10/19/18 3:45pm

The map above shows the land (in red) that Rice is confirmed to have grabbed around the Midtown Sears (orange) it bought out last October, including 2 new parcels (green) it snatched up through holding companies within the last few months. In an email sent out to university staff on Monday, Rice U. President David Leebron said the school “will ultimately redevelop approximately 14 acres of Rice-owned property,” near the Sears building into what it’s calling the Midtown Innovation District. So what are the latest spots it’s gotten its hands on? The first, catty-corner to the Sears building itself at the corner of Wheeler and San Jacinto, is Jack in the Box‘s nearly half-acre lot; Rice bought it in August.

More recently, the school pushed east by picking up 4201 Caroline St., the brick office building shown below that occupies a quarter-acre directly next to Fiesta:

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Sears and Friends
10/15/18 3:45pm

The new owner of the former Mary Barden Keegan Center along the southbound I–45 North feeder goes by the name Houston Market Center LLC and is connected to J. Luna’s Produce, a longtime vendor at the soon-to-be redone Houston Farmers Market on Airline. The sale closed late last month and included both the parking lot and 5,000-sq.-ft. community garden that sit behind the warehouse, closed-off from Vincent St. and the rest of residential Brooke Smith by a wrought-iron fence. Last week — reports a neighbor — workers got rid of that fence, “cleared out” an onsite homeless camp, began dismantling a retaining wall, and cut down a few trees adjacent to the parking lot.

The seller, Virgata Property Company, picked up the building from the Houston Food Bank 2 years ago and — last summer — leased it to the Peli Peli restaurant group as a prep center for the South African chain’s catering operation and a production hub for its house-brand sauces and spices. Since then, Peli Peli’s added 2 more order-at-the-counter restaurants to its lineup of formal and informal locations: one in the Esperson Building at 808 Travis downtown, and the other in the new 365 by Whole Foods Market on 610.

Photo: Virgata Property

2445 N. Fwy.
10/15/18 10:15am

The owner of the abandoned restaurant storefront on Taft St. south of W. Gray didn’t waste much time in trashing the place after acquiring it in June. A demo permit filed last month condemned both the street-fronting building shown above and its backyard bungalow. The photo at top shows the state of things on Friday afternoon.

The new owner also bought the neighboring brick house on Peden St. around the same time:

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A Flash in the Pan
10/12/18 10:00am

HINES PICKING UP LESS THAN AN ACRE ACROSS FROM MONTROSE WHOLE FOODS PARKING LOT The developer entered into an agreement earlier this year to buy the property at the corner of Waugh Dr. and D’Amico St., reports the HBJ’s Olivia Pulsinelli in her round-up of recent North Montrose land sales. On-site that nearly three-quarter acre parcel right now: a parking lot, driveways, and 2-story dingbat office building that backs up to the adjacent strip housing Pimlico Irish Pub and others. To the east, BMW-focused auto shop Bavarian Machine Specialties buffers the tract from what’ll soon be Stages Repertory Theatre’s new theater and green space on Rosine St. [HBJ] Photo: LoopNet

10/05/18 5:15pm

A few of the tenants inside this 7-unit, now-up-for-sale apartment building on Hawthorne St., 2 blocks from Spur 527 appear to be on the same page design-wise. The photo above shows the living room inside one of the building’s 6 one-bedroom apartments done up with a Persian rug, atop which sits a glass tabletop covered in curios surrounding a floral centerpiece.

Now, compare that to that to the living room the building’s sole 2-bedroom unit, shown below:

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429 Hawthorne
10/01/18 9:45am

The former Berger Ironworks complex shown above behind Walmart and across Koehler St. from the new Heights West End apartments now belongs to Best Friends Animal Society, a national nonprofit that keeps homeless creatures alive by diverting them from shelters where they wouldn’t always be as lucky. To that end, the group hosts adoption and awareness events (like the upcoming Strut Your Mutt charity dog walk planned for Stude Park), partners up with non-lethal shelters, and in some cases operates its own facilities — the largest of which is a 20,700-acre sanctuary in southern Utah. (National Geographic ran a 4-season teevee documentary about it called DogTown.)

At 1414 Bonner St., just under an acre and a quarter currently serve as home to a pair of abutting metal-roofed buildings. Making use of the new vernacular, the land’s previous owner Riverway Properties had been calling it Bonner Heights. A rendering released as part of that group’s old listing showed the buildings with a brand-new gap between them and — in a setup that now seems less likely to materialize — retailers inside them:

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Meet the Buyers
09/24/18 11:15am

The founders of The Greensheet are looking to part with their defunct printing complex at I-45 and the N. Loop after selling the publication earlier this month to MVR Publishing — a newly-formed partnership whose majority owner Jonathan McElvy also publishes The Leader. From 1998 onward, the facility cranked out all Houston editions of the classified paper (it’s also got versions in Dallas and Fort Worth), along with other publications like the New York Times — which Greensheet agreed in 2006 to start printing for local distribution.

Delivery trucks loaded with bundles of The Greensheet’s own reading material rolled out of the parking lot pictured from the north in the aerial above.

Here it is at ground level:

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Shopper Hits the Market
09/11/18 3:00pm

The building’s longtime owners handed it off last week to Fat Property, and the new landlord’s turned around and listed one of 10 units inside for lease already. Built in 1965, the structure grabs some frontage on Stanford St. — pictured above — but most of its exterior and adjacent parking lies to the north along Colquitt.

