05/05/16 2:30pm

WHERE THE HECK IS HOUSTON’S BIOTECH BOOM? TMC Commons Parking Garage, 6550 Bertner Ave, Houston, TX 77030Almost $3 billion in new construction projects are underway in the Texas Medical Center, says Roxanna Asgarian in last month’s Houstonia. The district is known as the world’s largest cluster of medical practice and research facilities — but “what the TMC is not known for,” writes Asgarian, “is turning that research into new drugs and devices . . . The situation is, in many respects, baffling. All the major building blocks for a thriving biotech industry exist here, including huge clinical and research institutions, world-renowned physicians and researchers, highly skilled engineers, and a bustling business community. So what’s missing?” [Houstonia] Photo of Texas Medical Center Commons parking garage at 6550 Bertner Ave.: Texas Medical Center

04/06/16 12:15pm

Proposed Blossom Hotel on Lehall St. at Bertner Ave., Cecil Street Courts, Houston, 77030

Here’s a preview of the 9-story hotel planned for the stretch of now-mostly-cleared land along Lehall St. at Bertner Ave. south of the Texas Medical Center. The land slated to hold the Blossom Hotel Houston is right across Bertner from where the TMC wants to build a double helix park and collaborative campus; Zhejiang Blossom Tourism Group has been buying up lots on the east and northeast of the block, which have held a mixture of homes, a commercial building, and nothing over the last few decades.

Not shown in the rendering:  the lone house still standing right on at the corner of Lehall St. and Bertner Ave.:


Last One Standing
04/05/16 11:30am

UT M.D. Anderson Cancer Center Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Building for Personalized Cancer Care, Morsund St. at M.D. Anderson Blvd., Texas Medical Center, Houston, 77030

Here’s a glance down MacGregor Dr. across Cambridge St. toward the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Building for Personalized Cancer Care — now labeled the “Sheikh Zayed Building” for short, a reader notes. The 4-tower structure, now standing where Moursund Dr. meets MD Anderson Blvd., is one of the projects funded by the $150 million grant given to MD Anderson in 2011 by the building’s namesake’s son, current UAE president Khalifa bin Zayed al Nayhan. HDR designed the building, which went up on the space formerly occupied by UT’s Mental Science Institute (shipped off to the nearby UT Research Park back in 2010).

Here’s a glitzier shot of the building, looking east across MD Anderson Blvd. with The Spires condominium tower rising on the left in the background:


Med Center Labels
02/04/16 11:30am

Proposed Apartment Tower at 6750 Main St., Medical Center Area, Houston, 77005

Greystar plans to squeeze a 375-unit apartment highrise on the same 1.35 acre lot at 6750 S. Main St. as an in-the-works hotel from Medistar. That Medistar project, which was originally planned as a 220-unit hotel-slash-apartment building on the same spot, will now be a 357-room just-hotel, and will share a lobby with Greystar’s apartment tower on the southern half of the block between Travis St. and S. Main at Old Main St. (across the street from the Texas Women’s University building.)

The two towers (rendered above styled as 1850, seemingly in reference to the Old Main address) will slip in between a Best Western and a Wyndham Hotel, and would total in the neighborhood of 800,000 sq.ft. of floorspace, Greystar’s David Reid tells the HBJ’s Cara Smith.  The apartment unit floorplans range significantly in size— the largest 2 suites measure in around 3,800 sq.ft., and the smallest bottom out at an Ivy-Lofts-esque 349 sq.ft.


Old Main St. at Main St.
01/07/16 4:15pm

Rendering of Medical Center Crossing, 1709 Dryden Rd., TMC, 77030

Just north of the hypodermic peaks of the St. Luke’s Medical Tower on Main St., the tower at 1709 Dryden Rd. is slated for redevelopment as the Medical Center Crossing complex — the office space, leased by Baylor as recently as 2013, will be converted into an Embassy Suites hotel (shown from the northeast corner in the rendering above). The tower was sold at the end of 2014 to an entity connected to Pritesh Patel — the Fort Worth developer who previously purchased the Samuel F. Carter building at 806 Main St. and turned it into a JW Marriott after peeling off the building’s extra glass-and-marble skin.

