05/23/17 1:00pm

The Dallas-based real estate and restaurant developers at Syn Hospitality Group are hoping to have a Houston branch of flag-slathered bar and restaurant America Gardens open later this year (as rendered above), part of their in-the-works Midtown Common development over on Caroline St. just north of McGowen. The group went after some early city approvals earlier this year to bundle together a handful of property parcels on the block into the edgy unreserved shape shown above. That footprint, mostly sticking along Caroline but stretching across to claim a bit of frontage on Austin St. as well, leaves out the buildings occupied by Core Church Midtown, which is squeezed between the auto and auto accessory pairing of Fast Traffic Auto Work and Austin Radio and Speedometer. 

The group has released a few renderings of the first planned restaurant’s red-white-and-blue-bedecked interior, as well as its large outdoor patio:

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Dallas Comes to Austin St.
05/23/17 10:15am

New scribbles on a siteplan show a Sprouts Farmers Market marked in as a tenant for the planned redo of the former East Downtown Houston Post building over on Polk St. at Dowling Emancipation Ave. (Don’t get this spot confused with the former postal office Downtown, which is also being redeveloped by the Lovett Commercial folks — nor with the other former Houston Post building recently resuscitated by the Chronicle.) The leasing plan appears to show some new construction toward the currently empty Bell St. end of the double-wide block, making room for the Sprouts and for a few layers of parking garage. It also notes a drive-thru CVS on the northern side, along Polk:

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East of East Village
05/17/17 11:30am

Now hanging in the newly remodeled central nook on the Galleria’s curved facade along Westheimer Rd.: these strips of hexagonal rings spotted early last week by a passing bus rider. (That curved wall is where Saks Fifth Avenue used to be, before the store scooted into the boxy new building next door.) The rendering up top was released last fall, around the time Simon Properties confirmed that Nobu and Fig & Olive would be taking up 2 of the 4 restaurant spaces shown.

For comparison, here’s what the entry through the Philip Johnson-designed facade looked like as of last August, after the new windows had been cut (but before the top edge of the facade got trimmed off): 

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Westheimer Faceoff
05/16/17 4:15pm

Last month Dominion Church International, the church most recently inhabiting the triangular block at Dallas St. and Telephone Rd. holding Eastwood’s former Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, finally sold the land after putting it up on the market last August. A couple of readers tell Swamplot that Nextdoor is abuzz with the claim that Mir Azizi‘s company Caspian Enterprises, which bought the property, plans to turn it into some sort of lofts or apartments. Caspian does have something of a habit of splitting up old buildings into residential units; a permit for some interior wall teardowns in the church was issued last month, but no formal announcements have been made about what the site’ll become.

A document filed with the county transfers the rooftop lease to the new owner for that T-mobile cellular relay visible atop the church’s belltower); Caspian has already gotten permission to knock down the complex’s parsonage, however:

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Eastwood Relay
05/16/17 9:30am

SAN JACINTO MALL ANCHORS CAUSING REDO PLANS TO DRAG “It’s been slow and tedious — We didn’t count on the myriad problems all the traditional mall department stores are having,” Alan Hassenflu of Fidelis Realty Partners tells Katherine Blunt this week in the Chronicle, while discussing the company’s stagnating attempt to redo Baytown’s San Jacinto Mall. The company’s plans to knock down and rebuild the mall after buying it last summer are running up against drawn-out negotiations with tenants who signed restrictive covenants back in the early 80’s — agreements which can mean developers have to get those tenants to okay changes to the mall, and which can last for decades longer than original operating agreements. “In the case of San Jacinto,” writes Blunt, “the 3 remaining department stores have occupied their buildings for far longer than required under the operating agreements. But the restrictive covenants remain in place, giving them the some control over the mall’s future.” [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Ray D.

