01/12/17 3:45pm

Murals at former MHMRA building, 2850 Fannin St., Midtown, Houston, 77003Demolition setup at 2850 Fannin St., Midtown, Houston, 77003

The colorful faces behind the chain-link fencing surrounding the former Mental Health and Mental Retardation Authority building at 2850 Fannin St. have been joined this week by a few pieces of bright yellow knock-down equipment. Permits came through last week clearing the site for clearance in advance of a planned 27-story apartment highrise going by the name Main Midtown. The tower was okayed for a parking variance in late October, as part of which Australian developer Caydon Properties agreed to install over 200 bike spaces. 

The long-empty MHMRA structure got its last hurrah this fall when much of the street-level wallspace was painted over in tan, making way for new muralage. A nearby resident buzzed around the site recently taking some final snaps of the paintings (like the one featured at the top of the page) before the demo gets going in earnest — here’s a sampling below:

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Midtown Breakdown
01/12/17 1:30pm

UN-RE-ZONING OF MISSOURI CITY TRACT PAVES WAY FOR SHIPMAN’S COVE MASTER PLANS Proposed Site of Shipman's Cove Subdivision, Missouri City, 77545 The Missouri City council voted last week to approve a “planned development” zoning classification for a woody 95.3-acre tract at the edge of the Creekmont and Newpoint Estates subdivisions off Hwy. 6 at Watts Plantation Rd., which master plan planner Ashton Woods wants to turn into a 287-unit housing development called Shipman’s Cove. The January vote came after a determination by the city’s attorney that the failed September vote on the same issue had technically passed: Councilmembers now says that the vote to change the undeveloped land’s zoning classification (an act that would have required a 75 percent majority among the 7 council members, and fell 1 vote short of that hurdle) actually only counted as a vote to zone it for the first time — which only needs a simple majority for approval. Amelia Brust reports that neither the city council nor city attorney “explained what prompted the further review, nor did they identify the outside legal counsel hired by the city” that helped review the situation; Missouri City mayor Allen Owen also said at the time of the vote that multiple lawsuits looked to be in the works. [Community Impact] Image of planned site of Shipman’s Cove: Missouri City

Feels Like the First Time
01/10/17 2:45pm

Tarkett Site, Katyville, Houston, 77007
Tarkett Site, Katyville, Houston, 77007This afternoon a wall of orange and white barricades along the edge of the Heights hike & bike trail just south of I-10 is hemming in the construction equipment recently migrated onto Tarkett’s former Texas Tile Manufacturing warehouse site. Permits for some earthmoving on the former industrial side were issued just before the close of the year under the name Lower Heights District, and the Katyville property showed up on last week’s city planning commission agenda for some preliminary approvals and flood-potential scrutiny. No official word yet whether the site’s owner’s previous mention of stacked big box possibilities is still on the table.

Reader and tower scrutinizer Lucky Gutierrez also took a closer look at the oil derrick hanging around next to the site, on the edge of the bike trail:

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Grading Katyville Heights
01/09/17 1:15pm

9330 Main St., NRG, Houston, 77025

9330 Main St., NRG, Houston, 77025The long-empty land at 9330 Main St. (shown here from its Buffalo Spdwy. side) appears to be picking up a part-time job before moving on toward senior-housing-dom. A reader snapped these shots of the property’s new parking and shuttle signage, including the security camera warnings tacked to the fence. The land is right across Main St. from NRG Park, where the actual football bit of the upcoming week of Super Bowl hubbub is scheduled to go on. The sale of the land to Dallas-based Traditions Senior Living went through at the end of August.

Meanwhile, the gas station recently planted across Buffalo Spdwy. at the Durhill St. 1st Stop Food Mart appears to have sprouted, and a Valero-colored canopy is now blooming over the corner:

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1st Stops near Westridge
01/06/17 5:30pm

Stop Bethany Apartments graphic
Stop Ashby Highrise Signs, Southampton, HoustonDo those flailing arms and sharp teeth in the graphic above strike a familiar chord? The latest fantastical depiction of an as-yet-unbuilt multistory Houston residential development may even be available in yard sign form, per the website that’s been constructed in response to Bethany Methodist’s plan to build a 101-unit active-senior housing facility in its parking lot at the fringes of Knollwood Place. Also available on the site, in addition to solicitations for online petition signatures and donations, is a snapshot of what appears to be a gently-crumpled rendering of the 4-story complex, with a little less artistic liberty taken:

