11/03/16 3:45pm

Magic Island sign removal, 2215 Southwest Fwy., Houston, 77098

As of lunchtime, more than half of the MAGIC & COMEDY SHOW lettering has been removed from the sloped wall of vacant freeway-side magic club and faux Egyptian temple Magic Island. A reader spotted the scene — “just the cherry picker and the demolished letters on the ground” — during a feeder road drive-by around noon.

Talk of rebooting and reopening the former magic club (which became increasingly family-oriented until its Ike-and-fire-fueled shutdown in 2008) has been going on periodically since 2012; some permits for sign renewal and restaurant repairs were issued back in 2013, and a representative of owner and neurologist Mohammed Athari told Leah Binkovitz in early 2015 that some contracts for work on the building had finally been signed, even though things were moving slower than originally planned.


Beneath the Pharaoh’s Gaze
10/19/16 11:00am

3111 Chimney Rock, Lamar Terrace, Houston, 77056

The graffiti on the tall face of the former Big Woodrow’s spot at 3111 Chimney Rock Rd. has been joined lately by new signage for Rotana Mediterranean Restaurant. The 2-story 2-bar space north of Richmond Ave. shut down near the end of August last year after a planned temporary closure for building repairs turned into an unplanned permanent landlord dispute, and the building went up for lease around the same time. Some of those repairs to the 5,928-sq.-ft. space may have been getting done over the past year since the closure, if building permits issued in March and at the start of this month are any indication.

Photo: MiraDry team at Mosaic Clinic Dermatology

Rotana Remodeling off Richmond Ave.
10/17/16 12:15pm

5404 Almeda Rd., Museum Park, Houston, 77004

The fenced-off L-shaped strip center that previously hosted a string of smoked meat vendors at 5404 Almeda Rd. looks to be the planned site of a new restaurant connected to Breakfast Klub owner Marcus Davis. The strip center got a new roof during the summer of 2014, after permits were issued with Davis’s name in the occupant spot; plans to remodel the space for a new restaurant and bar were moving through the city review system again as recently as last month, and a tipster tells Swamplot the place could open early next year (if all goes as planned).

The site sits about 6 blocks south down Almeda from Davis’s Reggae Hut; the shot above looks west from Almeda down Prospect St. (not even a quarter mile down the road from that trio of light-up townhomes that just went on sale). The once-Green’s space became a Harlon’s Bar-B-Que for a few years before it was turned into Bar B-Que Blues (which shut down by early 2011). Here’s what the space looked like circa 2010, when the strip was also occupied by the Black Heritage Gallery and the Grape & Grain Liquor Store:


Joining the Klub
10/13/16 4:30pm

Remodel of 2400 N Shepherd Dr. Houston Heights, Houston, 77008

Former Texas Cafeteria, 2400 N Shepherd Dr. Houston Heights, Houston, 77008Across W. 24th St. from the currently-grocerless former N. Shepherd Fiesta lot, a reader notes that MFT’s makeover of the former Texas Cafeteria building seems to be shaping up roughly as previously planned — the building’s previous overhangs and high elevation roof decor have now been fully flattened out, and the spot’s 6,125 sq. ft. are currently listed for lease in 2 pieces on LoopNet. Per the listing and the previous rendering labeling of the spot as BURGERS, the 3,250-sq.-ft. space intended for a restaurant tenant appears to be on the potentially-H-E-B-facing southern end of the development:


Future Food by Former Fiesta
09/13/16 5:30pm

8008 Colgate St., Glenbrook Valley, Houston8008 Colgate St., Glenbrook Valley, Houston

That recovered 2-story mod at 8008 Colgate has been getting further retouching by the newest owners, Sandra Cook writes in this month’s Houston House & Home. The previously dilapidated house made HoustonMod’s Mod of the Month list back in 2014 after it was rehabilitated to a poop-and-mold-free 5,870 sq. ft. (scooping in a few upstairs patios behind new walls in the process). Above is a comparison of the main entryway — the top photo shows the space’s trendy new white outfit, while the same wall appears in blue below that following the 2014 redo. (The lower left side shows the space midway through those earlier reconstructive procedures.)

