02/21/17 5:15pm

Americana Building, 811 Dallas St., Downtown, Houston, 77002

The 10-story tower segment of the Americana building at 811 Dallas St. is now undergoing disassembly, Nancy Sarnoff confirms this afternoon. A few folks caught sight of the tell-tale orange barricades and fencing around the base of the tower over the weekend; the view above was captured from Milam St. and shows the defunct former Subway on the Dallas corner of the block. Hilcorp, which owns the site (and also wrapped up its new tower across Travis St. on the site of the Foley’s blowup early last year), hasn’t yet announced further-down-the-line plans for the block. No explosives are part of the plan for this demo, however — the tower will be taken apart piece by piece, leaving the parking garage intact.

Photo: ThaChadwick

Laid Low Downtown
12/14/16 12:45pm

BP MOVING ONSHORE HQ OUT OF HOUSTON, WAY FURTHER ONSHORE Helios Plaza, Energy Corridor, Houston, 77079BP announced today that it plans to move the main office for its onshore oil and gas branch to Denver at the start of 2018, starting with about 200 employees (compared to about 450 currently in the Houston office). The company announced late this summer that it was pulling its employees out of the WestLake 4 tower (about 7 years before that lease would’ve been up); that news was followed up a few days later with an announcement that BP would also sell off its LEED-platinum Helios Plaza building (pictured above), which it built in 2010 as a trading office. The plan at the time was to lease back space in Helios from the new owner; the rest of the company’s Energy Corridor employees will stay in the WestLake 1 office tower, which BP also owns. [BP Media Affairs via Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo of Helios Plaza at 201 Helios Way: BP

11/22/16 10:45am

Former City of Houston Code Enforcement Building, 3300 Main St., Midtown, Houston, 77002

As the walls crumble and the last days unfold for the city’s old code enforcement office in Midtown, a hidden stained-glass window has been uncovered — as seen here in a shot taken by a reader yesterday evening from across the light-rail tracks. Once the structure is fully deconstructed, the way will be open for that planned mixed-use-skyscraper from PM Realty to rise toward the heavens. In front of the window is the long-since-de-greened greenscreen trellis installed to dress up the main Main entrance of the concrete structure, back in the late aughts: 

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Preparing To Rise in Midtown
10/28/16 3:30pm

Lyric Center garage site, 440 Louisiana St., Downtown, Houston, 77002

Lyric Center garage site, 440 Louisiana St., Downtown, Houston, 77002

lyric-centre-cellist-sculptureA few readers note that work is underway on the site of the new parking garage planned next to music-themed office highrise Lyric Centre at the corner of Louisiana and Preston streets (catty-corner from Market Square Tower’s newly-filled sky-high resident display tank). The top photo above shows the crews digging around on the former surface parking lot as of yesterday afternoon; the city issued a permit for work on the building-to-be’s exterior shell earlier this month.  A glass-skinned design for the structure can be seen in the rendering above, which peers at the site from the north along Smith St., looking past the skybridge between the Wortham Theater and the Houston Ballet’s Center for Dance. The drawing shows folks making use of the ground floor of the structure, which is intended to house retail (in contrast to the garage going up a few blocks north at Milam and Franklin streets, which is intended to look like it could house retail).

The floorplan included with the listing for that 41,000 sq. ft. of space shows a ramp for the garage hitting Smith St.:

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Sowing Downtown Parking Space
10/18/16 4:45pm

CityWestPlace Parking Garage, Briarforest, Houston, 77042

A reader sends a shot of the roof of the last of the 4 former BMC Software campus parking garages to get put on the parking-space straight-and-narrow. Last Friday the angled stripes got powerwashed off of the top floor of the turn-of-the-millenium structure, which sits along CityWest Blvd. north of the new Phillips 66 campus just outside Beltway 8. All of the remaining garages on the site appear to have been restriped one at a time over the past decade or so with 90-degree parking spots (as can be seen on the roof of another of the garages in the upper right, further north along CityWest). The office complex goes by CityWestPlace these days; the complex is one of the properties held by new Houston-only REIT (New) Parkway, which was formed earlier this month when old Parkway and Cousins Properties merged then dumped all of their Houston holdings into a new, separate REIT.

