05/24/17 11:30am


The paved lot now being marketed as 1818 Washington Ave. (across Silver St. from that recently recolonized cluster of ex-nightclub buildings, and bookended to the east by the former bakery now housing B&B Butchers) appears to be marked for some higher purposes, per recently released leasing materials for the property. Plans on Lovett Commercial’s flier for the site show 2 structures (rendered above as things might look from Washington Ave., facing toward Tacodeli) that pretty much fill up the whole piece of land — but fear not, parking-requirement hawks! The land directly north of the property, a 2-block elongated space nestled mostly between Center St. and a stretch of Union Pacific railroad, is marked up to become a 4-plus-acre surface lot, with room for 542 cars or so; that’d likely more than make up for the parking spaces that B&B would lose, too.

That’s the apparent plan for now, anyway — the flier does point out that some kind of garage structure is probably on the table for later on. As for the yet-unbuilt spaces for lease: The site plans show an L-shaped 2-story building, plus a smaller, squatter freestanding restaurant space tucked back along the corner of Silver and Center. The larger structure has spots marked off for a couple of upstairs patios, as well as office use: 

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Parking Restructure
05/23/17 10:15am

New scribbles on a siteplan show a Sprouts Farmers Market marked in as a tenant for the planned redo of the former East Downtown Houston Post building over on Polk St. at Dowling Emancipation Ave. (Don’t get this spot confused with the former postal office Downtown, which is also being redeveloped by the Lovett Commercial folks — nor with the other former Houston Post building recently resuscitated by the Chronicle.) The leasing plan appears to show some new construction toward the currently empty Bell St. end of the double-wide block, making room for the Sprouts and for a few layers of parking garage. It also notes a drive-thru CVS on the northern side, along Polk:

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East of East Village
05/17/17 11:30am

Now hanging in the newly remodeled central nook on the Galleria’s curved facade along Westheimer Rd.: these strips of hexagonal rings spotted early last week by a passing bus rider. (That curved wall is where Saks Fifth Avenue used to be, before the store scooted into the boxy new building next door.) The rendering up top was released last fall, around the time Simon Properties confirmed that Nobu and Fig & Olive would be taking up 2 of the 4 restaurant spaces shown.

For comparison, here’s what the entry through the Philip Johnson-designed facade looked like as of last August, after the new windows had been cut (but before the top edge of the facade got trimmed off): 

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Westheimer Faceoff
05/10/17 11:30am

Remodeling along the lines of what’s depicted here is now underway on Amherst St. between Kelvin St. and Kirby Dr., according to a Rice Village District rep. A couple of newly released drawings shown here fill in details to some of the previously mentioned changes planned for the south side of Amherst, including the conversion of part of the roadway itself into more walking and sitting room behind some protective planters. And that narrow passageway in the building, running between Amherst and University Blvd., appears to be getting its own signage labeling it as The Alley (complete with light-up arrow directing shoppers inside).

The plans also call for some rooftop greenery and the chopping off of some pointy brick pediments — a swap which the District says will make all that 2-hours-free rooftop parking more visible, in the wake of the recent parking scheme changes:

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Retail Redistricting
05/08/17 1:30pm


The strip center nook at 5801 Memorial Dr. last occupied by fast-casual pan-Asian chain Express Rolls has been taken over by Peruvian-Mexican joint Pollo Bravo, which was previously shooed out of the since-pulverized standalone building just down the street at 5440 Memorial. Both properties are owned by companies connected to the Taghdisi brothers, who’ve also been collecting permits for the construction of a new retail mini-strip on Pollo Bravo’s former turf, as announced last fall. The new structure planned at 5440 Memorial looks like it’ll more or less match the general fashion sense of strip center at 5801, though it won’t fit as many tenants:

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Chicken Back In On Memorial Dr.
05/03/17 4:45pm

On Monday a reader noted some changes to the well-spotted storefront formerly occupied by Kate Spade New York, facing Drexel Dr. in the Westheimer-straddling Highland Village shopping center. The store name is now a mere shadow of its former self, and an employee reached at the location’s former phone number this afternoon tells Swamplot that the branch has closed for business. The space’s mirror-backed neon unibrow (the replacement for the one that caught fire back in 2015) looks to still be hanging around for now, but the windows have been papered over (presumably to provide a bit of privacy as the space gets changed.) There’s still a Kate Spade down the road a few blocks — the one that was tapped to trade its old Galleria locale for a place in the new wing.

