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

03/14/17 11:30am

Shopping Center at Westheimer Rd. at Montrose Blvd., Montrose, Houston, 77006Shopping Center at Westheimer Rd. at Montrose Blvd., Montrose, Houston, 77006

Swamplot’s elevated tipster with an eye on the Westheimer Rd. scene — just east of the Montrose Blvd. Smoothie King — sends some update shots this morning of the ongoing construction of a planned Ruggles-replacing restaurant-retail combo, half of which looks slated for fill-in by a Velvet Taco branch. The Dallas chain will take over a 1-and-a-half story piece of the center, next to the areas highlighted in orange above; Edge Realty is currently leasing the rest of the space in the center, which will attempt to hide some of its parking from prying sidewalk eyes:

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Grill Gone Gray
03/08/17 12:30pm

2723 Yale St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008
2723 Yale St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008

As heralded by last Wednesday’s daily demolition report, the low-slung insurance and marketing office building at 2723 Yale St. is now in tatters. The post-smashing shot above was taken in a drive-by by a reader yesterday (who notes this morning that most of the debris has since been hauled off).

Planned for the lot is a new strip center being marketed by East Village developer Ancorian as a retail-office-restaurant mashup, “anchored” by the mini Whole Foods in the works across 610. The property is loosely sandwiched between the combination KFC-Taco Bell to the south and the side-by-side Burger King and new El Rey sitting along the North Loop feeder road (visible to the right).

Renderings of the proposed strip show a mix of brick, wood, metal grating, glass, and patches of other skin materials; a Newquest Properties leasing flier shows the building turning away from Yale St. to face W. 28th St., behind a thick protective later of parking:

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Cleaning Up in the Heights
03/02/17 3:00pm

2901 S. Shepherd Dr., WAMM, Houston, 77006

1618 Westheimer Rd., Montrose, Houston, 77006The body-oriented retail strip across from the recently browned-out Alabama Theater has just swapped second-or-more-hand clothing retailer Buffalo Exchange into the spot by Kipling St. last occupied by Centre Fitness Fusion, a reader notes. (Centre Fitness took over from Orange Shoe Fitness, which itself succeeded bike shop and implicit fitness purveyor Cycle Spectrum.) Buffalo Exchange joins Epique Massage next to Darque Tan, separated only by a driveway and some parking spots from Demeris Bar-B-Q.

And what of the old Buffalo Exchange spot, recently spotted sporting a variance request notice out front?

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Fashion Recycler Recycling
03/01/17 3:45pm

Former Luke's Locker at 1953 W. Gray St., River Oaks Shopping Center, Houston, 77019

It may not come as much of a surprise to the city’s more meticulous athletics outlet trackers that the Luke’s Locker at the corner of W. Gray and Driscoll streets has taken off: on January 20 the Texas chain announced via Facebook that they would be temporarily closing their Houston store, among others; a follow-up post a few days later clarified that the company had filed for Chapter 11. As of late last week, the name markers were coming down from the store’s exterior, a couple of “For Lease” signs were up, and the space had been emptied out.

The company still lists 1953 W. Gray address as a store location, complete with an image of the shop wrapped up in a bygone era of River Oaks Shopping Center aesthetics, when everything was more black-and-white:

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Run Off on W. Gray
02/24/17 11:30am

1665 Westheimer Rd., Montrose, Houston, 77006

The equipment for some sort of procedure was noted at the corner of Dunlavy St. and Westheimer Rd. this morning by a reader driving by. Determinedly artsy Australian hair-and-skincare shop Aēsop looks to be setting up in the retail shell left empty by the sudden 2015 evaporation of clothing boutique Duo, located across the street from Café Brasil and Hollywood Food & Cigar to the west and the north respectively.

And the space next door currently hosting American Apparel may be cleared out for a new tenant around the end of April, as well: Following a sale of the twice-bankrupt clothing company’s brand and intellectual property to a Canadian company, all of American Apparel’s US stores may end up closing by then, and part of the company’s production is probably getting outsourced.

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Cosmetic Changes in Montrose
01/31/17 5:15pm

New Paint Job for Trader Joe's, Petsmart at Former Alabama Theater, 2922 S. Shepherd Dr., Upper Kirby, Houston

The front of Weingarten Realty’s Alabama Shepherd Shopping Center now sports some big dark blocks on its Shepherd-facing facade, Houstorian James Glassman notes in a drive-by of the scene this afternoon. The gradated yellow vertical fluting above the movie-theater-turned-bookstore-turned-sandbox-turned-grocery store’s marquee sign (which the city’s landmark designation writeup says is made of enameled steel) has been done over in a single swath of brown, matching the shade applied above the formerly tan Petsmart facade as well. Marketing materials on Weingarten’s website for the shopping center still show the old color scheme:

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Trader Joe’s Trade
01/05/17 4:30pm

Construction site at 1540 W. Alabama, WAMM, Houston, 77006Proposed Alabama Row Shopping Center, 1518 W. Alabama St., Montrose, HoustonA little brown box is now in place about where the gray and blue boxes of the Alabama Row retail strip are supposed to go, a reader notes. The construction trailer recently popped up inside the newish construction fencing now framing the long-empty lot along Mandell St. (across W. Alabama from the block holding the Menil Collection’s parking lot, and part of its bungalow herd). The new strip would sit just west of the 2-story brick house now holding cat spa and boarding facility Fat Cat Flats.

