01/12/17 11:30am

Midtown Entry Portal work site, Brazos St. at I-45 and Pierce St., Midtown, Houston, 77003

More signs of the Midtown Redevelopment Authority’s current 3-part landscaping project: the large hill being crafted where the long I-45 exit ramp into Pierce St. hits Brazos St. Bid documents for the project also mention landscaping walls, accent lighting, and decorative stone as part of the rest of the plan for the spot. The newly elevated site sits east across the I-45 offloader from the former home of high-gloss steak and seafood house Mr. Peeples, which shut down back in March. The Bagby-facing building, which served as a Boy Scouts of America office prior to the restaurant makeover, is still up for lease; a marketing flier advertises all 3 stories as up for grabs, along with the 8,702-sq.-ft. basement. Here’s the full frontal:

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Moving Up in Midtown
01/11/17 5:15pm

Leasing Materials for former Foreign Correspondents site, Norhill, Houston

The split space occupied until late December by Northern Thai restaurant Foreign Correspondents and its also-freshly-shut-down cocktail bar companion Canard may be up for lease now, a reader notes. Treadsack suffix provider and co-owner Chris Cusack told CultureMap after the restaurant’s closure (spurred in the moment by the resignation of the head chefs, and trailing a few months after the previous departure of the company’s head beverage person) that the company would likely be trying out another concept in the space; that claim, however, was made before the details of years of behind-the-scenes financial turmoil hit the Internet.

listing flier from Braun Enterprise, showing the center’s updates since the original marketing materials for 4721 N. Main were released, now advertises the restaurant’s space as up for grabs; the recent photo above is included, alongside the accompanying site plans of the 4,742-sq.-ft. space. A plan view of the rest of the shopping center is included as well, showing the currently solidifying new location of Austin-based gelato chain Dolce Neve:

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Iced in Norhill
01/06/17 11:30am

Former Earthman Bellaire Funeral Home at 6700 Ferris St., Bellaire, TX 77401
Former Earthman Bellaire Funeral Home at 6700 Ferris St., Bellaire, TX 77401Making way for new happenings in the old chapel and mortuary, Earthman Bellaire Funeral Home has departed from its longtime space at 6700 Ferris St. and moved into the younger, broader building at 4525 Bissonnet St. formerly housing Levy Funeral Directors. (Levy, for its part, has scooted over to nextdoor 4539 Bissonnet, the brick 4-plex just east of Candy’s Nails.) Earthman’s empty space was sold in October to United Equities, and Ralph Bivins reports this week that the slope-roofed mid-1950s building will be put back to use by 2 new tenants: yoga and fitness chain Define Body & Mind and a zip-code-enthused restaurant going by 401. The Define folks have already marked their territory on the Ferris side of the building, atop the ghost of Earthman’s scripty logo:

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Bissonnet Funeral Home Shuffle
01/05/17 4:30pm

Construction site at 1540 W. Alabama, WAMM, Houston, 77006Proposed Alabama Row Shopping Center, 1518 W. Alabama St., Montrose, HoustonA little brown box is now in place about where the gray and blue boxes of the Alabama Row retail strip are supposed to go, a reader notes. The construction trailer recently popped up inside the newish construction fencing now framing the long-empty lot along Mandell St. (across W. Alabama from the block holding the Menil Collection’s parking lot, and part of its bungalow herd). The new strip would sit just west of the 2-story brick house now holding cat spa and boarding facility Fat Cat Flats.

So far Alabama Row looks like it may be bookended by Vietnamese and burger joints, with room for some non-food offerings in the middle — that’s W. Alabama toward the bottom in the preliminary site plan below, with the strip’s parking tucked in back:

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Menil Munchies
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
01/04/17 5:45pm

