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
08/30/16 5:30pm

Billboards and signs near Gulfgate, Houston, 77087

In the wake of a multi-year legal tiff between TxDOT and an Austin-based real estate company over a freestanding Ron Paul 2012 sign outside of an erotica shop on Hwy. 71, a district appeals court has just struck down central parts of the Texas Highway Beautification Act, Dug Begley reports today. The ruling may have eventual implications for city makeover enthusiast Scenic Houston’s long-term de-billboarding quest, and comes right on the heels of the announcement last week that an additional 13 signs around Houston would be coming down.

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Signs of the Times
07/15/16 11:30am

3516 Montrose Blvd., First Montrose Commons, Houston, 77006

A reader’s aerial snapshot shows that the site of the former River Cafe at the corner of Montrose and Marshall St. is now empty once again, following the removal of all objectionably large signage advertising Riverway’s recently shelved condo midrise project. Riverway went through 2 different designs at the site, swapping the original renderings in 2014 for a larger and sleeker structure thematically tied (at least by the choice of architecture firm) to Philip Johnson’s Glass House. The writing was off the wall by early summer; Riverway officially told the HBJ that the project was off at the end of June.

Photo of 3516 Montrose Blvd.: Swamplot inbox

Mowed Down on Marshall St.
07/06/16 4:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: A MONUMENT TO WHOLESOME AND SEEDY TURNOVER IN RICE VILLAGE Village Arcade Sign“The Village Arcade sign was a nod to the Village Theatre marquee (which was promptly razed in January of the year after a Jim McConn-administration moratorium on demolition of historic structures expired).  . . . There was, actually, some effort to save the Village Theatre and its block of shops (including World Toy and Gift), but it came to naught. It was a nice MacKie & Kamrath neighborhood theatre design, but by the time of its demise it was probably irretrievably tainted by its waning days as a porn house.” [marmer, commenting on Hanover Montrose Move-In Day Nears; Rice Village Arcade Sign Comes Down] Photo of Village Arcade sign: Swamplot inbox

06/08/16 11:30am

3516 Montrose Blvd., First Montrose Commons, Houston, 77006 3516 Montrose Blvd., First Montrose Commons, Houston, 77006The west wall has been breached at 3615 Montrose Blvd., where Riverway had previously planned to break ground on a Philip Johnson/Alan Ritchie Glass House-themed condo midrise this spring. The 130-ft. sign (per a city inspector’s disapproving measurement) advertising the most recent condominium project planned for the corner at Marshall St. has been blacked out for about a month, according to a reader surveying the empty corner lot from above.

The comparatively tiny sales center sign is missing altogether; the same round of March inspection ticketing asked for it to be removed from the property. Also gone: HAR’s sales listings for the building’s individual units, which the site indicates were also removed around the end of April and the beginning of May.

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Montrose at Marshall