06/19/14 1:15pm

Rendering of Proposed Chelsea Montrose Highrise, 4 Chelsea Pl., Museum District, Houston

Chelsea Market Shopping Center,  4611-4621 Montrose Blvd., Museum District, HoustonStreet Lights Residential completed its purchase of a strip of land on the east side of the Chelsea Market shopping center (behind the buildings shown at left) on Chelsea Blvd. east of Montrose Blvd. just last month; the 3 small retail buildings there, which used to house the Blue Mambo hair salon, Nolan-Rankin Galleries, the ELS language center, and Just Wax It, were themselves waxed off the site in April. Chelsea Market owner David K. Gibbs sold the property, which extends from Chelsea Blvd. to the edge of the Southwest Fwy., to allow a larger footprint for the development of the 20-story Chelsea Montrose highrise planned next door at 4 Chelsea Blvd. (pictured at top).

The resulting parking shortage at Chelsea Market is to blame for Main Street Theater’s exit from the space in the shopping center it had rented since 1996, according to the theater’s managers and its landlord. The theater group, which was renting 4617 Montrose Blvd. on a month-to-month basis for its Theater for Youth program, had also hoped to use it to stage 3 productions next season during the renovation of its Rice Village location on Times Blvd., which is scheduled to begin in November.


Museum District Parking
05/28/14 11:30am

A.D. PLAYERS SAYS IT’S READY TO BUILD ITS GIANT GALLERIA THEATER COMPLEX, FOR REALS THIS TIME Proposed A.D. Players Theater, Westheimer Rd. at Westheimer Way, Galleria, HoustonA mere decade after the installation of the first “coming soon” sign on the organization’s (then) new never-built-on 4-acre lot on Westheimer Rd. just west of Yorktown, A.D. Players appears ready to begin building the sparkling new theater it’s been promising — and fundraising for — all these years. The company, which produces plays “rooted in Christian values,” has announced it will break ground on the project — sometime this summer. The company hasn’t specified the budget for the building, or how much it’s raised in its 10-year capital campaign, but it is touting a recent $2 million gift from the Houston Texans owner’s Robert and Janice McNair Foundation. The facility will include a 450-seat mainstage, a 300-seat children’s theater, and a 150-seat black box theater. It’ll sit between the 5444 Westheimer office building and CVS. [Houston Business Journal] Rendering: A.D. Players

01/23/14 10:30am

DeLuxe Theater, 3300 Lyons Ave., Fifth Ward, Houston

And look — all it took was a little uh, clearance from the city. You can see the working arm of the excavator inside what used to be the innards of the DeLuxe Theater at 3300 Lyons Ave. in this photo from this morning sent to Swamplot by a reader. Long the focus of various repurposing plans, the shell now appears ready for its latest renovation project.


Innards Out
10/01/13 10:00am

Here are a couple of new renderings from Gensler and more of the details for that pedestrian- and transit-friendly development proposed to go up beside the light rail in Midtown: The Houston Chronicle reports that RHS Interests is planning for the west side of the 3500 and 3600 blocks of Main St. a 363-unit apartment building dubbed the Lofts of Mid Main, a 773-space parking garage, and 30,000 sq. ft. of retail.

And that huge garage would be shared by the cool cats coming to and from the MATCH, the Ensemble Theater, and those other restaurants, bars, and shops there around the Ensemble/HCC station between Alabama and Holman.


09/05/13 3:45pm

Here’s a look at the recently approved designs of the new arts and concert venue that could start being built as soon as 2014 in Sugar Land. Drawn up by Washington, D.C., firm Martinez & Johnson, the 200,000-sq.-ft., 6,500-seat theater will eventually sit on 39 undeveloped acres in Telfair, just off the Southwest Fwy. and University Blvd.


06/05/13 4:00pm

BREAKING DOWN STUDIO RED’S ALLEY THEATRE REDO The $46.5 million that the Alley Theatre is spending on a remodel drawn up by Studio Red has created a plan that threatens to “muddle” the Ulrich Franzen-designed space’s “magical” effects, writes local architect, homebuilder, and mod fanatic Ben Koush. Though Koush concedes that changes to the main stage, seats, and lighting and sound systems are necessary to meet the demands of more elaborate productions — including the decision to increase the number of stalls in the women’s restroom from 13 to 24 — Koush wonders whether the “smooth, corporate image” proposed for the interiors won’t ruin a good thing: “At the street-level ticketing lobby, the architects propose to cover the concrete floor with terrazzo. Franzen integrated seemingly opposite sensations of closure and openness in a building with very few windows by cutting out strategic and rather large floor to ceiling openings at the entrance and at the upper level balconies. . . . To further this intentional ambiguity he continued the concrete of the exterior steps not only on the floor of the lobby but also on the battered surfaces of the banks of ticket booths. The drama of the red carpet cascading down the upper lobby stairs is [heightened] by the contrast with the humble concrete below. By covering this floor surface, an important part of the design concept will be lost.” [Studio Red; Arts + Culture] Rendering: Studio Red

