03/14/18 4:45pm

The Oxberry Group is ready to rechristen the vacant Gibbs Boats building at 1110 W. Gray St. as Rêve at Montrose: a new, patio-fronting shopping center. The boat business shuttered in the 11,696-sq.-ft. warehouse building it had occupied for 56 years after selling off the last of its fleet in 2014.

Major changes slated for the building now include a takedown of its shed-roofed portion closest to Montrose Blvd. In place of that area, outdoor seating — shown above in the rendering from Tipps Architecture — will line the street. A clock tower planted between the existing 1- and 2-story parts of the building would be its new high point. And at the north end of Gibbs’ former lot — next to the U-Plumb-It hardware store — a 2,630-sq.-ft. retail add-on would take the place of a yard once used for boat work.

The site plan below shows the addition (colored red) jutting out and separating the pedestrian plaza from a driveway to the planned parking lot:


Rêve at Montrose
03/12/18 10:30am

Banners for Cedars Tapas Bar — the new restaurant on its way to 403 W. Gray — are now covering up both the plywood board on the building’s forehead and the sign left over from Ship & Shield’s tenancy in the space. The Viking-themed restaurant abandoned the building last December, and property owner Braun Realty is now waiting on the new Lebanese bakery to move in.

Braun bought the the 2,055-sq.-ft. restaurant building in 2016, the same year Ship & Shield took it over from Byzantio’s. Since then, the developer has put up a new retail building on the once-vacant lot just east of restaurant, near Taft St. Its west side is visible beyond Cedars’ sign in the photo above.

Photos: Swamplot inbox

North Montrose Makeover
03/07/18 1:30pm

Skinny Rita’s is about halfway through its last stand in Montrose this afternoon, thanks to the excavator now parked on what used to be its patio. The health-minded Mexican restaurant at 607 W. Gray St. sat vacant since its owners closed the place down last February. Nine months later, The Platform Group snatched up the former cantina along with its neighbor, the Traci Scott Hair Salon (visible beyond the wrecking arm in the photo at top), where business is proceeding as usual despite the racket next door.

A few more angles on the tear down show piles of rubble getting ready to overflow the patio fencing:


Montrose Pair Minus One
03/05/18 4:45pm

Now that construction work on the new retail structure Braun Enterprises is developing at 311 W. Gray has headed indoors, a collection of building permits up on the window near the building’s northwest corner names one of its occupants: Me’Lange Restaurant. Last spring, the Chronicle reported that a second location of Kirby fast food spot Viet’s Express would move into the new strip alongside an office of Feather & Fur Animal Hospital. Back then, the 18,221-sq.-ft. plot just west of West Gray Cleaners on the corner of Taft St. was still just a vacant lot; construction began later in 2017.

A parking lot that runs lengthwise behind the building wraps around its west side as it heads for the curb cut on W. Gray:


Cultural Melange
03/02/18 2:00pm

Repairs on PJ’s Sports Bar’s patio have the outdoor space back up and running after a sports car hopped the curb near the corner of W. Gray St. and Stanford and nearly totaled the seating area in January. One driver was hospitalized, but there were no major injuries at the scene pictured above; it was past last call when the accident occurred. The bar’s patio, however, remained in pieces for nearly 2 months after emergency workers removed the projectile.

Now, only one pre-crash item remains absent from the bar’s frontage at 614 W. Gray: the fluorescent crosswalk sign shown on the ground in the photo below:


High-Speed Corners
02/26/18 1:00pm

Crews took down the letters on KHOU’s antenna tower one by one last Friday — as shown in the drone footage above — leaving the channel’s signage absent from the vacant studio next to Houston’s main drainage channel, Buffalo Bayou. At the beginning of this month, the station reported that an undisclosed buyer had the 1945 Allen Pkwy. property under contract.

For the past 5 months, the teevee crew has been broadcasting temporarily from Houston Public Media’s office at UH, which it expects to leave for a permanent home at the end of this year. The whereabouts of the new newsroom — which will incorporate the original KHOU signage in its design — haven’t been announced yet. However, plans were revealed last December for a coming satellite studio that’s slated to open opposite Discovery Green in the GRB before the station goes live from a new main headquarters.

