08/31/16 10:45am

Krispy Kreme shell, 4601 Spencer Hwy., Pasadena, TX 77504

A field of rippling grass between the Denny’s and the Comerica Bank branch on Spencer Hwy. currently holds the half-finished form of one of the Krispy Kreme donut shops planned as part of the chain’s post-lawsuit re-emergence into the Houston market. The chain still has the location on its list of upcoming grand opening donut-campouts (labeled as down-the-street 4601 Spencer Hwy., though both Eater Houston and a look at neighboring addresses put the property number at or around 4061), but arch-ive-ist and daily demo reporter Lauren Meyers notes the overgrown site is pretty light on signs of active work.

Some of Fisher Elementary’s T-buildings can be seen loitering to the left, with the stadium lights of the McGuire baseball field and track facility rising distantly in the background on the right; on the west side of the building is a would-be drive-thru window:

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Cold Now on Spencer Hwy.
08/26/16 3:30pm

ESPERSON, PENNZOIL, 712 MAIN TUNNELS TO REOPEN NEXT THURSDAY AROUND STALLED SPROUT OF CAPITOL TOWER Capitol Tower Tunnel ReopeningFrom the depths of the Esperson building, a reader sends a fresh shot of a sign announcing that tunnel connections from the building to nearby 712 Main and Pennzoil Place will be open again late next week. The phrasing implies that the connections beneath the site of Skanska’s planned-for-maybe-later Capitol Tower may not all be open by that time, but the Chase Tower (which itself connects to the lawsuit-embroiled former Houston Chronicle spot) will at least be accessible via a 712 Main detour. The tunnels beneath the former home of the previously-blown-away Houston Club building have been closed since 2014 as Skanska poured a tower foundation and built a parking garage; the company said earlier this year that it won’t be moving forward with the rest of the Capitol Tower until the market looks perkier. [Previously on Swamplot] Photo: ThaChadwick

04/13/16 12:30pm

Drew at Helena streets, Midtown, Houston, 77006

Here’s the current scene along the north side of Drew St., where the acre-plus of emptied land previously planned for development as the Pearl on Helena now hosts a Morgan Group for sale sign. The block bounded by Helena, Drew, Albany, and Dennis streets was marked a few years back as another addition to Morgan’s string of Pearl midrises; the Helena site’s application went dark during the variance request process in mid-20014, but the land was cleared of its former hospital and mansion occupants near the end of that year.

Morgan Group currently has a Pearl in Greenway Plaza, with another getting polished up on Washington Ave near T.C. Jester; a planned Pearl on Smith (at the site of the former Social Security office right across Smith St. from the Pearl on Midtown) appeared to have been removed from the company’s immediate focus in 2014, only to resurface in renderings the following year as part of an apartment-midrise-grocery-store complex containing a Whole Foods.

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New Treatment Plan in Midtown
06/09/15 4:00pm

WESTBURY CENTERETTE SITE WILL REMAIN DRY Hot off the presses from the latest Westbury Crier — amid reports on the aftermath of May’s bayou overflow events, which flooded 267 homes in the neighborhood: An update on the status of the site of the former Westbury Centerette at the corner of W. Bellfort and Chimney Rock, which was demolished in March. “Originally,” the newsletter reports, “the property owner planned to construct a facility for LA Fitness; however, we regret to announce that this plan will not proceed. The property owner continues to evaluate options for the site.” [Westbury Crier; previously on Swamplot] Video of Westbury Centerette demolition: Brays Oaks Management District

03/26/15 11:00am

LATE MAY OPENINGS FOR SOUTHEAST AND EAST END RAIL LINES Metro Central Station, Main St., Downtown HoustonAn official opening date has finally been set for Houston’s 2 new light-rail lines — and it’ll be later than the expected early-April debut. The East End and Southeast Lines will both open May 23rd, the Metro board announced this morning. [Houston Metro on Twitter; previously on Swamplot] Photo of new Central Station downtown: Metro

02/26/15 2:15pm

Survey Flags at Proposed Site of Regent Square, Allen Pkwy. at Dunlavy St., North Montrose, Houston

Remember way back in 2007, when excavators tore down portions of the Allen House Apartments in North Montrose to make way for GID Development’s massive mixed-use project known as Regent Square? Well, it’s okay if you don’t. Anyway, the thing hasn’t happened yet, though the nearby apartment tower that opened last year called the Sovereign (seen in the background of the photo above), which wasn’t included the original plans, is now cited as Regent Square’s first phase. What of phases 2 and above? Swamplot reader Mike Bloom reports there’s evidence of recent action on the now empty lot at the corner of Dunlavy St. and Allen Pkwy., dating from the middle of last month: little pink flags on stakes — the kind typically used for surveys.

