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
03/21/17 2:30pm

Shake Shack planned at 6205 Kirby Dr, Rice Village, Houston, 77005

Rice Village, Houston, 77005The 26th will be the last day of business for the La Madeleine on Kirby Dr. at Amherst St., a rep for the Rice Village District says this afternoon. After that the space’ll get a significant makeover, part of the ongoing de-suburbanization of the 1990s Village Arcade buildings. Changes planned for the space appear to include a total blackout of the corner’s pediments, a gutting of the existing canopy level (paired with a boxy see-through enclosure of that area) and a hip-high hashtag-biscuitpaintwall-style landscaping feature (replacing the existing hedge as Amherst’s walkable zone gets widened). The company says the burger place should be ready to open sometime around November.

Images: Rice Village District (rendering), Swamplot inbox (photo)

Kirby Corner Shake-Up
03/02/17 4:30pm

A BUNCH OF NORTHWEST MALL’S TENANTS MAY SHUT DOWN THIS MONTH Northwest Mall, 555 NW Mall, Spring Branch East, Houston, 77092Swamplot hasn’t heard back from the management office of borderline zombie shopping center Northwest Mall yet to confirm plans for the structure — but some of the mall’s tenants have been advertising their own impending closure, including alcoholic cake shop Bundt Cake-a-holic (which is currently trying to crowdfund its own relocation). Rumors on Reddit and The Leader suggest that a few shops like Thompson’s Antique Center of Texas and the in-mall College of Healthcare Professions will stay open, but that most of the tenants are getting booted for remodeling by March 31st.  [Previously on Swamplot] Photo of Northwest Mall: Moni

03/02/17 3:00pm

2901 S. Shepherd Dr., WAMM, Houston, 77006

1618 Westheimer Rd., Montrose, Houston, 77006The body-oriented retail strip across from the recently browned-out Alabama Theater has just swapped second-or-more-hand clothing retailer Buffalo Exchange into the spot by Kipling St. last occupied by Centre Fitness Fusion, a reader notes. (Centre Fitness took over from Orange Shoe Fitness, which itself succeeded bike shop and implicit fitness purveyor Cycle Spectrum.) Buffalo Exchange joins Epique Massage next to Darque Tan, separated only by a driveway and some parking spots from Demeris Bar-B-Q.

And what of the old Buffalo Exchange spot, recently spotted sporting a variance request notice out front?

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Fashion Recycler Recycling
01/20/17 4:00pm

1920 Houston Ave., First Ward, Houston, 77007

1920 Houston Ave., First Ward, Houston, 77007Despite being marketed previously as a potential site for up to 15 freestanding townhomes, the townhome-fringed lot at the corner of Houston Ave. and Spring St. now sports a TABC permit notification instead. A reader caught some evening views of the corner and the sign announcing mixed-beverage and late-night plans for its little 1996 building (which names Spring Street Beer and Wine Garden as the incoming occupant). New owners (at least the 6th to purchase the property since 2005, per county records) purchased the property in the fall, and the Attack of the Killer Condos mural previously facing the Heights Hike & Bike Trail along Spring St. has already been painted over:

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Holding the Line in First Ward
01/20/17 12:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: HOW 2-SYLLABLE NEIGHBORHOOD NICKNAMES ARE BORN October 2016 look around Discovery Green and George R. Brown Convention Center, 1001 Avenida De Las Americas,  Downtown, Houston, 77010“I’m with WR: who are these supposed ‘Houston residents’ who call it ADLA? I’ll bet those ‘residents’ are people who got here 6 months ago (and/or are the writer and his buddy). As far as the headline question: I think it may be too early for us to claim ‘World’s Best Super Bowl Host City‘ — or as a Houston resident, I call it WBSBHC, which rolls off the tongue.” [Wolf Brand Chili, commenting on Houston Rents Slide; Post-Flood Calls for Action] Photo of redone George R. Brown Convention Center on Avenida de las Americas: Bob Russell

01/18/17 2:30pm

Spire Houston in former First Church of Christ, Scientist, 1720 Main St., Downtown, Houston, TX 77002First Church of Christ, Scientist, 1720 Main St., Downtown, Houston, TX 77002

Spire Houston in former First Church of Christ, Scientist, 1720 Main St., Downtown, Houston, TX 77002Steeple-themed nightclub and Swampies also-ran Spire is now up and running in Downtown’s converted First Church of Christ, Scientist at 1720 Main St., following last winter’s covert purchase by the group running Clé bar. The remodeled Mod space officially opened last weekend and is currently advertising upcoming events on a marquee along Jefferson St., including a Playboy-sponsored pre-Super Bowl party (scheduled against the Taylor Swift concert at temporary 3-story nightclub Club Nomadic, among other goings-on).  Other upcoming Spire events include this weekend’s Waka Flocka Flame concert and the VS vs Fredericks Lingerie Contest scheduled for next Wednesday.

