06/23/17 4:45pm

The folks behind a newly-announced condo project called Mandell Montrose have recently stuck some signage on the lot at 2312 Commonwealth St., a couple of readers tell Swamplot this week. That property isn’t actually adjacent to either Mandell St. or Montrose Blvd., but it is almost directly between the 2; it’s also the site formerly slated for the cancelled Flats on Fairview condo midrise (which Paul Takahashi reports this week were called off due to construction cost issues, despite having met some sales goals). Takahashi says the new project will aim for 7 stories for a total of 24 units. And underscoring the split-the-geographic-difference theme, the Hyde Park project is being developed by Midtown Uptown Development Partners.

No renderings are out yet of the new plans, save for some probably-not-to-scale brick facade showing up on the background of the building’s sales website. (A physical sales center should be opening some time next month, however.) The rendered design of the cancelled Flats midrise, meanwhile, has found new purpose as part of a striking departure from the classic Houston scary midrise artwork vernacular:

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Mandell Monstrose
06/02/17 12:45pm


The partially ruined former Jefferson Davis Hospital nurses quarters at 1225 Elder St. — until very recently in the running for a spot on the National Register of Historic Places — was recommended for demolition at last week’s Harris County Commissioner’s Court meeting following a public hearing the day before. The building, tucked west of the elevated freeway tangle where I-45 splits from I-10 near Downtown, would have joined the nextdoor former Jefferson Davis Hospital itself on the historic registry — instead, it looks like the structure will finally meet meet the ‘dozers after its long slow decline, accelerated by damage from a fire in 2013 that lead to last year’s semi-collapse.

Next door, the 4-story hospital structure (built in 1924, and replaced by 1938 with another Jefferson Davis Hospital where the Federal Reserve building now stands on Allen Pkwy.) cycled through various modes of use and disuse until its early 2000’s restoration into the Elder Street Artist Lofts, which serve as low-rent apartments and studios for artsy types. That redevelopment, of course, involved carefully digging around the dozens of unmarked graves turned up on the surrounding land, which beginning in 1840 had served as the second city cemetery (and as the final resting place for a hodgepodge likely including  Confederate soldiers, former slaves, victims of the 1860s yellow fever epidemics, people who died in duels, Masons, and a variety of others). The hospital’s name is still carved above the lofts’ entrance:

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First Ward Fire Damage by HFD
06/01/17 2:00pm

Construction started yesterday on the Nancy and Rich Kinder Building, going up in the Museum of Fine Arts Houston’s former parking lot north of Bissonnet St. at Main. That’s the curvy-roofed structure itself visible in the rendering above — the drawing shows the expected view of the building from the rooftop garden of the already-under-construction nearby replacement for the formerly glass-covered Glassell School (whose underground parking garage opened up when the surface lot closed last week). Both of the new buildings were designed by Steven Holl Architects — here’s where they fall on the map, along some of the other big changes in the works for the Museum’s campus:

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Museum District Parking
04/14/17 6:00pm

THE EASTER BUNNY AND THE TAXMAN COMETH Amanda Parer's Intrude installation, 1600 Smith St., Downtown, Houston, 77002It doesn’t look like there’s too much rain on the schedule for Tax Day this time around, but Swamplot’ll be off Monday anyway, shoring up any potential leaks. Enjoy your weekend, whether it’s filled with hunts for Easter eggs or for that basketful of missing W-2s, and we’ll see you back here on Tuesday for the regular real estate tomfoolery. Photo of Amanda Parer’s Intrude installation: Swamplot inbox

04/03/17 11:30am

Bus Shelter April Fool's Day, Bissonnet St. east of Montrose Blvd., Museum District, Houston, 77005

Bus Shelter April Fool's Day, Bissonnet St. east of Montrose Blvd., Museum District, Houston, 77005 Shots of Orwellian wall ornamentation and conspiracy theorist headgear were turned up by a reader’s surveillance of the Bissonnet St. bus shelter east of Montrose Blvd. by the Museum of Fine Arts early Saturday morning. The setup looks like one of the series of bus shelter makeovers purportedly planned around town by a vigilante redecorator — though perhaps because of heightened citywide gag tolerance spurred by April Fool’s Day, this round seems to have significantly outlasted the pre-dawn tiki hutch installed in front of the Public Storage on W. Gray back in February.

Eyes on the scene sent a few further monitoring reports on the decorations throughout the day, including notes of edits to the display from various passer-bys:

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Museum District Surveillance
03/22/17 4:30pm

Crane at under-construction Capitol Tower, Capitol St., Downtown, Houston, 77002

Another shot of that crane that took to the air this weekend by the economy-stalled stub of Skanska’s Capitol Tower comes from a reader peering over the site’s parking structure from Rusk St. yesterday. (That’s the neighboring Chase Tower looming over the scene in the background.) Bank of America was outed as being in talks with Skanska about leasing space in the tower (which might add the bank’s current home in Bank of America Center to the list of recent abandonments of Downtown office towers by their namesake tenants). The other sign of life on the site this year was the addition of a street-level mural to the parking garage’s corner, which was dry in time for the Super Bowl last month:

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Sprouting Downtown
02/07/17 10:00am

Owl Sculptures by Dan Mabry, Kelvin St. at University Blvd., Rice Village, Houston, 77005

Rice Village, Houston, 77005The sculpted birds above are now staring intently in various directions from just south of the entrance ramp for the Rice Village’s rooftop parking lot between University Blvd. and Amherst St. The new bird-studded cage hangs around the upper half of the Kelvin St. access staircase for the lot, previously shielded from prying eyes by a since-removed blinder of brick (as pictured second above at the start of the work last year, before much of the paint-up or knock-out action had taken place on the eastern side of the structure). The birds are the work of Californian metalworker and periodic perched bird sculptor Nathan Mabry. Changes to the building roughly align with the older renderings of the remodel, though the space was previously depicted with an extra new window (along with some ghostly stand-in art): 

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Kelvin St. Bird Cage
12/27/16 3:30pm

Painting by Ken Mazzu

Artist Ken Mazzu’s been back at the easel and back on the Houston demolition beat lately, finishing up some new works to be featured in next month’s building-themed art show at the William Reaves / Sarah Foltz Fine Art Gallery at 2143 Westheimer Rd.. The show will feature some of Mazzu’s paintings of ’round-town teardowns, along with works of 2 other Houston-focused artists (late photographer Jim Culberson and living painter Richard Stout). The gallery will even host Houston archi-historian Dr. Stephen Fox for a talk about The Changing City on the 14th.

Mazzu’s had a lot of subjects to choose from since a set of his demo-themed canvases went on display back in 2013; he sends over some previews of new pieces, including the scene above commemorating the disassembly of the former Downtown headquarters of the Houston Chronicle. Other recent works feature newly-parking-lotified 509 Louisiana St., the dissolution of the octagonal Solvay mid-rise, a pile of post-blow-up downtown Foley’s debris, and more:

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New Works Retrospective