02/19/19 11:30am

Work is underway to turn the 2-story brick house Kaye Marvins Photography occupied for 70 years into a new location of Memorial Tailors, currently a 2-spot chain with shops in Cypress and the Village Plaza at Bunker Hill shopping center. The photo at top shows all the doors and windows torn out of the 1920s-era former photo building as part of the renovations that the builder Ecological Living is overseeing. Also vanished: the long green awning that once extended out from the front door to the curb on the east side of Montrose Blvd.

Here it is from across the street:

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Roseland Estates
01/30/19 11:00am

And that’s a wrap over at the 18th St. H-E-B, closed since yesterday so as not to distract from the new, double-decker H-E-B that opened today at 2300 N. Shepherd Dr. between 23rd and 24th streets. The photos above show the old store’s front entrance stripped of all red, hyphenated signage, blockaded by shopping carts, plastered with closure notices, and — in case that wasn’t enough — fronted by stack of wooden pallets with a blaze yellow flyer addressing anyone who’d still hoped to get inside. A few weeks ago, workers inside stopped restocking the aisles, slapped a few discounts on what they had left, and watched as the store’s inventory dwindled up until it shut down.

By 5 p.m. yesterday, reports a Swamplot reader, the parking lot was mostly empty:

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1511 W. 18th St.
01/25/19 4:30pm

This pair of drive-by shots shows what remained on Tuesday of the Hyde Park building that until recently housed South and Central American craft store Corazon. After receiving a series of short-term lease extensions, the store’s owner Chris Murphy told Swamplot last October that he only had a month left in the space at 2318 Waugh Dr., which had housed the store since 1998 and served as a canvas for Houston’s fifth red dot on its Fairview-St. side. (It opened a year earlier on Montrose Blvd. a few blocks south of 59 in a spot within the former Gramercy Apartments that’s now occupied by the Museum Tower.)

Murphy began renting the blue and gray building that’s now collapsing for $650 a month over the discouragements of his friends, reported the Chronicle’s Ileana Najarro, who warned him of its location in “the middle of nowhere” and of the visibly lopsided posture it’d assumed over its 100-year lifespan. (Joke’s on them: the building, wrote Najarro, went on to survive 8 car crashes during the time Corazon was inside.) Harris County’s appraisal district dates its construction to around 1880. Since then, it’s done stints as a smithy, glass-blowing studio, antique store, general store, and furniture refinishing shop.

Once the dust has settled from the demolition, a set of 3 townhomes are set to rise in its place. Murphy plans to continue dealing products from South and Central American artists online.

Photos: Grey Stephens

Fairview Farewell
01/23/19 5:00pm

The last remaining Sears Appliance & Hardware store in the vicinity of Houston — and one of the last dozen or so left in the country — sits in the Mason Center at the corner of S. Mason Rd. and Kingsland Blvd. out in Katy. And it’s a goner. Management began liquidating everything inside last Thursday and has been advertising discounts on its Facebook page in the days since.

The store, shown above, and its counterparts were spun off from the parent company behind full-sized Sears stores in 2012. (Along with Sears Outlets, Sears Hometown, and Sears Home Appliance Showrooms, the hardware stores are now folded under Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores, Inc., while standard Searses answer to the recently-auctioned-off Sears Holdings Corporation.) At one time, the Appliance and Hardware stores — which carry the full line of Sears hardware and appliances, but in smaller, often less urban locations — blanketed the Houston area, with spots in The Woodlands’ Panther Creek Village Center, in First Colony Marketplace off Hwy. 6 in Sugar Land, in the Northpark Plaza shopping center in Kingwood, in the Corum Station shopping center in Spring, in the Crossroads Centre in Pasadena, in the strip building off Fuqua St. just west of I-45 by Almeda Mall, and where West Rd. meets Hwy. 6 north in northwest Houston.

Statewide, the only other remaining Appliance and Hardware store is in Huntsville, at the south end of the Sears- and Target-anchored shopping center on the southbound side of I-45.

Photo: Sears Appliance and Hardware

Another One Bites the Dust
01/22/19 2:30pm

Renderings that Houston developer Sluco Realty has released of the new double-decker retail building it’s planning on Shepherd show 2 sides to what it hopes will eventually fill the structure: to the north (above) your typical ground-floor restaurant setup, and to the south (top), something a little more potentially lifesaving. For privacy’s sake, the planned urgent care clinic forgoes the windows that open up the rest of building, dubbed Heights Forum. But the all-caps signage perched atop the awning shown at top should make clear what’s going on inside.

Additional therapeutic offerings like a dance studio and martial arts dojo appear to be planned upstairs. To get there, take the highlighter-green staircase at the front of the building or the side stairwell shown below behind the restaurant:

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Heights Forum
01/22/19 11:30am

Those dark green awnings and the sign shown below are now the only exterior traces of Barnes & Noble’s multi-decade presence in the east-facing building in the Westheimer Crossing shopping center just west of Voss Rd. It’s the only business ever to inhabit the 38,700-sq.-ft. standalone structure since it went up along with the rest of the retail complex in the mid-90s.

Unlike the rest of the shopping center — now home to Academy Sports + Outdoors, Michaels, REI, Designer Shoe Warehouse, Petco, Thai Spice and a smattering of roadside fast food and retail buildings — the former bookstore is owned separately by National Retail Properties, a real estate investment trust that puts money into shopping centers across the U.S.

