05/22/18 4:00pm

Construction on the new pedestrian bridge going up across Brays Bayou in Mason Park is heading into its 14th month. When it’s done, the 16-ft.-wide, 485-ft.-long structure will provide a link between the north section of the park off S. 7th St., and its southern portion — currently the only part of the 104-acre green space with access to the Brays Bayou Greenway Trail.

The bridge’s landing point on the south side will overshoot the trail by a bit though, as shown in the rendering below:

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Bayou Biking Link
05/16/18 10:45am

Multiple angles on the fully built, but not-yet-open Heights Mexican restaurant building dubbed Calle Onze show how it’s shaped up on the corner of Allston and 11th St. long home to Jozzie’s Mobile Home Park. In its new format, the 13,200-sq.-ft property relegates parking to the lot on the right in the side view above from Allston. A patio, complete with fake grass, wraps the building to front 11th St (pictured at top), where it butts up against the western boundary of Eight Row Flint‘s corner spot off Yale.

The mobile home park, home to about 9 trailers in its final days, cleared out of the lot in March of last year:

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By Eight Row Flint
05/10/18 11:30am

Deer Park’s government officials are taking a long weekend in order to move out of their existing 2-story, brick city hall building on E. San Augustine St. and into the new, 5,000-sq.-ft. bigger one (pictured at top) directly adjacent to the east. Remaining in their current building would have required repairs to address “mold and asbestos-abatement issues,” forcing them out of it for at least a year, according to City Manager James Stokes. The move to the new building is now expected to take 2 business days, after which the government will reopen on Tuesday.

This video timelapse condenses the 13-month construction process into about 90 seconds:

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Municipal Switch-Up
05/09/18 4:30pm

Construction broke ground in March on America Gardens, the star-spangled first venue Syn Hospitality has planned as part of a 4-bar complex dubbed Midtown Common it’s developing on Caroline St. And already, Core Church Midtown has fled the block and taken refuge in the CrossWalk Center, a 2-story structure in the Near Northside. Formerly home to Employment Training Centers Inc., it’s on N. Main 3 blocks south of Quitman — next door to Label Warehouse’s building — and houses a facility that assists convicts recently released from jail.

The 5,000-sq.-ft. now-vacant strip center in Midtown had been home to the church since 2016. When the neighboring construction wraps up, America Gardens and its 3 planned accomplices — Don Chingon, the Social House, and Wishful Drinking — will abut the empty building’s west side, as indicated in the map below:

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Midtown Common
05/07/18 11:00am

SHIPLEY DONUTS WILL ROUND OUT THE NEW STRIP CENTER ON 28TH AND YALE Here’s one early sign of life at the new 8,040-sq.-ft. strip building that developer Ancorian recently finished putting up on the corner of Yale and 28th St. — 2 blocks south of the new Whole Foods that’s under construction on the N. Loop. When the coming Shipley Do-Nuts outlet opens at 2723 Yale., it’ll be a brand-new complement to what’s now the chain’s only Heights location, the standalone drive-thru on the corner of N. Main and Walton St. a few blocks west of I-45. (Shipley’s corporate office at 5200 N. Main is just under a mile up the road from that location.) Most recently demolished at 2723 Yale to make way for the new donut store and accompanying tenants: an L-shaped commercial building home to Heights Insurance and Multiservice that stood on the block for well over a decade. Photo: Swamplox inbox

05/02/18 4:00pm

WHAT’S INCLUDED IN JOHNNY STEELE DOG PARK’S FLOOD-INDUCED REDO The caretakers of that oft-flooded pet park near Buffalo Bayou now say that “After careful consideration, we are making changes to the Johnny Steele Dog Park to improve maintenance operations and the park’s functionality.” Among those changes: getting rid of the pond in the large dog play area, rerouting the pond in the small dog area so that it flows through both sections, adding a “new seating wall” at the edge of the water, expanding the lawns throughout the park, enlarging the entrance to the large dog area, and creating a new entrance to the small dog area — all of which is expected to be done by early summer. [Previously on Swamplot] Photo: Buffalo Bayou Partnership

Releasing the Hounds
05/02/18 11:30am

THE MENIL DRAWING INSTITUTE: 6 MORE MONTHS What’s been going on at the Menil Drawing Institute’s new building since its opening — originally scheduled for last October — was postponed over the summer? A lot of sensing and measuring: “It’s extremely important to monitor the climate control and the humidity gauges for a number of months to make sure there are no deviations,” the museum’s director Rebecca Rabinow tells the New York Times’ Andrew R. Chow., outlining what kind of ambiance is required for the paper works the structure will soon house. (Last year’s cold winter didn’t speed things up either — reports the Chronicle’s Molly Glentzer, killing off many of the new plants that had just been installed in the surrounding park according to the plan from landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates.) Now that both the indoor and outdoor environments have been stabilized, the official opening date for the 30,000-sq.-ft. building designed by L.A. architect Johnston Marklee has been set: November 3. It will cap off a 3-year building process that began in place of the since-completely-demolished Richmont Square apartments’ backsisde off Branard St. The new structure’s first residents: 41 works on paper by Jasper Johns. [New York Times; previously on Swamplot] Photo of Menil Drawing Institute: Paul Hester/The Menil Collection

