09/29/17 4:00pm

Continuing arrangements set up for the Jewish New Year last week, families from the nation’s largest Conservative synagogue will assemble this evening and all day tomorrow for Yom Kippur services at the nation’s largest megachurch. Congregation Beth Yeshurun’s own facilities have been unusable since the synagogue on Beechnut St. — on the other side of the West Loop from Meyerland Plaza — took on as much as 4 ft. of water after Hurricane Harvey.

The interfaith arrangement was brokered initially by Congressman John Culberson. After receiving extensive criticism for not opening its doors to flooding victims immediately following the first Harvey storms, Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church eventually served as a shelter for as many as 450 evacuees. For Rosh Hashanah services last week, Lakewood arranged for a rotating slide show of 40 high-resolution photos depicting portions of Beth Yeshurun’s damaged sanctuaries to be displayed on the 24-ft.-by-12-ft. Jumbotron behind the stage of the 16,800-seat former Houston Rockets basketball arena in Greenway Plaza.

Photos of Rosh Hashanah services in Lakewood Church, in front of projected image of stained glass from a Beth Yeshurun sanctuary: Lakewood Church

Your Best Yom Kippur Now
07/20/17 5:30pm

A Sunday field trip earned a reader a peek into the main sanctuary of the Annunciation Orthodox Cathedral, now being cracked open so a dome can be placed on top (along with more seating down below). The renderings of the planned changes, shown here facing the corner of Kipling St. and Yoakum Blvd., have been updated since they were submitted last year for that variance request application:

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Montrose Revelations
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
05/30/17 12:00pm

Catty-corner to the southwest of the area’s newest self-storage midrise, the block at N. Shepherd Dr. and Nett St. housing Bethel Church is now broadcasting plans for a mixed-use development from several large signs standing around on the property. A couple of readers reported the new decor from various angles late on Friday (including the one above, which includes a glimpse of finally settled, named, and opened FM Kitchen + Bar on the former Alva Graphics lot across the street). The church’s 1.48-acre block (bounded by Durham Dr. and Center St. on the other 2 sides) hit the market last summer, and looks to be getting wrapped into the Hunington development fold.

The conversion of the church property would put a mixed-use development right next to the Azure Apartments midrise currently going up right across Durham:

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N. Shepherd Conversions
05/16/17 4:15pm

Last month Dominion Church International, the church most recently inhabiting the triangular block at Dallas St. and Telephone Rd. holding Eastwood’s former Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, finally sold the land after putting it up on the market last August. A couple of readers tell Swamplot that Nextdoor is abuzz with the claim that Mir Azizi‘s company Caspian Enterprises, which bought the property, plans to turn it into some sort of lofts or apartments. Caspian does have something of a habit of splitting up old buildings into residential units; a permit for some interior wall teardowns in the church was issued last month, but no formal announcements have been made about what the site’ll become.

A document filed with the county transfers the rooftop lease to the new owner for that T-mobile cellular relay visible atop the church’s belltower); Caspian has already gotten permission to knock down the complex’s parsonage, however:

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Eastwood Relay
04/10/17 11:30am

Bible Days Church, 501 Quitman St., Near Northside, Houston, 77009Bible Days Church, 501 Quitman St., Near Northside, Houston, 77009

Bible Days Church, 501 Quitman St., Near Northside, Houston, 77009Showing up on the market this month, just in time for Easter: a couple of buildings and lots belonging to Bible Days Revival Church, formally located at or around 501 Quitman St. in Near Northside. The church gives 1935 as the construction date for at least one of the included structures up for grabs, which sit on a block along the northern light-rail line next to a formerly Exxon-branded gas station. Along with the sanctuary, the new listings include a few multifamily structures and empty lots: 

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Come Into the Light-Rail
01/18/17 2:30pm

Spire Houston in former First Church of Christ, Scientist, 1720 Main St., Downtown, Houston, TX 77002First Church of Christ, Scientist, 1720 Main St., Downtown, Houston, TX 77002