Perpendicular spaces will better fit in with the campus’s general rectilinear motifs — for example, with this series of narrow rectangular water features on the other side of that northern parking garage:

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CityWestParkingPlaces
10/12/16 1:15pm

COUSINS AND PARKWAY MERGER BETTING ALL AND NOTHING ON HOUSTON’S OFFICE SPACE MARKET 3555 Timmons Ln., Greenway Plaza, Houston, 77027 Last week’s merger between real estate investment trusts Cousins Properties and Parkway Properties still resulted in 2 companies, notes Ralph Bivins this morning: the freshly combined firms, keeping the Cousins name, have now moved all of their Houston office holdings (along with nothing else) into a separate trust. The sequestered Houston investments are inheriting the Parkway name (that’s New Parkway, to head off any confusion), as opposed to the originally announced HoustonCo. New Parkway’s properties add up to about 8.7 million sq. ft., including Greenway Plaza (which Cousins bought back in 2013) and 4 other properties in Upper Kirby, Uptown, Tanglewood, and Westchase. Here’s a chance to buy in, Bivins writes, “whether you believe the Houston office market has reached the bottom or not” — noting also that there’s “about 3 million sq. ft. of new buildings still under construction.” [Realty News Report; previously on SwamplotPhoto of 3555 Timmons Ln.: Unilev

10/05/16 5:00pm

Corporate Plaza site, Kirby at Norfolk, Upper Kirby, Houston, 77098

The chain link that has surrounded the former site of Corporate Plazas I, II and III since the wind-down of their protracted demise now appears to be getting augmented by some wooden fencing, a reader notes. The non-paved sections of the 4-ish-acre property bundle have picked up a layer of green since the final demo odds and ends finished up in May, giving that stack of pipes in the foreground something soft to lie down on.

Survey of the surrounding office space scene: That’s the crane at work on the office tower member of the Kirby Collection visible on the far left, over the parking-garage shoulder of the River Oaks Tower at 3730 Kirby (which, like the former Corporate Plaza land across Norfolk St., is owned by California-based Triyar). The 3701 Kirby office midrise is visible on the right from across Kirby Dr.; the kinda-matching 3801 Kirby is just out of the frame above, but visible in the shot below of the new fencing from the other side:

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No Trespassing on Norfolk
10/04/16 11:30am

Demo of Former City of Houston Code Enforcement Building, 3300 Main St., Midtown, Houston, 77002

A gang of smaller machinery is seen spreading out across the roof of 3300 Main St. in the shot above (capturing a reader’s view of the scene from the HCC midrise next door), as a larger excavator works over some of the rubble piling up at the site lately. Also visible behind the former city code enforcement building, to the south: the now-in-full-swing MATCH theater building, and the rising facades of some of the apartment midrises going up on the Mid Main block.

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Midtown Falling Flat, Rising High
09/20/16 3:15pm

SHELL’S DOWNTOWN OPERATIONS TO SHED OFFICES, SCURRY OVER TO LARGER WEST HOUSTON CAMPUSES One Shell Plaza Office Tower, 910 Louisiana St., Downtown HoustonMore than half a decade after the local fretting about it started, Shell has announced that it will leave One Shell Plaza, writes Cara Smith this morning. Moreover, the company will drop nearly all of its other Downtown holdings as well, including the previously announced removal of recently-ish acquired BG Group from BG Group Place. Smith writes that the only announced exception to the pullout is Shell’s trading group at 1000 Main; the rest of the company’s downtown workers will move by early 2017 into either the Technology Center at Hwy. 6 south of Richmond Ave. or into the company’s Woodcreek campus along I-10 (south of the Addicks reservoir). [HBJ; previously on SwamplotPhoto of One Shell Plaza: Antonio Foster-Azcunaga

