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
08/18/16 10:30am

Kay's Lounge, 2324 Bissonnet St., Rice Village, Houston, 77005

The city’s permitting records show that the land beneath soon-to-close Kay’s Lounge (and that recently freed-up cute lot next door) have been sliced into a total of 6 new pieces (not counting the shared driveway running down the middle). The application for the property line redraw, noted by a reader, was submitted last October and approved a few weeks later. The same records say the 2-turned-6 lots at 2332 and 2324 Bissonnet St. are intended for single family residences; the properties were bought last May by an entity connected to Frasier Homes. Kay’s last night in action will be Saturday the 3rd, providing final visitors with a Labor Day recovery buffer. 

Photo: Thomas C.

Last Calls on Bissonnet
08/16/16 5:00pm

KAY’S LOUNGE CLOSING IN LESS THAN 3 WEEKS Kay's Lounge, 2324 Bissonnet St., Rice Village, Houston, 77005Perennial oldest-bar-in-Houston contender Kay’s Lounge, at 2324 Bissonnet St., is closing forever on September 3rd, per a reader’s telling (and a corroborating Facebook post from the bar itself) . The land the bar sits on was bought more than a year ago by a corporate entity using the same address as townhome-slash-mansion builder Frasier Homes in sales docs filed with the county. The bar has been leasing its space back from the new owners since then; a few of the bar’s 1940s companion structures, bought up by the same entity, met their end earlier this summer. [Previously on Swamplot] Photo of Kay’s Lounge at 2324 Bissonnet St.: Thomas C.

07/27/16 11:00am

Rice Village, Morningside Dr. north of University Blvd., Rice Village, Houston, 77005

Rice Village, Morningside Dr. north of University Blvd., Rice Village, Houston, 77005The latest work by sanctioned graffiti artist Gonzo247 is dry this rainy morning, hanging back from Morningside Dr. on the sheltered stretch of shopping center wall between Black Walnut Cafe and New York & Company. (That’s along the eastern edge of the Rice Village building group currently being rebranded away from its long-running gig as the Village Arcade.) The new piece is a little more coy in its messaging than some of the artist’s previous work (which includes the edited Houston Is Inspired Hip Tasty Funky Savvy mural commissioned by the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau near Market Square in 2013) — though it does include a lot of letters. Take your own shot at deciphering the close ups below of the piece, around the corner from the space on University recently vacated by the theater-hearkening Village Arcade sign:

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Spelling It Out
06/17/16 4:45pm

FRESHLY SOLD HANS’ BIER HAUS SHUTTING DOWN IN 4 WEEKS Hans' Bier Haus, 2523 Quenby St., Rice Village, HoustonThe little beer garden and bocce court at 2523 Quenby St. announced its planned July 15th closure this afternoon, following 21 years of fond but fuzzy memories (give or take a few neighborly physical and legal altercations with inhabitants and employees of the nextdoor condo tower at 2520 Robinhood). The news also follows this week’s sale of the property by a legal entity connected to Hans’ partner Paul Kellogg, conveying the spot to one JSS Texas Holdings. Hans’ announcement says that plans to celebrate the bar’s last month in action will be announced soon. [Previously on Swamplot] Photo of Hans’s Bier Haus:  Swamplot inbox

06/15/16 12:45pm

2332 Bissonnet St., Greenbriar, Houston, 77005

On Monday afternoon a reader caught part of the smash-and-drag action at 2332 Bissonnet St., right next to Kay’s Lounge. That’s part of the exterior staircase of the 2-story retail-residential structure lying curled up in the foreground; a remaining member of the bar’s shrinking entourage of smaller structures can be spotted peeking around the fence on the right.  

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Greenbriar Goodbye
03/18/16 3:45pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHAT ’THERE’S NOWHERE TO PARK’ REALLY MEANS Stuck in Parking Lot on 290“People would rather circle for hours for a spot that is 3 ft. from the door they wish to enter than to: A) pay to park B) walk. So please keep in mind, when someone says ‘there’s nowhere to park in the village’ what they mean is: There’s nowhere within 3 ft. of my destination to park. Of course, everyone knows where they can park, but the last thing they want to do is walk from their car to their destination.” [toasty, commenting on Shake Shack Will Take Over La Madeleine’s Rice Village Space] Illustration: Lulu

03/18/16 9:45am

Renderings of redesigned former Rice Village ArcadeRice Village, Houston, 77005

Compare and contrast the 2 images above, which together show the former Village Arcade at University Blvd. west of Kelvin Dr. both as is and as it may become. The rendering above appears in a marketing brochure released earlier this year by Trademark Property, which manages Rice University’s Village-area properties. The brochure shows potential update plans to a number storefronts in the former Village Arcade buildings (which Trademark is collectively rebranding as just “the Rice Village“); the changes range from simple color swaps to major reshaping and remodeling.

The U-shaped patio above, which currently houses a fountain and a bronze copy of the Italian boar statue Il Porcellino, is shown in the corresponding rendering housing tables in front of a round kiosk ringed with bar-style seating. The drawing also depicts those PoMo-style pediments of the second floor facade replaced with a large sign labeling the structure as Rice Village Market. The building also appears to be painted white.

Earlier this year, a previously released rendering from the set got some grounding in reality when the former Sprint storefront on University west of Kelvin was whitewashed, to prep the space for beauty supply shop Blue Mercury:

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Shopping Fix-Up
03/17/16 11:30am

SHAKE SHACK WILL TAKE OVER LA MADELEINE’S RICE VILLAGE SPACE La Madeleine, 6205 Kirby Dr, Rice Village, Houston, 77005Alliterative New York burger joint Shake Shack plans to set up shop in the spot currently occupied by La Madeleine on Kirby Dr. in the former Rice Village Arcade, writes Syd Kearney for the Houston Chronicle. A Rice Village property manager announced this morning that the burger chain’s second Houston-area restaurant won’t open until next year at the earliest; Shake Shack is already at work on its first Houston location, slated to open later this year in the Galleria. La Madeleine currently operates 18 stores inside the Grand Pkwy. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo of La Madeleine at at 6205 Kirby Dr.: La Madeleine

02/18/16 10:00am

Mattress Stores in Strip Center at Kirby Dr. and Wroxton St., West University, TX 77005

Semi-boutique mattress chain Urban Mattress has jumped into the cluster of mattress retail options at the edge of West University, setting up shop between Einstein Bros. Bagels and Verizon Wireless just south of the sleepy corner of Kirby Dr. and Bissonnet St. Since 2008, the Boulder-grown franchise chain has opened 6 stores in Colorado, 3 in Austin, and a few others in cities including Berkeley, Albuquerque, Dallas, and San Antonio. The company purports to send 2% of its sales price to local charities of the franchise owner’s choice, and offers mattresses (both regular and organic) ranging from about $300 to $30,000.

The new store sits right across Wroxton St. from a few of its all-caps competitors: mattress and ergonomic furniture store Relax the Back is buffered from a Mattress Firm by narrow custom shoe store Foot Solutions:

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Bouncing into the Market
01/28/16 12:45pm

Little Liberty, 2365 Rice Blvd., Rice Village, Houston, 77005

A NOW OPEN sign is the newest addition to the metal-skinned Rice Village strip center at 2365 Rice Blvd., where Little Liberty’s neon blue label has been glowing atop a muted prison-stripe awning for several months. A reader notes that the banner takes the place of the NOW HIRING sign previously on display in the storefront, which held a branch of Ruggles Cafe & Bakery until its closure “for renovations” last March.

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