Video: Shern-Min Chow

Channel Changes
02/22/18 11:30am

Radom Capital is entertaining 2 different ideas for the former Stages theater on the block of Rosine across D’Amico St. from its planned new complex: either a hotel or a combination of retail, restaurant, and office tenants. The developer bought Stages’ current spot in the long structure at 3201 Allen Pkwy — built in 1929 to house the Star Engraving Company — as well as the warehouse behind it last year. Renovations are now slated to begin on both the Star building and the warehouse behind it — both indicated in the site plan above — once the theater takes off in 2019.

The rendering of the warehouse at top put out by Radom shows new openings in its exterior, including a boxy balcony on its second floor and an entrance at ground level fronting D’Amico. An outdoor staircase ascends from where the greens-skinned building meets its western neighbor — the parking garage for the Reata at River Oaks condos — and heads up to a second-story entrance. Stages’ new theater sits across D’Amico, opposite a front lawn at the other end of the colorful crosswalk on the left.

Here’s a look at the new playhouse — dubbed The Gordy — sitting in its own renovated warehouse with touch ups by architecture firm Gensler:


North Montrose Ensemble
02/15/18 4:30pm

If the Platform Group has settled on a plan for redeveloping the corner of W. Gray St. and Stanford, it hasn’t made it known yet. An entity connected to the developer bought the white corner building home to the Traci Scott hair salon and the former Skinny Rita’s restaurant adjacent to it last December. The firm’s website now explains it’s “in the early stages of feasibility studies” for the pair of 2-stories at 615 and 607 W. Gray.

The 2 buildings share the parking lot visible in the snow-capped aerial above with entrances on W. Gray as well as one on Stanford, behind the hair salon. Not pictured is a narrow patio that runs along the chop shop’s Stanford side. A larger fenced-off seating area and upper deck currently front W. Gray outside the former restaurant, which closed last February after just under a year in the building.

Here’s a closer up view of Skinny Rita’s seating taken from the parking lot entrance between the 2 buildings just after the restaurant vacated the premises:


Skinny Rita’s Plus One
01/11/18 4:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: DIDN’T MEAN TO STOP AT PJ’S SPORTS BAR THAT NIGHT “Love the ‘he forgot his bumper’ story, but it’s not true. I was driving my S4 eastbound on W. Gray, and the Ford apparently ran the stop sign at Stanford northbound and knocked me across the road and into PJ’s. My car was smashed on both ends and definitely could not be driven. Maybe the cops towed it promptly — I was busy bleeding on the lawn and talking to witnesses as I waited on an ambulance. Two nights in the hospital, but I’ll be fine.” [Stefan, commenting on The New Audi-Sized Hole Drilled into PJ’s Sports Bar on W. Gray Last Night] Photo: Swamplot inbox

01/08/18 3:30pm

A car gunning for PJ’s Sports Bar on the corner of W. Gray and Stanford St. ended up inside the bar’s front patio last night. Nobody was seriously injured after a traffic mix-up between a Ford and the Audi pictured above sent the sports car sailing into the sports bar at around 11 PM last night. PJ’s was closed at the time.

The Ford came to a stop upside down, in between 614 W. Gray and its neighbor — Cecil’s Pub:


A Front Porch Welcome
12/07/17 12:00pm

Sure, Houston Axe — just off 59 on Larkwood Dr. — is convenient to Sharpstown and Bellaire, but Houston’s soon-to-come second indoor axe-throwing venue will likely be better located. Ratchet Hatchet plans to take over the former Vue Nightclub space on the second floor of the strip center at the corner of Waugh Dr. and Allen Pkwy., across the street from Whole Foods and the America Tower. But that also puts it very close to the Marshall Back & Body Wellness Center, the Montrose Eye Care clinic, and a branch of Farmers Insurance in the same strip center. Also, both the Hand Care Center and Foot Surgery Specialists of Texas are located only a block south.

Permits filed with the City of Houston show that the facility at 524 Waugh Dr. will be 1,700 sq. ft. That address likely puts it right above Bayou Liquor in this photo:


Ratchet Hatchet
11/16/17 2:45pm

Teevee station KHOU is giving up on its 3.2-acre bayou-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:


Anchors Away
10/25/17 12:30pm

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.

Photos: Margo (River Oaks Plaza); Katie Schon (River Oaks Shopping Center)

End Cap Tales
08/28/17 11:00am

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.

Video: Evan Mallett

Dunlavy to Waugh
06/14/17 12:45pm

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:


Gargoyles in the Wings