11/30/18 5:00pm

Images are leaking of the new tower Marathon Oil wants to build on a patch of recently-vacated land between CityCentre and the Katy Fwy. In an email sent out to employees on Tuesday, company CEO Lee Tillman set a tentative move-in date of 2021 for the imaginary building and wrote that its planned location was a plus partly because it’s closer to where the average Marathon employee lives, out in “west Houston and along the I-10 corridor.” The new whereabouts are just under 6 miles away from Marathon’s current ones in the eponymous Marathon Oil Tower at 5555 San Felipe, near the Galleria.

The rendering at top of the new building shows it looking a lot like the middle structure in this group of 3 that Midway proposed building on the site last year:

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On Deck Along I-10
10/31/18 10:00am

PAVING THE WAY FOR A BIKE LANE ON W. FUQUA This morning, City Council plans to vote in support of some roadwork that’d add on-street bike lanes to W. Fuqua St. between Chimney Rock and Houston’s border with Missouri City, just west of Fondren Rd. Over that 1.7-mile stretch — which crosses over the Fort Bend Pkwy. — a couple upgrades for cars would be put in as well, including turning lanes at Fondren and traffic lights at W. Ridgecreek Dr. in place of what’s now a 3-way stop. It’s all lumped into that application the city plans to submit to the Houston Galveston Area Council in order to get funding for a bunch of other transportation projects around town, too, like that widening and heightening effort on Dairy Ashford. [Houston City Council; previously on Swamplot]

10/12/18 11:45am

Spotted on the Instagram story for a not-yet-open venue calling itself The Gypsy Poet: TABC signage going up where it plans to move into Core Church Midtown‘s former home at 2404 Austin St. It’s the fifth liquor-purveying establishment planned for the block — bounded by McIlhenny, Austin, McGowen, and Caroline streets — in the past year-and-a-half, none of which are open yet. But which together have now succeeded in reserving almost all of the space there for themselves.

According to its pastor Jim Stern, Core Church had been negotiating to move into a smaller spot at the back 2404 when the landlord tabled that option and switched its current lease over to a month-to-month agreement. Shortly after, in mid-February, the church was given 60 days to hit the road. It left in mid-March. “I am wondering if we were ‘pushed’ out because of the bars,” Stern tells Swamplot.

Photos: The Gypsy Poet (sign); Core Church (Jim S.)

Change Comes Knocking
10/10/18 4:00pm

Nancy Sarnoff has a few more details today on what the Downtown Redevelopment Authority will be paying the private owner of the area shown shaded at top — which wouldn’t give up its one-acre parcel there for a new park but will grant the Authority a 30-year lease for: “$355,992 in annual rent,” during the first 5 years, a spokeswoman says, with a 10 percent hike every 5 years thereafter. With that agreement in place — and the Goodyear Auto Service Center that currently occupies the block’s Fannin-St.-side slated for demo next April — the Authority is now seeking plans from landscape architects that’d be responsible for designing the space, though it notes that whatever the chosen firm comes up with “will have a potentially short life, between 30 and 50 years, per the lease agreement currently in place and options to extend.” (The parking lot shown without shading belongs to the South Texas College of Law and is there to stay.)

But that hasn’t stopped those involved from dreaming big while they can. A conceptual map of the park drawn up Project for Public Spaces — a New York planning firm hired to brainstormed some preliminary ideas for the Authority — shows it divvied up among a pair of buildings and a variety of different green spaces including a dog park:

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Block 333
10/09/18 2:00pm

 

The Friends of Downtown Friendswood withdrew its plan last week to install a new wooden carousel in Stevenson Park next-door to City Hall. Since last November, the site’s been home to a concrete pad left behind when the 42-year-old Fire Station #1 pictured above was demolished and its staff relocated to a new facility at 1610 Whitaker Dr., built with funds from a 2013 bond referendum. By the time of the teardown, the carousel idea (code-named “Project C”) was already on the table, and some residents accused city council of being a little too demolition-happy, owing to their friendliness with the civic organization that proposed it, reported the Chronicle‘s Jeremy Gingrich.

