01/27/17 9:30am

DECADES-OLD JIMMY’S ICE HOUSE ON WHITE OAK DR. TO TURN BRAUN, CHANGE NAME, TENANTS Jimmy's Ice House, 2803 White Oak Dr., Houston Heights, Houston, 77007 The current owners of Jimmy’s Ice House at the corner of White Oak Dr. and Threlkeld St. are in the middle of working out a sales agreement with serial redeveloper Braun Enterprises, Jim Reynolds reports this week. The late eponymous Jimmie Murray opened the place back in the late 1940s; the bar is currently owned by a group including Jimmie’s son’s widow. Current co-owner Eric Quinn says the likely plan is for Braun to lease the space out to a new tenant, who definitely won’t use the Jimmy’s Ice House name; he also notes that various grandfathered building code violations mean remodeling may be prohibitively expensive. Jimmy’s Ice House sits across Threlkeld from the Studewood BB’s Cafe, and across White Oak Dr. from the South Heights Retail Center, near both Fitzgerald’s and Christian’s Tailgate. The -ie to -y swap looks to have happened around the time the current owners bought the place in 2008, as part of the signage switch from Jimmie’s Place. [The Leader] Photo of Jimmy’s Ice House at 2803 White Oak Dr.: David Richmond/Houston Ice House

01/13/17 12:30pm

CITY-WIDE DRAINAGE SWAT TEAM POSSIBLY BANKROLLED BY HEIGHTS WATERWORKS SALE Draft SWAT project mapMayor Turner announced plans for a dramatically monikered Storm Water Action Team at this week’s council meeting, along with 22 projects at the top the program’s initial list, based on metrics of urgency like frequency of 311 calls. The goal of the program is to deal with non-bayou-centric flooding issues like collapsed culverts and junk-clogged drainage ditches; flood czar Steve Costello said after the council meeting that the city wants to resolve the fixable issues at each site within 90 days of a site visit and initial drainage triage. Meagan Flynn writes this week that the $10 million currently budgeted for the program comes mostly from a one-time sale of city land; that land might well be the Heights Waterworks properties at W. 20th and Nicholson streets, which were sold to apartmenteer Alliance in mid-December for a reported $15.2 million. [Houston Press; previously on Swamplot] Draft map of 22 SWAT project locations: City of Houston SWAT program materials

11/01/16 10:45am

KFC at 2359 S. Shepherd Dr., Vermont Commons, Houston, 77019

The Colonel is still hanging around by the door, but KFC is in the process of leaving the building at 2359 S. Shepherd Dr., a few readers report. The spot at the corner with Fairview Dr. has been sporting now closed signage, and the location has already been eradicated from the annals of KFC’s store database. The chicken shop’s decommissioning follows the late-June sale of the property to an entity called 2359 S. Shepherd, which shares a Smith St. address with Crosspoint Properties (responsible for the redevelopment of a number of Midtown and properties, including the building that now houses Reef and Proof).

The drive-thru sits just south of the Shepherd Place office tower (once the site of those 1960s lesbian bar raids, in its pre-highrise days), and across Shepherd from the former Arby’s, converted to the Inner Loop’s first-ish Dunkin’ Donuts back in 2013.

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S. Shepherd Retreat
09/15/16 10:30am

Tin Hall Dancehall, 14800 Tin Hall Rd, Cypress, 77429

Tin Hall (the building itself, anyway) is now back in the hands of pre-2014 owner Fred Stockton, report Shawn Arrajj and Emily Donaldson. The Tin Hall property was bought by Mark Martinez in 2014, who sold the land to MHI McGuyer Homebuilders later that year; Martinez was allowed time after the Hall’s closing to relocate the structure, and made plans to move it down to a spot off Spring Cypress Rd. just east of Dry Creek — a process slowed down by issues with finding water for the venue and its planned nextdoor retail development.

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09/02/16 4:45pm

4949 at 2132 Bissonnet St., Boulevard Oaks, Houston, 77005

Former Sunrise Grocery at 2132 Bissonnet St., Boulevard Oaks, Houston, 77005The land at the northeast corner of Shepherd Dr. and Bissonnet St. (not far down the street from closing-this-weekend Kay’s Lounge) has been sold to an entity using the La Porte corporate address of traditionally freeway-hugging Gringo’s Mexican Kitchen. The mid-1980s convenience store (formerly a Sunrise Grocery) and its 0.35 acre property were put on the market at the start of the summer; the sale closed a little over 2 weeks ago. Word through the NextDoor grapevine is that the building won’t be a Gringo’s, but might be replaced with a 3-story retail-office-space combo once the convenience store’s lease runs out around Halloween.

