05/31/17 11:15am

The Bacco folks appear to be moving right along with the makeover of that little freestanding Shriner’s Hospital clothing donation center building along Brays Bayou northwest of Stella Link Rd., a few readers note. The donation center signage (shown in the second photo) has now been fully swapped out for the wine bar’s logo and entryway stylings, and the bar says it’ll be working on an outdoor deck soon, now that internal rearrangements have mostly wrapped up. The new look has so far maintained the stone skin that the building picked up around 2013, before the then-empty retail shell picked up senior care consultant Care Locators as a tenant; before that, the Pilgrim Cleaners had opted for a more flat color scheme (shown below in an old listing photo without much in the way of windows, either):

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Bar on the Bayou
05/25/17 10:45am

The Refinery Burgers & Whiskey is currently in the process of moving past its oil theme dependency and rebranding to pay homage to a different set of Gulf Coast-al tropes: the new name of the joint at 702 W. Dallas St. will be South Bank Seafood Bar, and a menu including some Asian and Cajun-Creole nods is purportedly in the works.

The patio in front of the 2-spot retail strip (which the restaurant shares with barber and beardwrangler Shave) has been getting dressed up and expanded as part of the remodel. And just this morning, a reader caught sight of what may be preparations to slice a service-window-shaped hole into the shipping container now sitting out front:

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Habitat Alteration at Downtown’s Edge
05/23/17 10:15am

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:

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East of East Village
05/04/17 11:00am

The ex-service station sitting on the sliver of land edged by N. Durham Dr., W. 16th St., and Nashua St. is being remodeled and repainted, with signage already in place for burger bar Balls Out. The late-sixties space, home to the Guero Deluxe Car Wash before Re:Vive Development snapped up the property in 2015, was occupied by used car dealership Sabinas Cars and Trucks a few years before that.

The former service station’s canopy is still in place; the now-blank sign space on top previously served as a canvas for one of those Wiley LOVE murals:

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Heights Drive-By
05/03/17 1:45pm

The drive-your-drinks-home daquiri shop planned for former MJ Motorcars office island at 8275 Beechnut St. (in the parking lot of stripmall nightclub Club Tequila) isn’t just going to be a drive-thru bar, a media rep for Prime Daquiri tells Swamplot. The rep says it’ll have a full kitchen, too — and that the company will be opting for screwtop bottles for their drinks instead of a Louisiana-style tape-on-the-top arrangement, as far as legal distribution goes. The landscaping and portico in the above rendering of the remodel show options for customers on foot, as well — or perhaps even those who want to dine (or drink) in. The bar is planned near the parking lot’s Watermill Express kiosk, though going the nonalcoholic route will require self-service.

Images: John Mene (rendering); Erick Ganzo (photo)

Prime Location
05/03/17 10:00am

The scenic view from behind the former Pilgrim Cleaners building at 4005 N. Braeswood Blvd. will reportedly belong soon to a second location of West University-adjacent wine lounge Bacco. The 1966 building (northwest of the Stella Link Rd. bridge over Brays Bayou) operated as a dry cleaner prior to its conversion to a clothing donation drop spot for the Shriner’s Hospital for Children.  Ralph Bivins notes this week in Realty News Report that the location may encourage traffic from Bayou Greenway hikers and bikers; a reader’s photos from the scene show that the trail on the north side of the bayou in this section is still sporting the au naturel look, though the trail on the south side is fully paved:

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Reborn on the Bayou
04/20/17 12:30pm

Former Highpoint North Campus, 11902 Spears Rd., Spring, TX, 77067

The 20,000-sq.-ft. building at 11902 Spears Gears Rd. is getting cleaned up for a new gig as a school for Harris County students in recovery from addiction and substance abuse. The spot formerly housed the county’s Highpoint School North, one of several campuses around town that took in expelled students, but has been shut down since 2015. The county Department of Education signed off on the new use for the building this week, and says the school should open in September with capacity for up to 30 post-rehab students for now. The building sits just north of Davis High School, tucked next to the 2-acre lot that’s been built up since 2014 into the grounds of Cực Lạc Buddhist Temple.

