05/05/17 2:30pm

More details on the planned Yale Marketplace development centered around the 365-branded mini Whole Foods planned for Independence Heights (but picking up the Garden Oaks moniker) come this week from Adolfo Pesquera, who posted the rendering above over at VBX of that companion strip mall planned just to the north of the grocery store. The structure looks to be slated for the narrow parcel of land where the long, low, industrial-slash-office park that until January hosted the Potter’s House Christian Church still stands.

Pesquera also reports that Houston Heights ER has officially signed on as the urgent care clinic that’ll be stuck to the side of the 365 (to the left, in the rendering below):

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Independence Heights
04/12/17 5:15pm

Westheimer Plumbing & Hardware, 3600 Kirby Dr., Upper Kirby, Houston, 77005

Westheimer Plumbing & Hardware, 3600 Kirby Dr., Upper Kirby, Houston, 77005Michael Morrow (that’d be the -morrow in kinneymorrow architecture) sends along this update from his latest visit to Westheimer Plumbing & Hardware’s showroom at 3600 Kirby Dr., which turned out to be still closed in the wake the February incident that shut it down temporarily. (You know — the one where a driver hit the wrong pedal and fell off the 7th story of the nextdoor River Oaks Tower’s parking garage, landing on and through the roof of the strip mall.) A somewhat incredulous but friendly note on the door from the hardware store’s owner says that, though the 17-year-old driving luckily sustained surprisingly little injury, the showroom has been pretty roughed up, including severed water, sprinkler, and electrical lines (not to mention the hole). The note says that the business is currently operating out of its warehouse on E. T.C. Jester Blvd., and will be back in its spot on Kirby as soon as possible. (Neighboring sugar pusher Dessert Gallery, however, reopened just a few days after the accident in early March.)

The damage to the parking garage itself is still visible from ground level:

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Upper Kirby Progress Report
03/16/17 3:30pm

6749 Airline Dr., Northline, Houston, 77076

6749 Airline Dr., Northline, Houston, 77076The Kroger Market at the not-quite-intersection of Airline Dr., Parker Rd., and Fulton St. in Northline is shutting down next month, an employee at the store tells Swamplot this afternoon (confirming a rumor from a reader in the vicinity). The store’s last day is planned for April 20th, after which it will cede the area to its nearest grocer competitors: the Food Town just over half a mile up Airline, at the intersection with Little York Rd.; the other Food Town a little over a mile further west down Little York; and the not-quite-an-H-E-B Joe V’s Smart Shop on N. Shepherd Dr., just across I-45.

Behind its cube-on-a-spindle signage, the store sits at the northern end of a classic array of strip mall companions (capped to the south by South Texas Dental, whose space and streetside signpost once belonged to a Blockbuster Video); standing alone at the southeast corner of the center sits El Muelle Seafood & Oysters, housed in a former Taco Bell.

Photos: James T.

Northline Line Drawn
02/24/17 4:30pm

5922 Richmond Ave., Uptown, Houston, 770575922 Richmond Ave., Uptown, Houston, 77057

The markings left behind by the Key Maps store in the wake of its second move since 2015 are still hanging out this afternoon alongside the leasing notice near the shop’s former place at the east end of the Richmond Avenue Shopping Center strip mall, just east of Fountainview Dr. The Key Maps folks are back inside the Inner Loop again, this time on Durham St. next door to the Dirty Hairy Dog Wash. The most recently former Key Maps location, shown above, has picked up a new neighbor itself since the cartographymonger’s departure: the ex-Subway at the end of the strip is about to reopen as essentialist fried chicken joint Krisp Bird & Batter. A sign on the door says Krisp will be open on Monday: 

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Fried Birdwatching
02/10/17 4:45pm

Urban Bricks Pizza Co., 5650 West Grand Parkway South #100, Richmond, TX 77407

The finishing touches have been applied to the first Houston-area outpost of Urban Bricks Pizza Co., in time for the location’s end-of-January grand opening. The Boerne-based pizza place has squeezed in next to Zesty Cleaners and James Avery in the newest piece of the growing strip center puzzle known as the Shops at Bella Terra, itself sandwiched between the Lakes of Bella Terra and Parkway Lakes subdivisions south of the EZ TAG-only intersection of Westpark Tollway and the Grand Parkway. The most recent add-on to the center is near the bottom left corner in the detention-pond-spangled siteplan below:

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Lakeside Pizza Views
01/10/17 5:15pm

5405 T.C. Jester Blvd., Oak Forest, Houston, 770

5405 T.C. Jester Blvd., Oak Forest, Houston, 770A strip-mall enthusiast cruising the northern edge of Oak Forest this week sends a few shots from a stop through the 5405 T.C. Jester Center just south of Tidwell Rd. The center, located east across Cole Creek from the Northwest Wastewater Treatment Plant, is home to Frio To Go, part of Houston’s budding tape-the-top frozen cocktail drive-thru scene. The daquiri store has been operating since 2014 under its traffic signal sigil; the shop’s placement also provides a handy opportunity for situational testing for the over-21 students of Prime Time Driving School, located a few doors down:

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GO/OF Detours
01/04/17 5:45pm

SWAPPING PERSPECTIVES ON THE HOUSTON STRIP MALL MODEL Strip Mall at 13326 Westheimer, Houston. 77077“They’re neighborhood centers,” not strip malls, developer Ed Wulfe insists to Katharine Shilcutt in this month’s issue of Houstonia. And call them — all 25,000 or so in the region — what you will, they’ve been scratching the relatively-high-density retail itch for Houston’s sprawling residential areas since WWII. Shilcutt admits that “in the Bayou City, defending the ubiquitous strip mall carries the same whiff of insanity as defending giant tree roaches or mosquitoes. . . . Their aesthetic merits are dubious; their environmental impact, baleful.” But is there any more pure distillation of Houston? (Shilcutt goes on to relay her discussion with restaurateur and actual strip mall tenant Kaiser Lashkari, who owns Himalaya restaurant in Olympic Center off Hillcroft and agrees that there are some benefits to the strip mall model. When asked if he would move to a freestanding building given the opportunity, his answer is still an unequivocal yes.) [Houstonia] Photo of strip center at 13326 Westheimer: Swamplot inbox

06/29/15 3:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY RUNNER-UP: ZONING WOULDN’T HAVE KEPT THE SPRAWL AWAY Illustration of Oversized Parking Lot“It’s always frustrating when I hear Houston’s sprawl and prevalence of strip malls blamed on our lack of zoning. You can blame these on the setbacks and parking minimums that came along with Chapter 42, which made it illegal to build walkable neighborhoods.” [Angostura, commenting on Comment of the Day: The Kind of Zoning Houston Does Have] Illustration: Lulu

01/15/09 7:33pm

John Nova Lomax, in the second installment of his 3-part version of his and David Beebe’s IAH-to-Downtown slog, passes by this rough-and-tumble strip mall just down the street from the Aldine ISD’s W.W. Thorne Stadium, — and figures out why the street is called Aldine Bender:

In one corner lurks a closed down bar called Sassy’s. The doors of this place were open even though it was abandoned. Someone had pulled much of the furniture out of it and left it on the sidewalk out front.

Flanking Sassy’s were a donut shop and not one, but two different Spanish-language chapters of Alcoholics Anonymous. And the piece de resistance was an abandoned Pontiac, complete with flat tire and faceprint in the windshield. A faceprint that went inward toward the dash, not outward from the driver’s seat. Perhaps the rival AA chapters got into a parking lot fracas

Photo of 1215 Aldine Bender Rd.: John Nova Lomax