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
01/09/17 1:15pm

9330 Main St., NRG, Houston, 77025

9330 Main St., NRG, Houston, 77025The long-empty land at 9330 Main St. (shown here from its Buffalo Spdwy. side) appears to be picking up a part-time job before moving on toward senior-housing-dom. A reader snapped these shots of the property’s new parking and shuttle signage, including the security camera warnings tacked to the fence. The land is right across Main St. from NRG Park, where the actual football bit of the upcoming week of Super Bowl hubbub is scheduled to go on. The sale of the land to Dallas-based Traditions Senior Living went through at the end of August.

Meanwhile, the gas station recently planted across Buffalo Spdwy. at the Durhill St. 1st Stop Food Mart appears to have sprouted, and a Valero-colored canopy is now blooming over the corner:

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1st Stops near Westridge
12/19/16 12:45pm

Rendering of Buffalo Heights Mixed Use Phase I, at Washington Ave. at Waugh Dr.

H-E-B preliminary plans for Washington Ave. at Heights Blvd.The complex containing Midway’s planned H-E-B-and-midrise at the southeast corner of Heights Blivd. and Washington Ave. won’t be named Northbank Buffalo Bayou after all, Nancy Sarnoff reports this week — it’ll be called Buffalo Heights. Above is Ziegler Cooper’s rendering of the proposed structure, which would take up the northwest corner of the old Archstone Memorial Heights apartments property (which was bought in 2014 by the current owners). That development previously gave its moniker to the surrounding neighborhood; it remains to be seen if this latest rebranding attempt will stick.

The new midrise would sit about half a mile south of the official southernmost edge of the Houston Heights (as drawn for voting in last month’s local-option Heights moistening election), and about half a mile north of Buffalo Bayou (though only a quarter mile from the Buffalo Wild Wings a few blocks west down Washington Ave). The new design shows off 5 stories of apartments (tallying up as 232 units) on top of the 2-story H-E-B, with about 37,000 sq. ft. of office space and a couple of other retail spots in the mix.

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First of Its Name in Memorial Heights
10/25/16 1:00pm

Market Square Tower, 777 Preston St., Downtown, Houston, 77002

Just added: water for the cantilevered glass-bottom pool jutting out of Market Square Tower’s rooftop deck, some 41-plus-or-minus-the-penthouses stories above street level. Woodway is now advertising leasing availability for November, with some of the smaller one-bedroom units listed for $2,100 and up per month (and the largest of the penthouses, a 3-bedroom 3.5-bathroom 3-balcony affair, listed at $18,175) . The current floorplans available on the site now also suggest that the ground floor retail options will include a cafe, in addition to that CVS announced last month.

Those not enthused by the prospect of dangling over the downtown streetscape can opt for the other pool on the 4th-floor terrace, which overlooks Preston and Milam St.:

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Filling Up Downtown
10/24/16 3:45pm

Former Palace Bowling Lanes, 4191 Bellaire Blvd., Cambridge Place, Houston, 77025

The Palace Bowling Lanes building on Bellaire Blvd. (which picked up the new moniker Bowl on Bellaire about a year ago) appears to have been closed since Friday, says a reader who “showed up [Saturday] morning for the youth bowling league to find that the locks have been changed and they are not open for business.” Katherine Feser confirms this afternoon that the property is still closed, though a note on the door says the tenant can have new keys if and when all the delinquent rent is paid.

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Southside Displaced
10/24/16 11:15am

3100 Smith St., Midtown, Houston, 77006

The former Social Security Administration office at 3100 Smith St. and its gorilla-hawking mural wall are no more, following some weekend excavator grazing. Demo permits were issued last week for structure, which sat north of Elgin on part of the planned site of developer Morgan’s next Pearl-branded apartment development (the one with the built-in ground floor Whole Foods).

City permission for the planned mixed-use building to cozy up to the street were approved in February; the project will also straddle that now-closed segment of Rosalie St. between Smith and Brazos onto a section of the previously cleared block to the north.  Here’s what the layout might look like from above, per the plans included with the variance request:

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Rosalie Redecoration
10/06/16 11:45am

Flag Man by 3400 Montrose, WAMM, Houston, 77006

The Hawthorne-facing apartment highrise at 3400 Montrose is now open for general business, as the orange sign recently added over the door declares in all-caps. Across the street at the edge of the Disco Kroger parking lot, another orange sign is also directing folks toward the entrance, a reader notes — as of yesterday evening, the decked-out flag man above was set up across from the tower’s main entrance as some heavy equipment work wrapped up in the street behind it. Here’s a close-up portrait:

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Hawthorne St. Style
10/03/16 11:30am

Encore Castle Court, 1314 Castle Ct., Castle Court, Houston, 77006
Encore Castle Court, 1314 Castle Ct., Castle Court, Houston, 77006The L-shaped hole dug on the site vacated last year by The Place apartment complex has been getting filled up, and some wooden framing is now beginning to peek over the top of the leafy northern wall of 59 at the Graustark St. bridge. The plan for Encore’s under-construction Castle Court development involves stacking 5 floors of apartments on the site, with additional levels of parking underneath — the rendering above depicts its above-ground height as a floor taller than Trammell Crow’s newish Muse complex just down Graustark at the corner with Richmond Ave.

The Encore project fronts Castle Ct. at the intersection with Yupon St., and faces Graustark just south of Black Hole Coffee Shop and Graustark Laundry, as shown in the floorplan below from the company’s brochure for would-be foreign investors under the EB-5 program:

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Scaling Up Castle Court
09/08/16 10:30am

5400 Memorial Dr., Rice Military, Houston, 77007

5400 Memorial Dr., Rice Military, Houston, 77007The sides of the 1965 Memorial Towers highrise apartment complex are currently getting the blues as part of a period remodel, a reader reports. Serial multifamily fixer-upper The Barvin Group bought the property in May. The side of the complex pictured above (also shown pre-paint for comparison) faces west down Memorial Dr. toward the recently flattened former roost of Pollo Bravo (occupied before that by Hartz Chicken Buffet).  A rendering of the complex’s planned new look (including a throwback cursive replacement of the signage currently pointed at east-bound drivers) is on display in the lobby:

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Rice Military Remake
08/09/16 12:15pm

HOUSTON HOUSING AUTHORITY AUTHORITY RESIGNS IN WAKE OF BRIARGROVE MIXED-INCOME KERFUFFLE Proposed Housing Development at 2640 Fountainview Dr., Briargrove, Houston, 77057By both letter and Tweet, Houston Housing Authority chairman Lance Gilliam has announced plans to resign early following Mayor Turner’s criticism of the agency last week, writes Erin Mulvaney. During Wednesday’s council meeting, Turner chided the agency for not having constructed new housing units in the past decade (though Gilliam’s Friday resignation letter notes that thousands of additional people have been added to the organization’s voucher program). The agency has had the majority of its recent proposed construction projects blocked following last year’s US Supreme Court decision, which struck down Texas’s system of awarding public housing project tax credits because it was found to promote racial segregation into low-income areas (deliberately or not). The Briargrove project, which involved replacing one of the Houston Housing Authority’s own Fountain View office buildings with a mixed-income apartment complex, was the Houston agency’s first attempt to build new affordable units in a high-income area; following extensive neighborhood pushback, Turner asked the agency to look for other locations in the same area, and blocked tax credit financing for the project by not bringing it to a council vote. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Rendering of proposed apartments at 2640 Fountain View Dr.: HHA

07/27/16 4:30pm

Market Square Tower construction, 777 Preston St., Downtown, Houston, 77002Market Square Tower construction, 777 Preston St., Downtown, Houston, 77002

The spindly yellow crane that has been dangling over the top of Woodbranch Investment’s Market Square Tower is coming down in pieces this afternoon, notes a downtown reader. The shot above shows the scene from the corner of Prairie and Travis streets, with the top edge of the still-standing-by-court-order former Houston Chronicle building sticking in from the left.

