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.
The western corner space at University Blvd. and Kelvin St. in the Rice Village now has a coat of white paint over its brick facade, though the storefronts to either side have yet to follow suit. The space, last occupied by a Sprint store prior to a multi-year vacancy, appears to be setting up as the next link in the Blue Mercury cosmetics-spa chain, while street and utility work progresses at the corner.
The former Village Arcade (now being rebranded as, simply, the Rice Village) consists of the shopping centers on University on either side of Kelvin St.; the buildings were acquired from Weingarten in 2014 by Rice University, which already owned the land beneath the center and employs the same St. Joe brick in many of its campus buildings. Rice also employs development company Trademark to manage the Arcade property; the company released a few renderings of the first phase of the center’s intended makeover last fall, just before work began:
For a few early hours this Sunday, the Southwest Freeway will be the only conduit into or out of the box of land framed by Kirby Dr., Montrose Blvd., Bissonnet St. and W. Gray St. (give or take a traffic peninsula leading up to Allen Pkwy., which will also be closed for much of the morning).
The Houston Marathon will launch from 4 corrals leading to Congress Ave. at San Jacinto St., and loop through the city along the route outlined in black above. The Half Marathon route (outlined in yellow) will pant alongside until just before mile 8, when it will skive off north back toward the shared finish line at Discovery Green.
A larger version of the map is show in 2 parts below, complete with start and end times (in red and green respectively) of each mile marker’s street closure:
The tearing down is done — the old parking garage at the Children’s Assessment Center on Bolsover St. in the Rice Village is gone, following the completion of the facility’s new garage (a sliver of which can be seen peeking into the right of the frame in the shot above from Dustan St. along the northern edge of the property). A furtive glance through the back gate of the construction site reveals that the freshly cleared field between the the new garage and the Center’s original 1998 building (on the left) is already being overgrown by forms and thin PVC pipes, sprouting in advance of the 4-story 89,000-sq.-ft. facility expansion that will rise in the newly-vacated gap over the coming months. The Center, which provides free care and services for sexually abused children and their families, put its new garage’s 420-space foot down on the former Village Plaza Shopping Center, kicking the leftover bit of the block to the Frost Bank now fronting Kirby.
The rendering of the completed project from Gensler has taken on more concrete definition since it initially surfaced several years ago:
YUM YUM CHA CLOSING HINTS AT RICE’S PLANS FOR RETAIL BUILDING IT BOUGHT NEXT TO VILLAGE ARCADE The owner of Rice Village dim sum spot Yum Yum Cha tells Eric Sandler that Rice University’s management company “can’t decide what they’re going to do” with the building it bought earlier at the corner of Times Blvd. and Kelvin St., but that demolition is possible. Yum Yum Cha was offered only a 6-month renewal on its lease. Instead, the restaurant, which has occupied the space at 2435 Times Blvd. for 10 years, will be shutting down June 15th or as soon as it runs out of food — whichever comes first. The 1955 building that houses it forms a small portion of a double block dominated by the Rice-owned Village Arcade shopping center — but lacks any off-street parking of its own. Remaining tenants in the building are Grace Anna’s boutique, Myth Hair Salon & Spa, Joseph Keith Jewelry, and — around the corner — Vietnamese restaurant Miss Saigon. Yum Yum Cha owner Lisa Mak says she and her father, the restaurant’s chef, are already looking for a new location. [CultureMap; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Swamplot inbox
Kahn’s Deli was open at 2429 Rice Blvd. for more than 30 years. Now it’ll be closed at that location for at least the same amount of time. The deli’s history stretches back well before the move to that spot in 1984, though: The original Kahn’s opened in 1948, a few blocks away. The last pickles were served yesterday.
Remember that incident last July when real estate investor and renowned neighbor-dismemberer Robert Durst — the Rice Village’s best-known resident — decided to spread his own bodily fluids in the CVS at 6011 Kirby Dr.? Thanks to the enterprising and patient reporting team at KPRC, surveillance video of the episode is now available for all to see. Together with the shocking scene included at the end of the HBO documentary The Jinx — in which Durst, retreating to the bathroom from an interview while wearing a still-live mic, appears to confess to multiple murders — the footage paints a portrait of a man prone to urination surprises. Durst pleaded no contest to charges of criminal mischief for the CVS episode, after he allegedly exposed himself to a cashier and then peed on a display of candy.
The newly released footage isn’t the clearest (and mercifully, any potentially offending images are blurred out) but it does reveal a few things, including where Durst stood when he began urinating — in case that matters to future customers of that CVS Pharmacy.
COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHAT THE HOUSE MEANT “My great-great grandparents purchased the land mentioned in the above article when there were just a few houses on the street, and the street was not yet paved. They built this house and 3 generations of my family lived together under its roof at one time. My grandparents met working at the movie theater that used to stand in the Village Arcade. My grandfather was an usher and my grandmother was a concession girl. He used to sneak her out of her bedroom window for dates when she was 15 and he was 16, a few years before he joined the Navy to fight in WWII. My great-grandfather planted rose bushes in front of his daughter’s bedroom window to stop her from climbing out. When my grandparents were first married, they lived in the house with her parents and grandparents. My parents lived in the house after they got married, and I lived my whole life on Chaucer until I got married. My grandfather remained in the house long after his wife passed, and himself lived there until he passed away early last year. All of my best memories were set within those walls, all the family meals, holidays and birthdays.
Driving past the muddy, empty lot felt like looking at someone’s usual armchair after they’ve passed away and expecting to see them sitting there, right as rain. Seeing those beautiful bone-colored porcelain bricks trampled under tire tracks . . . It took the air out of me. I hope that by sharing this history, people will understand that sometimes, a house is more than just 4 walls and a roof; this house was more than just a location and a parcel of land. Sometimes, it is the root that anchors us to our past, to our identity, to our origin.” [B Ferguson, commenting on Two Home Demos Mark Rice University’s Continuing March into Rice Village] Illustration: Lulu
Is it Rice’s manifest destiny to extend its land holdings all the way from the Texas Medical Center to West U? The university already owns a bit of frontage on Kirby Dr., on West U’s eastern border, between University Dr. and Amherst St., but the holdings between that far outpost of the Village Arcade and the main campus are a little spotty. Two recent purchases — and accompanying demolitions — appear poised to make the swath more continuous, however.
This week occasioned the demolition of the house at 5606 Chaucer Dr., 2 blocks west of Rice Stadium, directly over the back fence from Little Woodrow’s on Morningside Dr. The home appeared in this morning’s demo report — along with a neighbor at 5608 Chaucer St. (at center left and left in the top photo). County tax records show that an entity connected to Rice purchased both houses late last year. (The second house is listed as 5612 Chaucer St. on the tax rolls).
As site prep starts on the long-awaited renovation of Main Street Theater’s signature building at 2540 Times Blvd. in Rice Village (top), a recent donation by a renewable energy retailer has enabled the local theater company to add a rooftop solar array to the work scope. Although not intended to power the spotlight on stage, the installation is expected to handle a good chunk of daytime electrical use, theater sources say. Descriptions of the future solar installation mention a 64-panel array on the roof and this sun-seeking companion:
Rice U.’s real estate appetite for Rice Village property just picked up another choice tidbit: 2445 Times Blvd. That’s the 1955 flat-topped 7,500-sq.-ft. retail property on the southeast corner of Times Blvd. and Kelvin Dr. that’s spooned by mega-neighbor Village Arcade (which Rice also owns). In its listing by Davis Commercial, seller Rinkoff Rice Village LP’s asking price for the “trophy” corner was $3.995 million, though it initially sought $4.2 million. Who’s currently on display behind all the storefront windows?
Here’s the scene from above Morningside Dr. in the Rice Village, where Hanover is building a 12-story apartment structure between Tangley and Dunstan, just north of the 6-story Hanover at Rice Village apartments it completed last year. Ziegler Cooper Architects’ design for the 206-unit complex will include a pool deck on the top story and a courtyard on the third:
The firm hired by Rice University to manage the Village Arcade has produced a new brochure outlining coming and hoped-for changes to the couple-decades-old Rice Village multi-block shopping center and surroundings. Plans are being developed for new landscaping and storefronts for the 164,211-square-foot complex that lines the north side of University Dr. between Kirby and Morningside Dr., Trademark Property’s flyer notes. But perhaps more interesting is the simple map included (and shown above) documenting the university’s property holdings in and near its eponymous village. They include the 3-block Village Arcade, the office building and parking garage at 2500 Dunstan Rd. currently home to 24 Hour Fitness, and a good portion of the block across Greenbriar Dr. from Rice Stadium, where the university demolished an office building in 2010. “Additional Rice owned property in the Village (approximately 7 acres),” the brochure says, “is available for future mixed-use development.” Rice’s Rice Village Apartments complex on Shakespeare at Morningside is not outlined on the map.