04/24/17 12:45pm

RAIL CAR OF ‘NONHAZARDOUS’ MATERIAL BLOWS UP BY THE RAILROAD-THEMED HARDY YARDS SITE Fire Fight near Hardy Yards, Near Northside, Houston, 77009Union Pacific gives KHOU the answer to yesterday’s entry in the semi-regular citywide game of what’s-that-mysterious-cloud-of-smoke: a railcar loaded with lithium batteries headed to a recycling plant, which caught fire and exploded early Sunday evening. The blowout happened on a stretch of tracks skirting the southern edge of the former railyard now being redeveloped into the Hardy Yards mixed use area (complete with artsy homages to the land’s brownfield past). The explosion cracked walls and took out some windows at at least one house nearby on Chapman St. south of the tracks, in the strip of otherwise-mostly-industrial properties north of I-10 between N. Main St. and the reincarnating Elysian St. bridge. Nobody seems to have been seriously injured; the exploding batteries themselves are technically considered non-hazardous material, a Union Pacific spokesman notes. [KHOU; previously on Swamplot] Photo of yesterday’s firefight near Hardy Yards: Air Alliance Houston

04/18/17 11:30am

Demo of Elysian St. Viaduct, Near Northside/Downtown, Houston, 77002

The rapidly disappearing elevated segment of Elysian St. pointing north out of Downtown is the latest aging roadway structure to be crumbled apart, though it won’t be the last. But death is a natural part of the Houston roadway cycle! And a healthier, brawnier replacement viaduct is planned to take its place along roughly the same right-of-way — this one with broad shoulders and a sidewalk. TxDOT spokesman Danny Perez told Houston Public Media‘s Gail DeLaughter last month that work on the new structure, which connects Downtown to Near Northside by funneling drivers over Buffalo Bayou and I-10, should start before the demo of the mile-and-a-half-long original wraps up.

hunched excavator was spotted helping to bring the aging bridge down from above:

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Traffic Cycles in Near Northside
04/10/17 11:30am

Bible Days Church, 501 Quitman St., Near Northside, Houston, 77009Bible Days Church, 501 Quitman St., Near Northside, Houston, 77009

Bible Days Church, 501 Quitman St., Near Northside, Houston, 77009Showing up on the market this month, just in time for Easter: a couple of buildings and lots belonging to Bible Days Revival Church, formally located at or around 501 Quitman St. in Near Northside. The church gives 1935 as the construction date for at least one of the included structures up for grabs, which sit on a block along the northern light-rail line next to a formerly Exxon-branded gas station. Along with the sanctuary, the new listings include a few multifamily structures and empty lots: 

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Come Into the Light-Rail
02/16/17 3:00pm

Saint Arnold Brewing Company Expansion renderings, 2104 Lyons Ave., Near Northside, Houston, 77020Saint Arnold Brewing Company Expansion renderings, 2104 Lyons Ave., Near Northside, Houston, 77020

A fresh batch of renderings from the Office of James Burnett have been filed with the city planning commission this month as part of Saint Arnold Brewing Company’s request for a setback variance for that previously mentioned beer garden next door. Early permits have been trickling in since last fall for the ex-tow lot at 2104 Lyons Ave., across Semmes St. from the brewery’s new-ish downtown headquarters in the former HISD Food Service building (even more formerly the home of the Bemis Bag Company).

The new designs show what might be the site’s intended layout, including a restaurant structure which dissolves into an outdoor patio and garden space, a set of bocce courts, and more parking, including an area set aside for display of art cars (as shown up top featuring the company’s own tie-dye vehicles). Here’s the full tentative layout:

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Gardens of Fifth Ward
01/26/17 11:15am

WHITE OAK MUSIC HALL’S OUTDOOR SOUNDMAKING CAPPED UNTIL TRIAL IN MAY White Oak Music Hall Lawsuit Map, Near NorthsideThe judge judging the lawsuit filed by some Near Northside residents against White Oak Music Hall has issued another temporary injunction this week, this time limiting the venue to no more than 2 events on the venue’s outdoor Lawn area between now and May 15th, according to a document filed with the county clerk’s office. That means the Pixies show recently announced for April will still happen as planned (though the venue will have to pay for sound monitoring to prove they’re not passing city decibel limits, or cranking up the bass more than the order allows). Chris Gray writes that outdoor shows at the Raven Tower aren’t affected, as long as they comply with the volume and vibration metrics; a press release from the venue says all the indoor shows at both venues are still on as well. [Houston Press; previously on Swamplot] Image of map submitted in Theresa Cavin et al v. White Oak Events, LLC: Harris County District Clerk’s office