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Linkwood Links
01/05/17 4:30pm

Construction site at 1540 W. Alabama, WAMM, Houston, 77006Proposed Alabama Row Shopping Center, 1518 W. Alabama St., Montrose, HoustonA little brown box is now in place about where the gray and blue boxes of the Alabama Row retail strip are supposed to go, a reader notes. The construction trailer recently popped up inside the newish construction fencing now framing the long-empty lot along Mandell St. (across W. Alabama from the block holding the Menil Collection’s parking lot, and part of its bungalow herd). The new strip would sit just west of the 2-story brick house now holding cat spa and boarding facility Fat Cat Flats.

So far Alabama Row looks like it may be bookended by Vietnamese and burger joints, with room for some non-food offerings in the middle — that’s W. Alabama toward the bottom in the preliminary site plan below, with the strip’s parking tucked in back:

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Menil Munchies
01/04/17 12:15pm

1801 Richmond Ave. Demo, Richwood Place, Houston, 77098
1801 Richmond Ave., Richwood Place, Houston, 77098From beneath yesterday’s sunset glare off the new Big Tex Storage midrise on Richmond Ave, a reader captured the splintery wreckage of long-empty Cierra Interiors at the corner with Woodhead St. Plans to stick a new Starbucks in its place were submitted back in early November by an entity connected to experienced Starbucks constructor Vaquero Ventures, and the knockout of the building was officially sanctioned just before Christmas. Next door, the land opened up by Vaquero’s teardown of the pair of 2-story brick 4-plexes at 1823 and 1827 Richmond back in August looks to be marked for another Inner Loop outpost of oil change chain Take 5.

And one more door eastward, the former Ruthie’s Place on Richmond looks to be headed for new use by strip-center gelato shop Sweetcup, per some early-stage permits issued in November that note a bar-to-ice-cream-shop conversion. Sweetcup bought the building at 1829 Richmond in September after the bar’s early 2016 shutdown (in the wake of the passing of long-time former owner Ruth Vardilos). Here’s a shot of the whole corner taken in August, shortly after the apartment removal, showing Ruthie’s tucked next to Ely’s Beauty Salon on the far right:

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Richwood Place Replacements
12/29/16 10:45am

J. Black's, 110 South Heights Blvd., Memorial Heights, Houston,  77007

J. Black's, 110 South Heights Blvd., Memorial Heights, Houston,  77007The building housing the Houston expansion of Austin’s J. Black’s at the southwest corner of Washington Ave and Heights Blvd. now bears a new for-info-please-call sign, a reader notes. The bar appears to have events planned through at least New Year’s Eve; the 5,948-sq.-ft. space was only listed online as up for lease about 2 weeks ago. Back before 2012, the property was home to Phil’s Texas Barbecue, for about the same amount of time as it took Phil himself to restaurantize the corner’s original muffler shop setup. And soon another corner at the intersection will be getting a full workover as well, if all goes as planned — J. Black’s sits across Heights Blvd. from the subsection of the Memorial Heights apartments slated to go away some time next quarter, to make way for that planned Midway midrise with the H-E-B at the bottom:

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Cornered in Memorial Heights
12/20/16 12:30pm

rice-opera-proposed

Proposed Opera House, Rice University, Houston, 77005Rice University announced this week that the opera house it plans to build in the parking lot next to the Shepherd School of Music will, in fact, be designed by the classic-leaning architecture firm of Allan Greenberg — and formally released what appear to be a couple of the same renderings that Swamplot posted back in June, after a reader’s encounter with the above presentation materials on campus. Like the Baker Institute, the design looks to be covered over in classic-ish details more or less reminiscent of Rice’s older buildings; the towers on the south side of the opera house also roughly match the one on the Humanities building, which Greenberg also designed.

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West Lot U-Turn
12/19/16 12:45pm

Rendering of Buffalo Heights Mixed Use Phase I, at Washington Ave. at Waugh Dr.