So far Alabama Row looks like it may be bookended by Vietnamese and burger joints, with room for some non-food offerings in the middle — that’s W. Alabama toward the bottom in the preliminary site plan below, with the strip’s parking tucked in back:

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Menil Munchies
01/05/17 11:30am

Lowell St. Market renderings, 718 W. 18th St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008

The details for Radom Capitol’s Lowell St. Market makeover of the industrial warehouses at the corner of W. 18th St. and N. Shepherd Dr. seem to be getting firmed up, and a slew of new building permits were issued last month for the site. The latest depictions of the space show both a less neon green color-and-finish scheme and more detail as to how the redeveloped and new buildings will be sliced up for tenants. The current leasing plan shows the former Airmakers Cooling & Heating warehouse along N. Shepherd (depicted above on the left wearing what what Steve Radom describes as its Japanese-barn-inspired replacement skin) as the planned site of a single restaurant. The middle building, now shown with a brown forehead, appears to be getting sliced up into 3 shops. And the current leasing materials for the development show all of the dark blue spots below as already leased out:

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Lowell St. on W. 18th
01/04/17 12:15pm

1801 Richmond Ave. Demo, Richwood Place, Houston, 77098
1801 Richmond Ave., Richwood Place, Houston, 77098From beneath yesterday’s sunset glare off the new Big Tex Storage midrise on Richmond Ave, a reader captured the splintery wreckage of long-empty Cierra Interiors at the corner with Woodhead St. Plans to stick a new Starbucks in its place were submitted back in early November by an entity connected to experienced Starbucks constructor Vaquero Ventures, and the knockout of the building was officially sanctioned just before Christmas. Next door, the land opened up by Vaquero’s teardown of the pair of 2-story brick 4-plexes at 1823 and 1827 Richmond back in August looks to be marked for another Inner Loop outpost of oil change chain Take 5.

And one more door eastward, the former Ruthie’s Place on Richmond looks to be headed for new use by strip-center gelato shop Sweetcup, per some early-stage permits issued in November that note a bar-to-ice-cream-shop conversion. Sweetcup bought the building at 1829 Richmond in September after the bar’s early 2016 shutdown (in the wake of the passing of long-time former owner Ruth Vardilos). Here’s a shot of the whole corner taken in August, shortly after the apartment removal, showing Ruthie’s tucked next to Ely’s Beauty Salon on the far right:

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Richwood Place Replacements
12/15/16 4:45pm

Bird Barbershop, 420 E. 20th St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008

Remodel of Heights Plaza, 420 E. 20th St., Heights, Houston, 77008Austin-based Shiner-wielding Bird’s Barbershop opened up its first Houston location last week in the remodeled 1955 retail strip at 420 E. 20th St., on the end of the building formerly home to J & R Boudin and Frenchy’s Sausage Co. The bubblegum pink parking stripes were joined by the spots above over the summer, as well as the circular window now floating in the middle of a wall where the facade’s westernmost door used to be.

A rep from the company says the Houston store was designed with community swimming pools in mind, which explains the interior tile scheme and watery motifs:

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420 in the Heights
12/14/16 6:00pm

Total Wine & More, 7640 Cypress Creek Pkwy., Willowbrook, Houston, 77070

There’s a 7-entry roster of Total Wine & More locations now included in the Yellow Pages listing for the Houston area — though the first Houston outpost of the Maryland-based liquor store only opened up in late October, in the decommissioned Office Max near Willowbrook Mall. But apparent new addresses for the store (known in Connecticut for its run of criminally low alcohol prices) include the former sites of 3 of Houston’s 4 remaining Fresh Market locales (all of which shut down in May).  Those old Fresh spots (the ones of Holcome Blvd., Memorial Dr., and San Felipe St.) have all been issued recent remodeling permits with Total Wine noted as the occupant. Other locations apparently in the works are in Baybrook Mall (which is hiring) and a box site in Richmond at 5472 W Grand Pkwy., reclaimed following Sports Authority’s fall and retreat from Texas.

Photo of Total Wine & More at 7640 Cypress Creek Pkwy. in Willowbrook: Total Wine & More

Box Wine Refresh
12/14/16 10:45am

Long Sing Market Leasing Flier, 2017 Walker St., East Downtown, Houston, 77003

The Long Sing Supermarket building is now up for grabs, per a fresh leasing listing that appeared last week. The 8,260-sf.-ft. retail space and its internal lunch counter sit across Walker St. from physicist-mascotted Neil’s Bahr, and next to Little Woodrow’s EaDo (visible in yellow to the right, with its face toward the corner with St. Emanuel St. where Warehouse Live hangs out). The pagoda-topped grocery store was listed for sale a few times since 2014 — back before the glassy Marriott Marquis highrise started photobombing the building’s listing shots from across 59, as it does in the photo below:

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Market To Market
12/13/16 2:30pm

East Village leasing and renderings

The latest sketchup of the site plan for Ancorian’s East Village project in East Downtown shows what may be a second distillery nestled into the 2 blocks of warehouses now in various states of conversion between Polk and Lamar streets along St. Emanuel and Hutchins. Meanwhile, a group of rum distillers going by the name Revolution Rum has laid claim to an address next to the development (in a warehouse just north of 8th Wonder Brewery’s, across Hutchins from the planned Houston location of chain craft vodka distillery Our/Vodka). It’s not clear whether the spot marked on the leasing flier is a separate project, or if one of the 2 potential liquor operations might have a satellite storefront in the complex, facing St. Emanuel St.

Other additions to the siteplan include the name of Agricole Hospitality, now on the map at the corner of Dallas and St. Emanuel (and embellished with the logos for the group’s existing Heights trifecta of Revival Market, Coltivare, and Eight Row Flint). Fort Worth-rooted beer and burger joint Rodeo Goat and Dallas-based trailer-bar Truck Yard have territories staked out as well, next to a thin slice of retail space labeled Poku. The architects at māk have also released another few renderings up of design ideas for various parts of the 2 block complex, including a shiny restaurant mockup depicted along Polk St. near the now-silver-skinned Secret Group comedy club:

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Spirits of EaDo