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
01/11/17 5:15pm

Leasing Materials for former Foreign Correspondents site, Norhill, Houston

The split space occupied until late December by Northern Thai restaurant Foreign Correspondents and its also-freshly-shut-down cocktail bar companion Canard may be up for lease now, a reader notes. Treadsack suffix provider and co-owner Chris Cusack told CultureMap after the restaurant’s closure (spurred in the moment by the resignation of the head chefs, and trailing a few months after the previous departure of the company’s head beverage person) that the company would likely be trying out another concept in the space; that claim, however, was made before the details of years of behind-the-scenes financial turmoil hit the Internet.

listing flier from Braun Enterprise, showing the center’s updates since the original marketing materials for 4721 N. Main were released, now advertises the restaurant’s space as up for grabs; the recent photo above is included, alongside the accompanying site plans of the 4,742-sq.-ft. space. A plan view of the rest of the shopping center is included as well, showing the currently solidifying new location of Austin-based gelato chain Dolce Neve:

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Iced in Norhill
08/11/16 10:30am

On The Kirb, 5004 Kirby, Upper Kirby, Houston, 77098 On The Kirb, 5004 Kirby, Upper Kirby, Houston, 77098The former Kirby Dr. site of Chinese fast food outpost O’Yeah Cafe (which ousted General Joe’s Chopstix) appears to be getting ready to open again, this time as restaurant-sportsbar On The Kirb. Temporary signage beneath the venue’s more permanent marker (still framed within General Joe’s octagonal medallion) indicates that would-be recruits should apply inside. The restaurant will sit at the northernmost extreme of the 5000 Kirby strip center (located in the thick of Goode Company’s Inner Loop territory, just south of the North St. McDonald’s). The new spot will share the strip with long-time residents Upper Kirby Nails Salon and Joe Omar Hair & Makeup, as well as bisyllabic sister clubs Lumen and Crimson (protected by a few segments of low wall and hedge from the prying eyes of nextdoor neighbor Mr. Carwash).

Photos: Swamplot inbox

Off the Curb
07/22/16 5:15pm

Yucatan Taco Stand, 3407 Montrose Blvd, Houston, TX 77006

The strip-center position formerly held by Berryhill Baja Grill at the corner of Montrose Blvd. and Hawthorne St. is getting new signage this afternoon, a reader notes. The spot appears to be shifting from West Coast to Gulf Coast culinary traditions under the impending occupation of Yucatan Taco Stand. The chain, whose name (almost) maintains all the rhythm and rhyme of the last taco-wielding tenant, was started in Fort Worth by the late founder of Fuzzy’s Tacos, and already has a spot open in the Woodlands.

Here’s a wider view of the scene, showing the restaurant in place next to Nails by TM and back-to-back with the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China:

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Going Yucateca
06/14/16 11:00am

Jimmy Chew Asian Kitchen, 1609 Westheimer Rd., Lower Westheimer, Houston, 77006

Windows and wood are now covering much of the front of Vinoteca Poscól’s previous strip center location at 1609 Westheimer Rd. The spot is being prepped to open as Jimmy Chew Asian Kitchen, which touts a laundry list of east- and southeast-Asian countries as contributors to its particular fusion mix. About Online reports that the business is connected to Irwin Palchick of F Bar Nightclub, and will cater to the post-last-call crowd as well as to lemonade enthusiasts. 

The wooden addition, which appears to be establishing the restaurant’s patio territory, engulfs the space previously fenced off as such by Poscól, along with some former sidewalk acreage.  Here’s what the space used to look like, before the wine bar’s midsummer departure:

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Montrose Makeover
05/06/16 10:30am

Future site of Gipsy Girls, 726 W. 19th St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008

Signs of the impending turnover at 726 W 19th St. west of N. Shepherd Dr.: a banner bearing the curly pink logo of Gipsy Girls teen-and-tween gift shop. The spot formerly hosted Pink Studio cosmetics, which has headed north to a space in the Northwest Gessner Center along the 290 feeder; following the departure of a business geared toward holding on to the things of youth, the W. 19th St. space is being remodeled to host children’s karaoke and birthday celebrations.  

The children’s party venue will move in between Mark’s Hair Studio and adult party venue Painting with a Twist, down the row from Insomnia Video Game Culture and Vinyl Toys, TxDryClean, and Replay Games. Across the street is the mid-Phase-2 Re:Vive development; here’s the rising frame of the apparent Benjamin Moore paint store, which should help strengthen the center’s nascent dessert-and-real-estate theme:

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Pink in, Pink Out
04/12/16 11:15am

Shepherd Commons, 2015 Shepherd Dr., River Oaks, Houston, 77019

Shepherd Commons, 2015 Shepherd Dr., River Oaks, Houston, 77019The first 2 waves of decorative railing are now stretching north off the edge of the new building at 2015 S. Shepherd Dr., the first half of the Shepherd Commons shopping center planned for the site. Per the renderings released back in 2013 , the 3rd and 4th waves should follow after the Hot Bagel Shop and River Oaks Nails jump ship from the original single-story strip center immediately to the north at 2009 S. Shepherd; after that, the old structure is slated for demolition to make way for part 2 of the new one.

