05/12/17 3:45pm


In between showing off various multicolored interchange tangles, the new flyover preview video of the huge changes proposed for I-45 North and the downtown freeway circuit glides viewers by a handful of areas where freeways will dive underground — while splicing in some new renderings of the tops of those tunnels-to-be as they could look, if somebody wanted to pay up to turn them into a park. (The animation is careful to emphasize once again that said parks would have to be developed and funded by a source other than TxDOT — and so far, there are no signs that anyone has stepped up.)

The rendering up top shows the would-be-parallel sections of 45, 59, and SH 288, running behind the convention district where 59 sits now — the whole bundle would be pulled down below flood grade and covered up, evidently with concrete if the park thing doesn’t work out. (A clip of just that section of the 10-minute animation is included above; a tiny rendered version of the Cheek Neal Coffee building can be spied along the edge of the freeway, though SEARCH Homeless Service’s new building one block north isn’t specifically drawn in next to it.)

The video also gives the section of 59 from Main to San Jacinto streets the same burial and dressup treatment:

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Bridging the Gaps
04/25/17 11:30am

Transmission Line Tower Installation, Westpark Dr., 77081

Transmission Line Tower Installation, Westpark Dr., 77081Bits and pieces of the electrical towers formerly stringing CenterPoint’s transmission lines between 59 and Westpark Dr. were spotted laying around just west of West Loop 610 this weekend, though the feet of at least one of the structures were still standing at the ready. The old towers appear to have been fully relieved of their duties at this point, 3 months or so after the taller, sleeker towers started going skyward. Here’s one of the last full-length portraits featuring both kinds of towers, taken in the final days before the changeover began in earnest:

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West Loop Heights
04/13/17 11:00am

Design Options for Jennie Elizabeth Hughes Park, 6446 Sewanee St., West University, TX, 77005

6446 Sewanee Ave., West University, TX 77005Sunday’s the deadline for giving the city of West University some honest feedback on which of 3 proposed park layouts you think would best flatter this residential lot at 6446 Sewanee Ave. — along with any specific details you like about the other 2 options. The home’s former owner, architect James M. Hughes, passed away just over a year ago; Hughes bequeathed the property and some funds to West University for conversion into Jennie Elizabeth Hughes Park (named after his mother, who bought the empty lot back in 1928).

Option A of the choices highlights the corner lot’s time as a residence by adding a rocking-chaired, freestanding front porch as an entryway (though of a totally different design from the existing front porch). That option would also include a partial outline of the house’s foundation:

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Sewanee Ave. Parking
03/15/17 1:45pm

Rendering of pedestrian bridge over Brays Bayou at Mason Park

A double-V’d walkin’ and bikin’ bridge like the one shown above will be spanning Brays Bayou before too long, the Houston Parks Board says, linking together the sections of Mason Park separated by the waterway. The agency is planning a short mid-morning party for the planned structure’s construction kickoff next Tuesday, on the southern side of the park (mostly located east of the 75th St. crossing). The whole complex is just downstream of the Gus Wortham Golf Course, for which renovations finally teed off a few weeks ago (trailing much ado a few years back that culminated in the land not getting turned into a botanical garden).

The board says the other, decidedly less suspenseful pedestrian bridge announced earlier this year should be done in the fall as well; that one will will run across Brays alongside the Martin Luther King Blvd. car bridge at the downstream edge of of MacGregor Park, and look kinda like this:

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Double Crossing Brays
03/10/17 11:15am

Meadowcreek Park Basketball Pavilion, 5333 Berry Creek Dr., Meadowcreek Village, Houston, 77017

Demolition of Meadowcreek Park Basketball Pavilion, 5333 Berry Creek Dr., Meadowcreek Village, HoustonThe arched pavilion in Meadowcreek Park that was knocked down in 2015 has officially been replaced, after a few years of neighborhood-city back-and-forth to push for the new structure’s design to look a lot more like the old one. The court, pictured up top complete except for the addition of the hoops and backboards to the posts at the opposing ends, got a ceremonial fabric snipping yesterday evening, Lauren Meyers tells Swamplot. This version of the structure appears to lack the thin vertical bars that closed off one side of the original, as visible both in the mid-act demolition portrait above and in this shot from the 1970s: 

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What’s Old is New Again
01/27/17 12:30pm

Rendering of Levy Park, 3801 Eastside St. at Richmond Ave., Upper Kirby, Houston

Levy Park, 3801 Eastside St., Upper Kirby/Greenway Plaza, Houston, TX 77098
Levy Park, 3801 Eastside St., Upper Kirby/Greenway Plaza, Houston, TX 77098The new swirls and swoops around Levy Park are starting to look more like those previously released renderings of the space’s total facelift, as a planned February 25th reopening date draws near. The Levy Park Conservancy is throwing an opening party that day, including art performances, workshops, gardening demos, and piano music (presumably from the moveable park piano.) The group sends along some photos of the increasingly colorful construction site, from the spiraling walking path both pictured and rendered above, to the repurposed double-decker bus that’ll eventually sit alongside the park’s main open greenspace to tend a beer garden. The bus previously made an appearance in this rendering of the lumpy triangular dog park:

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Sprouting in Kirby Grove
01/19/17 11:30am

Midtown Superblock Construction, January 2017, Main, McGowen, Travis, Anita streets, Midtown, Houston, 77003

A spokesperson from ESPN confirms to Swamplot that the network will not be using underground-parking-garaged Midtown Park as the main set for its Super Bowl week teevee shows after all, contrary to that October announcement. Workers were on the scene on Monday (as shown here), and the main pavilion structure appears to have been undergoing glow tests in the last few weeks by the same lighting design company that designed the new US59 bridge LEDs. The scaffolding-covered Camden apartments structure, however, appears to be missing some more significant finishing touches:

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Super Bowl Super Blocks
01/11/17 1:30pm

Transmission Line Tower Installation, Westpark Dr., 77081

Transmission Line Tower Installation, Westpark Dr., 77081The view this week around Westpark Dr. at the West Loop includes both the old lattice towers currently holding CenterPoint’s electrical transmission lines and the taller, skinnier single pole models that will be taking over the gig. A reader captured some side-by-side portraits of the old towers and their replacements, which CenterPoint is deploying to raise the lines out of the way of TxDOT’s proposed future edits to the 610-59 interchange tangle. The cherry picker above is shown tethered to one of the new towers in the easement just west of 610; the top shot shows a pole up on the east side of the freeway between the Loop Central office midrises and the Danny Jackson Family Bark Park (which closed down last summer so CenterPoint could work on the land the county had been using as the park’s parking lot).

Here’s a ground-level shot at the base of an old-and-new tower pair just outside the dog park, with some Houston Garden Center inventory in the background for scale:

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Bark Park Sparks
11/18/16 11:30am

EaDo Development Map

Some bidding has been going on this fall for more work in the southernmost section of the abandoned stretch of Bastrop St.’s right-of-way south of the Dynamo stadium (highlighted in green above and these days going by the name Houston International Promenade, after the plans for a more elaborate Sisters Cities Promenade fell through).  The linear greenspace has had some landscaping installed over the course of the past few years, along with a walking path; the next addition to the southern end of the strip looks to be exactly-what-it-sounds-like EaDog Park.

Calls for contractors for the dog park’s construction were floated around in September; as the placement of the words on the map above suggests, EaDog would stretch along the would-be Bastrop St. right-of-way between the trace of would-be Clay St. and already-is Polk St., on the next block south from 8th Wonder Brewery. The map above is part of what looks to be a recent-ish what’s-where showpiece from the EaDo Management District (tucked in with the current LoopNet listing for Start Houston’s on-the-market building). The larger version of the map purports to show development since 1995 in and around the neighborhood, which is outlined in black below:

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Giving Bastrop St. To the Dogs
11/10/16 5:15pm

Meadowcreek Village Park, Houston, TX 77017
Meadowcreek Village Park old pavilion structure

Members of the area civic club send some shots of the now-demolished basketball pavilion and its under-construction replacement at Meadowcreek Village Park, off Forest Oaks Dr. south of Patterson Elementary. The arched structure shown above, designed in 1961 by partial River Oaks Shopping Center architect R.H Brogniez, was originally constructed from wood (which got some repairs and lamination in 1997, but was in pretty bad shape by the court’s closure in 2014).

The city initially planned to replace the structure with something else, but received a string of requests from neighborhood residents to keep and repair the original design. Instead, the replacement pavilion (designed by M2l Architects) will look a lot like the original, but done in steel:

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Mod Sports Court Redo
11/08/16 11:15am

HOW THE GREEN THAT’S GREENING UP HOUSTON IS GROWING Renderings of Houston Botanic Garden at Glenbrook Park Golf Course, Glenbrook Valley, Houston, 77017Houston, which as Allyn West writes in the latest edition of Rice Business was “once defined primarily by its freeways and parking lots”, has been catching some attention outside the Outer Outer Loop for its surge in spending on parks and public spaces in the last decade or so, with more in the pipeline: in-progress and still-on-the-drawing-board plans include redos of Levy Park, Emancipation Park, Memorial Park, the Houston Arboretum, and turninge the Sims Bayou-straddling site of Glenbrook Park Golf Course into a Seuss-ical Houston Botanic Garden (shown above). Also on the radar of folks watching Houston’s slow greenification, West notes: the fact that hundreds of millions of dollars for the new or boosted green spaces have come from private fundraising and donations, and that most of the projects are being developed through public-private partnerships, which “allow certain parks to be chosen, so to speak, so as to be better stewarded by private philanthropy.”[Rice Business] Image of proposed Houston Botanic Garden: West 8

11/01/16 5:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: GREEN SPACE IS JUST A STATE OF MIND Hermann Park golf course“In my mind, green space isn’t something that has to be ‘used’. I enjoy jogging the trails next to the Hermann park golf course as much as I like jogging in or around any other green space — just like I enjoy jogging through a River Oaks neighborhood with immaculate landscaping. It is even nicer to see landscaping when you know someone else is paying (mostly) for it. I don’t have to be able to kick a soccer ball, watch a concert, or have a place for my dog to poop on it to enjoy its beauty. It can be ‘utilized’ without stepping foot on the space. Green space can be enjoyed from adjacent space or blocks away in its sights, smells, and sounds (or lack of).” [Rex, commenting on Grassy Knolls, Children’s Swamp Part of Possible Hermann Park Parking Coverup] Photo of Hermann Park Golf Course: Hermann Park Conservancy

10/25/16 10:00am

ADORABLE VENOMOUS CATERPILLARS BACK ON THE CRAWL FROM SEABROOK TO WEST U Asp warning sign at Weir Park, 3012 Nottingham St, West University Place, TX 77005‘Tis the season for stinging asps, notes Kaitlin McCulley while recounting a Seabrook resident’s recent encounter with one of the critters (also known as the puss caterpillar or, on occasion, the “toxic toupee”). The woolly caterpillars, whose delicate venomous spines are known to cause reactions in children such as 5-hour screaming fits and to necessitate the occasional emergency room visit in adults, are up in numbers for the fall as per usual, though their population and season varies from year to year depending on weather and food conditions. Over in West University, a sign currently hanging on the gate of Weir Park notes that the city’s parks folks will be putting out diatomaceous earth to kill the asps they’d spotted; the caterpillars have also been sighted (or felt) lately near the Harbach-Ripley Neighborhood Center in Golfcrest and in Lost Creek Park in Sugar Land. [ABC13] Photo of puss caterpillar warning sign in Weir Park, 3012 Nottingham St.: Swamplot inbox

09/30/16 4:30pm

Whole Foods Montrose, 701 Waugh, North Montrose, Houston, 77019

View of New Whole Foods Market, 701 Waugh Dr., North Montrose, HoustonFrom the AIG tower neighboring to the north, a reader peers down behind the construction fencing now up at the corner of Waugh Dr. and D’Amico St., in an effort to figure out what might be gettin’ real in the Whole Foods Montrose parking lot. An employee tells Swamplot over the phone that the store is planting additional parking spaces on top of what was previously a walkway lined with grass and picnic tables, adding parking has been a squeeze on the weekends (which lines up pretty well with earlier reports from the scene). The rep also says that the tables (positioned across Waugh from BMW service garage Bavarian Machine Specialties and catty-corner to the health-and-beauty-shop-laden strip center across D’amico), were almost never used. Permits for the pave-over were issued at the end of May.

Photos: Randy Saad (top), Swamplot inbox (bottom photo showing opening day, 2011)

Leaner Green
09/30/16 10:30am

lindley-fish

Lindley Fish at Smither ParkThe street-sign-strip-tiled interior of the toothy structure above will host musicians and speakers this evening during the opening-party-slash-fundraiser for Smither Park, the narrow stretch of art-filled greenspace on Munger St. next door to the Orange Show. The park, backed up against the Pallet-Ops warehouse and laydown yard on Gulf Terminal Rd., is crammed full of other visual and tactile oddities, including an under-development marble run, a meditation garden, a boxy events pavilion, and a dragon-topped bench-swing swingset, all backed by the 400 feetmosaic-encrusted walls running along the edge of most of the space.

Photos: Orange Show

Orange Show Green Space