12/11/17 12:00pm

A new banner just tacked to the forehead of the building on Richmond Ave., barely east of I-610 announces what’s due to move in: a second Galleria-area showroom for Nazar’s Fine Jewelry. The photo at top, sent in by an on-the-spot Swamplot reader, shows workers getting a boost to place the sign at sundown on Sunday. The northeast crotch of the 59-West Loop interchange is visible south of the building at 4901 Richmond.

Interior renovation permits for the 25,890-sq.-ft. building — formerly home to Morton Kuehnert Auctioneers & Appraisers, and, even more formerly, to Parvizian Signature Rugs — were filed in September. Before it closed down in October 2016, the auction house’s windows were covered with photos of artifacts:

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Richmond Riches
12/08/17 1:15pm

WHAT IT TAKES TO JACK A HOUSE “Adam Bakir, a Houston builder and remodeler, does one or two home elevations a year. The job is akin to major surgery. Workers tunnel under the house, Bakir said, then raise the whole thing on jacks—the slab and the house that rests on it. Since Harvey, Bakir has received more than 20 inquiries about home elevation. If potential customers ask for a cost estimate, he’ll tell them: between about $75 and $100 per square foot. ‘If you have a 2,500-square-foot house, which is typical,’ he said, ‘the upper end of it would be about $250,000. The lower end, around $180,000.‘” [CityLab] Photo: Arkitektura Development

12/07/17 12:00pm

Sure, Houston Axe — just off 59 on Larkwood Dr. — is convenient to Sharpstown and Bellaire, but Houston’s soon-to-come second indoor axe-throwing venue will likely be better located. Ratchet Hatchet plans to take over the former Vue Nightclub space on the second floor of the strip center at the corner of Waugh Dr. and Allen Pkwy., across the street from Whole Foods and the America Tower. But that also puts it very close to the Marshall Back & Body Wellness Center, the Montrose Eye Care clinic, and a branch of Farmers Insurance in the same strip center. Also, both the Hand Care Center and Foot Surgery Specialists of Texas are located only a block south.

Permits filed with the City of Houston show that the facility at 524 Waugh Dr. will be 1,700 sq. ft. That address likely puts it right above Bayou Liquor in this photo:

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Ratchet Hatchet
12/01/17 1:30pm

Work has begun outside the former McGowen Cleaners — closed since 2015 — on the corner of Fairview and Morse streets, the site of the planned Vibrant restaurant. Last May, Vibrant’s owners bought the 3,909-sq.-ft. brick building, along with 2 adjacent neighbors to the south; they plan to open their Lake Flato-designed restaurant inside the corner building in March. The above rendering shows a patio that would be cut into its corner — and a garden lining the street, where chunks of chopped-up pavement now lie.

The rendering also shows tall windows being created where clerestory windows currently face Fairview. The clerestories are visible in the center of this photo of the 1931 Fairview St. building from last year, when the property was up for sale:

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Lake Flato in Hyde Park
11/29/17 5:00pm

Work is almost complete on Pipeline Realty’s conversion of the 2-story office building at 2617 Bissonnet (seen at top in a recent photo) into a new second-story coworking space called Local Office. The 13,500-sq.-ft. building, pictured above before the 2 trees standing in front were removed and larger windows were poked into its north and west facades, previously served as the offices of Industrial Audio/Video.

Local Office, due to open sometime next month, will be joined early next year by a ground-floor coffee shop, labeled “Local Coffee” on the rendering below but more likely to be a third outlet of the growing local Cavo Coffee chain:

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Offices of West University
11/21/17 4:15pm

Coming soon to the 1,500-sq.-ft. building on the corner of N. Main and Pecore St. where El Taquito Rico dealt tacos until its closure in May: a new restaurant serving drinks. The building sits on a narrow triangular property at 3701 N. Main, just west of I-45. Puro Mente LLC is listed as the applicant for a variety of TABC permits, including one for late-night service, on the notice taped to the building’s front window, shown in the photo below:

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Rico Puro
11/21/17 3:30pm

Leo Tanguma‘s 240-ft.-long, 70-character 1973 mural slowly peeling from the southern facade of the former Continental Can Company warehouse in the East End (pictured above in 2013) was whitewashed over the summer. Mario Enrique Figueroa Jr. — better known to Houstonians as Gonzo247 — is now hard at work on the Chicano-art landmark’s replacement: creating with a small crew a mural of the same name, size, location, characters, and intention. These recent photos show the progress so far:

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Gonzo, Not Forgotten
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
11/17/17 4:45pm

The doors aren’t open yet, but the windows are in at Beaver’s’s 10-year-old bar and barbecue joint on the corner of Sawyer and Decatur St., closed since early July. The photo at top shows 3 of the 4 new holes in the wall, including one cut straight through the building’s name tag, preserved in the image above from before the bar closed. The 2,500-sq.-ft. den was originally scheduled to reopen in September. A second location on Westheimer just east of Fountain View Dr., larger than the original, has been in business since January 2.

