10/19/18 12:30pm

MONDAY’S TRUMP-CRUZ RALLY UPGRADING FROM HOUSTON RODEO TO B-BALL VENUE Citing “huge and unprecedented” audience registration numbers, the president’s campaign announced that his Monday rally to drum up support for Ted Cruz will no longer be held at NRG Arena (capacity: 8,000), but instead at the Toyota Center (capacity: 18,043). Trump said in August he planned to pick “the biggest stadium in Texas we can find” for the festivities, at which Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick will also appear. But his schedulers seem strangely to have ruled out the state’s fifth biggest one, NRG Stadium (seats 71,500), which — as Houstonia’s Morgan Kinney noted — sits right across the parking lot from the Arena and remains unbooked on Monday. [Politico] Photo of the Toyota Center: Russell Hancock via Swamplot Flickr Pool

10/18/18 3:15pm

STATE OF QATAR CHIPS IN $2.5M FOR RIVERSIDE GENERAL HOSPITAL REDO Standing alongside ambassador Meshal bin Hamad Al-Thani yesterday in the archway of the hospital’s 92-year-old nurses’ quarters, Ed Emmett thanked Qatar for its donation to help get the hospital back open. It’s the first allocation the country has made from the $30M Qatar Harvey Fund it created last September. (Its diplomatic rival the United Arab Emerites volunteered $10M the same day, according to Al Jazeera) What is it that the money will actually pay for at the Third Ward property the county bought earlier this year? TBD, Emmett tells News 88.7’s Davis Land, although he notes that the county does plan “to have Riverside provide primary and mental health care as part of the Harris Health System,” the network of publicly-owned county hospitals that provide care to under- and uninsured patients. [Houston Public Media] Photo: Ed Emmett

10/17/18 1:30pm

ON THE PEARLAND ARBY’S MENU THIS WEEKEND: DUCK SANDWICH SPECIAL Saturday is Duck Sandwich debut day at the Pearland Arby’s on Shadow Creek Pkwy., one of just 16 locations across the U.S. chosen for the promo — a chain spokeswoman tells Nations Restaurant News reporter Bret Thorn — because of their proximity to “waterfowl migration flyways,” areas where duck-hunting is a popular pastime. “Based on past experience from similar Arby’s LTOs [Limited Time Offerings],” like the venison sandwich special of 2016 and elk offering the following year, Thorn expects supplies to sell out in “less than a day.” After arriving in-store from global, Indiana-headquartered duck supplier Maple Leaf Farms, the breasts will be seared and cooked in sous-vide (sealed in pouches and placed in hot water) before landing on a bun along with “fried onions and smoked cherry sauce.” [Nation’s Restaurant News; list of participating Arby’s] Video: Arby’s

10/16/18 11:15am

CHASE BANK CLOSING IN THE TOWER THAT BEARS ITS NAME December 13 is the last business day at Chase’s Chase Tower branch. The bank — which a portion of the lobby shown beyond Joan Miró’s Personage and Birds sculpture in the photo above — is following in the footsteps of the upstairs Chase employees who left in 2006 when the corporation moved its offices out of the building and lost the naming rights to it, reports the Chronicle’s John C. Roper. The nearest branch: in the former Gulf Building at 712 Main St., on the block catty-corner southeast of the Chase Tower. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo: 42 Floors

10/12/18 10:00am

HINES PICKING UP LESS THAN AN ACRE ACROSS FROM MONTROSE WHOLE FOODS PARKING LOT The developer entered into an agreement earlier this year to buy the property at the corner of Waugh Dr. and D’Amico St., reports the HBJ’s Olivia Pulsinelli in her round-up of recent North Montrose land sales. On-site that nearly three-quarter acre parcel right now: a parking lot, driveways, and 2-story dingbat office building that backs up to the adjacent strip housing Pimlico Irish Pub and others. To the east, BMW-focused auto shop Bavarian Machine Specialties buffers the tract from what’ll soon be Stages Repertory Theatre’s new theater and green space on Rosine St. [HBJ] Photo: LoopNet

10/11/18 10:15am

COMMISSIONERS COURT: NO ROBO-BROTHELS IN UNINCORPORATED AREAS EITHER, PLEASE Now that the city’s banned sex doll businesses that let customers get it on with the merchandise right there in the store, what about the rest of the county? “That activity is already not allowed,” Judge Ed Emmett says at the Commissioners’ meeting on Tuesday. County attorney Vince Ryan added that there are currently laws on the books that “would prohibit those kinds of acts.” But as to what the laws are: Emmett says Ryan “will seek clarification before the next Commissioners meeting on Oct. 23,” reports Community Impact‘s Vanessa Holt. In both the city and the county, there’s nothing illegal about selling human-like sex devices for take-home use, officials tell Holt. [Community Impact; previously on Swamplot] Photo of 5615 Richmond, planned location of thwarted sex doll brothel: LoopNet

