11/09/18 2:30pm

A Swamplot reader sends the photo at top showing a relative newcomer to the semi-circular metal retail structure in the foreground: Mattress Outlet. It opened for business 6 months ago at the corner of Hempstead Rd. and Post Oak southwest of what’s now the Northwest Mall (and what public and private officials say could become the Houston end of that Dallas-bound high-speed rail line.) The 2 huts have been there for decades were at one time neighbored to the south by 2 more of their kind — until that pair vanished around the turn of the century.

Signage isn’t up yet, but a custom hardwood furniture business is now on its way into larger, blue hut next-door:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Cozy New Digs
11/07/18 12:30pm

League City’s city council voted to relegate the Chester L. Davis Sportsplex on I-45 to a less prime spot on the other side of the interstate so that a whole bunch of buildings — collectively dubbed Epicenter League City — can take its highway-adjacent place and hopefully, “make League City a dynamic cultural center and national destination,” according to the official press release. (The map above shows the plans with east facing up.) Freeway exposure for it all is limited by the pair of car dealerships — Mac Haik Toyota and Clear Lake Nissan — situated right up on the northbound feeder road. But behind them lies the 106-acre development’s urban nucleus, a shop-lined central green space bookended by some kind of water park and an opposing “Live/Work Village,” with an outdoor entertainment complex and convention center to the immediate north. Beyond that core, things give way to the parking lot, retail, and office hodgepodge that’s more of a familiar sight.

While a private developer has signed up to fund the Epicenter’s construction, League City officials appear to have their work cut out for them on the new, larger sportsplex — which they want to look something like this:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

The Epicenter off I-45
11/07/18 10:30am

The art venue formerly known as galleryHOMELAND has selected Bayou City Cycles‘ old shop at 1303 Cullen Blvd. for its new exhibition space, headquarters, and — as shown in the rendering above — curbside landscaping. The 6-year lease it’s taking across from Kroger should allow it to make a new name for itself as Space HL, a rebranding that Glasstire‘s Brandon Zech explains is supposed to call attention to the organization’s new focus on stuff besides art, like lectures, experimental performances, and other programs. About 1,000 sq.-ft. of the building will be for exhibitions, reports Zech, but don’t discount the backyard — which could host outdoor events, or you never know, he writes, maybe even “built-out shipping container projects spaces.”

That’d be a new one. The gallery’s last location across in the industrial row across Commerce St. from Tout Suite was a shared parking lot. It’d flirted with relocating from there to a quarter portion of the Imperial Linen & Cleaners building on Harrisburg Blvd. that’s slated to get redone as something retail- and restaurant-ready but changed its mind when the building took on Harvey damage, writes Zech.

What’ll become of the paint-job Bayou City gave its building when it took over from El Miramar Bar in 2016?

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Eastwood Micro Galleries
11/05/18 2:30pm

Lovett Commercial’s latest post-industrial venture in East Downtown will take place just 4 blocks down Polk St. from the one it’s already got going at the former Houston Post building. The target this time: 2 blocks between Delano and Ennis streets now home collectively to more than 99,000 sq.-ft. of buildings — including the one where Frankel’s Costume Shop closed early this year. Most of the existing structures will stay standing with new shops, offices, restaurants, and some kind of art exhibition or creation spaces shoved inside them. The aerial at top shows off the whole thing in not-so-fine detail from the corner of Delano and Polk. And the street-level rendering looks in the opposite direction, depicting a patio-ed and pedestrian-ized eastern block with its western counterpart in the background.

A cold-storage box once home to Freedman Meats takes up the whole eastern block right now, shown below from Polk.:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Polk & Ennis
11/02/18 10:30am

Black Dog Records blew the lid off its classified relocation plans yesterday by filing a permit on its soon-to-be new address: 726 W. 19th St., the strip center storefront previously home to kids’ karaoke venue Gipsy Girls. Incoming management now plans to redo about 1,700-sq.-ft. of space inside and fill it with the vinyl that populated its last shop — shown above — at 4900 Bissonnet St. until about a month ago. (The location between S. Rice and 610 had been a fertile spot for record junkies since even before Black Dog got there thanks to its longtime previous tenant Don’s Record Shop.)

A few of the neighbors Black Dog can expect to meet once it gets situated in its new Heights environs: alcoholic art joint Painting With a Twist (to its immediate west), Gold Rush Collective Tattoo Parlour, Replay Games old school video game shop, and Texas Dry Clean InStep Pilates. Across the street lies Re:Vive Development’s new-ish 2-building retail complex made up of a standalone Benjamin Moore paint store and a strip home to — among others — Fat Cat Creamery.