Photo: Mike Bloom

Stakes in the Neighborhood
02/19/15 12:30pm

OIL CRASH CHEATING HOUSTON OUT OF 50 NEW APARTMENT COMPLEXES IT DESERVES TO HAVE Proposed Hanover River Oaks, Kirby Dr. at Steel St., Upper Kirby, HoustonSo it may be bouncing back a little, but the precipitous drop in the price of oil since last summer has been responsible for the axing or delay of a considerable number of large-scale residential projects in Houston. How many new apartment buildings would we have had available to gawk at or choose from if it weren’t for the freefall? Ralph Bivins reports: “We’ve heard 50 multifamily projects have been cancelled or postponed,” says local Colliers prez Patrick Duffy. [Realty News Report] Photo of proposed (and delayed) Hanover River Oaks: Solomon Cordwell Buenz

01/28/15 2:30pm

Kirby Court Apartments, 2612 Steel St., Upper Kirby, Houston

The end of the year marked the end of residency for all tenants of the Kirby Court Apartments. Renters of the 2-story 1949 townhouse-style units fronting oak-lined Steel St. across Kirby Dr. from the Whole Foods Market were required to move out no later than December 31st. Houston-based Hanover Co. had a portion of the complex under contract, and was planning to complete the transaction early this year.

But funding for the apartment tower Hanover had planned for that parcel (marked down to 30 stories and 300 units at last report) fell through sometime in December, a company rep tells the Houston Business Journal‘s Paul Takahashi; since then, the company has been “scrambling to find new investors.” Hanover has now postponed completion of the purchase until August. The architect, Solomon Cordwell Buenz, is still reportedly working on the design.

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Funding Dries Up
01/06/15 10:45am

ANOTHER CHELSEA GETS AWAY Construction of the Carter Apartments, 4 Chelsea Blvd., Montrose, HoustonGood morning! It’s 2015, oil is already checking out the territory south of $50 a barrel, and Swamplot is ready to begin its coverage of cancellation and delay announcements from real estate developers. We’ll start this one gently, with an Inside the Loop project you probably hadn’t even heard of — though its name certainly sounds familiar: The developers of Chelsea Museum District, a proposed apartment complex atop a podium garage with a bit of retail thrown in planned for the north side of Blodgett St. between Crawford and La Branch, tell the HBJ‘s Paul Takahashi they are “contemplating holding [the] project to see how the multifamily market fares amid low oil prices.” But don’t confuse Trans Unity Investment’s Chelsea Museum District with another project less than a mile to the west at 4 Chelsea Blvd. that used to be called Chelsea Montrose, but has since been renamed The Carter (no, not kidding), and which developer StreetLights Residential has already begun building (see construction photo above from just before Christmas). [Houston Business Journal] Photo: Marc Longoria

11/07/14 2:45pm

DEFORESTED KIRBY DR. WENDY’S BRINGS BACK A LITTLE GREENERY Fencing Around Wendy's Restaurant, 5003 Kirby Dr., Upper Kirby, HoustonPassersby hoping to see for themselves precisely what hullabaloo was responsible for the larger-than-normal red tag placed by city officials on the door of the abruptly-paused-during-renovation Kirby Dr. Wendy’s now have an additional obstacle blocking satisfaction of their curiosity. The perimeter construction fencing on the jobsite at 5003 Kirby Dr. — which only went up just as workers were chopping down 6 oak trees on the surrounding public right-of-way late one night last week — has gained a new green-fabric wrapping. “I think it makes the construction look more attractive,” quips the reader who sent in the above photo of the stump-and-fence scene (with the red tag still barely visible through the greenage). That’s nice, the reader notes, since “apparently we are going to be looking at it for a long time.” [Previously on Swamplot] Photo: Swamplot inbox

07/24/14 11:15am

Construction of Doc's Bar & Grill, 1303 Westheimer Rd., Montrose, Houston

Rendering of Doc's Bar & Grill, 1303 Westheimer Rd., Montrose, HoustonWhat’s been going on with the transformation of the former Wendy’s at 1303 Westheimer Rd. into the first Houston location of Doc’s Bar & Grill? The Austin import had been aiming for a November opening — last year. Now the target date is late August — a full year after Swamplot’s original story on the venture. A publicist attributes the delay to “a city plan to widen Westheimer,” which triggered some sort of redesign.

