COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE MONTROSE DUAL DEALERSHIP WELCOME THAT WASN’T
“Too bad . . . I had imagined an identical building being constructed, and as bookends would have made a fantastic ‘gateway‘ into the Montrose/Museum area.” [city cynic, commenting on Stahlman Lumber Up for Sale by Landowner That Didn’t Replace It with a Car Dealership] Photo of Audi Central Houston: Audi Central Houston
NOW EVERY KATY BUC-EE’S BATHROOM STALL WILL HAVE A LIGHT ON IT TELLING YOU WHERE TO GO
Tooshlights is the brand name of the latest amenity that the Guiness-World-Record-winning Buc-ee’s off the Katy Fwy. wants to add to its 40 bathroom stalls, reports Dan Solomon over at Texas Monthly. It’s a spin on the technology you’ve probably seen on twinkling in certain parking garages: individual LEDs that light up red when a spot is occupied and green when it’s vacant. Along with Buc-ee’s’s Temple location, the Katy store will be the first of the chains 34 branches to roll it out. [Texas Monthly; previously on Swamplot] Photo of restroom at Buc-ee’s #40, 27700 Katy Fwy., Katy, Texas: Jennifer N.
COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHAT’S ON THE RISE AT ALLEN PKWY. AND GILLETTE?
“And as of yesterday, a wood frame has gone up. It definitely does not look like the lower floors of the 11-story-ish building shown in the upper right of the rendering.” [Chris C., commenting onA First Concrete Step Toward Building That Mixed-Use Complex at Allen Pkwy. and Gillette St.] Photo of new concrete pad on Gillette St. south of Allen Pkwy.: Swamplox inbox
WHAT’S NEXT FOR BRIAR HOLLOW ONCE THE TREE TOPS APARTMENTS GET STUMPED?
Neighbors have begun whispering of a 10-story apartment building from The Finger Companies that could go in place of the abandoned Tree Tops at Post Oak complex at 4510 Briar Hollow Pl. It’s not out of the question: An entity linked to Finger bought the 2.3-acre property in July and has since submitted plans to the city to reshape it. Nobody’s lived in the 2 existing 3-story buildings since last August, at which time the water level topped out at about the ceiling of the ground-floor units according to an observer nearby. [Previously on Swamplot] Photo: Swamplox inbox
CHARLES BARKLEY’S OLD HOUSE IS ABOUT TO HIT THE MARKET
Two years after finishing his career with the Rockets in 2000, the power-forward-turned-broadcaster sold his Sugar Land house at 66 Harbor View Dr. to the current homeowners, who — according to a preview put out by ResideTX Properties — are about to put it back on the market. It sits at the back of a cul-de-sac in the Pointe Royale subdivision east of where New Territory Blvd. crosses the Grand Pkwy. Inside, 3,956 sq.-ft. houses 4 beds and 3.5 baths. [ResideTX] Photo of 66 Harbor View Dr.: ResideTX
ONCOMING TEXAS BULLET TRAIN MODEL NOW KILLING TIME IN JAPAN AHEAD OF ITS STATESIDE DEBUT
The general manager of Central Japan Railway Company, the Japanese firm designing the would-be Houston-Dallas bullet train, tells WFAA’s Jason Whitely it’ll be a spin-off of the company’s recently-revealed N700S model, 2 prototypes of which appear above. That new design — test runs of which began in July — is a half-size version of the N700 stock the company currently operates along Japanese rail lines: 8 cars instead of 16. They’re planned to start
hurdling hurtling down the country’s Shinkansen rail network at 177 miles-per-hour in 2020, by which time Texas Central — our state’s own high-speed rail hopeful — expects to have broken ground already on its 240-mile right-of-way. It says its version of the trains — to be named the N700I (“I” for “international”) will start off running at 186 miles-per-hour but could later accelerate up to 205, “subject to regulatory approval and market demands.” [WFAA; previously on Swamplot] Photo of 2 N700S Shinkansen prototype trains: Texas Central
ARMY CORPS’ FIRST PUBLIC IKE DIKE DISCUSSION IS TOMORROW
Tomorrow, the Army Corps will hold a public meeting in Port Lavaca about the Ike Dike it proposed last month. The meeting — the first of 6 planned between now and April — will give the agency an in-person opportunity to defend the modeling system underlying its $30 billion recommendations, which took some heat earlier this month from Rice U. scientists who claimed it didn’t take into account all those 100-year events that keep happening every few years. Since then, the Corps has told the Chronicle’s Nick Powell that isn’t true, adding that numerous key tweaks have brought the system up to date from FEMA’s earlier model, used in flood insurance mapping projects. The public comment period for the proposal remains open until mid-January. [Houston Chronicle ($); previously on Swamplot]
A TIME TO GIVE THANKS
Swamplot is taking a holiday hiatus starting right now. We wish you the best in your own Thanksgiving endeavors and hope you’ll rejoin us on Monday when we come back refreshed and ready to recap any newsworthy dealings that may have transpired over the long weekend. Photo of H-E-B Thanksgiving Day Parade: Houston First
WESTHEIMER WILL HENCEFORTH NOT BE CALLED UR 1093 ANYMORE, SAYS TXDOT