Back in 2014, both businesses had plans to move into the space at 2015 S. Shepherd when it’s ready. (We Buy Gold, which wasn’t going to join in on the trip, has already been replaced in the old center by Cell Phone reStore).  Hot Bagel says it’s still planning to move in next door as soon as it can; a reader also spotted notice of an application submitted late last fall to sell food and drinks, including beer and wine, behind one of the site’s still-tape-dotted windows. The name on that application belongs to a corporate entity sharing an address with Fu Fu Restaurant in Dun Huang Plaza along Bellaire Blvd. at Beltway 8.

Visible in the background just south of the new building is kickboxing studio 9Round, followed by the Chipotle facing the corner of Shepherd with Indiana St. Here’s another look at what the center could look like after round 2 of construction gets knocked out:

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Bagels Rolling South
03/29/16 2:45pm

West End Cleaners, 3406 N. Shepherd Dr., Garden Oaks, Houston, 77018

No, says a representative of West End Cleaners who’s been fielding calls this afternoon, the business isn’t shutting down. It’s just departing hastily from its branch location of a few more hours at the remodeled N. Shepherd strip center on 34th St. (in the spot between Pink’s Pizza and the Garden Oaks Veterinary Clinic) due to a rent hike. Plans have already been laid to land near the intersection of Westview Dr. and Silber Rd.; the business is also scouting for a new location in the old neighborhood, near 34th and Ella.

Furthermore, the rep emphasizes strongly that the clothing currently in-house will not be donated in 24 hours, as has been suggested on Facebook; all clothes will be moved over to the new location, and the business’s pickup and delivery service will continue as normal. The original actually-in-West-End location at 4918 Washington Ave is still in service, too out of service as well; the business’s phone system lists it along with additional spots in the Energy Corridor and Cinco Ranch.

Photo: ‎Isela Lopez Venecia

 

 

N. Shepherd Cleanout
03/22/16 10:45am

Side-by-side Mattress Firms, Westheimer Rd. at Montrose Blvd., Montrose, Houston, 77006

Former Mattress Firm CEO Steve Stagner (now swapped to executive chairman status) told investors yesterday that the increasingly ubiquitous bedding retailer is now planning to identify “duplicative” stores and shut them down, even potentially paying fees to break some leases early. The tactical reversal comes after last year’s rebranding of Mattress Firm’s Mattress Pro subsidiary as additional Mattress Firms, leaving even more Mattress Firm storefronts in even closer proximity than before (including the side-by-side-but-independent storefronts at the corner of Westheimer Rd. and Montrose Blvd., pictured above). Mattress Firm also recently purchased its largest national competitor, Sleepy’s; Bloomberg reports that the purchase brought Houston-based Mattress Firm’s total holdings to about 3,500 retail stores and 80 distribution centers across 48 states.

How many stores will close, and when? Mattress Firm will release the numbers (and the expected closure costs) after it wraps up a portfolio review; the plan is to start shutting underperforming doors within the fiscal year. Mattress Firm currently lists 147 Mattress Firm-branded storefronts between The Woodlands and Lake Jackson.
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Mattress Plan Recall
03/18/16 9:45am

Renderings of redesigned former Rice Village ArcadeRice Village, Houston, 77005

Compare and contrast the 2 images above, which together show the former Village Arcade at University Blvd. west of Kelvin Dr. both as is and as it may become. The rendering above appears in a marketing brochure released earlier this year by Trademark Property, which manages Rice University’s Village-area properties. The brochure shows potential update plans to a number storefronts in the former Village Arcade buildings (which Trademark is collectively rebranding as just “the Rice Village“); the changes range from simple color swaps to major reshaping and remodeling.

The U-shaped patio above, which currently houses a fountain and a bronze copy of the Italian boar statue Il Porcellino, is shown in the corresponding rendering housing tables in front of a round kiosk ringed with bar-style seating. The drawing also depicts those PoMo-style pediments of the second floor facade replaced with a large sign labeling the structure as Rice Village Market. The building also appears to be painted white.

Earlier this year, a previously released rendering from the set got some grounding in reality when the former Sprint storefront on University west of Kelvin was whitewashed, to prep the space for beauty supply shop Blue Mercury:

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Shopping Fix-Up
02/16/16 4:17pm

Rendering of Slowpokes Coffee and Wine Bar, 1203 W. 34th St., Garden Oaks, Houston, 77018

Remodeling is underway at the former Primary Purpose Alcoholics Anonymous meeting space, as Suite D of the strip center at 1203 W. 34th St. is converted into Slowpokes wine, beer, and coffee bar. The new business is busy building its digital presence as it rehabs its physical space just south of the corner with Alba Rd.

The bar’s Instagram page shows the above photo of a screenshot of a rendering of the suite under renovation, which depicts a large patio spreading out into what is currently the strip center’s parking lot. Photos of carpet removal and wishful floor-taping have also been posted as interior construction begins:

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Repurposed in Garden Oaks
02/02/16 10:45am

1517 Blodgett St., Museum Park, Houston, 77004

The demo job on the strip center on Blodgett St. between Crawford and La Branch has finally been completed, following a multi-year pause. Until late last fall, the strip contained Sub-Saharan African art gallery Gallery Jatad (since departed to an Almeda Rd. location), while J Food Mart previously held down the fort on the opposite end of the row — but much of the middle of the complex (left, in the above photo) was gutted in 2013. Demo permits for the rest of the structure were issued on Thursday, and the building was down by late yesterday afternoon, a reader writes.

The land under the strip was bought by Trans Unity Partners in January 2015, with an eye toward developing the spot as the Chelsea at Museum District, an 18-story condo highrise. Back then, Trans Unity was uncertain about moving forward with the plan in light of predicted market conditions.

Specs for the Chelsea at Museum District (not to be confused with the highrise formerly known as Chelsea Montrose) mention 95-ish units atop 6 stories of parking. HAIF user urbannizer even dug up a draft rendering of the project, set artfully amid a field of flowers, last October:

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Now Off Display
02/01/16 9:15am

Jugs Draft, 3109 S. Shepherd Dr., Dearborn Place, Houston, 77098

A reportedly sober driver crashed into the strip center at the southeast corner of S. Shepherd Dr. and W. Alabama St. in the early hours of Sunday morning, according to KPRC. The unplanned beer run left the Jugs Draft storefront shattered open, and gave the Shepherd branch of Jenni’s Noodle House a new side entrance. Strip center neighbors Burn Smoke Shop, Mega DJ, and Mattress 1 are seemingly undamaged; all involved humans are reportedly undamaged as well.

Rare beers, however, were a major casualty of the event: The SUV crunched into Jugs’s bottle coolers, prompting the craft beer shop to liquidate what was salvaged of its chilled inventory in a $2 firesale yesterday. (Jugs is named for its 64-oz. growlers-to-go of draft beer, but also sells bottles and kegs.)

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Party Foul
01/14/16 12:45pm

Focus Refined Eye Care, 515 Westheimer Rd., Avondale, Houston, 77006

Focus Refined Eye Care announced this week that the doors are open at 515 Westheimer Rd., at the far eastern end of the strip center also containing Osaka Japanese, BB’s Donuts, Nu Cuts Hair Salon, and e-cigarette shops The Vapor Lair. The storefront, next to the former home of lapsed-vegan Mexican restaurant Radical Eats, previously housed a Chartway Federal Credit Union branch.

A press release says the new shop will “eliminate the sterility of typical doctor’s visits”— the self-described ‘optometry spa’ will offer patrons alcohol in cocktail form as well as of the lens-cleaning variety, and eye-rubs will be thrown in for good measure at the start of each appointment. The spot will offer high-end tailored glasses (the combined product of new German diagnostic equipment and a fashion consultant).

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Wide Open on Westheimer
12/30/15 9:45am

Remodel of Heights Plaza, 420 E. 20th St., Heights, Houston, 77008

A makeover is underway at the Heights Plaza at 420 E. 20th St. between N. Main and Heights Blvd. Swamplot reader JerseyGirl sends photos of the strip center, once home to Sunny’s Washateria and J & R Boudin; the building is keeping some of its 1970s architectural details (such as those embedded cinderblocks) but is also getting some updates, including a total interior redo and a new white and bubblegum color scheme extending to the parking lot.

Workers on the site confirmed that one of the new tenants will be Birds Barbers, an Austin salon known for providing Shiner Bock as part of its customer experience — in addition to using it as a styling product, for “hair that is smooth and full of shine”. Steel City Pops will also move in — the Alabama-based popsicle chain, which the owner modeled off a Mexican paletas store encountered in Nashville, currently lists flavors including buttermilk, wassail, and spruce on the menu of their Dallas location.

Earlier renderings from Schaum & Shieh show the Heights Plaza strip center (to be rechristened The 420) as it may soon appear — give or take a high-gloss sheen, and those pink parking stops and bricks:

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Heights Gets the Birds