05/18/18 12:15pm

BUC-EE’S VS. CHOKE CANYON: BATTLE OF THE ROADSIDE MASCOTS The jury trial began yesterday in a federal lawsuit Buc-ee’s filed 3 years ago against Choke Canyon, a rival, San Antonio rest-stop chain with a cartoon alligator mascot Buc-ee’s claims is too similar to its own trademark grinning beaver. Buc-ee’s’s lawyer Tracy Richardson (who’s also on the legal team for the chain’s other ongoing infringement suit against Nebraska-based Bucky’s), reports the Chronicle’s Gabrielle Banks, kicked things off with a digital slideshow that chronicled the evolution of Choke Canyon’s gator species over time: “‘They put a human hat on the alligator,’ he said, ‘they opened his mouth. Then they made him stand, which — I’ve never seen an alligator stand.'” Couple that with the animals’ big eyes, red tongue, yellow background, and associated aquatic environs — said Richardson — and the likeness is confusing. (“You’re driving down the road at 80 miles per hour and you see a sign,” he said. “Did you really see what the logo was?”) Also at issue: Choke Canyon’s use of Buc-ee’s-like design elements in its stores, including a vaguely Alamo-like parapet front, stone siding, khaki-colored paint, and oversized bathrooms. (“We have large, clean bathrooms,” said Choke Canyon’s lawyer. “The last time I looked that’s not illegal.”) The jurors will be asked to decide “whether Choke Canyon set out to or actually did confuse customers with the overlap.” [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Logos: U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas

05/17/18 11:45am

Title Boxing Club is the latest tenant on its way to the block-long former Midtowne Spa at 3100 Fannin St. Braun bought the building the same year the bathhouse shuttered in 2016, set up a 4,664-sq.-ft. office on the second floor, and began ushering other tenants into the building. Two months ago, Verizon opened at the south end of the structure, on the corner of Elgin and Fannin. In between it and the national boxing chain’s new location, a Bishops hair salon is planned.

The bathhouse — pictured above from the north before its recent whitewashing treatment — had been in the building since at least the ’80s. Other locations still operate under the same brand in Denver and Los Angeles.

Its first floor included this swimming pool and hot tub setup:

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No Longer Midtowne Spa
05/15/18 11:45am

The Kroger at 5235 Aldine Mail Rd. closed down late last year, but 1st Convenience Bank remained open inside the 47,622-sq.-ft. store for about 2 weeks. The branch then relocated to the portable building that’s now sitting in the grocery parking lot, just west of A Autoworks’ adjacent repair shop.

Weitzman Management is marketing the 4.3-acre property for sale. Aside from the buildings and parking lot, the land includes an eastern appendage that stretches across the boundaries of a separate set of parcels before butting up directly against 59:

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Mobile Banking
05/11/18 3:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY RUNNER-UP: THE HOLE IN THE DONUT “I enjoy living downtown to be close to events, bars and work. But it is a major pain to not have a decent full-service grocery in walking distance. And all of the fast casual restaurants are closed on the weekends. And we desperately need something like a CityTarget or Walmart Neighborhood Market to get random everyday items. Spend all this money to be close to everything but still have to leave Downtown to do most shopping.” [JasperRasper18, commenting on Latest Downtown Houston Headcount; A Restaurant and Juice Bar for Houston’s First Whole Foods 365] Photo of Main St. at Commerce St.: Bill Barfield via Swamplot Flickr Pool

05/08/18 2:30pm

Shots of the massive waterfront development planned in Kingwood east of Woodland Hills Dr. show it situated around 2 adjacent and existing lakes that neighbor both the San Jacinto River and the Clubs of Kingwood golf course. The 300-acre project — dubbed Herons Kingwood Marina and recently stumbled upon by online architectural sleuth Urbannizer — lays out a plan to link the 2 bodies of water and transform them into marinas with docks, pedestrian paths, and outdoor amusements.

The water-level rendering above from Italian architecture firm Torrisi & Procopio shows a boat parking lot fronting a shopping center that’s planned beside the west marina. From the air in the rendering at top, you can see the eastern marina neighbored by skyscrapers, described by the architect’s website as home to hotels, restaurants, shops, and apartments. A narrow channel leads to the other, aquatic area in the distance.

Here’s where both lakes sit now, just south of Barrington Kingwood — a 200-acre, loop-shaped neighborhood:

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The Liveable Lake
05/07/18 11:00am

SHIPLEY DONUTS WILL ROUND OUT THE NEW STRIP CENTER ON 28TH AND YALE Here’s one early sign of life at the new 8,040-sq.-ft. strip building that developer Ancorian recently finished putting up on the corner of Yale and 28th St. — 2 blocks south of the new Whole Foods that’s under construction on the N. Loop. When the coming Shipley Do-Nuts outlet opens at 2723 Yale., it’ll be a brand-new complement to what’s now the chain’s only Heights location, the standalone drive-thru on the corner of N. Main and Walton St. a few blocks west of I-45. (Shipley’s corporate office at 5200 N. Main is just under a mile up the road from that location.) Most recently demolished at 2723 Yale to make way for the new donut store and accompanying tenants: an L-shaped commercial building home to Heights Insurance and Multiservice that stood on the block for well over a decade. Photo: Swamplox inbox

