Teevee station KHOU is giving up on its 3.2-acrebayou-side home on Allen Pkwy. after repeated flooding and will soon be listing it for sale,according to a staff member’s Facebook post. The organization did file a permit for $594,740 worth of restoration work after Harvey between August and October, and hired 2 services to help with the clean-up — including Lewisville-based MrRestore, pictured above outside the building on August 30. Before Harvey, the studio enjoyed a 16-year dry run bookended by waters from Tropical Storm Allison back in 2001.
The 52,000-sq.-ft. studio, home to Channel 11 for 57 years, took on 5 ft. of water during the recent storm, forcing its staff to relocate broadcasting activity 3 times within the same day: first to a second floor conference room, then 2 blocks east on Allen Pkwy. to the Federal Reserve Bank, and finally to Houston Public Media’s office on Elgin St. just off I-45, where the news operation has now been headquartered for just over 2 months. That co-location wouldn’t be permanent, KHOU meteorologist Brooks Garner reported last month, although he indicated at that time that the station had not as yet decided whether to return home or seek a new venue.
Photos tweeted out by KHOU reporters of their original home showed the building at 1945 Allen Pkwy. taking on water during the storm. Here’s what the lobby looked like:
Café Ginger is already at work on its new outpost in its next West Gray St. shopping center corner, taking the places vacated by both Mama Fu’s and Verts Mediterranean Grill. The Chinese food and sushi restaurant arrived at its original and current spot at the eastern end of the northern half of the River Oaks Shopping Center 8 years ago, taking over from a restaurant whose addition to the center was marked by the tacking-on of a flying-saucer-like corner tower to the previously low-slung art deco center. At the new spot at 1574 West Gray, on the western end of River Oaks Plaza, the endcap corner tower is already in place — it was there when the center was constructed.
But inside, there’s more construction to do: As new signs on the doors announce, the new location is scheduled to open in March of next year. That’s the same month Weingarten Realty plans to hold the groundbreaking for the Driscoll tower — directly on top of Café Ginger’s current spot.
With water levels on Buffalo Bayou around Shepherd Dr. now forecast to recede, this drone video of one stretch of the waterway — taken yesterday during a lull in the rains — may turn out to be one of the best views available of the extent of flooding at the northwest corner of Montrose. A few video highlights, still visible above the floodwaters: The top floor of The Dunlavy, high above the now-complete-subsumed Lost Lake; the fuzzy treetop semi-circles formed by the twin stands of crape myrtles at Waugh Dr.; the Waugh Dr. bridge itself, now looking like a causeway; and the patterned grounds of the Beth Yeshurun Cemetery.
Just a few blocks down the street from that River Oaks Shopping Center highrise site, a reader checks in this week on the French-esque midrise apartment complex that’s been slowly coming together at 1916 W. Gray St. The Houston Ballet’s converted clothing factory headquarters made a grand exit from the site back in the pre-oil-bust days; since then the project has been rechristened from Graybelle to Le Palais, and this sketchy view of a facade has been circulated by the developers:
The yet-unbuilt retail strip planned for the empty land next to Ship & Shield (the Viking-themed restaurant and bar that replaced Byzantio’s last fall) is now fully leased out, Katherine Feser notes. The planned 4,316 sq. ft. are set to be occupied by a second location of Houston restaurant Viet’s Express and a second location of Hawaiian animal hospital Feather and Fur. The project is another show of new construction from serialadaptivereuserBraun Enterprises, which bought both the restaurant space and the adjacent lots from Byzantio’s previous owners over the summer.
If the retail strip turns out to look much like those leasing fliers that’ve been floating around this spring, the layout will be mostly business in the front, parking in the back — plus a strip or 2 of pervious paving off to the sides:
That empty lot at the southeast corner of Taft and W. Gray streets has been getting its concrete skin broken up and cleared out lately, a number of readers note, as early work for the Alta at West Gray apartment midrise and its basement parking gets going. (The particularly dramatic shot above of the Downtown skyline peering over the wreckage was captured during the Friday morning mist by reader MontroseResident, though a few other cameras were on the scene before and after.) Until 2009 the site housed the Good Neighbor Healthcare Clinic (a conversion of another ex-Weingarten’s grocery, according to the business); Good Neighbor had plans to build a midrise healthcare and community center on the site, but ended up selling the land to serial Alta developers Wood Partners early last year. The new plan for the site may look something like this:
A few wee-hours shots of the bus shelter at the southwest corner of W. Gray St. and Waugh Dr. show the stop’s short-lived cosplay as a thatch-roofed, mask-encrusted tiki hutch before the Friday morning rush last week. The shelter’s ensemble included carpeting, some upgraded bench upholstry, and flora of varying degrees of believability. The stop, directly in front of the orange-faced units of the W. Gray Public Storage facility, was purportedly back in standard business attire by 9am — though a tipster suggests that more such evanescent redecorating jobs may pop up around town in the future.
