11/14/17 2:45pm

Site work has begun on the block of Birdsall St. just north of Memorial Dr., where demolition of the 2-story buildings comprising the former 57 Off Memorial apartments was finished up a couple of weeks ago. The photo above, sent to Swamplot by photographer Sonya Cuellar, shows a view of 160 Birdsall St. looking east in its current naked condition; Birdsall in the foreground and Venice St. on the right. The vacated portion of the Malone St. block beyond is also part of the project.

Going up in place of the 120 apartment units knocked out by the excavators: Jonathan Farb’s new City Place Memorial Park apartments, which renderings show would follow the pattern of Farb’s City Place Midtown apartments, only taller because the garages will be underneath and with more prominent cornices and balconies: 4 wood-framed stories will sit on top of 2-level concrete parking garages fitted with courtyard swimming pools on their decks. It’ll have 264 units in 2 separate buildings.

Photo: Sonya Cuellar. Rendering: Farb Homes/Wallace Garcia Wilson Architects

Farb Homes
11/06/17 2:15pm

Latest promised opening date for the new beer-and-wine serving, credit-card accepting (cash still preferred, and please pay before eating) Cleburne Cafeteria, now appearing in the late stages of construction at the corner of Bissonnet and Edloe St.: sometime this month. Photos from the scene show a new sidewalk, accompanied by 8 new trees from Trees for Houston, making an appearance along the Bissonnet frontage, in place of what used to be a portion of the restaurant’s parking area.

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Opening in November
11/01/17 12:45pm

Here’s a view from 2 Houston Center onto the construction site where a new 13-story precast-concrete parking garage is in the early stages of assembly. The site is the west half of the block bounded by Rusk, Fannin, and Walker streets Downtown. On the eastern half: The newly opened Le Meridien hotel (partly visible in the right foreground), built in the renovated former Melrose Building; and (hidden) behind that, the 11-level 1110 Rusk parking garage. On the opposite side of Fannin St. is another recent Downtown hotel: The Aloft, at 820 Fannin (in the left foreground of the image), with BG Group Place directly behind it.

The new parking garage going up on Downtown’s Block 94 appears to be an accessory to another development not visible in the photo, however: It’s a project of developers Lionstone and Midway, to go with the companies’ Jones at Main redo of the former Gulf Building and the adjacent Great Jones building at 712 and 708 Main St. respectively, both 2 blocks away to the northwest.

The parking garage site has been a surface parking lot since not long after Memorial Day 1986, when the retail building on the site was decimated by a natural gas explosion. The replacement structure is expected to be complete by the end of next year.

Photo: Eric Ramon

Block 94
10/31/17 10:30am

MUD AND WATER AT THE PINE CREST GOLF COURSE Aerial, Pine Crest Golf Club Tomorrow City Council is scheduled to approve a new municipal utility district for a proposed development on the Pine Crest Golf Course at Gessner and Clay Rd. in Spring Branch that would include enough new homes to house 800 residents. MetroNational is selling the 116-acre site to Meritage Homes. “The district would be served by the City’s regional plant, West District Wastewater Treatment Plant,” reads the agenda item. “The nearest major drainage facility for Harris County Municipal Utility District No. 552 would be Buffalo Bayou, which flows into the Houston Ship Channel.” [City Council; previously on SwamplotPhoto of Pine Crest Golf Course: Meritage Homes

10/26/17 4:15pm

The mocha-colored drive-thru Starbucks that’s been brewing at 1801 Richmond Ave. since its predecessor building was torn down in January now appears just about ready to serve. Landscape crews are plopping in plants on the Richmond Ave. side; this view taken from an upper floor of the nearby Fairmont Museum District Apartments shows how the new building looks nestled next to its notable neighbors, which include the Big Tex Storage facility and King Cole liquor store across Richmond and Mexican restaurant La Tapatia just across Woodhead:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Montrose Drive-Thru
10/24/17 3:30pm

This exterior rendering of Bungalow Heights, the new bar-restaurant going up at 1919 Beall St., the former site of Air Cool and the Junk Goes Green recycling center one block west of the Cedar Creek Bar & Grill on 20th St., shows a building with a lot of bungalow parts assembled in somewhat bungalow-ish fashion, being patronized by what appear to be normal-sized humans. But take a close look at the scale of the thing in proportion to the surrounding figures — and the actual framing now up on the site pictured above — and you’ll soon realize this is a building where every part is probably going to be a whole lot bigger than what it’s modeled after.

