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

03/22/18 5:00pm

Orange barricades now flank the far east side of the northern portion of the River Oaks Shopping Center where a 30-story highrise — dubbed The Driscoll — is planned in place of Café Ginger’s original corner spot on W. Gray. The saucer-like tower shown in the photo above was appended to the retail building as one of many modifications its owner Weingarten Realty has made to the originally Art Deco structure over the years. When the new apartment rises, it’ll tower over 5 storefronts in the retail center, as opposed to just one.

Café Ginger’s northern neighbor Local Pour also shuttered in the portion of the building that’s replaced by The Driscoll’s lobby in the rendering below from architect Ziegler Cooper:

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The Driscoll
03/16/18 4:30pm

When the owner’s work is finished on what he’s calling the McGowen Container House, the stack of boxes just west of 59 will be a 4-story house with a carport at ground level and a terrace atop the blue Hanjin unit shown in the photo above. A few windows, doors, and portions of the staircase that will climb through the building’s east side have been installed, according to the blog for the project. Rough-in plumbing and some preliminary electrical wiring is finished as well, but the utilities aren’t on yet.

Here’s a view of the cargo hold from the east, near Hutchins St.:

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Third Ward Freight
03/08/18 11:00am

Make no mistake about the signage now up along Hwy. 6 across Schiller Dr. from the Aldi near Westpark: the travel stop it’s announcing is Nebraska-born Bucky’s — not the Texan Buc-ee’s. Construction vehicles are now pushing dirt around west of the Highway 6 RV Resort where the new complex plans to go.

Last year, Buc-ee’s filed a lawsuit against Bucky’s to stop the transplant from moving ahead with plans to build at least 6 new Houston-area locations. One Bucky’s is now open on NASA Pkwy. in Nassau Bay, but besides that, all other operational Bucky’ses are currently out of state: in Omaha, St. Louis, and the Chicago area.

Across the street, Twistee Treat Westpark is flanked by Golden Corral and a Take 5 Oil Change, and backed up by a Palace Inn:

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The Buc Stops Here
03/05/18 4:45pm

Now that construction work on the new retail structure Braun Enterprises is developing at 311 W. Gray has headed indoors, a collection of building permits up on the window near the building’s northwest corner names one of its occupants: Me’Lange Restaurant. Last spring, the Chronicle reported that a second location of Kirby fast food spot Viet’s Express would move into the new strip alongside an office of Feather & Fur Animal Hospital. Back then, the 18,221-sq.-ft. plot just west of West Gray Cleaners on the corner of Taft St. was still just a vacant lot; construction began later in 2017.

A parking lot that runs lengthwise behind the building wraps around its west side as it heads for the curb cut on W. Gray:

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Cultural Melange
02/28/18 4:45pm

Coming soon to the block on the Katy Fwy.’s westbound feeder just east of the Camden Heights Apartments: a new Courtyard by Marriott hotel. Work on the 8-story building began late last year after the hotel chain filed construction permits on the just-over-an-acre parcel at 3220 Katy Fwy. — which sits between Columbia and Oxford streets. The photo at top sent in by a Swamplot reader looks south from E. 4th St. toward I-10 to show a couple of beams now staking out the lot.

The hotel building will front Columbia on the west side of the parcel, where a First National Bank branch and its drive-thru once sat before they were demolished a few years ago. East of the hotel, a parking garage is planned along Oxford, behind the McBillboard shown in the photo above. That structure’s northeast corner will go in place of a single-family house on 4th St. that was town down before the bank disappeared.

Photos: Kepdogg

By the Katy
02/27/18 1:15pm

A Swamplot reader holed-up in a hotel room at the Hilton Americas sends photos looking past Root Square and the Toyota Center to show the new tower crane being lifted on the site of the coming Camden Downtown apartment tower last weekend. Camden Property Trust broke ground on the 1.4-acre block adjacent to the Toyota Center’s garage at the end of last year. The finished tower will sit on the north side of the parcel — formerly a parking lot — on Bell St. between Austin and La Branch.

A rendering from architect Ziegler Cooper shows the 21-story building neighboring the parking garage and fronting the park:

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Grandstanding
02/15/18 2:00pm

The skeleton of a new strip center across the street from the Alexan Yale St. apartments — dubbed Heights Village by a banner attached to its construction fencing — is now rising on the corner of Yale and W. 5th St. Construction began on the just-under-an-acre parcel last month, reports the Swamplot reader who snapped the above photo of the site from outside the Alexan complex. The corner — on the opposite end of the block from where Better Luck Tomorrow opened last year — had been vacant since 2010, when a warehouse on the site was demolished.

The aerial rendering above from Cisneros Design Studio shows what an upper-story Alexan Yale St. resident might see out the window when the retail center is complete. Parking lots hug the building on 3 sides and include entrances on Yale, 5th. St., and Yale Ct. — a short dead end that runs behind the property. Patio seating is shown fronting the chamfered corner on the building’s northwest quadrant, and an elevated walkway runs along its storefronts, a few steps up from the lot.

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Yale Retail