Ground-level retail will remain and expand — a siteplan released by Transwestern shows most of the building’s remaining restaurant tenants still in place, with an existing parking garage ramp exiting onto Fannin seemingly replaced by a 1,670-sq.-ft. storefront spot (Retail E in the plan below):


Crossing the Med Center
12/21/15 10:00am

Proposed Baylor McNair Campus, 7200 Cambridge Dr., Texas Medical Center, Houston, 77030

After a 4-year coma and slow recovery, the Baylor College of Medicine’s McNair Campus at the corner of Cambridge St. and Old Spanish Tr. may be back on track to eventually lead a normal life — new renderings released late last week to Joe Martin of the HBJ show the next phase of construction for what is now being called the Baylor College of Medicine Medical Center facility. Following a bleed-out of construction financing and subsequent failed merger negotiations between Baylor and Rice University, the building’s shell was completed in early 2010 and sat empty until a partial buildout gave the structure new life in late 2013.

St. Luke’s (owned by Catholic Health Initiatives) teamed up with Baylor shortly thereafter and made plans to move its Texas Medical Center hospital operations to the new facility. The Texas Heart Institute, which operates independently in St. Luke’s existing building,  will also be transplanted into the new facility.

The newly released site plan ties in to the double-helix-reminiscent campus recently proposed by the TMC for the parking lot next door — the campus is shown at the top of the site plan below:


Recovery on Cambridge St.
12/14/15 9:30am

TMC3 Proposed Campus, Old Spanish Trail, Texas Medical Center, Houston, 77030

Genetics play a major role in Houston’s economic landscape — if the Texas Medical Center has its way, a twist on the structure of DNA will become part of the city’s physical landscape as well. A new research campus proposed by the organization would center around a 250,000-sq.-ft. park reminiscent of a double helix, pictured above. The TMC3 Innovation Campus is designed to take the place of an existing parking lot bisected by William C. Harvin Dr. between S. Braeswood and Old Spanish Trail, just south of Braes Bayou. The 30-acre facility would represent the TMC’s official expansion across the bayou, linking the existing campus to research institutions further south; the once-again-developing Baylor-slash-St.-Luke’s complex on Cambridge would also be right next door (pictured above with some already-in-the-works glassy expansions, and linked to the helix’s surrounding structures by a skybridge over Staffordshire).

Texas A&M, Baylor College of Medicine, M.D.Anderson and the University of Texas would anchor the 1.5-million-sq.-ft. collaborative research facility — if they agree to do so. The institutions have yet to formally sign off on participation (or partial funding) of the project, which is estimated to cost on the order of $1.5 billion; UT is currently pushing plans for its own campus of yet-ambiguous purpose nearby.

Designs for the campus are still largely conceptual. The helix would be open for use as public greenspace:


Genetic Engineering
12/01/15 10:00am

UT Houston Campus Site, Buffalo Lakes, Houston

Some zoomy conceptual renderings of the University of Texas’s coming Houston campus, centered on the largely undeveloped intersection of Buffalo Spdwy. and Willowbend Blvd., made their debut at last month’s Board of Regents meeting, where the intended purchase of land for the project was announced. Buffalo Spdwy. gently winds through the drawings of the new campus to a track and several baseball diamonds along Holmes Rd. (which runs horizontally across the top of the image above).

Although the images are only “concepts”, the pictures do provide a sense of how the campus might unfold: For example, that linear water feature shown at the center of the campus aligns with an existing drainage ditch on the property, and the 3 long, low structures in the foreground are good candidates for parking garages, which will be needed regardless of the new institution’s yet-to-be-decided purpose.

Existing residential communities and industrial parks are here rendered as sparsely-treed fields — the boundary of the land slated for purchase by UT currently houses several apartment complexes on the north side and the Orkin Industrial Surplus facility to the south.