The house will be receiving visitors during the Glenbrook Valley Home Tour in October; here’s a few peeks at some of the new retro-ish finishes, if you can’t wait until then:


09/12/16 10:45am

Redo of 3618 Burlington St., Westmoreland Historic District, Houston, 77006

3618-burlington-29What’s that — up in the air, over Westmoreland and Spur 527? According to a reader, it’s the skeletal remnants of 3618 Burlington St.’s sideyard billboard, which has been coming down since some time late last week. The sign structure is shown on its last leg in the snapshot up top from Saturday morning (that’s out of 3 legs originally, as seen in the listing photo below that from the 2015 sale). Per the newest listing, the full interior and exterior blankout and makeover of the 3-story Westmoreland Historic District home should have finished up around last Friday.

Photos: Swamplot inbox (top), HAR (bottom)

Sign of Steel
09/08/16 10:30am

5400 Memorial Dr., Rice Military, Houston, 77007

5400 Memorial Dr., Rice Military, Houston, 77007The sides of the 1965 Memorial Towers highrise apartment complex are currently getting the blues as part of a period remodel, a reader reports. Serial multifamily fixer-upper The Barvin Group bought the property in May. The side of the complex pictured above (also shown pre-paint for comparison) faces west down Memorial Dr. toward the recently flattened former roost of Pollo Bravo (occupied before that by Hartz Chicken Buffet).  A rendering of the complex’s planned new look (including a throwback cursive replacement of the signage currently pointed at east-bound drivers) is on display in the lobby:


Rice Military Remake
08/23/16 10:30am

17695 Hwy. 249, Willowbrook, Houston, 77064

With the Mattress Firm peeking in from the left and the Office Depot edging in from the right, here’s the former 59 Diner across Hwy. 249 from Willowbrook Mall. The jagged freestanding building went up for lease around the same time as all those other 59 locations opened up in the wake of the chain’s March shutdown; now, as other former 59s are beginning to pick up new tenants, the Willowbrook spot is being spruced up to reopen as a branch of Dimassi’s Mediterranean Buffet. That boxy framework hanging around over the entrance looks to be the leftovers of the 59 signage, shown below in this previous listing shot of the restaurant (taken before the structure’s teal-heavy retro color scheme got beiged away):


Ups and Downs Willowbrook
08/17/16 5:15pm

3303 Shadowncrest Ln., Spring, TX 77380

3303 Shadowncrest Ln., Spring, TX 77380 Now for sale just across the Spring-Creek-hugging southern edge of Harris County: this 1970s ranch, carefully dressed by the seller in slate panels. The 3-bedroom 2-bathroom property was given a new outer skin (as seen in the top photo) to tie into features of the extensive interior redo, carried out by the seller’s own stone-and-tile-centric remodeling business. New features in the home include stone paneling, a few reshaped windows, and some throwback color schemes (including a black-and-white checkered garage floor), as well as a new pump system for the drought-tolerant backyard landscape (complete with koi pond.)  Asking price is $400,000 — check out more before-and-after shots below:


Slated for a Redo
06/23/16 2:45pm

Allen Center Skybridge Remodeling, 500 Dallas St., Downtown, Houston, 77002

Currently underway: the partial disassembly of 1 of the 2 skybridges connecting One and Two Allen Center at the corner of Dallas and Smith streets downtown. The bridge pictured above is expected to survive the planned 3-tower redevelopment — a permit to remodel it was issued on Monday with some other OKs on the work, which includes turning the rubble-filled space to the east into a Smith-St.-facing events lawn and concert space. Renderings previously released by Brookfield suggest that the other skybridge, from which the above photo was taken, won’t be so lucky:


Last Days Downtown
05/09/16 12:30pm

RAVEN TOWER’S TOWER TEMPORARILY CLOSED, BUT THE SHOWS WILL GO ON Raven Tower Bar, 301 North St., Northside, Houston, 77009The blue bar-on-a-stick at the northwest corner of the White Oak Music Hall complex temporarily shut down last week so W2 Development Partners can add more railings and make the space more physically accessible. The elevated 1970s former bachelor pad reopened as a bar and rooftop patio in January, 3 months before the first show on the semi-temporary main stage next door; a set of concrete stairs wrap around the elevator shaft leading up to the main space.  The non-tower sections of the Raven Tower venue, including the downstairs bar and the outdoor patio and performance space, are scheduled to stay open and host concerts as planned. Across the parking lot, White Oak Music Hall has another lawn concert scheduled for tomorrow night. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo of Raven Tower: Swamplot inbox