08/26/16 3:30pm

ESPERSON, PENNZOIL, 712 MAIN TUNNELS TO REOPEN NEXT THURSDAY AROUND STALLED SPROUT OF CAPITOL TOWER Capitol Tower Tunnel ReopeningFrom the depths of the Esperson building, a reader sends a fresh shot of a sign announcing that tunnel connections from the building to nearby 712 Main and Pennzoil Place will be open again late next week. The phrasing implies that the connections beneath the site of Skanska’s planned-for-maybe-later Capitol Tower may not all be open by that time, but the Chase Tower (which itself connects to the lawsuit-embroiled former Houston Chronicle spot) will at least be accessible via a 712 Main detour. The tunnels beneath the former home of the previously-blown-away Houston Club building have been closed since 2014 as Skanska poured a tower foundation and built a parking garage; the company said earlier this year that it won’t be moving forward with the rest of the Capitol Tower until the market looks perkier. [Previously on Swamplot] Photo: ThaChadwick

08/02/16 3:45pm

Westlake Four, 200 Westlake Park Blvd., HoustonPlease don’t turn around and stare, but suddenly another entire office tower in the Energy Corridor has become available for lease — all 20 floors of it. Any takers?

So far, only one of the 2 extremely available towers appears to qualify as a genuine see-through building — that would be the 22-story completed-but-never-occupied Energy Center Four, at N. Eldridge Pkwy. and I-10, which back in June ConocoPhillips announced it was giving up on moving into but hoped some other company (or 32) would sublease from them. And now from Nancy Sarnoff comes the other dropping shoe: energy company BP, announcing that by early next year it plans to vacate Four Westlake Park, aka WestLake Four, a little more than a mile west along the freeway feeder road, at 200 Westlake Park Blvd. BP has 7 years to go on its lease for that 22-year-old property from New York-based Falcon Real Estate Investment Management.

Photo of Westlake Park Four: Steven Baker

Getting Lonely on the Katy Fwy.
07/21/16 5:00pm

downtown-tour-1

A set of skeletal construction updates are the product of Bob Russell’s downtown photo hunt earlier this week. The view above is a Hines 2-fer: Behind James Surl’s spiky Point of View sculpture is the 32-floor apartment building on its way up at the corner of Travis and Preston (now going by Aris Market Square), with a sliver of all-business 609 Main visible on the right. The office tower has been getting its last few bits of steel stuck into place this week — check out a more centered portrait of the rooftop action (plus more covert snaps of bare beams from around the area) below:

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All On The Way
07/15/16 1:30pm

LONGABERGER EMPTIES 7-STORY PICNIC BASKET FOR SALE OR FORECLOSURE Meanwhile, in Newark: Yesterday Ohio-based basket weaver Longaberger finished moving the last of its employees out of its former corporate headquarters, a replica of the company’s Medium Market model (albeit 160 times larger than life). The company, which saw a 90 percent drop in sales between 2000 and 2014, is currently trying to sell off the building, which consists of a 7-story office structure behind a stucco-over-steel faux-woven facade, complete with 2 enormous handles that heat up to prevent icing in the winter.  The company has accumulated more than half a million dollars in unpaid taxes on the property; if a buyer cannot be found, the city may foreclose and offer the structure up for public auction. [Columbus Dispatch via Houston Chronicle]

05/23/16 12:00pm

Corporate Plaza I Demolition, Kirby at Norfolk, Upper Kirby, Houston, 77098

Here’s this morning’s view of the former Corporate Plaza site, now sans the skeletal midrise that spent much of May wasting away. Standing at the edge of the rubble is the Texas Direct Auto billboard, visible here from its non-dayglo-yellow backside above the cluster of excavators picking over the last of the former midrise. On the left (at the corner of Kirby and 59) is the separately-owned Shell service station property, boxed in by the increasingly empty lot throughout the entire demo spectacle.

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And Then There Was Shell