01/13/17 5:15pm

Fannin at Dennis streets, Midtown, Houston, 77003

Demolition setup at 2850 Fannin St., Midtown, Houston, 77003Before being shooed away by fire department folks near the corner of Dennis and Fannin streets around noon yesterday, reader and art blogger Robert Boyd managed to snap a shot of the hole dug recently along the sidewalk. “You might be able to see that the fire fighters were wearing gas masks,” Boyd notes, surmising that the digging was related to the gas lines for the under-deconstruction former Mental Health and Mental Retardation Association building building a block further south (shown above); the digging apparently also caused the gas leak that triggered the shutdown of several nearby streets for part of the day. Boyd reports that the folks in the Art Supply on Main building, located between the digging and the demo site, “were totally cut off for most of [the day]. HFD showed up and asked up all to stay inside — we could get out of our parking lot, but not back in.

The emergency crews departed mid-afternoon, shortly after Boyd snapped a more elevated shot of the fire engine (evocatively juxtaposed with a signal-red stop sign and a rare view of fall-esque Houston foliage):

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Sights and Scents of Dennis St.
01/12/17 3:45pm

Murals at former MHMRA building, 2850 Fannin St., Midtown, Houston, 77003Demolition setup at 2850 Fannin St., Midtown, Houston, 77003

The colorful faces behind the chain-link fencing surrounding the former Mental Health and Mental Retardation Authority building at 2850 Fannin St. have been joined this week by a few pieces of bright yellow knock-down equipment. Permits came through last week clearing the site for clearance in advance of a planned 27-story apartment highrise going by the name Main Midtown. The tower was okayed for a parking variance in late October, as part of which Australian developer Caydon Properties agreed to install over 200 bike spaces. 

The long-empty MHMRA structure got its last hurrah this fall when much of the street-level wallspace was painted over in tan, making way for new muralage. A nearby resident buzzed around the site recently taking some final snaps of the paintings (like the one featured at the top of the page) before the demo gets going in earnest — here’s a sampling below:

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Midtown Breakdown
01/12/17 11:30am

Midtown Entry Portal work site, Brazos St. at I-45 and Pierce St., Midtown, Houston, 77003

More signs of the Midtown Redevelopment Authority’s current 3-part landscaping project: the large hill being crafted where the long I-45 exit ramp into Pierce St. hits Brazos St. Bid documents for the project also mention landscaping walls, accent lighting, and decorative stone as part of the rest of the plan for the spot. The newly elevated site sits east across the I-45 offloader from the former home of high-gloss steak and seafood house Mr. Peeples, which shut down back in March. The Bagby-facing building, which served as a Boy Scouts of America office prior to the restaurant makeover, is still up for lease; a marketing flier advertises all 3 stories as up for grabs, along with the 8,702-sq.-ft. basement. Here’s the full frontal:

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Moving Up in Midtown
12/28/16 2:45pm

Art Hous, 811 St. Emanuel St., East Downtown, Houston, 77003
wahlburgers

The folks at ACS studio architecture say that the insides of the former Art Hous art and interior design center on St. Emanuel St. are being cleared out for the planned installation of Burgr Hous. Demo permits for the interior walls of the space, which is wedged between Warehouse Live and Lucky’s Pub, came through early last month. When it’s wrapped up, the remodel may have a vibe kinda like the space shown above, which ACS currently has up on their website for the project as a visual reference for the redesign — though the image depicts the branding of the Boston-based reality-teevee-starring Wahlburgers chain. The firm has a floorplan out as well, however, showing a different layout:

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E-Less in EaDo
12/14/16 10:45am

Long Sing Market Leasing Flier, 2017 Walker St., East Downtown, Houston, 77003

The Long Sing Supermarket building is now up for grabs, per a fresh leasing listing that appeared last week. The 8,260-sf.-ft. retail space and its internal lunch counter sit across Walker St. from physicist-mascotted Neil’s Bahr, and next to Little Woodrow’s EaDo (visible in yellow to the right, with its face toward the corner with St. Emanuel St. where Warehouse Live hangs out). The pagoda-topped grocery store was listed for sale a few times since 2014 — back before the glassy Marriott Marquis highrise started photobombing the building’s listing shots from across 59, as it does in the photo below:

