09/28/17 3:15pm

THAT THING ABOUT THE CITY OF HOUSTON AND DIGITAL BILLBOARDS A reader with “nothing better to do today” writes in with a question for Swamplot readers: “I do not see any digital billboards in Houston city limits. I see them popping up in Baytown and I’m sure elsewhere, but why not H-Town? One would think that this would be a win-win for the owners of the billboards and the businesses wanting to advertise their product. I see them all over Dallas — Houston, not so much.” Photo: Houston Public Media

08/16/17 5:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: BIG SIGNS FOR BIG TEXAS CORNERS “I wish they’d rethink the billboard laws in Texas. Allow more and bigger billboards. The billboards could be taxed, and the money earmarked to our State Parks — they desperately need it. Scenic routes could be designated in certain places, and billboards banned there. This would turn the buildings at the intersections of freeways into major advertising opportunities. It wouldn’t matter if the buildings lose money, the giant billboards on the roofs would make whatever profit the owners need. Or they might wind up demolishing the buildings to put billboards up in their place.” [ZAW, commenting on Comment of the Day: The Black Holes Where Freeways Intersect] Illustration: Lulu

01/30/17 11:30am

Glenbrook Valley neighborhood signage, Glenbrook Valley, Houston, 77061

Glenbrook Valley neighborhood signage ca. 1956, Glenbrook Valley, Houston, 77061The retro Glenbrook Valley neighborhood entry sign above is now standing on Broadway St. north of the intersection with Santa Elena St., Robert Searcy notes. The neighborhood civic club’s new Mod marker echoes one that stood in the area shortly after the subdivision’s early 1950s founding (shown here in a black and white excerpt from a brochure for the 1956 Parade of Homes tour) and replaces the much more rectilinear sign long planted in about the same spot. The new sign’s cursive also mimics the throwback style of the script on the nearby Glenbrook Valley Apartments on Bellfort St.:

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Pregaming on Broadway St.
01/25/17 5:30pm

Metro Red Line, University of Houston Downtown, Downtown, 77002

On the growing list of things getting dressed up for the Super Bowl: this Red Line light-rail train, caught above at the corner of Main and Franklin streets this afternoon wearing a shiny new red-and-stadium-colored suit. Buildings around the Discovery Green and George R. Brown Convention Center complex have also been getting advertising wraps draped in place in the past week or 2, as have a few other buildings around town (including the BBVA Compass building near the Galleria). Across the intersection, a reader also noted the installation of new security cameras at the Islamic Da’wah Center, founded after former Rocket Hakeem Olajuwon bought the 1928 former Houston National Bank building in 1994:

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Downtown Prep
11/03/16 3:45pm

Magic Island sign removal, 2215 Southwest Fwy., Houston, 77098

As of lunchtime, more than half of the MAGIC & COMEDY SHOW lettering has been removed from the sloped wall of vacant freeway-side magic club and faux Egyptian temple Magic Island. A reader spotted the scene — “just the cherry picker and the demolished letters on the ground” — during a feeder road drive-by around noon.

Talk of rebooting and reopening the former magic club (which became increasingly family-oriented until its Ike-and-fire-fueled shutdown in 2008) has been going on periodically since 2012; some permits for sign renewal and restaurant repairs were issued back in 2013, and a representative of owner and neurologist Mohammed Athari told Leah Binkovitz in early 2015 that some contracts for work on the building had finally been signed, even though things were moving slower than originally planned.

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Beneath the Pharaoh’s Gaze
04/01/16 2:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHAT KEEPS HOUSTON BILLBOARDS STANDING TALL Freeway Billboards“If you only knew how much the city has gone through to reduce billboards. Their billboard ordinance was pioneering. Existing billboards in the city are under an abatement condition – if you take one down, you can’t replace it. However, many billboards are highly, highly profitable, and the industry has a formidable lobby to defend what they already have, and try to reinstate the ability to add billboards where they’ve been banned or removed. From a property rights perspective, sign regulation is already an iffy business. So while yes, most of us would like to see further reduction in billboards, please try to appreciate what’s already been done.” [Local Planner, commenting on City Inspector: Those Who Want You To Live In The Glass House Should Not Post 130-Ft. SignsIllustration: Lulu

03/18/16 1:45pm

Garden Oaks Deed Restrictions Signs, Garden Oaks, Houston, 77018

What’s the story behind the tiny question marks that recently appeared at the end of the low-dangling “DEED RESTRICTIONS ENFORCED” signs on at least a couple Garden Oaks welcome-to-the-neighborhood markers? More than just your usual neighborhood grumbling and graffiti-ing, it appears.

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Punctuation Add-Ons
03/10/16 11:45am

Signs in parking lot across from Rudyards, Waugh Dr. at Welch St., Hyde Park, 77006

Update, 2 pm: Another reader sends a shot from the scene; this story has been updated.

