11/01/16 4:00pm

NEW YORK FIRM PICKED FOR ROTHKO CHAPEL REDO Broken Obelisk by Barnett Newman, Rothko Chapel, Menil Collection, HoustonThe board of the Rothko Chapel has recently pinned down Architecture Research Office for a planned redo of the chapel’s lighting system — which executive director David Leslie mentioned earlier this year has been on the board’s wishlist (possibly to be funded by that February Lynn Wyatt auction, which included couture clothing, art, and a Tilda Swinton Skype session).  The company will also update the HVAC system, “retool the entrance vestibule, and renovate the Chapel’s skylight,” writes Nicholas Korody. Also on the docket — a plan for modifications to the surrounding plaza and the reflecting pool where Broken Obelisk will once again sit (after those out-of-town repairs wrap up); Korody says the plan may also involve “several nearby bungalows.” [Archinect, via Curbed; previously on Swamplot] Photo of Barnett Newman’s Broken Obelisk and Rothko Chapel: Ed Uthman[license]

08/25/16 12:45pm

Rendering of Fertitta Center at former Hofheinz Pavilion

Rendering of Fertitta Center at former Hofheinz PavilionThe $20-million basketball stadium donation previously rumored to be on its way from Landry’s owner and UH board of regents chairman Tilman Fertitta was confirmed this morning by the school, which also released renderings of what’s planned for Hofheinz Pavilion — eventually to sport the name Fertitta Center. The depictions of the $60-million upgrade  include some prominent views of a well-labeled Hofheinz Plaza, part of a deal with the Hofheinz family after a lawsuit over the basketball arena’s planned renaming.

Below are a few more shots of the plans, which UH says should be wrapped up by the end of the 2018-19 season:

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Center Moving Forward
08/17/16 5:15pm

3303 Shadowncrest Ln., Spring, TX 77380

3303 Shadowncrest Ln., Spring, TX 77380 Now for sale just across the Spring-Creek-hugging southern edge of Harris County: this 1970s ranch, carefully dressed by the seller in slate panels. The 3-bedroom 2-bathroom property was given a new outer skin (as seen in the top photo) to tie into features of the extensive interior redo, carried out by the seller’s own stone-and-tile-centric remodeling business. New features in the home include stone paneling, a few reshaped windows, and some throwback color schemes (including a black-and-white checkered garage floor), as well as a new pump system for the drought-tolerant backyard landscape (complete with koi pond.)  Asking price is $400,000 — check out more before-and-after shots below:

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Slated for a Redo
08/12/16 12:45pm

VACANT DOWNTOWN DAYS INN TO GET A TOTAL FACELIFT, BECOME WHATEVER HOTEL IT’S BECOMING 801 Saint Joseph Pkwy., Downtown, Houston, 77002SFK Development’s Nadeem Nasir tells Craig Hlavaty that the owners of the long-vacant hotel highrise at 801 Saint Joseph Pkwy. are, in fact, currently “in the process of rehabbing the building,” though they’re still “waiting to get on the same page as a hotel franchise.” Hlavaty writes this morning that the group won’t answer questions about which hotel franchise that might be, but that the structure will be getting a full strip-down and facial reconstruction as part of the process (in the face of a minimum $25-million cost to tear the structure down and build new). Swamplot’s reader on the scene sends fresh word from a worker earlier this week that the site may become a Sheraton — a story which matches up with a few previous rumors — but no official nods or confirmation have come from either the owners or the hotel chain. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo of 801 Saint Joseph Pkwy.: Garrett Robles

08/10/16 10:15am

Former Chirps Chicken and Rice, 300 W. 20th St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008

Former Chirps Chicken and Rice, 300 W. 20th St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008A reader caught sight of some recent stirrings at the southwest corner of W. 20th St. and Rutland, where food truck The Rice Box looks to be setting up a second non-mobile operation in the former home of Chirps Chicken and Rice. Braun Enterprises snapped up the 1,584-sq.-ft. building in mid-2015, when Chirps flew the coop; a TABC permit for the dry zone address was issued to Black Dragon Private Club — an entity listing The Rice Box as a trade name — in early May. Braun also owns the retail strip across Rutland, which replaced those Baptist Temple buildings that were demolished in 2013; the photo above was taken from the Zoe’s Kitchen at the corner.

