11/03/16 3:45pm

Magic Island sign removal, 2215 Southwest Fwy., Houston, 77098

As of lunchtime, more than half of the MAGIC & COMEDY SHOW lettering has been removed from the sloped wall of vacant freeway-side magic club and faux Egyptian temple Magic Island. A reader spotted the scene — “just the cherry picker and the demolished letters on the ground” — during a feeder road drive-by around noon.

Talk of rebooting and reopening the former magic club (which became increasingly family-oriented until its Ike-and-fire-fueled shutdown in 2008) has been going on periodically since 2012; some permits for sign renewal and restaurant repairs were issued back in 2013, and a representative of owner and neurologist Mohammed Athari told Leah Binkovitz in early 2015 that some contracts for work on the building had finally been signed, even though things were moving slower than originally planned.

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Beneath the Pharaoh’s Gaze
10/26/16 11:30am

Rendering of Levy Park, 3801 Eastside St. at Richmond Ave., Upper Kirby, HoustonConstruction at Levy Park, 3801 Eastside St. at Richmond Ave., Upper Kirby, Houston, 77098

Rendering of Levy Park, 3801 Eastside St. at Richmond Ave., Upper Kirby, HoustonNestled in near the Seuss-ical spirals and curves of Levy Park’s under-construction pathways and playgrounds is the lumpy triangular dog-park-to-be above, now partitioned off by its metal rod setup (seen here facing northwest up Eastside St. toward the corner with Richmond Ave.)  A reader trekked around the site yesterday and snapped some updates; first, here’s how the dog park fits into the most recent set of plans for the site:

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West of Eastside
08/11/16 10:30am

On The Kirb, 5004 Kirby, Upper Kirby, Houston, 77098 On The Kirb, 5004 Kirby, Upper Kirby, Houston, 77098The former Kirby Dr. site of Chinese fast food outpost O’Yeah Cafe (which ousted General Joe’s Chopstix) appears to be getting ready to open again, this time as restaurant-sportsbar On The Kirb. Temporary signage beneath the venue’s more permanent marker (still framed within General Joe’s octagonal medallion) indicates that would-be recruits should apply inside. The restaurant will sit at the northernmost extreme of the 5000 Kirby strip center (located in the thick of Goode Company’s Inner Loop territory, just south of the North St. McDonald’s). The new spot will share the strip with long-time residents Upper Kirby Nails Salon and Joe Omar Hair & Makeup, as well as bisyllabic sister clubs Lumen and Crimson (protected by a few segments of low wall and hedge from the prying eyes of nextdoor neighbor Mr. Carwash).

Photos: Swamplot inbox

Off the Curb
08/01/16 10:15am

Hops Meet Barley, 2245 West Alabama St., Upper Kirby, Houston

It’s a good bet the kiddie playground that once stood in front of the Mission Burrito (and later Überrito, after the Mexican fast-food restaurant changed its name) at 2245 West Alabama St. won’t be returning for the dining and drinking joint now slated to take its place. Überrito shut down that location 11 months ago. But a couple of weeks ago a sign for a grains-and-greetings-themed establishment (above) emerged where once a plastic castle held court in a sea of mulch. And newer signs on the property, reports a Swamplot reader, indicate that staff is now being hired. According to Eater Houston’s Amy McCarthy, incoming beer destination Hops and Barley is a project of Stephen Long, an owner of the Reserve 101 bar at 1201 Caroline St. downtown.

Photo: Hops Meet Barley

 

Missin’ Burritos
07/07/16 1:00pm

Giorgetti Houston, 2710 Steel St., Upper Kirby, Houston, 77098

Signage up on Steel St. near the corner with Virginia is now advertising a planned 7-story condo midrise called Giorgetti Houston. The notice is standing on the northwestern section of the land vacated in 2015 by the Kirby Court Apartments; the project’s 2710 Steel St. address is immediately west of the land previously tagged for a planned restaurant-footed apartment highrise complex from Hanover (a project which spent most of 2015 in investment limbo).

The would-be-nextdoor condo midrise, which is touting interiors furnished by Italian designer Giorgetti to match the name, appears to be backed by Stolz Partners (which last May announceddifferent 7-story condo project called The Sophie at Bayou Bend). Here’s a clearer look at the rendering, direct from the project’s fledgling sales website:

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Styling Steel St.
06/03/16 12:45pm

A very quick summary of a long, long peek over the construction fence at Kirby Dr. and Colquitt St. shows the progress to date on the mixed-use Kirby Collection development. Developer Thor Equities has been working over the former site of the Kirby funeral bars since last fall, and has reached the top level of the complex’s parking garage. Thor plans to have the main skeleton of the office tower done by November and to put the last structural bits of the ellipse-footed residential tower in place by early 2017.

