon photo update over the weekend, showing a few post-redo photos of the inside and outside of the structure:

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Polishing Up on Bagby
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 GAS STATION 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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