05/05/15 12:00pm

Replacement Oak Tree in Front of Wendy's Restaurant, 5003 Kirby Dr., Upper Kirby, Houston

The sixth and last of the replacement street trees was planted in the public right-of-way surrounding the Wendy’s drive-thru at 5003 Kirby Dr. over the weekend. “It is a big specimen tree, taller than what was removed,” writes the reader who sent in these photos of the installation paid for by a special city fund for Houston parks — so we can all see for ourselves. The previous weekend, 5 replacement oaks were put in along the side street, North Blvd. Crews hired by the franchise owner, Mohammed Ali Dhanani of Haza Foods, had chopped down 6 trees on adjacent city property last October. You can compare the current scene in these photos and in our story last week with how it all looked before the chainsaws were fired up.

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Regrowth
04/28/15 2:00pm

Demolition of Kirby Court Apartments, 2612 Steel St., Upper Kirby, Houston

Demolition of Kirby Court Apartments, 2612 Steel St., Upper Kirby, HoustonCrews are gutting the innards of the Kirby Court Apartments on Steel St. just west of Kirby, a reader tells Swamplot. Dumpsters are on the scene, chain-link fences are up, and trash is being thrown out of the backs of the 2-story townhouse-style garden apartment buildings; to our source it appears that asbestos abatement may be in progress.

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Steel Waiting
04/15/15 11:45am

Olive Garden Restaurant, 2929 Southwest Fwy., Upper Kirby, Houston

Could’ve been a Red Lobster or a Longhorn Steakhouse, but Darden Restaurants went the Olive Garden route with the brand-new feeder-side building-in-a-parking-lot the company built in place of the Greenway Inn & Suites — the hotel at 2929 Southwest Fwy. formerly known as the Houstonaire Motor Inn and the Colonel Sanders’ Inn, which was demolished last fall. The signs on the building, which is still under construction, went up yesterday, reports the reader who snapped these pics:

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Tablet Service
04/14/15 12:16pm

STAG’S HEAD PUB CAN’T RENEW ITS LEASE, IS CALLING IT QUITS FOR NOW The Stag's Head Pub, 2128 Portsmouth St. at Sandman, Shepherd Plaza, HoustonThe Stag’s Head will be closing later this month, the owner of the Shepherd Plaza pub at 2128 Portsmouth St. reports. “The Landlord has decided not to renew our lease,” writes Michael Holliday on the 15-year-old establishment’s Facebook page. Attempts to negotiate something short term, he indicates, were not successful. “I have been looking to move The Stags to another location for some time but have been unable to find a suitable site.” Holliday says he isn’t giving up on the search, though. [The Stag's Head on Facebook] Photo: Marc Brubaker

04/13/15 3:15pm

NEW INSTALLATION MARKS LOCATIONS OF KIRBY DR. WENDY’S OAKS WITH THICK YELLOW RIBBONS Protection for New Trees, Wendy's Restaurant, 5003 Kirby Dr., Upper Kirby, HoustonSpotted at the corner of North Blvd. and Kirby Dr., just north of Rice Village: 6 holes, 6 staked-off areas, and 6 fabric wraps around the Wendy’s drive-thru at 5003 Kirby. Is this another art installation in memory of the removed oaks? Naaah. Probably just the work of city crews, getting ready to plant their replacements. Expenditure of up to $300K for new live oaks — matching the amount paid by the franchise owner as part of a legal settlement for last year’s nighttime tree-hacking incident — was approved by city council back in February. Photo: Swamplot inbox

04/08/15 5:00pm

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To take a dip in the atrium pool of a sleek Glendower Court home in Upper Kirby, you’ll need to head up a level. It’s a second floor feature of the 2006 contemporary by Steve Howard Designs. Located east of Westgate and north of Fairview, the April Fools Day listing has a no-joke $4.3 million asking price.

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Pooling Resources
02/06/15 2:00pm

Thor Equities came out with a video this week showing whiz-around views of the Kirby Collection, its ready-to-go but (as of late January) still seeking construction financing mixed-use complex on the Kirby Dr. block surrounded by W. Main, Colquitt, and Lake St. And the New York development group is at long last dropping the (big) name of the design architect for the long-promised $125 million project: Richard Keating Architecture, which operates out of L.A. (Houston’s Kirksey Architecture is producing the construction documents.)

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Kirby Collection
01/28/15 2:30pm

Kirby Court Apartments, 2612 Steel St., Upper Kirby, Houston

The end of the year marked the end of residency for all tenants of the Kirby Court Apartments. Renters of the 2-story 1949 townhouse-style units fronting oak-lined Steel St. across Kirby Dr. from the Whole Foods Market were required to move out no later than December 31st. Houston-based Hanover Co. had a portion of the complex under contract, and was planning to complete the transaction early this year.

But funding for the apartment tower Hanover had planned for that parcel (marked down to 30 stories and 300 units at last report) fell through sometime in December, a company rep tells the Houston Business Journal‘s Paul Takahashi; since then, the company has been “scrambling to find new investors.” Hanover has now postponed completion of the purchase until August. The architect, Solomon Cordwell Buenz, is still reportedly working on the design.