Video: Thor Equities

Making Short Work Of It
05/25/16 4:45pm

DRINKING AGE RISES TO 23 AT KIRBY ICE HOUSE Kirby Ice House, 3333 Eastside St., Greenway/Upper Kirby, Houston, 77098No-longer-blue Upper Kirby Kirby Ice House announced this morning that it will no longer allow customers younger than 23 into the venue. A message on the company’s Facebook page cites a month and a half of customer feedback since the bar’s opening at 3333 Eastside St., and a need to maintain the venue’s diverse clientele — adding an apology to the segments of that same clientele who areunder 23 (and an invitation to come back in a few years). [Previously on Swamplot] Photo: Kirby Ice House

05/23/16 12:00pm

Corporate Plaza I Demolition, Kirby at Norfolk, Upper Kirby, Houston, 77098

Here’s this morning’s view of the former Corporate Plaza site, now sans the skeletal midrise that spent much of May wasting away. Standing at the edge of the rubble is the Texas Direct Auto billboard, visible here from its non-dayglo-yellow backside above the cluster of excavators picking over the last of the former midrise. On the left (at the corner of Kirby and 59) is the separately-owned Shell service station property, boxed in by the increasingly empty lot throughout the entire demo spectacle.

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And Then There Was Shell
05/20/16 1:30pm

Proposed University Light-Rail Line

A letter from the Federal Transit Authority released this morning by the office of long-time light-rail derailer US representative John Culberson announces that the comatose plans for rail construction along Richmond Ave. have now lost eligibility for federal funding due to the project’s lack of major progress, reports Dug Begley for the Houston Chronicle.

Previous plans for the University Line show it running from the Wheeler Red Line station along Richmond to Cummins St., where a turn south would take the line down to Westpark Dr. before continuing out to the Hillcroft Transit Center just past 59 — connecting along the way to the also-stalled Uptown rail-turned-bus-line). The Richmond part of the route includes a 1.7 mile stretch west of S. Shepherd Dr. that falls in Culberson’s district; the rest of the route to Hillcroft falls within 7th district territory as well.

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Use It Or Lose It
05/19/16 4:45pm

Corporate Plaza I Demolition, Kirby at Norfolk, Upper Kirby, Houston, 77098

Corporate Plaza I Demolition, Kirby at Norfolk, Upper Kirby, Houston, 77098Here’s the raw scene captured around lunch time today, when a small pack of excavators was sighted rooting through the debris at the base of the former Corporate Plaza I midrise. The increasingly see-through office building was fully de-striped some time between yesterday (second photo) and noon today (top); below is a quick video of the excavator crew gently yanking down a piece of what appears to be the 4th-story floor: 

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Break Another Little Piece
05/10/16 1:00pm

3501 W. Alabama, Greenway,

The walls came down last week at the southwest corner of Edloe and W. Alabama streets, in the wake of a demo permit issued the week before. A few readers had eyes and lenses on the spot, which is currently listed for lease on LoopNet as 3000 Alabama Ct. but goes by 3501 W. Alabama in other county records. The walled complex (shown mid-teardown at the start of last week) was sold to St. Luke’s in 2009 by Metsun Senior Living, though it’s rumored to have been a former residence of deceased Greenway Plaza mastermind Kenneth Schnitzer.

St. Luke’s, whose main land holding sits catty-corner to the Alabama Ct. property, also owns the office park across Edloe, visible to the east of the freshly-emptied lot in this shot below from later last week:

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Alabama Ct.
05/04/16 12:45pm

3319 Virginia St., Upper Kirby, Houston, 77098

On the market as of 2 weeks ago: the home-slash-power-plant on the corner of Virginia and Colquitt streets, a block west of the now-rising Kirby Collection.  The listing claims the building is Houston’s first LEED-Platinum certified home (though others have since followed suit), and by Houston standards, Adams Architects took extreme measures to reduce the 1,900-sq.-ft. house’s dependence on city utilities networks.

Rooftop solar panels send excess energy to the power grid during the day, and a back-up battery system is in place in case the grid ever goes down. Tucked out of sight below the 3-bedroom structure are geothermal conduits which circulate water down to hotter strata 300 ft. deep, collecting energy to heat and cool the house. A 7,000-gallon cistern beneath the recycled-plastic deck also collects rainwater for use in the space.

Ready to peek inside?

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Green Machine in Upper Kirby
04/28/16 11:30am

Former 59 Diner, 3801 Farnham St,, Upper Kirby, Houston, 77098

The original Shepherd-side
location of 59 Diner is now up for lease, with teal-and-bubblegum exterior still intact. The whole 59 chain shut down suddenly at the end of February, amid a tangle of formal and informal disputes regarding employee pay. The listing indicates that the 6,000-sq.-ft. building (officially located at 3801 Farnham St.) can be divided, as long as the future tenant wants at least 2,000 ft.

The ex-diner property is next door to the smaller building now housing The Halal Guys, whose red-and-yellow striped canopy is visible on the right in the east-facing photo above. The former carwash reopened as the New-York-food-cart-gone-international-chain’s first Texas location a few weeks before the 59 closures; hundreds of customers lined up outside the tiny venue during the opening weekend rush, some allegedly filling 59’s parking lot while waiting for hours for gyros and chicken.

Photo: LoopNet

Upper Kirby