06/27/14 4:00pm

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The biggest windows in this renovated 1975 townhome in the heart of the Museum District appear to be the glass-panel garage doors, which split their at-the-sidewalk orientation between both streets forming the corner property near Bell Park. But there’s more glass to see inside. A week ago, the asking price on this property dropped to $620,000 from a May listing kickoff at $640,000.

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Gray Line Tour
06/19/14 1:15pm

Rendering of Proposed Chelsea Montrose Highrise, 4 Chelsea Pl., Museum District, Houston

Chelsea Market Shopping Center,  4611-4621 Montrose Blvd., Museum District, HoustonStreet Lights Residential completed its purchase of a strip of land on the east side of the Chelsea Market shopping center (behind the buildings shown at left) on Chelsea Blvd. east of Montrose Blvd. just last month; the 3 small retail buildings there, which used to house the Blue Mambo hair salon, Nolan-Rankin Galleries, the ELS language center, and Just Wax It, were themselves waxed off the site in April. Chelsea Market owner David K. Gibbs sold the property, which extends from Chelsea Blvd. to the edge of the Southwest Fwy., to allow a larger footprint for the development of the 20-story Chelsea Montrose highrise planned next door at 4 Chelsea Blvd. (pictured at top).

The resulting parking shortage at Chelsea Market is to blame for Main Street Theater’s exit from the space in the shopping center it had rented since 1996, according to the theater’s managers and its landlord. The theater group, which was renting 4617 Montrose Blvd. on a month-to-month basis for its Theater for Youth program, had also hoped to use it to stage 3 productions next season during the renovation of its Rice Village location on Times Blvd., which is scheduled to begin in November.

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Museum District Parking
05/16/14 3:15pm

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It’s a square-off. One of Arquitectonica’s colorful, cube-studded townhomes on Graustark St. is back on the market, a year after its last sale, for $345K. This time around, the 30-year-old contemporary property’s asking price is $449,200.

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All in a Row
04/11/14 10:45am

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The restaurant spot at 4319 Montrose Blvd. just south of Richmond Ave (at left in the photo above) that until mid-February was home to Thai Sticks — and was earlier the longtime home of Monica Pope’s Boulevard Bistro — will soon be home to an unidentified new restaurant run in part by Dan and Mark Zimmerman. Four years ago, the Zimmermans turned the restaurant at their parents’ La Colombe d’Or into Restaurant Cinq; they later opened and closed Zimm’s Little Deck in the 610 Richmond spot also owned by their parents (that spot is now home to the Brooklyn Athletic Club).

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Replacing Thai Sticks
04/01/14 5:15pm

1202 Milford St., Museum District, Houston

1202 Milford St., Museum District, Houston

The few interior photos included in the listing of William F. Stern’s house at the corner of Milford and Mt. Vernon show the 1990 structure stripped of most of its furnishings — but with much of its famed artwork still on the walls. Are those paintings museum-quality, though? Certifiably, it turns out: Stern, who passed away a year ago from pancreatic cancer, willed the house and its artwork to the Menil Collection. The Menil is accepting all the art into its collection, but put the house on the market last month — with an asking price of $1.475 million.

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Paintings Without a Home
03/05/14 12:00pm

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As with the curving private lane it fronts, a 1939 home in understated, gated Shadyside splays slightly on a pie-shaped lot (top). The stately front screens the grounds on the back side, a deliberate design by Houston architect John Staub for original clients A.J. Wray and wife Margaret, daughter of J.S. Cullinan — founder of the company that became Texaco. Writing about the property in his monograph on the architect’s “country houses,” Rice architectural historian Stephen Fox notes how the home’s pivot-point entry bay is light on windows and flanked by 2 wings with far more iron grill and veranda flourishes out back — for a focused view of private grounds with reflecting pond (above). Is the home’s styling “Regency-inspired,” Louisiana-Creole-derived, or an example of Latin Colonial Regionalism? Feel free to mull it over as you survey the property on 1.3 acres across from Rice University’s Main St. main gate, just south of the Museum District. Home to oil heirs and a former Texas governor, the well-groomed and rather proper property made its market debut Monday, asking $6.9 million.

