10/24/17 4:00pm

The lights have been changed again in the vacant office building at the center of Midway’s newly renamed East River site on Buffalo Bayou in the Fifth Ward. The 12-story former Building 3 on the KBR campus the development firm bought last year has progressed from referencing Amazon minus a couple of vowels to spelling out our city’s well-accomplished hometown baseball team minus its initial A. The view above was captured by a Swamplot reader from Clinton Dr. last night

The AMZN lettering lives on, though, at the end of a promo video Midway produced to rep Houston — and its mostly vacant 150-acre former industrial site:

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’Stros in Lights
10/09/17 4:30pm

Here’s the backside of the 12-story former KBR office building that Midway has for the last week lit up with a new message in hopes of signaling to Amazon and avian passers-by that it buys into the concept underlying many of Jeff Bezos’s business decisions. Also: That the surrounding 150-acre property on the north side of Buffalo Bayou east of Downtown Houston that the company has renamed East River would make a fine second headquarters campus for the online and offline retailer. Day 1 is the name assigned successively to 3 different Amazon buildings in Seattle, the latest a new 37-story downtown tower that itself features a lit-up sign on its lower floors that reads HELLO WORLD. Day 1 is also a common catchphrase in the company, a reminder to itself, among other things, to focus on outcomes rather than process and to make decisions quickly, even if you have less information available than you’d like.

Day 1 for this Houston sign was October 2nd. As a reader reported last week, since then the vacant building has been sporting the company’s NASDAQ ticker symbol on the opposite side to match:

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Day 1 on Clinton Dr.
10/06/17 1:00pm

The tallest of the 5 vacant structures remaining in the 136-acre former KBR campus fronting Buffalo Bayou east of Downtown that new owner Midway has dubbed East River has been sporting a new night-time look as of this week. The lights in the photo above, taken last night by a reader, spell out the NASDAQ ticker symbol of Amazon — which has announced a nationwide search for a second headquarters campus.

Previously, the lights in the 12-story office building at 4100 Clinton Dr. in the Fifth Ward had been tuned to HTX:

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Hey Lookie Here!
10/06/17 10:15am

THE PIERCE ELEVATED’S GREAT UNCROSSING What’s going to replace the giant crosses on the east and west sides of the St. Joseph Professional Building towering over the Pierce Elevated once its new owner takes them down and redoes the exterior? “I want something that’s going to be iconic to Houston,Boxer Property CEO Andrew Segal tells Katherine Feser. The company has commissioned artists to develop ideas for the 18-story building’s new cross-free exterior look, Segal says: “It may be something that changes at night. It could involve a projector.” Also in the plans for the 135,586-sq.-ft. building at 2000 Crawford St., which dates from 1965: new shared lounges, workspaces, and conference facilities, changes to its ground-floor retail spaces, and a new name TBD. The steel crosses were added to the building in 2009. [Houston Chronicle] Photo: Russell Hancock, via Swamplot Flickr pool

05/10/17 1:00pm

DOWLING ST. NOW BEING EMANCIPATED The folks at Project Row House posted this snapshot of a new street sign along Emancipation Ave., née Dowling St., which is getting its shiny new labels affixed in the leadup to this year’s Juneteenth festivities. (That’s when the name change will officially take effect, and when majorly overhauled Emancipation Park is once again planning to reopen, as well.) This particular set of signage is at the corner with Francis St., across Dowling Emancipation from the Tiny Treasures house, the crumbling remains of the Beauty Box, and the former site of the Flower Man’s toxic-mold-filled arthouse; the new signs look to have started going up along the road last week.  Photo: Project ROW House

03/01/17 11:30am

Signage at Kroger, 239 W. 20th St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008

Signage at Kroger, 239 W. 20th St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008The removal of the “Right Store Right Price” sign tacked onto the side of the Kroger at 239 W. 20th St. briefly revealed long-buried evidence of the building’s long-hidden relationship with Weingarten, a parking lot cruising reader notes. Yes, that Weingarten (which currently owns the shopping center): the company’s account of its own history notes that the Weingarten family started out in the grocery biz, then got into real estate to build its own stores. The company dropped supermarkets altogether in the early 1980s and went into real estate full time.

By mid-afternoon yesterday, the newly unearthed traces of the company’s former association with the building had already been beiged out:

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Uncovered on W. 20th
01/31/17 11:30am

7006 I-45 South at Woodridge, Gulfgate, Houston, 77087

7006 I-45 South at Woodridge, Gulfgate, Houston, 77087 Vintage roadside attraction photographer Molly Block sends in the fresh shot above of the empty triple post that previously held up the neon beacon of Gulfgate all-night diner Dot Coffee Shop (along with a previous portrait of the sign itself, circa 2013). Block snapped the picture of the bare poles over the weekend; an employee tells Swamplot this morning that both the Dot sign and the sign for also-Pappas-owned Pappas Bar-B-Q next door had to be temporarily taken down out of the way of that planned reworking of the I-45-Loop-610 intersection. The project will add another pair of direct connectors between the 2 highways, and retool the southbound I-45 frontage road, which runs along the edge of the restaurants’ parking lots (as shown in the TxDOT schematics below):

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Gulfgate Rearrangements
01/13/17 10:45am

Lighting testing of 59 bridge

Upate, 4pm: The text has been updated to clarify the bridge’s color capabilities and include more info on current setup from the design firm.

Hazard St. Bridge Lighting TestsThe curvy crossings over Hwy. 59 east of Spur 527 have been caught on camera glowing at passing drivers this week as workers test out the new colored lighting systems. Sarah Gandy of Gandy² Lighting Design tells Swamplot that the plan is to have all 6 bridges lit nightly by the first week of February as the pre-Super Bowl hullaballoo ramps up, but that final tweaks and adjustments are still being made (as seen here).

Gandy tells Swamplot that the bridge’s color patterns are still being programmed, and that they’ll soon be capable of a full range of groovy multi-tone modes like those shown in renderings previously released by the Montrose Management District (shown below):

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Pre-Super Bowl Exhibition
01/12/17 11:30am

Midtown Entry Portal work site, Brazos St. at I-45 and Pierce St., Midtown, Houston, 77003

More signs of the Midtown Redevelopment Authority’s current 3-part landscaping project: the large hill being crafted where the long I-45 exit ramp into Pierce St. hits Brazos St. Bid documents for the project also mention landscaping walls, accent lighting, and decorative stone as part of the rest of the plan for the spot. The newly elevated site sits east across the I-45 offloader from the former home of high-gloss steak and seafood house Mr. Peeples, which shut down back in March. The Bagby-facing building, which served as a Boy Scouts of America office prior to the restaurant makeover, is still up for lease; a marketing flier advertises all 3 stories as up for grabs, along with the 8,702-sq.-ft. basement. Here’s the full frontal:

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Moving Up in Midtown
01/11/17 10:45am

7374 Brace St., Garden Villas, Houston, 77061

Resident Joseph Virant sends in some ornithological notes on the roving bands of peacocks that wander the Garden Villas neighborhood, catty-corner northwest across Telephone Rd. and Airport Blvd. from Hobby Airport. A few of the birds make a cameo appearance in the active sales listing of 7374 Brace St. (shown above); Virant writes in with more detail on the origins and habits of the animals, which he says have regular routes and a seed-furnishing fanbase:

The story goes that they started as someone’s pets many years ago, were turned loose, and multiplied.  There are 2 groups: one in the eastern half of the neighborhood [near] Ashburn St., Brace St., and Garden Villas Park; and one in the western half (Brace St., Alpine Dr.).  Apparently a group of peacocks is called either an ‘ostentation‘ or a ‘muster‘.  A lot of neighbors have Peacock Crossing signs in their yards; people often stop their cars to snap photos as [the birds] amble across the street . . . My wife buys bird seed to attract them.

These aren’t the only pea fowl wandering free (or at least unattended) around town; they may, however, be the only ones whose home neighborhood is working actively to enshrine the birds’ status as local mascots, as Virant notes Garden Villas is hoping to do:

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Garden Villas Visitors
12/20/16 10:45am

Montrose Management District marker, W. Dallas at Montrose

Montrose Management District marker, W. Dallas at MontroseThe Montrose Management District reports that the first of its shiny new neighborhood marker signs went up over the weekend at Montrose Blvd. and Dallas St., despite the recent movement in the ongoing lawsuit between the organization and the group of property owners petitioning to dissolve it. The case, which was filed in 2012, is still open, though the judge recently filed a handful of findings and judgment documents stating that not all of the signatures that went into forming the district were valid, and that the agency must pay back the $6.5 million it’s collected since then. The district has said it has no plans to do that any time soon, and intends to keep on keepin’ on until any appeals wrap up, which could be years from now.

The signage is part of the sundry prettification projects the district has planned for the neighborhood, which include redoing the colored lighting on the bridges over US 59 — thanks to a funding assist from the city, TxDOT, and the Houston Galveston Area Council:

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Sightings on W. Dallas
12/09/16 10:45am

Midtown Entry Portal site, W. Gray at Matthews St., Midtown/Fourth Ward, Houston, 77019

Where exactly, these days, does Fourth Ward end and Midtown begin? That may be a little bit clearer before long (depending on how you define the 2) — a reader notes that someone looks to be getting ready to stake a visible claim for Midtown on the narrow strip of land at the crotch of Webster and W. Gray streets, just west of Matthews St. and the latest add-on to the Post Midtown Square development. (The yellow signage of that recently scorched Fuzzy’s is visible on the left.)

The silt fencing rimming the median segment as of late comes with a construction sign calling the spot “Midtown Entry Portal — Site 3.” That grassy sliver does sit at the end of a short but pointy finger of land jutting out of the northwestern boundary of the area’s tax increment reinvestment zone, which as of 2009 is shaped about like this:

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TIRZspotting
09/14/16 12:45pm

The Texas Direct Auto signage outside that 80-sq.-ft. Main St. office asking Red Line rail passengers to sell their vehicles may have hit a bit of resistance, but the company is nonetheless now aiming its ad campaign even higher: The drone video above (posted yesterday) shows the roof of the company’s space-themed downtown building on Leeland St. is now fully decked out with the same all-caps appeal for car sales. As a commenter pointed out yesterday, the nearby Toyota Center also shows off a rooftop label to flying passer-bys — though the arena goes one step further and lights up at night, as well:

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Direct Ask Over Downtown
09/09/16 11:15am

Hardy Yards sign, Burnett at Main St., Near Northside, Houston, 77026

Hardy Yards sign, Burnett at Main St., Near Northside, Houston, 77026The letters strung out under the Red Line overpass at Burnett St. and N. Main to label the area as Hardy Yards are now back in place once again, Chris Andrews notes. After a few ups and downs earlier this year the letters were removed altogether for a bit; they’re now back in place, standing on what appear to be some slightly buffed-up legs. The ones shown above are on the north side of Burnett; here’s the southern companion piece, with the stairs leading to the Burnett Transit Center visible on the left:

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Knocked Down, But Up Again