SWAPPING PERSPECTIVES ON THE HOUSTON STRIP MALL MODEL Strip Mall at 13326 Westheimer, Houston. 77077“They’re neighborhood centers,” not strip malls, developer Ed Wulfe insists to Katharine Shilcutt in this month’s issue of Houstonia. And call them — all 25,000 or so in the region — what you will, they’ve been scratching the relatively-high-density retail itch for Houston’s sprawling residential areas since WWII. Shilcutt admits that “in the Bayou City, defending the ubiquitous strip mall carries the same whiff of insanity as defending giant tree roaches or mosquitoes. . . . Their aesthetic merits are dubious; their environmental impact, baleful.” But is there any more pure distillation of Houston? (Shilcutt goes on to relay her discussion with restaurateur and actual strip mall tenant Kaiser Lashkari, who owns Himalaya restaurant in Olympic Center off Hillcroft and agrees that there are some benefits to the strip mall model. When asked if he would move to a freestanding building given the opportunity, his answer is still an unequivocal yes.) [Houstonia] Photo of strip center at 13326 Westheimer: Swamplot inbox

01/04/17 4:15pm

Harlow's in Edwards Grand Palace 24, 3839 Weslayan St., Greenway Plaza, Houston, 77027

Harlow's in Edwards Grand Palace 24, 3839 Weslayan St., Greenway Plaza, Houston, 77027Tilman Fertitta’s Harlow’s Food & Fun arcade-bar-restaurant, located since the mid-aughts inside the southwest corner of the Edwards Greenway Grand Palace 24 on Weslayan St., is now closed forever, a woulda-been visitor reports. The entertainment-complex-within-an-entertainment-complex shut down by New Year’s Eve, and signage has already been pulled from the main entrance (though the explanatory yellow placard shown here is still visible behind the space’s security grate at the other entrance). The Harlow’s website has already been scrubbed and redirected to the main Landry’s page; some folks operating out of a Landry’s-branded pickup truck were spotted this afternoon cleaning up at the scene (above).

The signage on the Norfolk St. side of the theater has been removed as well:

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Grand Palace Exit
01/04/17 12:15pm

1801 Richmond Ave. Demo, Richwood Place, Houston, 77098
1801 Richmond Ave., Richwood Place, Houston, 77098From beneath yesterday’s sunset glare off the new Big Tex Storage midrise on Richmond Ave, a reader captured the splintery wreckage of long-empty Cierra Interiors at the corner with Woodhead St. Plans to stick a new Starbucks in its place were submitted back in early November by an entity connected to experienced Starbucks constructor Vaquero Ventures, and the knockout of the building was officially sanctioned just before Christmas. Next door, the land opened up by Vaquero’s teardown of the pair of 2-story brick 4-plexes at 1823 and 1827 Richmond back in August looks to be marked for another Inner Loop outpost of oil change chain Take 5.

And one more door eastward, the former Ruthie’s Place on Richmond looks to be headed for new use by strip-center gelato shop Sweetcup, per some early-stage permits issued in November that note a bar-to-ice-cream-shop conversion. Sweetcup bought the building at 1829 Richmond in September after the bar’s early 2016 shutdown (in the wake of the passing of long-time former owner Ruth Vardilos). Here’s a shot of the whole corner taken in August, shortly after the apartment removal, showing Ruthie’s tucked next to Ely’s Beauty Salon on the far right:

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Richwood Place Replacements
12/29/16 10:45am

J. Black's, 110 South Heights Blvd., Memorial Heights, Houston,  77007

J. Black's, 110 South Heights Blvd., Memorial Heights, Houston,  77007The building housing the Houston expansion of Austin’s J. Black’s at the southwest corner of Washington Ave and Heights Blvd. now bears a new for-info-please-call sign, a reader notes. The bar appears to have events planned through at least New Year’s Eve; the 5,948-sq.-ft. space was only listed online as up for lease about 2 weeks ago. Back before 2012, the property was home to Phil’s Texas Barbecue, for about the same amount of time as it took Phil himself to restaurantize the corner’s original muffler shop setup. And soon another corner at the intersection will be getting a full workover as well, if all goes as planned — J. Black’s sits across Heights Blvd. from the subsection of the Memorial Heights apartments slated to go away some time next quarter, to make way for that planned Midway midrise with the H-E-B at the bottom:

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Cornered in Memorial Heights
12/28/16 2:45pm

