01/10/19 4:00pm

In an email sent out to constituents earlier this week, a staffer for City Council member Greg Travis writes that the little red rectangle above — marking where Randall Davis has plans for a 50-unit condo tower — is subject to single-family deed restrictions. That doesn’t prohibit the developer from going ahead with the highrise at 3723 Westheimer, she explains, although it does mean Davis perhaps jumped the gun by submitting a variance request for the development to Houston’s planning commission last week. It’s now withdrawn that request and instead plans to hold a public hearing before the commission. The date is TBD, but it will “likely take place on February 28,” according to the staffer.

Residents of Westgrove Court — the subdivision along Eastgrove and Westgrove streets that the tower wants to move into  — and others nearby will receive a written notice 15 days before it goes down. “If residents of the 38 single family home sites in Westgrove Court jointly file a protest (a letter signed by them),” she writes, “the Planning Commission will have to approve by 75% and not simply by a majority.”

On Monday, Nancy Sarnoff over at the Chronicle reported Davis was under contract to buy the 17,300-sq.-ft. property. It isn’t the first time someone’s tried to put something other than single-family on it: For decades, the single-story retail building shown above has been there. It sports a fenced-in patio at its corner:

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The Fine Print
01/04/19 3:45pm

The rendering above looks east from the corner of Westheimer and Eastgrove St. to show the first few floors of a new 20-story condo tower that developer Randall Davis wants to build on the just-under-0.4-acre lot formerly home to the Krispen Home furniture store. Plans for the highrise made their first appearance before Houston’s city planning commission yesterday, where they were deferred until the group’s next meeting in 2 weeks, but not before residents and representatives of the site’s neighboring subdivisions got a few words in. Roughly a dozen speakers from Westgrove Court — the 2-dozen-home residential neighborhood that lies southwest of the would-be tower, along Westgrove and Eastgrove streets — were particularly loud in decrying it. They noted that Westgrove St.’s current narrowness already makes creates tight squeeze for passing traffic.

The same goes for Eastgrove St., where a site plan submitted by the developer shows curb cuts giving access to a driveway at what’d be the southwest corner of the building:

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3723 Westheimer
12/17/18 9:45am

BAYOU PARK APARTMENTS HAVE ABOUT A YEAR BEFORE THE HIGHRISING STARTS Nitya Capital, which closed on the ’70s-era Bayou Park Apartments at 4400 Memorial Dr., east of Shepherd, last month “plans to carve out a spot for a high-rise condo tower” as soon as a year from now, reports the Chronicle’s Katherine Feser. That shouldn’t be too hard, seeing as the new tower will take up “less than an acre,” says Nitya CEO Swapnil Agarwal, within the 15-acre environs of the 3-story complex that’s there now. Some of its existing 679 units should be receiving a few touch-ups under the new landlord: “new floors, granite counters, stainless steel appliances,” and “new lighting and fixtures,” reports Feser. And outside, she writes, plans call for “fresh landscaping, new signs and changes to the leasing center,” which neighbors a handful of retailers in the spot shown above where the complex lets out onto Memorial. [Houston Chronicle] Photo: Apartments.com

11/06/18 2:45pm

Trying to pin down where Ted Cruz and Beto O’Rourke stand before casting a ballot this afternoon? Here’s a last-minute rundown: O’Rourke, the out-of-towner, slapped his trademark black-and-white signage in August on the concrete OST building shown, picking up where the Encore Theatre — a venue focused on works by black playwrights and casts — left off inside. The structure shares a wall with a back-door bar dubbed Speak Easy, a 1,000-sq.-ft. outfit that’s been around off Conley St. for over a decade.

Cruz’s team on the other hand, has been holed up on the seventh 12th floor of the Phoenix Tower (shown above) in Greenway Plaza, off Buffalo Spdwy. near 59. He’s a longtime fan of tall Houston buildings: In 2008, he and his wife Heidi bought a condo on the 19th floor of the Royalton at River Oaks — shown below — which then became ground zero for sightings of the couple, as well as a choice spot for the occasional protest. They sold it last July a few months after picking up a $1.6 million house in River Oaks proper.

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Electoral Tales
10/31/18 5:00pm

Looking east from what’s now the top of the soon-to-be-7 story Giorgetti Condo midrise on Steel St., you get a real eyeful of the planned 32-stories taller Hanover River Oaks apartment tower that’s rising next to it (and a glimpse at 2727 Kirby in the distance). Both unfinished buildings are going up on the northern half of what used to be the Kirby Court Apartments and together will occupy almost the entire block south of the former West Ave retail and apartment complex that’s recently made quite a new name for itself as “The Shops at Arrive.” A handful of houses and retail buildings along Kipling St. — including the Becks Prime on the corner of Kirby — are the only veterans sticking around.