Photos: Gipsy Girls (Gipsy Girls); Mark B. (Black Dog Records)

Kids Karaoke Takeover
11/01/18 10:15am

  

A handful of building permits filed recently over at the Marq’e Entertainment Center indicate that kids training center Soccer Hub is kicking off renovations directly behind the spot reserved for the new Spaghetti-Warehouse-like eatery the brand’s parent company is calling Warehouse 72. Together, both new venues will be taking over the space Korean buffet Kpop gave up last year on the shopping center’s non-movie-theater side, across the arch-fronted alley from Dave and Buster’s‘s almost-but-not-entirely standalone building. (There’s now a mystery-themed escape room up in its business, as indicated on the map above.)

It’s not an entirely even split: Soccer Hub is getting about 6,000 sq.-ft. while Warehouse 72 will have 8,600 — enough room for seating, prepared food retail fixtures, and a double-sided bar serving both the restaurant’s insides and a planned 750-sq.-ft. patio, reports Eater‘s Alaena Hostetter. Until the 2 get situated — or get beat to the punch by the Hugh O’Connors Irish-themed restaurant opening in space number 25 on the map —specialty soda and candy shop Rocket Fizz will remain the only thing inside the Marq’e’s center building. It’s been there by itself since Cafe Adobe closed in what’s shown on the map as spot number 26, leaving 10,000 sq.-ft. up for grabs.

Photo: Kpop. Map: Levcor

Tag Team Takeover
10/30/18 3:15pm

Add 6 more locations to the list of Mattress Firm stores the company has decided to close as part of its recent Chapter 11 filing. They are: across Hwy. 6 from the Missouri City H-E-B off Sienna Pkwy., at Baybrook Square across from Baybrook Mall (already home to Mattress Firm Final Markdown that’s sticking around for now), in the Oak Ridge North Shopping Center across I-45 from The Woodlands Mall, off 290 north of Spring-Cypress Rd., and in the Portofino Shopping Center off I-45 in Shenandoah. There’s also one closing within Houston proper: the 5409 S. Rice Ave. store, which fronts  the Walmart off 59. The map above shows all the closures — including standard locations (red), Final Markdowns (orange), and Clearance centers (yellow) — the chain has announced so far.

King-Sized Retreat
10/30/18 1:15pm

It’s not just the Shepherd Square flagship store that’s biting the dust: Locations in the eponymous New Territory Randalls Center (pictured at top) off the Grand Pkwy. and in the Windvale Center (pictured above) on the northern edge of The Woodlands at College Park Dr. and FM 1488 are goners, too. All 3 stores will shut down around December 1, a spokeswoman tells Swamplot.

At the Windvale Center, the closure will leave behind a nearly 57,000-sq.-ft. hole in the middle of the property, mapped out in this old leasing flyer:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Flagship and Friends
10/26/18 1:15pm

What better way to make use of all those empty parking spots than with an good old fashioned carnival like this one? It’s been a tradition at Greenspoint Mall going back decades now to plant a few attractions outside the building once the weather cools off enough for visitors to enjoy themselves. And management’s kept doing it — even as Macy’s, Dillards, and Sears all shuttered inside over the past few years and portions of the building and surrounding parking lot have sold to investors with heavy-duty plans for redevelopment. The attractions shown above are all sprawled out on the I-45 side of the building, where they cover up the “For Lease” banner that’s otherwise visible to passing northbound traffic.

There’s even a Ferris wheel:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Roadside Attractions
10/25/18 3:30pm

With the former Shelor Motor Company building at 1621 Milam St. all but doomed to meet the wrecking ball, historian Stephen Fox digs through some old Chronicle clips to remind us that there’s still a few other old car dealerships lurking down south in Midtown. Sure, they may not be as pedigreed as the ill-fated building to the north, but get this: One of them still sells cars! It’s Midtown Cadillac at the corner of Main and McGowen streets, shown at top. Architect Harvin C. Moore — the brains behind more than 84 homes in River Oaks, as well as Rice University’s chapel — designed it for Sam White Oldsmobile (pictured above), which opened inside in the early 1950s, according to Fox. Sam White and its successor Rice-Menger occupied the building until 1985. It’s been a Cadillac dealership since Don Massey took it over in 1999, followed by Stewart and then Central in 2012.

