- 3245 Locke Ln. [HAR]
The River Oaks Plant House — also known as the greenery purveyor that regularly festoons the corner of Westheimer and Buffalo Speedway with dancing bears and other fake topiary — will be closing up shop at the end December. Headmaster Mark Desjardins writes in an email that St. John’s School notified the owners of the more-than-30-year-old store in September that its lease would be terminated by December 31. The prep school had purchased the property from the Henry J. N. Taub family, along with the land under Blanco’s Bar & Grill, in a 13-acre deal completed exactly a year earlier.
A reader writes in with the latest potential future scenario for the Hot Bagel Shop on S. Shepherd south of Welch: “I’m not sure if this has already been reported on, but [earlier this week] at Hot Bagel Shop, I was told that the lot next door is being scraped for the first half of a new strip center, which the bagel-ers and the nail people will move into once it’s complete. The gold retailer will not be renewing his lease. Afterwards they’ll knock down the existing building and construct the other half of the new building.”
This design for a strip center at 2015 S. Shepherd is featured on the website of Houston’s Dang La Architecture:
DEAR HINES: WE’D SETTLE FOR A RESIDENTIAL MIDRISE, PLEASE Happy relationships are all about compromise, and even though Hines doesn’t seem that interested in budging on this one, maintaining that it will begin construction before the end of the year on that 17-story office building on the corner of San Felipe and Spann, concerned neighbors have organized a petition addressed to Gerald and Jeff requesting that that project be swapped out for something more “in keeping with our neighborhood,” a 3- to 6-story “residential development.” [Change; previously on Swamplot] Rendering: Stop San Felipe Skyscraper
WHAT’S BEST FOR BUFFALO BAYOU? Let it flow, or let it be? Environmentalists and the Harris County Flood Control District disagree — at least when it comes to the 1.5-mile stretch that contributes to the “jungly ecosystem” of the Hogg Bird Sanctuary in Memorial Park, reports the Houston Chronicle’s Lisa Gray. A “restoration” plan proposed by the flood controllers, explains Gray, “would change the bayou’s course in places, fill in an oxbow here, reinforce banks there, widen the bayou’s channel, raising and lowering landmasses and generally move an enormous amount of dirt. [They argue] that the proposed measures are desperately needed to reduce erosion and improve water quality.” They’d do it here as they did it at Meyer Park along Spring Creek, reports Gray. But the environmentalists don’t seem to consider that to have been a “restoration” project, really: “‘Look at that!” [Memorial Park Conservancy board member Katy Emde] told me, outraged, showing me a picture of Meyer Park on her phone. ‘There’s no diversity! It’s not natural! It’s not habitat! It’s horrifying.’” [Houston Chronicle ($); previously on Swamplot] Photo of Hogg Bird Sanctuary: Bayou Shuttle
COMMENT OF THE DAY RUNNER-UP: A RIVER OAKS HOME’S HIDDEN HOLLYWOOD HISTORY “Believe it or not, somewhere in there are the bones of a 1950′s flat-roofed modern house designed for the Fondren family by Eugene Werlin. It was used in the movie The Thief Who Came To Dinner.” [BenH, commenting on Headlines: A Big New TV in Reliant Stadium; The River Oaks Mansion with the Biggest Pool in Houston] Illustration: Lulu
Seems the concerned neighbors around that 17-story office building that Hines is considering building on San Felipe aren’t worried only about traffic. This map, created by a member of the recently formed nonprofit East San Felipe Association — which says it is committed to supporting “reasonable development” in this area around S. Shepherd, Kirby, and San Felipe — suggests another threat to the ’hood: copycatting.
Clearly speculative, the map takes pains to show those sites where other unreasonable highrises could pop up in response to the precedent that Hines is setting with 2229 San Felipe. On S. Shepherd, for ex., you might see the Red Lion Pub forgo its street-level scale, or Petco abandon the confines of its big box. (But wouldn’t that long elevator ride down give you some quality time to bond with your recently adopted pup?) If this map is to be trusted, it seems like it would be only a matter of time before the bug spreads north and Chipotle throws up a tower of burritos. The last thing the neighbors want, says just one of the messages on that oppositional website that they set up, is for this residential area to become “the next Greenway Plaza.”
Image: Swamplot inbox
These understated “Stop the San Felipe Skyscraper” signs started going up about knee-high this weekend in River Oaks and Vermont Commons to protest that shiny 17-story office tower that Hines is proposing to build nearby. Though these signs — spotted at the corner of Spann and Welch and San Felipe and Spann, catty-corner from the proposed site — might be lacking the services of an imaginative cartoonist like their yellow precursors across town in Boulevard Oaks, their message still comes through, directing the onlooker as well to a recently launched website for all things skyscraper-stopping:
On a site just west of where Hines says it is considering building a 17-story office tower and where Randall Davis is building 10 more condos just south of River Oaks on San Felipe, builders Rohe & Wright say they are going to put up these 10 townhomes. The Saint Honoré development is planned to stand right next to the Winfield Gate townhomes — also built by Rohe & Wright — on a property bound by San Felipe, Welch, and Revere. Ranging from 5,000 sq. ft. to 7,800 sq. ft., each 3-story, 4-bedroom home would sit atop a below-ground floor that comes with built-in suggestions for what to do with it, including (but not, of course, limted to) “golf simulator, caretaker’s quarters, wine cellar, home theater, fitness gym, gala room, safe room or space for a car collection.” They’re starting at $2.2 million.
FILLING THE DONUT HOLE IN RIVER OAKS A few weeks ago the doors and drive-thru window of this new donut shop in River Oaks owned by billionaires Jeff and Mindy Hildebrand were flung open, and the tony feel of the scaled-up endcap at 3601 Westheimer has apparently won the affection of Houstonia’s Annabel Massey: “Never before have I walked in to a donut shop to find beautiful countertops made of marble, artwork by Lorri Honeycutt, or a display of delicious taste-testers in the form of donut holes for me to pop into my mouth as I wait in line.” Massey also seems taken with the Hildebrands’ rigorous recipe development: “Every afternoon, nine boxes of donuts would be delivered . . . . Mindy distributed them to family and friends, looking to get feedback on their work-in-progress. After three months of taste-testing, they finally landed on a delicious one-of-a-kind recipe.” [Houstonia] Photo: Allyn West
The latest pedestrian bridge to span Buffalo Bayou was craned into place this past Thursday. The 345-ft. bridge almost hooks up with the skinnier chain-linked one that spans Memorial Dr. from
Jackson Jackson Hill St. on the north. The Buffalo Bayou Partnership’s master plan shows that this bridge will serve the so-called Lost Lake — a space for which is being cleared of all kinds of vegetation just west of this site. You could say that the bridge might also encourage Rosie Ruiz-inspired joggers to take a shortcut and avoid going the extra mile around the Shepherd Dr. bridge-under-a-bridge just a bit farther west.
Here’s a second rendering of that new office tower Hines tells the Houston Chronicle it hasn’t announced it will build. Of course, a different story is coming out of this neighborhood near River Oaks, where the 35,000-sq.-ft. property on the corner of Spann and San Felipe, purchased in November by an entity connected to Hines, has been cleared of its garden home and staked with flags, as the photos after the jump show: