02/16/17 11:15am

Uptown MD and TIRZ 16 Boundaries

A new lawsuit was filed yesterday against TIRZ 16, the Uptown Development Authority, and the city, alleging that the creation of the reinvestment zone in the Galleria area was in violation of Texas law, since the zone can’t reasonably be considered “unproductive, underdeveloped, or blighted.” Rather, the filing claims, the city ordinance that originally created the TIRZ used the justification that the Uptown area needed traffic decongestion to avoid losing its status as one of the wealthiest districts in the city, and to avoid draining business to the city’s ever-expanding suburban fringe. A hearing is going on today over a possible injunction on further spending or work on Uptown projects, and Mike Morris says that city council delayed a vote yesterday on allowing Uptown an additional $65 million in debt.

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Uptown Up for Trial
02/15/17 11:15am

17-STORY ROBINHOOD CONDO TOWER TO GET 17-STORY SENIOR NEXTDOOR NEIGHBOR 2520 Robinhood at Kirby Condominiums, 2520 Robinhood, Rice Village, HoustonThe condo tower at 2520 Robinood St. — not so long ago bookended to the east and west by bars it was suing and being sued by — may soon be bar-free in both directions. Katherine Feser reports in the Chronicle this week that the property formerly occupied by Hudson Lounge (and occupied by Bar Bleu since last summer) has been sold to senior living developer Bridgewood. The land, bounded by the condo tower and by Robinhood, Quenby and Kelvin streets, is temporarily being leased back to the bar, but will be cleared out by the end of this year to allow the construction of what the company is tentatively calling The Village of Southampton, a 17-story senior living highrise. That’ll put it roughly on the level with 17-story 2520 Robinhood, potentially trimming the views in a number of the condo building’s east-facing units. Bridgewood’s previous 8-story height record is just about met by the company’s most recent senior living project, the almost-done 8-story The Village of River Oaks at 1015 Shepherd Dr.; that project faced a lawsuit during its early stages over claims from residents of the next-door Renoir Lofts and Gotham Lofts condos  that an increase in traffic — more specifically, the number of emergency vehicles heading to the senior living center —- might drive down nearby condo property values. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo of 2520 Robinhood condo tower: Sandra Gunn

11/30/16 1:15pm

Construction of Hotel Alessandra, Fannin St. at Dallas St., GreenStreet, Houston, 77002

Second Proposed Design for Hotel Alessandra, GreenStreet, Downtown HoustonToday’s look at up-and-coming personified downtown highrises includes a reader’s fresh snap of Hotel Alessandra, which reached full height in August and has been filling out a bit since then. The latest rendering (released after the original question mark design was scrapped) depicts mostly the buildin’s glassier Dallas-St.-facing side; the shot up top is facing the structure’s beige-er south corner. Midway announced a few weeks after the Tax Day flood that the hotel wouldn’t be open in time for the Super Bowl after all, citing weather-related logistical issues. The developers are now planning to open up later on in 2017.

Meanwhile, at the opposite corner of the GreenStreet complex — where Polk and Caroline streets meet — Randall Davis’s Marlowe condo tower is getting off the ground behind The Dirt Bar and Reserve, at the edge of a sea of parked cars:

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Up and Out Around GreenStreet
11/15/16 11:30am

Rendering of Mimosa Terrace, 2240 Mimosa Dr., Avalon Place, Houston, 77019

A rep from Citiscape tells Swamplot that the company will be starting up presales for 11 multi-million-dollar condo units in the 7-story midrise it’s planning for 2240 Mimosa Dr. The building would replace the 1965 apartment complex currently occupying the space (half a block east from the corner with Revere St. where that other condo midrise project got tangled in a protracted variance request fight last fall). Citiscape’s chief designer says the project is designed to eventually “fade into the landscape” with the help of some up-the-wall greenery on the facade:

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Camouflage Near Avalon
11/04/16 12:45pm

H-E-B mapped on Washington Ave. by Braun Enterprises

Looks like the logo spotted in that Braun flier earlier this year wasn’t too far off the mark: a lease signed in May by H-E-B for a new store on Washington Ave., which Nancy Sarnoff noted yesterday afternoon, includes some preliminary layout drawings for the grocery chain’s claimed spot — at the foot of what looks to be a mixed-used midrise planned on the Memorial Heights apartment complex property. (Also included in the document: the name Northbank Condominium #1, which sounds a lot like that trademark that Midway was working on earlier this year.) H-E-B Houston president Scott McClelland told Sarnoff that this doesn’t change the company’s interest in putting a store on the former N. Shepherd Fiesta site (and backing the ongoing campaign to get the Heights dry laws dampened); Sarnoff reports that the company would ideally like stores on Washington Ave., N. Shepherd, and in Garden Oaks, if they can find places to put them.

Where exactly will the Washington store land? The lease shows a preliminary footprint right at the corner with Heights Blvd., stretching not quite to Wagner St. to the east. H-E-B’s yet-to-be-built space looks to include a 91,000-sq.-ft. ground floor store, topped by a layer of parking on the second level of the structure (plus about 6,600 sq. ft. more of non-parking space). The document filed with the Harris County clerk’s office also shows plans for 5 more levels split between more parking and room for other tenants — including what it tallies up as about 36,000 sq. ft of office space and about 262,900 sq. ft. of multifamily residential space. A 2,200-sq.-ft. retail spot is also tucked in on the ground floor on the east side of H-E-B’s main store area.

Drawings in the doc depict the H-E-B-footed structure fitting into the space marked Zone A in the diagram below, just north of the northern edge of the Memorial Heights Villages midrise:

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Northbank on Washington Ave.
11/03/16 10:00am

Ivy Lofts renderings with new EDI design

The new, new design views of the Ivy Lofts highrise have been trickling out this week, and the glossy view above is fresh out into the digital ether as of late last night. The project’s marketing folks are prepping for a Saturday afternoon sales relaunch party at the converted grocery warehouse on the site (bounded by Nagle, Leeland, Live Oak, and the would-be path of Pease St., just north of the Texas Art Asylum and 59).

The tiny-condos highrise developers swapped architects a few months ago, midway through a redesign intended to turn the place into a double-lobbied condo-hotel mashup; the latest design, from EDI Architecture, is back to no hotel component and is down to just 1 main tower, with a 5-story parking garage filling in the extra space on top of a layer of ground floor storefronts. As for the building’s tiniest units, the 360-ish-sq.-ft. Tokyo, they’ve put on a little floorspace (and now measure in closer to 400 sq. ft.).

Here’s a closer view of some of those 14,228-sq.-ft. of retail space, from the corner of Live Oak and Leeland:

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EaDo Pre-Do Redo
09/23/16 5:30pm

Ivy Lofts Retail Listing Images, September 2016

Actually, the rendering above is not the newest look for the Ivy Lofts, PR head Jared Anthony tells Swamplot this afternoon. Anthony says that the 3-week-old images posted in Wednesday’s since-pulled listing for ground floor retail space in the development had been planned for release that same day during a meeting with folks who have reserved units in the project — but some totally different designs came in from the new architect on Tuesday. Anthony says the newest plans will be shown off in mid-October when the sales center relaunches (complete with another scale model of the planned building), and that groundbreaking is now planned for January, with no change to the estimated completion date.

Images: Powers Brown Architecture

East Downtown Loft Swapping
09/22/16 5:15pm

Ivy Lofts Retail Listing Images, September 2016

Update, 9/23: Ivy Lofts PR director Jared Anthony tells Swamplot that another even newer design is in the works following an architect switchup — more info here.

Ivy Lofts Rendering, Leeland at Live Oak, East Downtown, HoustonIs this the new look planned for the Ivy Lofts? A fresh LoopNet listing is now using the top rendering (and another view from the back) to advertise retail space on the yet-unbroken ground at 2604 Leeland St. The images show a building with roughly the same J-shaped double tower proportions seen in the original Ivy Lofts renderings, but with a smoother, gently curved facade and some vertical green striping.

Novel Creative Development VP Wen Pin Tsai did tell Paul Takahashi back in July that there were major condo-hotel-hybridization-related changes being hashed out for the planned highrise after the initial buy-up went more slowly than planned: the 550 units got attention from only 68 buyers — most of whom were actually investors looking to lease out the condos to that same coveted young professional set that wasn’t signing up to purchase them.

