01/12/18 4:00pm

There’s some news about the space next door to Athleta in the Rice Village Arcade shopping center on University Blvd. where mannequins were spotted limbering up on the sidewalk the other day: it’s about to shut down. A source tells Swamplot that national retailer Yankee Candle will close the store — one of 8 locations in the Houston area — on January 28.

A sign in the storefront window announces its last big blowout:

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Leaving the Village
01/12/18 2:45pm

The 3 fluorescent-vested figures in the photo at top are standing on the third floorplate of the 15,000-sq.-ft. mixed-use building now going up on the northwest corner of Studewood and Omar streets. Developer Chris Dray of NewQuest is planting the 18,731-sq.-ft. property at 927 Studewood with a 3-story office structure including ground-floor retail called Heights Central (not to be confused with Heights Central Station). A house and 2 small retail structures — one of them formerly home to Dan’s Chrysler Marine Service — were demolished on the property in 2015.

Boulevard Realty plans to move into the complex from its current office in the space formerly occupied by Oolala, Heights Candy Bar, and Tulips & Tutus 2 blocks to the south. The storefront portion of company’s future digs is indicated below in a site plan taken from NewQuest’s leasing brochure:

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Heights Corner Redo
01/11/18 3:30pm

LOCAL VICTIMS OF THE NATIONWIDE SAM’S CLUB CLOSINGS: SOUTH LOOP, ELDRIDGE PKWY., NEW CANEY The Sam’s Club that serves as the terminus of Metro’s red line closed abruptly today along with one other Houston store in the shopping center on Westheimer at Eldridge Pkwy., and one in New Caney. The South Loop store occupies a 14-acre parcel of land west of the AutoNation car dealership and north of the Fanin South Metro stop. Opened last year, the New Caney store was the newest of the 3 to close. The shut downs come as part of 63 nationwide that parent company Walmart announced today. 11 stores are still open across the Houston area. [KHOU] Photo: Jason Miles

01/08/18 2:30pm

Spotted in the pre-retail hours at 2512 University Blvd. by morning Rice Village dog-walker Gerrit Leeftink: This convocation of under-dressed athletic figures — in warm-up mode outside the local outlet of women’s clothing chain Athleta.

More views of the gathering, as participants awaited their new attire indoors:

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Street Mannequins of University Blvd.
01/02/18 4:30pm

Flower Child — the health-minded restaurant that announced it was coming to Houston back in October — will take over the space that houses women’s clothing boutique BB1 Classic in the Cafe Express building at Uptown Park. Bidding is already underway for construction that will turn the 2-story, corner-side store into the new restaurant, whose owners already run North Italia and True Food Kitchen, both located in the same shopping center just south of Uptown Park on Post Oak Blvd. at the corner of San Felipe St.

Ads for a moving sale were posted on the high-fashion retailer’s Facebook page last Thursday. BB1 Classic’s current location opened in 2003. Before that, the store had spots in Memorial City, south of Uptown Park on Post Oak, in River Oaks, and in the Galleria.

Photo: BB1 Classic

Dining in Style
12/05/17 3:30pm

There’s nothing left standing at Michelangelo’s Restaurant since its demolition yesterday — except for the tree that used to grow in its dining room, visible in the photo at top. The restaurant’s days had been numbered since March, when its owners sold the building and adjacent parking lot on Westheimer to a developer with plans to build a gym-anchored strip center.

The gym will be Houston’s first Spenga fitness studio, brought here by a Chicago-based chain that signed a 4,011-sq.-ft. lease for the replacement building’s entire second floor back in June. Here it is up above street level:

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Avondale
11/13/17 4:00pm

Here’s what’s expected to park in the garage at Montalbano Tire and Auto Service after the business shuts down next week: a restaurant or 2, retailers, and office tenants. Kaldis Development Interests purchased the .81-acre property at 1302 Houston Ave in mid-October and plans to renovate it before reopening it as a 15,000-sq.-ft. retail-and-office center.

On the Houston Ave front (see top drawing), windows would be fitted into the building’s current garage bays, with a restaurant patio facing the street at the northern end. On the south side, the metal structure facing Dart St. would be punctured with new window bays as well as doors for individual storefronts.

According to the site plan for the proposed new development (below) 7 head-in parking spaces off of Houston Ave would remain after the redo:

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First Ward Redo
11/06/17 4:45pm

Houston’s first board-game-themed cafe and bar is set to move into the long-mostly-vacant strip center near the White Oak hike-and-bike trail off T.C. Jester just east of Ella Blvd. next February. King’s Bierhaus (pictured above) took up residence last year on the opposite end of the same center (which is behind Restaurant Depot and SSQQ) — on the other side of the iCycle Bike Shop. The photo at top shows 2 businesses that have since left the strip; Tea & Victory and its lending library of 500 board games will go into the 3,300 sq.-ft. space formerly occupied by City Nails and Skincare. A first storefront for cake and cupcake vendor AshleyCakes will be moving in next to the game cafe.