A reader sends some snapshots from Hyde Park, where some new anti-theft infrastructure has been installed in the parking lot across Waugh Dr. from Rudyard’s British Pub and nextdoor The Next Door. The banner wooden sign shown above augments previously-posted-though-significantly-smaller signage in the vicinity, which already disavows any responsibility on the part of the nearby bars for loss of property from break-ins to cars parked in the lot. Meanwhile, a second sign was captured hanging out a bit closer to the intersection with Welch St., looking nonchalant:

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Watch Out at Welch
03/02/16 11:30am

Blue tile sign at 2500 block of Westheimer Rd., Upper Kirby, Houston, 77098

Houstorian James Glassman sends this photo of a shiny new blue tile street sign along a Westheimer Rd. curb just east of Kirby Dr., where months of road and sidewalk construction is wrapping up. The fresh mosaic is in the style of those installed around Houston in the 1920s and into the 1950s before the rise of auto traffic made foot-level street markers less practical than eye-level signage. 

The new sign doesn’t yet appear on the online map maintained by Joey Sanchez of the Blue Tile Project, which documents the locations of the original tile markers, though Sanchez noted the sign this morning on the project’s Twitter feed:

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Westheimer Blues
12/08/15 12:30pm

Billboard, 312 Main St., Downtown Houston

Were you kinda liking that new billboard installed on the second story of the building at 312 Main St. — the one that posed serious, possibly life-changing questions to passengers exiting the Preston St. light-rail station? Well, you’ve got less than 10 days to enjoy it, depending on long fast used-car-dealer Texas Direct Auto wants to take to comply with a city citation posted to the building yesterday — unless it can get those pesky inspectors to back off.

A notation on the red tag declares that the facade-smothering sign is in violation of the city’s sign code — namely that it was not erected in connection with a “business purpose”: “A business purpose shall not include any property, building, or structure erected or used for the primary purpose of securing a permit to erect a sign,” the note reads. (That echoes a portion of the definition in section 4602, in case you’re following along at home with regulations in hand.) Here’s a snapshot of the documents stuck to the building’s ground floor, as submitted to the Twitterverse by Houston Chronicle writer Evan Mintz, whose employer last week declared in an editorial that the sign should be illegal:

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A Red Tag Downtown
12/03/15 2:15pm

Preston St. Station, Main St., Houston, 77002

Downtown light-rail riders: Your patronage of public transit isn’t enough. A giant billboard covering most of the facade of the 2-story building at 312 Main St. now urges passengers emerging from the northbound Preston stop to get rid of their vehicles altogether. The unassuming Houston Site Acquisitions storefront has scrapped its own above-door signage in favor of a story-high ad for Texas Direct Auto, complete with oversized doggie in the window.

Large-scale advertising for businesses not currently in the building is nothing new for this block of Main St.: Just next door, the sky-high neon above perpetually hungover neighbors Dean’s and Notsuoh still heralds the days of credit clothing retail. But the Texas Direct Auto ad incorporates the structure of the building itself, placing the large image of a small dog behind an actual window visible through a cutout in the wrap:

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Sell Your Car! No Money Down!
06/03/15 11:45am

Blue Tile Curb Street Signs, Houston

Downtowner Joey Sanchez has begun a project to photograph and document what he refers to as Houston’s first form of “street art”: the old school tile street signs that still stand guard by the curbs of a number of older city intersections. Already posted to the website he set up for the Blue Tile Project: an interactive map to confirmed locations — and links to Facebook and Instagram accounts, where photos of the signs, in various states of disrepair and dislocation, are posted. Sanchez reports he’s already found more than 160 of the signs, which he claims date from the 1920s.

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The Blue Tile Project
06/01/15 3:30pm

Vinoteca Poscol, 608 Westheimer Rd., Lower Westheimer, Montrose, Houston

A new sign is up already on the building next door to Katz’s Deli, at 608 Westheimer Rd. But Vinoteca Poscol won’t be moving from its current strip-center spot at 1609 Westheimer to this new, and lower, Westheimer location until sometime after the Fourth of July, owner Marco Wiles tells Houstonia‘s Katharine Shilcutt.

The exterior of the former home of Azamian Rugs and (before that) AIDS Foundation Houston’s Stone Soup has already seen quite a few changes in its new Italian Restaurant redo, especially to the front of the house. Gone is the old single-story addition that pushed up to the sidewalk. Next to be completed: interior renovations, and perhaps an extra letter for the sign.

Photo: Swamplot inbox

On the House
04/30/15 11:00am

Sign for New Starbucks on Site of Former Village Mobil Gas Station, 8819 Katy Fwy., Hedwig Village, Texas

Crews working on the site of the former Village Mobil on the inbound I-10 feeder road at 8819 Katy Fwy. have now covered up part of the former gas station sign with a new hood announcing the Starbucks drive-thru now under construction in its place. But only the top part of the sign. “Will the Hedwig Village Starbucks stick with the ‘by the gallon’ pricing strategy of its predecessor?” asks reader (and Metro board member) Christof Spieler, who snapped this photo.

Photo: Christof Spieler

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