04/26/17 11:00am

Rendering of DC Partners Allen Pkwy. Mixed Use Site, Allen Pkwy. at Gillette St., Fourth Ward, Houston, 77019

Rendering of Tianqing Group/DC Partners Allen Pwky. Mixed Use Site, Allen Pkwy. at Gillette St., Fourth Ward, Houston, 77019

New renderings of the hotel-office-condo-retail hodgepodge in the works on the northern segment of the former city park and waste incinerator site at Allen Pkwy. and Gillette St.  were released into the digital wild by DC Partners this week. The buildings appear smoother and sleeker overall than some of the possible early depictions turned up last August (like the Downtown-facing view shown second above for comparison), though some elements of the cluster also appear a bit shorter and stouter. The main tower along Allen Pkwy. has been given a twist in the middle, with a floorcount appearing to number somewhere in the 40-plus range; the lowrise retail complex next door is shown with a bridge over the parkway leading directly into Buffalo Bayou Park.

Perennial rendering sleuth Urbannizer also dug up a different view of the new scene over on HAIF, showing how the whole bundle would fit in amid the Federal Reserve complex, the park, and the section of Fourth Ward surrounding what’s left of the Freedman’s Town Historical District:

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Like a Bridge Over Allen Pkwy.
04/25/17 4:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHERE THAT DAYS INN TOWER FALLS ON THE HOUSTON ABANDONED HOTEL SPECTRUM Former Holiday Inn, Days Inn, and Heaven on Earth Plaza Hotel, 801 St. Joseph Pkwy. at Travis St., Downtown Houston“As much as I would prefer to see a building like this having some kind of economic use or value in its function, as long as it is not inviting of crime or danger, I don’t have issue with a building just sitting there — that is the owner’s prerogative. (Remember the Sheraton-Lincoln hotel? It sat vacant for years, graffiti-less and fully windowed; no one would have given it a second thought driving by.) In the past few months, the graffiti has exploded, and more and more windows are being broken out. I don’t know what happens when you smash a window 300 feet in the air, but I’m pretty sure those pieces come raining down near and around the building and onto the street. The owners need to do their part to keep the building secured to prevent the criminal activity, and prosecute the trespassers and vandals. Otherwise they are no better than the owners of the Southwest Inn.” [tmr, commenting on Downtown’s Preeminent Dilapidated Hotel Tower Now Outfitted To Greet I-45ers with New Nametags, Fewer Window Panes] Photo: Bob Russell

04/24/17 11:00am

Demolition of Houston Chronicle Building 801 Texas Ave., Downtown Houston

That’s pretty much it for the surface-dwelling sections of the Houston Chronicle‘s former bundle of headquarters structures at 801 Texas Ave. — a reader captured the minor dustup above on Friday, and activity on the site is now mostly at or below ground level. Work to shore up the section of basement the district court ordered Hines’s Block 58 to leave behind (for tunnel use by Linbeck-controlled neighbor and plaintiff Theater Square) was mostly wrapped up last fall, according to some December court filings.

Other documents filed as part of the case show that the legal compromise set up last summer (which allowed the demo of the Chronicle building to go forward after all) has hit a few bumps since then: Theater Square filed a motion to find Block 58 in contempt of court late last year, and a trial appears to be scheduled for June.

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Texas Ave. Tunnel Tussle
04/21/17 2:00pm

Former Holiday Inn, Days Inn, and Heaven on Earth Plaza Hotel, 801 St. Joseph Pkwy. at Travis St., Downtown Houston

Artist and regular neck craner Bob Russell took a moment this week to capture the various works currently on display to Pierce Elevated drivers on the south side of the 30-story highrise at 801 Saint Joseph Pkwy. (former host of a variety of hotels and Vedic teaching initiatives before the building entered its more recent era of abandonment and creeping decrepitude). The uptick in broken windows in the last few months doesn’t appear to have much of a connection to the most recent plans for the stripping and remodeling of the building back into some flavor of hotel, as proposed this time around by SFK Development. As far as other signs of change, the name scrawled across the facade’s central panels has been edited since another tipster’s drive-by back in February:

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03/22/17 4:30pm

Crane at under-construction Capitol Tower, Capitol St., Downtown, Houston, 77002

Another shot of that crane that took to the air this weekend by the economy-stalled stub of Skanska’s Capitol Tower comes from a reader peering over the site’s parking structure from Rusk St. yesterday. (That’s the neighboring Chase Tower looming over the scene in the background.) Bank of America was outed as being in talks with Skanska about leasing space in the tower (which might add the bank’s current home in Bank of America Center to the list of recent abandonments of Downtown office towers by their namesake tenants). The other sign of life on the site this year was the addition of a street-level mural to the parking garage’s corner, which was dry in time for the Super Bowl last month:

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Sprouting Downtown
02/27/17 11:15am

 under-construction Kirby Collection, Kirby Dr. at Colquitt St., Upper Kirby, Houston, 77098
 under-construction Kirby Collection, Kirby Dr. at Colquitt St., Upper Kirby, Houston, 77098

