09/20/18 4:00pm

The rendering at top from Texas real estate firm Hunington shows off what Rex Supply’s double-block complex along the Green Line would look like redone with a shop-lined pedestrian zone dubbed Rex Alley at its heart, where Everton St. is now. The full setting is called Milby Junction and would be carved from the array of industrial buildings that sit on either side of the north-south road between Harrisburg Blvd. and Preston St. right now. The 2 biggest are shown preserved in the map above, along with a house to the northwest that appears to play no part in Hunington’s plans.

An L-shaped building adjacent to the house is the one goner. It’s visible just north of the structure labeled REX SUPPLY in the view below from the corner of Harrisburg and Milby:

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Milby Junction
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
08/16/18 4:00pm

Orange fencing is condoning off the corner of the Westchase Shopping Center where a new Regions Bank is planned in place of the El Palenque that shuttered there in May. A demolition permit issued for the restaurant building exactly a week ago means its days are numbered. But for now it’s still standing, fronted by landscaping and the new Port-o-Potty pair visible in the photo at top from Walnut Bend Ln., just shy of Westheimer.

Also on its last legs: the bank’s nearest existing branch on S. Kirkwood near the Westheimer H-E-B. A company spokesperson told the HBJ‘s Olivia Pulsinelli in June that the planned new branch will take over business in the area.

Photos: Jose Galvan (fencing); Troy M. (El Palenque)

Branching Out
08/14/18 3:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: A HIDDEN MEMORIAL DR. DOG SPOT MEETS ITS END “I always liked to go to that site with the dog in the winter; not sure why, but because of the slope, mixed with the cold air, it made me feel that I was not in Houston. It was not a well known location unless you lived in the neighborhood, though I did not. Others also played with their dogs there. Another cool hidden spot bites the dust.” [Montrose Resident, commenting on Alexan Memorial Apartments Are Heading to Rice Military] Illustration: Lulu

08/08/18 1:30pm

Add F45 Training to the list of businesses taking over warehouses next to where I-45 will run over a few of its own once its rerouted through East Downtown. That’s the gym’s black box in the photo at top, neighbored by the Ferris wheel that new-ish bar Truck Yard recently installed in its own next-door lot. North of an adjacent portion of the building that F45 hasn’t touched, exterior work added new horizontal siding a couple shades darker than the previous off-white onto the structure, as well as the doorway — pictured above — atop which the national fitness chain has been flexing its COMING SOON signage for the past few months.

A permit filed yesterday for the building at 1110 Hutchins indicates rehab work is about to head inside to deal with a 2,650-sq.-ft. portion of its space. It’s 10,000 sq.-ft. total and backs up nearly halfway down the block on Lamar St. where it stands off from the south side of the Kim Hung Supermarket, long-whispered to be about to be demolished for something much taller.

Photos: F45 Training

Bodybuilding Buildings
08/07/18 1:00pm

Memorial Dr.’s Tres Market Foods is expanding to the pair of black and off-white buildings pictured above at 2620 Joanel St. behind the Westheimer strip home to River Oaks Donuts and across the street from the 2-story building housing the Honorary Consulate of Ghana. Formerly a row of separate lots, Houston’s city planning commission approved a request to consolidate the warehouse parcels all into a single property earlier this year. Since then, a handful of permits have come through as part the paperwork to prep the structures for remodeling.

Together, they total 5,400 sq.-ft.:

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Prepared Food Preparations
08/06/18 5:00pm

And in even more beer-related news, another local warehouse is now turning to drinks as its primary occupation. This 7,725-sq.-ft. one — pictured above from Bevis St. between W. 16th and 17th — is about to become New Magnolia Brewing. Its name is a cheers to the original Magnolia Brewing Company — formally the Houston Ice and Brewing Company — that did its concocting along Buffalo Bayou at the corner of Franklin and Milam streets until Prohibition forced it to make ice its flagship product. Following its shutdown, the Magnolia Ballroom took the place over roughly 40 years ago.

The New Magnolia’s 43,560-sq.-ft. digs at 1616 Bevis include this front yard, more than twice the size of the building to its north:

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The Brew and the Old
08/06/18 2:15pm

Note: This story has been updated.

The first tenant slated for the soon-to-be redone Imperial Linen & Cleaners building a block west of the Green Line’s Coffee Plant/2nd Ward stop is now on its way there courtesy of Mike Sammons, one of the partners behind Midtown’s 13 Celsius, Mongoose vs Cobra, and Weights + Measures. A TABC notice is up on the building, reports a keen HAIF user, and last month an entity linked to Sammons called How To Survive on Land and Sea LLC filed plans to start converting 2,371 sq.-ft. of interior room into a bar.

