There’s a stub end of North Braeswood Blvd. that extends just east of where the Stables Restaurant (pictured above) stood until 2007 at the corner of Greenbriar Dr. and South Main St. It leads to the St. Nicholas School along the northern bank of Brays Bayou, southwest of the Texas Medical Center. A reader alerts Swamplot that a variance sign has gone up on the now-vacant 8.5-acre parcel (at right) that surrounds the school and extends along S. Main up to Pressler St., and which used to house the Stables, the Red Lion restaurant, and the Bermuda Apartments. The variance lists 7200 Main and Springwoods Realty Company as the developers of the site, but doesn’t announce what the development is. Springwoods Realty is best known in Houston as the developers Springwoods Village, the curious 1,800-acre eco-themed development also of possible Aristotle Onassis origin whose announcement preceded that of the adjacent new ExxonMobil campus south of The Woodlands. And 7200 Main shares the New York address of Springwoods Village’s somewhat mysterious developer, Coventry Development Corp. The variance asks for permission not to extend North Braeswood or terminate it in a cul-de-sac, as would normally be required:
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What’s up at Greenbriar and S. Main?
The shiny new building on the northwest corner of Old Spanish Trail and Cambridge St. south of the Texas Medical Center that the Baylor College of Medicine built but then let sit as an empty shell for nearly 4 years will soon be filled with hospital beds, the institution announced today. And the complex will eventually become the new home of the successor to the Texas Medical Center’s St. Luke’s Hospital. Catholic Health Initiatives, which has its headquarters in Denver, bought the entire St. Luke’s Episcopal Health System last May for $2 billion; a new nonprofit joint venture between CHI St. Luke’s Health and Baylor will operate the new 250-bed hospital, which will be inserted into the structure’s vacant floors by next spring and bear the unwieldy name of Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center McNair Campus.
The same joint venture will also run the existing 850-bed St. Luke’s hospital on Bertner Ave., now conveniently known as the Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center TMC. But that Texas Medical Center institution appears to be going south: A yet-to-be-created master plan and timeline will guide the eventual replacement of that facility — it’ll move south of Brays Bayou to the McNair Campus, which is outside the official boundaries of the Texas Medical Center:
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And here, from a reader perched at the top level of MD Anderson’s Braeswood Garage at Braeswood Blvd. and Pressler St., are photos of the land- and tree-clearing going on for the new just-across-the-bayou-from-the-Med Center apartments that Mill Creek Residential is going ahead with — after abandoning plans for a slightly larger complex (as close as it could get to Dynamo Stadium without crossing Dowling) in East Downtown. The photos are taken looking south, over Brays Bayou; the TMC South Extension Lot is behind the site, which fronts Wyndale.
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COMMENT OF THE DAY: EAST DOWNTOWN, BROUGHT TO YOU BY MONTROSE “I totally agree with what’s going on in EADO. Face it. It’s way too close to everywhere people want to be not to turn around. And I don’t see any bubble bursting as it’s not inflated at all. Things are still super cheap.
Our strategy for EADO, 3rd ward, and med center area can be summarized in 3 words: “BUY BUY BUY” (and sell in Montrose, at stupid high prices, to get the cash to do so).” [Cody, commenting on Townhouses Going Up in East Downtown] Illustration: Lulu
THE LAST REMAINING PIECE OF THE PRUDENTIAL TOWER It made it: The 1952 Peter Hurd mural, formerly of the wall of the demolished Kenneth Franzheim-designed Prudential Tower in the Med Center, has completed its 2-year stop-and-go journey from 1100 Holcome Blvd., to a storage space in Midland, to the brand-new Artesia Public Library in
northern southeastern New Mexico. The largest ever to be transported, the 16-ft.-by-46-ft. mural, titled “The Future Belongs To Those Who Prepare For It,” underwent a successful 20-hour installation last week, reports Swamplot commenter Artesia_NM Resident. And Albuquerque’s KOB Eyewitness News reports that the big unveiling of the big thing is planned for November 9. [KOB; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Candace Garcia
ANOTHER HIGHRISE SQUEEZING INTO THE MED CENTER? Real Estate Bisnow’s Catie Dixon reports that this 2-acre parcel on the edge of the Med Center, overlooking Brays Bayou and being overlooked by the 40-story condo tower The Spires right next door, might become the site of another highrise. ARA, which is marketing the property here on the corner of Cambridge and Holcombe Blvd., tells Dixon that though the site is not yet on the market, there has already been interest in it both from an apartment builder and a hotel developer. [Real Estate Bisnow] Image: ARA
COMMENT OF THE DAY: BOOING A DEBAKEY HIGH SCHOOL FOR HEALTH PROFESSIONS MOVE TO THE OLD SHAMROCK HOTEL SITE “Any biomedical educational institution gains considerable strength by being closely associated with TMC. There’s a much higher credibility and visibility factor. And as a bonus, students may be visited by Glenn McCarthy’s ghost.” [Chef, commenting on Headlines: Houston Club Shacking Up with Plaza Club; Galveston’s Port of Call Dreams]
COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE SHAMROCK HOTEL SHINE AND FALL “Wasn’t the greatest building, because Frank Lloyd Wright said so? The same guy who hated every skyscraper in New York City?