Photos: Rex Solomon

Epilogue
01/22/19 10:00am

BUC-EE’S HAS OPENED ITS FIRST BRANCH OUTSIDE OF TEXAS, AND MORE ARE TO COME Buc-ee’s opened its fourth location along I-10 yesterday morning at 6 a.m. . . . in Robertsdale, Alabama. With 124 gas pumps, the new 50,000-sq.-ft. store, writes the Chronicle’s Julian Gill, “is almost identical to the one that recently opened in Katy,” except it doesn’t have a car wash. Next up: another out-of-state Buc-ee’s in Daytona Beach, Florida according to the Daytona Beach News-Journal, whose reporter Clayton Park notes that it too will have a 120-pump setup. “Plans also show a 125-foot-tall sign pole for Buc-ee’s,” he adds, “featuring the head of a cartoon beaver above the word ‘Daytona.’” [Houston Chronicle] Photo of Lake Jackson Buc-ee’s: Judy Baxter [license]

01/17/19 2:15pm

Jim McIngvale, more widely known as Mattress Mack, told radio host Michael Berry this morning on KTRH that Gallery Furniture’s 30,000-sq.-ft. store at 2411 Post Oak Blvd., shown above, will close following the end of its lease in a year. “The traffic went down by half because they tore up the road,” said Mack, referring to the construction on the new Uptown BRT that now has the street peppered with blaze orange cones and barricades. Gallery Furniture opened the Uptown location in 2009 inside what used to be a Pier One at the Post Oak Shopping Center. The closure will bring the chain down to 2 branches: the one in Richmond off the Grand Pkwy. and its original spot on I-45.

Photo: Isiah Carey

Mattress Pad Available
01/16/19 4:00pm

The shopping center at the southwest southeast corner of Montrose Blvd. and 59 known as Chelsea Market has just recently gotten the chain-link wraparound, as shown above from the west (top) and east (above). Its days had been numbered ever since plans showing a Broadstone apartment tower in place of the 3-building retail complex surfaced online last year.

Renderings of the tower, to be named Broadstone Museum District, show it rising 16-stories high:

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Montrose Blvd. at 59
01/16/19 1:45pm

Like some kind of otherworldly brand ambassador, this large larger-than-life-sized inflatable now looks dutifully out over the strip center parking lot off Belway 8 and Woodforest Blvd., its antennae twitching in the wind. The building it tops — home to Jenny Nails II, J Donuts, Betlway Beverage, Dominos, a hair salon, and Boost Mobile — was once part of the Randalls-anchored retail complex dubbed the Eastbelt Centre that stopped being a thing when Galena Park ISD moved its administrative offices into the supermarket’s building nearly 2 decades ago.

That converted structure lies just next door to the strip building . . .

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Roadside Attractions of Beltway 8
01/14/19 4:00pm

Now that the former XCars service center across from the Silber St. Walmart has been torn down, construction is underway on the Enterprise Rent-a-Car building that’s taking its place. The new 960-sq.-ft. building’s placement on the third-acre lot suggests there will be plenty of room to fit a fleet of cars there, too. The L-shaped structure that stood on the property previously was a bit bigger — 1,200-sq.-ft. — and featured a long canopy extending out over its parking lot and toward the El Pollo Loco that went up directly across the street in 2015.

Right now, Enterprise’s closest rental office is just down the street, across Silber from the Marq-E Entertainment Center and directly adjacent to Italian car dealership Helfman Imports.

Photo: Swamplot inbox

Walmart’s New Neighbor
01/14/19 10:45am

A Swamplot reader perched up in the SkyHouse Main Apartments has been documenting the evolving scene 3 blocks away from his living room, where the block once home to U-Haul Moving and Storage of Midtown at San Jacinto now completely demolished — is now giving rise to a larger, replacement U-Haul building. The photo at top looks east down Pease St. to show workers planting the earth with beams for the new structure. On the left, you can see what the previous moving and storage building looked like during its final stand at the end of last year.

The demolished building consisted of 28,376 sq.-ft. for self-storage, moving supplies retail, and truck parking. Building permits filed for its replacement indicate it’ll be 220,160-sq.-ft.:

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Downtown Block 348
01/10/19 9:30am

ALDI IS MAKING ITS MOVE AT THE CROWDED CROSSROADS OF WESTHEIMER AND S. GESSNER Aldi punched its ticket for entry into the Tanglewilde Center yesterday by filing a building permit to convert the closed 21,300-sq.-ft. Batie’s Ace Hardware at 9525 Westhimer into a supermarket. It’ll be the third grocery store within a 2,000-ft. radius of the intersection of Westheimer and S. Gessner Rd. Randall’s sits at the northeast corner, and Kroger is just west of the crossroads. The hardware store being converted closed down late last year. [Previously on Swamplot] Photo: Swamplot inbox

01/07/19 10:15am

Shuttered Rice Village pizza parlor Pizza L’Vino is set to become the second Reach Stretch Studio in Houston and fifth across the greater Houston area: Katy, Sugar Land, The Woodlands, and Memorial branches of the wellness chain are already up and running. A building permit filed last Friday for the 2,100-sq.-ft. storefront at 2524 Rice Blvd. — across the street from Buffalo Wild Wings — indicates conversion work is about to begin.

Pizza L’Vino’s other location has also closed down in the Waugh Dr. shopping center it once shared with competitive axe-throwing venue The Ratchet Hatchet.

Photo: Pizza L’Vino

2524 Rice Blvd.
01/04/19 1:15pm

Sure, there’s been a whole lotta talk lately about how In-N-Out Burger is on its way to the redo of Texas Instruments’ 192-acre Stafford campus that developers have dubbed The Grid. But what about those not-yet-named retailers that renderings put out by Gensler, the architect for the project, show taking over the air conditioning towers that TI left behind at the site? The photo above shows what those decommissioned cooling units looks like right now.

They sit behind the centerpiece of the site, TI’s abandoned office building:

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Adaptive A/C Reuse