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Market To Market
12/13/16 2:30pm

East Village leasing and renderings

The latest sketchup of the site plan for Ancorian’s East Village project in East Downtown shows what may be a second distillery nestled into the 2 blocks of warehouses now in various states of conversion between Polk and Lamar streets along St. Emanuel and Hutchins. Meanwhile, a group of rum distillers going by the name Revolution Rum has laid claim to an address next to the development (in a warehouse just north of 8th Wonder Brewery’s, across Hutchins from the planned Houston location of chain craft vodka distillery Our/Vodka). It’s not clear whether the spot marked on the leasing flier is a separate project, or if one of the 2 potential liquor operations might have a satellite storefront in the complex, facing St. Emanuel St.

Other additions to the siteplan include the name of Agricole Hospitality, now on the map at the corner of Dallas and St. Emanuel (and embellished with the logos for the group’s existing Heights trifecta of Revival Market, Coltivare, and Eight Row Flint). Fort Worth-rooted beer and burger joint Rodeo Goat and Dallas-based trailer-bar Truck Yard have territories staked out as well, next to a thin slice of retail space labeled Poku. The architects at māk have also released another few renderings up of design ideas for various parts of the 2 block complex, including a shiny restaurant mockup depicted along Polk St. near the now-silver-skinned Secret Group comedy club:

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Spirits of EaDo
12/12/16 1:00pm

HTX Sports Creek, 2619 Polk St., East Downtown, Houston, 77003

A 3-block jaunt from the proposed site of the recently reincarnated Ivy Lofts development will land you at 2619 Polk St., where do-it-yourself sports bar Sports Creek is setting up. The developers look to be planting a series of sand volleyball courts and blue-turfed soccer fields on the long-paved-over block bounded by Polk, Live Oak, Nagle, and Dallas streets (catty-corner from the former Kings warehouse building slated for a wholesale-to-retail makeover).

One of the involved developers recently told Maggie Gordon that the new place should open in January, and that there will be 3 volleyball courts; the above rendering shows the latest published update to the bar’s planned layout of the space (though it appears to show 4 courts instead). It’s also not totally clear which side of the development that drawing is meant to show, as none of the site’s depicted neighbors appear to quite match up with the array of townhomes, warehouses, and electrical substation that ring the block.

Older renderings released earlier this year showed the business with only 1 and 2 fields and courts respectively, on a much skinnier piece of land:

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Courting Polk St.
12/09/16 10:45am

Midtown Entry Portal site, W. Gray at Matthews St., Midtown/Fourth Ward, Houston, 77019

Where exactly, these days, does Fourth Ward end and Midtown begin? That may be a little bit clearer before long (depending on how you define the 2) — a reader notes that someone looks to be getting ready to stake a visible claim for Midtown on the narrow strip of land at the crotch of Webster and W. Gray streets, just west of Matthews St. and the latest add-on to the Post Midtown Square development. (The yellow signage of that recently scorched Fuzzy’s is visible on the left.)

The silt fencing rimming the median segment as of late comes with a construction sign calling the spot “Midtown Entry Portal — Site 3.” That grassy sliver does sit at the end of a short but pointy finger of land jutting out of the northwestern boundary of the area’s tax increment reinvestment zone, which as of 2009 is shaped about like this:

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TIRZspotting
12/01/16 2:30pm

San Jacinto Memorial Green, 1300 HolmanSt., Midtown, Houston, 77003

That tiny replica of the San Jacinto Monument near San Jacinto and Holman streets is surrounded these days by the landscaping of Houston Community College’s San Jacinto Memorial Green, the green-space-turned-parking-lot-turned-back-to-green-space next to the adjacent building that once housed San Jacinto High School. A reader sends an early-evening out-the-window shot of the park, which is scheduled to formally open on Saturday.