Some promotional photos from the club provide a few views of the former altar (above, with a view of the original for comparison), as well as the added balconies and new seating arrangement possibilities in the main sanctuary:

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Downtown Conversions
01/10/17 10:30am

Meteor Lounge brick reuse, Fairview at Genesee streets, East Montrose, Houston, 77006

Meteor, 2306 Genesee St, Montrose, HoustonThe deconstruction crew that brought Meteor Lounge to the ground at Fairview and Genesee streets last week got in a last round of crushing digs at the fallen structure over the weekend, a reader reports: “They piled up all the bricks and ran over them with the huge excavator, crushing them.  They then moved the debris and spread it over the dirt in the ‘parking’ lot across the street from Max’s Wine Dive.” The obliterated former club’s corner property is planned as the location of a proposed 5-story parking garage for the Fairview District redevelopment; here’s the view from Fairview of the rearranged structure itself, facing southeast toward the CenterPoint electrical substation on Genesee:

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Fairview Impacts
01/05/17 11:30am

Lowell St. Market renderings, 718 W. 18th St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008

The details for Radom Capitol’s Lowell St. Market makeover of the industrial warehouses at the corner of W. 18th St. and N. Shepherd Dr. seem to be getting firmed up, and a slew of new building permits were issued last month for the site. The latest depictions of the space show both a less neon green color-and-finish scheme and more detail as to how the redeveloped and new buildings will be sliced up for tenants. The current leasing plan shows the former Airmakers Cooling & Heating warehouse along N. Shepherd (depicted above on the left wearing what what Steve Radom describes as its Japanese-barn-inspired replacement skin) as the planned site of a single restaurant. The middle building, now shown with a brown forehead, appears to be getting sliced up into 3 shops. And the current leasing materials for the development show all of the dark blue spots below as already leased out:

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Lowell St. on W. 18th
12/29/16 4:30pm

Meteor, 2306 Genesee St, Montrose, Houston
Demolition of Meteor, 2306 Genesee St, Montrose, Houston

Demolition of Meteor, 2306 Genesee St, Montrose, HoustonSome fluffy pink batting stands out amid the debris spotted this week at the corner of Genessee and Fairview streets, being swept clean of shower-centric nightclub and regular drag venue Meteor. The teardown makes room for work to start on that 5-story parking garage (the one that might be getting the artful crust of bicycles). Construction on the Fairview District, a six-block project including the parking garage, some office space, and more restaurant and retail spots, is supposed to get rolling in January, according to developer Fred Sharifi (also behind the Max’s Wine Dive visible peeking out from the left of the shot above, as well as its re-bricked strip-center companions).

A reader driving by caught a few shots of an excavator and a big red dumpster on the scene, loitering close to the Fairview-facing side where the Midtown Aegean Auto shack was — both the auto shop and Meteor received their very own demo permits just in time for Christmas, and the club was reportedly well on its way toward obliteration by Monday afternoon. A view from across Genesee shows that the club’s clumps of privacy bamboo were still standing as of Tuesday:

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Fairview Farewells
12/28/16 4:00pm

AN EERIE SURVEY OF NORTHWEST MALL’S APACHES, ALCOHOLICS, AND CHRISTMAS CAST Northwest Mall, 555 NW Mall, Spring Branch East, Houston, 77092A spiritual throwback to John Nova Lomax’s semi-regular walkumentaries of various Houston neighborhoods is part of January’s edition of Texas Monthly: an account of his recent trek through sorta-back-from-the-dead shopping center Northwest Mall. Lomax ponders the center’s past, present, and future while interviewing the locals (like the photo-ready Santa and elf team) and collecting dramatic snippets of eavesdropped conversation outside the mall’s Alcoholics Anonymous meeting facility (located not too far from the alcoholic bundt cake shop). Lomax writes that he sees the decidedly not-as-decrepit-as-it-used-to-be complex, complete with mysteriously closed Southern Apache Museum and $2 hurricane simulation tube, as a “window into modern, cosmopolitan Houston,” noting that “today’s Northwest Mall is more identifiably Bayou City than it was in the boom times. Where it was once just another outpost of corporate American capitalism, it is now as diverse as the city around it. . . . What you will find among these [one-off shops] you will find nowhere else, and the scenes you will take in are often exotic, quirky, or somewhat spooky — and occasionally some combination of all of the above.” [Texas Monthly; previously on Swamplot] Photo of Northwest Mall Entrance C: Moni