07/20/17 4:45pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: HOW TO HELP CANINO’S NET THAT DESTINATION FISH MARKET APPEAL “Something that seems to make other markets around the world such successful destinations (Pike Place, Borough Market, Reading Terminal, etc.) is their accessibility within a dense urban core. In each case, the locations are accessible to pedestrians and located near high-traffic public transit locations. They are also near other walkable destinations like stores and restaurants, art galleries and museums; within walking distance from hotels and other destinations. It will be interesting to see how this works out in Houston on Airline Dr., with all of the car traffic and expansive space needed to accommodate parking. I hope Airline and Cavalcade get to be a little more walkable, and buses run there more often.” [Nearnort, commenting on Destination-Ization Plans for Airline Dr. Farmers Market Show New Rooftops, Playground, Multistory Observation Tower, Some Whitewashing] Rendering of plans for Canino Market on Airline Dr.: MLB Capital Partners

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 Swamplot] Photo: Canino Produce Market

07/18/17 1:15pm

That excavator (pictured above) spotted poking around outside of the former House of Deréon Media Center last week may have disappeared at the end of its brief staredown with a larger than life representation of Beyoncé Knowles and the Destiny’s Child crew — but the structure still looks to be on the chopping block after all, if the demo permits issued yesterday are any indication. Group 1 Realty, an arm of the auto chain that owns nearby Advantage BMW alongside the Pierce Elevated, bought the land last fall from Mathew Knowles; the company also looks to have been snapping up a smattering of other properties in the immediate vicinity since at least early 2015. 

Photo: Jordan

Demo Crews To Get In Formation
07/11/17 11:30am

A reader who visited the site of the House of Deréon Media Center last night notes an unusual outcome to the demolition standoff that began on the Midtown block late last week. The excavator parked outside the former event and wedding venue at 2204 Crawford St. marketed as “The Home of Destiny’s Child” has apparently been removed — and the building, along with other structures that until last year belonged to former Destiny’s Child manager Mathew Knowles‘s Music World Entertainment complex, is still standing. There will be no, no, no demolition, it appears — for now.

A reader’s photo and video of the scene (above) show only a few mudtracks from the excavator remaining — and Kelly Rowland, Beyoncé Knowles, and Michelle Williams still staring it down, unmoved.

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Say My Name
07/10/17 9:45am

It appears that what’s left of Mathew Knowles’s Music World Entertainment compound in Midtown is Destiny’s Child now. “Ever since I read that Advantage BMW bought the block,” writes the reader who snapped this photo of the excavator now parked next to the House of Deréon Media Center at 2204 Crawford St., “I have been expecting something to come down.”

The pictured building, designated the “Home of Destiny’s Child” — later an event and wedding venue operated by Knowles, the group’s former manager — sits on the 1.43-acre block bounded by Crawford, Webster, LaBranch, and Hadley that Knowles sold to the corporate owners of the neighboring Midtown Advantage BMW dealership late last year, after (as he later told Nancy Sarnoff) “someone knocked on my door and made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.

Also on the block: the Music World Studios building, where (among others) Rick Ross, Lil Wayne, Mario, and Chris Brown recorded — as well as Knowles’s daughters, Beyoncé and Solange. And at 1515 Hadley St., next door to the House of Deréon Media Center, is the 3-story former Rice Mansion, which Knowles had made his company’s headquarters:

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Child of Destiny
07/07/17 11:30am

There’s now nothing left of the 1952 2-bedroom house or its 3 accompanying oak trees that until late last month stood at 4027 Portsmouth St. in Weslayan Plaza, a tiny neighborhood just west of Greenway Plaza and just north of the Southwest Fwy.

Here’s a quick photo recap of recent activity on the site:

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Now You See It
07/06/17 12:30pm

Neighbor-with-a-security-cam Bill Curry has now posted to YouTube 6 additional time-lapse videos covering days 2 through 8 of the demo of the Googie-style River Oaks Manor condo complex at 2325 Welch St. The structure went down at the end of last month across from his home just east of Revere St., in an unnamed neighborhood real close to River Oaks.

If you thrilled to the jumpy frames from Curry’s Nest camera chronicling the removal of a 26-unit, 2-story structure dating from 1950 (in favor of a 32-unit, 9-story structure dating from 2018) but wanted to see what more it took to remove the row of Welch St.-facing carports left standing in the first video, follow the rest of the sequence, beginning with Day 2 (above) and continuing with the third day (June 27th) below:

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Clearing Out in River Oaks Adjacent
07/05/17 11:00am

The metal garage-and-office structure that once housed the Neff Rental location at the southwestern corner of Independence Heights has now been obliterated, a reader notes — sending the above photograph to serve as evidence of the building’s absence. Site work began at the property last month.

When construction is complete next year, a 30,000-sq.-ft. 365 by Whole Foods Market will face the North Loop feeder road, in front of an attached tilt-wall 12,000-sq.-ft. structure slated for a Houston Heights ER. A parking lot of 242 spaces will front Yale St. Immediately to the north on Yale, a 19,200-sq.-ft. strip center will be surrounded by additional parking.