Photos: Jason B. Cockerell (top), Chirps Chicken and Rice (bottom)

Rutland Remake
07/05/16 2:00pm

UH’S HOFHEINZ PAVILION COULD PICK UP TILMAN FERTITTA’S NAME Hofheinz Pavilion, 3422 Cullen Blvd., University of Houston, Houston, 77204That anonymous naming-rights-sized donation toward the redo of UH’s Hofheinz Pavilion looks to be coming from none other than local real estate mogul and reality teevee star Tilman Fertitta, writes Benjamin Wermund this week. The UH board of regents, which Fertitta also chairs, voted to authorize the basketball arena upgrade last fall after the donation was announced. Fertitta also helped the university navigate the subsequent lawsuit from the Hofheinz family over the potential renaming; the matter was eventually resolved by new plans to rename part of Holman St. and to erect a statue of late county judge Roy Hofheinz near by. Based on a chat with former Georgia Tech Foundation president John B. Carter, Wermund writes that the board “would have to vote to accept Fertitta’s gift and to name the arena after him. It’s not uncommon for members of university governing boards to give large donations to the colleges they represent, but board members who become donors should recuse themselves from any discussions or votes about granting them naming rights on a university building.” [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo of Hofheinz Pavilion: University of Houston

06/16/16 11:00am

shops-at-sawyer-yards-rendering
Leasing Materials for Lovett's Sawyer Yards

Lovett Commercial’s latest
markup of the warehouse-turning-strip-mall at the corner of Edwards and Sawyer streets includes the B&B Butchers logo, which has wandered about a third of a mile from the carve-it-themselves steakhouse’s year-old spot 6 blocks away on Washington Ave. All of the other logos included on the Shops at Sawyer Yards flier seem to check out: Hair salon Satori and tooth salon Bayou City Smiles are already up and running in the space, while nail salon Polish Parker & Roe, stop-calling-us-Crossfit gym chain Orange Theory Fitness, and Vietnamese noodle shop Local Pho all appear to have at least a few of their permits in place.

Both the updated rendering of the site (up top, facing southeast) and the labeled plan show a restaurant space at the end of the development with a patio facing Sawyer; the flier also labels the slot as a brasserie (as opposed to a steakhouse). The shaded aerial view below shows the development (labeled as just Sawyer YARDS) in place amid a few of the nearby artsy redevelopment projects (marked in green), new townhomes (marked in purple), and the Lovett office:

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First Ward
03/18/16 9:45am

Renderings of redesigned former Rice Village ArcadeRice Village, Houston, 77005

Compare and contrast the 2 images above, which together show the former Village Arcade at University Blvd. west of Kelvin Dr. both as is and as it may become. The rendering above appears in a marketing brochure released earlier this year by Trademark Property, which manages Rice University’s Village-area properties. The brochure shows potential update plans to a number storefronts in the former Village Arcade buildings (which Trademark is collectively rebranding as just “the Rice Village“); the changes range from simple color swaps to major reshaping and remodeling.

The U-shaped patio above, which currently houses a fountain and a bronze copy of the Italian boar statue Il Porcellino, is shown in the corresponding rendering housing tables in front of a round kiosk ringed with bar-style seating. The drawing also depicts those PoMo-style pediments of the second floor facade replaced with a large sign labeling the structure as Rice Village Market. The building also appears to be painted white.

Earlier this year, a previously released rendering from the set got some grounding in reality when the former Sprint storefront on University west of Kelvin was whitewashed, to prep the space for beauty supply shop Blue Mercury:

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Shopping Fix-Up
03/14/16 10:00am

Jefferson Davis Site Plan 2014, Quitman at Tackaberry St., Northside, Houston, 77009

Cast in projector blue above: a snapshot of renderings for the remodel of Jefferson Davis High School, which is planning to expand. The Northside school, one of 8 in HISD changing names to drop references to Confederate figures, is getting some shiny new teaching facilities, including upgraded spaces for its culinary arts and management students (as shown in the projection above). The campus on Quitman St. is also staking out new parking lot territory across Tackaberry St.

Hungry for the details? HISD is hosting a community meeting on April 7th at the school to talk design plans. Until then, here’s a preview of the planned new exterior for the performing arts space:

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Northside Remake
02/22/16 10:30am

Houston Bakery & Cafe, 1035 Quitman St., Northside, Houston, 77009

The past caught up with Houston Cafe & Bakery’s former location at the corner of Tackaberry and Quitman streets last week. The Mexican cafe and panaderia departed to a more northern, more strip-center location at 2435 Fulton St. back in 2015, when Houston ISD bought the Quitman property. A demo permit for the site was issued last Thursday, and by Friday the scene above was already playing out.

Across Tackaberry, soon-t0-be-renamed Jefferson Davis High School is in the early stages of a redo that will upgrade its 1926 building and add some new facilities for the school’s culinary arts and hotel management specialization. Finalized designs from Bay-IBI aren’t out yet, but a community meeting is planned for Thursday of this week, and demo work on some nearby houses has already been going on to make room for expansion.

