08/24/18 4:30pm

A Swamplot reader notes that 7 variances signs recently cropped up all at once on 5 adjacent blocks in the Second Ward. Each one indicates a request for the same thing: to chop up the properties into lots less than 3,500-sq.-ft. each so that new townhomes can rise on them. (Some include more specific requests too, like shuffling around parking and scooting certain homes closer to the roads.) Taken together, 127 new homes would be spread across just under 4 acres in the area, bounded Sampson and Milby streets to the east and west — and Garrow and Commerce to the north and south.

Some houses would fill in the gaps between warehouse buildings and cottages, while others would take their spots:

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Single-Family Swapout
08/23/18 5:15pm

APARTMENT GROUNDWORK GETS GOING NEXT TO FORMER PINE CREST GOLF COURSE FAIRWAY A couple building permits filed yesterday show developer engineering firm Kimley Horn is about to put down the foundation for some apartments just west of the Pine Crest Golf Course. While the golf course — slated for 800 houses of its own following the city’s sign-off in April — lies almost entirely within the 100-year floodplain, the adjacent apartment site is mostly unmapped by FEMA, although an eastern sliver of it along Gessner Rd. does carry the 500-year designation. All 16 acres at 10333 Clay Rd. are currently vacant; they’re split between 2 abutting properties together dubbed Spring Shadows Business Park when their boundaries were officially redrawn in June. [Previously on Swamplot] Map of 10333 Clay Rd.: Houston Planning Commission

08/22/18 3:00pm

Plans for the 3-story Campanile on Commerce apartments slated for the corner of Commerce and Delano streets are still winding their way through the city’s approval process, but a new strip of imagery shows what they’d look like viewed from the magnet school across the street from them. The idea is to put 220 120 units on the vacant 3-acre field extending directly north and east of the Baylor College of Medicine Biotech Academy at Rusk (which recently dropped its pre-K through 5th grade programs to go middle-school-only). A corner porte-cochere depicted above on the right would front Commerce adjacent to the complex’s entrance driveway.

Parking hooks around the back of the apartments, buffering them from the block-long warehouse building directly to their north:

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Campanile on Commerce
08/20/18 4:30pm

A Swamplot reader noticed that demolition crews are now trashing the conference center at the abandoned ExxonMobil Chemical Company headquarters next to Terry Hershey Park, leaving a grizzly roadside scene along Memorial Dr. “More concerning,” writes the reader, “is that they drained the ponds and did not relocate the waterfowl.

At least it’s still theirs to call their own — until PM Realty finds new tenants to replace the Exxon employees that left the property starting in 2014. Without anyone around to disturb the wildlife for now, “They are swimming in the tiny little bit of water left and otherwise just hanging out,” like so:

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Exxon Exodus
08/17/18 10:00am

MONTROSE SHAKE SHACK CONSTRUCTION IS ABOUT TO BEGIN A building permit filed yesterday for the corner where Burger King’s been lying in pieces on Westheimer near Montrose Blvd. reveals construction is imminent on the Shack Shake set to replace it. Upon completion, it’ll be Houston’s fourth Shake Shack location, after the one in Rice Village, at the Galleria, and in section 157 at Minute Maid Park. [Previously on Swamplot] Photo: Swamplox inbox

08/16/18 2:00pm

Petco, Michaels, Bed Bath and Beyond, and a big Dick’s Sporting Goods store are among the retailers now lining up for spots in Newquest Properties‘ new Grand-Parkway-adjacent shopping center dubbed The Grand at Aliana. They’ll be buffered from the highway by a roughly 2,400-car-parking lot and a front-line of fast food restaurants. The whole Grand plan hits the Houston Planning Commission’s desk later this afternoon at City Hall Annex, 20 miles away from where the development would be built off W. Airport Blvd.

The map at top shows it vying for attention up there amid the blue jigsaw grid of proposed and recently-built neighborhoods that keep appearing around the highway. In orange is the shopping center’s namesake, the 2,8000-house-and-counting Aliana community that wraps it to the east.

Viewed from the east in the conceptual shot below, you can see some of those houses in the foreground:

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Grandstanding
08/16/18 10:00am

A vast pet boarding facility is now taking over the Winport Furniture building at 6393 Richmond — which stretches back south nearly the entire block along Unity Dr., pictured above. After sitting on the place for 6 months, the pet resort operator that bought it filed a building permit yesterday indicating it’s about to rejigger the former 19,497-sq.-ft. showroom with the help of Slattery Tackett Architects.

Before shifting its focus to office furniture in 2016, the building dealt in home items and called itself The Chair King:

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Gone to the Dogs
08/14/18 11:30am

ALEXAN MEMORIAL APARTMENTS ARE HEADING TO RICE MILITARY A group linked to Dallas developer Trammell Crow recently filed plans with Houston’s planning commission to prep the shaded 2.5-acre parcel shown on the map between Sandman and the dead end of Reinerman St. for new apartments under the Alexan name. The complex would be backed by a ramp that diverges from the north side of Memorial Dr. and neighbored by a 3-story building that forms part of the DePelchin Children’s Center’s main Houston campus. Ordered off the site to make way for the new construction: some parking for the adjacent adoption and foster care center and a vacant, H-shaped office building to the west. Map: Houston Planning Commission

08/13/18 12:00pm

A new sketch of the Almeda Rd. building that Art Supply on Main wants to construct and move into shows the borders and outlines of what’s planned for its exterior. Like the current store — soon to make way for the highrise that’s taking over its lot between Drew and Dennis streets — the new one will include studio and living spaces along with retail, all within 2 stories. It’ll sit on a 2-plus acre site — highlighted by the red polygon in the map above (and nuzzled by a pale blue limb of 500-year floodplain) — originally part of Riverside Terrace, now just west of 288 and across from Our Legends Cigar Bar off Oakdale St.