A look in the opposite direction shows the Giorgetti’s bald head backed by neighboring townhouses along Virginia St.:

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Furniture-Themed Development
07/05/18 12:00pm

The sales center for the not-yet-built Mandell Montrose condo slated for Fairview St. is now closed, and a representative of its sales team tells Swamplot that the developer has no plans to reopen it. Since the building’s abandonment, signage outside the converted Hyde Park residence taken over by the agents has adopted a lower position than it previously held on the structure, pictured above.

And in the neighboring 12,493-sq.-ft. lot on the corner of Fairview and Commonwealth streets — where Midtown Uptown Development Partners planned a 7-story, 24-unit midrise to overtop the surrounding neighborhood — the tallest structures are still the signs stuck up there just over a year ago:

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Fairview and Commonwealth
05/09/18 12:00pm

Making an appearance on the city planning commission’s agenda this week: a proposal for a 16-ft.-deep, aluminum-sheathed steel canopy shown at top outside The Revere at River Oaks condos on Welch St. that’ll soon break ground in place of the 2-story River Oaks Manor condo complex demolished on site last June. Kirksey Architecture’s design for the canopy calls for it to hang out over the condo’s entrance and extend to an adjacent drop-off area, a widening of the existing street that’s planned just north of the 9-story, 33-unit building.

But the approval Pelican Builders is now seeking isn’t for the 4-ft.-5-in. that the canopy will encroach on the public right of way. In the application, the developer states that it already has an agreement for that portion of the structure. Instead, this approval is for the 11-ft.-4-in. section of the canopy between the right of way and the building, which requires a variance separate from the one that already covers the small portion (overlaid with a criss-cross pattern below) that they city has agreed to permit:

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Cover Story
01/17/18 4:45pm

Snapshots from the scenic Robbins Brothers jewelry store parking lot on the West Loop show how much progress has been made on the 34-story Arabella (formerly Arábella) condo tower next to the Target parking lot on San Felipe. Construction on the bumpy building began in 2015 on a portion of the former Westcreek Apartments at the corner of San Felipe and Westcreek. The photo at top shows the new building at 4521 San Felipe towering over the 25-story SkyHouse River Oaks apartment building, as well as the 17-story Wilshire condo tower.

A closer view of the trio:

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In Height Order
08/04/17 11:30am

Demolition has begun, a reader notes, on the Ripple Creek Townhomes at 1015 S. Ripple Creek Dr., a 3-building assembly of 2-story structures fitted onto a 2-plus-acre site directly east of the Second Baptist Church complex on Woodway Dr. The gently named Ripple Creek Dr. is the first north-south street east of Voss on the north side of Woodway; the townhome buildings, which were built in 1970, are wedged between it and the more workaday Bering Ditch, an actual waterway known to carry actual water north to Buffalo Bayou on its straightened, concrete-lined haunches.

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Woodway Breakout
07/06/17 12:30pm

Neighbor-with-a-security-cam Bill Curry has now posted to YouTube 6 additional time-lapse videos covering days 2 through 8 of the demo of the Googie-style River Oaks Manor condo complex at 2325 Welch St. The structure went down at the end of last month across from his home just east of Revere St., in an unnamed neighborhood real close to River Oaks.

If you thrilled to the jumpy frames from Curry’s Nest camera chronicling the removal of a 26-unit, 2-story structure dating from 1950 (in favor of a 32-unit, 9-story structure dating from 2018) but wanted to see what more it took to remove the row of Welch St.-facing carports left standing in the first video, follow the rest of the sequence, beginning with Day 2 (above) and continuing with the third day (June 27th) below:

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Clearing Out in River Oaks Adjacent
06/30/17 11:15am

If you’re trying to justify the expense and hassle of mounting and maintaining a capable security cam outside your home, shouldn’t the ability to capture timelapse footage of demolition crews as they quickly dispose of cute fifties condo complexes across the street tip the scales in favor? Here’s a sample benefit: the above video from the Nest camera of Bill Curry, which documents in quickly digestible form the final dozen-plus hours last Friday of the 26-unit Googie-style complex at the southeast corner of Welch and Revere streets adjacent to River Oaks — as it gets eaten from behind by a Komatsu track excavator.

Another possible benefit: A much longer timelapse documenting the construction of the 32-unit 9-story condo midrise Pelican Builders now plans to put on the site.

Video: Bill Curry

Nest to Nothing, Next to River Oaks
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