07/03/18 12:00pm

Over the weekend, members of cyclist group BikeHouston along with a number of volunteers sent to Houston by Evangelical Lutheran Church made a few bike-friendly modifications to the McGowen St. roadway between Burkett and Nettleton streets — the block that’s bisected by  the Columbia Tap Trail. Armed with stencils, paint, and a supply of rubber armadillos, the group sectioned off a protected bike lane along the road leading toward the trail.

Along they way, they included a few helpful reminders:

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Tactical Urbanism
06/21/18 4:15pm

The plaza outside UH’s basketball arena — soon-to-feature a statue of the building’s former namesake Roy Hofheinz — is currently a mess of dirt and constructions vehicles working to make the place look like the rendering above. The big red Fertitta Center sign isn’t up yet; it’s set to rise over the glassier new entrance fronting Cullen Blvd.

On the inside, a new scoreboard, new AV equipment, bigger bathrooms and new food and retail are being added. The ceiling is going up 30 ft. above a brand-new court and some lower seating sections, creating a crater-like hole in the roof that — viewed from nosebleed land — will look something like this:

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Hofheinz No More
03/16/18 4:30pm

When the owner’s work is finished on what he’s calling the McGowen Container House, the stack of boxes just west of 59 will be a 4-story house with a carport at ground level and a terrace atop the blue Hanjin unit shown in the photo above. A few windows, doors, and portions of the staircase that will climb through the building’s east side have been installed, according to the blog for the project. Rough-in plumbing and some preliminary electrical wiring is finished as well, but the utilities aren’t on yet.

Here’s a view of the cargo hold from the east, near Hutchins St.:

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Third Ward Freight
03/16/18 12:30pm

WHAT’S NEXT FOR THE THIRD WARD’S RIVERSIDE GENERAL HOSPITAL CAMPUS? The 3-acre Riverside General Hospital campus is home to 3 buildings: Houston’s first hospital for black patients fronting Elgin (pictured above) and a former nurses’ quarters along Holman (both opened in 1926 as the Houston Negro Hospital), as well as a newer 1961 hospital building. The entire facility closed in 2015 after its former CEO Earnest Gibson III was convicted of Medicare fraud. Earlier this week, the Harris County Commissioners Court voted to buy all 3 buildings. If they don’t become a part of the new mental health facility the county plans to open on the site, what purpose might the 2 older buildings serve? The neighborhood may get a chance to review smaller-scale proposals for those historic structures: a job training center, small business incubation facility, maker space, cultural museum, library, youth hostel, swing dance club, chess club, or dominoes club. UH architecture professor Alan Bruton tells Houston Matters host Craig Cohen that the Emancipation Economic Development Council — a Third Ward nonprofit — invited him to collect residents’ ideas for the space. His students next fall will create designs for some of those concepts; the Council may use them to raise money and rally support for the proposals. [Houston Public Media; audioPhoto of former Houston Negro Hospital building at 3204 Ennis St.: Ed Uthman [license]

03/06/18 4:30pm

New protective barriers of ankle-high concrete have been added around the curbs that already front each corner at the intersection of Tuam and Hutchins streets, slowing down traffic and speeding up curb-to-curb travel times for pedestrians crossing at the crosswalks. The additions were put there by the city’s Complete Communities initiative, a project Mayor Turner launched last April to focus in its initial round on adding infrastructure to 5 neighborhoods: the Third Ward, as well as the Second Ward, Near Northside, Gulfton, and Acres Homes.

The photo at top — Tweeted out by an observer heading southbound through the Third Ward along Tuam — looks down the street to show all 4 new pedestrian pockets including the one in the left foreground that sits outside the northeast corner of Emancipation Park. That portion of the park is where its playground lays out as indicated in the map above.

A view looking east from inside the park shows what the kids’ corner has to offer:

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A Concrete Solution
06/20/17 10:15am

