12/01/16 2:30pm

San Jacinto Memorial Green, 1300 HolmanSt., Midtown, Houston, 77003

That tiny replica of the San Jacinto Monument near San Jacinto and Holman streets is surrounded these days by the landscaping of Houston Community College’s San Jacinto Memorial Green, the green-space-turned-parking-lot-turned-back-to-green-space next to the adjacent building that once housed San Jacinto High School. A reader sends an early-evening out-the-window shot of the park, which is scheduled to formally open on Saturday.

That shot faces Holman St., with Caroline St. visible to the northeast and lined up with the green space’s lit walkway; most of the lawn seen to the left of that path was paved parking lotbetween the 1980s and 2014. The photo is taken from the former San Jac high school structure itself (now employed as part of HCC’s Central Campus, and referred to as the San Jacinto Memorial Building by the time of its 2012 addition to the National Register of Historic Places):

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Remembering Asphalt Gone By
11/22/16 10:45am

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

As the walls crumble and the last days unfold for the city’s old code enforcement office in Midtown, a hidden stained-glass window has been uncovered — as seen here in a shot taken by a reader yesterday evening from across the light-rail tracks. Once the structure is fully deconstructed, the way will be open for that planned mixed-use-skyscraper from PM Realty to rise toward the heavens. In front of the window is the long-since-de-greened greenscreen trellis installed to dress up the main Main entrance of the concrete structure, back in the late aughts: 

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Preparing To Rise in Midtown
11/21/16 10:30am

Burned Fuzzy's Tacos, 138 W. Gray St., Fourth Ward, Houston, 77019

That warm glow early Sunday morning on the edge of Fourth Ward turned out to be a major fire at the eastern W. Gray outpost of Fuzzy’s Taco Shop. The blaze is now under investigation, with an eye for possible arson — a manager at across-the-street Oporto Fooding House and Wine told KHOU that security cameras caught sight of a car parked outside the closed shop just before the start of the fire, somewhere around 5 AM. The upstate taco chain opened the freshly roasted branch in January in the 1940’s house formerly housing bar and barbecue joint Hefley’s (a little less than 2 miles down the street from the Fuzzy’s now lurking in the back of the River Oaks Shopping Center).

Standing around in the background of the west-facing shot above: the Dolce Living apartment complex under construction on the north side of W. Gray on either side of Bailey St. A few other angles captured yesterday by a reader on the scene show the newly reconfigured profile of the taco shop’s roof:

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Soft Tacos Overdone
11/14/16 10:45am

Winburn Mess Hall, 3701 Travis St., Midtown, Houston, 77002

The brick building at Travis and Winbern streets, wedged between the Breakfast Klub to the south and Continental Club to the east, is occupied these days by Winbern Mess Hall — a joint truck-to-brick-and-mortar project involving both Korean-Mexican fusion truck Oh My Gogi! and Asian-fusion hotdog truck Happy Endings. The fused fusion truckers quietly opened shop in October, with plans for a grander opening tentatively planned for mid-December. A rep tells Swamplot that items from both trucks are on the menu, and a bar is also in the works.

Winbern has moved into the spot in the wake of the sudden May flight of Sparrow Bar + Cookshop, another animal-mascotted endeavor of Beaver’s chef Monica Pope. The red banner by the tucked-away front door on Travis (above) has been updated to reflect the switchover, though the new occupants say they haven’t changed too much inside the place. Here’s a shot of the spot (from back when it still played host to the avian theme):

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Winbern Fusion Fusion Joint
11/02/16 1:30pm

Bagby at Drew streets, Midtown, Houston, 77003

The recently yellow-tagged building that once housed Aloha Modeling Studio has picked up a new companion of late, a reader notes: the trailer above, which was spotted last week settled in behind the storeNplay.com children’s playhouse that hangs around at the corner of Bagby and Drew streets (sometimes with friends). Most of the lot has been kept cleared down to the dirt for the past few years, though the fence appears to be a new addition. That’s the parking garage of the second CityPlace Midtown apartment building on the left; below is a shot of the playhouse on the eastern side of the lot, with the glowing tip of 1600 Smith St. (née Continental Center I) peeking over its right shoulder:

