08/14/17 10:00am

THE END OF THE GREENSPOINT MALL IS UPON US Greenspoint Mall may close its doors for good in as little as 60 days, a source tells Click2Houston reporter Sophia Beausoleil — after news broke late Friday that the hobbled 42-year-old shopping center at I-45 North and Beltway 8 is under contract for purchase by an investment group headed by Chinese investor Gao Feng. Global Plaza Union says it is still considering several different redevelopment concepts for its newly acquired property. Not included in the purchase, but expected to be added to it for any transformation to take place: the 3 independently owned anchor store sites within the property. The Sears store at the southeast corner of the property closed 7 years ago; the Macy’s, in the northwest corner, shut down earlier this year; the Dillard’s in the southwest corner, closest to the freeway interchange, is one of only 2 anchors still operating in the mall. (The other is a Palais Royal.) [Click2Houston; Houston Chronicle ($); previously on Swamplot] Photo: Colliers International    

08/11/17 11:15am

The new Holiday Inn Express about to begin construction at 3401 N. Main St. in the Near Northside will have some consistently quiet neighbors and some occasionally very loud ones — with the steady drone of the adjacent North Fwy. available to somehow bridge the gap. The 1.44-acre site, where the Casa Grande Mexican Restaurant stood until it was torn down 2 years ago (and Stuarts Drive-In before it), sits across N. Main St. from the Hollywood Cemetery (yes, the same cemetery featured in Wes Anderson movie Rushmore). And it’s just a bit more than a quarter-mile up N. Main from the White Oak Music Hall complex, whose outdoor concert habit spurred nearby residents kept up late at night by the noise to file suit against the venue — and later, the city of Houston — for failing to follow (and enforce) local sound ordinances.

Late last month, crews removed the concrete paving left behind after the Casa Grande demolition (see photos above). Just this week, a city permit was granted for a 58,929-sq.-ft., 95-room Holiday Inn Express on the site — up 10 rooms from the 85 promised a couple of years ago, when the developers submitted these drawings as part of an application for a variance that would allow them not to have to extend or widen Norma St., on the north end of the lot:

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Near Near Northside
08/09/17 1:00pm

The new bar planned for the 20,878-sq.-ft. warehouse at 3229 Navigation Blvd. in Houston’s East End that earlier this decade was home to Fred’s Trailer Truck Supply will be called Straylight Run and serve — according to its promoters — as Houston’s first-ever “Virtual Reality Bar.” That’s the conclusion of some internet sleuthing by HAIF (and Swamplot) commenter CrockpotandGravel, who after seeing Swamplot’s report on the alcohol license procured for the spot at the corner of Navigation and Engelke tracked down the establishment’s website, a (possibly spurned) logo proposal, and Instagram feed.

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Straylight Run on Navigation
07/25/17 1:45pm

The former Heights Finance Station post office at the corner of Heights Blvd. and 11th St. — its parking lot and front door face Yale St. — is coming down in a hail of lovingly painted bricks today. The post office was closed at the end of 2015 and subsequently purchased by developer MFT Interests. The single-story building was later festooned with an assortment of romance– and ZIP-code-themed murals.

MFT is calling the new development it has planned for the 1050 Yale St. site Heights Central Station. It’ll consist of two 2-story painted-brick buildings fronting 11th St.:

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Heights Central Station
07/20/17 12:45pm

As mentioned earlier today, more details on the plan to redo the 1940’s farmers market on Airline Dr. are now out — MLB released some sketches and site plans this morning, which the company says are meant to help turn the spot into a “destination retail experience.” The renderings show most of the gaps between the existing market buildings bridged by new rooftops and green spaces, connecting the structures into a single complex (some of which will likely get air conditioned for fish and dairy operations and the like).

It’s not totally clear whether some the existing buildings are actually going to be painted white, or if the details of planned finishes just haven’t made their way into the renderings at this stage of design — but the currently-yellow front of Canino’s can be spied rocking a pale grey skin in the sketches above and below, behind the market’s new double-height entry facade:

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The Canino’s Retail Experience
07/20/17 10:30am

CANINO MARKET HAD ALREADY KINDA GENTRIFIED, SAY FOLKS PLANNING UPCOMING $10-MILLION REDO “Over time,” writes Nancy Sarnoff for the Chronicle this morning after talking to some of the folks behind that in-the-works redevelopment of the recently sold Canino farmer’s market on Airline Dr., the market has already become “a place where produce [is] shipped and trucked in from places like Mexico and elsewhere, like it is to a grocery store.” The local farmers and early-morning bread-seekers are mostly gone, and property values  in the neighborhood are already on the rise — as are the townhomes. “We’ve come to the realization that no matter what we do here, it’s already happening,” MLB Partners’s Todd Mason tells Sarnoff; “We’ve looked around to buy more over here, and prices have already escalated.” The developers also run through some of the details for the $10-million project with Chris Baldwin over at PaperCity, who writes that “the 17.5-acre site is being almost completely re-imagined” — potential changes include some 60,000 sq. ft. of additional space, a “large lounging lawn,” a children’s play area, and “a distinctive towering sign from Studio Red Architects that can be seen from the freeway.” [Houston Chronicle and PaperCity; previously on SwamplotPhoto: Canino Produce Market

07/19/17 1:30pm

The self-styled “House of a Million Parts” at 1225 Sawyer St. once known as Johnny Frank’s Auto Parts Company was torn to pieces last summer. Freshly applied to the chain-link fence surrounding the now-vacant lot: a new TABC notice, announcing to passers-by that an establishment named the Sawyer Ice House is hoping to sling cocktails on the premises before too long. The land is across the road from those arted-up rice silos on Sawyer St., which are across Edwards St. from the Shops at Sawyer Yards. It appears to be another of the projects in that neck of the woods that trace back to Lovett Commercial, which is working on parking lots and a slew of other developments in the area as well. Here’s what Sawyer Ice House might look like, per what appears to be the bar’s new save-the-name Facebook page:

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Car Lot Reincarnation
07/14/17 5:30pm

Here’s a view from last week of the former Express Wheel & Tire kiosk in Oak Forest, in the midst of its transformation into a yet-to-be-identified coffee drive-thru along Ella Blvd. at W. 34th St., at the eastern end of the shopping center redo Revive Development is working on at that intersection’s southwest corner. Demo crews are removing the overhang connecting the front canopy to the small building behind it. Renderings of the finished development on the Revive website show the canopy is meant to remain — to shade a few prime parking spaces at the eastern end of the development:

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W. 34th St. and Ella
07/14/17 11:15am

NEXT XSCAPE HEADING FOR THE FAR REACHES OF KATY The second of the 2 Xscape multiplexes planned for the “Houston” area will land at the far southwest corner of Katy, reports Virtual Builders Exchange — in an update to its story identifying the Kentucky-based theater chain’s Woodlands location. A 12-screen facility (marked down a couple from the typical 14 of the prototype) and accompanying 540-space parking lot will settle down at 26616 FM 1093, just east of FM 1463, in the southwest corner of the Westheimer Lakes North subdivision and across from Cross Creek Ranch — if contractors get their bids in to the company by the August 1 deadline. The plans for the 51,968-sq.-ft. Katy building appear virtually identical to those for the Woodlands theater. [Virtual Builders Exchange; previously on Swamplot] Rendering of Xscape prototype: Patoka Capital

07/13/17 10:45am

5 SLIM CHICKENS CAUGHT CROSSING HOUSTON BORDER The Slim Chicken drive-ups in Katy, Cypress, Spring, and Humble will soon be joined by 5 new locations of the restaurant franchise inside the Houston city limits. First up: wings and Texas-shaped waffles will become available at 9850 Louetta Rd. in Vintage Lakes, right by Aldi and just down the street from the fast-food mecca known as Vintage Marketplace. A Kingwood location at 30255 Loop 494 should open later this summer, though it isn’t clear if the Arkansas-based chain is counting that location as one of its 5 genuine Houston spots. [Eater Houston] Photo of the Slim Chicken opened late last year at  9255 FM 1960 Bypass Rd. in Humble: Edwin R.