Before last week, TxDOT had an obscure formal name for Westheimer Rd. on the books: UR 1093. The designation — short for “urban road” — was created 23 years ago to distinguish city thoroughfares from farm to market roads, reports the Chronicle‘s Dug Begley. But “No signs were ever erected,” he writes, “and it became clear no one was going to stop calling the roads what they always had, officials said in a written briefing for transportation commissioners. The only place the urban roads ever appeared was in the internal TxDOT roadway inventory.” There, Begley counts 30 Houston-area roads that were set to set to become URs “in theory, at least.” Officials killed the designation on November 15, reinstating Westheimer’s previous pseudonym FM 1093. The only thing that really changes: where funding for those roads can come from. Had the UR designation stuck, says a TxDOT spokeswoman, they would’ve been eligible for some extra federal maintenance money aimed at cities. [Houston Chronicle ($)] Photo of Westheimer Rd. at El Real Tex-Mex Cafe west of Yoakum Blvd.: Bill Barfield via Swamplot Flickr Pool
PHOENIX TOWER DOUBLING DOWN ON PARKING
A new 8-story parking garage will be built next to the Phoenix Tower’s existing 8-story parking garage writes Ralph Bivins over at Realty News Report. The planned “garage annex,” he reports, “will adjoin Phoenix Tower’s original eight-story garage and also provide direct, covered access to The Hub,” the restaurant-heavy core of Greenway Plaza, between Buffalo Spdwy and Edloe St. Architect HOK has already signed up for the project, which the developer says should start before the end of the year. [Realty News Report] Photo: Parkway Properties
COASTAL DEFENSE EXPERTS SAY IKE DIKE WON’T BE ENOUGH WITHOUT A BACKUP WALL
With the public comment period underway on the Ike Dike proposal the Army Corps issued last month, Rice University scientist Jim Blackburn weighs in on the project: “We think that there is too much remaining surge exposure,” he tells the Chronicle‘s Nick Powell on behalf of the research team he heads. Why’s that? “The storms that are being analyzed by the Corps are, in my opinion, too small,” Blackburn says. “They’re just not making landfall at the worst locations, with the type of wind fields and characteristics we’re seeing.” Had the Corps’ methodology accounted for a worst-case storm, says Blackburn, its analysts would’ve seen that the projects they proposed — 70 miles worth of walls and gates between High Island and San Luis Pass — are inadequate without a key addition: an upstream gate that’d run across the middle of Galveston Bay, further shielding the Ship Channel and its adjacencies from floodwaters. “We are going to argue that to any governmental entity that is interested,” says Blackburn, adding, “I think we need options. If all of our eggs are in a $30 billion federal appropriation, that just sounds too risky to me.” One key selling point for the gate: It could be built in about half the time the other proposals would take and at a fraction of their cost, says Blackburn, between $3 billion to $5 billion. [Houston Chronicle ($); previously on Swamplot] Map of Ike Dike proposal: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHAT DRIVE-BY SIGHTSEERS STAND TO LOSE WITHOUT MEMORIAL DR. “Open space in an urban context can be experienced in a positive way while in a car, and for many people who do not have time to dally, this is the only positive urban experience that they are likely to have on a regular basis. The idea of a ‘parkway’ is not inherently evil. And yes, it requires land, and yes, urban land is a precious thing . . . but when it generates both appreciation and a sheer volume of use, that is justified on more than simply a utilitarian basis.” [TheNiche, commenting on Comment of the Day: Swapping Out Memorial Dr.’s Speedway Setup for Something Worth Walking] Illustration: Lulu
WHAT’S NEXT FOR HALLIBURTON’S EMPTY OAK PARK CAMPUS ON BELLAIRE?
A newly-formed group of real estate experts is now brainstorming ideas for Halliburton’s 48-acre former Oak Park campus at 10200 Bellaire Blvd., just west of Beltway 8. Included in the brain-trust: architecture firm HOK and landscape and planning firm SWA Group — as well as Hines and Transwestern, which will handle property management and leasing, respectively. They’ve all been called in by a private investment group that bought the complex over the summer and that’s headed up — reporter Ralph Bivins has said — by longtime Sharpstown land huckster Lawrence Wong. Halliburton employees began trickling out of their offices in the bow-tie-shaped 1979 building 3 years ago, leaving behind the amenities (a basketball court, daycare center, and auditorium) and adjacencies (a conference center and 5-story garage) that the new owner is now touting. Photo: LoopNet
BRAKING FOR VETERANS DAY
Shoutout to all the brave service members who’ve made sacrifices for our county; Swamplot is taking an extra day off today to honor what they’ve done. We’ll see you bright and early tomorrow morning when we we return to our regular beat.
Photo of construction on 610 Southbound near Woodway Dr.: Swamplox inbox