05/03/18 10:15am

A reader sends photos looking inside a gutted corner of the southern River Oaks Shopping Center building east of McDuffie St. Formerly home to California Pizza Kitchen, Evolve Fitness Studio, Birraporetti’s, and Sherlock’s Pub, it’s now slated for a 2-floor Perry’s Steakhouse & Grille. A TABC notice has been posted on the storefront since March:

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W. Gray & McDuffie
04/30/18 3:00pm

HOW BELLAIRE’S NEW H-E-B IS RISING ABOVE ITS OLD PARKING LOT H-E-B’s double-decker replacement in Bellaire is now hovering over the spot where its old store, neighboring strip, and adjacent parking lot once fronted Bissonnet and Cedar streets. The photo above — tweeted out by KHOU’s Bill Bishop views the elevated supermarket’s southwest corner from the intersection of 5th St. and Cedar, showing its second-story grocery level towering above a 3-acre, all-parking first floor. Not visible in the scene: the additional acre of parking that sits on the opposite side of upstairs deck, along Bissonnet in front of the store’s main entrance. Construction on the building is expected to wrap up later this year. In the meantime, the property’s owner Brixmore Holdings recently listed it for sale. [Previously on Swamplot] Photo: Bill Bishop

04/30/18 1:30pm

Update, May 1: At the request of the copyright holder, images of the proposed development have been removed.

Michael Hsu designed a new 2-story structure (depicted in a rendering posted on HAIF) for a spot directly across Yale from the existing retail building (above) he created as part of the Heights Mercantile complex near 7th St. Like its neighbor — which went up not long ago in place of a Pappas Restaurants warehouse — the new building will replace a metal-sided structure, this one currently occupied by Urban Jungle Self Defense:

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Westward Expansion
04/13/18 5:00pm

Crews are now peeling back the corrugated metal paneling that covers over the original façade of the Sears building on the corner of Main and Wheeler, exposing some of the 1930s art deco details underneath. The plain skin was added onto the 4-story structure in the 1960s. It remained in place after the company that manages Rice University’s endowment bought out Sears’ lease on the property 6 months ago and the department store closed in January.

Yesterday, Mayor Turner announced that an extensive redo of the building — overseen by Hines and designed by Gensler along with New York-firm James Carpenter — would transform it into a startup incubation center, the anchor of a 4-mile “innovation corridor” planned between Downtown and the med center. The vertical mosaic pattern pictured above on the south side of the building is one of the first hidden touches to see the light of day as part of the work that’s now beginning to restore the exterior.

Also uncovered is the row of metal beams used to mount the outer shell:

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Art Deco Unveiling
04/11/18 12:30pm

Here’s a southeastern view of the 5,600-sq.-ft. retail building — dubbed Shops on Watson — that Edge Realty wants to plant adjacent to the Woodland Heights welcome sign on the corner of Watson and Usener streets. The structure’s front deck looks out beyond a 22-spot parking lot at the new-ish Elan Heights apartments across Usener to the immediate south. On the east side of the building, 4 more head-in spots line a portion of Watson.

The new development is planned in place of a few warehouse buildings that currently sit on a shady, just-under-half-acre parcel at 2401 Watson St.

Rendering and site plan: Edge Realty

Woodland Heights
04/05/18 12:30pm

A bunch of pipes arrived yesterday in the vacant field behind a pair of Montrose video stores, a Swamplot reader reports. Audio Video Plus shut down 6 years ago, next door to it on W. Clay is the warehouse home to the lesser known Astro Audio Video equipment rental store — also shuttered. The photo above shows the scene on Peveto St. behind the latter store.

Audio Video Plus neighbors another vacant storefront — Quintanilla Jewelers — in the strip mall on the corner of Waugh:

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North Montrose
04/04/18 1:00pm

Braun has a 2-step plan for developing the former Aztec Rental Services property on 34th St. between Oak Forest and Ella. A brochure on the developer’s website designates the portion of the site to the east as that of future residences. On the western edge of the would-be housing spot, Aztec’s former storefront — pictured above — looks toward an additional 2-acre parcel the equipment outfitter gave up.

That’s where Braun wants to plant a pair of 10,050-sq.-ft. retail buildings surrounded by a moat of parking:

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One of Each
04/03/18 12:00pm

Here’s the new 2,500-sq.-ft. strip center planned in the parking lot next door to Prince’s Hamburgers’ abandoned building on Ella Blvd. north of 34th St. The photo above, sent in by a Swamplot reader, views the former restaurant from the north, outside the closed-down A1 Auto Deals used car lot near the train tracks that cross Ella south of Judiway St. Between the auto dealer and the restaurant is where the strip center would go, at the west end of what’s now an additional 13,204-sq.-ft. parking lot.

Prince’s took over the restaurant building from Jack in the Box in 2016:

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Garden Oaks Preview
04/02/18 4:00pm

Developer Patrinely Group is getting ready to start construction on one of the 12 mid-rise office towers it has planned for the 60-acre zone dubbed CityPlace within Springwoods Village — south of Exxon’s new-ish campus off I-45. The rendering at top shows the 5-story CityPlace 1 building — which will fit 2 retailers in its ground floor: one fronting a central green space to the east dubbed CityPlace Plaza, and another along City Plaza Dr., a road that begins at the park and heads between several of the office towers.

You can see the road cutting its way west past CityPlace 1 — at the far edge of the park — in the aerial rendering below:

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I-45 and Grand Pkwy.