For starters, the structure itself measures 5,000 sq. ft. — about the size of the typical lot you might find a bungalow sitting on. This site itself is two-thirds of an acre. Contractor Avan Construction installed the building’s trusses last week with a crane. (The longest truss spans almost 70 ft. and weighs over 400 lbs.) Inside, you’ll find a floor plan significantly different from the typical living-dining-kitchen on one side, bedroom-bath-bedroom on the other arrangement of an unexpanded bungalow:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Bungalow Heights
10/24/17 12:45pm

Not too much in the way of timelapse settings, drone footage, pulsating but string-infused soundtracks, supertitles, or accompanying sound effects appears to have been spared in the making of this video ode to the Arch-Con crane assembly now hovering over the southeast corner of Washington Ave and S. Heights Blvd. That’s the location of the planned H-E-B Market with the office space and 5-story apartment building on top of it soon to be known as the first phase of Midway’s Buffalo Heights development, on the northwest corner of the former Memorial Heights apartments.

Video: Midway Companies

Going Vertical
10/13/17 10:15am

16 months after the Fiesta Mart on site was torn down and 11 months since Heights-area voters approved a modification to longstanding local dry-zone prohibitions to allow alcohol sales for off-premises consumption, H-E-B at last appears ready to begin construction of its store at 2300 N. Shepherd. This week fencing went up around the site, which stretches between W. 23rd and W. 24th streets — and a couple of trailers have rolled onto it. An official groundbreaking is scheduled for October 24th.

The store will sit on the east side of the site but up one level, on top of a concrete parking deck. Here’s a view looking east along 23rd St. toward that part of the site and Lawrence St. beyond:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

10/11/17 1:30pm

A half-decade after the demolition of its on-site predecessors, the retail building replacing the former Ruggles Grill at 903 Westheimer Rd. just east of Montrose Blvd. is almost complete. Going inside the new 6,536-sq.-ft. structure across from Uchi: a couple of Dallas imports.

On the right, on the side closer to the Smoothie King drive-thru, will go the first out-of-Dallas location of the East Hampton Sandwich Company chain. On the left, next to the side parking lot and the Woman’s Home’s Cottage Shop, will be the second Houston location of Velvet Taco. Sandwiched between them is a 1,120-sq.-ft. space that appears to be still available, according to leasing documents — perhaps for a third wheat-wrapped-lunch spot of north Texas origin.

A 57-spot parking lot wraps around and in back of the building:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Dallas Comes to Montrose
10/10/17 2:00pm

Skanska is touting the green roof it’s planning atop the 11-story parking-garage portion of the Capitol Tower as a “Sky Park”: It’ll be the “first and largest green roof in Downtown Houston to be open to all building tenants,” the development company says. The 24,000-sq.-ft. roofscape will feature pathways surrounded by plants, grasses, and a few decorative trees; arbors with roofs modeled after the pipe-assembly structure seen at Rice’s Brochstein Pavilion, and “an infinity edge that makes it appear as though the park is floating in the sky.” Plus: an automated irrigation system that’ll pull water from the building’s 50,000-gallon rainwater cistern. Looming neighbors will include the Esperson Building, 712 Main, and Pennzoil Place.

