10/12/17 12:45pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY RUNNER-UP: HOW ABOUT A DO-OVER FOR UT’S HOUSTON CAMPUS PROPOSAL? “I’d be steaming mad if I were UT right now. I don’t see how everyone can align with A&M, but UT asks for everyone to come together after they get the land and everyone tells them to leave. Why didn’t the city/UH/politicians suggest a similar model for UT? They should now move forward with their initial plans. It would be great for the city.” [Innerlooped, commenting on Houston’s Record Rental Levels; The Neighborhoods Hit Hardest By Harvey; A Debris Removal Progress Update; previously on Swamplot] Map showing location of proposed 300-acre UT Houston campus: Houston Public Media  

08/21/17 3:45pm

CALHOUN BANISHED FROM UH’S CALHOUN LOFTS A statement out this afternoon from UH: “The University of Houston does not have statues, memorials or monuments honoring the Confederate era. Calhoun Lofts were originally named to coincide with the name of the adjacent city street when the university began its aggressive residential expansion in the last decade. While the residence hall was not named in recognition of John C. Calhoun, in the wake of recent events, and out of sensitivity to our diverse student community the university has decided to change the name to University Lofts. The change will be made as soon as practical.” [Daily Cougar] Photo of Calhoun Lofts, 4700 Calhoun Rd.: Kirksey Architecture

05/05/17 11:30am

A little bit of tune-changing looks to have happened with respect to the University of Texas’s Houston data science campus idea in the month or 2 since UT formally canned the plans to pursue it.  At yesterday’s State of the City luncheon, where Mayor Turner asked a bunch of major regional universities to work together on making a data science research center happen after all, Lindsey Ellis reports that University of Houston board of regents chair and Landry’s CEO Tilman Fertitta also made some comments in support of the project. Fertitta (who back in March immediately issued a victorious press release when UT announced it would sell off the 300 acres of land it’d purchased) told the audience that UH would be “excited to sit down and collaborate” with other Houston and Texas universities on a campus, Lindsey Ellis reports for the Chronicle. 

The difference now (versus last spring when UH snubbed an invitation to join that task force working up potential uses for the land)? Fertitta says UT wouldn’t be able to single-handedly “come in and dictate” with respect to the final project; he also suggests that perhaps UT might like to donate the purchased property to whatever group of local universities might end up in charge.

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UT Houston Rematch
03/06/17 5:15pm

Site Plan of Katy Asian Town, 23119 Colonial Pkwy., Houston, 77449

The long-vacant lot above, near the northeast corner of I-10 and the Grand Parkway, is now being cleared and flattened to make room for the Houston area’s third Super H Mart, according to leasing materials a larger retail development being marketed as Katy Asian Town. Plans for the 16-acre site look to including a pair of smaller strip-style buildings and 2 pad sites, in addition to a long string of retail spots flanking the grocery store:

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Latest Grand Plans
03/01/17 5:45pm

UT Houston Campus Site, Buffalo Lakes, Houston

All that booing over the last year and a half from Houston’s most expansive university system and its legislative friends looks to have paid off: UT has cancelled its plans for a new research campus south of the Astrodome, citing fears that continuing to press for the project could throw a wet blanket on projects at its other campuses. The school’s press office announced the pivot this afternoon, adding that UT’s real estate office will look into how to sell the 307 acres they’ve spent the last year collecting, though it might take some time to put together a sale that makes sense.

UH Board of Regents chairman and reality real estate TV star Tilman Fertitta said today that the sustained backlash to UT’s land buy was really a team effort, assisted by elected officials, administrators, and other folks aiming to prevent what Fertitta calls an unnecessary duplication of state resources. UT had previously announced that the campus wouldn’t have been a 4-year university; chancellor Bill McRaven suggested this afternoon that plans for the land might have shaped up to include a big data science center with a focus on health care, energy, and education, and that the ideas from the task force put together to plan for the land could be put to use elsewhere instead.

Conceptual rendering of UT Houston campus: Houston Public Media

Higher Ed Shutout
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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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.

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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:

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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