Instead of getting rid of the building, some argued, why not turn its 9,000 sq.-ft. into a community center to double down on the space offered by the city’s existing 9,500-sq.-ft. Friendswood Activity Building shown below at 416 Morningside St.?

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Stevenson Park
10/08/18 4:00pm

The developers behind the Plaza 88 retail center on Beltway 8 south of Bellaire Blvd. are now marketing the 2 existing buildings in their planned 5-building complex to those looking to get in on them. And already, an eclectic group has leapt at the opportunity. Texas Star Bingo Hall is the latest to sign up for space; it filed a building permit last week to take over most of the second story in the double-decker strip shown above. Below it, DSI Chinatown Hemodialysis Center and a separate but equal-in-size senior center will split the ground floor — and potentially provide a good portion of the customers base for what’s upstairs.

South of the strip, an additional one-story retail building sits perpendicular to it. That’s where a venue dubbed the High End Bellaire Gun Range will go ballistic next to a not-yet-leased space set to buffer it from a restaurant at the other end of the building, as shown in the site plan below:

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Getting in Edgewise
09/27/18 4:30pm

Tune Up: The Manly Salon got the city’s approval yesterday to start renovating the building shown above into the latest member of its barber-shop chain, now roughly 20-stores strong. Following those locations’ lead, the 626 W. 19th St. shop — next to the former Southern Goods — would appeal to guys by offering them free drinks and access to an arcade stocked with video and old-fashioned games while they wait to get groomed. Hair care services include standard cuts, beard trims, straight shaves, and eyebrow waxing. Perhaps less manly are the cosmetic offerings: manicures, pedicures, and a mani-pedi combo for 4 bucks less than the cost of the two combined.

Photo: LoopNet

Making the Cut
09/26/18 12:30pm

HOW HOUSTON’S 2 PLANNED ROBO-PARKING GARAGES COMPARE IN SIZE The one that’d go next to the proposed Railway Heights food hall will be bigger: 89-ft. tall with a roughly 18,000-sq.-ft. footprint, reports Nancy Sarnoff. A site plan for the development at Wash Ave and Hempstead previously indicated it’d hold 600 cars. The other high-tech garageplanned in place of the existing analog facility on White Oak Dr. next to Tacos A Go Go — is being designed for a third of that capacity: 200 vehicles, reports Sarnoff, would fit there in a structure “no taller than 75 ft.,” with a 6,500-sq.-ft. footprint. The same tech company — New Jersey-based U-tron — is behind both buildings, in cooperation with Chicago developer Easy Park. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Image: Centric Commercial

09/25/18 4:30pm

Note: This story has been updated.

Parts left over from the metal barn that Black Page Brewing leased out beside White Oak Bayou out a few years back are now lying in a heap next to a wooden skeleton that’s taken the demolished structure’s place. The deconstruction began last month according to neighbors who called 311 on August 31 to report that it was happening, potentially, they said, without the required permits. An inspector showed up the next day to check things out, one of several field trips the city would make to the planned brewpub’s digs at the end of Glen Park St. over the next few weeks in response to multiple follow-up calls from nearby residents.

By the time a demo permit did show up last Friday, the site had already been tagged twice by city officials: first for the premature teardown, and once again — as shown below — for additional unpermitted work:

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Near Northside
09/25/18 12:00pm

A Chronicle article dug up by the group proposing to renovate 612 Live Oak St. into a coworking space called Brass Tacks reveals that the 4,750-sq.-ft. building — 2 blocks from BBVA Compass Stadium — was originally put there by architect S.R. Slaughter in 1938 to house Oliver Armature Works, a manufacturing plant that produced electrical doodads. It’s now up to Schaum/Shieh Architects to make room inside for a variety of different business professionals who’ll come and go as they please from both private and communal work areas (and a bar).