Spire Houston in former First Church of Christ, Scientist, 1720 Main St., Downtown, Houston, TX 77002Steeple-themed nightclub and Swampies also-ran Spire is now up and running in Downtown’s converted First Church of Christ, Scientist at 1720 Main St., following last winter’s covert purchase by the group running Clé bar. The remodeled Mod space officially opened last weekend and is currently advertising upcoming events on a marquee along Jefferson St., including a Playboy-sponsored pre-Super Bowl party (scheduled against the Taylor Swift concert at temporary 3-story nightclub Club Nomadic, among other goings-on).  Other upcoming Spire events include this weekend’s Waka Flocka Flame concert and the VS vs Fredericks Lingerie Contest scheduled for next Wednesday.

Some promotional photos from the club provide a few views of the former altar (above, with a view of the original for comparison), as well as the added balconies and new seating arrangement possibilities in the main sanctuary:

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Downtown Conversions
01/06/17 5:30pm

Stop Bethany Apartments graphic
Stop Ashby Highrise Signs, Southampton, HoustonDo those flailing arms and sharp teeth in the graphic above strike a familiar chord? The latest fantastical depiction of an as-yet-unbuilt multistory Houston residential development may even be available in yard sign form, per the website that’s been constructed in response to Bethany Methodist’s plan to build a 101-unit active-senior housing facility in its parking lot at the fringes of Knollwood Place. Also available on the site, in addition to solicitations for online petition signatures and donations, is a snapshot of what appears to be a gently-crumpled rendering of the 4-story complex, with a little less artistic liberty taken:

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Linkwood Links
10/18/16 2:30pm

Bethany United Methodist Church, 3511 Linkwood Dr., Linkwood, Houston, 77025

Bethany United Methodist Church recently posted some FAQs and answers about its plans to put a senior living development on its property, a reader in the area tells Swamplot. The land is south of the intersection of Linkwood and Bevlyn drives, and may be one of the 4 potential adult active-living housing projects Stream Realty mentioned to Paul Takahashi back in April, as the church’s website says the project’s developer is currently working on the Solea Copperfield senior living complex in Northwest Houston (just south of Birkes Elementary on Queenston Blvd.). The website also notes that 51 of the 101 living units would be rented out to folks with a household income between 33,000 and 45,000 at below-market rates.

The church’s main entrance is about a third of a mile from that set of lots stretching from Buffalo Spdwy. to Main St. where some stirrings were seen in July; a drawing submitted as part of a variance request put in for that land calls that project Traditions Buffalo Speedway Senior:

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Plans Maturing in Braeswood Place
10/10/16 5:00pm

Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church renderings, 3511 Yoakum Blvd., WAMM, Houston, 77006

Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, 3511 Yoakum Blvd., WAMM, Houston, 77006A look at the latest plans for bulking up the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral on Yoakum Blvd. at Kipling St. come from the diagrams submitted with a recent variance request for the project (and a few more now up on the church’s website). For comparison, a reader sends some leafy shots of the cathedral at its current width, snapped a few days before the setup for the annual Houston Greek Festival (which wrapped up on the church’s campus for the 50th time yesterday evening).

The expansion would widen the 1952 cathedral building to the north and south (toward and away from Kipling), about doubling the current seating capacity; the design also adds that big dome to the top (while the smaller dome along the Yoakum-side bell tower would get a new nitrate finish stainless-steel top-off to match). The church submitted the request for a 1-ft. building line setback last month, including this drawing from Philip Johnson/Alan Ritchie architects (which shows a leaf-free perspective from the corner of Yoakum and Kipling):

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Toward the Heavens, To the Curb
09/12/16 1:45pm

Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church Master Plan excerptThe gospel-soundtracked video above, showing Wheeler Avenue Baptist’s plans to plant a larger sanctuary next door to its existing facilities, appears to show that new structure landing on top of the original Frenchy’s location at 3919 Scott St. The creole chicken chain, which announced last year that it would be pushing for national expansion to 500 locations, also previously announced plans to tear down the original spot and rebuild bigger, though the exact location of that rebuild wasn’t specified. (Just up the street, meanwhile, a Frenchy’s-connected entity called 3919 Scott Street appears to have purchased the entire city block southwest of the corner of Scott St. and Hadley back in 2009. )

The property at 3919 Scott St. was bought over the summer by the church; the renderings in the video (posted just this week) more or less match up to a few older depictions featured on Harrison Kornberg Architects’s website for the project:

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Third Ward Chicken Prophecy
08/30/16 1:15pm

Former New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, 1221 Crockett St., First Ward, Houston, 77007

The brutal Sunday scene at the former New Hope Missionary Baptist Church was caught by a reader on Goliad St. in First Ward this weekend.  The 1940s structure is making way for new CitySide townhomes; 3 lots in the new 7-way split will face Goliad, while the other 4 keep watch on Crockett St. Here’s a look from Crockett at building’s insides spilling out under the guiding influence of that excavator, and of the corner tower’s last stand:

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Last Stand in First Ward
08/19/16 11:30am

4411 Dallas St., Eastwood, Houston, 77023

Now on the market for $2.5 million: the triangular Telephone Rd. block bounded by Dallas and Eastwood streets, complete with the still-well-labeled former complex of the storied Church of the Redeemer. The church’s congregation moved out of the literally crumbling structures in 2011 after receiving some $5-to-7-million estimates on bringing them up to minimum habitability standards. The property was later bought by Dominion Church International, which wrangled a new certificate of occupancy for the site in early 2014.

The current listing shows that the crown of T-mobile relay equipment atop the church’s bell tower appears to still be in place — county records show a rooftop lease agreement for the building was renewed for another 50 years in mid-2014:

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Salvation or Salvage?
08/09/16 4:00pm

Demolition of Belt West Shopping Center Northern Building, 10220 Westheimer Rd., Westchase, Houston, 77042

Belt West Shopping Center, which previously housed both Grace Presbyterian’s coffee shop The Well and Shelby’s Liquor, has been returning to dust of late, per a reader’s leafy photo of the site from this morning. The western end of the 1975 strip (largely hidden from the northwest corner of Westheimer and Seagler roads by 2 other retail strips and a Shell Station) has also been home to some of the operations of Project C.U.R.E. — a nonprofit named by the late July demolition permit as an occupant, which collects and donates medical supplies to the developing world.

Both the church’s Facebook page and a church representative reached by phone this afternoon indicate that the church-owned property will remain a part of the Grace Presbyterian fold. The shots below from Seagler show the strip midway through its retail-to-ruins transition last week:

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Plans To Rise Again
07/19/16 11:30am

First Church of Christ, Scientist, 1720 Main St., Downtown, Houston, TX 77002
First Church of Christ, Scientist, 1720 Main St., Downtown, Houston, TX 77002A dumpster was spotted last week loitering around the Travis St. entrance of the Mod-ish Brutal-ish teal-ish former Christian Science church downtown, which, per the language on a building permit issued this month, is now being converted into a nightclub. The name listed on the permit (Club Spire) marks something of a shift in the tone previously set by the new owners this spring, when the group connected to Clé bar sought a TABC permit for the building under the name 1720 Main Reception Hall.

A curious reader sends the Friday afternoon shot above, along with an inquiry as to the fate of any interior furnishings and materials to be stripped away (the outside being fairly naked already, save for the gold-and-blue soon-to-be-eponymous spire). Here’s a last look from inside, around, and on top of the church’s sanctuary and courtyard as it was just prior to the finalization of the sale this spring — the elongated diamond-slash-triangle motif that covers the area behind the altar is carried through much of the rest of the building, from the stained-glass windows to the furniture: 

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Born Again on Main St.