02/02/18 5:00pm

Construction on Shake Shack’s new burger hub in Rice Village — next door to the coming Rice University clothing boutique on Amherst — looks about medium well now that the brick building has been blackened, stripped of its awnings, and shielded by a metal frame bearing all-caps signage. La Madeleine restaurant left the building last March ahead of renovations planned for the entire Village Arcade structure between Kirby and Kelvin.

A Rice Village property manager announced in 2016 that the born-in-Manhattan chain with current locations as far-flung as Bahrain was on its way to Kirby. Back then, Houston was completely Shack-less, but that changed when a debut location opened in a Galleria parking lot later that year. Since then, one other Shake Shack has cropped up in the city — behind center field in Minute Maid Park.

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Faster Food
02/02/18 12:00pm

Now on its way to a portion of the Village Arcade building on Amherst that La Madeleine restaurant abandoned last March: Shop Rice Owls, a clothing and merchandise store selling exclusively Rice University gear. The 1,071-sq.-ft. off-white-walled space beneath the rooftop Rice Village parking garage was once the east end of La Madeleine’s space on the corner of Amherst and Kirby. A partly-built Shack Shake has since taken over the French bakery’s former home — but not all of it, leaving room for the off-campus store to squeeze in between the back side of the fast-food spot and the staircase leading up to the garage.

A view looking east down Amherst shows more renovated storefronts lining the street to the right of the stairs, in place of the black-awninged brick building that stood on the block before 2016:   CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Rice Village Homecoming
01/12/18 4:00pm

There’s some news about the space next door to Athleta in the Rice Village Arcade shopping center on University Blvd. where mannequins were spotted limbering up on the sidewalk the other day: it’s about to shut down. A source tells Swamplot that national retailer Yankee Candle will close the store — one of 8 locations in the Houston area — on January 28.

A sign in the storefront window announces its last big blowout:

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Leaving the Village
01/08/18 2:30pm

Spotted in the pre-retail hours at 2512 University Blvd. by morning Rice Village dog-walker Gerrit Leeftink: This convocation of under-dressed athletic figures — in warm-up mode outside the local outlet of women’s clothing chain Athleta.

More views of the gathering, as participants awaited their new attire indoors:

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Street Mannequins of University Blvd.
06/27/17 2:30pm

The startup 3-barrel “nano-brewery” carving its ferment-and-serve spaces out of the former Bissonnet Auto Service Center garage on Bissonnet St. between Kirby and Greenbriar is scheduled for a Labor Day Weekend opening, according to a recent report in the Chronicle. New glazed overhead doors have been installed in the 2 garage bays, but according to this photo of the spot from earlier today, there’s still a bit of work going on inside.

If future passers-by do a double-take after seeing drinkers out on the front patio of the single-story structure at 2322 Bissonnet, it might be because the brewery-bar will be next door to the former Kay’s Lounge, also a single-story building serving drinks on a front patio, which was demolished last fall. These homes are scheduled to go up on that site.

Photo: Swamplot inbox

06/27/17 11:00am

Newly posted to MLS: a listing for 1 of the 6 townhomes patio homes from Frasier Homes intended for the site of the former Kay’s Lounge. Garages, spare bedrooms, and side yards only will grace the ground floors of the properties in this shared-driveway 6-pack, however, because Kay’s Lounge itself — an establishment that was founded back in 1939 — was demolished last year. The new residential compound covers both the Kay’s lot, formerly known as 2334 Bissonnet, and the one immediately to the west at 2332 Bissonnet, which formerly housed an adjacent structure as well as longtime bar’s parking lot.

But if it’s the idea of living very close to storied nightlife that attracted you to this property in the first place, don’t be disappointed: Just next door to this property, in the former Bissonnet Auto Service Center at 2322 Bissonnet, a new brewery and lounge called Baileson Brewing Company is about to open. The fourth-floor patios at the top of the homes at 2332 Bissonnet (pictured at top right in the rendering above) will overlook Baileson’s driveway-turned-drinking-patio directly.

Here’s the second view from the listing, showing how the shared-drive fronts of the 3 units on the Baileson side might look if they’re completed before the other 3 are begun (they’d be in the foreground):

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New Neighbors in Rice Village
05/11/17 4:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: RICE VILLAGE PARKING METER PUSHBACK PUSHBACK “Don’t understand the hostility about parking meters. Visited the Briar Shoppe recently, easily found a spot to park, and it cost me a buck. One (1) dollar ($). Took a credit card, no change needed. There’s something else going on here.” [Gisgo, commenting on The Rice Village Plans To Remake Amherst St., Lure Shoppers Into an Alley] Photo of Rice Village parking meters: Matthew Landry

05/10/17 11:30am

Remodeling along the lines of what’s depicted here is now underway on Amherst St. between Kelvin St. and Kirby Dr., according to a Rice Village District rep. A couple of newly released drawings shown here fill in details to some of the previously mentioned changes planned for the south side of Amherst, including the conversion of part of the roadway itself into more walking and sitting room behind some protective planters. And that narrow passageway in the building, running between Amherst and University Blvd., appears to be getting its own signage labeling it as The Alley (complete with light-up arrow directing shoppers inside).