05/01/18 2:30pm

SUGAR LAND’S CONVICTS-FOR-LEASE PAST UNEARTHS ITSELF OFF UNIVERSITY BLVD. Crews at work on the new Sugar Land school building — dubbed The James Reese Career and Technical Center — at the corner of Chatham Ave. and University Blvd. made unexpected human contact in the middle of last month, Fort Bend ISD spokesperson Veronica Sopher tells Click2Houston’s Syan Rhodes: “We were back-filling into a trench when we found some remains, or what we thought could be remains.” The caretaker of a graveyard less than a mile away — which sits on the former Imperial State Prison Farm — wasn’t surprised. Having overseen the Old Imperial Farm Cemetary (pictured above with the same errant spelling) for nearly 20 years — reports the Chronicle’s Brooke A. Lewis — “[Reginald] Moore believes it’s just part of a larger graveyard that includes the remains of those who were part of the convict leasing system,” a statewide program through which Texas allowed mostly black prisoners to be contracted out for free labor shortly after slavery was outlawed. Fearing damage to the then-undiscovered grave sites, Moore “relentlessly pushed city and school officials to study the open area near the cemetery and urged them not to build nearby,” but construction began anyway last November. It’s now being held up in the area where the inadvertent exhumations took place. [Houston Chronicle; morePhoto: Historic Houston

04/30/18 3:00pm

HOW BELLAIRE’S NEW H-E-B IS RISING ABOVE ITS OLD PARKING LOT H-E-B’s double-decker replacement in Bellaire is now hovering over the spot where its old store, neighboring strip, and adjacent parking lot once fronted Bissonnet and Cedar streets. The photo above — tweeted out by KHOU’s Bill Bishop views the elevated supermarket’s southwest corner from the intersection of 5th St. and Cedar, showing its second-story grocery level towering above a 3-acre, all-parking first floor. Not visible in the scene: the additional acre of parking that sits on the opposite side of upstairs deck, along Bissonnet in front of the store’s main entrance. Construction on the building is expected to wrap up later this year. In the meantime, the property’s owner Brixmore Holdings recently listed it for sale. [Previously on Swamplot] Photo: Bill Bishop

04/27/18 11:30am

The airy eastern façade of the new Big Brothers Big Sisters building at 1003 Washington opens it up to the adjacent parking lot, and beyond that — across a short north-south street — the one-and-a-quarter-acre Centerpoint substation that’s bounded by I-45. Previously, the half-acre parcel that now plays host to the volunteer organization housed Health Masters Clinic of Massage Therapy. Its warehouse structure — pictured from the east in the photo above — bit the dust in April, 2015. Two months later, Big Brothers Big Sisters’ previous home met the same fate off Hillcroft Ave. in Gulfton.

Here’s a cloudier view of the new building looking east along Preston St.:

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All Grown Up
04/25/18 4:15pm

All 10 slabs are in place for the row of 2-stories — dubbed Avenue Meadows — that community organization Avenue CDC wants to plant along Meadow Lea Dr. in Northline just south of Berry Rd. and just shy of the bend where Madie Dr. begins. Each 1,304-sq.-ft. house will sit on somewhere between 5,100 and 5,400 sq. ft. of land (with the exception of 72 Meadow Lea — the westernmost lot — which bookends the development at 8,414 sq. ft.). Half of the structures will look like the one shown in the rendering at top — nicknamed The Monarch (and noted as plan A in the site plan below).

The others lose the carport and go by the name The Admiral:

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Meadow Lea and Madie
04/17/18 10:15am

Wharton Elementary School’s 3-story backyard addition has moved up steadily from its previous grade level since 2016 and is now standing tall behind the existing single-story schoolhouse at 900 W. Gray. The least-finished portion of the new building shown in the photo at top is where the school’s new glassy main entrance will go in supplement of the current one at the front of the existing building. North of the 3-story entry atrium facing Columbus St., the new first floor will house mostly administrative offices — with some added classrooms above them.

A shady but still grassless courtyard separates the new structure from the old:

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Schooling North Montrose
04/12/18 4:45pm

The new 235,000-sq.-ft. job training center Alief ISD started building 2-years ago on the corner of W. Houston Center Blvd. and Richmond Ave is almost a done deal. Now that the building — dubbed the Center for Advanced Careers — is up, the photo at top looks across W. Houston Center from outside Walmart to show what will be the entry to its culinary arts wing at the far end of the blocked-off driveway. A view facing north back when the 19-acre site was still flat and home to the Golf Range on Richmond shows where visitors used to tee off on it.

The new building is wrapped by parking lots:

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Training Grounds
04/10/18 4:30pm

The frame is up for the first floor of the hotel that’s under construction just north of the Royale Woodbridge Plaza shopping center at the corner of S. Hwy. 6 and W. Airport Blvd. The 1.27-acre former field where the building is now semi-standing directly neighbors Advance Auto Parts’ sole Sugar Land location (not to be confused with that of AutoZone, situated diagonally across the street).

Guests with rooms furthest away from the auto shop will have a view of the drainage ditch that runs along the other side of the property:

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Sugar Land Hospitality
04/09/18 1:00pm

HOW THEY’RE AVOIDING FLOODING FAR UPSTREAM FROM DOWNTOWN HOUSTON How was developer Newland Communities able to lift the first cohort of 6,200 planned new homes out of the 100-year floodplain in Elyson, its Katy Prairie development just west of the Grand Pkwy. at FM 529? Easy: by raising the lots 1 ft. with dirt taken from other areas of the site. (An additional 12 to 15 in. of elevation came from the slab foundations on which the houses rest.) The fill allowed the company to obtain letters of map revision for more than 300 home lots in 2016 — and “to tell buyers, accurately, that their homes were not in the 100-year flood plain.” The results: “The company reported in September that Harvey had flooded streets in the development, but no water entered any of the 94 houses occupied at that time. The risk of flooding could increase, however, as more structures are built on the property.” [Houston Chronicle] Partial map of Elyson: Newland Communities