Catty corner to it, Midtown seafood spot REEF was originally a dealership, too. Built in 1952, the building opened as Smith Chevrolet Co.:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Inner-Loop Auto Lore
10/25/18 2:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: PARSLEY STUDIOS’ BIKE LAB REDO COMES FULL CIRCLE “Blue Line Bike Lab’s owners are brothers Fred and David Zapalac whose mother Patti Moore Zapalac graduated from Reagan High School in 1966 — actually had senior pictures taken at Parsley Photography!” [Patti Zapalac, commenting on Blue Like Lab Now Has Parsley Studios’ Former Yale St. Building Color-Coded] Photo of former Parsley Studios, soon-to-be Blue Line Bike Lab: Swamplox inbox

10/23/18 5:15pm

Go ahead, name a few of Houston’s most heavily-Instagrammed hotspots. The Waterwall, North and South boulevards, maybe the “We Love Houston” sign that — until recently — sat along I-10. But who ever wanted to go pose next to the Katy Fwy. just to pick up a few new followers? If only there was a location where the photogenic offerings sat under a roof — preferably in one of those hip Houston retail-and-restaurant strips where the food might merit a few pics as well.

Enter Flower Vault, the budding brick-and-mortar Instagram destination shown at top that’s taken over half of Joybird Furniture‘s storefront at 1735 Westheimer, 2 blocks west of Dunlavy. For $20 per person (and $10 per pet), you can spend an hour taking pictures inside the studio’s blossoming interior spaces. The admissions fee won’t preclude other patrons from visiting at the same time, so you may have to take turns in front of the backdrops. But check out the results so far; it appears everyone’s been happy to share.

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Not Your Father’s Florist
10/23/18 2:30pm

  

Following “four or five 3-month lease extensions,” the landlord of 2318 Waugh Dr. dropped by Corazon last Friday to give the business its 30-days notice, reports store owner Chris Murphy. Its exit date is now set for November 20, a Tuesday, so final sales will take place the weekend before. Murphy says he’d been working to track down a new location for the store since learning it’d have to leave more than a year ago — but hasn’t had any luck. Barring any last-minute workable option, “we’ll reluctantly have to liquidate fixtures and retreat to various online platforms,” he says, in order to keep dealing guayaberas, Luca Libre masks, and other imports like the store has been doing since 1998. It’s shown around that year in the across-the-street photo above, which also gives a view of the landmark red dot on the building’s south side. (The taller building behind it occupies the same piece of land but was torn down in 2016.)

Next up for the 6,250-sq.-ft. parcel: a trio of townhomes. The landowner’s plan, says Murphy, “is to demolish the building immediately once we vacate,” and plant the new residences in a line like this along Fairview St.:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Towhomes Imminent
10/22/18 5:30pm

Renovations to turn the former Parsley Studios building at 1504 Yale St. into Blue Line Bike Lab‘s new Heights location are now nearly finished, and the most dramatic change is the new coat of light blue paint the structure’s 15th-St. side, pictured above. During the 75 years it housed the family photo business and functioned as a portrait studio for mayors and celebrities like Roy Rogers and Loretta Lynn — according to The Leader — the building underwent its fair share of paint jobs; the last big one washed out a checkerboard pattern along its Yale-St. side, leaving the structure mostly brown.

Last September, a liquidation sale emptied the place of “a quarter of a century’s worth of photo equipment, furniture, frames and photos,reported the Chronicle‘s Jaimy Jones. By that time, most of the owners’ work focused on photo restoration, so brick-and-mortar amenities like formal seating — “and even a small dressing room with bright, round bulbs that frame a mirror atop an old-fashioned dressing table,” wrote Jones — were no longer necessary. The building sold to a group that’s linked to Blue Line, which has its nearest shop on the corner of White Oak Dr. and Columbia St. That existing location (which predates the shop’s other spot on Telephone Rd.) is now set to close, but not until a fleet of new bikes arrives the Yale St. building.

It’s shown empty in the photo below, although a newly-hung sign along Yale makes clear what will fill it:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

1504 Yale St.
10/22/18 10:15am

Note: This story has been updated

Late last week, associates of Capital Retail Partners filed a building permit to get started on the pair of back-to-back gabled buildings it’s had planned for Durham and 18th St. in place of 2 side-by-side houses torn down there earlier this year. It’s the second spot where Capital will begin replacing a pair of old Heights houses with 2 new house-like retail buildings, having already begun work 4 blocks north between Durham and Shepherd on its planned Bungalows on 22nd St. a few months ago. Despite the decidedly less bungalow-like design proposed for 18th St., the firm’s going with the same nomenclature for the duo (shown at top), dubbing it the Bungalows on 18th St.

Pictured but unconfirmed plans of the Bungalows  show its half-as-large north building taken up by some sort of restaurant fronted by a patio and corner landscaping including street-address topiary. A main parking lot sits west of the building and its encircling new sidewalks and crosswalks. You can see a few angled parking spaces peeking out in the aerial rendering below:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

The Bungalows on 18th St.