The plans also call for some rooftop greenery and the chopping off of some pointy brick pediments — a swap which the District says will make all that 2-hours-free rooftop parking more visible, in the wake of the recent parking scheme changes:

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Retail Redistricting
05/05/17 5:15pm

SOUTHWEST FWY. MIDRISE AUDI SHOWROOM TO GET A DEALERSHIP NEIGHBOR ON THE STAHLMAN LUMBER LAND Another car dealership is planned for the 2.4-acre Stahlman Lumber property right across US 59 from the 7-story Audi dealership (shown here) at the crotch of southbound Shepherd Dr. and Greenbriar St. The former lumber business’s property was sold in January. Dylan Baddour writes in the Chronicle that details on what the new dealership will look like (or what kind of cars will be on offer) are scant for now, though a VP of Sonic Automotive (the same company that planned the Audi midrise and its freeway-eye-level-showroom) says more info on the “big, beautiful” design will be released by the end of the year. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo of Audi dealership at 2120 Southwest Fwy.: Audi Central Houston

03/21/17 2:30pm

Shake Shack planned at 6205 Kirby Dr, Rice Village, Houston, 77005

Rice Village, Houston, 77005The 26th will be the last day of business for the La Madeleine on Kirby Dr. at Amherst St., a rep for the Rice Village District says this afternoon. After that the space’ll get a significant makeover, part of the ongoing de-suburbanization of the 1990s Village Arcade buildings. Changes planned for the space appear to include a total blackout of the corner’s pediments, a gutting of the existing canopy level (paired with a boxy see-through enclosure of that area) and a hip-high hashtag-biscuitpaintwall-style landscaping feature (replacing the existing hedge as Amherst’s walkable zone gets widened). The company says the burger place should be ready to open sometime around November.

Images: Rice Village District (rendering), Swamplot inbox (photo)

Kirby Corner Shake-Up
02/15/17 11:15am

17-STORY ROBINHOOD CONDO TOWER TO GET 17-STORY SENIOR NEXTDOOR NEIGHBOR 2520 Robinhood at Kirby Condominiums, 2520 Robinhood, Rice Village, HoustonThe condo tower at 2520 Robinood St. — not so long ago bookended to the east and west by bars it was suing and being sued by — may soon be bar-free in both directions. Katherine Feser reports in the Chronicle this week that the property formerly occupied by Hudson Lounge (and occupied by Bar Bleu since last summer) has been sold to senior living developer Bridgewood. The land, bounded by the condo tower and by Robinhood, Quenby and Kelvin streets, is temporarily being leased back to the bar, but will be cleared out by the end of this year to allow the construction of what the company is tentatively calling The Village of Southampton, a 17-story senior living highrise. That’ll put it roughly on the level with 17-story 2520 Robinhood, potentially trimming the views in a number of the condo building’s east-facing units. Bridgewood’s previous 8-story height record is just about met by the company’s most recent senior living project, the almost-done 8-story The Village of River Oaks at 1015 Shepherd Dr.; that project faced a lawsuit during its early stages over claims from residents of the next-door Renoir Lofts and Gotham Lofts condos  that an increase in traffic — more specifically, the number of emergency vehicles heading to the senior living center —- might drive down nearby condo property values. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo of 2520 Robinhood condo tower: Sandra Gunn

02/07/17 10:00am

Owl Sculptures by Dan Mabry, Kelvin St. at University Blvd., Rice Village, Houston, 77005

Rice Village, Houston, 77005The sculpted birds above are now staring intently in various directions from just south of the entrance ramp for the Rice Village’s rooftop parking lot between University Blvd. and Amherst St. The new bird-studded cage hangs around the upper half of the Kelvin St. access staircase for the lot, previously shielded from prying eyes by a since-removed blinder of brick (as pictured second above at the start of the work last year, before much of the paint-up or knock-out action had taken place on the eastern side of the structure). The birds are the work of Californian metalworker and periodic perched bird sculptor Nathan Mabry. Changes to the building roughly align with the older renderings of the remodel, though the space was previously depicted with an extra new window (along with some ghostly stand-in art): 

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Kelvin St. Bird Cage
01/26/17 1:45pm

Rice Village parking meters, Morningside Dr. at University Blvd., Rice Village, Houston, 77005

The latest edits to the Rice Village area’s look include the installation of the above parking meters for the spaces along Morningside Dr., as captured by a reader this morning. The Rice Village District folks announced in January that the formerly free spots around shopping complex will become pay spots in February. There will still be free parking in the area, for those who watch the clock: parking in the garage between Morningside and Kelvin St. and on the rooftop lot on across Kelvin will be free for the first 2 hours.

The changes appear to fall in line with some of the suggestions made in a 2015 Kinder Institute report on the area’s parking congestion and access inefficiencies; the authors noted at the time that the shopping district always had at least 1,000 unused parking spots even at times when parking seemed hardest to find (like during the peak of the weekday lunch rush).

The to-be-metered zones are marked in light blue in the map below; those zones include the spaces around the former Village Arcade structures between Kirby Dr. and Morningside along University, as well as parts of Times and Rice boulevards and parts of Amherst St.:

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Spot Spotting
01/23/17 12:30pm

Baileson Brewery renderings, 2322 Bissonnet St., Rice Village, Houston, 77005

A few sketches show the gist of Method Architecture’s plans for converting the former Bissonnet Auto Service Center at 2322 Bissonnet St. into Baileson Brewing Company. The auto shop’s original carport structure looks to be incorporated into the plans for the space as a patio shade-provider, while the 2 former garage bay doors look to be getting glassy replacements. The brewery will enter the area beer niche vacated last year by no-longer-next-door Kay’s Lounge, which met its end in October, and by Hans’ Bier House half a mile a way (last seen bearing signage announcing a planned coffee shop). Here’s a few more angles on the potential redo:

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Brewing on Bissonnet