12/12/18 5:30pm

The new owner of 812 Main St. (shown above) is the same entity that owns the JW Marriott next-door at 806 Main St. Well, sort of. Technically, the properties belong to 2 separate entities, but they both tie back to the same real estate overlord: Pearl Hospitality, a Houston-based hotel operator with a few extra properties in Lubbock. Pearl closed on the 812 Main St. building last month for $3.6 million.

Designed by Houston architects Joseph Finger and George Rustay the recently-transacted tower was completed in 1950 for the Battelsteins’s department store — which occupied each of its 10 floors. It’s now been vacant for roughly 30 years. Battlestein’s signage has been replaced by the smudges visible above the mural-ized storefront face in the photo at top. But 2 naked flagpoles remain on either side of where the lettering once was.

After visiting the property in December, 2015, PDG Architects estimated it’d cost nearly $17 million to renovate it into something suitable for office tenants to inhabit. Just bringing it up to code could cost $8 million, according to public records.

The JW Marriott next-door at Rusk St. — formally known as the Samuel F. Carter building — underwent its Pearl-Hospitality redo starting in 2010 with a bit of financial help from the city and HUD, as well as architectural know-how from Gensler:

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Department Store Skyscraper
12/12/18 2:45pm

Landing with a thud on the city planning commission’s dais this week: the rendering above depicting what Arizona-based beer and pizza chain Bottled Blonde wants to do to the former Weiner’s Dry Goods Store No. 12 at 4901 Washington Ave. Most of the building’s original architectural details — for instance, the signage and storefront entrance shown above at Durham Dr. —  are long-gone according to Tim Cisneros of Cisneros Design Studio, the firm responsible for the planned makeover.

And so the renovations Bottled Blonde has planned will look more forward than backward in order to reshape the structure from what it is now, a shuttered Cash America Pawn branch:

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4901 Washington
12/07/18 4:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE MONTROSE DUAL DEALERSHIP WELCOME THAT WASN’T “Too bad . . . I had imagined an identical building being constructed, and as bookends would have made a fantastic ‘gateway‘ into the Montrose/Museum area.” [city cynic, commenting on Stahlman Lumber Up for Sale by Landowner That Didn’t Replace It with a Car Dealership] Photo of Audi Central Houston: Audi Central Houston

12/07/18 2:45pm

Ever notice that the Wheeler-St. side of the Midtown Sears (shown above) doesn’t quite jibe with the rest of the building? It’s become even clearer since all that beige metal cladding was stripped off the structure earlier this year. Upon its removal, the biggest revelations were cascading green, red, and blue art-deco tile mosaics (shown here) running from top to bottom on every side of the building, except the Wheeler one, where the array of facade openings pictured at top are a bit less architecturally refined despite their prominent positions overlooking crosstown traffic.

So, what gives? Well, it turns out that Sears’s south side wasn’t all that visible when the building opened in 1939. Back then, Wheeler was just a narrow side street off Main and did not flow directly into Richmond as it does now, explains Preservation Houston’s Jim Parsons. Richmond, a much larger thoroughfare, also dead-ended into Main St., across from the Sears and just north of where Wheeler began. You can see the missed connection in the 1950 street map above.

It wasn’t until the early 1960s that the 2 streets were joined through a partial annexation of the Delman Theater property at 4412 Main, catty-corner southwest of the Sears:

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When Roads Collide
12/07/18 9:30am

Evidently, those plans to put another car dealership across 59 from the existing 7-story Audi Central Houston won’t be panning out since the land where it would’ve gone is now up for sale. A newly-erected sign at the corner of the Greenbriar and the Southwest Fwy. feeder road advertises its availability.

A group connected to Sonic Automotive bought the property — which stretches all the way east to Shepherd Dr. — in January 2017. When news orgs got wind that it’d changed hands, Sonic’s executive vice prez Jeff Dyke told them he’d have more info on what the dealership would end up looking like near the end of the year. The parcel’s 2.4-acre size prompted at least one guess that’d the plans — like those Sonic implemented across the street — would involve something tall.

Amidst all the hubbub, it’s been business as usual at Stahlman. It’s entering its 59th year at 4007 Greenbriar Dr.

Photo: Lulu

59 at Greenbriar
12/06/18 12:30pm

NOW EVERY KATY BUC-EE’S BATHROOM STALL WILL HAVE A LIGHT ON IT TELLING YOU WHERE TO GO Tooshlights is the brand name of the latest amenity that the Guiness-World-Record-winning Buc-ee’s off the Katy Fwy. wants to add to its 40 bathroom stalls, reports Dan Solomon over at Texas Monthly. It’s a spin on the technology you’ve probably seen on twinkling in certain parking garages: individual LEDs that light up red when a spot is occupied and green when it’s vacant. Along with Buc-ee’s’s Temple location, the Katy store will be the first of the chains 34 branches to roll it out. [Texas Monthly; previously on Swamplot] Photo of restroom at Buc-ee’s #40, 27700 Katy Fwy., Katy, Texas: Jennifer N.