Most of the renderings and details up on the Ivy Lofts’ marketing webpage were taken down some time in the wake of the missed June groundbreaking date, and not many new ones been posted yet — but a new floor plan is included with the retail leasing info, showing distinct condo and hotel lobbies: 

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New Angles in East Downtown
09/16/16 11:30am

5925 Almeda Rd. #12809, Hermann Park, Houston, TX 77004

Mosaic and Montage Towers, Hermann Park, HoustonThat mosaic-filled penthouse in the north tower of the split-up-then-stuck-back-together Mosaic highrise complex has been relisted once again as of Friday, this time down at $1.49 million. The unit hit the market in 2014 asking for $2.05 million (up from the $930,000 it originally sold for in 2012, in the wake of the original owners’ bank-rupturing bankruptcy). Since then, the listing has taken only a few quick days off here and there to step down the price. The customized 3-bedroom pad includes the mother-of-pearl show-off-whatever-you-want slots in the main entryway (shown above; sick guitar collection not included). Here’s a look around at some of the unit’s other tilework:

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Hermann Park Outlook
09/08/16 1:00pm

The Conservatory, Gardens of Bammel Lane/Gardens of River Oaks, 2807 Bammel Ln., Greenway, Houston, 77098

Looks like the glassy structure above will be jumping gardens, per the announcement last week from the wedding venue formerly known as the Gardens of Bammel Lane (which took the new name Gardens of River Oaks late in July). The conservatory building will head north to the Gardens at Madeley Manor in Conroe once the Bammel Ln. venue shuts down in December. The rest of the garden’s structures and landscaping will likely be removed by less delicate means to make way for the planned 26-story Villa Borghese highrise, depicted below with Downtown peeking over its shoulder from the east:

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Conservatory Conservation
09/06/16 11:00am

The Victoria Condo Midrise, 829 Yale St. Houston Heights, Houston, 77007

Renderings of The Victoria Condo Midrise, 829 Yale St. Houston Heights, Houston, 77007The balcony-loaded face of Fisher Home’s The Victoria condo midrise is now stretching up past the halfway mark of the structure’s planned Heights ascent, notes a reader. The 6 residential levels will sit atop a few above-and-below-ground parking levels, per the rendering that showed up in unit listings earlier this summer. Camelot Realty’s listing for the 40-unit property currently touts prices starting at $300,000 and a Christmas-time move-in date.

That’s the 1950s apartment complex at 821 Yale to the left in the drive-by shot at the top; here’s a snap of the building buddied up with the century-old home-turned-law-office at 833 Yale on the other side:

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Half-Height in the Heights
08/23/16 5:45pm

1403 McGowen St., Midtown, Houston, 77004
Variance request at 1403 McGowen St.

Signage up on McGowen between La Branch and Austin streets heralds the property owner’s recent request for a few variances approvals from the city, include reduced building line setbacks on the site. Plans submitted with the request show cross sections of an 8-story midrise (arranged as 3 levels of parking topped by condo units above), which the application says was planned back when the owners were under the impression that the lot already had reduced building setbacks following city approvals of a previous owner’s project on the land that fell through.

As was discovered during the city’s permitting review, the previous variance approval was only applicable to the scrapped project, though the application claims that caveat wasn’t noted with mentions of the variance attached to the property’s plat records. City planners purportedly told the developers (which appear to include Knudson and Allied Orion Group) that they could get the same reduced setback lines approved again if they turn the first floor of the condo project into residences or retail.

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Midtown Condo Limbo
07/15/16 11:30am

3516 Montrose Blvd., First Montrose Commons, Houston, 77006

A reader’s aerial snapshot shows that the site of the former River Cafe at the corner of Montrose and Marshall St. is now empty once again, following the removal of all objectionably large signage advertising Riverway’s recently shelved condo midrise project. Riverway went through 2 different designs at the site, swapping the original renderings in 2014 for a larger and sleeker structure thematically tied (at least by the choice of architecture firm) to Philip Johnson’s Glass House. The writing was off the wall by early summer; Riverway officially told the HBJ that the project was off at the end of June.

Photo of 3516 Montrose Blvd.: Swamplot inbox

Mowed Down on Marshall St.