04/08/16 12:30pm

Shopping Center planned at 3519 Clinton Dr., Fifth Ward, Houston, 77020

Shopping Center planned at 3519 Clinton Dr., Fifth Ward, Houston, 77020

A reader notes a notice on the formerly-barred now-boarded front window of the building at the corner of Bringhurst St. and Clinton Dr. The sign tells tale of an application to the TABC to sell mixed drinks at the spot, late at night, under the name of The New Potato. The restaurant space, formerly Taco Loco prior a late-2000’s stint as Nina’s Cafe, sits a block east of the Harris Machine Tools facility, a block south of a field of townhomes, and a block north of the 136-acre former KBR site, tagged a few years back for use as a helicopter landing spot.

The bar-to-be’s current grey-and-white color scheme came about back in 2013. Here’s a peek back in time at the the bright orange Taco Loco days, followed by the turn-of-the-decade Nina’s yellowing:


Clinton at Bringhurst
03/29/16 9:15am

2512 Woodhead St., Montrose, Houston, 77019

A reader took advantage of an opportunity to peek inside the 1945 warehouse at 2512 Woodhead St., now painted black and getting done up with decorative wooden siding: “A door literally blew open as I was poking around the exterior,” writes the tipster, going on to describe a mostly-open interior and a double staircase leading to a balcony. A building permit was issued in February for the conversion of the warehouse into a ballroom by Life HTX; another earlier permit references future use of the space as a 225-occupant banquet hall, and the as-yet-skeletal Facebook page for the venue also implies plans for a rentable events space.

The building sits just north of the parking lot for The Upper Hand salon, at the corner with Westheimer across from to-be-remonikered Lanier Middle School. Here’s another shot of the redone exterior, followed by a few of the mural that previously faced Bravo Key & Lock and the Shamrock gas station from across Woodhead:


Woodhead at Westheimer
03/21/16 5:15pm

construction at Cane Rosso Montrose, 4306 Yoakum Blvd., Montrose, Houston, 77006
Oven at Cane Rosso Montrose, 4306 Yoakum Blvd., Montrose, Houston, 77006Work is underway for the Cane Rosso headed for 4306 Yoakum Blvd., in the low-lying side-attachment to the Hansen Partners’ 6-story office building at the corner with Richmond Ave. The office complex was wrapped up in 2014 following the 2012 clear-out of the apartments previously occupying the same site.

The opening of the Montrose Cane Rosso location will likely lag a few months behind that of the Dallas pizza chain’s first Houston location at 1835 N. Shepherd Dr., where a glittery gold-tiled oven is already decorating the former Houston Alternator space at 19th St. as it prepares to open later this spring. (The custom oven at the Montrose spot, shown above, will also only get gold accents, rather than the full Midas treatment.) But some blocky renderings of what the Yoakum space could look like, if all goes as planned, are already out for consumption — here’s an aerial view of the exterior from the corner of Yoakum and Richmond, with the office building making a ghostly appearance in transparent gray to the right of the frame:


Kitchen Prep on Yoakum
03/15/16 3:15pm

Construction at former Texas Cafeteria, 2400 N. Shepherd Dr., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008

A construction crew is currently at work around and on top of the bare former site of Texas Cafeteria, shielded from prying eyes on N. Shepherd Dr. by a small dirt pile. MFT Development (the group currently planning new and mixed uses for the site of the increasingly romantic former Heights Finance Station post office) is dressing up the space at the corner with 24th St. as another restaurant and maybe some retail, following the joint’s sale, shutdown, and stripping in early 2015. Behind the property to the right, the Fiesta Mart can be seen across 24th counting down to its March 27th closing, as the flags from Monterrey Tire Center peek over the former cafeteria’s roof.

Here’s a rendering of what the planned buildout could look like, plus or minus some tenant signage:


Where the Fiesta’s Ending