$5 will cover an all-access pass for customers to play as many games as they want, including the ones shown in this photo snapped at a Tea & Victory pop-up event in May:

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Tea & Victory
11/06/17 11:00am

THE NEW GALLERIA STORE THAT TRACKS YOUR GLANCES Dwight Silverman explores the tech offerings at products-from-startups-showcase b8ta, which opened in the Galleria last month a couple doors down from the new Saks Fifth Avenue: “The stores are also bristling with cameras, which is common in modern retail stores. However, these cameras — 170 of them in the Galleria store — don’t necessarily capture video. [b8ta CEO Vibhu] Norby said they turn images of individuals into data, and then track them as they move about the store.’ We are not tracking the person’s face, we are tracking the geometry of their face,’ he said. ‘We hash it, then we watch the hash as it’s interacting with products. There’s no identification information; this is just a blob doing these behaviors.’ Behavioral data are then shared with the product makers. Someone who walks into b8ta may look at two or three products before they buy one. Their pathway is provided to b8ta’s vendors.” [Houston Chronicle ($)] Photo: Vibhu Norby

10/31/17 11:30am

A DOUBLE-DECKER H-E-B FOR MEYERLAND PLAZA Ralph Bivins reports that grocery chain H-E-B is planning a new 100,000-sq.-ft. store on the western edge of Meyerland Plaza, near the mall-turned-big-box-collection’s JCPenney. The company announced earlier this month that it would not reopen its store at South Braeswood and Chimney Rock, which flooded after Hurricane Harvey. Stores at Meyerland Plaza, on Beechnut at 610, were damaged by flooding as well. The new structure H-E-B is planning there, Bivins says, would be 2 stories; if the configuration is similar to the company’s new Bellaire and Heights locations, that would mean the store itself would be built on the second floor, on top of a parking-only lower level. [Realty News Report; previously on Swamplot] Photo of parking lot in front of Meyerland Plaza JCPenney: Melanie H.

10/26/17 4:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY RUNNER-UP: HELP ME UNCOVER THE GREAT MATTRESS STORE PROLIFERATION PLOT “There has got to be some kind of conspiracy going on. There is never anyone in any of their locations or Mattress Firm at any time of day except the person that works there. There are 2 Mattress 1 One locations right across the street from each other at Richmond and 610. Anywhere there is a Starbucks, there is a mattress store very close by. I have no knowledge of anyone, or anyone that knows anyone that has purchased a mattress from either of these two stores. Someone please explain how and why.” [Eric, commenting on A Mattress Store Has Closed in Montrose; previously on Swamplot] Photo of adjacent Mattress Firms on Westheimer at Montrose: Swamplot inbox

10/25/17 1:45pm

An intrepid mattress-store-monitoring reader notes that the Mattress 1 One (yeah, that’s how the company spells it out) in the northernmost spot of the strip center at S. Shepherd and W. Alabama across from CVS has closed down. Desperate mattress seekers need not worry, though: Plenty more outlets are available to pick up the slack. A note taped to the front door of the spot at 3101 S. Shepherd Dr., which despite the prominently placed Kensinger Donnelly FOR LEASE signs on the space insists that the location is only “closed for renovation,” directs would-be customers to the chain’s nearest still-open store: a full 3 blocks north on Shepherd, just south of Westheimer.

If that location doesn’t work for you, the Texas-and-Florida mattress chain lists a total of 16 Mattress 1 One locations within a 5-mile radius — though that includes the still-listed Shepherd-and-Alabama spot. And don’t forget competitor Mattress Firm, which has 18 locations of its own within that same area.

Photos: Margo

Mattrose
10/24/17 12:45pm

Not too much in the way of timelapse settings, drone footage, pulsating but string-infused soundtracks, supertitles, or accompanying sound effects appears to have been spared in the making of this video ode to the Arch-Con crane assembly now hovering over the southeast corner of Washington Ave and S. Heights Blvd. That’s the location of the planned H-E-B Market with the office space and 5-story apartment building on top of it soon to be known as the first phase of Midway’s Buffalo Heights development, on the northwest corner of the former Memorial Heights apartments.

Video: Midway Companies

Going Vertical
10/23/17 9:45am

Halloween is almost upon us, and again the full-store gift wrapping and Christmas trees have gone up at the Highland Village shopping center — as these pics sent in by a reader show.

You now have 9 full shopping weeks before Christmas (and a little less than 5 before Thanksgiving), but if you’re still getting your gifts ready for Halloween next Tuesday, you’d better hurry.

Photos: Swamplot inbox

 

 

’Tis the Preseason