11/30/18 5:00pm

Images are leaking of the new tower Marathon Oil wants to build on a patch of recently-vacated land between CityCentre and the Katy Fwy. In an email sent out to employees on Tuesday, company CEO Lee Tillman set a tentative move-in date of 2021 for the imaginary building and wrote that its planned location was a plus partly because it’s closer to where the average Marathon employee lives, out in “west Houston and along the I-10 corridor.” The new whereabouts are just under 6 miles away from Marathon’s current ones in the eponymous Marathon Oil Tower at 5555 San Felipe, near the Galleria.

The rendering at top of the new building shows it looking a lot like the middle structure in this group of 3 that Midway proposed building on the site last year:

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On Deck Along I-10
11/16/18 3:00pm

Here’s an eastward look at the new office building that could tuck in between the District at Washington and Pearl Washington apartments along T.C. Jester Blvd. north of Wash Ave. Not pictured: the parking garage and adjacent parking lot that the developer proposes to build — both to the north along Schuler St. Last week, Houston’s planning commission deferred a variance request for the site, calling the 3 curb cuts the developer had proposed along Schuler St. “excessive” and recommending it get rid of at least one before resubmitting plans.

Marshall Construction’s office and yard complex occupies the site right now and includes a southeastern carve-out for a couple of townhomes along Detering St.

 

 

 

Off T.C. Jester
11/13/18 12:30pm

WHAT’S NEXT FOR HALLIBURTON’S EMPTY OAK PARK CAMPUS ON BELLAIRE? A newly-formed group of real estate experts is now brainstorming ideas for Halliburton’s 48-acre former Oak Park campus at 10200 Bellaire Blvd., just west of Beltway 8. Included in the brain-trust: architecture firm HOK and landscape and planning firm SWA Group — as well as Hines and Transwestern, which will handle property management and leasing, respectively. They’ve all been called in by a private investment group that bought the complex over the summer and that’s headed up — reporter Ralph Bivins has said — by longtime Sharpstown land huckster Lawrence Wong. Halliburton employees began trickling out of their offices in the bow-tie-shaped 1979 building 3 years ago, leaving behind the amenities (a basketball court, daycare center, and auditorium) and adjacencies (a conference center and 5-story garage) that the new owner is now touting. Photo: LoopNet

11/06/18 2:45pm

Trying to pin down where Ted Cruz and Beto O’Rourke stand before casting a ballot this afternoon? Here’s a last-minute rundown: O’Rourke, the out-of-towner, slapped his trademark black-and-white signage in August on the concrete OST building shown, picking up where the Encore Theatre — a venue focused on works by black playwrights and casts — left off inside. The structure shares a wall with a back-door bar dubbed Speak Easy, a 1,000-sq.-ft. outfit that’s been around off Conley St. for over a decade.

Cruz’s team on the other hand, has been holed up on the seventh 12th floor of the Phoenix Tower (shown above) in Greenway Plaza, off Buffalo Spdwy. near 59. He’s a longtime fan of tall Houston buildings: In 2008, he and his wife Heidi bought a condo on the 19th floor of the Royalton at River Oaks — shown below — which then became ground zero for sightings of the couple, as well as a choice spot for the occasional protest. They sold it last July a few months after picking up a $1.6 million house in River Oaks proper.

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Electoral Tales
11/05/18 11:30am

Chevron made some strikingly real 3D changes to the fake 3D facade of the old Houston Press building last week, bringing it closer to total collapse. The photos above — shot over the weekend from the YMCA catty corner to the scene — show Suzanne E. Sellers’ 1994 trompe-l’œil additions to the building’s east face no longer fooling anyone, though a few sections of her work on that side and off Leeland St. remain intact.

