The front of Weingarten Realty’s Alabama Shepherd Shopping Center now sports some big dark blocks on its Shepherd-facing facade, Houstorian James Glassman notes in a drive-by of the scene this afternoon. The gradated yellow vertical fluting above the movie-theater-turned-bookstore-turned-sandbox-turned-grocery store’s marquee sign (which the city’s landmark designation writeup says is made of enameled steel) has been done over in a single swath of brown, matching the shade applied above the formerly tan Petsmart facade as well. Marketing materials on Weingarten’s website for the shopping center still show the old color scheme:
The new swirls and swoops around Levy Park are starting to look more like those previously released renderings of the space’s total facelift, as a planned February 25th reopening date draws near. The Levy Park Conservancy is throwing an opening party that day, including art performances, workshops, gardening demos, and piano music (presumably from the moveable park piano.) The group sends along some photos of the increasingly colorful construction site, from the spiraling walking path both pictured and rendered above, to the repurposed double-decker bus that’ll eventually sit alongside the park’s main open greenspace to tend a beer garden. The bus previously made an appearance in this rendering of the lumpy triangular dog park:
A reader on the inside sends a shot of the ex-59 Diner on Farnham St., now up and running as El Beso Cantina. As of Christmas, the space is once again open 24 hours a day, though the pale turquoise paint and Elvis kitsch have been swapped out for warmer earth tones and decorative sombreros. The new occupants also appear to be attempting to fill the area’s 3am pancake niche, covered for nearly 30 years by the departed diner, by offering an array of American breakfast items along with the Tex-Mex fare.
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.
Nestled 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:
The 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).
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.
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 announced a different 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:
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.
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.
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-stalledUptownrail-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.
Here’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: