09/27/16 11:30am

COUNTY APPROVES FIRST $10.5 MILLION FOR ASTRODOME BASEMENT PARKING GARAGE PLAN Proposed Astrodome Parking Garage PlansThe Harris County commissioner’s court voted this morning to approve the design phase of that plan to fill in the Astrodome’s below-grade levels with a 2-story parking garage. Mihir Zavari writes that today’s vote okayed the first tenth of the estimated $105 million cost, which the commissioners say will be split between hotel taxes, parking revenue, and the county’s general fund; Zavari notes that “the general fund component, around $30 million, is roughly equivalent to the amount the county estimates it would cost to demolish the Dome.” [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Image of Astrodome parking garage conversion plans: Harris County Engineering Department

07/08/16 3:15pm

Fairview + Mason renderings

Meteor, 2306 Genesee St, Montrose, HoustonSo You Think You Can Drag hit the stage at  South Beach last night — a permanent move for the event in the wake of  Wednesday‘s permanent closure of Meteor Lounge at 2306 Genesee St. The bar and semi-aquatic drag and dance venue had been renting its space back temporarily while developer Fred Sharifi worked on designs and permits for the redevelopment of the East Montrose neighborhood around Fairview Ave. and Mason St.; Adolfo Pesquera noted in early April that the project (under the name Fairview + Mason) had been granted a variance request.

The application for that request included the drawing above of the 6-story parking garage that’s planned to replace Meteor; the exterior, perhaps following Rice University’s lead on parking garage modesty coverings, appears to be artfully encrusted with bicycles, with the words MONT and ROSE emblazoned beneath.

The variance request asked the city for permission to cross some building setback lines and to add some canopies along 2 different blocks on Fairview — the site plan below points them out, catty-cornered between the block holding the Mason St. electrical substation and the block holding Max’s Wine Dive, Cuchara, and Flow:

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Farewell on Fairview
07/01/16 1:30pm

Proposed Astrodome Parking Garage Plans

Here are some of the plans the Harris County commissioners looked over this week as they reviewed the engineering study for the proposal to raise the Astrodome’s below-grade floor and stick a parking garage beneath it. The view above shows an entrance ramp for cars from the east, with a service ramp running up from the southwest; NRG Stadium is shown peeking in on the scene from the left.

Got questions about the plan, or about anything else Dome-related? Someone claiming to be involved with the project is now taking inquiries from all comers over on Reddit. The thread started up yesterday and was still active this morning; topics addressed so far have included how the latest proposal would be funded, the feasibility of that spiral-ey skeletonized park idea, and the surprising number of people who have suggested turning the Dome into an indoor skiing venue.

The poster says they’ll try to keep checking back to answer new questions. While you wait, have a look at more views of the proposed changes to the structure — here’s what the ground-level park on Level 3 might look like, with pedestrian entrances on all 4 sides:

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Park and Parking Plans
03/30/16 12:45pm

Foundation pour at 1111 Rusk St., Downtown, Houston, 77002

Rendering of Houston Luxury Apartments, 1111 Rusk St., Downtown, Houston (3)

Above is the after shot of the foundation pour that wrapped up late yesterday morning behind the former Texaco building currently getting made over as The Star at 1111 Rusk St. The pour started around 10pm on Monday night, a reader reports from up above the scene, noting that crews have been laying rebar for the last few weeks. The square-ish foundation was put down on the western end of the rectangular footprint of the parking garage planned to run from Fannin to San Jacinto along Capitol St.; renderings released in 2013 show a residential highrise tower growing out of the top of that part of the structure.

Downtown Houston’s page on the project still shows a rendering that includes the tower, which was of undecided height (so long as it was at least 20 stories above the parking garage) as of 2013. The current project description makes no mention of the planned highrise, however, and the rendering of the project on designer Hnedak Bobo Group’s site, currently shows only the planned parking garage, with the parking capacity estimate bumped up to 750 spaces:

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Mat Pour On Capitol St.
03/28/16 11:00am

Midtown Park Site Plan, Early 2015, Midtown, Houston, 77006

Some permits came through last week for the apartment-straddling park planned for the Midtown Superblock (the long and mostly-long-vacant 6-acre stretch between McGowen and Anita on the west side of Main St.). Freshly permitted structures on the docket include a 4,297-sq.-ft. pavilion, a ticket canopy, and a bathroom building. Broader sitework has also been given the go-ahead, as has a foot bridge (possibly over the wetland area previously mentioned in announcements for the project).

