05/24/16 4:15pm

UH Downtown STEM Building Purchase

Outlined in red is the next addition to University of Houston Downtown’s campus, per last Thursday’s meeting by the UH system’s board of regents. The image above comes from a marketing flier included in the board’s agenda notes (as presented by board member and real estate reality TV star Tilman Fertitta). The 17-acre parcel on the north side of I-10 runs along the Daly St. student parking lot by the Burnett Transit Center light-rail station, and includes several areas west of N. Main St. already in use by UHD as faculty and student parking.

The land, bounded on the southwest by White Oak Bayou,  will likely house a new science and engineering building — though it may have to cozy up with some additions to the downtown freeway system still in the planning phase. UHD VP David Bradley tells Nancy Sarnoff that the parts of the tract that may end up inside the expanded right-of-way will hang around as green space until TxDOT’s map lines are firmed up.

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Rail Yard Revival
05/11/16 5:15pm



Glen Park resident and
periodic White Oak Music Hall critic Beth Lousteau sends along this Tuesday retelling of a Mother’s Day encounter with a work crew apparently having a go at some vegetation along Little White Oak Bayou near 210 Glen Park St. The property, including the warehouse across an unpaved road, was bought last spring by White Oak W2 Investments, an entity controlled by the White Oak Music Hall developers. Lousteau says that workers on the site told her they’d been tasked with clearing a nicer view to the water, but that the boundary between the purchased property and the county-owned floodway land wasn’t marked.

Here’s a brief glimpse of the scene reportedly taken that Sunday, when Lousteau encountered the work crew mid-whir:

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Glen Park
05/09/16 12:30pm

RAVEN TOWER’S TOWER TEMPORARILY CLOSED, BUT THE SHOWS WILL GO ON Raven Tower Bar, 301 North St., Northside, Houston, 77009The blue bar-on-a-stick at the northwest corner of the White Oak Music Hall complex temporarily shut down last week so W2 Development Partners can add more railings and make the space more physically accessible. The elevated 1970s former bachelor pad reopened as a bar and rooftop patio in January, 3 months before the first show on the semi-temporary main stage next door; a set of concrete stairs wrap around the elevator shaft leading up to the main space.  The non-tower sections of the Raven Tower venue, including the downstairs bar and the outdoor patio and performance space, are scheduled to stay open and host concerts as planned. Across the parking lot, White Oak Music Hall has another lawn concert scheduled for tomorrow night. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo of Raven Tower: Swamplot inbox

04/25/16 12:30pm

Fulton at Cavalcade streets, Northside, Houston ,77009

Stare directly into the snapshot above from the corner of Fulton and Cavalcade streets, which now bears a sun-saluting mural echoing a loteria card. The painting is part of the mini mural series that began appearing on utility boxes across the southwest side of town last summer, at which time only 31 of the boxes were slated for colorful fates. The current count is closer to 60 murals (per the photo-laden interactive map available here); additional artists were recruited last fall.

While the majority of the completed projects are still concentrated between 59 and 288 inside Beltway 8, more than a dozen are now scattered north and east throughout the rest of the Inner Loop — with a few further north around Greenspoint, 1 beyond the Beltway to the west in Westchase, and another as far southwest as Missouri City. Here’s another recent addition to the collection in Aldine, next to the Shipley’s Donuts at the southwest corner of Airline and W. Dyna drives:

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Blazing in Near Northside
04/13/16 3:00pm