H-E-B preliminary plans for Washington Ave. at Heights Blvd.The complex containing Midway’s planned H-E-B-and-midrise at the southeast corner of Heights Blivd. and Washington Ave. won’t be named Northbank Buffalo Bayou after all, Nancy Sarnoff reports this week — it’ll be called Buffalo Heights. Above is Ziegler Cooper’s rendering of the proposed structure, which would take up the northwest corner of the old Archstone Memorial Heights apartments property (which was bought in 2014 by the current owners). That development previously gave its moniker to the surrounding neighborhood; it remains to be seen if this latest rebranding attempt will stick.

The new midrise would sit about half a mile south of the official southernmost edge of the Houston Heights (as drawn for voting in last month’s local-option Heights moistening election), and about half a mile north of Buffalo Bayou (though only a quarter mile from the Buffalo Wild Wings a few blocks west down Washington Ave). The new design shows off 5 stories of apartments (tallying up as 232 units) on top of the 2-story H-E-B, with about 37,000 sq. ft. of office space and a couple of other retail spots in the mix.

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First of Its Name in Memorial Heights
12/05/16 11:30am

Construction at Shepherd and Allen st.

Now rising at 1202 Shepherd Dr., atop the former sites of the Sarco Enterprise used car lot and its various adjacent industrial-retail odds and ends: a 4-story self-storage building from Provident Realty. The Dallas-based developer (which is also behind the redo of the former Texaco building Downtown and its potential future companion highrise) bought the land in October of last year from an entity called Shepnett Holdings, which also owns the land across Nett St. at 1112 Shepherd  — on that site, the former graffiti-slathered home of relocated art and framing shop Alva Graphics is being converted into the burger restaurant initially planned for the ex-Ruggles Grill lot on Westheimer.

The Provident storage facility will be conveniently located about 4 minutes by car from the Uncle Bob’s Life Storage building that just opened along Washington Ave across from the former Wabash Feed & Garden store. A storage-atuned reader in the neighborhood sends a few more angles on the new building’s in-progress skeleton — the building extends from Nett St. toward the southern of Allen St.’s 2 parallel roadways, laid along either side of the Southern Pacific railroad line:

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Boxes of Brunner
11/29/16 1:45pm

7710 Long Point Rd., Spring Branch, Houston, 77055

7710 Long Point Rd., Spring Branch, Houston, 77055The new lessees of 7710 Long Point Rd. — formerly home to all-Mex-no-Tex Otilia’s Mexican Restaurantannounced last week that they’ll be filling the spot with a craft beer bar and restaurant called The Branch. The folks in charge appear to be former Hay Merchant-slash-Underbelly catering head Madeline Cabezut, current Hay Merchant bar manager Kyle Pierson (though Hay Merchant itself is not involved in the project), and former Miller/Coors spokesmodel Amanda Mixon. An entity linked to serial redeveloper Braun Enterprises bought the place last year, after Otilia’s 2014 for-real-this-time shutdown. The trio formally leased the space around the end of September, and plan to have the place open early next year.

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Branching Out to Long Point Rd.
11/22/16 5:15pm

Rendering of Heights Mercantile Building 4

Expanding organic Rice Village fast-casual chain Local Foods will fill in one of the tenant holes in the biggest structure of under-construction Heights Mercantile, judging from the permits issued earlier this month for a buildout at 714 Yale St. The joint is supposed to share the double-decker structure with a fitness studio, per current marketing materials, though that tenant hasn’t been formally announced yet either. The leasing listing for the various subsections of the retail development is still active on LoopNet, indicating a handful of retail spaces potentially still up for grabs in the 2 buildings across 7th St.:

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More Mercantile Merchants
11/18/16 5:15pm

APARTMENT DEVELOPER ALLIANCE READY TO BUY LANDMARKED HEIGHTS WATERWORKS LAND Heights Reservoir land saleTurns out serial multifamily developer Alliance Residential is the previously unnamed entity planning to buy the Heights waterworks properties the city put on the market earlier this year (after awarding parts of the reservoir complex protected landmark status 6 months prior).  A notice from the city planning department today says Alliance beat out 18 other bidders on the 2 parcels (catty-corner from one another across Nicholson and W. 20th streets), and also mentions that the city has to accept the highest offer for the sale. A public meeting about the plans for the land, including what role those tax-relevant historic structures might have in any proposed new development, is scheduled for the 29th (that’s the Tuesday after Thanksgiving) at the restored fire station on W. 12th St. [Houston Planning Commission] Map of Heights Reservoir properties: City of Houston

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