05/11/17 2:30pm

Here’s your chance to see in first person what the city’s come up with for that under-discussion redo of Westheimer Rd. in Montrose. The video above flies viewers slowly through a flatly rendered Westheimer corridor east of Shepherd Dr. (complete with digital versions of all your favorite ex-clothing shopsstoried condo buildings, and paired Mattress Firms) with the new street plan in place. Reality check with the existing state of the roadways happens at a handful of the corridor’s intersections.

The biggest change: A drop down to 2 lanes of car traffic in most places (versus the 4 narrow lanes currently in place), beginning around Huldy St. and moving east. The road would briefly widen back out to 4 lanes around the crossing of Montrose Blvd., then back down to 2 until the name swap to Elgin St. at Bagby St. All that slimming down leaves room for wider sidewalks; the plan also includes some set-aside zones for bus drop-off, some left turn lanes, and a few stretches of parallel parking areas, highlighted in pink.

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Montrose Flyby
05/09/17 5:15pm

A little more of the what’ll-go-where has been filled in lately for Midway’s H-E-B-footed midrise, planned at the corner of Waugh St. and Washington Ave. (and now under construction following the corner’s clear-out earlier this year).  The glassy box overlooking Washington from above the main H-E-B entrance will hold the structure’s office spaces, with the face of the parking garage visible a bit further to the left; an updated siteplan also shows that the sides of the development will also be insulated from the street and sidewalks with a layer or 2 of parking spaces:

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Buffalo Heights Close-Ups
05/04/17 11:00am

The ex-service station sitting on the sliver of land edged by N. Durham Dr., W. 16th St., and Nashua St. is being remodeled and repainted, with signage already in place for burger bar Balls Out. The late-sixties space, home to the Guero Deluxe Car Wash before Re:Vive Development snapped up the property in 2015, was occupied by used car dealership Sabinas Cars and Trucks a few years before that.

The former service station’s canopy is still in place; the now-blank sign space on top previously served as a canvas for one of those Wiley LOVE murals:

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Heights Drive-By
05/03/17 1:45pm

The drive-your-drinks-home daquiri shop planned for former MJ Motorcars office island at 8275 Beechnut St. (in the parking lot of stripmall nightclub Club Tequila) isn’t just going to be a drive-thru bar, a media rep for Prime Daquiri tells Swamplot. The rep says it’ll have a full kitchen, too — and that the company will be opting for screwtop bottles for their drinks instead of a Louisiana-style tape-on-the-top arrangement, as far as legal distribution goes. The landscaping and portico in the above rendering of the remodel show options for customers on foot, as well — or perhaps even those who want to dine (or drink) in. The bar is planned near the parking lot’s Watermill Express kiosk, though going the nonalcoholic route will require self-service.

Images: John Mene (rendering); Erick Ganzo (photo)

Prime Location
05/02/17 11:24am

HOUSES FOR 800 TO HIT THE PINE CREST GOLF COURSE GREENS What’s the current count on defunct and ailing Houston golf courses being put to new use? Add another to the list: Meritage Homes is now planning to redevelop the former Pine Crest Golf Club’s 121 acres of links into a bundle of houses big enough for 800-or-so residents. The land, due north up Gessner Rd. from Memorial City Mall in Spring Shadows, will take the name Spring Brooke Village; MetroNational has been hawking the property since late 2015, around the same time as Conroe’s Wedgewood golf course hit the market. [Houston Business Journal; previously on Swamplot] Photo of 3080 Gessner Rd.: LoopNet

04/25/17 3:15pm

Water Main Strike during Demolition of Town & Country, 10565 Katy Fwy., CityCentre, Houston

Following that recent gentle but firm excavator tipover of the last bits of the Town & Country III mod office midrise near CityCentre, demo work on the broader office complex has moved underground — apparently far enough underground to puncture a water main, a camera wielder on the scene speculates this afternoon. As of 2pm, word from the reader was that water was still flowing, “and has made a nice-sized pool,” filling up the footprint of a mid-demo former underground parking garage structure (and providing lakeside views to parts of Trammell Crow’s CityCentre branch of its Alexan apartment chain.)

