11/20/17 2:00pm

The metal dome situated street-side at the Annunciation Orthodox Cathedral on the corner of Yoakum and Kipling for just under a month has been lifted and installed atop the church’s sanctuary. The photo at top shows the dome in its earthly state just over a week ago. Members of a crowd that watched its ascension early Saturday morning snapped pictures showing the half-sphere, now sheathed, being placed via crane on top of the metal dock that now exalts it:

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Annunciation Orthodox
11/01/17 4:15pm

Now sitting near the corner of Yoakum Blvd. and Kipling St. in place of the electronic sign for Annunciation Orthodox Cathedral: framework forming the new dome that will soon be mounted atop the structure’s sanctuary. The steel half-orb, meant to cap off a $12.5 million cathedral renovation and expansion project, has been under construction streetside since at least last week, as these pics submitted by Swamplot readers show:

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Annunciation Orthodox
09/29/17 4:00pm

Continuing arrangements set up for the Jewish New Year last week, families from the nation’s largest Conservative synagogue will assemble this evening and all day tomorrow for Yom Kippur services at the nation’s largest megachurch. Congregation Beth Yeshurun’s own facilities have been unusable since the synagogue on Beechnut St. — on the other side of the West Loop from Meyerland Plaza — took on as much as 4 ft. of water after Hurricane Harvey.

The interfaith arrangement was brokered initially by Congressman John Culberson. After receiving extensive criticism for not opening its doors to flooding victims immediately following the first Harvey storms, Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church eventually served as a shelter for as many as 450 evacuees. For Rosh Hashanah services last week, Lakewood arranged for a rotating slide show of 40 high-resolution photos depicting portions of Beth Yeshurun’s damaged sanctuaries to be displayed on the 24-ft.-by-12-ft. Jumbotron behind the stage of the 16,800-seat former Houston Rockets basketball arena in Greenway Plaza.

Photos of Rosh Hashanah services in Lakewood Church, in front of projected image of stained glass from a Beth Yeshurun sanctuary: Lakewood Church

Your Best Yom Kippur Now
07/20/17 5:30pm

A Sunday field trip earned a reader a peek into the main sanctuary of the Annunciation Orthodox Cathedral, now being cracked open so a dome can be placed on top (along with more seating down below). The renderings of the planned changes, shown here facing the corner of Kipling St. and Yoakum Blvd., have been updated since they were submitted last year for that variance request application:

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Montrose Revelations
10/10/16 5:00pm

Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church renderings, 3511 Yoakum Blvd., WAMM, Houston, 77006

Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, 3511 Yoakum Blvd., WAMM, Houston, 77006A look at the latest plans for bulking up the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral on Yoakum Blvd. at Kipling St. come from the diagrams submitted with a recent variance request for the project (and a few more now up on the church’s website). For comparison, a reader sends some leafy shots of the cathedral at its current width, snapped a few days before the setup for the annual Houston Greek Festival (which wrapped up on the church’s campus for the 50th time yesterday evening).

The expansion would widen the 1952 cathedral building to the north and south (toward and away from Kipling), about doubling the current seating capacity; the design also adds that big dome to the top (while the smaller dome along the Yoakum-side bell tower would get a new nitrate finish stainless-steel top-off to match). The church submitted the request for a 1-ft. building line setback last month, including this drawing from Philip Johnson/Alan Ritchie architects (which shows a leaf-free perspective from the corner of Yoakum and Kipling):

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Toward the Heavens, To the Curb
08/11/16 5:15pm

114 Byrne St., Woodland Heights, Houston, 77009
A veil of mystery and enigma comes free with your purchase of this 1920s building on Byrne St., which hit the market last week. Woodlands Lodge 1157 moved out of the building in the early 1980s citing neighborhood decline, and headed north to its current locale near the I-45 split from Veterans Memorial Dr. The Byrne building is listed by Camelot Realty as having 5 bedrooms, including the 50-by-50-sq.-ft. space upstairs; asking price is $1.5 million. Step into the waiting room and look around:

