08/13/18 4:00pm

NEARLY 100 MEYERLAND HOUSES WILL SOON BE UP OFF THE GROUND Forty homes total have now been elevated in Meyerland and 57 are currently on the way up, reports Nancy Sarnoff. Their boosters are seeking the same degree of flood protection enjoyed by the 29 percent of Meyerland homeowners whose houses have never flooded in the past. A few elevations have been paid for by the City of Houston; others were self-funded. [Houston Chronicle ($); previously on Swamplot] Photo of 4718 N. Braeswood Blvd.: Christine Gerbode

08/09/18 5:15pm

Houston’s latest Bacco-branded wine venue Bacco’s Wine Garden has begun its takeover of 3611 Montrose Blvd. by adding this corral to the house’s front parking lot, although nothing’s being consumed on site yet; a TABC application is still pending approval. Now enclosed within the pen: the gable-roofed sign once colored by the logo for Tony’s Place, the homeless center for LGBT youth under 26 that relocated last summer to a Midtown space it shares with the Salvation Army’s own youth shelter on McGowen St.

On the north side of the building, Bacco’s’s own sign is now up:

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Bacco’s Wine Garden
08/09/18 2:15pm

A Swamplot reader sends a photo (top) of the trees that appear to have grown up outside the former McGowen Cleaners real fast since plant life was first added to the bed (above) earlier this year. That’s because the crew now converting the place into a restaurant called Vibrant tore out the bushier trees just over a week ago and replaced them with a row of taller new cedars.

The swap-out left the bed short on plant life last Wednesday and Thursday:

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Growth Spurt
08/08/18 1:30pm

Add F45 Training to the list of businesses taking over warehouses next to where I-45 will run over a few of its own once its rerouted through East Downtown. That’s the gym’s black box in the photo at top, neighbored by the Ferris wheel that new-ish bar Truck Yard recently installed in its own next-door lot. North of an adjacent portion of the building that F45 hasn’t touched, exterior work added new horizontal siding a couple shades darker than the previous off-white onto the structure, as well as the doorway — pictured above — atop which the national fitness chain has been flexing its COMING SOON signage for the past few months.

A permit filed yesterday for the building at 1110 Hutchins indicates rehab work is about to head inside to deal with a 2,650-sq.-ft. portion of its space. It’s 10,000 sq.-ft. total and backs up nearly halfway down the block on Lamar St. where it stands off from the south side of the Kim Hung Supermarket, long-whispered to be about to be demolished for something much taller.

Photos: F45 Training

Bodybuilding Buildings
08/02/18 12:30pm

Magnolia’s Ice Cream & More is now grooming the former Park Place Pharmacy building 2 blocks west of the Gulf Fwy. for what’ll be its second creamery. Although the pharmacy building lost its original signage — pictured above in 2012 — sometime before MMA gym Metro Fight Club took it over a few years ago (to be followed briefly by Friends Lifestyle Lounge), the rest of the exterior has remained more or less frozen in time since its construction in 1950.

Already the corner of the building has earned its stripes (and drive-thru window) as part of its entry into food service. In its final form, the structure will also feature a new ice cream sign in place of the former RX mark:

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The Best Medicine
08/02/18 10:30am

SOUTHWEST KEY SAYS EMANCIPATION DETENTION CENTER NEARLY READY TO WELCOME KIDS, CITY SAYS NOT WITHOUT PROPER PAPERS The nonprofit looking to house unaccompanied children who crossed the border illegally in the complex at 419 Emancipation Ave. tells the Chronicle‘s Lomi Kriel and Mike Morris it’s only seeking one more permit — okaying a commercial kitchen — before it plans to open the East Downtown facility. And even if that paperwork doesn’t arrive, company officials say, they could just open up anyway with food procured by some other means. But according to city officials, 2 permits the building received back in June — a certificate of occupancy and safety survey — are void because both came through based on the structure’s designation as a “shelter.” Houston’s fire chief now says the complex is more of a “custodial care facility” — a classification with different requirements for city sign-offs since “the occupants are not going to be free to enter and exit as they wish.” His recommendation: start the application process for those 2 documents over from scratch. [Houston Chronicle ($); previously on Swamplot] Photo: LoopNet

08/01/18 1:00pm

After and before views show off the dramatic change of face that’s transformed 311 Travis St. as part of the prep-work for its new Tiki-themed bar occupant Kanaloa. The monochrome makeover began on the lower façade a few weeks ago before proceeding upstairs where it wrapped up last week. “We want this to be a hidden oasis in downtown,” the venue’s owner told Eater in March, hinting at plans to renovate the 126-year-old Alltmont Building. Its canopies, window arches, and pediment are pretty well-hidden now — though the building does seem to stand out a bit as a whole amid the row of adjacent lighter brick structures fronting Market Square Park.

When Kanaloa opens, it will pick up where Market Square Bar & Grill — pictured below — left off last year:

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Tiki Torched
07/30/18 4:15pm

A Swamplot reader sends photos of a few street-fronting changes over at the new Pizza Motus moving in next to West University Masonic Lodge No. 1292: There’s now a sign on the storefront and some benches on the sidewalk outside it. A bit tougher to spot is the door in the middle of the concave façade; it recently turned green.