Photos: Swamplot inbox (top); Amanda W. (bottom)

Westheimer Coverup
05/03/17 10:00am

The scenic view from behind the former Pilgrim Cleaners building at 4005 N. Braeswood Blvd. will reportedly belong soon to a second location of West University-adjacent wine lounge Bacco. The 1966 building (northwest of the Stella Link Rd. bridge over Brays Bayou) operated as a dry cleaner prior to its conversion to a clothing donation drop spot for the Shriner’s Hospital for Children.  Ralph Bivins notes this week in Realty News Report that the location may encourage traffic from Bayou Greenway hikers and bikers; a reader’s photos from the scene show that the trail on the north side of the bayou in this section is still sporting the au naturel look, though the trail on the south side is fully paved:

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Reborn on the Bayou
05/02/17 1:30pm

ALDI TAKING THE YOGA COLLECTIVE’S SPOT IN GARDEN OAKS; OTHER NEW TENANTS IN THE WORKS Betsy Denson confirms this morning that an ALDI will be that “something bigger” taking over the endcap space in the N. Shepherd Dr. shopping center north of 38th St., once the Yoga Collective is booted out. (The German grocery chain will also take over that long-empty vacuum shop space next door). Hartman Management rep Danny Morales also tells Denson that a few more large tenants are likely headed to the strip center, and that just under 5,000 sq. ft. of new freestanding space is currently under construction.  The space marked for ALDI is right across Garden Oaks Blvd. from the Sears complex that Weingarten previously had its eye on. [The Leader; previously on Swamplot] Photo of 3839D N. Shepherd Dr.: Yoga Collective

05/01/17 3:00pm

Update, 5/2: Yep, it’s an ALDI. More here.

The end of the 95,000-sq.-ft. N. Shepherd Dr. strip mall just south of Garden Oaks Blvd. is being cleared out shortly, a handful of readers tell Swamplot. Endcap tenant Yoga Collective announced recently that the studio’s lease is being terminated at the end of June, and has been hinting on social media that something bigger is taking over the space (and possibly a few other adjacent spaces in the row). The nearest spot in the strip appears to have been vacant since about 2015, when the domestic-minded shop next door (apparently operating now as A&B Vacuum and Sewing Machines) moved further up N. Shepherd, and out from under the since-removed VACUUM & SEWING CANDLES signage:

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N. Shepherd Swapout
05/01/17 11:30am

A double-decker strip center appears to be planned for 307 Westheimer Rd., which for just shy of 5 decades has been home to Avondale Italian restaurant and house-with-a-tree-in-it Michaelangelo’s. Michaelangelo’s, Inc., sold the property in March to an entity tied to the CEO of Habitat Construction, and a 2,000-sq.-ft. space in the proposed replacement building is currently for lease. Renderings for the strip label the over-the-edge top floor as set aside for a fitness business, and call for a restaurant to take over most of the street level (noting that another tenant has already staked out a small section of the ground floor floorplan):

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Rising Above Parking Requirements
04/14/17 2:15pm

FM 518 at Leisure Ln., Friendswood, TX, 77581

“I don’t think Friendswood needs to become East Pearland,” Eddie Carpenter told the Friendswood city council last week during a public comment session — responding to another speaker’s references to the chain-rich bustle of FM 518 and Pearland Pkwy. as an example of what Friendswood is lacking. What sparked the pair of assertions? A push to rezone the above corner lot at FM 518 and Leisure Ln., currently up for a potential switch from office use to commercial — with word being that Chik-Fil-A and Panera Breads are both interested in setting up shop on the corner. The space is just over a quarter mile down the road from Friendswood’s own relatively restaurant-franchise-dense hub on E. Parkwood Dr., near the town’s H-E-B. The lot in question has been cleared since the listing shot above was snapped, in conjunction with various acts of dirt-pushing.