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Doors Open
06/21/16 11:30am

Lovett leasing flier for Cullen St. Retail, Cullen at I-45, Eastwood, Houston, 77003

Lovett has been dropping a few crumbs regarding the selection of restaurants and shops that will fringe the parking lot of the retail development planned for the former Fingers Furniture warehouse site on Cullen Blvd., across I-45 from the University of Houston’s main campus. No anchor tenant for the site has officially named (though talk of Walmart has made its way to several tipsters in the Eastwood Civic Association this spring, along with assurances that the marker memorializing the former site of Buffalo Stadium’s home plate will likely be preserved).

A site plan from December (shown above, with north angled roughly toward the top right corner) shows several pad sites along the feeder road marked up as QSR (presumably Quick Service Restaurant). A later sketch now up on Lovett’s website as well adds more clues, however — including  a cryptic label on what could be the first Starbucks to venture into the East End:

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Cullen at I-45
05/20/13 11:00am

This rendering shows one of 4 charitable duplexes planned to go up in Meyerland that will be set aside for single-mother families. Construction began late last week on property that’s owned St. John’s Presbyterian Church at 5020 W. Bellfort Ave., between Willowbend and S. Post Oak Blvd., just outside the Loop. One of the 8 units will also be home to an on-site caseworker.

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05/17/13 3:00pm

A HEIGHTS RETAIL RESURRECTION The Leader is reporting that the Baptist Temple Church on Rutland and 20th St. in the Heights has sold 2 of its oldest buildings to Braun Enterprises, which says it will tear them down and replace them with less sacred spaces — that is, retail or a restaurant. If the almighty dollar has triumphed, there’s still a silver lining — or so Charlotte Aguilar suggests, reporting that the sale of the buildings — the church’s original sanctuary, built in 1912, and a larger one built in 1940 — will fund a $3 million renovation to its remaining 65,000-sq.-ft. T.C. Jester Building on 20th; a new 300-seat sanctuary will be added and classrooms and offices updated. [The Leader] Photo: Charlotte Aguilar via The Leader

04/18/13 1:45pm

In the middle of last summer, Interfaith Ministries closed on almost 76,000 sq. ft. of Midtown property spanning 2 catty-corner blocks just north of HCC, including the PrimeWay Federal Credit Union building shown here at 3303 Main St.; the organization says it’s closing in on the $12.5 million needed to fund the renovation of the 39,000-sq.-ft. bank into its headquarters and the construction of a new 14,000-sq.-ft. Meals on Wheels distribution center at Elgin and Fannin.

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12/12/11 11:50pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE APPLE HOUR OF POWER “Believe it or not. Just a few weeks ago I posted a mail to Tim Cook, no reply till now :), in which I suggested to buy the Crystal Cathedral Campus in Garden Grove. I have been there on several occasions (although I am a dutch citizen so it is not around the corner). It would be an excellent Apple campus where people can meet Apple and each other and where we all can build a platform where contemporary speakers like Deepak Chopra, Lynne McTaggart and many others who can tell us new things that can make this world a better place can be invited to share their knowledge. Can you imagine streaming to or downloading by the devices like the iPad, Apple TV iPhones and Macs in every corner of this planet? In that way preserving the heritage of that beautiful place and at the same time give it a destination that will appeal tot the entire world (community). Now it will be sold to a catholic church, in my opinion a loss of possibilities.” [Hans Noordsij, commenting on Comment of the Day: Apple’s Crystal Cathedral]

05/24/10 6:33pm

Home theater specialist Andrea Grover is leaving Houston — and selling the Sunset Heights church-turned-movie-theater-turned-residence where she founded a well-known local arts organization 13 years ago. For the 10 years that it operated on Aurora St. just east of Main, Aurora Picture Show featured a ridiculous range of obscure and not-quite-as-obscure film and video screenings in its sanctuary space, along with 13 weddings and a couple of memorial services. Then 2 years ago, Grover explains, the microcinema went south — to Montrose:

Aurora relocated its office and library to a bungalow in “Doville” (the neighborhood affectionately named after Dominique de Menil). Their programming has been nomadic and site-specific in order to attract new audiences and activate different sites in Houston. This strategy has worked extremely well for the organization, which has seen increased attendance and membership as a result of catering to Houston’s love for new experiences and one-of-a-kind events. I retired at the end of 2008, and Aurora is doing so well that I wonder why I didn’t do it sooner!