The 463-unit tower has been leasing spaces since April, with plans to open this fall. There’s still work to do on the building before then, though the support for the glass-bottom cantilevered rooftop pool that will hang some 500 feet above Preston looks to be in place. Here’s Jackson & Ryan’s rendering of what the space will look like once the water has been added:

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Coming Down Downtown
07/26/16 5:15pm

Rendering of Everly Apartments at 2827 Dunvale Rd., Dunvale, Houston, 77063

A reader sends a few fresh shots showing the state of the new apartment complex going up on Dunvale, flanked by the sprawl of the Walmart and AMC 30 parking lots to the north and south. After a few-year-stint as a Garden Ridge, the former Sam’s Club (and its short-lived Business Center experiment) got knocked out of the way last fall to make room for a 387-unit complex that developer Embrey appears to be calling Everly (though the entity that bought the land last May before the demolition was called The Domain on Dunvale).  Here’s a rendered taste of what the buildings may look like, once the structures grow out of that awkward Tyvek phase:

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Between 2 Parking Lots
07/21/16 5:00pm

downtown-tour-1

A set of skeletal construction updates are the product of Bob Russell’s downtown photo hunt earlier this week. The view above is a Hines 2-fer: Behind James Surl’s spiky Point of View sculpture is the 32-floor apartment building on its way up at the corner of Travis and Preston (now going by Aris Market Square), with a sliver of all-business 609 Main visible on the right. The office tower has been getting its last few bits of steel stuck into place this week — check out a more centered portrait of the rooftop action (plus more covert snaps of bare beams from around the area) below:

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All On The Way
06/29/16 1:00pm

Imperial Market, Sugar Land, TX 77478

Johnson Development, the company behind that sugar-company-themed master-planned community in Sugar Land, announced yesterday that it has officially handed over the land for the project’s refinery-centric Imperial Market mixed-use district to the folks who will develop it. The 26 acres freshly sold are along Oyster Creek just north of the crossing of Hwy. 90 (visible on the far left of the rendering above, which faces south). That’s Kempner St. running directly alongside the proposed development and crossing the creek as well; a pair of former railroad bridges currently upstream of Kempner are shown replaced with car and pedestrian bridges respectively.

Plans for the development incorporate structures from out-of-use former facilities of the Imperial Sugar Company. The refinery’s silos (instead of becoming an art space) are marked to host a couple of fast-casual restaurants; the 1925 char house, where huge quantities of carefully burned animal bones were once used to whiten and filter cane sugar syrup, will become a boutique hotel. Both structures are more prominently visible in the southeast-facing view below — the boxy brick char house appears to the left of the single-pour-concrete silos:

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Refining Sugar Land Master Plans
06/28/16 4:30pm

Marquis Lofts at Hermann Park, 1 Hermann Park Ct., TMC, Houston, 77021

Marquis Lofts at Hermann Park, 1 Hermann Park Ct., TMC, Houston, 77021The commute northward along Almeda Rd. from the corner with Hermann Park Ct. is much less shady of late, reports a reader in the area who snapped these photos last week. The tipster says that some 15 trees have been cut up and shuffled around by the Marquis Lofts (the ones at the edge of the Med Center, not the ones that once hosted a James Harden rooftop photo shoot). Most of the trees appear to have been directly alongside the road, though a few of the felled were reportedly rooted on the other side of the sidewalk. (That’s the formerly bankrupt and bank-rupturing Mosaic condo highrise in the distance, north across MacGregor and Brays Bayou in the shot above.)

Below is a graphic closeup of some of the arboreal aftermath (a warning here to those uncomfortable with the sight of sap and shredded cellulose):

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Stumped on Almeda