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Old Sixth Ward
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
10/16/17 1:15pm

Workers last week removed a few trees in the way of a new partition of Fountain Green, the plaza that stretches between Buildings 9 and 11 in Greenway Plaza just west of Edloe. Included in the scheme: A new separate lawn space on the green’s southern end, separated from the fountain by a covered walkway stretching between the 2 buildings; a separate canopy structure on the new lawn’s east side; and a new patio just behind that and in front of Building 9 — where a new restaurant designed by Austin architect Michael Hsu is planned. The aerial and ground-level views above shows the path being cleared for the walkway. Looking onto the green from the south across City Club Dr. is the former Houston City Club building, currently on its way to being refurbished for its new life as a location of Lifetime Fitness.

Renderings of the space shown by Greenway Plaza owner Parkway in March of this year, before it was announced that the Houston REIT was being bought by the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, show the general contours of the plan:

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Fountain Green Green
10/06/17 10:15am

THE PIERCE ELEVATED’S GREAT UNCROSSING What’s going to replace the giant crosses on the east and west sides of the St. Joseph Professional Building towering over the Pierce Elevated once its new owner takes them down and redoes the exterior? “I want something that’s going to be iconic to Houston,Boxer Property CEO Andrew Segal tells Katherine Feser. The company has commissioned artists to develop ideas for the 18-story building’s new cross-free exterior look, Segal says: “It may be something that changes at night. It could involve a projector.” Also in the plans for the 135,586-sq.-ft. building at 2000 Crawford St., which dates from 1965: new shared lounges, workspaces, and conference facilities, changes to its ground-floor retail spaces, and a new name TBD. The steel crosses were added to the building in 2009. [Houston Chronicle] Photo: Russell Hancock, via Swamplot Flickr pool

09/26/17 1:15pm

Something you might not have noticed about Houston’s iconic Bank of America Center (top) at 700 Louisiana St. Downtown: There’s an entire unused building hidden inside. The thrice-renamed spiky Dutch-ish PoMo tower complex, designed by architect Philip Johnson in 1982, sits across the street from his other famous Downtown Houston office building, Pennzoil Place. It’s not obvious from the exterior or interior, but the 2-story former Western Union building on the corner of Louisiana and Capitol streets (pictured above in a photo from 1957) takes up almost a quarter of the block Bank of America Center sits on. This was Western Union’s longtime regional switching center; Johnson was asked to design his building around it because the cable and electrical connections maintained within it were deemed cost-prohibitive to relocate.

Thirty-five years later, it’s the building’s anchor tenant that’s relocating: Bank of America, which now occupies 165,000 sq. ft., will move to Skanska’s Capitol Tower in a couple years. As part of a new set of renovations to the structure the bank is leaving behind, owner M-M Properties plans to completely dismantle what remains of the Western Union building, recapturing 35,000 sq. ft. of space without expanding the building’s footprint. Among the plans for the resulting space: A “reconfiguration” of the lobby and the addition of a “white tablecloth restaurant.”

The secret Western Union void is well disguised. It isn’t in the lobby of the 56-story tower but in the 12-story adjacent bank-lobby building fronting Louisiana St., more formally known as the the Banking Hall when the building first opened in 1983 as RepublicBank Center. It takes up the entire northern half of that structure: It’s beyond the colonnaded-but-blank wall on your right as you enter the lobby from Louisiana (on the left in this photo):

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Tales from the Vault
09/15/17 3:00pm

Entire episodes of TLC’s long-running reality TV series The Little Couple were devoted to the construction, outfitting, and decor of the 2-story home at 2802 Fairhope St. in Knollwood Village to accommodate the particular requirements — and dimensions — of the growing family of its owners, Dr. Jen Arnold and Bill Klein. The home has been shown off in magazine features, too (see the above video from People). Since the end of the show’s last season the couple has moved to Florida, however, and as of last week the home is up for sale. But here’s some news that might come as a disappointment to the show’s many fans — some of whom have chosen to show up on the home’s doorstep and leave notes for its stars: The home has already been renovated, and many of those little touches the couple so greatly appreciated (the custom-lower-height countertops in the kitchen, for example) have been replaced.

Non-fans or average-sized house shoppers just looking for a place to live, however, will probably appreciate the renovations just completed by Blackwell Design, which included raising all the shower heads; reworking the kitchen and bathrooms with standard-height counters; elevating the outdoor BBQ, and raising the cabinets in the laundry room and the vanity in the master closet. There’s also a new custom pantry in the kitchen.

Here’s a quick tour of the new interior:

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Moving on Up
09/12/17 10:30am

Here, courtesy of a Swamplot reader, are a few exterior views of the building at 1318 Westheimer after its weekend fire. “The damage is pretty severe,” Shawn Bermudez wrote on Facebook Saturday evening. The owner of Royal Oak Bar & Grill, which shut down in this location last September, had been renovating the property in order to reopen it as a bar named Present Company. That work was a month from completion, Bermudez estimates. Among the additions to the former 1950s home: new steel doors and windows. And here’s a view showing the current state of the new piggyback patio added in back:

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Bar and Grill