But another conceptual rendering (this one looking northwest across Holmes Rd. towards the distant Williams Tower) shows the campus in place amongst some of its eclectic neighbors:


Welcome to the neighborhood
06/19/15 12:30pm

KROGER SAYS IT HAS ‘NO PLANS’ TO CLOSE SIGNATURE STORE ON OST Kroger Signature Grocery Store, 1990 Old Spanish Trail at Cambridge St., HoustonResponding to yesterday’s Swamplot story noting council member Dwight Boykins’s report to his constituents that Kroger is shutting down its store at the corner of Old Spanish Trail and Cambridge St., a spokesperson for the grocery store chain tells Swamplot that Kroger plans to “continue operating the store as a leased property to serve the medical center community,” and that “there are no plans at this time to close the location.” Kroger has been operating the grocery store at 1990 Old Spanish Trail since 1994. Photo: Edgar V.

05/06/15 12:00pm

HOUSTON METHODIST’S NEW SUBURBAN-STYLE TMC HELIPAD Houston Methodist Helistop, Bertner Ave. at S. Braeswood Blvd., Texas Medical Center, HoustonFrom reader Stephen J Alexander comes this pic of the new helistop that’s landed at the corner of Bertner Ave. and S. Braeswood, just over the southern (Brays Bayou) border from the Texas Medical Campus, as viewed during construction last month. It’s directly across the street from M.D. Anderson’s 25-story Mid Campus Building 1, but the helicopter landing pad is a project of Houston Methodist Hospital, according to permit info posted onsite; it sits on a portion of Methodist’s West Pavilion remote lot. Photo: Stephen J Alexander

01/15/15 11:45am

Proposed Millennium Tower Apartments, 1911 Holcombe Blvd., Texas Medical Center, Houston

If you’re scoring which large residential projects are going ahead — despite concerns about a price-of-oil-induced downturn — and which ones are being quietly shelved, score this apartment tower from the Dinerstein Companies in the first column. “The medical center will shield us from the oil situation,” Dinerstein marketing director Emily Prevost declares to HBJ reporter Paul Takahashi. Construction on the Millennium Tower on a vacant lot at 1911 Holcombe St., just southeast of the Brays Bayou border of the official Texas Medical Center campus, is scheduled to begin on January 26th.


The Scrubs Will Shield Us
10/08/14 10:45am

Proposed New Michael E. DeBakey High School for Health Professions, Pressler St. at Holcombe Blvd., Texas Medical Center, Houston

Edwin Hornberger Conference Center, Former Shamrock Hotel Ballroom, 2151 W. Holcombe Blvd., Texas Medical Center, HoustonHISD intends to demolish the last remaining non-garage portion of the Shamrock Hotel complex early next year as part of its plans for a new DeBakey High School for Health Professions. The Shamrock’s former ballroom (pictured at right), now called the Edwin Hornberger Conference Center, has been operated as an event space by Trevisio Restaurant since 2011, but closed in May of this year. That structure will be scrapped, but the parking garage that shares the conference center’s 2151 W. Holcombe Blvd. address will remain, according to renderings of the new high school project. (The garage is the building bathed in white at right in the rendering above.)


Still Getting Rid of the Shamrock
09/05/14 1:30pm

Proposed Millennium Apartment Tower, Cambridge St. at Holcombe Blvd., Texas Medical Center, Houston

Here’s a rendering of the apartment tower that the Dinerstein Companies, with investment from a few companies including AmREIT, plans to put on the intersection of Holcombe Blvd. and Cambridge St., just south of the bayou that forms the southern border of the official Texas Medical Center campus. The intersection, created with the construction of the Cambridge St. bridge over Brays Bayou, is less than 5 years old. It’ll be filled out with a 21-story building in a 3-wing arrangement typical of Las Vegas hotels and a suburban hospital or 2, here perched atop a 7-or-so-level parking garage more than sufficient to keep all 375 units well above any future Med Center-area floodwaters.


All the Angles
08/01/14 2:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: A LINEAR PARK TO CONNECT THE MED CENTER TO RICE VILLAGE Drawing of Linear Park Connecting Rice Village to Texas Medical Center“If the Rice Village wants to be a retail goldmine, it should look outside its borders. My suggestion would be a linear public park that would take the residential properties between University and Dryden between the Medical Center at Travis all the way west to Greenbriar.” [infinite_jim, commenting on Haven Is No More; The Allure of the Suburban Town Square] Illustration: Lulu