THESE ARE THE SALAD DAYS FOR EMANCIPATION PARK Covering the reopening of Emancipation Park, on Elgin St. east of 59, Michael Hardy surveys the adjacent eats: “Even before the park reopened, a number of businesses catering to the neighborhood’s newest residents had appeared. Across the street from the park, below the old Eldorado Ballroom, are the Crumbville, TX bakery, which sells vegan cookies and brownies, and the NuWaters food co-op. A few blocks down Emancipation Avenue, Doshi House serves sustainably sourced coffee and vegetarian meals. (Emancipation Avenue used to be called Dowling Street, after a local Confederate officer; the Houston City Council voted in January to change the name.) The latest business to open on the park periphery is the Rustic Oak Seafood Boiler Shack, which serves coastal Cajun cuisine. The owner and chef, Wendell Price, grew up on MacGregor Way, a more affluent part of Third Ward, and remembers the area around Emancipation Park as a food desert. ‘When I came down to hang in this area, you literally couldn’t get a salad,’ he said. Mr. Price, who previously operated a restaurant in Houston’s trendy Montrose neighborhood, said he would never have considered setting up shop in Third Ward if not for the Emancipation Park renovation.” [New York Times; previously on Swamplot] Photo of Doshi House: OffCite/Raj Mankad

05/10/17 1:00pm

DOWLING ST. NOW BEING EMANCIPATED The folks at Project Row House posted this snapshot of a new street sign along Emancipation Ave., née Dowling St., which is getting its shiny new labels affixed in the leadup to this year’s Juneteenth festivities. (That’s when the name change will officially take effect, and when majorly overhauled Emancipation Park is once again planning to reopen, as well.) This particular set of signage is at the corner with Francis St., across Dowling Emancipation from the Tiny Treasures house, the crumbling remains of the Beauty Box, and the former site of the Flower Man’s toxic-mold-filled arthouse; the new signs look to have started going up along the road last week.  Photo: Project ROW House

12/08/16 2:00pm

Pedestrian Bridge over White Oak at Durham St.

The section of bayou-hugging greenway trail running between Durham St. and Stude Park is getting the official OK tomorrow morning from Harris County Flood Control District and the Houston Parks Board. The photo above is of the pedestrian bridge across White Oak near Durham St. that previously supplanted the area’s “Bridge of Death” route; the segment opening tomorrow runs from that same bridge east along the bayou to the Studemont St. non-pedestrian bridge. The organizers are hoping would-be trail fans will use some means other than car to get to the ceremony location (off Studemont just north of I-10); if you have to drive, however, the invitation says you might be able to get a parking space across the freeway north of  Target.

Further east along the White Oak trail, here’s an updated view of how that link into Near Northside by the Leonel Castillo Community Center is coming along (taken in mid-November, once again from the same spot as that glitzed-up flood photo that made an appearance in Air New Zealand’s recent in-flight feature on Texas):

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Greenways Growth Spurts
11/10/16 10:45am

CITY STILL WORKING ON CHANGING DOWLING STREET’S NAME, STREET NAME CHANGING RULES Rendering of Emancipation Park, Dowling St., Third Ward, HoustonThe renaming of Dowling St. to Emancipation Ave. is taking a little longer than the 10 weeks initially planned by the city planning commission, Mike Morris notes this week (now that that floated November 6 renaming ceremony date has come and gone). The final votes to formalize the name change are still coming up; the mayor and city council have also been rethinking the rules on how to change street names, which currently require a written OK from 75 percent of the property owners along a public street. Fewer than half of Dowling St.’s property owners initially signed on to the change,  though that percentage is skewed by the fact that many absentee owners couldn’t be reached at all, according to state rep Garnet Coleman. Morris writes that the proposed rule updates just require “sufficient” support for a name change to go through; the renaming of Dowling is moving forward under the new rules as a trial run before the city approves the rules officially. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Rendering of in-progress Emancipation Park redo on Dowling St.: Phil Freelon

11/02/16 5:15pm

LGBT SENIOR HOUSING COMPLEX IN THIRD WARD WON’T LIMIT BUILDINGS TO STRAIGHT GRID ORIENTATION Rendering of 2222 Cleburne St.Largely motivated by cases of out Houston seniors going back into the closet at the end of their lives for fear of discrimination from caregivers and housing providers, writes Brandon Wolf this week, the Montrose Center is now working on a 112-unit senior living complex geared toward (though not exclusive to) mixed-income LGBT folks. The Midtown Redevelopment Authority will give the project a parcel of land at 2222 Cleburne St. (set along 288 just 9 blocks south of about-to-reopen Emancipation Park) — but only if the Montrose Center can raise $1 million for the project by December 31. The complex’s 2 housing buildings, per a preliminary design by Smith & Company Architects, will be situated on the property at an angle to the street grid, both to make the facade less big-boxy and to pick up better natural lighting; Wolf also writes that “the apartment buildings’ outside staircases will be covered with mesh bearing the traditional colors of the rainbow—purple, blue, green, red, orange, and yellow.” [OutSmart] Rendering of LGBT senior living facility being planned for 2222 Cleburne St.:Mike Stribling, Smith & Company Architects