fuller sequence of garage take-apart and fill-up over the last few days is laid out below, starting with a rainy Tax Day shot facing the Alexan and the I-10-Beltway-8 tangle:

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Lakes of I-10
04/03/17 1:00pm

Friday’s knockout of the last walls standing of the Town & Country III office building by CityCentre can now be added to Swamplot’s small but smashing video collection of doomed structures taking a light swing at their demo crew on the way down. To be fair, the semi-controlled collapse of the midrise’s final walls looks to have been much less of a surprise than last fall’s award-winning Corporate Plaza parking garage acceleration incident: while footage of the Town & Country toppling does show the cloud of dust stirred up by the pullover, it captures no contemporaneous cloud of suspense regarding the fate of the operator and nearby construction workers. (The video above also captures commentary from some onlookers in CityCentre Five, who’ll likely have a similarly clear view of the next few teardowns on the docket.)

Video: Swamplot inbox

CityCentre Grab and Smash
03/30/17 12:30pm

THE CONTINUING UNTOLD STORY OF WHAT HAPPENED WHEN EXXONMOBIL MOVED NORTH Former Exxon Upstream Facility, 3102-3120 Buffalo Spdwy., Greenway/Upper Kirby, Houston, 77098We’ve been following the separate stories of various former ExxonMobil facilities around Houston individually after the company moved operations to its massive new North Houston campus. But if you want a good, quick rundown of the resulting real-estate fallout, take a look at this summary by veteran reporter Ralph Bivins, who chronicles the current status of the oil giant’s abandoned outposts Downtown, in Greenspoint, and elsewhere around town. The former upstream research campus on Buffalo Speedway between West U and River Oaks (pictured here), Bivins declares, “is expected to be transformed into a major mixed-use development.” The 24-acre Brookhollow campus near Hwy. 290 and Dacoma, which he notes is “not far” from the proposed terminal site for the Texas Central Houston-to-Dallas bullet train, “may be redeveloped for retail use.” The 35-acre former ExxonMobil Chemical facility at 13501 Katy Fwy. in the Energy Corridor, now called Republic Square, is the site of a proposed 2.6-million-sq.-ft. mixed-use project that might include a beer garden and art studios. But until that happens, owner Third Palm is “doing something very un-Exxon like — allowing the public to venture onto the grounds.” [Realty News Report; previously on Swamplot] Photo of demolition of former ExxonMobil facility on Buffalo Spdwy. and West Alabama: MontroseResident

03/29/17 10:45am

Demolition of Town & Country III, 10565 Katy Fwy., CityCentre, Houston

A perch in one of the upper floors of CityCentre Five affords views of the dramatic exits of Town & Country III, IV, and V, 3 seventies-era office buildings fronting I-10 at Beltway 8 — which began last Friday. First to go is the 4-story Town & Country III at 10565 Katy Fwy., shown disappearing above. Next on the list (and cordoned off by the perimeter fence that went up earlier this month): Town & Country V at 908 Town & Country Blvd. (the 6-story structure on the left) and Town & Country IV at 10575 Katy Fwy. (4 stories, and hiding behind it).

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The Taking of Town & Country III, IV, V
03/22/17 1:00pm

721 W. 19th St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008 

Work has moved into the buildout and dressup phase for Phase II of the high-glycemic-index strip center at the corner of W. 19th St. and N. Shepherd Dr., a reader notes during a recent catty-corner oil change. The Benjamin Moore signage spotted around the new second building last year during the site’s flat-slab days is now reflected by buildout permits for the paint store, which should take up about 1,820 sq.ft. of the building’s 4,298. What’ll be filling up the rest of the space? Looks like the leftovers will house Austin export Tarka Indian Kitchen’s first inside-the-Beltway location.

The cameraman also captured a glimpse of Dallas pizzeria Cane Rosso‘s statue of a somewhat confusingly labeled suina rosso, which overlooks the intersection from its browsing position near the parking lot:

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Heights Austinites