12/29/16 4:30pm

Meteor, 2306 Genesee St, Montrose, Houston
Demolition of Meteor, 2306 Genesee St, Montrose, Houston

Demolition of Meteor, 2306 Genesee St, Montrose, HoustonSome fluffy pink batting stands out amid the debris spotted this week at the corner of Genessee and Fairview streets, being swept clean of shower-centric nightclub and regular drag venue Meteor. The teardown makes room for work to start on that 5-story parking garage (the one that might be getting the artful crust of bicycles). Construction on the Fairview District, a six-block project including the parking garage, some office space, and more restaurant and retail spots, is supposed to get rolling in January, according to developer Fred Sharifi (also behind the Max’s Wine Dive visible peeking out from the left of the shot above, as well as its re-bricked strip-center companions).

A reader driving by caught a few shots of an excavator and a big red dumpster on the scene, loitering close to the Fairview-facing side where the Midtown Aegean Auto shack was — both the auto shop and Meteor received their very own demo permits just in time for Christmas, and the club was reportedly well on its way toward obliteration by Monday afternoon. A view from across Genesee shows that the club’s clumps of privacy bamboo were still standing as of Tuesday:

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Fairview Farewells
11/08/16 3:45pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE CHICKEN, THE EGG, AND THE HOUSTON SPRAWLSCAPE Proposed Heights H-E-B with 10 ft. building setback“I do usually avoid stores with no bike parking or unfriendly pedestrian/bike access, so I see the other side of [the parking lot] coin. Stores need to cater to their customers; it’s customer demand that’s ultimately at fault for hideous parking lots and runoff and heat islands and sprawl and all the rest. But one way to drive demand is creating feedback loops, and one way to start that is stores building less parking.” [Sid, commenting on H-E-B’s Plan and Backup Plan for the Double Decker Heights Dry Zone Store] Rendering of preliminary parking garage plans for N. Shepherd H-E-B: Houston Planning Commission

10/28/16 5:30pm

GRASSY KNOLLS, CHILDREN’S SWAMP PART OF POSSIBLE HERMANN PARK PARKING COVERUP Existing Hermann Park MapThis week landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh has been discussing some of his firm’s preliminary designs for the next 20-year master plan for Hermann Park, writes Molly Glentzer this afternoon — including the possibility of turning the park’s central parking area, between Miller Outdoor Theatre and the Houston Zoo, into “a place where children could scamper up a knoll to a creature forest, swings and a marsh,” with parking spaces underneath. Van Valkenburgh says that a few hundred of the 1,300 spaces in the main lots may also be moved to the corner of MacGregor and Cambridge streets, and would also be covered over by ecological and built attractions. Glentzer writes that “along with the forest and marsh, the preliminary drawings for the central knoll include a sensory maze, a desert ruin and a slide bluff. The smaller knoll would have a water play dell.” [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Map of existing Hermann Park layout: Hermann Park Conservancy

10/28/16 3:30pm

Lyric Center garage site, 440 Louisiana St., Downtown, Houston, 77002

Lyric Center garage site, 440 Louisiana St., Downtown, Houston, 77002

lyric-centre-cellist-sculptureA few readers note that work is underway on the site of the new parking garage planned next to music-themed office highrise Lyric Centre at the corner of Louisiana and Preston streets (catty-corner from Market Square Tower’s newly-filled sky-high resident display tank). The top photo above shows the crews digging around on the former surface parking lot as of yesterday afternoon; the city issued a permit for work on the building-to-be’s exterior shell earlier this month.  A glass-skinned design for the structure can be seen in the rendering above, which peers at the site from the north along Smith St., looking past the skybridge between the Wortham Theater and the Houston Ballet’s Center for Dance. The drawing shows folks making use of the ground floor of the structure, which is intended to house retail (in contrast to the garage going up a few blocks north at Milam and Franklin streets, which is intended to look like it could house retail).

The floorplan included with the listing for that 41,000 sq. ft. of space shows a ramp for the garage hitting Smith St.:

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Sowing Downtown Parking Space
10/26/16 1:30pm

Garage at 805 Franklin St., Downtown, Houston, 77002Garage at 805 Franklin St., Downtown, Houston, 77002

Crews are digging in at the northeast corner of Milam and Franklin streets, a reader notes, where a 10-story parking garage is planned. The rendering up top (labeled as Powers & Brown’s) made a recent appearance at a city historical and archaeological commission meeting, following several months of deferrals and redesigns — including the addition of some ground-floor canopies and simulated window frames (which will have no glass “for flood reasons”). The application says the features are meant help the structure blend in with the surrounding buildings in the Main Street Market Square Historical District, including the Magnolia Ballroom across Milam, the Cotton Exchange building across Franklin at Travis St., and the Bayou Lofts building one block to the east.

Here’s the garage design originally submitted back in June:

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Ground Floor Faux Retail
10/18/16 4:45pm

CityWestPlace Parking Garage, Briarforest, Houston, 77042

A reader sends a shot of the roof of the last of the 4 former BMC Software campus parking garages to get put on the parking-space straight-and-narrow. Last Friday the angled stripes got powerwashed off of the top floor of the turn-of-the-millenium structure, which sits along CityWest Blvd. north of the new Phillips 66 campus just outside Beltway 8. All of the remaining garages on the site appear to have been restriped one at a time over the past decade or so with 90-degree parking spots (as can be seen on the roof of another of the garages in the upper right, further north along CityWest). The office complex goes by CityWestPlace these days; the complex is one of the properties held by new Houston-only REIT (New) Parkway, which was formed earlier this month when old Parkway and Cousins Properties merged then dumped all of their Houston holdings into a new, separate REIT.

Perpendicular spaces will better fit in with the campus’s general rectilinear motifs — for example, with this series of narrow rectangular water features on the other side of that northern parking garage:

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CityWestParkingPlaces
10/13/16 1:00pm

CITY PLANNING APP TO REDUCE USELESS DOWNTOWN CIRCLING, $80 PARKING FEES downtown-parking-garageThe city approved $9,600 yesterday toward planning a system to help drivers (particularly out-of-towners) find parking Downtown, Dug Begley writes. The system would be designed to display prices and current space availability for 7-or-so to-be-finalized private parking vendors on a smartphone app, along with a series of electronic signs like the ones installed around the city’s airports. The city would pay for about 20 percent of the $4.1-ish million project, which would be mostly funded by federal money aimed at reducing air pollution (in this case, extra emissions from excessively long and looping parking space searches). Begley also writes that city leaders think the system could cut down on price gouging, noting that prices for recent special events, “especially near Minute Maid Park, have spiked to $80 as demand increased.” [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo of downtown parking garage: Bill Barfield via Swamplot Flickr Pool

09/28/16 1:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: SAVE-THE-DOME SAGA’S PARKING GARAGE ENDING LEAVES ROOM FOR A SEQUEL astrodome“I think people are missing the larger view here. Of course there is plenty of current surface parking — but putting parking beneath the Dome begins to open up the possibility of densification on this site and on the old Astroworld site. This is the first, and necessary, step in transforming this entire area. I am betting that in 20 years or so this site will barely resemble the vast wasteland of parking lots and open space that it is today.” [SH, commenting on County Approves First $10.5 Million for Astrodome Basement Parking Garage Plan] Photo: Russell Hancock via Swamplot Flickr Pool

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