10/12/16 4:00pm

Hadley at Scott streets, Third Ward, Houston, 77004

The legal entity that has recently taken control of this block of Scott St. — located between Hadley and Bremond streets just off I-45 — appears to have been named in honor of the University of Houston’s early September football defeat of the Oklahoma Sooners. The previous owner of the land, a corporation called 3919 Scott Street (which, yes, is also the address of the up-for-eventual-demo original Frenchy’s restaurant down the road), transferred the property shown above over to an entity called UH33-OU23 near the end of last month, after putting in a request to the city to turn the 1.79 acres of mostly-vacant smaller lots into 1 big unrestricted parcel under the name University Gateway. The land is less than half a mile up Scott St. from the Elgin / Third Ward light-rail stop at the edge of UH’s central campus:

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Sooners or Later in Third Ward
09/30/16 10:30am

lindley-fish

Lindley Fish at Smither ParkThe street-sign-strip-tiled interior of the toothy structure above will host musicians and speakers this evening during the opening-party-slash-fundraiser for Smither Park, the narrow stretch of art-filled greenspace on Munger St. next door to the Orange Show. The park, backed up against the Pallet-Ops warehouse and laydown yard on Gulf Terminal Rd., is crammed full of other visual and tactile oddities, including an under-development marble run, a meditation garden, a boxy events pavilion, and a dragon-topped bench-swing swingset, all backed by the 400 feetmosaic-encrusted walls running along the edge of most of the space.

Photos: Orange Show

Orange Show Green Space
09/20/16 1:15pm

SEARCH House of Tiny Treasures, 2323 Francis St., Third Ward, Houston, 7700

Yesterday was opening day for SEARCH’s second House of Tiny Treasures, the organization’s child-education-slash-daycare operation. The new structure at the corner of Francis St. and currently-being-Emancipated Dowling forms a Francis-facing U around the land last employed as a playground following decades of vacancy. On the back side of the block is the crumbling former salon building which was briefly turned into a pre-integration time capsule living room as part of that 2013 Beauty Box art installation; east on Stuart St. is the spot where the ZeRow solar rowhouse landed after it went to Washington:

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Dowling Filling In
09/12/16 1:45pm

Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church Master Plan excerptThe gospel-soundtracked video above, showing Wheeler Avenue Baptist’s plans to plant a larger sanctuary next door to its existing facilities, appears to show that new structure landing on top of the original Frenchy’s location at 3919 Scott St. The creole chicken chain, which announced last year that it would be pushing for national expansion to 500 locations, also previously announced plans to tear down the original spot and rebuild bigger, though the exact location of that rebuild wasn’t specified. (Just up the street, meanwhile, a Frenchy’s-connected entity called 3919 Scott Street appears to have purchased the entire city block southwest of the corner of Scott St. and Hadley back in 2009. )

The property at 3919 Scott St. was bought over the summer by the church; the renderings in the video (posted just this week) more or less match up to a few older depictions featured on Harrison Kornberg Architects’s website for the project:

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Third Ward Chicken Prophecy
08/31/16 1:00pm

Former Site of Planned HCC College of Health Sciences’ Medical Science & Technology Early College Charter High School, Hwy. 288 and North MacGregor Way, Third Ward, Houston

A meeting is set for September 7th to take public input on the city’s plan to purchase the long-vacant land at the northeast corner of SH 288 and MacGregor to let H-E-B build a store on the site (at the edges of a few of Houston’s USDA-defined food deserts). The city says the meeting and comment period (which lasts through September 11) are standard parts of its 8-step program when developing within the floodplain — Brays Bayou is just to the left of the frame above (snapped back in 2014), which the southeastern corner of the land as the facade-and-foreclosure-twin Mosaic and Montage towers peek over from west of 288.

The land is currently owned by Houston Community College; the college system bought the tract (reportedly for the second time) back in 2013 as the proposed site of the elaborately monikered HCC Coleman College of Health Sciences’ Medical Science & Technology Early College Charter High School. The city would bundle the land together with some adjacent already-city-owned property to lease it to H-E-B, and the grocery chain would be able to buy the whole package once all 72,000 sq. ft. of new store are constructed and certified for occupancy. 

Photo: Swamplot inbox

Flood Plain Food Desert