Here’s a peek at a preliminary site plan from back in 2014, which shows the campus expanding across Tackaberry all the way to Fulton St.:

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Tackaberry Takeout
02/05/16 11:30am

Fitzgerald's, 2705 White Oak Dr, Heights, Houston, TX 77007

Trashed interior of Fitzgerald's, 2705 White Oak Dr, Heights, Houston, TX 77007

Cleanup and updates are planned over the next month for Fitzgerald’s, as owner Sara Fitzgerald returns to management following the previous operator’s recent eviction. Fitzgerald told the Houston Press that the venue at the corner of White Oak Dr. and Studemont St. will be redoing its back patio with an eye to making it food-truck-friendly, as well as painting and cleaning the space. Fitzgerald also says the venue will have to get its liquor license reinstated, and that the bar might have to “give something away” during shows they hold in the interim; the venue will likely not fully book until the cleanup and changes are complete.

The venue’s newest former management team left the space earlier this week, kicking up a cloud of photos purportedly documenting the satanic-graffiti-and-toilet-paper-heavy aftermath of a farewell gathering of the former tenants the night before their planned exit date.  The termination of the tenants’ relationship related at least in part to a rent disagreement: Freshly-ex-GM Josh Merritt told the Houston Press that the rent rates being charged were unfair given the building’s condition, while Sara Fitzgerald maintained that the rent was merely unpaid. Merritt emphasized that the former tenants wouldn’t have done anything to the building that would jeopardize their $50,000 security deposit.

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Party Like a Rock Star
02/01/16 12:15pm

Japanese Garden, Hermann Park, Houston, TX 77005 Japanese Garden, Hermann Park, Houston, TX 77005 Delicate pink surveyor’s flags echo the magenta of the early cherry blossoms in Hermann Park’s Japanese Garden, where maintenance, new features, and a new gate are under construction. Sections of the 5.5-acre space are currently sectioned off by orange construction fencing, and many of the larger water features (including the one pictured in the top photo) are temporarily in rock garden mode.

The Hermann Park Conservancy’s website estimates wrapping up the first phase of the renovation project this summer. Currently, the koi that inhabit some of the garden’s ponds are set up in temporary housing along the eastern edge of the park:

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Fish in a Barrel
02/01/16 9:15am

Jugs Draft, 3109 S. Shepherd Dr., Dearborn Place, Houston, 77098

A reportedly sober driver crashed into the strip center at the southeast corner of S. Shepherd Dr. and W. Alabama St. in the early hours of Sunday morning, according to KPRC. The unplanned beer run left the Jugs Draft storefront shattered open, and gave the Shepherd branch of Jenni’s Noodle House a new side entrance. Strip center neighbors Burn Smoke Shop, Mega DJ, and Mattress 1 are seemingly undamaged; all involved humans are reportedly undamaged as well.

Rare beers, however, were a major casualty of the event: The SUV crunched into Jugs’s bottle coolers, prompting the craft beer shop to liquidate what was salvaged of its chilled inventory in a $2 firesale yesterday. (Jugs is named for its 64-oz. growlers-to-go of draft beer, but also sells bottles and kegs.)

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Party Foul
01/25/16 5:00pm

Wright-Bembry Park, W. 23rd St., Shady Acres, Houston, 77008

This after-dark snapshot of a lone excavator hunched atop a pile of its own debris comes from Wright-Bembry Park last Friday — tear-up work at the Shady Acres greenspace, located between W. 23rd and W. 24th Sts. west of Durham Dr., began last Monday, according to a reader’s report. The work is part of a redo of the entire park, as shown in the plan below (oriented with west at the top of the frame):

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Shady Acres
01/25/16 12:30pm

Blue Mercury, 2506 University Blvd., Rice Village, Houston, 77005

The western corner space at University Blvd. and Kelvin St. in the Rice Village now has a coat of white paint over its brick facade, though the storefronts to either side have yet to follow suit. The space, last occupied by a Sprint store prior to a multi-year vacancy, appears to be setting up as the next link in the Blue Mercury cosmetics-spa chain, while street and utility work progresses at the corner.

The former Village Arcade (now being rebranded as, simply, the Rice Village) consists of the shopping centers on University on either side of Kelvin St.; the buildings were acquired from Weingarten in 2014 by Rice University, which already owned the land beneath the center and employs the same St. Joe brick in many of its campus buildings. Rice also employs development company Trademark to manage the Arcade property; the company released a few renderings of the first phase of the center’s intended makeover last fall, just before work began:

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University Redo