12/21/16 1:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: COMPARING THE INGREDIENTS IN HOUSTON’S NIMBY STANCES White Oak Music Hall Lawsuit Map, Near Northside“Just amazing what our city can do in [terms of] jeopardizing huge sums of taxpayer money to help Southampton fight off developers and laughable amounts of ‘increased traffic’ — and then turn a blind eye to communities having to do garage and bake sales just to fight to keep their children’s sanity and dignity.” [joel, commenting on Ban and Bake Sale for White Oak Music Hall; Hurricane Ike’s Last Blue Tarps] White Oak Music Hall lawsuit map: Harris County District Clerk’s office

12/15/16 12:30pm

womh-lawsuit-map-large

A lawsuit filed yesterday by a group of 9 residents of the area around White Oak Music Hall asks for both a temporary and permanent stop on the construction and permitting of the permanent outdoor stage planned for the venue, as well as its required entourage of new bathrooms. The suit also asks for a stop on all other amplified outdoor events at the complex (including those on the other smaller outdoor stages by bar-on-a-stick Raven Tower), and for damages related to noise nuisance issues — allegedly including sleep deprivation and bass-fueled vibrations strong enough to rattle windows and picture frames. (There’s also an affidavit from a schoolteacher in support of the plaintiffs’ contention that a neighborhood child diagnosed with a specific condition has been suffering panic attacks directly related to the noise.)

The map above of the area around Little White Oak Bayou‘s I-45 crossunder was included with the group’s filing. The map shows the 2-part venue’s stages in red and Raven Tower in its signature blue, along with some quarter-mile radius circles drawn over the sea of orange residential land; pink is for parking lots, and yellow shows the venue’s Lawn area.

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Stage Fight
11/18/16 4:15pm

Air New Zealand Houston Piece

The glossed-up scene above, which shows a pushing-its-limits White Oak Bayou flirting with the lower edge of the Height Hike and Bike Trail bridge, made an appearance in this month’s edition of Kia Ora, Air New Zealand’s in-flight magazine. A sky-high peruser on Reddit noticed the article, which is currently employing the flood photo to promote Houston and several other Texas cities as tourist destinations. The original source looks to be a Getty Images contributor who captioned the shot (along with another expansively aquatic view from 2015) as stock images of Downtown Houston in the rain. For comparison with the normal scenic view of Downtown’s northernmost freeway tangle, below is a recent shot of that trail construction near the Leonel Castillo Community Center, which caught the same angle and foliage (minus the high water, but plus some heavy equipment):

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Water Under the Bridge
11/08/16 1:30pm

Hardy Yards, Near Northside, Houston, 77026

Not many signs of the buildings yet — but Chris Andrews notes the new benches, sidewalks, and railyard-themed signage recently installed in the formerly-a-railyard Hardy Yards site, along some initial roadways laid out for that planned mixed-use redevelopment complex. The signage above, complete with what appear to be segments of decorative rail track, is at the corner of now-extended Chapman and Leona streets.  Here’s a look at a new industrial-chic bike rack installed nearby, with a bonus glimpse of a few of the warehouses along parallel-ish Burnett St. visible to the north:

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Tracking Near Northside
10/28/16 10:15am

WHITE OAK MUSIC HALL TRUCE: REBUILD TEMPORARY STAGE TEMPORARILY, GO PERMANENT IN FEBRUARY Rendering of White Oak Music Hall, 2915 N. Main, Houston, 77009The city and the developers of White Oak Music Hall have hammered out an agreement over the outdoor stage situation, reports Erin Mulvaney: the temporary stage can come back up for the shows that have already been booked, and stay up through February. Then the freshly-permitted permanent stage will start going up — and a bunch of other conditions will have to be met, as detailed in a letter from the city to W2 partner Will Garwood on Wednesday. On the list: the construction of “38 bathrooms and 9 lavatories” (also permanent), and the use of a sound monitor at all outdoor events, which (other than next Wednesday’s planned outdoor Pet Shop Boys concert) will have to be on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Rendering of original outdoor stage plans: White Oak Music Hall