The spotlight-heavy rendering above shows the park from Anita St., looking north at the ghostly form of the Camden McGowen Station apartments currently on their way up in the middle of the site. The park’s largest greenspace and lawn will spread out atop the underground parking garage that’s wrapping up, once it’s fully underground. HAIF user hindesky snapped a recent photo of the burial site, also showing the Camden building starting to rise in the background to the north under the guidance of the remaining crane:

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Midtown Superblock
03/16/16 4:00pm

Corporate Plaza I Demolition, Kirby at Norfolk, Upper Kirby, Houston, 77098

The progress on the piece-by-piece disassembly of Corporate Plaza I can be seen in the above overcast shot of the building’s increasingly skeletal profile, here partially obscured by 2 American Red Cross buildings and by a Texas Direct Auto billboard. The 1972 midrise on 59 just west of Kirby Dr. is the last and tallest of the 3 similarly-clad office buildings previously occupying the site; the tower’s facade started to go missing shortly before the way-faster-than-intended teardown of the last of the plaza’s 7-story parking garage, which nearly turned the tables the demo team on its way down last month.

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Status Check
02/10/16 2:00pm

Yesterday’s unexpected acceleration of the parking garage demolition at Corporate Plaza hasn’t stopped plans to continue the ongoing deconstruction at Kirby Dr. and 59. An office worker across Kirby caught video of the narrow remaining slice of the 7-story structure tipping over and collapsing onto the excavator that had been tugging at a spot on the 5th floor.

The video (which also contains running commentary and a few surprised expletives) shows the other excavator and the rest of the demo team gathering as the dust clears to check on the operator, who emerges from the machine unscathed moments later. A Cherry Companies spokesman told CBS that the demolition work would continue as scheduled despite the office park’s attempt to turn the tables.

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Turnabout at 59 and Kirby
01/28/16 3:15pm

Corporate Plaza Garage Demolition, Kirby at Norfolk, Upper Kirby, Houston, 77098

Teardown work started yesterday morning on the parking garage behind the Corporate Plaza II and III buildings (shortly after Blanco’s got hosed down less than a mile away). North and east of the garage (that’s center and left in the above photo), the last crumbs of Miyako, Madras Pavilion, and Red Onion were swept away earlier this month.

A reader with eyes glued to the unfolding carnage sent the above overview shot, which shows the Corporate Plaza I midrise hiding unsuccessfully behind the disappearing parking garage as it awaits its own upcoming erasure. The next-door headquarters of the Houston chapter of the American Red Cross are visible on the right side of the photo, as a West University water tower gives the building bunny ears.

Another reader sends these shot of an excavator gingerly yanking at the bottom of one of the interior support beams of the 7-story structure early yesterday afternoon:

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And Then There Was 1
12/29/15 3:30pm

Construction at the Children's Assessment Center, 2500 Bolsover St, Rice Village, Houston, TX 77005

The tearing down is done — the old parking garage at the Children’s Assessment Center on Bolsover St. in the Rice Village is gone, following the completion of the facility’s new garage (a sliver of which can be seen peeking into the right of the frame in the shot above from Dustan St. along the northern edge of the property). A furtive glance through the back gate of the construction site reveals that the freshly cleared field between the the new garage and the Center’s original 1998 building (on the left) is already being overgrown by forms and thin PVC pipes, sprouting in advance of the 4-story 89,000-sq.-ft. facility expansion that will rise in the newly-vacated gap over the coming months. The Center, which provides free care and services for sexually abused children and their families, put its new garage’s 420-space foot down on the former Village Plaza Shopping Center, kicking the leftover bit of the block to the Frost Bank now fronting Kirby.

The rendering of the completed project from Gensler has taken on more concrete definition since it initially surfaced several years ago:

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Down and Up on Kirby
12/14/15 3:15pm

Proposed Office Building and Parking Garage at Rice University, 6100 Main St., Houston, 77005

Don’t stare: next week, Rice University will begin construction of a new 6-story parking garage, which will be hidden from roving eyes in the Med Center across the street by giant plastic scrims covered in images of fig leaves.  The 496-space garage will go up on part of the existing Lovett parking lot (just off Main Street, northwest of the intersection with Cambridge, at campus Entrance 3) and will come with an attached office building tastefully tucked alongside (in pale blue below):

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A Modest Proposal
12/01/15 1:30pm

Meteor, 2306 Genesee St, Montrose, Houston

Wholesale changes could be coming to East Montrose next summer, if all goes according to the grand lower-Fairview plans of restaurateur-turned-developer Fred Sharifi. The stated goal for his latest development — planned along 3 blocks of Fairview stretching from Taft to Genesee — is to bring a little more diurnal activity to the area, better known for its narrow, potholed streets and vibrant nightlife. That nightlife seems likely to dim, as the new plans call for the eventual extinguishing of Meteor, a mainstay of Houston’s drag community.