12/04/18 5:00pm

The building that the Texas Junk Company left in 2016 is now home not only to a brand-new Verizon 5G broadband connection, but a whole array of gadgets designed to show off the service that the carrier launched in Houston a few months ago. Pictured above is the mock living room where for the next week, anyone can make themselves comfortable in front of a 4K resolution TV and a host of other mobile devices while they stream video through the telecom company’s new, purportedly higher-speed lines.

For a more immersive experience, try the virtual reality basketball range shown below off to the right:

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East Montrose
12/04/18 3:15pm

Nearly the entire block-face of Richmond Ave between Roseland and Stanford streets is now up for sale; altogether: just over 19,400 sq.-ft. for $4.2 million. The offerings include the 2-story former Drew’s BBQ house pictured above, the residential lot behind it, the eastern half of the Chapultepec Lupita restaurant next-door to it (the portion of the restaurant with a red awning has a different landlord), and the former notary shop between the restaurant and the Koelsch Gallery on the corner of Stanford St.

The restaurant’s lease on its building at 817 Richmond — shown below — runs until next April:

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Fitze Homestead
12/04/18 1:00pm

At least one new retail building is about to sprout on the vacant 2.6-acre strip of land across from the Wayside Dr. Walmart, according to a recent building permit filing. The rendering above shows the Good Stuff that could end up in the middle of the new building next-door to a More-Or-Less-occupied storefront that’s bounded by apastrophic endcap tenant Pete’s.

It’ll all be set back quite a distance away from Wayside in order to leave some room for a future building that’s planned directly east of the strip later on:

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Good Stuff Inside
11/27/18 12:00pm

The former Ascent Fitness building next to West Alabama Ice House is taking on a new life as Blue Mambo Hair Salon, according to a building permit filed yesterday. The gym’s 3-year run in the 4,260-sq.-ft. space at 1911 W. Alabama ended last October following the on-site sale of all no-longer-needed exercise equipment. (It took over the building in 2015 from 713 Pilates, now located down the street in the strip center it shares with Siphon Coffee.)

“For lease” signs went up early this year around the property, which includes a back parking lot that wraps the next-door hardware store and kicks out onto Hazard St. That arrangement should give Blue Mambo a bit more space than it’s got currently in the Chelsea Market shopping center off Montrose Blvd., long rumored for some kind of highrise replacement.

Photos: Margo

Dearborn Place
11/26/18 10:30am

A new indoor golf venue is on its way into the Shops at Sawyer Yards, where it’s laid claim to the empty space marked “B” in the site plan above, adjacent to Sawyer St. It’ll be Loft18‘s first step outside Metairie, Louisiana, home to its only existing location. There, an array of 5 golf simulators — essentially turf teeboxes fronted by large video screens — offer customers 95 different courses to play. Along with bar and kitchen service, it’s all wrapped up within 7,000 sq.-ft.

The rendering at top shows what the west face of the converted warehouse building at 2313 Sawyer St. could look like once Loft18 gets situated. No building permits appear to have been filed yet on that address, however, HAIF users note that both a Houston-specific website and Facebook page for the business recently went live.

Rendering: Loft 18. Site plan: Lovett Commercial

Teeing Off
11/21/18 10:15am

Work is underway to divvy-up the abandoned Chuck E. Cheese’s at the Weslayan Plaza shopping center into handful of new retailers. Among them: Torchy’s Tacos. It hasn’t fully materialized yet but looks good on paper in the updated site plan that Regency Centers is now showing off on its website. Next-door — and east of longtime tenant Skeeter’s Mesquite Grill — Sola Salon Studios (number 16) and Sally Beauty Supply (15) are also newcomers, themselves carve-outs from the former mouse-themed pizza and arcade joint as well.

It served its last slice earlier this year, by which time the house animatronic band — once a staple of all Chuck E. Cheese’ses — had presumably left the building. Company leadership axed the mechanical Pizza Time Players from all store locations last August, ending their 41-year nationwide run. “Back then,” Chuck E. Cheese’s top brass Tom Leverton told NPR’s Morning Edition, “kids’ expectations of technology were much, much lower.”

Photo: Phil L. Map: Regency Centers

Bissonnet and Weslayan
11/20/18 1:30pm

ESCAPE ROOM CHAIN NOW GETTING SETTLED IN MID MAIN LOFTS The latest tenant cropping up in the Mid Main Lofts’ Main-St. side: Project Panic, a 3,395-sq.-ft. escape room venue. Judging from the size and layout of the chain’s other Houston location at Fry Rd. and Park Row Dr. — home of zombie-apocalypse-, ski-resort-, abandoned-school-, and hospital-themed challenges — the new spot will probably house multiple rooms. It’s going in between Kura Revolving Sushi Bar’s corner restaurant off Holman St. and the recently-opened URBN Dental office a few doors south of it. [Previously on Swamplot] Map of Mid Main Lofts’ ground floor: LoopNet

11/19/18 2:45pm

Coming soon to the former CVS Pharmacy building at Westheimer and Eldridge Pkwy.: La Michoacana Meat Market. A group with ties to the grocery chain bought the 1.9-acre property earlier this year and filed a building permit last week to get started on the conversion. The photos above show what the 19-year-old building looked like during CVS’s tenancy. It’s been sign-less for the better part of this year.

Photos: Chinh (first) Colliers (second)

Standalone Redo
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:

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Cozy New Digs