10/05/18 10:30am

All that foreplay over the sex doll brothel planned inside the 2 story building pictured above on Richmond Ave just east of Chimney Rock ended up going nowhere Wednesday when city council blocked its opening by amending an ordinance that regulates adult businesses within city limits. Following the council’s unanimous vote, having sex with what the amendment calls “anthropomorphic devices” inside stores that offer them is now illegal in Houston. However, selling the dolls for take-home use remains no problem — provided that the retailer is more than 1,500 ft. from all nearby schools, churches, daycare centers, areas with 75% residential density, and public parks

City-owned Anderson Park is just about catty-corner to the brothel’s planned location at 5615 Richmond — meaning the property is now off-limits to any kind of R-rated establishment. (Existing PG tenants include Kaan Cafe, Omni Salsa Dance Studio, and a handful of clothing shops.)

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5615 Richmond
09/27/18 5:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHITE OAK’S WOULD-BE TALLEST BUILDING “So the robo-garage on White Oak will be ‘no taller than 75 ft.‘ ?” That’s about 5 or 6 stories, which is exceedingly tall in that particular location. It will certainly stick out, when no other building in the immediate area is even half that height.” [Donald (not that one), commenting on How Houston’s 2 Planned Robo-Parking Garages Compare in Size] Map showing proposed automated parking garage on White Oak Dr.: Centric Commercial

09/26/18 4:30pm

The building with a roof that’s bigger than its body at 3024 Houston Ave. is now slated to become a cafe operating under the name Uncle Bean’s Coffee Shop. The photo at top — posted to the venue’s fledgling Facebook page this morning views the structure from the west side of the road, just south of Alma St. Its most recent occupant: Mr. Details Hand Car Wash.

White paint hit the exterior sometime during the former tenant’s tenure, washing out the yellow splat marks that once graced its north and south sides:

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Woodland Heights
09/18/18 12:00pm

EMPTY LEELAND ST. FURNITURE WORKSHOP NOW HAS A WINE SIGN ON IT A reader tells Swamplot one of those TABC posters is up on the building at 3107 Leeland St., and the applicant it names: The Wine House, LLC. The last tenant Metamorphose Studios did double-duty in the 2,800-sq.-ft. space: dealing furniture and also guiding visitors in the art of refurbishing items themselves (“I recommend the chairapy class,” wrote the venue’s sole Yelp reviewer in 2016, adding that of the items for sale: “The hand painted and embellished cattle skulls are to die for!“) Despite its departure from Houston, the workshop lives on as part of an antique store up in Navasota. Photo: Metamorphose Studios

09/17/18 2:45pm

In a lawsuit it filed Friday against the City of Houston, the government contractor tasked with housing thousands of child immigrants across Texas, Arizona, and California says it’s got until October 28 to open the building it leased at 419 Emancipation Ave. — now preemptively dubbed Casa Sunzal — otherwise the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement will pull its funding for the planned facility.

The nonprofit’s biggest beef with the city (and in particular the Mayor, who grinned in June at the idea of a permitting “slow-walk” for the center) is that the compound shouldn’t be classified as a detention facility but rather a residential one. Yes, the company says in its filing, “children are verbally discouraged from leaving,” the campus, but they “are not physically restrained if they try to.” 240 kids ages “0 to 17,” were originally slated to shack up in the compound, according to the Chronicle’s Lomi Kriel. The majority of them — Southwest Key says now — would be minors that crossed the border by themselves, as opposed to those separated from their parents upon arrival in the U.S.

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Casa Sunzal
09/14/18 12:45pm

SPENGA’S UPPER-DECK GYM WILL JUT OUT REAL CLOSE TO ITS NEIGHBOR Just 8 in. will separate the cantilevered fitness studio’s eastern, over-the-edge portion from the eaves of the 1915 home adjacent to it — reports abc13’s Christine Dobbyn — which will soon house Arden’s Picture Framing and Gallery. The 15,700-sq.-ft. lot where the new retail building’s planned at 307 Westheimer is currently going up; Italian restaurant Michelangelo’s went to pieces on its west side last December (the east was all parking). [abc13; previously on Swamplot] Rendering of 307 Westheimer Rd.: Spenga

09/12/18 1:00pm

Although only one includes living space, both structures shown separated by St. Charles St. in the rendering at top are intended to give people spaces to live. The big one — depicted in more detail above — is Kirksey Architecture’s 5-story design for an affordable housing operations center, to be placed directly across the street from 20 units of actual housing. The Midtown Redevelopment Authority bought the vacant land for both sites along Elgin in 2015, back when the renovation of neighboring Emancipation Park was still taking shape.