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2132 Bissonnet
08/15/16 5:15pm

USA GYMNASTICS TO BUY OLYMPIC TRAINING RANCH IN SAM HOUSTON NATIONAL FOREST Meanwhile, in Huntsville: Bela and Marta Karolyi are in the process of selling 36.2 acres of their remote women’s gymnastics training facilities north of Houston to USA Gymnastics itself. The Károlyis, who are retiring from more than 3 decades of US gymnastics involvement following their 1981 defection from Soviet-controlled Romania, will keep their own home and most of the rest of their 2,000-acre property, one of many private holdings intermingled with more than 163,000 acres of the federally owned land of Sam Houston National Forest. USA Gymnastics will have right of first refusal if the Károlyis decide to sell any more of the land; closing on the sale is scheduled for 3 days after this month’s Olympic closing ceremonies in Rio de Janeiro. [AP via Bisnow Houston] Image of Sam Houston National Park ranger station: US Forest Service

07/13/16 1:00pm

9330 Main St., NRG, Houston, 77025

9330 Main St., NRG, Houston, 77025Here’s a recent view from the Buffalo Spdwy. side of the long-vacant 12 acre property at 9330 Main St., now listed as under contract by broker HFF.  The land — a set of parcels outlined in the above aerial photo from HFF listing flier — appears to have never held much in the way of built structures, save for the section at 9403 Buffalo Spdwy. (which sported a branch of Oklahoma-rooted Lebanese steakhouse Jamil’s in the 1970s).

A reader notes that someone has been at work on what appears to be soil testing for the site, which faces Main between the new Holiday Inn Express & Suites and the Public Storage facility, with Prime Storage across the street. The Buffalo Spdwy. frontage is flanked by  some David Weekley homes to the south, and the Pemberton Park townhomes to the north (visible on the left below:)

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Stirrings on S. Main
07/07/16 2:30pm

MIDWAY: GIANT FIFTH WARD KBR SITE WON’T BE CALLED NORTHBANK BUFFALO BAYOU, BUT SOMETHING ELSE MIGHT Former KBR Campus, 4100 Clinton Dr., Fifth Ward, HoustonA representative from Midway tells Swamplot that, while the company has been working on a trademark for the name Northbank Buffalo Bayou, it won’t be used for whatever the company is planning for the 136-acre former KBR site in Fifth Ward (which was recently bought by a Midway affiliate). The name is actually connected to another project floating around on the company’s drawing board — no confirmation yet as to exactly where that development might be located, if it comes to be, but the north bank of Buffalo Bayou seems like a reasonable guess. Wherever the moniker is applied, the US Patent and Trademark Office lists the name as intended for use related to both commercial and residential real estate marketing and construction. Also on the list of things the brand could be used for: wine and food tastings, and presenting live musical performances. [Previously on Swamplot] Listing photo of KBR site: LoopNet

07/05/16 10:00am

Former KBR Campus, 4100 Clinton Dr., Fifth Ward, Houston

Whatever’s in store for the 136-acre former KBR site along the the Ship Channel at 4100 Clinton Dr., CityCentre developer Midway now looks to be involved. Documents filed with the county clerk’s office near the end of May reveal that Cathexis Holdings recently sold the site to KBRN, an entity connected to Midway through a recently minted corporate partnership (and officially located down the hall from Midway’s CityCentre office.)

And might Midway — which also heads the team that turned failed Downtown Mall Houston Pavilions into GreenStreet, and is developing the Kirby Grove park-and-office-building complex along the banks of the Southwest Fwy. in Upper Kirby — have some big office-shopping-residential-and-park-y plans in mind for this vast property, which lies about a mile and a half downstream from Downtown? A couple of clues are out there:

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Sold on the Ship Channel
05/24/16 4:15pm

UH Downtown STEM Building Purchase

Outlined in red is the next addition to University of Houston Downtown’s campus, per last Thursday’s meeting by the UH system’s board of regents. The image above comes from a marketing flier included in the board’s agenda notes (as presented by board member and real estate reality TV star Tilman Fertitta). The 17-acre parcel on the north side of I-10 runs along the Daly St. student parking lot by the Burnett Transit Center light-rail station, and includes several areas west of N. Main St. already in use by UHD as faculty and student parking.