THE SHAKEUP AROUND WHITE OAK MUSIC HALL’S OUTDOOR STAGE Rendering of White Oak Music Hall, 2915 N. Main, Houston, 77009The permanent outdoor concert stage suggested by renderings of N. Main St.’s newest music venue, Erin Mulvaney writes this week, wasn’t included in the building permits approved for the venue; for now, it appears that the blue-roofed temporary stage used for the music hall’s first concert this past weekend will be covering the outdoor gig indefinitely. Meanwhile, Houston police documented at least 17 noise complaint calls from the immediate area on Saturday night, and 1 during the leadup week; multiple residents near the spot tell Mulvaney that their homes were vibrating to the music of French electronica group M83. Area resident Kerry Whitehead remarks to Swamplot on her observations from her home nearby: “I recently read a quote in a 1983 Texas Monthly article about our stretch of Main Street . . .  seeing I-45 in proximity to Hollywood Cemetery (an ‘old, lush place’ then, as it is now), the author remarked that he imagined ‘the bones of the nineteenth-century dead rattling in resonance with the vibrations from the freeway.’ Well, if those bones resting in peace hadn’t been rattled yet, they were rattled on Saturday night — as was I.” [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Rendering of White Oak Music Hall complex: White Oak Music Hall

04/11/16 5:00pm

Raven Tower Bar, 301 North St., Northside, Houston, 77009

Raven Tower Bar, 301 North St., Northside, Houston, 77009

The bluest bar-on-a-stick in town gives a 360-degree overview of the area around White Oak Music Hall, which held its first concert Saturday on a temporary stage next to the still-under-construction main building. Renderings released last year for the concert complex, next to the already-in-action Raven Tower at the crossing of I-45 and Little White Oak Bayou (above), showed plans for 2 indoor stages and a 3rd outdoor pavilion, with a 3,000-person events lawn between. Developer Will Garwood told the Houston Chronicle last week that while he would still like to add a permanent stage someday, the temporary stage would be getting reused in the meanwhile — possibly requiring special event permits (like the one issued for Saturday’s concert) multiple times each month.

Here’s what the scene looked like on Wednesday evening, as crews continued working past sundown to get everything in line for the weekend:

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Hatching in Near Northside
04/04/16 10:00am

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

The recent restoration of the Hardy Yards district sign’s upright stature and youthful good looks appears to have been short-lived — Christopher Andrews found the H sprawled flat on its back over the weekend, with a few of the other letters also looking less than fully vertical in the late-night shot above (peering east down Burnett St. from the corner with N. Main under the light-rail overpass). Metro says it’s on the case, again.

Photo of Hardy Yards signage: Christopher Andrews

N. Main at Burnett
03/30/16 4:30pm

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

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

The second A, R, and D of the signage at the intersection of Burnett St. and N. Main are now back in action (up top) beneath the Red Line light-rail overpass. The letters have been patched up and sent back to their assigned places above a freshly-repaired concrete planter, following an unfriendly run-in (or -into) near the end of January (pictured second, with the A dramatically sprawled backward onto the mulch).

The sign, marking the intended redevelopment of the former Hardy Rail Yards into a mixed-use complex in Near Northside, was added as part of the street and infrastructure work that’s been going on at the 43-acre brownfield site. Some of that work is visible in the site plan for the property posted by landscape architecture and planning firm Design Workshop: 

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Near Northside
07/15/15 1:45pm

2223 N. Main St., Near Northside, Houston

2223 N. Main St., Near Northside, Houston

Hop on or off the Red Line train at Quitman and you’ll find this 1940 red-brick structure a-renovating at the northwest corner of N. Main St. What’s being fixed up? Here are a couple of before-and-during shots showing the transformation of the 11,850-sq.-ft. office building at 2223 N. Main St. so far:

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Storefronts
07/14/15 2:30pm

Burnett St., Near Northside, Houston

With a row of Downtown towers looking on from the south, 2 lanes are being added to Burnett St., along the northern boundary of the 50-acre site formerly known as the Hardy Rail Yards. The thickening runs between N. Main St. and Hardy St. At the western end of that stretch, next to the Burnett Transit Center stop on the Red Line’s northern extension, a new baby intersection has been born at Freeman St. just in front of the rail overpass, just up a ways from the N. Main tunnel:

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Grid Growth
07/02/15 11:45am

glen-park-coyote-driveway

Coyote at Glen Park and Hyacinth St., Glen Park, HoustonHere’s a coyote who stepped out in the early evening hours yesterday for a little daylight walkabout in Glen Park — not far from its normal howling grounds in and around the nearby Hollywood Cemetery, Little White Oak Bayou, and Moody Park. These pics were taken at the corner of Glen Park St. and Hyacinth, just one block north of North Main St. and the future site of the White Oak Music Hall.

