In between showing off various multicolored interchange tangles, the new flyover preview video of the huge changes proposed for I-45 North and the downtown freeway circuit glides viewers by a handful of areas where freeways will dive underground — while splicing in some new renderings of the tops of those tunnels-to-be as they could look, if somebody wanted to pay up to turn them into a park. (The animation is careful to emphasize once again that said parks would have to be developed and funded by a source other than TxDOT — and so far, there are no signs that anyone has stepped up.)
The rendering up top shows the would-be-parallel sections of 45, 59, and SH 288, running behind the convention district where 59 sits now — the whole bundle would be pulled down below flood grade and covered up, evidently with concrete if the park thing doesn’t work out. (A clip of just that section of the 10-minute animation is included above; a tiny rendered version of the Cheek Neal Coffee building can be spied along the edge of the freeway, though SEARCH Homeless Service’snew building one block north isn’t specifically drawn in next to it.)
The video also gives the section of 59 from Main to San Jacinto streets the same burial and dressup treatment:
Most of the square box just left of center in the above photo was officially leased by Amazon yesterday, reports Cara Smith for the HBJ. The deal is for roughly 100,000 sq.ft. in the Beltway Crossing Northwest business park, located on the other side of 249, Greens Bayou, and an AMC Theater from Willowbrook Mall (as seen in the access map and intended eventual site plan from developer Panattoni). The agreement on the park’s Buildnig 5 was reportedly made official within 24 hours of the commissioners court’s Tuesday vote to approve a larger-than-normal tax abatement deal for a different Amazon facility — the proposed 855,000-sq.-ft. warehouse in Pinto Business Park (catty-corner across Beltway 8 and I-45 from Greenspoint Mall). But building permits naming Amazon as the occupant of the Willowbrook site at 11720 N. Gessner Rd. date back to at least 2014.
Here’s a shot of the Pinto site — the park’s 971 acres lie in place next to the Houston National Cemetery (the yet-unoccupied eastern end of which is visible on the far right in the south-facing aerial below):
The Uptown PAC angling to stop both a planned Dinerstein highrise (which they say would increase area traffic) and the Post Oak Blvd. dedicated bus lane project (designed to reduce area traffic) has been ramping up for a legal fight lately: On Monday the organization asked the city to stop approving permits for any new highrise developments in the area, and to stop work on the bus lanes, both pending the completion of a new traffic study. Paul Takahashi writes that the group is also taking legal fund donations and looking at filing lawsuits over the matters.
What is the PAC worried about, exactly? Back in 2014, when the group formed to fight the bus lane project and a nixed AmREIT tower previously planned next to the Cosmopolitan condos (where many of its members reside), spokesman for the group said it was worried that ambulances wouldn’t be able to quickly move through increased gridlock stemming from additional development. The talking points have expanded significantly since then; now ABC 13 reporter turned hired investigator-slash-media-attention-consultant Wayne Dolcefino is on the case (the self-consciously horse-centric video below was released late last month), and recent talking points even include calls for the bus lane money to be used to fix flooding issues in not-in-Uptown Meyerland and Greenspoint instead:
EL REY’S OAK FOREST LEASE IS UP AT THE END OF THE YEAR The site plan for the 33 1/3 @ Thirtyfourth retail development [which — disclosure — has been sponsoring Swamplot for part of this week] shows new construction directly on top of El Rey Taqueria’s Oak Forest branch at the corner of W. 34th St. and Ella Blvd. Crescere Capital bought the land beneath the drive-thru Cuban-Mexican taqueria-coffee-house last April, though the company has been collecting other parcels on both sides of 34th east of Ella since at least early 2014. As of now, El Rey’s lease is scheduled to run out in December, before a scheduled January construction start for the retail center. El Rey currently operates 3 other locations: along Washington Ave., along Hwy. 6 south of 290, and across I-10 from Memorial City Mall.Photo of El Rey at 3330 Ella Blvd.: Stephen G.
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:
A reader sends this fresh snap of the in-progress tower towering at 3773 Richmond Ave, where a glass skin is now growing on the northern facade. Those top stories now getting glassed in will be occupied by out-of-the-region Regions Bank; the compound will be named Regions Financial Center to match.
The 11-story office tower just west of Timmons Ln. has been working on looming dramatically over next-door single-story hand carwash Soap since December of 2014, and is expected to wrap up some time next quarter. In the meanwhile, here’s a video tour of what the whole thing could look like — including a cameo appearance by a Jenni’s Noodle Shop in a ground-floor retail spot (around 30 seconds in):
Here’s the latest cloud-edged rendering of what could be coming to the corner of Yale and W. 21st streets, if Wellington Development gets its requested setback variance wish granted. A reader noticed the notice of the request posted outside of the building currently at 2105 Yale, which formerly housed Dorsey’s Beauty Academy prior to a decade of abandonment.
Wellington bought the spot last July, around which time Collum Commercial put out a leasing flyer showing a new floor-slash-parking plan for the property, which is boxed in on the non-Yale-and-21st-streets sides by the 2125 Yale apartments. Planned renovations to the building, which is listed in county records as 13,000 sq.ft., appear to involve some major trimming and resculpting to fit in new off-street parking spaces:
Greenleaf Gardens appears to be getting ready for some less-communal, more-perennial planting on the corner of Kipling and Stanford streets in Audubon Place. A reader snapped a few photos at the former community garden last week, including a picture of the sign announcing an application for a certificate of appropriateness for new construction in the historic district. That application is in the name of Greg Swedberg of 2Scale Architects, on behalf of Michele Alvarado of Sanctuary Builders, which bought the property last fall after the city decided not to buy the land and turn it into a park.
The paperwork for the certificate includes sketches and and plans for the 2-story duplex in the works for the space, which may need to be revised to something a little more neatly rectangular, based on late-January feedback from the Houston Archaeological and Historical Commission. Here’s a view from the corner of Kipling and Stanford, as submitted on January 6th:
A result of the news yesterday that H-E-B will be moving from its Fountain View and Westheimer store to a new one on San Felipe in 2014 is the impending demolition of Tanglewood Court apartments, which stand on the 18-acre property bound by Fountain View, San Felipe, and Inwood. (The photo shows the apartments from the corner of Fountain View and Inwood.) Lynn Davis of Fidelis, which purchased the site in September 2011, tells Swamplot that notice has been given to residents that they’ll need to move by the end of March or early April. Buses from neighboring complexes, says Davis, have been shuttling them around to help them find a new place to live.
And once they’re gone, what, besides the H-E-B, will go in their place?
Yesterday, city council approved an agreement that will allow Southwest Airlines to go ahead with plans to expand Hobby Airport for international flights. The short-pants airline will foot the $150 million bill to add up to 280,000 sq. ft. to the terminal, including a new concourse and ticket counter, six security lanes, five gates, and a customs inspection hub. The plan, pictured above, also includes restructured roadways and a new parking garage with 2,500 spaces, mutating one of the wings of an airport designed as though it might be itself ready for takeoff: