The new bar planned for the 20,878-sq.-ft. warehouse at 3229 Navigation Blvd. in Houston’s East End that earlier this decade was home to Fred’s Trailer Truck Supply will be called Straylight Run and serve — according to its promoters — as Houston’s first-ever “Virtual Reality Bar.” That’s the conclusion of some internet sleuthing by HAIF (and Swamplot) commenter CrockpotandGravel, who after seeing Swamplot’s report on the alcohol license procured for the spot at the corner of Navigation and Engelke tracked down the establishment’s website, a (possibly spurned) logo proposal, and Instagram feed.
What’s happening at the corner of Navigation Blvd. and Engelke in the East End? A mix of alcohol and demolition: Mixed beverage, late-night, and beverage cartage permits were issued by the TABC last month to a yet-to-be-opened establishment named Straylight in the 20,878-sq.-ft. metal warehouse building with the brick front at 3229 Navigation Blvd. This spot is 4 blocks down the street from Ninfa’s, just past where Navigation starts to curve east toward Buffalo Bayou. Adjacent to that property, excavators are finishing up their work demolishing the former General Supply & Equipment Co. building at 3203 Engelke St.
The newly vacant lot now spreads just to the north of the building where Straylight is planned, as shown in these photos taken by Swamplot reader Johnny Mann Jr.:
WHAT COULD GO UNDER WHEN I-45 MOVES UNDERGROUND AND EAST OF DOWNTOWN Jeff Balke tallies some of the expected carnage just east of Downtown should TXDoT proceed with its planned rerouting of I-45 from the west side to the east side of Downtown, widening the path of that stretch of Hwy. 59 (aka I-69) to Saint Emanuel St. Among the establishments expecting to have to shut down or relocate as a result of the expansion: the Bayou City Barber Shop, Vietnamese restaurant Huynh, Ahh Coffee, Tout Suite, one building of the Ballpark Lofts, low-income housing development Clayton Homes, a couple of nonprofits, SEARCH Homeless Services’ new building, the Loaves and Fishes soup kitchen — plus other assorted bars, barbecue joints, artist spaces, and office space. Among the questions Balke keeps hearing in reference to plans to put this portion of a new I-45-69 combo below grade, possibly (only if separate funding can be found) with a greenspace “cap” planted on top of it: “why [would] a freeway would be constructed lower than street level in a city that floods with seeming regularity, particularly when the highway in question is a hurricane evacuation route? TxDOT is quick to point out that we already have roadways below grade throughout the city that have not suffered major flooding problems since Tropical Storm Allison in 2001, which broke records and is widely considered a 500-year flood. Still, flooding is something the agency appears to have taken seriously. ‘No matter the situation, there’s a potential for flooding,‘ [TXDoT spokesperson] Perez explains, ‘but with anything below grade, additional pumps and detention ponds come into play.’ [Houston Press; previously on Swamplot] Rendering showing possible park behind GRB: HNTB and TxDOT
Actual neighborhood hardware store East End Hardware (see inset second photo) went belly-up only a few years after its 2012 opening at 3005 Leeland St. (at the corner of Ennis St. in East Downtown). Now opened in its place, as of the first of this month, is a replacement (pictured at top): East End Hardware.
Among the changes: a revamped exterior, with the name of the establishment now rendered in vintage Houston blue tile; a dog-friendly patio; and a new beverage menu that includes 20 beers on tap, mixed drinks, and “boozy” New Orleans-style sno-balls in flavors such as piña colada, tiger’s blood, and screwdriver. Also: food.
The Greater East End Management District is taking its latest graffiti-blasting weapon to the streets. In the video demo above, workers from the GEEMD’s graffiti abatement team are shown taking out the tagging on the limestone front of the Longhorn Building at 3176 Navigation Blvd. last month. The new equipment is a mobile blaster from Houston’s own Dustless Blasting, which uses a high-pressure stream of recycled glass and water to remove paint and other finishes.