Image of lot at FM 518 and Leisure Ln.: LoopNet

Lot To Think About
04/06/17 11:30am

Retail Center planned for 628 E. 11th St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008

628 E. 11th St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008

628 E. 11th St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008Retail plans along the stretch of E. 11th St. west of Beverly St. look to be moving in a more concrete direction once again — SRS has started advertising available square footage in a double-decker strip center planned on the eastern half of the block. The design for the site has been totally overhauled since the original ads for a Park Place on 11th development (the weathered signage for which is still hanging around on the property, and has been for the better part of a decade.)

The potential footprint of the retail space spreads all the way from Beverly St. to just east of metals brightener Bright Metals of the Heights.  A leasing siteplan shows the center insulated from the 11th St. traffic by a breathable dual layer of parking spaces — and even a triple layer on the Beverly St. side:

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2X 11th
04/03/17 4:30pm

Zone D'Erotica, 2626 West Loop South, Galleria Area, Houston, 77027

The always-open pink-and-purple site of adult accessories shop Zone d’Erotica, which has long served as a retina-searing guidepost to westward-bound Galleria traffic, is currently listed as for lease on the website of retail real estate brokerage The Retail Connection, a keen-eyed reader noted this morning. The trapezoid-heavy building is tucked on a trapezoidal plot of land between the yellow-bedecked corner Shell station and the austere gray facade of Dillard’s, and served as a Luke’s Hamburgers in a past life before making the Zone transition well over a decade ago (presumably with the aid of Houston’s lack of zoning laws). Just down the road along the Galleria’s Westheimer Rd. edge, a younger, prettier pad site (built recently as part of the Galleria’s ongoing makeover and reconstruction) has now been filled in with the likes of Michelin-starred dim sum joint Yauatcha, which opened last week.

Photo: The Retail Connection

Westheimer Zone-ing
03/22/17 1:00pm

721 W. 19th St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008 

Work has moved into the buildout and dressup phase for Phase II of the high-glycemic-index strip center at the corner of W. 19th St. and N. Shepherd Dr., a reader notes during a recent catty-corner oil change. The Benjamin Moore signage spotted around the new second building last year during the site’s flat-slab days is now reflected by buildout permits for the paint store, which should take up about 1,820 sq.ft. of the building’s 4,298. What’ll be filling up the rest of the space? Looks like the leftovers will house Austin export Tarka Indian Kitchen’s first inside-the-Beltway location.

The cameraman also captured a glimpse of Dallas pizzeria Cane Rosso‘s statue of a somewhat confusingly labeled suina rosso, which overlooks the intersection from its browsing position near the parking lot:

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Heights Austinites
03/14/17 2:30pm

RADIOSHACK TO CLOSE A BUNCH MORE STORES NOW THAT IT’S BANKRUPT AGAIN Map of RadioShack Inventory Close-out SalesThe roster of planned store closings in the wake RadioShack’s déjà-vu declaration of bankruptcy last week now includes 11 Houston-ish addresses, according to the company’s handy filter map of inventory clearance sales. An initial list of this round’s Chapter 11 location casualties, filed in court and published on Friday by Consumerist, limited the roll call of the soon-to-shutter to just 4 strip centers ’round town: the RadioShack on Hillcroft Dr. near Richmond Ave. (between Galaly Furniture and Liberty Income Tax); the one in the Bellaire Triangle (where Best Optometrists used to be); the Rice Village-adjacent Kirby Dr. location, between Creative Blinds and Loan Star Title Loans; and the S. Gessner location near US-59, which shares a strip mall with LA Crawfish, Iglesia de Dios Shammah, and the dental office of Hanh Nguyen.  Back in its heyday, RadioShack once sported some 80-plus Houston stores; the last time the company declared bankruptcy, back in 2015, some 32 of the area’s then-77 locations were initially marked for closure. The number of Houston-area stores remaining, prior to the announcement of this latest wave of goodbyes, was down to the high 20s — putting early estimates of the remaining Houston ‘Shack count down to the mid-teens. [Previously on SwamplotMap of closing RadioShacks (in red): RadioShack