Robocop may have moved on to the real Detroit, but Houston will always have Reality Bites. And today folks around the movie biz are celebrating the movie’s twentieth anniversary. The Winona Ryder-Ben Stiller-Janeane Garofalo-Ethan Hawke pic filmed here and there about Houston (with a few disguised-L.A. settings thrown in for good measure) was released on February 18, 1994. In and around the Gen X coming-of-age coming-out reality-TV disaffection storyline, the movie depicted the overgrown charms of Alden Place, the little North Montrose neighborhood of duplexes and 4-plexes that made living in the shadows of Downtown seem so easy and affordable back then. Twenty years on, how’s it doing?
Could the clipped and sculpted shrubbery outside this 1998 townhome (top) with fenced side yard have sent invasive shoots inside? A colony of photo-ready greenery appears to have taken root and taken over (above) within the otherwise cleared out corner unit, located in the Bakerdale subdivision of North Montrose, east of Montrose Blvd. near Wharton Elementary School on West Gray. The plantings aren’t the only signs of growth for the property. The asking price for the property, which earlier today was listed for a third time, is now $309,900. Back in its initial listing in September 2012, the price tag was $280K, which went down to $274,900 in October. A price reduction soon thereafter to $269,900 preceded the property being withdrawn from the market the following month.
A slope, a staircase, and 3 floors of living space likely make an across-the-traffic bayou-view 1998 townhome on Allen Pkwy. east of Montrose Blvd. a bit of a workout as well as a place to rest. The end unit rising behind Buffalo Terrace is part of the 11-home Townes of Buffalo Bayou development, designed by Looney Ricks Kiss. It went up for sale Monday, with a $450,000 asking price.
Here’s a rendering that shows how that informal dog bowl along Buffalo Bayou near Montrose Blvd. will be formalized and capitalized into a Dog Park. Construction, says a PR rep for the Buffalo Bayou Partnership, will begin the first of the year; the park should be open next winter.
Why, you might wonder, would it take that long to build a place for dogs to romp and run and bark and stuff? Part of it will be creating the pond you can see in the rendering. The pond, which will be treated with a “bio-filter” and native vegetation, is meant to keep said dogs 1) safe and 2) away from the bayou, so they don’t muddy up the banks scrambling in and out of the water and contribute to erosion. Other additions? A purty fence that will separate the pups from the joggers and 2 pavilions, at the top of the hill, that will provide a bit more shade.
Another Austin chain is moving inside the Loop: Mama Fu’s Asian House, which appears to pull its menu items indiscriminately from China, Vietnam, Thailand, Japan, and Korea, is replacing the former Souper Salad at 1574 W. Gray. About a year ago, franchisee Steve Chappelear — who also owns 8 Buffalo Wild Wings here — said he was planning to open 18 Mama Fu’s in Houston; this would be the first.
A reader sends this photo of the construction progress of that Regent Square-ish residential tower the Sovereign. The 21-story, 290-unit building designed by Ziegler Cooper is going up on West Dallas between Rosine and Rochow, where some of the old Allen House Apartments used to stand.
The North Montrose site is just around the corner from Dunlavy, where other dirt is being pushed around to make way for Regent Square. The Sovereign, contrary to its name, was originally planned by Boston developer GID to become one of the uses in that mixed-use spread, but the 2 projects are listed separately on the company website. After the jump, you can see the renderings of the Sovereign that Swamplot published last summer.
It doesn’t seem that this grassy, fenced-in lot along Montrose between W. Dallas and Allen Pkwy. is going to change very much: All that scraping and dragging a few weeks ago was to level the ground for a cricket field, according to a contractor at the firm responsible for doing the dirt work. The Aga Khan Youth and Sports Facility, the contractor says, will comprise that cricket field, a pair of soccer fields, and a concession stand. In 2006, the Aga Khan Foundation purchased and demolished the Robinson Warehouse on this frequently flooded 11-acre property and said it was planning to build an Ismaili Center here.
A reader sends this photo of the site prep going on at the fenced-in empty lot that made a recent cameo in that Montrose Dancing Rollerblader featurette. Owned since 2006 by the Aga Khan Foundation, which has said it planned to build an Ismaili Center here on the flood-prone makeshift dog park on Montrose between W. Dallas and Allen Pkwy., the property hasn’t seen much activity — other than the dancing, of course — for awhile.
Until this week, that is. And now the reader wants to know what the deal might be: “Looks like a lot of development is happening in this block. I read . . . about the development on the AIG side [of Montrose], but now the other side, next to those Amli apartments, seems to be breaking ground on something large. Any idea what’s gonna be placed there?”
COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE RIVER OAKS SHOPPING CENTER’S COMING DOUBLE MOCHA LATTE PROBLEM “Finger is adding 431 units next to Whole Foods, Regent Square is putting up 290 units down the street in their apartment tower, Hanover at W. Gray and Waugh will be 275 units, the Richdale development on W. Gray where the ballet used to be is supposed to be 160 units and this new one on Montrose and Dallas will probably be at least 250 judging from the size of the lot and the economics of apartment complexes. That makes somewhere in the neighborhood of 1300-1400 new units all within about a mile of each other. That will certainly impact traffic in the area. The bigger impact is going to be on retail in the area. A couple thousand more people are going to be living in the area, yet the retail layout is largely going to remain the same. Regent Square may finally get active and save the day with some needed retail and restaurants. But once all the apartments fill up, there will be long lines at Starbucks whether you are on the north side of W. Gray, southside or inside Barnes and Nobles.” [Old School, commenting on The Apartments Behind the Finger Apartments Behind the Montrose Whole Foods]
What’s going on here? From behind a window across W. Dallas, a reader sends this photo and wants to know. According to a construction manager on site, the work to this point has involved utility excavation for what will be, he says, “Class A apartments.”
After slinking its nameplate away from a prominent site in North Montrose sometime after the company’s name became a not-so-revered household word in the aftermath of the late-noughts financial meltdown and the $182 billion in government bailouts it received (see sign-free photo at right from last month), insurance giant AIG has decided the froth has subsided enough that it can call itself AIG again. This week a new shroud disguising a new-again three-letter logo was lifted on the 42-story America Tower — er, AIG Building — in the American General Center at 2929 Allen Pkwy.
COMMENT OF THE DAY: AUDIO VIDEO PLUS CAROL “I’ve had a membership there for almost 30 years. As some have mentioned, many products of the obscure variety have NEVER come out on DVD, and may not for a while for legal reasons. These fine folks never got rid of ANYTHING!! They carry more foreign language and silent movies than most places (when places like this existed everywhere) carry titles. Another blow to the artsy side of Houston, is losing this Mecca for Movies. My last purchase there was a Carol Burnett barbie doll, dressed like her role in “Went With the Wind.” I got it for mom for Christmas.” [Rich, commenting on Audio Video Plus on Waugh is Clearing It Out]