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Find Your Way Around the Wray House
01/16/14 2:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THEY’RE COMING FOR SOUTH END VILLA The South End Villa Bermuda Triangle“This little wedge of land south of 59 and between Montrose and Main is like the Bermuda Triangle of Houston. It’s not part of the street grid, and there are no roads that connect through it. Few Houstonians probably even know there’s anything back there. There are interesting 80+ year old houses, dead end snippets of roads, and well kept old garden apartments. It’s a very sleepy little wedge of the City. It was inevitable that that would change, given the proximity of this spot to downtown, Rice, the Museum District, Montrose, etc.” [Semper Fudge, commenting on Here’s Chelsea Montrose, Another 20-Story Apartment Tower for the Museum District] Illustration: Lulu

01/14/14 2:00pm

Proposed Chelsea Montrose Apartment Tower, 4 Chelsea Blvd., Montrose, Houston

Dallas apartment developer Streetlights Residential is planning to build this 20-story apartment tower on the former site of the Eye Excellence clinic at 4 Chelsea Blvd., backing up to the Southwest Fwy. just south of where it spits out the Downtown Spur. The company bought the property behind the Chelsea Market shopping center last September, tacking on an additional freeway-facing parcel. The rendering above shows the not-quite-final scheme from Dallas architects Gromatzky Dupree & Associates.

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From the Site That Gave You Eye Excellence
12/13/13 2:15pm

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Warwick Towers, 1111 Hermann Dr., HoustonAptly named a “bridge unit,”  this eighth-floor space spans between the 30-story Warwick Towers just north of Hermann Park in the Museum District. The 3,385-sq.-ft. condo it’s part of had $5oK knocked off its initial asking price earlier this week in its relisting by the same agent after a 6-month previous listing expired. The million-dollar view (which curiously is not pictured in the listing) is now priced at $1.15 million — plus a not-insignificant monthly maintenance fee of $2,694.

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Looking North and South
10/18/13 10:00am

Here’s a rendering of that 25-story residential highrise Hines says it plans to start building in the Museum District in July. Designed by Munoz + Albin, the 259-unit, 301,000-sq.-ft. apartment building and parking garage will stand next to the Asia Society Texas Center on most of the block bound by Caroline, Oakdale, Southmore, and San Jacinto.

What’s missing from this rendering is that historic home on the corner of Caroline and Southmore whose owners chose not to sell. It appears that the property immediately west of the holdouts’ and next to the light rail line will become a 10,000-sq.-ft. “public-access park,” reports the Houston Business Journal: “In addition, there is potential for small retail space adjacent to the park, such as a café or light food services.”

Rendering: Hines

10/09/13 4:05pm

Here are a pair of early drawings and the site plan for that apartment tower Hines has said it’s considering putting up across the street from the Asia Society Texas Center in the Museum District. Previous reports and rumors pegged the building at 20 or 22 stories, but these elevations appear to show a 25-story structure, with 19 floors of apartments perched atop a 6-level parking garage. This drawing shows the north façade. The block Hines has in mind is bound by Caroline, Oakdale, Southmore, and San Jacinto, where the light rail runs. But it appears that the building won’t take up that whole block: The site plan shows that the tower has been drawn around that home on the corner of Southmore and Caroline, whose owners have been rumored to have refused to sell.

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06/24/13 10:00am

Hines has confirmed that it’s considering a 20- or 22-story apartment tower for this block in the Museum District. This photo shows the corner of Oakdale and Caroline St., across from the Asia Society Texas Center and a recently cleared corner lot that wouldn’t sell to the Asia Society Texas Center. A source tells Swamplot that 3 of the 4 properties on this block bound by Caroline, San Jacinto, Oakdale, and Southmore have sold to Hines, and that Hines will take those over on July 1.

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06/20/13 3:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE GLASS IS HALF FULL — AND BRIGHT RED “I haven’t had any kool aid but it’s hot enough to have some. Rather than be negative, my point was at least it’s Hines. Look at our skyline and all the great buildings are Hines. There are only a handful of developers that build high quality buildings in Houston, rather than the junk most of them do before they go out of business or scoot back to Las Vegas. Rather than be bitter and wish for a bubble, try being positive. It does the soul good. And lastly, if you don’t like what’s being built, why don’t you get all your money together and show us how you could do better! What do you think was in the spot where you currently live or work? Either a virgin lot, or something that was refurbished, or torn down.” [Loves swamplot, commenting Hines Buying Up Museum District Property To Build Highrise Apartments]

06/19/13 10:05am

A few sources are telling Swamplot that Hines is planning to build either a 20- or 22-story apartment tower on the entire city block where this house stands in the Museum District. The house is at the corner of Caroline and Southmore, directly across from Yoshio Taniguchi’s Asia Society Texas Center and that recently cleared residential lot immediately behind it. The block is bound by Caroline, Southmore, Oakdale, and the light rail line along San Jacinto. One of the sources says that 3 of the 4 property owners on the block have agreed to sell, and that Hines will be taking those properties over on July 1. Another source speculates that Hines might go ahead and build around the holdout. As of this morning, there’s been no word from Hines — though a rep in an email writes: “No deal has been closed so it is too preliminary to discuss,” which sure makes it sound as though there is an “it.”

Photo: Swamplot inbox