New previews of the planned venue showcase one way of accomplishing that task: by installing a hive of productivity cubbyholes along the side of the main room. They’re shown at top lining the building’s north wall, with open-air booths on top of them.

To get down from the upper level, take this narrow side corridor up to the spiraling stair structure by the door:

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Brass Tacks
08/07/18 1:00pm

Memorial Dr.’s Tres Market Foods is expanding to the pair of black and off-white buildings pictured above at 2620 Joanel St. behind the Westheimer strip home to River Oaks Donuts and across the street from the 2-story building housing the Honorary Consulate of Ghana. Formerly a row of separate lots, Houston’s city planning commission approved a request to consolidate the warehouse parcels all into a single property earlier this year. Since then, a handful of permits have come through as part the paperwork to prep the structures for remodeling.

Together, they total 5,400 sq.-ft.:

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Prepared Food Preparations
07/30/18 10:15am

The complicated thing about trying to turn an old Heights home — like this one at 733 W. 24th St. — into a coffee shop is that the neighborhood’s original lots are smaller than Houston allows for commercial use. Although the house pictured at top sits on a pair of adjacent 25-ft. lots, their combined frontage still falls short of the 60-ft. minimum required to lump them together into a space for something other than single-family residential.

But that’s not stopping the owner that bought the house earlier this year from seeking an exception to the rule. On Thursday, Houston’s city planning commission will consider a variance that’d allow the plans to go ahead anyway by consolidating the lots into a single 50-ft.-wide, business-friendly parcel.

Then comes the question of parking. Right now, a driveway leads up to a carport on the west side of the house:

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Cafe Conversion
07/27/18 9:45am

AUSTRALIAN DEVELOPER NOW HAS ALL 3 MIDTOWN BLOCKS LINED UP FOR INCOMING HIGHRISE TRIO The Australian developer planning a trio of towers and lower-level retail on 3 adjacent Main St. blocks recently bought a chunk of the middle one — now home to Art Supply on Main — giving it free rein over the entire zone it wants to rebuild between McGowen and Tuam streets. Earlier renderings (since yanked from the interwebs) showed that 30,000-sq.-ft. middle parcel off Drew St. housing a highrise with signage for “The Drew Hotel” and Aussie brewery Little Creatures. The art store doesn’t plan to move out until next spring, says the developer Caydon Property, so any transformative tower work will have to wait. But in the meantime, construction’s already gone vertical on the block directly south of it, where a 27-story building is taking the place of the former Mental Health and Mental Retardation Authority campus torn down last year. [Previously on Swamplot] Photo of Art Supply on Main: Keaton Joyner

07/19/18 10:00am

It’s crunch time at the vacated original Café Ginger in the northern portion of the River Oaks Shopping Center, where a new 30-story apartment tower dubbed The Driscoll is planned to rise up over W. Gray St. Views from beyond the blaze orange barricades scattered around the parking lot since site work began in March show the crushing scene.

Since yesterday, the building’s been spilling its guts out onto the pavement in this particular area:

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The End of the Endcap
07/17/18 3:00pm

HINES SIGNS UP FOR 48-STORY HIGHRISE ON FORMER HOUSTON CHRONICLE DIGS DOWNTOWN Building permits filed last week for a concrete foundation in place of the HoustonChronicle-building-turned-parking-lot at 801 Texas Ave. reveal the vertical extent of what Hines has planned for the site: 48 stories. They’ll soon rise up above the fought-over tunnel system where a judge buried the hatchet 5 months ago, awarding Hines’ neighbor Theater Square $200,000, reported Nancy Sarnoff. Theater Square owns the property across Prairie St. from 801 Texas and claimed it had the right to access tunnels beneath the former newspaper building that it needed to connect its own subterranean sprawl to Houston’s broader downtown tunnel system. That hookup is now complete — writes Sarnoff — though the neighboring developer has yet to break ground on its own planned tower. [Previously on Swamplot] Photo: Brie Kelman