02/27/13 12:00pm

HALF THE $25.8M NEEDED FOR MIDTOWN ARTS CENTER RAISED Looks like the money for that proposed theater and gallery complex on Main St. keeps rolling in, reports the Houston Chronicle: “Fundraising up to now,” reports Flori Meeks, “has yielded about $12.3 million.” But the little meter on the website for the Midtown Arts and Theater Center Houston — or The MATCH for short — says that the troupe-friendly group already has $13.2 million; that’s 51 percent of the $25.8 million needed to get started on the Lake Flato- and Studio Red-designed building (shown here) on the existing surface parking lot that’s bound by Main, Travis, Francis, and Holman. And what’s it going to be when that other $12.6 million’s in pocket? “While designs have yet to be finalized,” reports Meeks, “current plans for the 59,000-square-foot building call for a large 350-seat theater, three black-box theater spaces with flexible seating configurations, two rehearsal spaces that can also be used for performances and exhibits, a large gallery area, more than 6,000 feet of office space, a central public breezeway that can be used for performances and exhibits and a coffee and wine bar.” [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Rendering: The MATCH

09/28/12 4:21pm

GRANTS TO SPARK MIDTOWN ARTS CENTER FUNDRAISING The consortium of independent arts organizations planning a theater and gallery complex at the corner of Main and Holman just got a step closer to the $25 million it needs to build the project. Two weeks ago, the group received a $750K grant from the Fondren Foundation. Last week it got word of an even bigger haul: a $6 million grant from the Houston Endowment. In August, the group — which includes DiverseWorks, Fotofest, and Main St. Theater — changed its name from the Independent Arts Collaborative to “The MATCH,” short for the Midtown Arts and Theatre Center Houston. The 59,000-sq.-ft. complex at 3400 Main St. is being designed by a match-up of San Antonio’s Lake Flato Architects and Houston’s Studio Red. [Previously on Swamplot] Rendering: The MATCH

05/10/12 10:21am

Here’s a view of the 4-story, 93,760-sq.-ft. performing arts center the University of St. Thomas plans to build on the northwest corner of its Montrose campus, on the full city block bounded by West Alabama, Yupon, Sul Ross, and Graustark. A feature article on the project in the university’s magazine describes the site provocatively as being “adjacent to the Menil Collection,” but it’s really catty-corner to the Menil block that contains the Rothko Chapel, a long block east of the Menil’s famed shielded-by-bungalows main building. In the drawing above you’re looking at the new UST center from high above the Rothko Chapel’s east lawn, toward the corner of Sul Ross and Yupon.


02/03/12 5:53pm

Wait — haven’t we already seen “initial concept drawings” for the Independent Arts Collaborative building planned for the corner of Main and Holman in Midtown? Well, yeah, but those initial concept drawings were prepared by Morris Architects as part of a study just to sell folks on the idea. Since then, the IAC bought the former city parking lot at 3400 Main St. and Morris lost out on the actual commission to a mix-in combo of San Antonio’s Lake Flato Architects (best known in town, strangely enough, for 2 inner-loop grocery stores they’ve designed for H-E-B) and Houston’s own Studio Red (fresh from its work on the renovation of an old Downtown warehouse into the new Houston Permitting Center). So we’ve got a whole new batch of initial concept drawings to look through, this time from the building’s actual architects.

Shunning the typical secrecy surrounding not-ready-yet designs, the new arts organization has decided to show them off on its Facebook page — even before floor plans are ready — with a simple “let us know what you think.” What a concept!


08/11/11 12:16pm

THAT THEATER SPACE IN THE NEW HOUSTON BALLET BUILDING REALLY CHAPS MY ASS “I have been going to the theater for nearly four decades, which means at the very least that I’ve encountered every possible sort of venue. I’ve sprawled on dirty gymnasium floors while watching modern dance, perched in rickety folding chairs during community Shakespeare productions, and squeezed into wooden fold-downs from the 19th century for long Mahler symphonies. I’ve languished in some of the oldest opera houses of Europe, where the seats are notoriously awful. I am sorry to say that even paint-chipped baseball bleachers are more comfortable than the seven rows of upholstered benches in the Margaret Alkek Williams Dance Lab at Houston Ballet’s new Center for Dance. . . . The seats are exactly one foot deep, with “backrests” only one foot high. Place two rulers in an “L” shape on your backside and you’ll get the idea: no support at all. You might be thinking that I should just lose some weight, and I won’t argue the point. However, a female friend told me recently that I have ‘no ass,’ so I don’t think it’s merely a matter of my size. I looked around and noticed everyone else shifting as well. There were several large people in the audience, and they looked positively miserable.” — Theodore Bale, reviewing a pair of Woody Allen plays put on by the Back Porch Players. [Culturemap; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Michael Coppens [license]

07/10/09 1:19pm

Main Street Theater’s lease on its Rice Village building — which it’s held for 27 years — went month-to-month last year. So the 34-year-old company has announced it wants to buy and renovate the building at 2540 Times Blvd., near Kirby. (The theater also stages productions at a separate facility in Chelsea Market, at 4617 Montrose Blvd.)

This dramatically lit rendering from Studio Red Architects is meant to attract donors to the organization’s $3.5 million capital campaign. It shows what a theater-owned and renovated building might look like shortly before an evening performance — if, say, no one decided to park in front of it.