This was Houston’s most famous landmark before the Astrodome. It was what people around the country thought of when they thought of the city. The point of the Frank Lloyd Wright story should be that the nation’s most famous architect HAD to make a visit there and give his opinion, it was that renowned. It captured a whole era of the city’s history — its rollicking, mid-century, oil-rich extravagance — better than any other building.
But it made sense to tear it down because, gosh, it would have required renovating and updating. Oh, and the ceiling heights were low! With that reasoning, any historic building in the world would be torn down at some point.” [Mike, commenting on The Park Where Houston Architecture Critics Go To Sharpen Their Chops]
THE PARK WHERE HOUSTON ARCHITECTURE CRITICS GO TO SHARPEN THEIR CHOPS From Ben Koush’s new building-by-building history of the Texas Medical Center (which now apparently has more square footage than Downtown): “In 1991 the Gus S. and Lyndall F. Wortham Park was dedicated on part of the site of Shamrock Hotel. (The rest of the site is a giant parking lot.) It was designed by Philip Johnson’s ex-partner John Burgee and features water jets, columns that appear to be taken from a freeway overpass and vine covered pergolas. It makes a nice, very secluded place to take a nap during the afternoon since it is always deserted.” [OffCite; previously on Swamplot]
COMMENT OF THE DAY: MACKIE AND KAMRATH DENTAL BUILDING WAS GETTING A BIT LONG IN THE TOOTH “That building may have looked good from the outside (from a distance; up close you could see the re-bar holding the granite slabs on) but it was WAY outdated on the inside. No way was it set up for a class of 100 students, which is what the School of Dentistry now enrolls every year.
I taught in a basement classroom there for 4 years. Between the complete lack of reliable electricity to all of the outlets and the jury-rigged data cables and conduits, it was a minor miracle we didn’t burn the place down or break someone’s neck during labs. And don’t get me started on the thermostats! Never knew if I was gonna need a sweater or a shower after class.” [Sunsets, commenting on M.D. Anderson Planning To Extract Dental Branch from Med Center]
The 1955 building Houston architects MacKie and Kamrath designed (along with several later additions) for the University of Texas Dental Branch will be removed from its home at the corner of MD Anderson Blvd. and Moursund in the Med Center, according to the Texas Historical Commission. The UT School of Dentistry abandoned the 5-story, granite-faced building earlier this year for a new 300,000-sq.-ft. facility in the new UT Health Science Center Research Park south of the Med Center proper (and OST) at 7500 Cambridge St. UT’s M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, which owns the Med Center site, hasn’t yet announced a schedule for the demolition.
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UT’s M.D. Anderson Cancer Center plans to build this 8-ish story pavilion, called The Pavilion, in front of the Alkek hospital at the corner of Bertner and Bates streets in the Med Center — replacing the pavilion-like rotunda that stands there now. The new building will house the center’s interventional radiology department (on its third floor) as well as 11 new operating rooms. The 185,000-sq.-ft. structure, designed by Dallas’s HKS, includes 2 partial-height floors for maintenance above the operating rooms plus a mechanical floor at the top. Construction is expected to cost $102 million, and be complete by the end of 2015. An accompanying $96 million renovation of the adjacent Alkek hospital will extend into 2019.
Rendering: HKS, via M.D. Anderson
The all-day buffet line for Filipino dishes and Mongolian stir fry just west of the Med Center could be winding down. This standalone building at 2416 W. Holcombe, home to Gold Ribbon Bake Shop and Restaurant since the mid-nineties, has been listed for lease by Pipeline Realty. Located in the shadows of a recently completed storage facility, the property shares a back parking lot with an adjacent medical office. There are 48 parking spaces by day and another 40 after office hours. Interestingly, a sign on the door says the place is hiring, seeking new hires who speak English and Tagalog.
Photo: Pipeline Realty