Former tenant Edloe St. Cafe had the whole place painted red during its time inside:

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On Deck in West U.
07/30/18 12:00pm

The owner of the vacant, 3,476-sq.-ft. King’s Center retail building a few blocks outside Beltway 8 has installed Smoothie King as its first new tenant. But the beverage chain doesn’t quite have the place under sovereign domain: developer Ancorian is still marketing the structure’s 2,400-sq.-ft. vacant majority.

In the photo above, you can see some of the circular residue on the tower left behind by previous tenant Logan Farms Honey Glazed Hams & Market Café. The less-aptly-named restaurant left the building it had occupied in full for greener strip center pastures down the street on the corner of Wilcrest Dr. at the end of 2016.

It had the place done up like this during its residency:

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By Royal Decree
07/30/18 10:15am

The complicated thing about trying to turn an old Heights home — like this one at 733 W. 24th St. — into a coffee shop is that the neighborhood’s original lots are smaller than Houston allows for commercial use. Although the house pictured at top sits on a pair of adjacent 25-ft. lots, their combined frontage still falls short of the 60-ft. minimum required to lump them together into a space for something other than single-family residential.

But that’s not stopping the owner that bought the house earlier this year from seeking an exception to the rule. On Thursday, Houston’s city planning commission will consider a variance that’d allow the plans to go ahead anyway by consolidating the lots into a single 50-ft.-wide, business-friendly parcel.

Then comes the question of parking. Right now, a driveway leads up to a carport on the west side of the house:

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Cafe Conversion
07/26/18 2:00pm

Catty-corner to the soon-to-be aerated Spaghetti Warehouse building on Commerce St., its 2-story brick neighbor between Travis and Milam has a similar plan for dealing with its own floody first floor: get rid of all downstairs law offices and replace them with parking. Currently, the decades-old Abraham Watkins Building is bookended by 2 surface parking lots to the east and the west (pictured above). By filling in the gap between them with 14 more spots, the owner hopes it’ll no longer have to keep repairing the decades-old place like its done at least once yearly for the past 4 years, according to an application it filed this month. (Personal injury firm Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Aziz has managed to stay safe in the building throughout that time, though staff retreated to the top floor after Harvey.)

Houston’s historic commission approved that application yesterday, clearing the way for this new garage door to crop up on Commerce in place of the center storefront panel as shown below:

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800 Commerce
07/25/18 3:00pm

The parking garage at the Lyric Centre has begun glowing as part of its transformation into Lyric Market, one in the trio of planned Houston food halls. Though the venue on the corner of Smith and Preston streets isn’t open yet, its exterior has been all over the light spectrum lately, radiating both the rainbow and patriotic displays shown above.

Solid color schemes have been in the mix too:

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Bright Food Hall Future
07/23/18 12:30pm

A Swamplot reader sends a photo of the big white public hearing notice now up outside the Rothko Chapel; it’s the first sign of the work chapel management has planned for both the octagon and its surroundings. The proposed replat detailed by the notice would take 6 originally single-family deed-restricted lots occupied by the chapel, adjacent administration bungalows, and their surroundings — and merge them into a single parcel.

It’s all part of the prep work for modifications planned next spring that’ll alter the chapel’s skylight and tweak its acoustics, HVAC system, weatherproofing, and entrance vestibule. New York–based firm AROhired in 2016 — is overseeing all those changes, as well as plans for the 4 additional lots the chapel owns on the north side of Sul Ross St.

Now occupied by a few Menil-gray-colored housesincluding one on the corner of Yupon St. home to the Da Camera music society — those properties are slated for their own consolidation under the proposed replat. Planned to rise afterward: a visitor welcome house (gift shop included) and energy building including a backup power station. Later on, a new administration and archive building with adjacent community engagement center will also move in on that side of the street.

Photo: Swamplox inbox

Gift Shop Incoming
07/20/18 2:00pm

Lovett Commercial won’t be building that new northwest corner structure on the former Houston Post site previously slated to house a Sprouts Farmers Market at Emancipation and Bell avenues, but it does plan to move ahead with this blocky new entryway housing an elevator and stairway on St. Charles St. — that is, if Houston’s city planning commission gives it the go ahead. The developer fired off an application asking the commission for permission to plant the cube (shown in yellow above) right at the property line, as opposed to 10 ft. from it as would typically be required, but then postponed its consideration for 2 weeks during which it plans to gather more supporting information. The structure would go right outside the existing 3-story building between Emancipation and St. Charles St. that Lovett plans to preserve.

Other portions of that 1944 building already toe the line in similar fashion along St. Charles and Emancipation. They were grandfathered in to the current setback rules, along with the entire north façade of this slightly smaller, abutting structure that lines Polk St.:

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East Downtown
07/20/18 10:00am

BRASA’S STEAKHOUSE WILL DEBUT IN ABANDONED KALEIDOSCOPE THEATER ON CAPITOL Recent permit filings show that the abandoned Kaleidoscope Theater on the Capitol-St.-side of the St. Germain Lofts at 705 Main St. is about to be reborn as a steakhouse. Founded by 2008 American Idol contestant Colton Berry 6 years ago, the theater played host to cabaret-style productions during its time in the space. But in the summer of 2016, Berry told the audience at a production of “PEOPLE” that the theater company was shutting down and splitting from the building, reported the Chronicle. That left a roughly 8,000 sq.-ft. hole in the north side of the residential structure — pictured above from the corner of Main and Capitol where the theater is survived by another, once-neighboring ground-floor tenant, Flying Saucer Draught Emporium. [Previously on Swamplot] Photo: Realtor.com