The land, bounded on the southwest by White Oak Bayou,  will likely house a new science and engineering building — though it may have to cozy up with some additions to the downtown freeway system still in the planning phase. UHD VP David Bradley tells Nancy Sarnoff that the parts of the tract that may end up inside the expanded right-of-way will hang around as green space until TxDOT’s map lines are firmed up.

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Rail Yard Revival
05/18/16 11:15am

Plans for University of Houston Katy Campus, I-10 at Grand Pkwy., Katy, TX , 77449

On the agenda for tomorrow’s meeting of the University of Houston’s board of regents: a who-can-sign-for-it approval for the purchase of a 46-acre property in Katy, about a 10-minute drive from the 10-acre Cinco Ranch property the school is hoping to sell later this year.  The land occupies half of the big round tract at the northeast corner of I-10 and the Grand Pkwy. once slated to become Simon Property’s The Grand. That land was sold in 2014 to Moody-controlled Parkside Capital, which had been marketing it as a mixed-use office development called Verde Parc; if all goes according to the terms laid out in a late-April letter of intent describing the sale terms, the area will be rebranded as University Park (currently the name of the street the Cinco Ranch property sits on, at the intersection with S. Mason Dr.).

The Gensler site plan above appears in the notes that go along with tomorrow’s board vote; another aerial map clarifies that the University is buying the top half of the circle, not the bottom parcels:

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Campus Parking
03/03/16 11:30am

UT WRITES BACK TO UH PEN PALS, LAWMAKERS ON HOUSTON CAMPUS PLANS UT Houston Campus Site, Buffalo Lakes, HoustonUniversity of Texas Chancellor Bill McRaven sent a letter yesterday afternoon to a list of higher-ups in Texas higher education and in the state legislature. McRaven’s letter comes in response to a February letter signed by 35 former University of Houston regents and addressed to the same crowd; that letter followed UT’s January purchase of 100 acres near the intersection of Willowbend Dr. and Buffalo Spdwy. for a planned Houston campus. Yesterday’s letter from McRaven repeated past assertions that the still-ambiguously-purposed land would not become another university, and that UT is not trying to hinder UH’s development as a research institution, adding that “it takes two or more to collaborate.” McRaven also writes that UT is including the state higher-ed coordinating board on its task force to determine what to do with the new space, and asks if those opposing the expansion are “really convinced that Houston, the fourth largest and most international city in the U.S., has all it needs in terms of intellectual and innovative horsepower for the decades ahead?” [UT System via Dallas Morning News; previously on Swamplot] Conceptual rendering of proposed UT campus: UT System

02/29/16 4:45pm

223 Westheimer Rd., Avondale, Houston, 77006

The pale yellow former house at 223 Westheimer is now sitting quietly behind bars and in several piles. The 1910 Avondale home was sold last March to a corporate entity tied to down-the-road upscale tex-mex restaurant El Tiempo, and a demolition warrant was issued back in July.  A reader notes that the bulldozers finally caught up to the 6-bedroom 5-bathroom structure last week, and the house was rearranged into a few ready-to-remove mounds at the last sighting.

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Green Fields of Avondale
12/03/15 3:30pm

DOWNTOWN ACREAGE SECURED FOR AUSTIN’S TALLEST AND WEIRDEST TOWER Meanwhile, in Austin: Land has been purchased for the construction of the proposed 58-story Independent highrise, also nicknamed “the Jenga Tower” for its unsettling offsets and angles.  The Independent is planned to be the the tallest residential building in Austin, not to mention west of the Mississippi. You can take an animated tour through the structure’s floorplans and amenities in a dizzying video released by the developers. [Austin-American Statesman; Independent Austin]

06/11/15 1:00pm

broadstone-tinsley-park-aerial

Former Brownfield Site at 801 and 1701 Gillette St., Fourth Ward, HoustonThe complicated transaction that allowed the city to sell the 10.52-acre brownfield site along Allen Parkway between the Federal Reserve building and Allen Parkway Village to an apartment developer was concluded in late April, the Houston Business Journal‘s Paul Takahashi reports. Alliance Residential paid $39.9 million for the property along Gillette St., where the city began operating a solid waste incinerator in the 1920s and later converted the site for use as its fleet maintenance facility. The company immediately sold the northern 6 acres to an unnamed private investor; Alliance now plans to build a 365-unit apartment complex on the southern half of the property, fronting Gillette and West Dallas St.

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Fourth Ward