10/12/16 4:00pm

Hadley at Scott streets, Third Ward, Houston, 77004

The legal entity that has recently taken control of this block of Scott St. — located between Hadley and Bremond streets just off I-45 — appears to have been named in honor of the University of Houston’s early September football defeat of the Oklahoma Sooners. The previous owner of the land, a corporation called 3919 Scott Street (which, yes, is also the address of the up-for-eventual-demo original Frenchy’s restaurant down the road), transferred the property shown above over to an entity called UH33-OU23 near the end of last month, after putting in a request to the city to turn the 1.79 acres of mostly-vacant smaller lots into 1 big unrestricted parcel under the name University Gateway. The land is less than half a mile up Scott St. from the Elgin / Third Ward light-rail stop at the edge of UH’s central campus:


Sooners or Later in Third Ward
09/12/16 1:45pm

Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church Master Plan excerptThe gospel-soundtracked video above, showing Wheeler Avenue Baptist’s plans to plant a larger sanctuary next door to its existing facilities, appears to show that new structure landing on top of the original Frenchy’s location at 3919 Scott St. The creole chicken chain, which announced last year that it would be pushing for national expansion to 500 locations, also previously announced plans to tear down the original spot and rebuild bigger, though the exact location of that rebuild wasn’t specified. (Just up the street, meanwhile, a Frenchy’s-connected entity called 3919 Scott Street appears to have purchased the entire city block southwest of the corner of Scott St. and Hadley back in 2009. )

The property at 3919 Scott St. was bought over the summer by the church; the renderings in the video (posted just this week) more or less match up to a few older depictions featured on Harrison Kornberg Architects’s website for the project:


Third Ward Chicken Prophecy
08/25/16 12:45pm

Rendering of Fertitta Center at former Hofheinz Pavilion

Rendering of Fertitta Center at former Hofheinz PavilionThe $20-million basketball stadium donation previously rumored to be on its way from Landry’s owner and UH board of regents chairman Tilman Fertitta was confirmed this morning by the school, which also released renderings of what’s planned for Hofheinz Pavilion — eventually to sport the name Fertitta Center. The depictions of the $60-million upgrade  include some prominent views of a well-labeled Hofheinz Plaza, part of a deal with the Hofheinz family after a lawsuit over the basketball arena’s planned renaming.

Below are a few more shots of the plans, which UH says should be wrapped up by the end of the 2018-19 season:


Center Moving Forward
07/05/16 2:00pm

UH’S HOFHEINZ PAVILION COULD PICK UP TILMAN FERTITTA’S NAME Hofheinz Pavilion, 3422 Cullen Blvd., University of Houston, Houston, 77204That anonymous naming-rights-sized donation toward the redo of UH’s Hofheinz Pavilion looks to be coming from none other than local real estate mogul and reality teevee star Tilman Fertitta, writes Benjamin Wermund this week. The UH board of regents, which Fertitta also chairs, voted to authorize the basketball arena upgrade last fall after the donation was announced. Fertitta also helped the university navigate the subsequent lawsuit from the Hofheinz family over the potential renaming; the matter was eventually resolved by new plans to rename part of Holman St. and to erect a statue of late county judge Roy Hofheinz near by. Based on a chat with former Georgia Tech Foundation president John B. Carter, Wermund writes that the board “would have to vote to accept Fertitta’s gift and to name the arena after him. It’s not uncommon for members of university governing boards to give large donations to the colleges they represent, but board members who become donors should recuse themselves from any discussions or votes about granting them naming rights on a university building.” [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo of Hofheinz Pavilion: University of Houston

06/23/16 9:15am

UH READY FOR LEGAL ACTION OVER SOUTH TEXAS COLLEGE OF LAW’S HOUSTON REBRANDING University of Houston Law Center, Third Ward, Houston, 77004“It has come to the University of Houston’s attention that South Texas College of Law has announced that it is changing its name to Houston College of Law. . . . The University of Houston is concerned about the significant confusion this creates in the marketplace and will take any and all appropriate legal actions to protect the interests of our institution, our brand, and our standing in the communities we serve.” [University of Houston; previously on SwamplotPhoto of University of Houston Law Center: Douglas R.

06/21/16 11:30am

Lovett leasing flier for Cullen St. Retail, Cullen at I-45, Eastwood, Houston, 77003

Lovett has been dropping a few crumbs regarding the selection of restaurants and shops that will fringe the parking lot of the retail development planned for the former Fingers Furniture warehouse site on Cullen Blvd., across I-45 from the University of Houston’s main campus. No anchor tenant for the site has officially named (though talk of Walmart has made its way to several tipsters in the Eastwood Civic Association this spring, along with assurances that the marker memorializing the former site of Buffalo Stadium’s home plate will likely be preserved).