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4202 Stanford
08/30/18 4:00pm

After the owner of the yellow bungalow went to jail in 2015 for conspiracy, the townhome neighbors bought it and begun looking to put some distance between the house and their own. Last Wednesday, the city’s historical commission reviewed their plans however and told them no can do. The extra 7-ft.-8-in. they wanted to add between the 2 structures would take the bungalow — part of the Heights South Historic District — out of its original 1920 location at 922 Columbia St. And the other change — sliding it 5-ft.-3.5-in. back from the curb to line up with its taller neighbor — would make it less prominent along the street.

The decision is binding, so there’s no shying away now from the current situation:

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Close Quarters on Columbia St.
08/21/18 12:30pm

BROTHERS TACO HOUSE’S BACKYARD COULD CHANGE HANDS ANY DAY NOW The 1.3 acres situated behind Brothers Taco House are now under contract after just over a month on the market. Aside from the 6,000-sq.-ft. northeast portion of the block occupied by the restaurant and its parking lot, the rest has long been empty. It’s all overlooked by a row of townhouses put up along Bastrop St. in 2008. [HAR via HAIF] Photo: Swamplox inbox

08/20/18 5:30pm

The Tudor-revival mansion that sits along the bend in I-45 at 2000 Smith St. has been sold to the owner of several car dealerships, including Central Houston Nissan on the S. Loop off the S. Main/Buffalo Spdwy. exit and Central Houston Cadillac off McGowen St. between Travis and Main. Prior to the closing earlier this month, Preservation Houston reported that the buyer didn’t plan to keep the house standing.

Nine blocks away from it, the new owner Ricardo Weitz also has all 3 of the parking lots that surround his Cadillac dealership to the north, east, and west. He purchased the mansion through an entity he owns called Central Houston Auto Properties II.

Photo: Preservation Houston/The Heritage Society

The House off I-45
08/10/18 12:00pm

RICE PICKS UP 1.75 MORE ACRES NEAR WHEELER TRANSIT CENTER, STRIPPED-DOWN SEARS A pair of entities connected to Rice University have purchased some extra property near the molted Midtown Sears the school bought along with 3 adjacent acres last year. Included in the deal: the surface parking lot at 4510 Main St. — west of the Wheeler Transit Center — the Shipley Do-Nuts on the corner of Richmond, and the Gulf station next to the Spur 527 overpass. Nothing’s gone down on the land recently except for the gas station; it was demolished in June. But A long list of proposed Houston residential developments put out by mortgage bank Berkadia — now being passed around on HAIF — shows the surface parking now slated for a 243-unit highrise from developer Horizon Real Estate. Last time someone planned to do something with that parcel, ground-floor retail was in the mix, too, with 327 units of affordable housing upstairs. [Berkadia via HAIF; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Lou C.

07/31/18 3:00pm

THE BUILDUP TO TEAR THINGS DOWN FOR THE NEW I-45 HAS BEGUN “I’ve noticed a trend in lower Fifth Ward to start building or planning to build in the path of the upcoming I-45 reroute,” writes a Swamplot reader. “Is there a chance that developers can make more money on their buyout if they have developed plans?” Developed or not, there’s certainly been some action along the right of way that TxDOT plans to crater for the new highway segment — like that recent buying and selling in East Downtown across from the GRB. No one’s signed up to build anything new on those parcels yet — but with roadwork not slated to start until 2020, that’s plenty of time to get something ready ahead of the demolitions the highwaymen have planned to make way for the reroute. [Previously on Swamplot] Diagram of I-45 reroute: TxDOT

07/30/18 2:15pm

THE EAST DOWNTOWN BLOCK WEST OF TRUCK YARD HAS A NEW OWNER A group connected to Houston developer Ancorian has snatched up nearly the entire block directly west of recently-opened bars Rodeo Goat and Truck Yard in East Downtown, according to documents filed with the county. The quadrant — bounded by Dallas, Lamar, Chartres, and St. Emanuel streets — is where contractor Britain Electric had its facilities, pictured above, for more than 6 decades before moving out to Brittmore Rd. about a mile and a half north of I-10 just over a year ago. All of its buildings are Ancorian’s now (including a few auxiliary ones across the street), along with everything else on the block except 3 parcels fronting Chartres St. on the northeast corner — one of which played host to the former Silver House Theatre performing arts venue. Photo: Yellowpages

07/27/18 9:45am

AUSTRALIAN DEVELOPER NOW HAS ALL 3 MIDTOWN BLOCKS LINED UP FOR INCOMING HIGHRISE TRIO The Australian developer planning a trio of towers and lower-level retail on 3 adjacent Main St. blocks recently bought a chunk of the middle one — now home to Art Supply on Main — giving it free rein over the entire zone it wants to rebuild between McGowen and Tuam streets. Earlier renderings (since yanked from the interwebs) showed that 30,000-sq.-ft. middle parcel off Drew St. housing a highrise with signage for “The Drew Hotel” and Aussie brewery Little Creatures. The art store doesn’t plan to move out until next spring, says the developer Caydon Property, so any transformative tower work will have to wait. But in the meantime, construction’s already gone vertical on the block directly south of it, where a 27-story building is taking the place of the former Mental Health and Mental Retardation Authority campus torn down last year. [Previously on Swamplot] Photo of Art Supply on Main: Keaton Joyner