CITY COUNCIL APPROVES MUD FOR 800 NEW HOMES ON PINE CREST GOLF COURSE
Houston’s city council voted today to approve a proposal to create a municipal utility district for an 800-house development Meritage Homes wants to build on the former Pine Crest Golf Course. The golf course, which lies within the 100-year floodplain, is located at the corner of Gessner and Clay in the Brickhouse Gully watershed — where 2,300 residential structures flooded during Harvey. Today’s vote was on a proposal identical to one that was considered by the council last October but instead referred to the mayor’s office for further review. A representative of Meritage Homes told the Chronicle following the initial proposal that it would publish an analysis of “where or how floodwaters would flow across the surrounding land” after construction. But it later decided not to — reported the Chronicle’s Mike Morris — claiming that such a study would have been “irrelevant” in light of the city’s new standards for building in floodplains. A no vote by city council today would not have necessarily killed the project, council member Brenda Stardig noted to Morris — although it would have forced Meritage to find an alternate source of funding for the neighborhood’s infrastructure. The developer bought the 150-acre former golf course from MetroNational last year. [Houston Chronicle; more; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Meritage Homes
One week oil and gas equipment warehouse just north of the Katy that Work America Capital is converting into a place of business has been partially skinned. Its street-fronting side is now open and the illuminated sign that spelled out the Surefire Industries name atop the front entrance has been replaced with Burton Construction’s unlit banner.
Work America says the structure at 1336 Brittmoore will anchor a 25-acre business campus it’s developing, dubbed The Cannon. It’s slated to include co-working offices, as well as an event center, athletic facility, restaurants, retail and some sort of living space.
Here’s a view of what the barn-like structure will look like re-sided and with new windows:
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The basic structure of a new bridge crossing from one side of the Conrad Sauer Detention Basin to the other in the northward expansion of Memorial City is now in place, this recent photo (above) from reader Marc Longoria shows. The bridge will be part of Mathewson Ln., which developer and property owner MetroNational is extending from Conrad Sauer Dr. eastward over the detention basin and connecting to Gessner Dr., as shown in this recent construction photo:
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Memorial City Marches North
“We will not have a kitchen ourselves,” writes the proprietor of Cobble & Spoke, the new craft beer bar planned for space H, almost to the corner of the 1900 Blalock strip center at the northeast corner of Blalock St. and Campbell Rd., in response to a reader query earlier today on Facebook. “However there is a restaurant on site that you will be able to order with right at the bar & have the food delivered right to your table!” That restaurant is Simply Greek, just 6 storefronts down the L, past Precisions Research, a couple of vacant spaces, Ideal Furniture, Creatures of Yoga, and Senpai’s Cards.
At the opposite end of the center is the Stop n’ In convenience store paired with the pair of gas pumps that front the parking lot. Cobble & Spoke promises a selection of wines and craft ciders as well. Neighborhood riders who want to lock up their bicycles will be accommodated too, the bar’s owner notes: “We will have a bike rack out front & even some dedicated space inside.”
Photo: Silvestri Investments
Craft Beer and Imported Food
HOUSES FOR 800 TO HIT THE PINE CREST GOLF COURSE GREENS What’s the current count on defunct and ailing Houston golf courses being put to new use? Add another to the list: Meritage Homes is now planning to redevelop the former Pine Crest Golf Club’s 121 acres of links into a bundle of houses big enough for 800-or-so residents. The land, due north up Gessner Rd. from Memorial City Mall in Spring Shadows, will take the name Spring Brooke Village; MetroNational has been hawking the property since late 2015, around the same time as Conroe’s Wedgewood golf course hit the market. [Houston Business Journal; previously on Swamplot] Photo of 3080 Gessner Rd.: LoopNet
A branch of Taiwanese pastry chain 85˚C Bakery Cafe looks to be headed to the strip center endspot right next to the 99 Ranch Market at the intersection of Blalock Rd. and I-10. A permit to remodel the former East West Bank branch into a bakery was issued in December; Weingarten now has the shop listed in on its own leasing materials for the strip center (marked down for the spot closest to the grocery store, in the siteplan above).
Meanwhile, Eater Houston’s Amy McCarthy made note of a note of a coming soon banner for the chain over somewhere over in Chinatown this morning; the company has also been posting job listings since last fall for Houston-area warehouse positions, so multiple stores could well be in the works.
