10/31/18 1:00pm

Here’s another highlight from the city council’s meeting this morning: Plans to get rid of the cloverleaf interchange that moves traffic between Waugh Dr. and Memorial Dr. got the green-light and will be sent over to the Houston Galveston Area Council as part of an application for funding. The idea first emerged in the Buffalo Bayou Partnership’s 2002 Master Plan as a way to make room for more bayou-side park space at the crossroads. Right now, all the land adjacent to the ramps — shaded gray in the map above — is vacant, except for the portions lassoed by the circular roadways, where 4 isolated tree groves continue to undergo seasonal color changes. You can see they’re gone in the east-facing rendering at top included in the Partnership’s plan — replaced by inlets, islands, stormwater detention, and what looks to be a boathouse at the southeast corner of the 2 roads — all accessible from a network of new walkways that link up to existing bayou-adjacent trails.

In total, 16 new acres are expected to become part of the park — providing a continuous swath of green between Spotts Park and Cleveland Park, shown below on opposite sides of Waugh in a map from the 2002 plan:

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Traffic Lights Likely
10/15/18 10:15am

The owner of the abandoned restaurant storefront on Taft St. south of W. Gray didn’t waste much time in trashing the place after acquiring it in June. A demo permit filed last month condemned both the street-fronting building shown above and its backyard bungalow. The photo at top shows the state of things on Friday afternoon.

The new owner also bought the neighboring brick house on Peden St. around the same time:

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A Flash in the Pan
10/12/18 10:00am

HINES PICKING UP LESS THAN AN ACRE ACROSS FROM MONTROSE WHOLE FOODS PARKING LOT The developer entered into an agreement earlier this year to buy the property at the corner of Waugh Dr. and D’Amico St., reports the HBJ’s Olivia Pulsinelli in her round-up of recent North Montrose land sales. On-site that nearly three-quarter acre parcel right now: a parking lot, driveways, and 2-story dingbat office building that backs up to the adjacent strip housing Pimlico Irish Pub and others. To the east, BMW-focused auto shop Bavarian Machine Specialties buffers the tract from what’ll soon be Stages Repertory Theatre’s new theater and green space on Rosine St. [HBJ] Photo: LoopNet

08/27/18 2:00pm

The outline of a 20-story apartment building called Montrose Gardens made its first public appearance late Friday in the city’s planning commission agenda, where its footprint covers over that of the Khun Kay Thai Cafe on the corner of Montrose Blvd. and W. Clay St. Only 9 of those stories will be for living, so what’s going into the rest? According to the building’s engineer: “A variety of retail stores, restaurants, and coffee shops” — all 24,000 sq.-ft. of which would be buffered from the 150-or-so upstairs apartments by 9 stories of resident-only parking. Underground, a separate 2 floor garage will gobble up retail traffic from an opening on W. Clay.

Also present on the 19,900-sq.-ft. site where the apartment’s staking its claim: the restaurant’s 2 parking lots. The northern one ran over the duplex-turned-psychic-shop directly south of it after the structure — memorialized in the aerial below — was demolished in 2016:

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Montrose Gardens
07/19/18 5:00pm

Next Saturday, Houston’s historic commission is set to consider a request that new old signage be installed on the former Gibbs Boats building at 1110 W. Gray as part of the renovation to turn it into a new shopping center dubbed Rêve Montrose. The QUALITY LAUNDRY lettering is a nod to the 1936 structure’s original tenant — pictured above — which turned the place over to Gibbs in 1958. According to the rendering above, the replica sign and accompanying pyramidal support structure are set to be installed in the same location as the originals.

Since the Oxberry Group announced its redo plan for the building in March, some of its W. Gray façade has been scratched off, revealing traces of the original brick underneath where the G in Gibbs used to front the street:

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W. Gray and Montrose
06/21/18 1:00pm

The east side of the building that fronts McDuffie St. — next door to the River Oaks Theatre — has been quiet since an early Monday morning blaze torched Nail-Tique salon, doing some damage to the Steinway Piano Gallery in the process. It all started when an air conditioner on the roof overheated and caught fire, shorting the connection to an electrical box on the building that then ignited as well, reports the Chronicle.

No pianos caught fire — according to an employee at Epicure Cafe around the corner on W. Gray — but there was smoke damage in the music store, and firefighters busted out some of its windows to access the flaming salon next door. Nail-Tique is now closed indefinitely, while the adjacent piano store plans to reopen next month, as decreed by the sign now posted in its window. Unharmed by the blaze: the building’s movie theater anchor, reports one of its employees.

Photos: Swamplox inbox

McDuffie St.
05/24/18 3:30pm

This just in: Photos from a Swamplot reader show the wreckage at KHOU’s 58-year-old Buffalo Bayou–side headquarters, abandoned since staff fled it for Houston Public Media’s less flood-prone Elgin St. newsroom shortly after Harvey. Following a few days of demolition, the building at 1945 Allen Pkwy has been almost entirely leveled.

The second photo above shows the Service Corporation International building looming over the dead news building. An entity connected to SCI — a national funeral home business — recently acquired KHOU’s former 3.2-acre spot.

KHOU’s antennastripped of its lettering since February — is now the only thing that fronts the neighboring tower’s west side:

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Breaking News
05/21/18 1:00pm

The owners of the hamburger, Mexican food, barbecue, and fish restaurant on the northwest corner of Taft and Peden — dubbed “Greased Lightning Pit Stop” by the sign hanging on it for over a decade — have listed it for sale at $750,000. Also included in the offer: the storefront adjacent to it and a run-down bungalow diagonally behind the restaurant.

The bungalow sits on a separate, 5,000-sq.-ft. lot beyond the fence shown below:

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Taft and Peden
05/03/18 10:15am

A reader sends photos looking inside a gutted corner of the southern River Oaks Shopping Center building east of McDuffie St. Formerly home to California Pizza Kitchen, Evolve Fitness Studio, Birraporetti’s, and Sherlock’s Pub, it’s now slated for a 2-floor Perry’s Steakhouse & Grille. A TABC notice has been posted on the storefront since March:

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W. Gray & McDuffie
05/02/18 4:00pm

WHAT’S INCLUDED IN JOHNNY STEELE DOG PARK’S FLOOD-INDUCED REDO The caretakers of that oft-flooded pet park near Buffalo Bayou now say that “After careful consideration, we are making changes to the Johnny Steele Dog Park to improve maintenance operations and the park’s functionality.” Among those changes: getting rid of the pond in the large dog play area, rerouting the pond in the small dog area so that it flows through both sections, adding a “new seating wall” at the edge of the water, expanding the lawns throughout the park, enlarging the entrance to the large dog area, and creating a new entrance to the small dog area — all of which is expected to be done by early summer. [Previously on Swamplot] Photo: Buffalo Bayou Partnership

Releasing the Hounds
04/17/18 10:15am

Wharton Elementary School’s 3-story backyard addition has moved up steadily from its previous grade level since 2016 and is now standing tall behind the existing single-story schoolhouse at 900 W. Gray. The least-finished portion of the new building shown in the photo at top is where the school’s new glassy main entrance will go in supplement of the current one at the front of the existing building. North of the 3-story entry atrium facing Columbus St., the new first floor will house mostly administrative offices — with some added classrooms above them.

A shady but still grassless courtyard separates the new structure from the old:

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Schooling North Montrose
04/05/18 12:30pm

A bunch of pipes arrived yesterday in the vacant field behind a pair of Montrose video stores, a Swamplot reader reports. Audio Video Plus shut down 6 years ago, next door to it on W. Clay is the warehouse home to the lesser known Astro Audio Video equipment rental store — also shuttered. The photo above shows the scene on Peveto St. behind the latter store.

Audio Video Plus neighbors another vacant storefront — Quintanilla Jewelers — in the strip mall on the corner of Waugh:

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North Montrose
03/26/18 4:00pm

The Aqua Hand Car Wash & Detail on the corner of W. Dallas could get even wetter pending the TABC’s permission for the business to serve mixed drinks on-site. The photo above, sent in by a Swamplot reader, shows the 680-sq.-ft., butterfly-roofed building where a notice naming Aqua Heights LLC as the applicant for a mixed beverage permit now hangs in the window.

The building went up on the long-vacant field at 1013 Montrose in 2011. Washing, waxing, and detailing take place in a parking lot to the east and south of the structure.

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Wet Bar
03/22/18 5:00pm

Orange barricades now flank the far east side of the northern portion of the River Oaks Shopping Center where a 30-story highrise — dubbed The Driscoll — is planned in place of Café Ginger’s original corner spot on W. Gray. The saucer-like tower shown in the photo above was appended to the retail building as one of many modifications its owner Weingarten Realty has made to the originally Art Deco structure over the years. When the new apartment rises, it’ll tower over 5 storefronts in the retail center, as opposed to just one.

Café Ginger’s northern neighbor Local Pour also shuttered in the portion of the building that’s replaced by The Driscoll’s lobby in the rendering below from architect Ziegler Cooper:

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The Driscoll
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:

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Rêve at Montrose