A site plan from December (shown above, with north angled roughly toward the top right corner) shows several pad sites along the feeder road marked up as QSR (presumably Quick Service Restaurant). A later sketch now up on Lovett’s website as well adds more clues, however — including  a cryptic label on what could be the first Starbucks to venture into the East End:


Cullen at I-45
05/24/16 4:15pm

UH Downtown STEM Building Purchase

Outlined in red is the next addition to University of Houston Downtown’s campus, per last Thursday’s meeting by the UH system’s board of regents. The image above comes from a marketing flier included in the board’s agenda notes (as presented by board member and real estate reality TV star Tilman Fertitta). The 17-acre parcel on the north side of I-10 runs along the Daly St. student parking lot by the Burnett Transit Center light-rail station, and includes several areas west of N. Main St. already in use by UHD as faculty and student parking.

The land, bounded on the southwest by White Oak Bayou,  will likely house a new science and engineering building — though it may have to cozy up with some additions to the downtown freeway system still in the planning phase. UHD VP David Bradley tells Nancy Sarnoff that the parts of the tract that may end up inside the expanded right-of-way will hang around as green space until TxDOT’s map lines are firmed up.


Rail Yard Revival
05/18/16 11:15am

Plans for University of Houston Katy Campus, I-10 at Grand Pkwy., Katy, TX , 77449

On the agenda for tomorrow’s meeting of the University of Houston’s board of regents: a who-can-sign-for-it approval for the purchase of a 46-acre property in Katy, about a 10-minute drive from the 10-acre Cinco Ranch property the school is hoping to sell later this year.  The land occupies half of the big round tract at the northeast corner of I-10 and the Grand Pkwy. once slated to become Simon Property’s The Grand. That land was sold in 2014 to Moody-controlled Parkside Capital, which had been marketing it as a mixed-use office development called Verde Parc; if all goes according to the terms laid out in a late-April letter of intent describing the sale terms, the area will be rebranded as University Park (currently the name of the street the Cinco Ranch property sits on, at the intersection with S. Mason Dr.).

The Gensler site plan above appears in the notes that go along with tomorrow’s board vote; another aerial map clarifies that the University is buying the top half of the circle, not the bottom parcels:


Campus Parking
05/13/16 2:30pm

U OF H LAW TAKING ON EMINENT DOMAIN CLASS TO PREP FOR FUTURE AREA LAND GRABS University of Houston Law Center, Third Ward, Houston, 77004An upcoming course at the University of Houston Law Center will focus entirely on eminent domain, in the wake of a similar course now wrapping up its inaugural semester at UT Austin. The law firm Johns Marrs Ellis & Hodge, whose partners are teaching both classes, says it believes these to be the first 2 law classes in the nation to focus exclusively on “the law of taking”; the courses have been added with the expectation that continued population growth in Houston and more than half a dozen other major Texas cities will continue to fuel future infrastructure capacity-boosting projects — including new pipelines, highways, and transmission corridors potentially criss-crossing now-private property. [PRNewswire] Photo of University of Houston Law Center: Douglas R.

03/03/16 11:30am

UT WRITES BACK TO UH PEN PALS, LAWMAKERS ON HOUSTON CAMPUS PLANS UT Houston Campus Site, Buffalo Lakes, HoustonUniversity of Texas Chancellor Bill McRaven sent a letter yesterday afternoon to a list of higher-ups in Texas higher education and in the state legislature. McRaven’s letter comes in response to a February letter signed by 35 former University of Houston regents and addressed to the same crowd; that letter followed UT’s January purchase of 100 acres near the intersection of Willowbend Dr. and Buffalo Spdwy. for a planned Houston campus. Yesterday’s letter from McRaven repeated past assertions that the still-ambiguously-purposed land would not become another university, and that UT is not trying to hinder UH’s development as a research institution, adding that “it takes two or more to collaborate.” McRaven also writes that UT is including the state higher-ed coordinating board on its task force to determine what to do with the new space, and asks if those opposing the expansion are “really convinced that Houston, the fourth largest and most international city in the U.S., has all it needs in terms of intellectual and innovative horsepower for the decades ahead?” [UT System via Dallas Morning News; previously on Swamplot] Conceptual rendering of proposed UT campus: UT System