07/12/17 11:00am

WHAT COULD GO UNDER WHEN I-45 MOVES UNDERGROUND AND EAST OF DOWNTOWN Jeff Balke tallies some of the expected carnage just east of Downtown should TXDoT proceed with its planned rerouting of I-45 from the west side to the east side of Downtown, widening the path of that stretch of Hwy. 59 (aka I-69) to Saint Emanuel St. Among the establishments expecting to have to shut down or relocate as a result of the expansion: the Bayou City Barber Shop, Vietnamese restaurant Huynh, Ahh Coffee, Tout Suite, one building of the Ballpark Lofts, low-income housing development Clayton Homes, a couple of nonprofits, SEARCH Homeless Services’ new building, the Loaves and Fishes soup kitchen — plus other assorted bars, barbecue joints, artist spaces, and office space. Among the questions Balke keeps hearing in reference to plans to put this portion of a new I-45-69 combo below grade, possibly (only if separate funding can be found) with a greenspace “cap” planted on top of it: “why [would] a freeway would be constructed lower than street level in a city that floods with seeming regularity, particularly when the highway in question is a hurricane evacuation route? TxDOT is quick to point out that we already have roadways below grade throughout the city that have not suffered major flooding problems since Tropical Storm Allison in 2001, which broke records and is widely considered a 500-year flood. Still, flooding is something the agency appears to have taken seriously. ‘No matter the situation, there’s a potential for flooding,‘ [TXDoT spokesperson] Perez explains, ‘but with anything below grade, additional pumps and detention ponds come into play.’ [Houston Press; previously on Swamplot] Rendering showing possible park behind GRB: HNTB and TxDOT

07/11/17 1:30pm

XSCAPE TO THE WOODLANDS BY NEXT FALL One of those 2 “Houston” locations a small, Kentucky-based movie-theater chain named Xscape is building will be in The Woodlands, reports Adolfo Pesquera. Last week, investment firm Patoka Capital announced that it was still in the process of acquiring land for a pair of $15 million, 55,000-sq.-ft., 14-screen theaters in Houston — its first in Texas. But Pesquera notes that contractors have been given until this Friday to bid on construction of an Xscape complex and accompanying parking lot at 16051 Old Conroe Magnolia Rd., just north of a planned Del Webb Woodlands development. The Woodlands location will be slightly smaller than the Xscape prototype (pictured above), with only 12 screens. It’s scheduled to open in the fall of 2018. [Virtual Builders Exchange] Rendering: Patoka Capital

07/07/17 4:00pm

The highrise hotel with apartments River Oaks District developer OliverMcMillan has been promising for a couple years as a tower feature of a promised second phase of the mixed-use development will be an Equinox, according to documents submitted to the city planning department. There’s already an Equinox fitness club in the River Oaks District, fronting Westheimer; the new Equinox hotel will be on the west side of Westcreek Ln., on the rear parking lot portion of the 3.4-acre Sullivan’s Steakhouse–Le Peep shopping center along Westheimer closer to the West Loop that OliverMcMillan leased almost 2 years ago.

The hotel portion of the site is 1.91 acres and set back from Westheimer. Equinox is seeking a variance from the city to allow the hotel to take access from Westcreek Ln., which further to the north also serves as an entry road for the SkyHouse River Oaks and the Wilshire condo towers.

The variance application doesn’t mention how tall the building will be, but renderings of the imagined hotel dating from 2015 (below) show a structure of approximately 25 stories, with a lower parking garage immediately to the west. A shorter building is shown on the 1.5-acre southern portion of the site facing Westheimer:

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Phase Two
06/30/17 1:30pm

You might not immediately gather, from the pastoral setting in the rendering above, that this is a view of what’s planned for the former Berger Iron Works property, tucked around back behind the Walmart at Yale and Koehler streets in the section of Katyville last rebranded as Washington Heights. (The footprint of the land is marked as a little blue rectangle in the map above.) The new name Riverway Properties is applying to the retail-redo-to-be appears to be Bonner Heights (presumably after Bonner St., which runs along the quiet western front of the property). Here’s how the 2 buildings on the site could be split up for leasing:

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Ironworks Rework
06/30/17 11:15am

If you’re trying to justify the expense and hassle of mounting and maintaining a capable security cam outside your home, shouldn’t the ability to capture timelapse footage of demolition crews as they quickly dispose of cute fifties condo complexes across the street tip the scales in favor? Here’s a sample benefit: the above video from the Nest camera of Bill Curry, which documents in quickly digestible form the final dozen-plus hours last Friday of the 26-unit Googie-style complex at the southeast corner of Welch and Revere streets adjacent to River Oaks — as it gets eaten from behind by a Komatsu track excavator.

Another possible benefit: A much longer timelapse documenting the construction of the 32-unit 9-story condo midrise Pelican Builders now plans to put on the site.

Video: Bill Curry

Nest to Nothing, Next to River Oaks