Photos: Harris County Department of Education

New Paths Near Greens Bayou
03/21/17 2:30pm

Shake Shack planned at 6205 Kirby Dr, Rice Village, Houston, 77005

Rice Village, Houston, 77005The 26th will be the last day of business for the La Madeleine on Kirby Dr. at Amherst St., a rep for the Rice Village District says this afternoon. After that the space’ll get a significant makeover, part of the ongoing de-suburbanization of the 1990s Village Arcade buildings. Changes planned for the space appear to include a total blackout of the corner’s pediments, a gutting of the existing canopy level (paired with a boxy see-through enclosure of that area) and a hip-high hashtag-biscuitpaintwall-style landscaping feature (replacing the existing hedge as Amherst’s walkable zone gets widened). The company says the burger place should be ready to open sometime around November.

Images: Rice Village District (rendering), Swamplot inbox (photo)

Kirby Corner Shake-Up
03/20/17 11:15am

1318 Westheimer Rd., Montrose, Houston, 77006

Just in time for the spring equinox, a reader sends shots of some recent trimming back at the former home of Royal Oak Bar & Grill, which may soon sprout a 2-story patio if permits issued over the last few months tell true. The bar and restaurant (right across Westheimer Rd. from the Doc’s formerly known as Wendy’s and that long-tarped turret of the Tremont Tower condo building) was closed down last September by owner Shawn Bermudez, who told Eric Sandler he planned to reopen the space under a new name and theme. The late-1950s house (previously converted into dance club Bartini, before the structure’s Royal Oak days began in the early 2010s) has since had its nose cut off; some larger holes on both stories have also been wooded over, over on the parking lot side:

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New Growth in Hyde Park
03/17/17 3:45pm

7818 Bellwood Dr., Bellewood, Houston, 77055

7818-bellwood-02

The resemblance of the front entryway of 7818 Bellewood Dr. to its angular 2001 visage might only be visible to those who knew the house in its earlier days —  before the 15-year-old home was taken down to the studs, then expanded to just over twice its original square footage.  The stripdown and buildout started after Boutros Construction bought the place and its roomy 0.7-acre lot, around the time it was listed for $1.15 million; the new, 6,041-sq.-ft. version is now listed at a smidgen under $2.5 million, and is decked out in slatey blues and greys (with most of the interior not yet committed to paint colors, if the listing shots are still a current indication).

Other than some rounding down of the turret on the right of the entrance, what else has changed? The porch stairs and main mass above the front door are a little more curvaceous, the widow’s walk has evidently been chopped off the top and sealed up during re-reroofing . . . oh, and there’s that brick chimney stabbed into the front of the new master suite off to the side. A more head-on view of the new look is provided by a rendering of the house, though a few details have been tweaked since the drawing was done:

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Hidden In Plan View
02/24/17 11:30am

1665 Westheimer Rd., Montrose, Houston, 77006

The equipment for some sort of procedure was noted at the corner of Dunlavy St. and Westheimer Rd. this morning by a reader driving by. Determinedly artsy Australian hair-and-skincare shop Aēsop looks to be setting up in the retail shell left empty by the sudden 2015 evaporation of clothing boutique Duo, located across the street from Café Brasil and Hollywood Food & Cigar to the west and the north respectively.

And the space next door currently hosting American Apparel may be cleared out for a new tenant around the end of April, as well: Following a sale of the twice-bankrupt clothing company’s brand and intellectual property to a Canadian company, all of American Apparel’s US stores may end up closing by then, and part of the company’s production is probably getting outsourced.

