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.:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

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:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

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:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

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

07/11/18 12:30pm

A fresh batch of renderings released by Midway paints the clearest picture yet of what’s planned for the 136-acre former KBR campus that stretches along Buffalo Bayou, between Hirsch Rd. and Jensen Dr. Cobbled together from a mixture of glass and other materials, the tallest structure shown in the image at top spikes up behind a lower-slung retail building that fronts a junction of walking paths intersecting in a central park. You can see a further-away view of the airy column, foregrounded by street-level retailers in the view above.

A confection-colored map put out by the developer last month included a long strip of green along Buffalo Bayou’s north bank reserved for park space.

It’s now reappearing in the view below from up above the waterway:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Great Glass Spike
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:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

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:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

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:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

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:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

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):

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

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:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Stop Requests on Post Oak