10/27/16 11:00am

210 Glen Park St., Near Northside, Houston, 77009

A few twists and turns up Little White Oak Bayou from N. Main St. and the White Oak Music Hall complex, work is underway on a bayou-side brewery on another piece of land owned by W2 development (and going by the name Black Page Brewing Co.) The city issued a few more permits for the brewpub this week (fast on the heels of the permit issued Tuesday for the music venue’s permanent outdoor stage — a few days after construction allegedly got rolling, though not quite in time for tonight’s planned outdoor The Head and The Heart concert). Owner Anthony Heins tells Swamplot the pub is just leasing the land from W2, which country records show bought the property in April of last year. And builder KUEHN Inc. has been snapping photos of progress at the former warehouse, which sits near the stretch of waterway where an area resident took those videos of chainsaw aftermath back in May; that area is down beyond the orange fencing below on the left:

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Near Northside Neighbors
10/21/16 1:30pm

Trail construction along White Oak Bayou near Leonel Castillo Community Center, 2101 South St, Near Northside, Houston, 77009

A reader caught some shots last week of the current trailblazing going on between the Leonel Castillo Community Center and the White Oak Bayou greenway trail in Near Northside. The new connector should hit the path roughly between the south end of the building and the nearby Thomas Street Health Center HIV-slash-AIDS service building, just north of where the Heights hike-and-bike trail crosses over the bayou and under the Hogan St. bridge to merge with the White Oak trail on the way into Downtown:

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Closing Distance to Downtown
10/20/16 9:45am

CITY RED TAGS WHITE OAK MUSIC HALL FOR ILLEGAL OUTDOOR STAGE CONSTRUCTION Rendering of White Oak Music Hall, 2915 N. Main, Houston, 77009A city inspector issued a red tag to White Oak Music Hall on Tuesday to stop what appears to have been unpermitted construction work on a permanent outdoor stage, Zach Despart reports this morning. The venue’s permit for the long-term temporary stage it had been using for outdoor shows expired on October 5th, a few weeks after mayor Turner publicly nixed the organizers’ just-take-it-down-real-quick renewal plans; this week a real estate agent who lives in the area handed out photos to city council ostensibly showing that crews were already at work to put up a new structure, despite the plans for the stage still not having passed the city’s permitting review process. Despart also notes that a show previously billed on the outdoor stage for this Saturday is now marked on its ticket purchase page as planned for one of the venue’s indoor performance spaces. [Houston Press; previously on Swamplot] Original renderings of White Oak Music Hall with planned outdoor stage:  Schaum /Shieh

09/09/16 11:15am

Hardy Yards sign, Burnett at Main St., Near Northside, Houston, 77026

Hardy Yards sign, Burnett at Main St., Near Northside, Houston, 77026The letters strung out under the Red Line overpass at Burnett St. and N. Main to label the area as Hardy Yards are now back in place once again, Chris Andrews notes. After a few ups and downs earlier this year the letters were removed altogether for a bit; they’re now back in place, standing on what appear to be some slightly buffed-up legs. The ones shown above are on the north side of Burnett; here’s the southern companion piece, with the stairs leading to the Burnett Transit Center visible on the left:

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Knocked Down, But Up Again
09/07/16 1:30pm

CITY NIXES WHITE OAK MUSIC HALL’S DEJA-VU STAGE PERMIT PLAN White Oak Music Hall April Construction and Temporary Stage Setup, 2915 N. Main St., Northside, Houston, 77009The city isn’t planning to renew a permit for White Oak Music Hall’s temporary-but-kinda-not-temporary outdoor stage once it expires next month, Erin Mulvaney reports this week. Tickets have already been sold for concerts scheduled later in October and November, but the public works department now says that the temporary stage’s operating permit will expire on October 5th when the structure has been up for 180 days — and no, says Mayor Turner, the venue can’t just take the stage down and put it back up again to get a new one, as the developers told Mulvaney they were planning to do. Mulvaney writes that the White Oak folks applied for permits for a planned permanent outdoor stage several times in the winter and spring, but took a break from resubmitting after the plans failed code review a few times; another set of application materials was submitted last Wednesday. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo of White Oak Music Hall’s temporary stage during setup in April: Swamplot inbox