Photo: Swamplot inbox

Enough for Neff
06/27/17 3:30pm

Courtesy of a smartphone-bearing reader, here’s the scene from this morning on the often-quiet Montrose corner of Harold and Mulberry, directly across the street from the Bering Memorial United Methodist Church. The single-story brick bungalow dating from 1938 at 1502 Harold St. is a goner. Croix Homes has a permit to build a new house on the site.

Photo: Swamplot inbox

Crushed in Montrose
06/21/17 3:00pm

A flyer from NewQuest Properties is now hawking an imagined retail-or-restaurant building at 3215 White Oak Dr., across the street from the parking lot for Juiceland and Black Swan Yoga. The lot, which spans from the corner of Columbia St. to the western edge of the Heights hike-and-bike trail that slices diagonally across White Oak, is currently home to an Aqua Hand Car Wash (seen from Columbia St. above), as well as a few rented-out residences behind it and next to the trail.

The included renderings show the building fronting the sidewalk on White Oak, with a patio in front:

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Signage!
06/09/17 11:30am

A segment of the Heights Waterworks properties at 20th and Nicholson St. should be making its way into the hands of Braun Enterprises later this year, Katherine Feser reports this morning in the Chronicle. Building on Houston’s budding tradition of high profile redevelopment of decommissioned water storage tanks, the company will be turning the handful of pump station and reservoir structures on the block southeast of 20th and Nicholson into a handful of restaurants and bars, catty-corner from Alliance’s planned apartments.

One of the features called out in the city’s 2015 declaration of the property as a protected landmark was the “unusual grass roof” atop the reservoir itself; Tipps Architecture’s design for the structure’s redevelopment shows some grass in place on a rooftop patio, as well as a 3-story glassy extension protruding from the east face of the 2-story building. Other views of the complex show a lawn in between the building labeled Heights Tap & Bar above and the pumphouse to the south:

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Turning the Waterworks Back On
06/08/17 11:30am

THE PIERCE ELEVATED SKYPARK PLAN ISN’T DEAD YET “You can’t just wait until the day that TxDOT asks you what to do with it,” Tami Merrick tells Stephen Paulsen in the Houston Press this morning, in reference to her involvement with the small group working toward publishing an economic study some time next year of those speculative plans to turn the Pierce Elevated into the Pierce Skypark. The segment of I-45 may ultimately be torn down so the right-of-way can be sold, once the planned spaghetti-riffic Downtown freeway reroute wraps up in a decade or so. But Paulsen writes that the planning group is nonetheless optimistic about getting a foot in the door when the moment is right: “At some point, the Pierce Elevated will stop serving cars. And when it does, the group argues, why wouldn’t the city want an innovative, prearranged plan for the abandoned stretch of freeway?” [Houston Press; previously on Swamplot] Rendering of Pierce Elevated as a park: Page/Marcus Martinez via Pierce Skypark

06/07/17 10:45am

It’s been the better part of a year since Pepino’s on Richmond Ave. started showing signs of closure (namely, since its name signage came down, signaling the end of the joint’s nearly decade-and-a-half run in Castle Court). A nearby reader spotted what looks to be some work to prep the stripmall spot for its next occupant, which was issued a few permits last week under the name Miss Saigon. (That name shows up in Braun’s leasing flier for its newly acquired property, too, though it’s not clear yet whether the name is connected to one of the other Houston Miss Saigon-inspired Vietnamese restaurants, or is merely another independent nod to the musical.)

Speaking of musicals, part of the former Pepino’s space looks to have been absorbed by nextdoor piano cabaret Michael’s Outpost, whose red door is visible above and in a few of the leasing shots of the remodeled center (below):

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Braun Goes Gray
05/30/17 2:15pm

The state bill proposed by Houston-area senator John Whitmire (to require a vote on major county-funded upgrades to certain Texas stadiums that happen to be the Astrodome) was killed in the Texas House by a different Houston-area legislator, Robert Arnold reports this week for KHOU. (That likely means the work on Harris County’s plan to fill in the bottom of the Dome with an underground parking garage can go ahead without a special election on the spending.) The bill actually passed the Senate at the end of March, but died in the House’s County Affairs committee chaired by representative Garnet Coleman (whose own legislative district ever-so-slightly overlaps Whitmire’s around Fourth Ward: From there, Coleman’s District 147 stretches down through Third Ward toward the Beltway along the Gulf Freeway, while Whitmire’s Senate District 15 horseshoes up 290 to FM 1960 and Humble before looping back down to the Ship Channel). Arnold says the bill made an unsuccessful comeback attempt as an amendment to another measure, and looks to be dead for now as of yesterday’s end of the normal legislative calendar. (Then again — who knows what might pop up during a special session?)

Schematic of county Astrodome parking garage plan: Harris County Engineering Dept.

Parking Plan Stop-and-Go