Images: Weingarten Realty (top); CBRE (bottom)
Spring Branch Branches
A BUNCH OF NORTHWEST MALL’S TENANTS MAY SHUT DOWN THIS MONTH Swamplot hasn’t heard back from the management office of borderline zombie shopping center Northwest Mall yet to confirm plans for the structure — but some of the mall’s tenants have been advertising their own impending closure, including alcoholic cake shop Bundt Cake-a-holic (which is currently trying to crowdfund its own relocation). Rumors on Reddit and The Leader suggest that a few shops like Thompson’s Antique Center of Texas and the in-mall College of Healthcare Professions will stay open, but that most of the tenants are getting booted for remodeling by March 31st. [Previously on Swamplot] Photo of Northwest Mall: Moni
AN EERIE SURVEY OF NORTHWEST MALL’S APACHES, ALCOHOLICS, AND CHRISTMAS CAST A spiritual throwback to John Nova Lomax’s semi-regular walkumentaries of various Houston neighborhoods is part of January’s edition of Texas Monthly: an account of his recent trek through sorta-back-from-the-dead shopping center Northwest Mall. Lomax ponders the center’s past, present, and future while interviewing the locals (like the photo-ready Santa and elf team) and collecting dramatic snippets of eavesdropped conversation outside the mall’s Alcoholics Anonymous meeting facility (located not too far from the alcoholic bundt cake shop). Lomax writes that he sees the decidedly not-as-decrepit-as-it-used-to-be complex, complete with mysteriously closed Southern Apache Museum and $2 hurricane simulation tube, as a “window into modern, cosmopolitan Houston,” noting that “today’s Northwest Mall is more identifiably Bayou City than it was in the boom times. Where it was once just another outpost of corporate American capitalism, it is now as diverse as the city around it. . . . What you will find among these [one-off shops] you will find nowhere else, and the scenes you will take in are often exotic, quirky, or somewhat spooky — and occasionally some combination of all of the above.” [Texas Monthly; previously on Swamplot] Photo of Northwest Mall Entrance C: Moni
The new lessees of 7710 Long Point Rd. — formerly home to all-Mex-no-Tex Otilia’s Mexican Restaurant — announced last week that they’ll be filling the spot with a craft beer bar and restaurant called The Branch. The folks in charge appear to be former Hay Merchant-slash-Underbelly catering head Madeline Cabezut, current Hay Merchant bar manager Kyle Pierson (though Hay Merchant itself is not involved in the project), and former Miller/Coors spokesmodel Amanda Mixon. An entity linked to serial redeveloper Braun Enterprises bought the place last year, after Otilia’s 2014 for-real-this-time shutdown. The trio formally leased the space around the end of September, and plan to have the place open early next year.
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Branching Out to Long Point Rd.
KARBACH SALE: SPRING BRANCH INDUSTRIAL STREET NAME TO BECOME ANHEUSER BUSCH BRAND Word comes from both parties this morning that local craft beer staple Karbach Brewing Co.will be bought by global beer conglomerate Anheuser Busch-InBev (also currently in the process of buying parts of fellow megabrewer SABMiller’s holdings). The 5-year-old microbrewery, which rapidly outgrew its original warehouse setup on Karbach St. in the industrial sliver between 290 and Hempstead Rd. just outside the Loop, added a new restaurant and more brewing equipment (with room for further future increases) as part of a 2014 overhaul of the property. The brewers told Chris Crowell in April that the annual output had reached around 55,000 barrels by the end of last year; based on their estimated expansion capacity, it doesn’t look like AB-Inbev’s plan to bump up production to 150,000 barrels per year by 2019 would require any major property changes or a move — just some retrofitting. [Anheuser Busch; Previously on Swamplot] Image of new brewery building at 2032 Karbach St.: Andrew M.
A Houston Chronicle attempt to get more info about the surprise chemical warehouse fire that turned Spring Branch Creek blood red earlier this year has been denied by the city, writes Matt Dempsey this week. The city has reportedly appealed to the state attorney general’s office to block the records request, as well as the paper’s broader request for “the name and address of every facility that files a hazardous material inventory form.”
The early May fire spread from a residence on Laverne St., igniting still-unquantified amounts of still-unnamed chemicals stored at the Custom Packaging & Filling warehouse behind it — a business that didn’t show up on the list of storage facilities the Chronicle was able to compile from local emergency planning groups, after the city and state blocked a previous request for similar info last year. The blaze left some firefighters with chemical burns and respiratory issues, and left stretches of nearby waterways decorated with festive biohazard signs and oil booms as the EPA did what they could about the mixture of pesticides and whatever else was killing the fish that drained from the site.
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Knowing Your Neighbors
Following a few months of permit angst and the placement of a red pig in the parking lot, the N. Shepherd location of Dallas-import pizza join Cane Rosso says it will open this evening at 5pm. Cane Rosso’s other planned Houston spot is still getting worked over on Yoakum St. at Richmond Ave.
Just beating it to the punch this afternoon is the even-longer-delayed 4th location of Niko Niko’s Greek & American Bakery & Cafe, opening at 3pm in the former Chili’s building across the parking lot from Houston Community College’s Spring Branch campus:
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Ovens Finally at the Ready
GOOD THING SPRING BRANCH HAD ALL THAT FLOODING LAST MONTH A press release from the city notes that last month’s flooding may actually make the chemical spill caused by yesterday’s warehouse fire significantly less of a problem for the waterways around Spring Branch: “Fortunately, recent heavy rainfall and flooding has caused high waters in our creeks and bayous. This will assist in diluting the pesticide contaminates and minimize its impact.” Harris County Flood Control District says the areas of Spring Branch creek marked in the map above (from the site of the fire to the creek’s junction with Buffalo Bayou) should be avoided. [City of Houston; previously on Swamplot] Image: Harris County Flood Control District