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. Park ‘N Ride lot by the Burnett Transit Center station 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.
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Rail Yard Revival
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:
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U OF H LAW TAKING ON EMINENT DOMAIN CLASS TO PREP FOR FUTURE AREA LAND GRABS An 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.
UT WRITES BACK TO UH PEN PALS, LAWMAKERS ON HOUSTON CAMPUS PLANS University 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
COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHY WOULD HOUSTON WANT TO REJECT A NEW UNIVERSITY? “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
UH LOOKING TO BUILD NEW CAMPUS IN KATY, BECAUSE THAT’S WHERE THE ENERGY IS The 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
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.
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Giving TDECU Credit
WHERE TO FIND DRAWINGS OF HOOD HOUSES IN YOUR HOOD If 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
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
Here’s a plan that looks to plug in to Metro’s still-under-construction Southeast Line and redo about 8 blocks along Scott St. in the Third Ward between UH and TSU. Though the plan, drawn up by LAI Design Group and dubbed “University Place Redevelopment,” is provisional, it appears to have in mind something like what the rendering above shows: A reshaped streetscape on Scott St. that would combine apartments, restaurants, shops, offices, and community buildings.
The first phase appears to call for a strip center facing Scott between Holman and Reeves, with 289 1- and 2-bedroom apartments and a parking garage in the rear:
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There’s more going on at U of H than that new McDonald’s, apparently: A reader sends these photos of many of the construction projects scattered across the campus. This photo shows the pylons of the still-unnamed bowl with a Downtown view that’s replacing Robertson Stadium, demolished back in December. And in the background of the photo you can see the new Cougar Place apartments. KUHF’s Jack Williams reports that the new stadium is already about a third done; more photos after the jump illustrate the below-grade playing field.
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A reader sends photo of the construction progress of the replacement McDonald’s near the corner of Elgin and Cullen on the University of Houston campus. The McDonald’s that used to stand here was torn down in early June. A regional rep says that this new one should be ready by the time classes resume.
Photos: Thomas Heinold
APPLIED TECHNOLOGY AT UH’S NEW COFFEE NOOK A pair of University of Houston alums will be running a coffee shop and wine bar out of this new retail center in the cranny of Calhoun Rd. and Spur 5. The Nook, they’re calling it, will open July 15, reports The Daily Cougar, with more student-friendly hours, staying open until midnight — even on school nights. And there will also be a kind of caffeine-expediting service well suited to a spread-out campus that can require some serious between-classes hoofing: “‘The unique piece of The Nook that we’re actually proud of is a smart phone app where you can actually order your coffee the way you like it. You tell us when you’ll show up, you pay with your credit card and come to the pick-up counter and pick it up,’ Shaw said. ‘Anything on the menu, except for alcohol, can be ordered on the phone app.’” [The Daily Cougar; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Allyn West
It would seem that McDonald’s has resolved the steely staring contest between these 2 signs from 2 different eras, having gone ahead and ushered out the old restaurant here on Elgin and Cullen near the U of H campus to put up a brand-new one, a regional rep from the company confirms. No renderings of the next generation are available yet, but the rep says that it should be open in time for the fall semester.
Photo: Allyn West
Only Cougars allowed: Prime Property is reporting that Fountain Residential, a Dallas developer, will build, own, and operate this residential complex for students immediately southwest of the University of Houston campus. The 5-story, 347-bed dorm being called The Vue on MacGregor — which will indeed provide a vue of Brays Bayou — will be up by the fall semester of 2014, standing where there’s now a boarded-up gas station at the corner of S. MacGregor and Calhoun. This is just one of the many projects underway on campus, as the Robertson Stadium replacement continues to go up, along with another residence hall, student apartments, and a restaurant and retail space near Elgin St.
Rendering: 5G Studio Architects