02/14/19 2:00pm

A Swamplot reader up in the St. Josephs Professional building sends these photos looking south to show construction on the new 5-story, 216-unit apartment building that developer Winther Investment has going at 2111 Austin St., as well as the vacant lot just east of it that’s currently serving as a staging area for construction. The developer has been mulling putting a “a 12- or 20-story” building on the empty block, the HBJ’s Fauzeya Rahman reported last month, a project that probably won’t kick off until next year. When it does, some ground floor retail could be in the mix according to Winther Investment’s head honcho, who told Rahman he “would like to see a restaurant” at street level. Plans for the midrise that’s already on the way up include only parking and dwelling space.

Photos: Swamplot inbox

2-Step Process
01/11/19 2:45pm

Last night Houston’s planning and development department spelled out a proposal to run a new pair of protected bike lanes on Austin St. from Buffalo Bayou to HCC’s main campus in Midtown. South of the college, the officially-designated bike route would continue down to Hermann Park along La Branch and Crawford streets but without anything to buffer it from the rest of the road.

Throughout Downtown and the northern portion of Midtown ending at McGowen St., plans show the bike lanes separated from the street by 2-ft.:

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A Fairly Straightforward Route
01/04/19 3:45pm

The rendering above looks east from the corner of Westheimer and Eastgrove St. to show the first few floors of a new 20-story condo tower that developer Randall Davis wants to build on the just-under-0.4-acre lot formerly home to the Krispen Home furniture store. Plans for the highrise made their first appearance before Houston’s city planning commission yesterday, where they were deferred until the group’s next meeting in 2 weeks, but not before residents and representatives of the site’s neighboring subdivisions got a few words in. Roughly a dozen speakers from Westgrove Court — the 2-dozen-home residential neighborhood that lies southwest of the would-be tower, along Westgrove and Eastgrove streets — were particularly loud in decrying it. They noted that Westgrove St.’s current narrowness already makes creates tight squeeze for passing traffic.

The same goes for Eastgrove St., where a site plan submitted by the developer shows curb cuts giving access to a driveway at what’d be the southwest corner of the building:

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3723 Westheimer
12/31/18 10:30am

The rendering at top of a new West-Loop-fronting hotel shows 2 different signs adoring its upper facade: one for Holiday Inn Express, the other for Staybridge Suites. Both brands will be housed under one roof in the planned 14-story building that’s due to crop up between Public Storage and the Stages Stores corporate office building north of Westheimer and east of the West Loop. On the second floor, you can see the pool deck that’s planned. No word yet on how that outdoor area or the building’s 319 rooms will be divvied up between the 2 brands, or if there will be any distinction at all.

InterContinental Hotels Group is the corporate overlord behind both Staybridge and Holiday Inn. Its logo makes a sly appearance on one of the flags in the rendering.

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2-in-1 Deals
12/18/18 1:30pm

Wondering where the developer of that new boutique hotel on the corner 20th and Ashland St. plans to fit all the required 37 parking spots (one for each room)? After all, the property — home to that 100-plus-year-old house until last week — where the hotel is planned measures just over half-an-acre.

A notice mailed out to nearby residents last week reveals where the extra parking space lies: across Ashland St. on the property currently occupied by the Heights Floral Shop. Although the store already neighbors 3 parking lots to the north, west, and catty-corner southeast, they’re all owned by the St. Joseph Medical Center on the other side of 20th St. And so in order to carve out space for its own auto accommodations, the hoteliers plans to replace the florist with 13 parking spots, accessible from Ashland and the alley behind the business.

They’d supplement 19 spots and a bike rack planned behind the hotel — to be called Maison Robert — and adjacent to a side motor court that lets in traffic from Ashland:

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Tales from W. 20th St.
12/18/18 10:30am

THE ALLEN’S LATEST MIXED-USE MAP NIXES THE PEDESTRIAN BRIDGE ACROSS ALLEN PKWY. Remember that pedestrian bridge that previous maps and renderings for The Allen showed crossing Allen Pkwy. in order to link the planned development to Buffalo Bayou Park? Well, it appears to be gone now: New marketing materials put out by Transwestern include no indication of it whatsoever. (Earlier versions of the map above had shown it plugging into the building labeled 1, a lowrise retail structure.) All 6 acres of the site — between Allen Parkway Village and the Federal Reserve building — remain vacant right now, except for a tiny portion near the southwest corner where a newly-poured concrete foundation has given rise to a yet-unidentified wood-framed structure over the past couple of days. [Transwestern (PDF) via HAIF; previously on Swamplot] Map: Transwestern

12/17/18 9:45am

BAYOU PARK APARTMENTS HAVE ABOUT A YEAR BEFORE THE HIGHRISING STARTS Nitya Capital, which closed on the ’70s-era Bayou Park Apartments at 4400 Memorial Dr., east of Shepherd, last month “plans to carve out a spot for a high-rise condo tower” as soon as a year from now, reports the Chronicle’s Katherine Feser. That shouldn’t be too hard, seeing as the new tower will take up “less than an acre,” says Nitya CEO Swapnil Agarwal, within the 15-acre environs of the 3-story complex that’s there now. Some of its existing 679 units should be receiving a few touch-ups under the new landlord: “new floors, granite counters, stainless steel appliances,” and “new lighting and fixtures,” reports Feser. And outside, she writes, plans call for “fresh landscaping, new signs and changes to the leasing center,” which neighbors a handful of retailers in the spot shown above where the complex lets out onto Memorial. [Houston Chronicle] Photo: Apartments.com

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