The house includes a movie chapel with pew seating for 96, audio-video equipment, and a “disused baptistry,” along with a small freestanding outhouse for theatergoers that was “designed by a well-known architect (Michael Bell), though you would never guess it,” writes Grover.

The home comes with a trailer, too:

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04/01/10 10:23am

Houston’s City Council voted 13-2 yesterday to sell the former Compaq Center to the nation’s largest megachurch for a grand total of $7.5 million dollars. Sure, that’s considerably less than the $22.6 million the city would have received for a 30-year extension of Lakewood Church’s current lease on what used to be homecourt of the Houston Rockets. But the city wouldn’t see the beginning of that income stream for 24 years, and it might be a full 54 years before the city could get the building and those 7 acres of Greenway Plaza land back — presuming either is worth anything at all by then. And really, who’s even going to want to be around this city in 2064?

That $7.5 million isn’t exactly chump change, either. If each of the church’s approximately 43,500 weekly visitors throws a dollar into one of those collection buckets, it’ll take them all of 3 and a half years just to pay the darn thing off!

But did the city even have a choice in the matter?

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03/24/10 10:43am

From the Twitter feed of KHOU reporter Alex Sanz, Swamplot hears news that Houston’s city council has postponed a vote on a proposal to sell the former Compaq Center at 3700 Southwest Fwy. in Greenway Plaza to Lakewood Church, for an-appraised-but way-below-assessed-value price of $7.5 million. As Swamplot explained yesterday, the church has more than 20 years left on a prepaid lease for the property and an option to extend the lease for an additional 30 years after that for a little more than $22 million — both of which significantly affect the present value of the property to the city.

Is the postponement of the sale a setback for Lakewood? Why should it be!? Followers of church pastor Joel Osteen, who’s now written 3 books filled with real-estate investment advice, know that he advocates patience — especially in complicated sale or purchase situations. Why wouldn’t he want councilmembers to feel entirely comfortable with the decision they come to?

Here’s how Osteen explains it in a relevant passage from his latest book, It’s Your Time:

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03/23/10 11:47am

You might be thinking, “How can I buy me some prime Greenway Plaza real estate from the city for, say $12.50 a square foot?” If, as expected, city council approves the sale in tomorrow’s meeting, that’s the amount Lakewood Church will pay for the Southwest Freeway building it’s currently leasing.

Lakewood took out a 30-year lease on the property — which formerly served as home court for the Houston Rockets, first as the Houston Summit, and later as the Compaq Center — in 2001. Lakewood prepaid the entire $11.8 million lease amount, then spent more than $80 million to turn the former basketball arena into a proper TV-worthy megachurch. But the key to Lakewood’s current real estate good fortune is the lease extension it negotiated: an option to extend the lease for an additional 30 years for $22.6 million.

Since the city likely won’t receive any income (or tax revenue) from the property until the year 2061, city real estate managers think selling the 606,000-sq.-ft. property on more than 7 acres at 3700 Southwest Fwy. to the church is a good idea. The price? A value only net-present-value adherents, real-estate appraisers, and the Lakewood faithful could love: $7.5 million.

Feeling a little inspired by the church’s ability to swing such a deal? It is yet another testament to the remarkable real-estate skills of Houston’s leading property-investment guru, Lakewood Church pastor Joel Osteen. In this passage from his latest book, It’s Your Time, Osteen virtually screams, “GET IN FIRST, BUY LATER”:

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