Parking will remain in the back, with entrances off Oakdale and an alley to the south indicated in the site plan below:

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Midtown Moveout
08/10/18 12:00pm

RICE PICKS UP 1.75 MORE ACRES NEAR WHEELER TRANSIT CENTER, STRIPPED-DOWN SEARS A pair of entities connected to Rice University have purchased some extra property near the molted Midtown Sears the school bought along with 3 adjacent acres last year. Included in the deal: the surface parking lot at 4510 Main St. — west of the Wheeler Transit Center — the Shipley Do-Nuts on the corner of Richmond, and the Gulf station next to the Spur 527 overpass. Nothing’s gone down on the land recently except for the gas station; it was demolished in June. But A long list of proposed Houston residential developments put out by mortgage bank Berkadia — now being passed around on HAIF — shows the surface parking now slated for a 243-unit highrise from developer Horizon Real Estate. Last time someone planned to do something with that parcel, ground-floor retail was in the mix, too, with 327 units of affordable housing upstairs. [Berkadia via HAIF; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Lou C.

08/09/18 1:00pm

A POST OAK PARKING GARAGE SOLUTION TO THE DEMAND FOR DRIVE-IN THEATERS The head of the company now bringing a movie theater to the top of the BLVD Place garage at Post Oak and San Felipe tells the Chronicle’s Ileana Najarro that he “hopes to offer a social experience for those nostalgic for drive-in theaters.” What better place to do it than in Houston, where people drive in and out of buildings all the time? The catch: you’ll have to get out of your car and amble up to the garage’s top floor above Whole Foods and other retail, where it might get noisy — especially with that bus lane construction happening now on Post Oak. But there’s a solution: wireless headphones for each audience member — which Rooftop Cinema Club’s head says will “replicate the intimate setting of one’s car,” just like the old days. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo of Whole Foods at 1700 Post Oak Blvd.: Dung L.

08/09/18 9:45am

Ground beef chain BuffBurger is about to move into the new Citywest Retail Center 3 blocks outside Beltway 8 and just down the street from Phillips’s year-old headquarters and garage-top sports complex. So far, the strip center’s lineup includes almost exclusively food joints of the fast-casual variety, with a lone Ideal Dental office in middle of the east building. Its coming soon sign is pictured in the photo above, west of Yogurtland.

BuffBurger’s spot — its third since opening in the new Alabama Row strip across W. Alabama from the Menil in March — is in the shorter and stouter east building, where it’ll fill in corner at the far end from Panera’s already-open endcap:

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Westchase
08/03/18 12:45pm

A new brewery is now in the works for the industrial building that sits across the Downtown 59 on-ramp from the Houston Center for Sobriety. Just like the adjacent drunk tank which opened in 2013, the new business at 100 N. Jackson will be housed in a repurposed warehouse. Its lawn includes several signs pointing drivers to the neighboring sobering center — like the one shown above fronting the exit ramp off the Eastex, on the west side of the soon-to-be beer venue dubbed Industry Brewery. (Also in the frame: signage for the building’s most recent tenant the American Engine & Grinding Company.)

At that corner, a left on Ruiz St. followed by another quick one on Chenevert gets you outside the recovery facility:

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Downtown Wet and Dry Spots
07/31/18 3:00pm

THE BUILDUP TO TEAR THINGS DOWN FOR THE NEW I-45 HAS BEGUN “I’ve noticed a trend in lower Fifth Ward to start building or planning to build in the path of the upcoming I-45 reroute,” writes a Swamplot reader. “Is there a chance that developers can make more money on their buyout if they have developed plans?” Developed or not, there’s certainly been some action along the right of way that TxDOT plans to crater for the new highway segment — like that recent buying and selling in East Downtown across from the GRB. No one’s signed up to build anything new on those parcels yet — but with roadwork not slated to start until 2020, that’s plenty of time to get something ready ahead of the demolitions the highwaymen have planned to make way for the reroute. [Previously on Swamplot] Diagram of I-45 reroute: TxDOT

07/27/18 1:45pm

Here’s another Midtown development development: Georgian breakfast restaurant Flying Biscuit Café is the first tenant to line up for a spot in the tower Caydon Property’s putting up off Main St., between Drew and Tuam streets. The 27-story building — viewed above from the east side of Fannin St. — is just south of the Art Supply on Main store that Caydon just recently snatched up and plans to replace with one in the threesome of towers that’ll eventually stretch up to McGowen.

Flying Biscuit’s other destination as part of its 2-pronged Houston entrance strategy: the west side of the strip on Kingsride Ln. off Gessner where Reginelli’s Pizzeria decamped earlier this month:

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