“We are not going to have any bars in the neighborhood,” Sharifi recently told Mark Boyle of KPRC, apparently classifying his own Max’s Wine Dive on Fairview at Taft as either beyond the neighborhood or not a bar. Sharifi’s other nearby holdings on Fairview include Gratifi and Cuchara, the Mexico City-style restaurant with rule cards for kiddos.

A 5- or 6-story parking garage perched atop 10,000 sq. ft. of office and retail space (labeled “E” in the rendering below), is proposed for the Meteor site at 2302-2308 Genesee St.:

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East Montrose Overhaul
06/23/15 1:45pm

REVEALING THE FULL PLAN FOR SKANSKA’S DOWNTOWN BLOCK WILL TAKE SOME TIME Construction of Temporary Parking Garage, Houston Club Building, 811 Rusk St., Downtown HoustonThe Chronicle‘s Nancy Sarnoff does her level best to decipher and explain the strange sequence of events at Skanska’s ongoing demolition-construction-demolition-construction project across the street from Pennzoil Place: “The developer planning Capitol Tower, the 35-story office building slated for downtown’s former Houston Club building site, is planning to pour the foundation for the structure next month, but as of now, there are no plans to construct the tower portion of the project. So what’s with all the construction on the property? The Houston Club building was imploded last year, but the garage on the site was to remain because of an existing parking contract. During the implosion, however, the garage was damaged and had to be demolished. Project developer Skanska USA Commercial Development is now building a new garage on the southern half of the block. ‘We’re still executing our project plans,’ said Michael Mair, executive vice president and regional manager for Skanska USA in Houston.” Left out of the explanation: The multi-story steel parking structure and ramps Skanska built for the garage before it was demolished — pictured here under construction in front of the then-still-standing Houston Club Building last March. The downtown block, surrounded by Rusk, Travis, Milam, and Capitol streets, is now empty. [Prime Property; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Swamplot inbox

06/18/15 11:15am

Ferrari of The Woodlands, 1501 Lake Robbins Dr., Suite 150, The Woodlands, Texas

The ground floor lease space labeled Suite 150 in the 2,000-car parking garage at 1501 Lake Robbins Dr. in The Woodlands Town Center — just a couple doors down from the storefront in the same building that used to house Northside Fiat — is now home to the Houston area’s second factory authorized Ferrari dealership. Unlike your typical dealership (and the same owner’s Ferrari of Houston, at the top of the bend of the Southwest Fwy.), there’s no lot and no service or parts department.

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Waterway Square
05/28/15 4:30pm

FLOOD NIGHT AT THE EDWARDS CINEMA GREENWAY PARKING GARAGE Edwards Greenway Grand Palace 24, 3839 Weslayan St., Greenway Plaza, HoustonSUV-deprived Woodland Heights resident Mimi Swartz explains how she and her husband came to spend the very wet night of May 25th reclined in the front seats of their Honda Civic in the parking garage of the Edwards Greenway Grand Palace 24 at 3839 Weslayan St. — with a flank steak thawing in the wayback. They were on their way to a dry, refrigerator-equipped hideaway at the Hotel Derek when a stalled train and some high water blocked their tracks: “Next thought: About 0.7 miles to the south was a multiplex. We could catch a late show. Afterward, surely, the rain would have stopped and the water receded. If not, this place at least had covered parking. All during the 10:45 show of ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ — four other rain-soaked refugees had had the same idea — I couldn’t help thinking that if we’d had a truck like that of Charlize Theron’s character, I’d be asleep in bed instead of wondering how someone had managed to digitize her arm out of every shot. By 12:45 a.m., the rain had not stopped. For a while, we stood in the parking garage beside the car, and I tried to snap cellphone photos of the lightning. The street below us displayed an impressive current. Finally, John and I got in the car and put the seats back as flat as they would go. Thirty years ago, this would have been exciting.” [NY Times] Photo: Cinema Treasures

05/22/15 3:30pm

Parking Garage, Mix at Midtown, Milam St. at Elgin St., Midtown, Houston

Parking Garage, Mix at Midtown, Milam St. at Elgin St., Midtown, HoustonThe parking garage behind the Mix at Midtown retail center between Louisiana and Milam south of Elgin St. is still in operation after last week’s fire, but photos sent to Swamplot yesterday from the scene show that the steel 3-level structure behind 24 Hour Fitness, Holley’s Seafood Restaurant, Piola, and other businesses facing Milam St. isn’t operating at capacity. At least a dozen parking spaces on the middle and top level are blocked off, noted as unsafe because of fire damage to the structure:

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Stand Back