The large and unambiguous letters now hovering out front of the new North Montrose version of semi-diet Tex-Mex joint Skinny Rita’s are accompanied by a small lockout notice, a rain-spattered reader notes this afternoon. The For Lease By Landlord declarations have replaced the restaurant’s logo on both sides of the freestanding sign on the property at 607 W. Gray St. (across the road from now listed as in-contractCecil’s Pub); another banner is hung on the fence facing the restaurant’s parking lot, in view of the Skinny Rita’s logo still up on the side of the building:
From the AIG tower neighboring to the north, a reader peers down behind the construction fencing now up at the corner of Waugh Dr. and D’Amico St., in an effort to figure out what might be gettin’ real in the Whole Foods Montrose parking lot. An employee tells Swamplot over the phone that the store is planting additional parking spaces on top of what was previously a walkway lined with grass and picnic tables, adding parking has been a squeeze on the weekends (which lines up pretty well with earlier reports from the scene). The rep also says that the tables (positioned across Waugh from BMW service garage Bavarian Machine Specialties and catty-corner to the health-and-beauty-shop-laden strip center across D’amico), were almost never used. Permits for the pave-over were issued at the end of May.
FOR SALE: CECIL’S PUB ON W. GRAY All 6,250 sq.ft. of Cecil’s Pub are now up for sale, after some 31 years of operation. A reader reports that the bar is still open for now, though an information sign from The Weitzman Group is up out front of the building at 600 W. Gray. Weitzman has a leasing flier up for the property as well; the bar sits on just under half an acre of land east of PJ’s Sports Bar (at the corner with Stanford St.) and north of Skinny Rita’s Cantina (last occupied by Eleven:Eleven); just down the street are the North Montrose branch of Barnaby’s Cafe and the planned site of the West Gray Plaza strip center. Photo: Swamplot inbox
The Panera marker previously spotted all by its lonesome in the leasing flier for Braun Enterprises’ redevelopment of 1705 W. Gray has picked up a companion in the form of the Kriser’s Natural Pet logo. The marker for the grain-averse pet supply and grooming store now appears on the freestanding former home of International Hair Salon & Nail Spa (shown above), previously marked up in Braun’s renderings as a possible coffee shop.
The reader who snagged the shot above also spent some time sniffing around the back and sides of the complex (to be known as the River Oaks Collection). The wall in the shot below is starting to get its coat of grey paint cleaned off to match the mottled brick exterior shown in the redo renderings:
Here’s a look at renderings of redeveloperBraunEnterprises‘s plans for some of its holdings just east of the intersection of W. Gray St. with Dunlavy down the street from the River Oaks shopping Center. The view above shows preliminary plans for the makeover of 1705 W. Gray St., which has also been collecting various light building and demo permits issued for the past few months.
The drawings currently on Braun’s leasing fliers (dubbing the center the River Oaks Collection) shows a Panera Bread settled in at the corner once occupied by Zephyr Hair and Chateau Grooming. Other potential future businesses are depicted in a more minimalist manner; the words books and boutique appear on the second floor space previously housing Passport, Photo & Visa Service Center, while salon and restaurant fill out the ground floor offerings.
Below is a site plan of the center, including the freestanding former home of International Hair Salon & Nail Spa, on the right across a driveway:
The metal arm of a future traffic signal is now reaching out of the ground across a few westbound lanes of Allen Pkwy. at the intersection with Dunlavy St. The new crosswalk will protect foot traffic on the way to bayou-side party-venue The Dunlavy and to the Adath Yeshurun Cemetery next door.