That’ll still leave lots of space for the other attractions that developer Jeff Kaplan wants to usher into the 19,969-sq.-ft. structure shown above that he’s now calling the Plant at Harrisburg. (One of them would’ve been Xela Coffee Roasters; it announced plans to move into the building in 2016 but has since rerouted to an forthcoming spot on Canal St., 5 blocks west of Lockwood) Before Kaplan made public his intention to transform the former cleaners, it played host to an art space that presented “visual art, literary readings and guided meditations; in the interest of, open-minded exploration of the transubstantiative properties of art and space.”

That creative endeavor is over — but speaking of transubstantiation, new windows shown above fronting both the south and west sides of the building will reopen its planned retail spaces to look out on Harrisburg and Sampson St. like they used to:

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Plant at Harrisburg
08/06/18 11:00am

Here’s the next target in Houston’s continuing warehouse-to-brewery turnover trend: 1504 Chapman St. A group of local brewers got their hands on the 6,283-sq.-ft. building — pictured above from the south — in April and a budding Facebook page now shows its address as the location of a venue they’re calling Local Group Brewing.

It’s within the same general parish as St. Arnold’s recently-opened beer cathedral and existing brewery. They’re both less than half a mile away on the other side of the former Union Pacific brownfield pictured below, now giving rise to the complex of mixed-use buildings dubbed Hardy Yards:

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Aerial Redevelopment Reconaissance
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
08/01/18 4:30pm

Dump trucks are now filing onto the barricaded block once home to the Houston Chronicle building — and more recently a parking lot — at Texas and Travis to start laying the foundation for Hines’s new 47-floor tower and soon-to-be new global headquarters. The photo above views the traffic from way up on the 31st floor of the site’s catty-corner northeast neighbor Aris Market Square — which the new building will overtop along with pretty much everything else nearby except the Chase Tower directly south of it. Law firm Vinson & Elkins will occupy the building’s top 7 floors.

A series of glassed-in atria shown in the rendering above from architecture firm Pelli Clarke Pelli hang out along the structure’s edge facing Milam St. Viewed from closer up, you can even see some people and trees inside them looking out on what’s below:

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Dump Truck Parade
07/31/18 1:15pm

DEMOLISHED WESTHEIMER SPY EMPORIUM’S NEXT MISSION: SURFACE PARKING The new-ish owner that brought down Spy Emporium‘s abandoned building at 1550 Westheimer Rd. earlier this year is now getting ready to turn the property into a parking lot, reports one local urban planner. The building changed hands at the beginning of this year — around the time the spy shop left for 610 and Westpark — to a group that owns the parcel home to Hugo’s on the other side of Mandell St.. That roughly half-acre property already includes its own set of spots in a back lot north of the restaurant building. Spottier in terms of parking availability: the recently-opened UB Preserv restaurant that took over Poscol’s former space in the strip center across Westheimer from Hugo’s about 2 months ago. It currently shares one lot with the other tenants lined up next door to it: Star Tailors & Alterations, D & S laundromat, and Urban Vapes. [C Money; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Spy Emporium

07/30/18 10:15am

The complicated thing about trying to turn an old Heights home — like this one at 733 W. 24th St. — into a coffee shop is that the neighborhood’s original lots are smaller than Houston allows for commercial use. Although the house pictured at top sits on a pair of adjacent 25-ft. lots, their combined frontage still falls short of the 60-ft. minimum required to lump them together into a space for something other than single-family residential.

But that’s not stopping the owner that bought the house earlier this year from seeking an exception to the rule. On Thursday, Houston’s city planning commission will consider a variance that’d allow the plans to go ahead anyway by consolidating the lots into a single 50-ft.-wide, business-friendly parcel.

Then comes the question of parking. Right now, a driveway leads up to a carport on the west side of the house:

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Cafe Conversion
07/27/18 11:45am

Although the lettering’s been gone from Abel Motors’ roadside sign since the auto shop moved in 2016, it’s still got a helpful pointer for passers-by: The Burger Joint is about to take the place over. Pictured above is what the dealership looked like on the northeast corner of Shepherd and 20th St. in its heyday. Since peeling out for a new spot at 9102 Airline Dr., its old digs have been transformed by the brick strip center pictured at top — soon to house the burger restaurant’s first venture north from its sole existing location on Montrose at Westheimer.

Another view of the new burger sign shows it’s still drawing a blank on lower-level messaging:

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Shifting Gears