Art Hous, 811 St. Emanuel St., East Downtown, Houston, 77003
wahlburgers

The folks at ACS studio architecture say that the insides of the former Art Hous art and interior design center on St. Emanuel St. are being cleared out for the planned installation of Burgr Hous. Demo permits for the interior walls of the space, which is wedged between Warehouse Live and Lucky’s Pub, came through early last month. When it’s wrapped up, the remodel may have a vibe kinda like the space shown above, which ACS currently has up on their website for the project as a visual reference for the redesign — though the image depicts the branding of the Boston-based reality-teevee-starring Wahlburgers chain. The firm has a floorplan out as well, however, showing a different layout:

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E-Less in EaDo
12/28/16 11:30am

El Beso Cantina, 3801 Farnham St,, Upper Kirby, Houston, 77098

A reader on the inside sends a shot of the ex-59 Diner on Farnham St., now up and running as El Beso Cantina. As of Christmas, the space is once again open 24 hours a day, though the pale turquoise paint and Elvis kitsch have been swapped out for warmer earth tones and decorative sombreros. The new occupants also appear to be attempting to fill the area’s 3am pancake niche, covered for nearly 30 years by the departed diner, by offering an array of American breakfast items along with the Tex-Mex fare.

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Shepherd Triangle Swap-In
12/21/16 11:15am

Triple Chicken junction on S. Rice, Gulfton, Houston, 77081

The density of fast-food chicken options at S. Rice Ave. just south of 59 is increasing precipitously, a couple of readers note. The most recent addition: the newly-constructed Chik-Fil-A at 5325 S. Rice Ave. (visible above on the right, just south of Pollo Loco and across the street from Raising Cane’s). The Chik-Fil-A is not yet officially open for fowl distribution (though it does appear to be giving away prizes on Facebook. The Pollo Loco and Chik-Fil-A represent the fulfillment of the Wal-Mart Supercenter version of the Shoppes at Uptown Crossing site plan, passed around back in 2014; the Marriott Town & Place shown on that plan has since come to be as well:

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Flocking Together in Gulfton
12/19/16 9:30am

STRAY CAT ADOPTION CAFE TO BE TAKEN IN BY KINDLY HEIGHTS DANCE STUDIO NiaMoves at 508 Pecore St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77009 Jack Witthaus writes that cat lady and CPA Renée Reed has finally found a home for El Gato Coffeehouse, a long-planned cafe intended to double as a venue for playing with up-for-adoption cats. Reed has been looking for a space since at least June, when she announced a partnership with the Houston Humane Society to help socialize and find homes for the organization’s rescue animals, à la Austin’s Blue Cat Cafe. Witthaus reports that Reed is signing a lease with  yoga and dance studio NiaMoves on Pecore St., which will be leasing part of its property — that’ll include enough space for both a cat lounge and the 53-ft.-long shipping container where food and drink prep will be sequestered, for reasons of city health code. [Houston Business Journal] Photo of NiaMoves at 508 Pecore St.: Nia M.

Cafe Finds a Home
12/15/16 4:45pm

Bird Barbershop, 420 E. 20th St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008

Remodel of Heights Plaza, 420 E. 20th St., Heights, Houston, 77008Austin-based Shiner-wielding Bird’s Barbershop opened up its first Houston location last week in the remodeled 1955 retail strip at 420 E. 20th St., on the end of the building formerly home to J & R Boudin and Frenchy’s Sausage Co. The bubblegum pink parking stripes were joined by the spots above over the summer, as well as the circular window now floating in the middle of a wall where the facade’s westernmost door used to be.

A rep from the company says the Houston store was designed with community swimming pools in mind, which explains the interior tile scheme and watery motifs:

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420 in the Heights
12/14/16 10:45am

Long Sing Market Leasing Flier, 2017 Walker St., East Downtown, Houston, 77003

The Long Sing Supermarket building is now up for grabs, per a fresh leasing listing that appeared last week. The 8,260-sf.-ft. retail space and its internal lunch counter sit across Walker St. from physicist-mascotted Neil’s Bahr, and next to Little Woodrow’s EaDo (visible in yellow to the right, with its face toward the corner with St. Emanuel St. where Warehouse Live hangs out). The pagoda-topped grocery store was listed for sale a few times since 2014 — back before the glassy Marriott Marquis highrise started photobombing the building’s listing shots from across 59, as it does in the photo below:

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Market To Market