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Set Up on Bagby
10/31/16 2:15pm

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

The dust-up above on the northeast corner of 3300 Main St., where the former city code enforcement building has been getting disassembled to make way for that retail-footed residential highrise, was part of the on-site scene this past Thursday, a reader notes. Crews started in on the late-60’s building after those August demolition permits were issued (following a round of asbestos extraction). The shot catches both the MATCH theater building on the left and the tiny red canopy of Thien Thao Chinese Herbs, on Travis and Francis streets behind the post-wok-fire redo of Mai’s.

Photo: Swamplot inbox

Shorter, Then Taller
10/24/16 11:15am

3100 Smith St., Midtown, Houston, 77006

The former Social Security Administration office at 3100 Smith St. and its gorilla-hawking mural wall are no more, following some weekend excavator grazing. Demo permits were issued last week for structure, which sat north of Elgin on part of the planned site of developer Morgan’s next Pearl-branded apartment development (the one with the built-in ground floor Whole Foods).

City permission for the planned mixed-use building to cozy up to the street were approved in February; the project will also straddle that now-closed segment of Rosalie St. between Smith and Brazos onto a section of the previously cleared block to the north.  Here’s what the layout might look like from above, per the plans included with the variance request:

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Rosalie Redecoration
10/04/16 11:30am

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

A gang of smaller machinery is seen spreading out across the roof of 3300 Main St. in the shot above (capturing a reader’s view of the scene from the HCC midrise next door), as a larger excavator works over some of the rubble piling up at the site lately. Also visible behind the former city code enforcement building, to the south: the now-in-full-swing MATCH theater building, and the rising facades of some of the apartment midrises going up on the Mid Main block.

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Midtown Falling Flat, Rising High
09/26/16 2:15pm

2709 Bagby St., Midtown, Houston, 77003

A reader wonders why the house above at 2709 Bagby St. is just now getting a yellow note from city inspectors, who doled out an orange one right across the street last year. The new tag is stuck to the gate of the property formerly listed as the address of probably-not-just-a-modeling-studio Aloha Modeling Studio, which appears to have removed its signage in the few years following the city’s late 2000s push to enforce that then-decade-old sexually-oriented business ordinance. Per the new tagging (closeup below), the current beef with the city appears to be over some smaller issues — namely, some debris scattered around the lawn, and that loose board on the second story:

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Hanging Questions in Midtown
09/21/16 11:30am

1810 Gray St., Midtown, Houston, 77003

Some execution-ready excavator glamour shots next to 1810 Gray St. come from Fred Ghabriel, who snapped them yesterday evening in preparation for this morning’s underway demo of the space. The freestanding 1960s not-quite-under-the-freeway retail spot southwest of the junction of 59 and 45  is survived by some of its blockmates: the Citgo facing the Hamilton side of the block, and the Webster-and-Chenevert-facing double-decker strip center at 2117 Chenevert (home of Abacus Bail Bonds, Chase Shoe Shine Parlor, Heights Cleaners & Alterations, and nightclub Indigo at Midtown). The retail strip also contains an office of Bejjani & Associates, which owns the Gray-facing building currently under deconstruction (and with which Ghabriel is associated).

The structure at 1810 is getting cleared out for more parking for the center; the freed-up spots might get a touch of seasonal afternoon shade from the 3-sided billboard planted next to them, as seen in the now-moot leasing flier for the space:

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The Teardown Blues
09/01/16 1:30pm

CROSSWALKS GIVE RED LIGHT WALKERS THE FINGER IN MIDTOWN, EASTWOOD Holman at San Jacinto streets, Midtown, Houston, 77004The DON’T WALK hand at the corner of Holman and San Jacinto streets has been straightened out after a post-paint spree of flipping the bird to pedestrians, Steve Romo reports this week. The offending intersection is home to a number of HCC buildings and the parking lot behind recently departed Adkins Architectural Antiques, as well as a retail strip;  Romo notes that his news team tracked down at least one other similarly altered sign over at the intersection of S. Lockwood Dr. and Leland St., near the Learn & Grow Academy daycare and Houston Fire Station 18.  The city tells Romo it’s not the first time this kind of paint job has shown up around town (nor is it a uniquely Houston occurrence), and that the graffiti is a quick fix but diverts city resources, adding that folks should let 311 know if any more intersection signals are rude to them. [ABC13] Photo of signal at Holman and San Jacinto streets: Kate Erin C.

