- 7819 Augustine Dr. [HAR]
Perpetually hungering for on-the-scene updates on the ongoing demolition of KPRC’s old broadcast station south of Beechnut St. along the Southwest Freeway? Here’s one means of getting your fix: A construction webcam set up above and nearby is still posting updates on the site every 12-to-13 minutes at all hours of the day and night. The 1972 building is coming down right next door to the station’s newly opened replacement, designed to fit Tetris-style into a handy nook on the back of the original — that’s it wearing a protective blue tarp in the shot above, which was captured around 10:15 this morning. You can even follow the action all the way back to December 2015, before the breakup of the surface parking lot where the new building now stands.
That drone view of the demo that Russell Hancock snagged last week shows a broader view of both building still (mostly) in place together (and makes it marginally clearer why some station affiliates claim the seventies structure was meant to look like an old camera:)
The drive-your-drinks-home daquiri shop planned for former MJ Motorcars office island at 8275 Beechnut St. (in the parking lot of stripmall nightclub Club Tequila) isn’t just going to be a drive-thru bar, a media rep for Prime Daquiri tells Swamplot. The rep says it’ll have a full kitchen, too — and that the company will be opting for screwtop bottles for their drinks instead of a Louisiana-style tape-on-the-top arrangement, as far as legal distribution goes. The landscaping and portico in the above rendering of the remodel show options for customers on foot, as well — or perhaps even those who want to dine (or drink) in. The bar is planned near the parking lot’s Watermill Express kiosk, though going the nonalcoholic route will require self-service.
Images: John Mene (rendering); Erick Ganzo (photo)
A reader alerted Swamplot back around February to the removal of that the cluster of classic cars generally visible inside the mysterious former Southwest Lincoln-Mercury dealership on US 59 a block southwest of Hillcroft Ave. — you know, the one with the glassy peaked showroom that’s often illuminated but usually empty except for the lone security guard (as the Houston Press’s Aaron Reiss documented in 2014). Some of the cars made a brief reappearance soon after — but as of early April the whole property is now up for lease.
Colliers International is listing the mid-sixties building and its 7.44-acre surrounding lot complex, previously owned by late Oilers owner Bud Adams (and still owned by the corporate entity that now owns the Titans.) The Lincoln-Mercury dealership itself — which opened as Southwest Dodge — shut down some time after it filed a 2002 lawsuit against nextdoor amusement park and unskilled minigolf hotbed Celebration Station, alleging thousands of dollars in property damage caused by multi-colored golf balls flying over the fence. (The offending minigolf course is now part of Zuma Fun Center, visible on the bottom right in the top photo.)
The now-glimmering interior of the former house at 6822 Rowan Ln. in Sharpstown is open to the public as of this weekend, and will be for the next 2 months — up until the scheduled demolition of the heavily fire-damaged 3-bedroom structure. Demolition artists Dan Havel and Dean Ruck (who these days sign their work as Havel Ruck Projects) recently converted the condemned building into another tunnel-through-the-living-room-style temporary art piece, though with much sharper lines than their previous Inversion House. Last Saturday’s opening reception for the new place (which is actually called Sharp) is part of the October-November-straddling Sculpture Month Houston campaign (which is setting up promotional events for other art installations around town through November 19, if you’re interested).
The pentagonal hole in the front of the structure matches the outline of the knocked-out front windows, as seen in these pre-conversion-but-post-fire listing photos of the demo-bound house:
The 1980’s kiosk formerly used to run MJ Motorcars out of the expansive parking lot of the Southwest Plaza Shopping Center, a reader notes, is now being turned into a drive-thru daiquiri shop. Houston has been slowly picking up on the tape-over-the-strawhole skirting of open container laws over the last few years; the new Prime Daiquiri location in front of 8150 Beechnut St. will provide an alternative for those with no time to hit up Club Tequila in one the retail center’s anchor spots (between noodle shop Tau Bay, the freshly opened Planet Fitness branch, and Harbor Freight Tools).
A site plan included in Investar Real Estate Services’s leasing flier for the property shows the to-go bar in place in the kiosk, as well as a few new pad sites drawn into place near by:
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This might be the last recorded view of the slightly peaked facade of the former Loehmann’s Clothing storefront, on the land owned by Houston Baptist University’s for-profit Beechnut Street development company at the southwest corner of 59 and Fondren Rd. A reader noted the green construction fencing late last month around part of the shopping center building that once housed $1.09 CD, Fondren Doctors Medical, and Libreria Cristiana on its narrow frontage-road-facing north end; the shot above looks southwest past the edge of the free-standing Mattress Firm on the center’s corner (right), next to the Shell station and the Burger King.