Access to the roofscape, which was designed by OJB Landscape Architecture, will be through west-facing doors on the building’s 12th floor, the 35-story building’s lowest office level:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Green Roofs Downtown
09/25/17 11:00am

Passenger-window-side pix sent in by a reader show the current state of Java Lava, the new coffee house under construction at 1201 Southmore Blvd. The entrance walkway shown in the photo (and in the rendering above from the building’s architects, Albany Studio), leads from Southmore. Some outdoor seating for the coffee house will back up to San Jacinto St., just behind a fence from the tracks for the northbound trains on the Red Line. The overall configuration of the corner site is better shown in an earlier rendering (below) posted on the architects’ website, though it’s missing the building’s relocated Southmore entrance:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Java Lava
09/14/17 1:30pm

Construction began in June, but the new administration of Houston’s Ronald McDonald House chose this past Tuesday — 2 and a half weeks after water spilling over the banks of adjacent Brays Bayou made Holcombe Ave. in front of the property difficult to pass — to hold an official groundbreaking ceremony for its new 3-phase expansion and renovation project. The facility at 1907 Holcombe Blvd., which sits across the Texas Medical Center’s official southern border between Holcombe and the bayou just west of Cambridge St., serves as a temporary home for families with children receiving treatment for serious illnesses.

Now going up: a new 2-story bedroom wing directly to the west of the main building. A complete renovation of the 50-bedroom existing building — dubbed Holcombe House — will follow. The photo immediately above, taken from the third floor of that building, shows the construction site as it looked earlier this week.

The official rendering below is still being used to raise the $22.5 million needed for the project; it shows the new bedroom wing on the left and the existing building on the right:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Bedrooms Above
09/08/17 1:15pm

Going up along Rawley St. just east of Gregg St. in the Fifth Ward: A row of five 3-story freestanding concrete-block townhomes from a company called Castro Novum. The photos were taken earlier this week — after Harvey storms had cleared out of the area. The homes are 2 blocks north of Lyons Ave. and back up to Union Pacific’s Terminal Subdivision freight-rail line. This one is furthest along:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

5 in a Row
08/03/17 12:30pm

The current state of the Lockwood Business Park, just inside the northeast corner of Beltway 8, is made evident in the photo above, which was just tweeted out this morning by McCord Development. The Lockwood in the name comes from Lockwood Rd. (not to be confused with another north-south street with industrial cred, Lockwood Dr., which is further to the south and west), visible in the background of the photo. The complex on the other side of that road is the TechnicFMC campus.

Four big buildings are planned for the site at 13300 Lockwood Rd., which was previously covered by trees and other foliage. Three will line Lockwood Rd. and one will sit behind: a 143,500-sq.-ft. warehouse, shop, and office structure that’s already been leased to gasket-and-hose-maker GHX Industrial. Two of the tilt-up structures fronting Lockwood will be flex-warehouse space, and the third (labeled Building C in the illustration below) is intended to be an office building. An expanse of concrete for truck turnarounds will link the other 3 buildings, according to drawings McCord is showing of the site:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Unlocking Lockwood
08/01/17 12:00pm

From the skies above Montrose Blvd. just north of Bissonnet, here’s a view from late last week of progress on the Museum of Fine Arts Houston’s new Glassell School of Art. The new building, designed by Steven Holl Architects, is under construction across the street from the Glassell Junior School building (in the foreground, with the curved roof) — and on the same site where the original Glassell School, designed by Houston architect S.I. Morris, was demolished in 2015. Morris’s Glassell School featured exterior walls of glass block; the primary exterior materials of Holl’s replacement building are sandblasted panels of precast concrete, assembled to shape an inclined plane along the long edge of the building’s L shape.

If that part of the building is starting to look like it’ll form a giant ramp, it’s because it will: Models of the structure show an outdoor amphitheater at the ramp’s base; a rooftop public path will ascend beyond it to a sculpture garden on the roof of the building’s northern leg. An addition to the existing sculpture garden to the south will extend into the courtyard shaped by the building’s two wings, fronting Montrose Blvd. The space designated for the garden is filled with construction materials in the center of the photo above; it’s pictured in a more completed state in this rendering by the architect:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

A View from Above