10/18/17 1:00pm

A sandwich update is in progress along Dairy Ashford directly opposite Fern Dr., across the street from Stratford High School and the Spring Branch ISD athletics complex. The Subway sandwich shop sandwiched between the shuttered locations of a printing company and a small used-car dealership has now been torn down after a brief Harvey reprieve. A reader sends in the above series of photos panning the combined and now-cleared 1.1-acre site at 851 Dairy Ashford, where a new 4,640–sq.-ft. Panera Bread building is scheduled to rise.

Photos: Swamplot inbox

Up from Subway
10/17/17 4:45pm

A couple of Houston architects have a proposal for the northern portion of the soon-to-be-shuttered Greenspoint Mall at the northeast intersection of Beltway 8 and I-45: Turning it into a driving range surrounded by 3 golf holes. Why such an abbreviated course? Well, there’s only so much land available. But Paul Kweton and Hidekazu Takahashi of Studio Paulbaut consider the paring down an attractive update to convention that could help to make the sport more accessible:

“It takes up to 5 hours to play a decent round of golf,” they write. Their Greenspoint green would offer a quicker golfing proposition: A round of golf in 60 minutes. 

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Greenspoint Greens
10/16/17 1:15pm

Workers last week removed a few trees in the way of a new partition of Fountain Green, the plaza that stretches between Buildings 9 and 11 in Greenway Plaza just west of Edloe. Included in the scheme: A new separate lawn space on the green’s southern end, separated from the fountain by a covered walkway stretching between the 2 buildings; a separate canopy structure on the new lawn’s east side; and a new patio just behind that and in front of Building 9 — where a new restaurant designed by Austin architect Michael Hsu is planned. The aerial and ground-level views above shows the path being cleared for the walkway. Looking onto the green from the south across City Club Dr. is the former Houston City Club building, currently on its way to being refurbished for its new life as a location of Lifetime Fitness.

Renderings of the space shown by Greenway Plaza owner Parkway in March of this year, before it was announced that the Houston REIT was being bought by the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, show the general contours of the plan:

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Fountain Green Green
10/04/17 2:30pm

Update, 6 pm: At the request of Lovett Commercial, the company’s renderings of this project originally included in this story have been removed.

Hadn’t heard that Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas and his Office for Metropolitan Architecture have been designing the massive redo planned for the 16-acre campus around Houston’s shuttered Barbara Jordan Post Office at 401 Franklin St. Downtown? Or that the project’s owner and developer, Lovett Commercial, is boasting that the 530,000-sq.-ft. redevelopment, on a site along Buffalo Bayou, will include the world’s largest urban rooftop farming operation, supplying a 40,000-sq.-ft. festival food market below? Maybe that’s because none of this has been officially announced yet.

There’s more to the plans being waved about: apartments, live-work studios, coworking and maker spaces, parks, events venues, a combined 100,000 sq. ft. of indoor and outdoor markets and even a digital library honoring Barbara Jordan. More than just that library is being named after the former post office facility, however: As of last year, the entire venue has been dubbed Post Houston (or Post HTX for sorta-short.) Also, because it’s what comes next for the city — get it?

“Post Houston aims to be a world class creative campus for technology, the arts, culture, and dining,” announces a Lovett Commercial leasing brochure. Here’s a walkthrough of some of the ambitious project’s proposed main features, using images that appear to date from earlier this year:

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Post HTX
10/03/17 12:30pm

The sleepy 1.33-acre site at the eastern end of the Target parking lot on San Felipe just inside The Loop was rudely awakened from a long slumber last week with the action of some demolition equipment. A couple of structures that formerly housed Dream’s & Bros. Hand Car Wash and Lube, opened by former UTSA basketball player and brother-of-Hakeem Afis Olajuwon in 1998, had sat vacant on the lot at 4303 San Felipe St. since its closing in 2014.

Judging by the name given to the site in a replat document filed with the city in April of this year — “Bank of America River Oaks,” with the address taken down a couple notches to 4301 San Felipe — it’s likely a new bank branch will be going up in its place.

Photos: Swamplot inbox

Sitewashing
09/27/17 2:30pm

Here are a couple renderings from the Michael Hsu Office of Architecture in Austin of the new 3-story building the firm is designing for the corner spot at 2132 Bissonnet St. in Boulevard Oaks. A representative of the Platform Group, the building’s developer, tells Swamplot an “all-day cafe/coffee shop” is being planned for the ground floor, and that the upper 2 floors will contain “boutique office space.” The cafe won’t be a Gringo’s Tex-Mex, but the developers do have a connection to that restaurant chain: The Platform Group is headed by a son and daughter-in-law of Gringo’s owner Russell Ybarra.

In the top rendering, the 11,300-sq.-ft. building is shown lining Shepherd Dr., with an L-shaped parking lot wrapping around it. A patio with outdoor seating will go in front of the structure along Bissonnet St. The Houston office of SWA Group is designing the landscape.

Here are views of the current site from similar angles:

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Remaking Boulevard Oaks
08/24/17 1:00pm

The City of Houston website may still describe Jones Plaza as a “fully renovated” public square that forms the centerpiece of the city’s Theater District downtown, but Houston First appears ready to fully renovate it again. The quasi-public agency says it will select 5 teams from among any “experienced urban design firms, landscape architects or architects capable of creating an inspired, iconic, accessible and welcoming design” that apply before September 5 to create preliminary designs for a redo. Among the possibly familiar items listed for inclusion on the redesign menu: a water element, a “green oasis with seasonal plantings,” a performance space, an art installation, and a 4,000-sq.-ft. fast-casual restaurant.

Jones Plaza’s current design, which features similar items, dates from a 2001 rebuild led by Bricker+Cannady Architects; that renovation lowered and canted the previously raised plaza surface so that all steps could be removed from the Louisiana St. side facing Jones Hall:

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Do-Overs
08/17/17 2:00pm

Buckhead Investment Partners tells Swamplot that the work crew, excavator, and large drainage pipes spotted on location yesterday and today at the east end of the site of the residential building known as the Ashby Highrise at 1717 Bissonnet St. constitutes nothing more than “on-going site work.” Multiple permits to construct the proposed 21-story Boulevard Oaks tower have been issued over the past decade — the most recent ones a little less than a year ago. And construction crews have been active on the site before. But Buckhead reports to Swamplot that there is “nothing else meaningful to report at this time.”

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Just Digging It
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