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Wildlife in the Near Northside
05/27/15 3:15pm

Flooded Cars on I-45 North at Patton St., Near Northside, Houston, May 26, 2015

If you’re compiling a list of best photo spots for during or after another one of Houston’s every-dozen-years-or-so never-seen-anything-like-it flooding events, you’ll probably want to make room on it for the stretch of I-45 North between the N. Main St. and Patton St. exits. Back in 2001, images of cars and trucks floating along an insta-lake in this same spot made national news. And yesterday, pix of the automotive flotilla pictured above found their way to Facebook feeds and front pages around the globe.

But the low spot just north of Downtown wedged between Brooke Smith and the Near Northside was also a tough place to be when the water started rising, reports the Chronicle‘s Dane Schiller. Drivers found an early morning traffic jam in the rain changed nature quickly: “A surge was coming at them, squeezed by high barrier walls into the confines of the interstate. In less than 15 minutes, there was nothing to do but abandon ship.

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04/23/15 5:30pm

Proposed Changes to I-45, I-10, and I-69, Houston

There’s so much to say and gawk at in the latest “proposed recommended alternatives” for reshaping I-45 now being shopped around by TxDOT and a host of freeway-happy consultants — enough for a fourth round of public meetings scheduled for tonight and next week, plus hours of extra-curricular speculation. The plans encompass dramatic changes to the North Freeway all the way from Beltway 8 to a new split adjacent to the Third Ward, including eye-opening widenings, all sorts of exciting tunnels and high-flying overpasses, a slew of spaghetti-like interchanges, and — the pièce de résistance — the wholesale give-up of I-45’s current L-shaped wrap around Downtown, including the Pierce Elevated.

These 5 images from our highway overlords’ exciting imagined future sum it up best:

1. The X-ing-out of the Pierce Elevated (diagrammed above). If the elevated portion of I-45 along the path of Pierce St. goes away, how will anyone be able to tell where Downtown ends and Midtown begins? Don’t worry, a few proposals are being shopped around to turn a de-automobiled structure into a High Line—like public park or bikeway. (Though much bigger, ′cuz Houston.)

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Freeway Frenzy!
04/07/15 1:30pm

Guy Wires, 4101 Fulton St., Silverdale, Houston

All that’s left of a 1956 steel-frame industrial building on the campus of ALG Truck & Trailer Repair at 4101 Fulton St. just south of Patton is these old cast-in-place concrete supports. The building, which lines the west side of the North Line light-rail extension in the Near Northside, was torn down over the last 2 weeks. Why are just these portions left standing?

It’s not entirely clear, but it might have something to do with the guy wires that are holding down a radio antenna tower adjacent to a service bay behind the Love’s Truck Stop directly to the west, which is accessed from nearby Patton St. It’s visible at the far left of the above photo — and in this marked-up view from Google, showing how it looked when the building was still intact:

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Hang Tight
03/18/15 4:30pm

2621-N-main-04

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Looking a bit like a bricked-up, tricked out Americanized Florentine chapel, a solidly built property facing N. Main St. east of I-45 could swing either way. The property would work as a home or office, the listing suggests. (The second level could be a separate unit.) In a relisting this week after a 9-month break from the market, the undecided property knocked more than $100K off its previous ask, bringing the price tag to $249K. Back in May 2014, the sellers wanted $355K. But even that price was a second whittle for the property. It had first hit the market in June 2012 at $485K, but several adjustments had brought the price down to $385K before the listing expired 6 months later. In other words, the property is available now for just over half of the previous offering’s peak price.

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On the Line