12/08/15 5:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHY WOULD HOUSTON WANT TO REJECT A NEW UNIVERSITY? Illustration of Master Planners“Well, oil prices are down, the city is going broke and there are op-eds suggesting that the political end of the oil industry is what the future holds in store. I absolutely do not trust UH to ideologically lead the city out of this mess. It’s as simple as that, and I can’t be the only person who thinks that. Anyway, almost every large city has more than one public university system, and it’s somewhat extortionist to insist that everything be channeled through UH simply because that’s what UH prefers. UH has failed to keep pace with the ambitions and upward mobility of its home city, and doubling down on its inadequacies by adopting a defensive stance is exactly the wrong move.” [anon22, commenting on The Best Views of the New UT Houston Campus Are Available Now from the Fairway on the 5th Hole, Above a Trash Heap] Illustration: Lulu

01/27/15 2:15pm

UH LOOKING TO BUILD NEW CAMPUS IN KATY, BECAUSE THAT’S WHERE THE ENERGY IS University of Houston System at Cinco Ranch, 4242 S. Mason Rd., Cinco Ranch, Katy, TexasThe University of Houston has asked state lawmakers to begin work on a $60 million tuition revenue bond that would fund a new campus in Katy, including a 60,000-sq.-ft. facility on a not-yet-identified site. The new campus would be separate from the system’s existing facility at 4242 S. Mason Rd. in Cinco Ranch (pictured above). The move closer to oil and gas firms in the Energy Corridor is part of what UH vice president for government and community affairs Jason Smith tells Community Impact news is the institution’s goal “to become the energy university for the United States.” The Katy campus “would serve the oil and gas interests there, the companies and their campuses there,” he says. Separately, university president Renu Khator last week called the award of a multi-million-dollar grant for the establishment of a UH-led Subsea Systems Institute “the culmination of years of work to establish the University of Houston as the Energy University.” (Grant monies for that institute will come from payments made by oil company BP to the state of Texas after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.) [Community Impact News; UH] Photo of University of Houston System at Cinco Ranch: Directron

07/28/14 12:30pm

View of Downtown from TDECU Stadium University of Houston

From the Twitter feed of Brandon Blue comes this across-the-endzone pic of the University of Houston’s newly minted TDECU Stadium, highlighting the view of downtown Houston the structure’s designers felt made it worth twisting the scrapped-and-rebuilt house of Cougar football. Robertson Stadium was aligned in a more even-handed northish-southish direction. TDECU Stadium (officially, ), constructed on the demolished remains of that structure, is rotated to match the eastish-westish orientation of neighboring Scott St. and Cullen Blvd., a decision that a few momentarily blinded quarterbacks or receivers may come to bemoan during afternoon games. But the benefit of those bleacher cutouts separating the upper decks of stadium’s endzones from the bleachers at the sides is clear: A gleaming glimpse of Houston’s homegrown mountain range opens up through the concrete canyon.


Giving TDECU Credit
07/18/14 12:00pm

WHERE TO FIND DRAWINGS OF HOOD HOUSES IN YOUR HOOD Drawing by Lucian Hood of Home, Likely at 146 Sandy Cove, HoustonIf a few of the Houston homes and buildings featured on Swamplot designed (or expanded) by architect Lucian T. Hood have piqued your interest, you may be interested in a set of drawings that the University of Houston has now digitized and posted online. More than 100 construction and design drawings from 13 Houston residential projects of the 1960s by the pencil-wielding Modern architect, who died in 2001, are now available to anyone with a browser — including the rendering of the house shown above, which digital collections librarian Valerie Prilop thinks was built (and later demolished) at 146 Sandy Cove, near Clear Lake. This collection, along with more than 1000 additional drawings spanning Hood’s work from the sixties to the nineties (much of it in River Oaks, Tanglewood, and Memorial), was donated to the university in 2007 by William Carl, who had purchased Hood’s firm. The university doesn’t have immediate plans to digitize the larger group of drawings, but doing so is “on our radar,” Prilop tells Swamplot. [University of Houston Libraries; previously on Swamplot] Image: Lucian Hood Architectural Drawings Collection

09/27/13 2:30pm

Architect Kenneth Bentsen designed quite a few institutional buildings in Houston, including Phillip Guthrie Hoffman Hall and Agnes Arnold Hall, shown here, at the University of Houston campus. Other buildings to Bentsen’s name include the Texas Children’s Hospital Complex and the Houston Summit (which is now, of course, Lakewood Church). As an architecture student at UH, Bentsen worked with Donald Barthelme and Howard Barnstone and began his career in the ’50s at MacKie and Kamrath. He ran his own practice here from 1958 until 1991. Bentsen passed away this week on Tuesday, September 24.

Photo: University of Houston