The strip was issued a demolition permit on the 26th, and by yesterday afternoon, much of the structure was being scraped up by an excavator and its handlers:
Investor Steve Moore, who’s made a name for himself by buying up, moving into, establishing unusual rules in, cleaning up, and lowering crime rates at some of the roughest apartment complexes in Houston neighborhoods such as Greenspoint and Westwood, has a new investment (and new address) — in Sharpstown. Working with an investment group, the owner of more than 5,000 apartment units has purchased a majority interest in the Gardens at Bissonnet condos at 7400 Bissonnet St., the 200-unit complex near Fondren Rd. known as the Le Promenade condos when it was home to the La Primera gang. Moore was sought out for the purchase by the Greater Sharpstown Management District after the condo complex was put into receivership last year; a series of security measures, which included changing the property’s name, were instituted as part of a legal settlement between the county and the property’s previous owners.
COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHERE THE MODS ARE BETTER PRESERVED “It is disappointing that we lose so many interesting houses to the wrecking ball. Those of us who live in ‘crimeridden’ (*wink wink*) parts of town can take solace in the fact that at least our neighborhoods’ reputations keep the McMansions at bay. If you can cut through all the stories about crimes that happened ten or fifteen years ago, you can get a great, if dirty, Mod in Sharpstown, just waiting for you to fix it up and bring it back. And you really should look at those houses, because if you don’t, the ‘We Buy Ugly Houses’ people will. And they’ll make them worse.” [ZAW, commenting on Your Opportunity To Hack Away at Memorial Bend’s Former Sales Office Has Arrived] Illustration: Lulu
COMMENT OF THE DAY RUNNER-UP: LOOKING SHARP “The Bellairefication of Meyerland is pretty much complete except you actually get a sizeable lot. It’s only a matter of time before Southwest Houston’s astronomical growth reaches Sharpstown and other once forgotten communities.” [robertrulez, commenting on The Ups and Downs of a Meyerland Contemporary] Illustration: Lulu
COMMENT OF THE DAY RUNNER-UP: THE ‘DON’T ASK’ BUILDINGS “Sadly, buildings like the Southwest Inn are all too common in our City, and especially in lower middle and working class areas. They’re in too good shape to be condemned outright, but they suffer from all sorts of serious problems as a result of long-term deferred maintenance. They’re frequently victims of what I call ‘pump and dumps’ — where a slum lord buys the place, pumps it for every last penny, and then dumps it (sells it to the next sucker). Rarely, if ever, are these places torn down and replaced with something better. Contrary to popular belief, places like the Southwest Motel don’t stay occupied because people don’t have the choice or because they’re cheap. In fact they can be quite expensive. They stay occupied beause they don’t ask questions. Anything goes — so they’re attractive ‘cribs’ for criminals and gang bangers. The thugs love them. The slum lords make a killing from them. But they wreck neighborhoods and ruin lives. What can be done? We need a multi-faceted approach. Cities in Texas have to fight the problem with one hand tied behind their back, thanks to State laws that heavily favor land owners. Neighbors are wise to approach private interests who have more leeway in buying and tearing down nuisances. And get creative, too. One slum lord, who controlled a condo complex was brought down by the new HOA regulations. We have to bring these guys down, or there will be more shootings, more overdoses, more 5 alarm fires.” [ZAW, commenting on The Story of the Southwest Inn]
No one knows yet how it started, Friday’s 5-alarm fire that took out the Southwest Inn and caused the death of 4 Houston firefighters working to put it out — and the hospitalization of 14 others. The investigation, says HFD spokesperson Ruy Lozano, will take time. Meanwhile, much of the attention has shifted to the Sharpstown motel’s rather colorful history.
A fireplace-turned-fish-tank (top) lends an unusual element to this Sharptown Country Club Terrrace property. It’s another by-the-barrier home, this one on a corner lot hidden behind bushes and trees (above) at the head of one of the neighborhood’s access streets from the Southwest Fwy. feeder. Asking $170,000, the new listing includes the aquarium. With hearth.