Nothing’s crumbled yet on the unpainted, Pease-St. side:

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Illusions Shattered
10/26/18 10:30am

THE CASE AGAINST THE HOUSTON FORENSIC SCIENCE CENTER’S SHARED OFFICE SETUP Last month, leaders of the Center told Houston City Council their 200-plus person staff just isn’t fitting in at HPD’s downtown offices in 1200 Travis, pictured above. For one thing: “Technicians test guns by firing live ammunition on the 24th floor,” which neighbors offices above and below, reports the Chronicle‘s Zach Despart. They also “transport evidence upstairs in public elevators.Although “shortcomings in the Houston Police Department’s own crime lab” were what prompted the city to found the Center as an independent body in 2014, the agencies’ ongoing closeness tends to raise eyebrows: “You walk into HPD’s headquarters on the way to the laboratory,” says Center president Peter Stout. The good news: their proximity is only temporary. Earlier this month, City Council approved a new 30-year lease for the Center at 500 Jefferson — a privately-owned building 9 blocks away — where it’ll get 83,000 sq.-ft. for “toxicology, DNA testing, fingerprint analysis and narcotics storage,” as well as a 25-ft. firing range in the basement, reports Jasper Scherer. [Houston Chronicle] Photo of 1200 Travis St.: WhisperToMe

10/12/18 10:00am

HINES PICKING UP LESS THAN AN ACRE ACROSS FROM MONTROSE WHOLE FOODS PARKING LOT The developer entered into an agreement earlier this year to buy the property at the corner of Waugh Dr. and D’Amico St., reports the HBJ’s Olivia Pulsinelli in her round-up of recent North Montrose land sales. On-site that nearly three-quarter acre parcel right now: a parking lot, driveways, and 2-story dingbat office building that backs up to the adjacent strip housing Pimlico Irish Pub and others. To the east, BMW-focused auto shop Bavarian Machine Specialties buffers the tract from what’ll soon be Stages Repertory Theatre’s new theater and green space on Rosine St. [HBJ] Photo: LoopNet

09/13/18 1:00pm

A FINAL FAREWELL TO THE FORMER HOUSTON PRESS BUILDING The former alternative newspaper HQ at 1621 Milam St. that’s also done stints as an auto dealership will be demolished, reports the Chronicle’s Craig Hlavaty.  Back when the Houston Press moved into it 15 years ago, the structure’s parking-lot sides were unadorned; artist Suzanne E. Sellers slapped her trompe-l’œil mural onto the north and east facades in 1994. Along Milam, however, things haven’t changed as much since the building’s first tenant Shelor Motor Company opened up in the ’20s — according to former Press staffer Abrahán Garza. Even its original 1920s glass windows — he reported — stayed put on the second and third floors through 2010. Now construction barriers are up around the whole block, and the property owner Chevron tells Hlavaty that a demolition permit is under review by the city. The oil company bought the 38,000-sq.-ft. structure in 2013, the same year Houston Press staff left it for a new spot on the corner of La Branch and McGowen. [Houston Chronicle] Photo: Capital Realty  

09/12/18 1:00pm

Although only one includes living space, both structures shown separated by St. Charles St. in the rendering at top are intended to give people spaces to live. The big one — depicted in more detail above — is Kirksey Architecture’s 5-story design for an affordable housing operations center, to be placed directly across the street from 20 units of actual housing. The Midtown Redevelopment Authority bought the vacant land for both sites along Elgin in 2015, back when the renovation of neighboring Emancipation Park was still taking shape.

On the left in the aerial below, you can see the parcel where the HQ is planned across from the park and its on-site Emancipation Community Center:

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Third Ward
08/24/18 1:45pm

The brick Western Union building shown in black and white on the corner of Louisiana and Capitol streets vanished from the downtown landscape in 1983 — although it didn’t go anywhere. Because the longtime regional switching center was too expensive to move, architect Philip Johnson simply designed his much larger landmark — then-called RepublicBank Center Center — around it, sealing the telecom structure off from public view. Inside the skyscraper’s lobby, the dead building takes up nearly a quarter of the floor space, with its west corner wedged into the Bank of America Center’s own, catty-corner to Jones Hall.

Last year, renovations were announced that’d add a new restaurant and cafe in the doorless and windowless portion of the Bank of America Center’s ground floor where the building is entombed. Crews began stripping away portions of the office building’s exterior earlier this year in order to make room for new openings to access the eateries. They’ve now busted all the way through the red granite, revealing the decades-older facade that lies behind it.