On the left in the aerial below, you can see the parcel where the HQ is planned across from the park and its on-site Emancipation Community Center:

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Third Ward
09/04/18 4:00pm

POSTINO WINE BAR IS GETTING ALL TINGLY AGAIN ABOUT OPENING A NEW LOCATION IN AN OLD BUILDING Back in April, the Chronicle’s Greg Morago reported that the management behind Postino Wine Bar “got goosebumps” while checking out the portion of the old Pappas Restaurants complex off Yale St. that eventually became their debut Houston location in Heights Mercantile. Now, the sensation has come back to haunt them: “Walking into the old Montrose Mining Company – such a storied space that’s been a neighborhood gathering space since the 1970s – gave us goosebumps,” the chain’s owner tells him. And so: Renovations will begin soon to bring the longtime gay bar at 805 Pacific St. back into service as Houston’s second Postino. The venue’s former proprietor Charles Armstrong sold it to a group overseen by Fred Sharifi — the owner of the neighboring Baba Yega Cafe — in January, following the bar’s shutdown in 2016. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Swamplox inbox

09/04/18 10:30am

A recent tax filing reveals Sweet Bribery is the moniker of the corner ice cream shop Braun Enterprises has been showing in its site plan for 250 W. 19th St. without daring to speak its name. It’s the last of the 5 new tenants that the developer’s been ushering into the former Chippendale Eastlake Antiques store since buying it in 2015. (One of which — an ice cream offshoot of Lee’s Fried Chicken & Donuts called Lee’s Creamery — appears no longer bound for the building.) Pictured above is the western flank it’d occupy, which backs up to Urban Float sensory deprivation spa’s entrance off Rutland St.

Next door to the creamery, clothing stores Mary & Moss and Proper are already doing business along 19th St.:

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250 W. 19th St.
08/31/18 10:30am

4 FLOORS OF APARTMENTS EYEING AVONDALE HALF-ACREAGE BEHIND BISTECCA The owner of 214 Avondale St. has plans to build a 4-story apartment complex on-site and is now seeking an off-street parking variance for the would-be development. If the planning commission signs off on it next month, the building would be permitted to go up with 60 spaces, 5 less than city rules mandate for the just-under-half-acre site, 2 blocks west of Bagby and directly north of Bistecca Ristorante. (Seven bike racks capable of holding 28 bikes total would also be included.) The public hearing for the proposal goes down on Thursday, September 13. Map: Houston Planning Commission

08/30/18 12:01pm

SOMERSET LOFTS SIGN UP TO NEIGHBOR FORTHCOMING RAILWAY HEIGHTS FOOD HALL Four floors of apartments are staking their claim to the unbuilt 2-and-a-half acre tract next to the warehouse that’s becoming a food hall at 11th and Hempstead. With a nod from the city planning commission and some tax credits bestowed by the Texas Department of Housing last month, Blossom Development is now ready to start building the complex. Its bargain with the state mandates that at least some of the 120 units be priced below market rate. Map: Houston Planning Commission Agenda

08/28/18 4:00pm

Here’s a glimpse of what 317 W. 19th St. might look like with a roof over its head for the first time in a few decades and something inside that presumably isn’t junk. An entity connected to the next-door Maryam’s Cafe bought the 6,600-sq.-ft. lot in February. Shortly after, all the odds and ends that once kept it occupied vanished.

Gone as well: the sheet-metal facade that shielded them from the public eye. But not entirley:

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Next to Maryam’s Cafe
08/27/18 2:00pm

The outline of a 20-story apartment building called Montrose Gardens made its first public appearance late Friday in the city’s planning commission agenda, where its footprint covers over that of the Khun Kay Thai Cafe on the corner of Montrose Blvd. and W. Clay St. Only 9 of those stories will be for living, so what’s going into the rest? According to the building’s engineer: “A variety of retail stores, restaurants, and coffee shops” — all 24,000 sq.-ft. of which would be buffered from the 150-or-so upstairs apartments by 9 stories of resident-only parking. Underground, a separate 2 floor garage will gobble up retail traffic from an opening on W. Clay.

Also present on the 19,900-sq.-ft. site where the apartment’s staking its claim: the restaurant’s 2 parking lots. The northern one ran over the duplex-turned-psychic-shop directly south of it after the structure — memorialized in the aerial below — was demolished in 2016:

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Montrose Gardens
08/27/18 12:00pm

A pile of building parts is now all that stands in the way of the 4,500-sq.-ft. strip that Houston developer Ancorian wants to place at Yale and E. 27th, opposite the other shopping center it’s now ushering tenants into across the street. In place of the standalone Church’s Fried Chicken drive-thru — pictured above before and after its demo last week — a rendering now shows 3 newcomers lined up next to each other at 2702 Yale.

One of them carries on the site’s fast-food legacy with more of a niche focus:

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Chickening Out on Yale
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