Here’s how it’s supposed to look when it’s finished:

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Doc’s in Montrose
07/21/14 1:30pm

Light Rail Station at Palm Transit Center, Houston

There’s still “some uncertainty” over the exact schedule, but all the pieces needed to allow Metro to open Houston’s second and third light-rail lines won’t be in place until late December, according to reports delivered to a committee of the transportation organization’s board of directors last Friday. Previously, an opening date sometime this fall had been projected for the Southeast and East End lines (though the far eastern end of the East End line won’t come on line until a newly planned overpass is built under over the Union Pacific East Belt freight rail line between the future Altic and Cesar Chavez stations). Delays in the delivery of trains aren’t the sole reason for the late openings, however.

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Waiting for the Trains
05/13/14 4:45pm

AN APARTMENT DEVELOPER’S NEW MIDTOWN PEARLS ARE MISSING Site of Proposed Pearl on Smith, 3100 Smith St., and Pearl on Helena, 105 Drew St., Midtown, HoustonThe Morgan Group’s Pearl Midtown apartment building is still under construction at the corner of Elgin and Smith streets in Midtown, but a couple of follow-on projects have recently drifted away from the process for gaining city approval — for now, at least. Signs announcing a variance request for the Pearl on Smith went up last month in front of the 1940 building at 3100 Smith St. that used to house the Social Security Administration’s offices (pictured at top), across the street from the Pearl Midtown. And on the block surrounded by Helena, Dennis, Albany, and Drew, a sign is still up for a variance request to allow construction of the Pearl on Helena. On that block is the building that until last fall housed the Kindred Hospital Midtown (bottom photo) — along with this 1930 mansion. Applications for both projects showed similar 5-story apartment complexes built around a small courtyard on top of 2 garage levels. But both projects have now gone quiet in the city’s tracking system. The variance application for the Pearl on Smith was withdrawn before its scheduled April 17th hearing. And the Pearl on Helena is listed as an “inactive application” in the city database, even though it was originally scheduled for a hearing on the same date. Photos: O’Connor & Associates (3100 Smith St.); Swamplot inbox (Kindred Hospital)

02/13/14 10:30am

Fish and the Knife Sushi Bar, Restaurant, and Nightclub, 7801 Westheimer Rd. at Stoney Brook, Houston

Note: Story updated below.

O ye of little faith, casting doubts here and there that a little 13,000-sq.-ft. standalone fine dining and lounging experience on Westheimer across Stoney Brook from AutoZone would ever open its doors after a mere 3 years of construction, a few long silences, and working so hard behind the scenes to get every detail right! It takes time, and actual anticipation, to truly earn the status of Houston’s Most Anticipated Restaurant. So take this: Fish and the Knife opens today. As in: You can park your car in the big parking lot out back, walk right in through the big wooden doors, and order yourself some sushi and a Japanese-style steak. And maybe this weekend, or some other big weekend night soon, wiggle your tail and fins to the rhythms and the flashing lights in the transformed 4,000-sq.-ft. “Las Vegas-style” nightclub inside.

Okay, but really, what took this place so long to open? Here’s the owner of the new spot at 7801 Westheimer, trying valiantly to explain it all:

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A Good Restaurant Took Time
01/30/14 12:00pm

Fish and the Knife Sushi Bar, Restaurant, and Nightclub, 7801 Westheimer Rd. at Stoney Brook, Houston

Fish and the Knife Sushi Bar, Restaurant, and Nightclub, 7801 Westheimer Rd. at Stoney Brook, HoustonOn-again off-again would-be Westheimer sushi-nightclub debutante Fish and the Knife has given up on target opening dates, reports Eater Houston. “The big debut is back on track,” reports Darla Guillen in a post that includes actual photos of the actual completed interior at 7801 Westheimer. After almost 3-and-a-half years of construction and several blown promised-opening deadlines, she writes, “the owner is (understandably) reluctant to announce an official date.” But, um, the restaurant is “definitely on schedule to open soon, and is currently hiring staff.”

Update, 3 pm: A daring update to Eater’s report notes the owner now “expects to be open by Feb. 10.

Photo: Swamplot inbox

Sooner or Later