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Funding Dries Up
01/23/15 5:30pm

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A ski-slope of a roof tops a 1974 townhome complex designed by Burdette Keeland — on land his mother owned in College Heights, now part of  the Upper Kirby District. The late architect taught at University of Houston’s College of Architecture for 40 years and served on the City of Houston’s planning commission for 30 years. Located at the center of the 5-plex property, the contemporary home is described as being in near-original condition. Since mid-December, the listing has been priced at $379,900. You can hit the slopes with a look-see scheduled by Houston Mod for this Sunday afternoon.

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Lift Lines
01/12/15 1:46pm

Reopened Wendy's Restaurant at 5003 Kirby Dr., Upper Kirby, Houston

Burger King and Diminished Oak Tree at 5115 Kirby Dr., Upper Kirby, Houston

A regular Kirby Dr. street-tree watcher sends in this pair of recent images showing the Wendy’s drive-thru at 5003 Kirby Dr. (at the far western end of oak-tree-bedecked North Blvd.), which reopened after renovations the week before Christmas, and its neighbor a few driveways down, the Burger King at 5115 Kirby Dr. (at the far western end of similarly shaded South Blvd). The photos show the aftermath of a series of chainsaw incidents that took place last year.

The daring but probably not death-inducing trimming of the lone surviving Kirby Dr. street tree in front of Wendy’s (shown at top) took place after the franchise’s owner, Ali Dhanani of Haza Foods, paid the city a $300,000 settlement for the nighttime removal of 6 other oaks on city property surrounding the restaurant shortly before Halloween. A report in November indicated that the city’s legal team was investigating the more aggressive paring of oak limbs in front of the neighboring Burger King, as well as another Burger King owned by Houston Foods, the second-largest Burger King franchisee in the country, which is run by Dhanani’s brother, Shoukat Dhanani.

Photos: Swamplot inbox

The Giving Trees
01/09/15 10:45am

Fly High Little Bunny, 3120 S. Shepherd Dr., Upper Kirby, Houston

From the Swamplot reader known as Googlemaster comes this parting photo of jewelry store Fly High Little Bunny at 3120 S. Shepherd Dr., featuring — in the view from Sul Ross St. — a new mural. The building stands in the way of a new drive-thru building meant to add heft and balance to a new CVS Pharmacy going in at the corner of Shepherd and West Alabama St. Sunday was the last day of business at the shop.

Photo: Googlemaster

Resistance Is Futile
01/05/15 5:00pm

Ruggles Green, 2311 W. Alabama St., Upper Kirby, Houston

Gables Upper Kirby, 2305 W. Alabama St., Upper Kirby, HoustonThe last day of business for the original Ruggles Green location, in the Persona Day Spa shopping center at 2311 West Alabama St. east of Kirby Dr. (above), was New Year’s Eve. But the restaurant claims it won’t be gone from the neighborhood for too long. A new Ruggles Green is scheduled to open up in the street-facing retail space on the ground floor of the Gables Upper Kirby apartments going up next door (portrayed above left), once construction on that project is finished. That’ll be this spring, a note on the Ruggles Green website promises. The new address, 2305 W. Alabama St., will be one door down from the former Mission Burrito, recently renamed Überrito Mexican Grill to avoid tortilla torts.

Meanwhile, up in The Woodlands, a brand new Ruggles Green in the shopping center at 2501 Research Forest Dr. is scheduled to open any day now — “whenever the chairs arrive,” the company’s Facebook page declares. Here’s a pic of that standing-room-only (for now) location:

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But First, The Woodlands
12/31/14 10:00am

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Reader Sean McManus was on the spot for yesterday’s demolition proceedings at the southwest corner of W. Alabama St. and S. Shepherd Dr., where Roeder’s Pub, Ruchi’s taqueria, Fly High Little Bunny jewelry store and the River Oaks Dry Cleaners are being swept away in favor of a CVS pharmacy.

“As I was taking [the pictures], one of the deconstruction workers asked if he could help me,” McManus writes. “I told him that I was just taking a couple of quick photos. His response:Pfft… Memories.’”

More hot demo porn after the jump:

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Fly High, Little Ruchi and Roeder
12/11/14 10:45am

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An excavator yesterday was hard at work scraping the 3300 block of the west side of Kirby clean.

Bounded by West Main St. and Colquitt St. and Lake St. to the rear, this block was long the site of a Settegast-Kopf funeral home, but like that seemingly straitlaced great-aunt with the closet full of empty gin bottles, the staid mortuary and adjacent buildings descended into drink, spending their final years as taverns Roak, Hendricks Pub, and the OTC Patio Bar.

Here’s what the Kirby frontage looked like in both its sober and lush incarnations:

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Cremation By Excavator
12/09/14 3:30pm

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“I know what they were going for but I think it’s the ‘We will come to you’ that I find upsetting,” writes Houston Chronicle culture critic Andrew Dansby on his Facebook page.

Dansby tells Swamplot that he spotted the sign in front of the business at 3414 S. Shepherd Dr. while out walking recently and believes it open to two interpretations, other than the no-doubt intended expression of eagerness to provide good service.

One, that they could be so eager, they are ready to pounce on you and cremate you against your will:

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Funeral Blues