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Cosmetic Changes in Montrose
02/17/17 12:30pm

INWOOD FOREST GOLF COURSE NEXT IN LINE FOR STORMWATER DETENTION BASIN TREATMENT One of the next spots up for retrofitting as a series of flood detention ponds: the rest of the Inwood Forest Golf Course, which the city bought in 2011 after that lawsuit over whether it could be developed as anything else. The Chronicle’s Mike Morris reports that a set of 10 new ponds were approved by city council on Wednesday for the former fairways, which sprawl on either side of Antoine Rd. between Victory Dr. and W. Gulf Bank Rd. interspersed with bits of residential neighborhood. (A pair of basins was previously dug out on the site; the new project could increase the course’s water feature storage volume from 56 to more than 1000 acre-feet, potentially.) The former clubhouse for the course, at 7603 Antoine Dr., has also found new employment as the White Oak Conference Center, and currently houses some operations of the Near Northwest Management District. Inwood Forest isn’t the first golf course in Houston being put to new flood-conscious uses — across town, an ongoing project in Clear Lake has been converting the former Clear Lake City Golf Course into a series of detention basins and park spaces going by the name Exploration Green. It potentially isn’t the last, either — the Sims-Bayou-side Glenbrook Park Golf Course may eventually be converted into the Houston Botanic Garden, the Seussical early renderings of which include large sections designed to flood.  [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo of former Inwood Forest Golf Course green near White Oak Conference Center: White Oak Conference Center

02/10/17 5:45pm

JUDGE EMMETT ON THE NEW PLAN TO REIN IN THE NEW ASTRODOME PLAN Proposed Astrodome Parking Garage PlansHere’s the statement judge Ed Emmett’s office just released to FOX26 in response to this afternoon’s news of District 15 senator John Whitmire’s about-to-be-filed bill to require a Harris County voter okay on that plan to turn the Astrodome’s bottom into a parking garage: “It’s frustrating that while the Astrodome stood vacant for more than 15 years, very few people stepped forward to offer real solutions. But now that we on Commissioners Court have finally arrived at a way to preserve the Dome as a revenue-generating asset for the people of Harris County, Sen. Whitmire’s legislation risks derailing that solution. The Astrodome is a paid-for asset that needs to be used for the benefit of the overall NRG Park complex. Creating more than 8 acres of covered usable space along with 1,400 indoor parking spaces will generate revenue that will allow the county to maintain NRG Stadium and the rest of the complex.” The bill could potentially shut down the parking garage plan, if county-wide support can’t be mustered to support the project; demolition plans, on the other hand, are now subject to review by the Texas Historical Commission, as of late last month’s State Antiquities Landmark designation. [FOX26; previously on Swamplot] Astrodome parking plan schematic: Harris County Engineering Department

02/01/17 11:30am

Rice Box, 300 W. 20th St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008

Rice Box, 300 W. 20th St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008The Chinese chicken takeout swapout at 300 W. 20th St. is now more or less complete, as of the space’s soft opening on Saturday (just in time to celebrate the Lunar New Year, which kicked off, as it happens, the start of the year of the rooster). The restaurant’s official kickoff is planned for this weekend, the day before the Super Bowl. Rice Box owner John Peterson told the Chronicle years ago that the now-catering-only food truck was loosely inspired by the movie’s White Dragon noodle shop; the new restaurant’s prominent neon signage and dense Asiatic business district patio mural offer a more overt visual cue. (Incidentally, Peterson isn’t the only person interested in ushering in the movie’s dystopian aesthetic for culinary purposes — celebrity food guy Anthony Bourdain is reportedly working on a whole Blade Runner-themed food marketplace on a pier in New York.)

Interior renovations include the addition of several beer taps, in line with that TABC permit notice spotted last year (though some of the taps reportedly dispense nitrogenated tea.) Here’s a look from W. 20th St. at the refurbished exterior, and the building’s new side patio:

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Heights Chicken Switch
01/23/17 12:30pm

Baileson Brewery renderings, 2322 Bissonnet St., Rice Village, Houston, 77005

A few sketches show the gist of Method Architecture’s plans for converting the former Bissonnet Auto Service Center at 2322 Bissonnet St. into Baileson Brewing Company. The auto shop’s original carport structure looks to be incorporated into the plans for the space as a patio shade-provider, while the 2 former garage bay doors look to be getting glassy replacements. The brewery will enter the area beer niche vacated last year by no-longer-next-door Kay’s Lounge, which met its end in October, and by Hans’ Bier House half a mile a way (last seen bearing signage announcing a planned coffee shop). Here’s a few more angles on the potential redo:

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Brewing on Bissonnet