That shot faces Holman St., with Caroline St. visible to the northeast and lined up with the green space’s lit walkway; most of the lawn seen to the left of that path was paved parking lotbetween the 1980s and 2014. The photo is taken from the former San Jac high school structure itself (now employed as part of HCC’s Central Campus, and referred to as the San Jacinto Memorial Building by the time of its 2012 addition to the National Register of Historic Places):

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Remembering Asphalt Gone By
11/22/16 10:45am

Former City of Houston Code Enforcement Building, 3300 Main St., Midtown, Houston, 77002

As the walls crumble and the last days unfold for the city’s old code enforcement office in Midtown, a hidden stained-glass window has been uncovered — as seen here in a shot taken by a reader yesterday evening from across the light-rail tracks. Once the structure is fully deconstructed, the way will be open for that planned mixed-use-skyscraper from PM Realty to rise toward the heavens. In front of the window is the long-since-de-greened greenscreen trellis installed to dress up the main Main entrance of the concrete structure, back in the late aughts: 

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Preparing To Rise in Midtown
11/17/16 1:15pm

Start Houston HQ, 1121 Delano St., East Downtown, Houston, 77003

The current East Downtown home of startup kickstarter Start Houston is on the market at the moment, as the organization looks for a new space to host its growing techie crowd. A rep tells Swamplot that the group can’t say yet where the new digs will be — but the old digs at 1121 Delano St. are currently listed for sale at around $795,000. The 1963 building’s features include the human-robot peace wall facing Dallas St.:

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Starting Again Elsewhere
11/02/16 1:30pm

Bagby at Drew streets, Midtown, Houston, 77003

The recently yellow-tagged building that once housed Aloha Modeling Studio has picked up a new companion of late, a reader notes: the trailer above, which was spotted last week settled in behind the storeNplay.com children’s playhouse that hangs around at the corner of Bagby and Drew streets (sometimes with friends). Most of the lot has been kept cleared down to the dirt for the past few years, though the fence appears to be a new addition. That’s the parking garage of the second CityPlace Midtown apartment building on the left; below is a shot of the playhouse on the eastern side of the lot, with the glowing tip of 1600 Smith St. (née Continental Center I) peeking over its right shoulder:

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Set Up on Bagby
09/28/16 3:30pm

2700 Polk St., East Downtown, Houston, 77003

A construction fence has gone up around the former King’s Wholesale building in East Downtown, a reader tells Swamplot. The rendering above shows a planned renovation for the structure at the corner of Polk and Nagle streets, just a few blocks northwest of the purportedly-reopening-in-October Ivy Lofts sales center. The curved awning-fin isn’t new, but the glass storefronts are — below is a shot of the building’s pre-redo state, from when it last hit the market:
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Opening Up in East Downtown
09/21/16 11:30am

1810 Gray St., Midtown, Houston, 77003

Some execution-ready excavator glamour shots next to 1810 Gray St. come from Fred Ghabriel, who snapped them yesterday evening in preparation for this morning’s underway demo of the space. The freestanding 1960s not-quite-under-the-freeway retail spot southwest of the junction of 59 and 45  is survived by some of its blockmates: the Citgo facing the Hamilton side of the block, and the Webster-and-Chenevert-facing double-decker strip center at 2117 Chenevert (home of Abacus Bail Bonds, Chase Shoe Shine Parlor, Heights Cleaners & Alterations, and nightclub Indigo at Midtown). The retail strip also contains an office of Bejjani & Associates, which owns the Gray-facing building currently under deconstruction (and with which Ghabriel is associated).

The structure at 1810 is getting cleared out for more parking for the center; the freed-up spots might get a touch of seasonal afternoon shade from the 3-sided billboard planted next to them, as seen in the now-moot leasing flier for the space:

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The Teardown Blues
07/06/16 11:30am

Guadalupe Park Plaza Redo, 2311 Runnels St., Second Ward, Houston, 77003

The forest of columns behind the newly planted trees above are most of what’s left of the original central plaza structure in Second Ward’s Guadalupe Plaza Park, which the Greater East End Management District says will reopen on July 30th as several years of de- and re-construction work are wrapped up. The 1980s park now caps the western end of the previously redone Navigation Blvd. esplanade, and a landscaped sidewalk now connects the park to Buffalo Bayou at the crossing of Jensen Rd. (right across from the 136-acre KBR campus recently purchased by mixed-use developer Midway).

Here’s the view looking south along the walkway toward the main square from alongside cultural center Talento Bilingue, which the management district says won’t be knocked down until funding is in place to rebuild it: 

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Plaza Placement