It’s still mostly obscured by the scaffolding that looms over the Capitol St. sidewalk :

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Western Union Sees the Light
08/22/18 9:45am

The Harris County Democratic Party office has been in the building at 4619 Lyons Ave. since earlier this summer, but officials still haven’t gotten entirely situated there yet. A building permit filed yesterday now paves the way for a few more office additions to get them fully moved in after abandoning their previous headquarters on the North Loop near I-45.

Keeping them company in the building is Para Design Group, the Houston architecture firm that put the finishing touches on the place earlier this year and now has its own office on the second floor.

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Fifth Ward Foothold
08/15/18 10:15am

A CURTAIN CALL FOR THE HIDDEN WESTERN UNION BUILDING BEFORE BANK OF AMERICA CENTER DIGESTS IT? With workers now punching holes in the facade where the Bank of America Center wraps the dead Western Union building it swallowed in 1983, city planner David Welch asks the question: “Will we be able to see the hidden building during construction?” It should be hard to miss; according to one Swamplot reader: “It is completely intact, tar and gravel roof included.” Size-wise, it takes up nearly a quarter of the B of A building’s ground floor, its northeast corner wrapped by the skyscraper’s own at Lousiana and Capitol streets — where the new openings are taking shape now. But its emergence may be brief: Once the planned new restaurant and cafe get situated inside it, the structure’s time-capsule mystique will be gone. And after new interior entrances open its innards to the tower’s own central lobby corridor, the telegram building will be completely metabolized. [David Welch; previously on Swamplot] Photo: David Welch

08/14/18 10:00am

Crews are now coating the garage on the corner of Travis and Rusk with strips of glass curtain wall similar to those seen on its much taller neighbor to the north, the Capitol Tower. While the 35-story office building got its exterior finish soon after topping out in April, the garage — built 2 years earlier — was left naked. It took over from the former Houston Club garage Skanska expanded and then demolished on the block in 2015.

Even after construction wrapped up, the new parking structure viewed below from Milam still looked mostly like this:

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First Come Last Serve
07/26/18 2:00pm

Catty-corner to the soon-to-be aerated Spaghetti Warehouse building on Commerce St., its 2-story brick neighbor between Travis and Milam has a similar plan for dealing with its own floody first floor: get rid of all downstairs law offices and replace them with parking. Currently, the decades-old Abraham Watkins Building is bookended by 2 surface parking lots to the east and the west (pictured above). By filling in the gap between them with 14 more spots, the owner hopes it’ll no longer have to keep repairing the decades-old place like its done at least once yearly for the past 4 years, according to an application it filed this month. (Personal injury firm Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Aziz has managed to stay safe in the building throughout that time, though staff retreated to the top floor after Harvey.)

Houston’s historic commission approved that application yesterday, clearing the way for this new garage door to crop up on Commerce in place of the center storefront panel as shown below:

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800 Commerce
07/23/18 9:45am

PASADENA’S TALLEST ABANDONED BUILDING COULD SOON COME CRASHING DOWN A fitting symbol of Space Age industry and finance” — that’s how highly one First Pasadena State Bank brochure spoke of the firm’s new 12-story headquarters on Southmore Ave. after its construction in 1962. (Other local institutions agreed: for a while, its likeness showed up on Pasadena school report cards, reported Lisa Gray) Now, with the bank and all subsequent tenants long gone, the City of Pasadena is insisting in a lawsuit that the building’s owner tear the place down, or reimburse the city for doing so itself, reports the Chronicle. More than 10 year’s worth of code violations testify to the MacKie & Kamrath–designed structure’s unsoundness, claims the city. And a pile of citations issued over a slightly shorter period adds up to more than $65,000 (which officials seek to supplement with $1,000 per day as long as the building’s still standing in its current state). Inside the 2-story lobby, a fountain surrounded by curved glass walls has run dry. But on the outside, it’s still the tallest vacant building in town. [Houston Chronicle; more infoPhoto of 1001 East Southmore Ave.: Patrick Feller [license]