05/30/18 1:00pm

Here’s the latest rendering of the Hotel RL that’s planned for the block of St. Emanuel St. just north of recently-opened bars Rodeo Goat and Truck Yard. Complete with a roughly 6-story high Texas flag dangling from its hamster-wheel-like facade, the building itself — designed by STOA Architets — stands at 27 floors. It’s planned in place of the 2-story Kim Hung Market building at 1005 St. Emanuel, pictured above outside its entrance. That structure currently backs up to Hutchins St., at the edge of a block-long parking lot to its west.

Rendering: STOA Architects. Photo: Greg D.

Deep in the Heart
05/08/18 2:30pm

Shots of the massive waterfront development planned in Kingwood east of Woodland Hills Dr. show it situated around 2 adjacent and existing lakes that neighbor both the San Jacinto River and the Clubs of Kingwood golf course. The 300-acre project — dubbed Herons Kingwood Marina and recently stumbled upon by online architectural sleuth Urbannizer — lays out a plan to link the 2 bodies of water and transform them into marinas with docks, pedestrian paths, and outdoor amusements.

The water-level rendering above from Italian architecture firm Torrisi & Procopio shows a boat parking lot fronting a shopping center that’s planned beside the west marina. From the air in the rendering at top, you can see the eastern marina neighbored by skyscrapers, described by the architect’s website as home to hotels, restaurants, shops, and apartments. A narrow channel leads to the other, aquatic area in the distance.

Here’s where both lakes sit now, just south of Barrington Kingwood — a 200-acre, loop-shaped neighborhood:

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The Liveable Lake
05/07/18 3:30pm

ORTHODOX SYNAGOGUE MULLS CROSSING THE LOOP TO SOMEWHAT HIGHER GROUND The roughly 820 homeowners in Willow Meadows are now voting on a deed restriction change that — if passed — would allow the United Orthodox Synagogue to build a new structure outside The Loop, in place of 5 houses that sit 3 quarters of a mile south down Greenwillow St. from the congregation’s previous home at the corner of S. Braeswood. Many congregants walk to the synagogue — which could soon be leaving the 100-year floodplain for the 500 after flooding 6 times in the last 25 years, including 3 in the last 3. “According to preliminary renderings,” reports the Jewish Herald Voice’s Michael C. Duke on Studio Red’s proposed design, “the synagogue would be a single-story structure, measuring an ultimate height of 30 feet. Based on new building codes, the finished floor of the building would be built some 3 feet above curb height, and the building itself would have the same 25-foot setback as homes in Willow Meadows.” Passage of the proposal “would prompt Houston’s largest Orthodox congregation to hold its own congregation-wide vote on whether to stay at its current location north of I-610 South and rebuild portions of its campus at a significantly higher elevation; or, to move.” Most of the congregation’s 57-year-old building was demolished last month, except for a few portions including its social hall and mikvah. [Jewish Herald Voice; previously on Swamplot] Photo of United Orthodox Synagogue’s demolition, 9001 Greenwillow St.: United Orthodox Synagogues of Houston

03/30/18 4:00pm

The new pavilion shown in the renderings at top is what Galveston’s Park Board of Trustees want to plant on Stewart Beach, near the end of Broadway and Seawall Blvd. The structure would reorganize the mix of concessions, patrol facilities, parks offices, storage, restrooms, and community meeting space that comprise an existing beach house into 2 adjacent structures suspended above a series of promenades and linked by overhead walkways.

A site plan of the beach from New York architects Rogers Partners shows where the new complex — along with a separate garage and welcome center would go relative to the existing structures that are set to be demolished:

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Broadway and Seawall
11/07/17 4:00pm

Interior demo work is mostly complete on a 75-year-old single-story brick warehouse lining Walker St. in East Downtown, ahead of its opening next spring as what its promoters are calling Houston’s premier soccer bar and restaurant. What might confer premier status on this venue, called Pitch 25  — beyond its location across the street from BBVA Compass Stadium? Perhaps the presence of an actual indoor soccer field inside, hosting league play.

Among the transformations planned for the 25,000-sq.-ft. structure in its coming rehab: knocking a large hole in the roof off the building’s Hutchins St.–facing west end — to let sunlight and rain into an outdoorish beer garden planned for the interior. Also, to provide sunlight for the interior trees:

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And a Hole in the Roof
05/12/17 3:45pm


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’s new 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:

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Bridging the Gaps
06/30/16 12:30pm

Beltway Crossing Northwest Construction Progress, April 2016 Beltway Crossing Northwest Access Map ExcerptMost 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):

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06/27/16 12:15pm

COUNTY WANTS TO FILL IN THE ASTRODOME’S FLOOD LEVELS WITH PARKING AstrodomeThere are still no set plans for what will eventually happen to the Astrodome, but the county is already gearing up to work on the parking situation. Tomorrow the county commissioners court will look over an engineering report on plans to raise the main floor of the structure (which currently sits some 30 feet below the surrounding grade) and stick a 2-story 1,400-space parking garage beneath it. The meeting’s agenda indicates that approvals on specifics for the roughly $105 million plan won’t be put to a vote until September; a spokesman for county judge Ed Emmett also tells Mihir Zaveri that no construction would start until after the Super Bowl, regardless of approval. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Russell Hancock via Swamplot Flickr Pool

06/21/16 3:00pm

Proposed Dedicated Bus Lanes on Post Oak Blvd., Uptown, Houston

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:

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Stop Requests on Post Oak
05/19/16 2:15pm

EL REY’S OAK FOREST LEASE IS UP AT THE END OF THE YEAR El Rey at 3330 Ella Blvd., Oak Forest, Houston, 77018The 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.

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.
03/24/16 4:45pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: LEASING THE SKY AND OTHER ACTS OF VANTAGE PRESERVATION Planned Development“Only guarantee to protect your view is to buy the air rights. (Not sure it is possible, but you can buy mineral rightswhy not air rights?) Maybe this will be a new trend in real estate, to protect and guarantee views. Otherwise, buy the land so you can determine what does and does not go up.” [HouCynic, commenting on Cosmopolitan’s Condo Association Preemptively Sued by Would-be Nextdoor Highrise Developer in Uptown] Illustration: Lulu

02/23/16 5:00pm

3773 Richmond Ave., Greenway, Houston, 77046

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):

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Regions on Richmond
02/19/16 10:15am

Proposed Development at Yale and 21st streets, Heights, Houston, 77008

Proposed Development at Yale and 21st streets, Heights, Houston, 77008Here’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:

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Yale Street Plaza
02/17/16 12:30pm

Former Greenleaf Gardens, 803 Kipling St., Audubon Place, Houston, 77006

Former Greenleaf Gardens, 803 Kipling St., Audubon Place, Houston, 77006Greenleaf 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:

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Turning a New Leaf