The system is used primarily for refinishing cars and boats, but it appears to work rather quickly on graffiti too: Back in March, the manufacturer showed off this promotional vid for its own attack on another east-side site: the former Waddell Housefurnishing Company buildings on Sampson St. between Rusk and McKinney on the eastern border of East Downtown, slated to become the Sampson Lofts:
New scribbles on a siteplan show a Sprouts Farmers Market marked in as a tenant for the planned redo of the former East Downtown Houston Post building over on Polk St. at Dowling Emancipation Ave. (Don’t get this spot confused with the former postal office Downtown, which is also being redeveloped by the Lovett Commercial folks — nor with the other former Houston Post building recently resuscitated by the Chronicle.) The leasing plan appears to show some new construction toward the currently empty Bell St. end of the double-wide block, making room for the Sprouts and for a few layers of parking garage. It also notes a drive-thru CVS on the northern side, along Polk:
A permit was issued yesterday to knock out some walls at the former medical clinic at 820 Holman St., remodeled back in 2015 into abbreviated-French-themed nightclub VrSi. The club (shown here as it looked in its early days) seems to have stopped promoting itself right after Mardi Gras, and a new business name for the address was registered with the county clerk’s office late last month: Holman Draft Hall. That new moniker is still connected to VrSi co-owner Andy Aweida, part of the group that owns nearby Wooster’s Garden and used to own those demolished Kirby funeral parlor bars; the same folks are also behind the Heights Bier Garten, which opened last month in the former Longhorn Motor Company spot on N. Shepherd (now full of parked picnic tables):
A siteplan and the latest renderings of Melbourne-based Caydon Property Group’s residential highrise, planned in place of the now-erased mental health building and lowrise mural canvas at 2850 Fannin St., show a bit more clearly how the 27-story structure might look amid its more squat Midtown neighbors (not counting that other highrise planned a few blocks down Main St.). The aerial view of the site shown here (tilted so that Main St. is horizontal, with Downtown off to the left) shows the building’s footprint in yellow, alongside the light-rail line and Midtown Park to the west.
One of the new drawings of the project also depicts what appears to be a closeup of the Drew St.-facing side of the building, with a good deal more than just the typical rendering entourage: the block across the street is shown with another multistory development in place of what’s currently a parking lot by the Art Supply on Main lowrise, and a section of the street itself is shown fully pedestrianized.
Neither of these changes make an appearance in any of the other zoomed-out renderings, however:
In other grocery-apartment-midrise news, the 2-story hole for the below-ground parking component of the planned Pearl-branded apartment midrise with built-in Whole Foods looks to have touched bottom, and a tower crane on the site has reached its full height. Some of the construction site’s fence decorations have been swapped out with newer renderings, too — the latest drawings show a zoomier design and a new color scheme (this one falling more in the slatey-grey-brown range, compared to the doughy yellows picked out for the older drawings):
The plans submitted to the city along with a variance request being advertised lately along Canal St. show that the developer — an entity which traces back to Frank Liu — is asking for permission to drop below a required 3,500-sq.-ft. minimum lot size on its new property. That would allow the company stick about 29 houses on the L of land the documents refer to as Williams on Canal, which wraps around the brightly muraled La Familia Meat Market building and 2 pre-1950’s homes just south of it on St. Charles. The drawings in the request show 64 townhomes altogether, including the company’s adjacent land on the same block (extending all the way to Commerce St.):
Across a parking lot from the stripy blue office of Air Alliance Houston, the 1940s building that has hosted Lee Printing Company since 1970 is now up for lease. The Lee family has closed the printing business, and the current listing for the property says the spot will be available starting in March. Eponymous co-founder Gene Lee (who started the business with his wife Hedy, and spent a decade running Houston’s first English-Chinese newspaper in the mid 70s and early 80s,) retired in 1994 and passed away in 2010. The storefront is being marketed as potential office, retail, or art studio space; Sandy Lee says the family is open to selling some of their old-school Chinese printing equipment, as well. The structure is a block up Hussions St. from Houston Elbow & Nipple Co.’s facility toward the corner with Jefferson St., and about a block south along Hussions from Super Happy Fun Land, which sits around the bend on Polk St.