06/27/17 3:30pm

Courtesy of a smartphone-bearing reader, here’s the scene from this morning on the often-quiet Montrose corner of Harold and Mulberry, directly across the street from the Bering Memorial United Methodist Church. The single-story brick bungalow dating from 1938 at 1502 Harold St. is a goner. Croix Homes has a permit to build a new house on the site.

Photo: Swamplot inbox

Crushed in Montrose
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
06/22/17 4:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: MISPLACING THE AUDUBON PLACES “TIL that Audubon Place (the street in 77006) is not in Audubon Place (the subdivision in 77027). The whole time I was scouring the neighborhoods in and around Westmoreland for a house, I thought the adjoining neighborhood was called Audubon Place. My bad; it’s Montrose. The original. I was misled by the green historical sign at the W. Alabama end of the block.” [GoogleMaster, commenting on Daily Demolition Report: Inglourious Buildings] Photo of 804 Harold St.: Audubon Place Association

06/19/17 2:30pm

YOU WON’T HAVE THE MENIL COLLECTION TO KICK AROUND FOR MOST OF NEXT YEAR Are you one of those architecturally sensitive types who has long suspected that the worn, squishy pine floorboards of Renzo Piano’s Menil Collection building were meant to serve as some sort of metaphor for the tenuous and uncertain nature of Houston’s oft-muddy groundplane? (Plus, they’ve got those underfloor AC registers interrupting it every few yards.) Well, good for you! — but tough luck: Beginning late next February, reports Molly Glentzer, the building will close for 8 months so that those well-worn floors can be refinished. Why should the job take so long? “The staff will continue to operate as usual from the upstairs offices, but some gallery walls will have to be dismantled and the collections shifted through the building during the sanding and finishing process.” Come November 2018, will the experience of walking through the museum be just as exquisitely unstable as it is now? Maybe not: “The leveling mechanisms under the wooden air-conditioning grills in the floor are also being upgraded,” Glentzer warns. Hurry and visit now, while it’s all still worn and creaky! [Houston Chronicle] Video of Sosie Merritt stomping on Menil floors, 2009: Brandon & Kristen Merritt [license]

06/15/17 1:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THERE’S MORE MONEY IN HISTORY “First of all, this really doesn’t make much difference, as the original art moderne lines of this center were destroyed several years ago with the addition of gun turrets on the corners of the buildings. What I do find interesting is that Weingarten talks about the alterations as being financially responsible decisions to their shareholders. Yet this is the 3rd oldest intact shopping center in the US, and the only two that predate it, AFAIK, are Highland Park Village in Dallas and Country Club Plaza in Kansas City. Both of those have owners that have restored them to essentially their original designs and have enjoyed much increased property values. In the case of Highland Park Village, Henry S Miller (a Dallas developer) bought HP Village in the later ’70’s as it was very run down and dumpy, and had the foresight to restore its original Spanish Colonial design and garner a better tenant mix. Though his company no longer owns it, HP Village commands far higher square foot rents than River Oaks Shopping Center. All this is to say that if Weingarten had invested money in restoring their property 10-15 years ago, they probably would have a more valuable asset today.” [ShadyHeightster, commenting on The Other River Oaks Shopping Center Knockdown Hearing Scheduled for This Week] Rendering of proposed alterations to River Oaks Shopping Center, 1997 West Gray St.: Aria Group Architects for Weingarten Realty Investors

06/14/17 11:15am

Across and a little bit down the street from the site where the company proposes to tear down an already altered section of the River Oaks Shopping Center and erect a 29-story apartment tower with 2 floors of underground parking, Weingarten Realty has more plans to make changes to the landmark art deco center. At the corner of West Gray and McDuffie, the company wants to tear down the 2-story western end of the south half of the 1948 section of the shopping center — which now houses a California Pizza Kitchen and the remains of the Evolve Fitness Studio upstairs (and was previously the site of a Birraporetti’s with Sherlock’s Pub above it) — and reconstruct the section as a 12,730-sq.-ft. Perry’s Steakhouse & Grille with significantly taller first and second stories.

The design, by Chicago’s Aria Group Architects, “will maintain historical features” of the building at 1997 West Gray St., the submitted plans (PDF) explain. But not exactly in the same order. Stick-on stone facing was stuck onto lower portions of this section of the art deco structure in 2007 when it was given a new stucco-batter coating and turned into a CPK; the new design shows a tall curved panel of limestone wrapping the corner, but this time on the higher second floor, suspended above a rebuilt portion of the center’s signature curved soffit.

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Raising Perry’s Steakhouse
06/13/17 1:30pm

FINGER COMPANY POKES INTO THE MONTROSE DISTRICT LAWSUIT FRAY A corporate appendage of the Finger Companies has filed a document to add itself as a plaintiff to one of the lawsuits trying to shut down the Montrose Management District, Nancy Sarnoff reports this week for the Chronicle. The company’s Museum Tower along Montrose Blvd. sits a few blocks south of US 59 in a narrow south-pointing offshoot of the district’s boundaries, making it one of the property owners assessed a regular tax; Sarnoff writes that Finger’s new filing zeroes in on that 2016 petition to dissolve the district, which proponents say has garnered signatures from property owners of about 80% of the district’s land area; the filing claims that the district has been trying to invalidate individual signatures in an effort to bring that total back down below the required threshold for dissolution. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Museum Tower

06/06/17 2:00pm

High-school Spanish teacher-turned-interior-decorator Paloma Contreras, who with her husband moved from a carefully tended suburban home to a Montrose townhouse last summer, is selling a number of furniture pieces that aren’t making the cut in the new digs, including the alphabetically labeled items in the top photo above (and, in the other view, the very ottoman beneath her).

As a Houston design blogger of long standing, however, Contreras has a few advantages other would-be furnishings-hawkers might not. For example, the items she’s showing off in the “Huge Blog Sale!” announcement she posted earlier today were photographed in situ in Contreras’s previous home by NYC-based photographer Lesley Unruh for a designer home tour on One Kings Lane last year (where many of them were also included in her “tastemaker tag sale”). Also, there’ll be no Craigslist-y or consignment hassle for Contreras, whose La Dolce Vita website has plenty of local followers: “All pieces will be sold to first person to email me . . . with the item name and your confirmation to purchase. From that time, the interested party will have 1 hour to send payment in full via Venmo.” Oh, and no delivery issues either: “All items are for local Houston pick up only. Pick up will be this Saturday, June 10th. Time, address, and other details will be disclosed to buyer via email.”

Photos: Lesley Unruh

05/11/17 2:30pm

Here’s your chance to see in first person what the city’s come up with for that under-discussion redo of Westheimer Rd. in Montrose. The video above flies viewers slowly through a flatly rendered Westheimer corridor east of Shepherd Dr. (complete with digital versions of all your favorite ex-clothing shopsstoried condo buildings, and paired Mattress Firms) with the new street plan in place. Reality check with the existing state of the roadways happens at a handful of the corridor’s intersections.

The biggest change: A drop down to 2 lanes of car traffic in most places (versus the 4 narrow lanes currently in place), beginning around Huldy St. and moving east. The road would briefly widen back out to 4 lanes around the crossing of Montrose Blvd., then back down to 2 until the name swap to Elgin St. at Bagby St. All that slimming down leaves room for wider sidewalks; the plan also includes some set-aside zones for bus drop-off, some left turn lanes, and a few stretches of parallel parking areas, highlighted in pink.

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Montrose Flyby
05/01/17 11:30am

A double-decker strip center appears to be planned for 307 Westheimer Rd., which for just shy of 5 decades has been home to Avondale Italian restaurant and house-with-a-tree-in-it Michaelangelo’s. Michaelangelo’s, Inc., sold the property in March to an entity tied to the CEO of Habitat Construction, and a 2,000-sq.-ft. space in the proposed replacement building is currently for lease. Renderings for the strip label the over-the-edge top floor as set aside for a fitness business, and call for a restaurant to take over most of the street level (noting that another tenant has already staked out a small section of the ground floor floorplan):

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Rising Above Parking Requirements
04/05/17 11:15am

Tremont Tower Condos, 3311 Yupon St., WAMM, Houston, 77006

Tremont Tower Condos, 3311 Yupon St., WAMM, Houston, 77006The round bit of the Tremont Tower condo complex behind Doc’s was photographed entirely uncovered last week, nearly a year after the last confirmed sighting of the bare turret (and at least 2 years after the obscuring tarp was first installed). The reader who captured the shot (who adds that he “thought they only removed it to signify the election of a new pope”) didn’t catch the denuders in the act, however. The Montrose sighting comes just a day or so after those tornado-warning-laced storms blew through; perhaps incidentally, the tarp’s previous disappearance was also heralded by windy weather.

Photos: Swamplot inbox (top), Hey Hey Houston (second)

Baring All in Montrose
03/15/17 4:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: CHANGING TASTES AT THE CORNER OF MONTROSE AND WESTHEIMER Shopping Center at Westheimer Rd. at Montrose Blvd., Montrose, Houston, 77006“Dallas invading Houston with its bland ‘designer tacos’ made for yuppies. Right across from Austin’s Uchi, where the waitstaff tells you what you’re suppose to taste as you eat. I remember when you could get a blowjob for $20 in this neighborhood. This is sad.” [MW, commenting on Edge Realty Now Seeking To Fill Bright Orange Box with Neighbors for a Montrose Velvet Taco] Photo: Swamplot inbox

03/14/17 11:30am

Shopping Center at Westheimer Rd. at Montrose Blvd., Montrose, Houston, 77006Shopping Center at Westheimer Rd. at Montrose Blvd., Montrose, Houston, 77006

Swamplot’s elevated tipster with an eye on the Westheimer Rd. scene — just east of the Montrose Blvd. Smoothie King — sends some update shots this morning of the ongoing construction of a planned Ruggles-replacing restaurant-retail combo, half of which looks slated for fill-in by a Velvet Taco branch. The Dallas chain will take over a 1-and-a-half story piece of the center, next to the areas highlighted in orange above; Edge Realty is currently leasing the rest of the space in the center, which will attempt to hide some of its parking from prying sidewalk eyes:

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Grill Gone Gray