Rendering of under-construction Kirby Collection, Kirby Dr. at Colquitt St., Upper Kirby, HoustonAn extra crane was spotted standing around in oncoming Kirby Dr. traffic on Saturday morning just north of Richmond Ave., helping to disassemble the tower crane that’s been used to lift pieces of the Kirby Collection’s under-construction office building into place over the last year-and-a-few-months. A representative from Thor Equities tells Swamplot this morning that the office midrise should be wrapped up by the end of 2017. The ellipse-footed residential tower (peaking over the top of the rectangular office building’s frame in the shot above) hit its full height earlier this month as well:

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Down To Earth
02/23/17 1:15pm

River Oaks Shopping Center highrise plan, Houston, 77019

What else might change as Weingarten plants the 30-ish story residential tower it announced yesterday on a spot currently occupied by a few of the River Oaks Shopping Center’s northeastern storefronts? Specifics on the design of the 300-plus-unit project (which the company hinted at in late 2015) are still scant, though construction may start as soon as next year. The planned footprint of the highrise, per the site map above, stomps out the far end of the building housing Cafe Ginger, Local Pour, and the King Ranch Saddle Shop, spreading out past the edge of the non-protected city historical landmark toward the would-be alignment of Driscoll St. The Hanover-developed tower will reportedly replace those storefronts with some 10,000 sq. ft. of retail space on its ground floor (leaving room, potentially, for a few more Starbucks).

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High Hopes on W. Gray
02/21/17 5:15pm

Americana Building, 811 Dallas St., Downtown, Houston, 77002

The 10-story tower segment of the Americana building at 811 Dallas St. is now undergoing disassembly, Nancy Sarnoff confirms this afternoon. A few folks caught sight of the tell-tale orange barricades and fencing around the base of the tower over the weekend; the view above was captured from Milam St. and shows the defunct former Subway on the Dallas corner of the block. Hilcorp, which owns the site (and also wrapped up its new tower across Travis St. on the site of the Foley’s blowup early last year), hasn’t yet announced further-down-the-line plans for the block. No explosives are part of the plan for this demo, however — the tower will be taken apart piece by piece, leaving the parking garage intact.

Photo: ThaChadwick

Laid Low Downtown
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

01/12/17 3:45pm

Murals at former MHMRA building, 2850 Fannin St., Midtown, Houston, 77003Demolition setup at 2850 Fannin St., Midtown, Houston, 77003

The colorful faces behind the chain-link fencing surrounding the former Mental Health and Mental Retardation Authority building at 2850 Fannin St. have been joined this week by a few pieces of bright yellow knock-down equipment. Permits came through last week clearing the site for clearance in advance of a planned 27-story apartment highrise going by the name Main Midtown. The tower was okayed for a parking variance in late October, as part of which Australian developer Caydon Properties agreed to install over 200 bike spaces. 

The long-empty MHMRA structure got its last hurrah this fall when much of the street-level wallspace was painted over in tan, making way for new muralage. A nearby resident buzzed around the site recently taking some final snaps of the paintings (like the one featured at the top of the page) before the demo gets going in earnest — here’s a sampling below:

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Midtown Breakdown
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
11/29/16 5:00pm

CONOCOPHILLIPS TO LEAVE 62-ACRE ENERGY CORRIDOR CAMPUS FOR SOMETHING MORE COZY ACROSS I-10 Leasing Flier for Energy Center 4, 925 N. Eldridge Pkwy., Energy Corridor, Houston, 77079ConocoPhillips told its employees at the 62-acre complex at 600 N. Dairy Ashford Rd. today that the energy giant will be pulling them out of its 1980’s campus and moving them across I-10 into that empty 22-story Energy Center 4 highrise the company has been trying to sublet since earlier this year. Nancy Sarnoff says that the move is planned for mid-2018 after the highrise gets built out, noting that so far, the new building “has remained an empty shell as ConocoPhillips has tried to sublease the space.” Before then, the campus will be getting some new nextdoor neighbors, as Shell’s nearby Woodcreek campus takes on some of the employees being moved out of One Shell Plaza downtown. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo of Energy Center 4 at 925 N. Eldridge Pkwy.: CBRE

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
10/25/16 1:00pm

Market Square Tower, 777 Preston St., Downtown, Houston, 77002

Just added: water for the cantilevered glass-bottom pool jutting out of Market Square Tower’s rooftop deck, some 41-plus-or-minus-the-penthouses stories above street level. Woodway is now advertising leasing availability for November, with some of the smaller one-bedroom units listed for $2,100 and up per month (and the largest of the penthouses, a 3-bedroom 3.5-bathroom 3-balcony affair, listed at $18,175) . The current floorplans available on the site now also suggest that the ground floor retail options will include a cafe, in addition to that CVS announced last month.

Those not enthused by the prospect of dangling over the downtown streetscape can opt for the other pool on the 4th-floor terrace, which overlooks Preston and Milam St.:

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Filling Up Downtown
10/11/16 12:45pm

October 2016 look around Discovery Green and George R. Brown Convention Center, 1001 Avenida De Las Americas, Downtown, Houston, 77010

Supercolumn Going Up on George R. Brown Convention Center, Downtown HoustonBob Russell sends a fresh slew of downtown updates, this time checking up on the state of the George R. Brown Convention Center area’s ongoing redo. The structure’s main entrance on Avenida De Las Americas has been getting a major facelift — the supercolumns installed last summer have since turned white, and the glassy  facade has stepped outward and dropped a few stripes, in line with the plans released previously by semi-public city branding organization Houston First:

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Super Bowl Conditioning