08/23/16 5:45pm

1403 McGowen St., Midtown, Houston, 77004
Variance request at 1403 McGowen St.

Signage up on McGowen between La Branch and Austin streets heralds the property owner’s recent request for a few variances approvals from the city, include reduced building line setbacks on the site. Plans submitted with the request show cross sections of an 8-story midrise (arranged as 3 levels of parking topped by condo units above), which the application says was planned back when the owners were under the impression that the lot already had reduced building setbacks following city approvals of a previous owner’s project on the land that fell through.

As was discovered during the city’s permitting review, the previous variance approval was only applicable to the scrapped project, though the application claims that caveat wasn’t noted with mentions of the variance attached to the property’s plat records. City planners purportedly told the developers (which appear to include Knudson and Allied Orion Group) that they could get the same reduced setback lines approved again if they turn the first floor of the condo project into residences or retail.

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Midtown Condo Limbo
08/22/16 5:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: RETURNING TO RESTORE MONTROSE AND MIDTOWN’S RIGHTFUL TERRITORIES Raising Cane's, 1902 Westheimer Rd., Vermont Commons,  Houston, TX 77098“I spent some time away from my beloved Houston. When I returned I found that ‘the Fourth Ward’ had been replaced with ‘NearTown’, and no one quite knew where Montrose was, let alone River Oaks. Please allow me to elucidate: the Fourth Ward ends at Taft; Montrose is precisely between Shepard and Taft, and Dallas and Richmond. ‘NearTown’ is a word invented by a half-drunk Realtor. It is that place on Allen Pkwy. directly underneath the I-45 overpass. ‘Midtown’ is the intersection of Main Street and Buffalo Bayou from which all house numbers in Houston radiate.” [Pat Bryan, commenting on Raising Cane’s Now Raising the Midtown Banner in Vermont Commons] Photo of Raising Cane’s at 1902 Westheimer Rd.: Swamplot inbox

08/19/16 4:15pm

Raising Cane's, 1902 Westheimer Rd., Vermont Commons,  Houston, TX 77098

Catty-corner to the middle school both formerly and henceforth to be known as Lanier, another spat of place-name confusion is brewing: A reader notes that the Raising Cane’s (whose Vermont Commons branch sits on the corner of Hazard St. and Westheimer Rd. on the lot previously vacated by Martha Turner Properties) has been pledging its affections to Midtown. But is the message one of tribute or defection? “Do they think they’re in Midtown?” wonders the tipster. “Is there something else I’m not getting?”

Photo of Raising Cane’s at 1902 Westheimer Rd.: Swamplot inbox

Midtown Creep
08/10/16 5:15pm

Former Mr. Peeples, 1911 Bagby St., Midtown, Houston, 7700
If you duck southwest under the Pierce Elevated from near the maybe-not-vacant-much-longer downtown Days Inn highrise (and maybe dodge a few exit ramps), you’ll find the logo of sparkle-happy steak and seafood house Mr. Peeples still peering coyly out from behind the greenery at 1911 Bagby St. — accompanied more recently by a less shy sign advertising the freed-up space’s availability, notes a reader. Landmark said in a press release when the spot closed in March that it would “emerge as an exciting new venue in the near future”; the informational signage from WLC Interests implies that that emergence may occur elsewhere, and that other folks may have a chance at the spot for less culinarily focused uses.

Here’s a shot of the place pre-glitzification (circa 2007) when it was a more conservatively decorated Boy Scouts office:

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Prepping for the Next Costume Change