10/10/18 9:45am

SNEAKING A PEEK AT THE BIG WALLS, BIG GATES ARMY CORPS COULD PROPOSE FOR THE COAST LATER THIS MONTH On October 26, the agency will single out one of the 4 big proposals it’s been pondering for the Texas coast as the chosen one, reports the Texas Tribune’s Kiah Collier. One of them “calls for the construction of a 17-foot-high levee along the entirety of Galveston Island,” as well as Bolivar Peninsula. Ring any bells? It’s the so-called Ike Dike (also known as the “coastal spine”) that A&M scientists dreamed up about a decade ago in response to the disaster and hypothetically-even-worse disaster that could’ve occurred if Ike had struck 30 miles further west. Another defense against that doomsday scenario that could make it into the proposal: a giant gate structure adapted from Rice’s Jim Blackburn and Philip Bedient’s 2011 idea for a mechanism that’d close before storms to block surge. (They wanted to put it just upstream from the Fred Hartman Bridge; the Corps has number of different spots in mind.) All the plans in the running include a so-called ring levee around Galveston’s bay side to protect it from reverse storm surge, a helping of smaller levees and gates, upgrades to existing flood control structures, and ecosystem restoration projects geared toward creating natural floodwater-fighting barriers. [Texas Tribune; previously on Swamplot] Map indicating proposed Alternative A plan: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

10/05/18 2:00pm

WHY ALL THE FOOD TRUCKS VANISHED FROM EAST DOWNTOWN’S TRUCK YARD Health department officials ousted all food trucks from the open-air structure pictured adjacent to outdoor seating in August — reports Samantha Morris over at Houston Food Finder — nearly 4 months after the Lamar St. bar opened. Their justification: City code bans food trucks from parking within 100 ft. of dining areas and from parking underneath “any canopy, awning or other covering,” that isn’t attached to the truck itself. (If the covering’s already there for another purpose, and the truck just happens to park under it, the city lets it slide.) As a partial fix, “We’re going to take the roof off,” Truck Yard’s general manager tells Morris. Until the city okays plans for that change, cheesesteaks from the bar’s in-house kitchen will be the only food source available. [Houston Food Finder; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Truck Yard Houston

10/05/18 12:30pm

MATTRESS FIRM HAS FILED FOR BANKRUPTCY The nationwide chain filed for Chapter 11 this morning in order to deal with its debt$3.2 billion by Paul Takahashi’s accounting — as well as what the company calls “certain economically inefficient store locations.” 700 stores nationwide are goners, 200 of which will be closing “in the next few days,” according to the company. [Previously on Swamplot] Photo of shuttered Mattress Firm at 208 Westheimer Rd.: Swamplox inbox

10/03/18 5:00pm

WHO PUSHED THE BUTTON THAT BLEW UP THE DOWNTOWN MACY’S According to the Vice President of Demolition at Cherry Companies, which oversaw the demo: “the person who bought the building had his son do it.” His push triggered 1,500 pounds of explosives — the demo exec estimates on the Chronicle’s latest episode of LoopedInobliterating the structure and clearing the way for the 23-floor Hilcorp Energy Tower his dad would later commission Hines to build in its place at Dallas and Main St. Although technically a partnership connected to Doug Kelly, president of Hilcorp Ventures, “bought” the building around the time of the teardown in 2013, it was more of a shuffling-around than a hand-off. Hilcorp had already owned the former Foley’s since 2010; the later transaction just transferred it over to different entity under the same umbrella of corporate oversight. [Previously on Swamplot]

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

09/25/18 2:15pm

AL RETZLOFF’S CARD ROOM WILL RAISE YOU ONE First there’s the 5-ton A/C unit, installed so that guests of the late chemical executive and Indy car sponsor “could open the floor-to-ceiling doors facing the number 13 ladies tee box” at the neighboring Houston Country Club “while staying cool,” says the current owner of 302 Shadywood Rd., who’s now listing it for sale. The opposite wall, however, made it harder to get through to Retzloff and his pals: Windowless and 10-in. thick, it served “as a security feature against drive-by shootings.” Up top, “The TV came out of the ceiling using a 3/4 horsepower motor.” And on the roof directly above was a full-service helipad — but not for long: “The neighbors and the HOA shut it down due to the noise.” [Previously on Swamplot] Photo: HAR

09/24/18 2:15pm

WHO’S DRINKING IN D&W LOUNGE AT 7 AM? Until recently, a lot of “third shift workers on their way home” from the Maxwell House coffee plant 3 blocks up Milby St., reports John Nova Lomax in his recent Vice ode to the bar. (There’s no getting away with it under current regs, but — he adds — D&W used to be a 24-7 establishment.) “It was also a hit with weary cops and assistant district attorneys,” says Lomax. The coffee plant closed down over the summer, but the bar’s hours remain the same. [Vice; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Nathan F.

09/18/18 4:45pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: HOUSTON’S POPULATION FORECAST DOESN’T ACCOUNT FOR THE WEATHER “These studies always miss the boat on the climate change; I’d be surprised if population growth in Houston and the surrounding area hasn’t plateaued and maybe even begun to decrease by 2040. Let me put it this way: If even the most conservative projections are correct, I wouldn’t want to be living here then. If you think the flooding and the summer temperatures are bad now . . .” [Christian, commenting on Houston’s Population Will Break 10M by 2040, Says METRO Study] Illustration: Lulu

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