10/30/14 10:45am

Chopping Down of Trees along North Blvd. at Wendy's Restaurant, 5003 Kirby Dr., Upper Kirby, Houston

The City of Houston intends to proceed with legal action in connection with the overnight disappearance of half a dozen oak trees from the public right-of-way surrounding the Wendy’s drive-thru at 5003 Kirby Dr., according to 2 separate sources. The trees were chopped down and ground up on site under cover of darkness Tuesday night as part of a renovation of the fast-food spot, which sits at the corner of Kirby and North Blvd. The removals took place on city property, but had not been permitted by the city.

“I have already been assured by the City of Houston’s enforcement officer that the city intends to proceed with a civil case,” writes Trees for Houston executive director Barry Ward in an email sent to members of the canopy-enhancement organization this morning. He calls plans to pursue legal action “a continuation of the recent, positive trend by the current administration to put an end to illegal tree removal in the City right-of-way or on city property.”

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$150K for More Sunlight
10/29/14 1:45pm

Partial Demolition of Wendy's Restaurant, 5003 Kirby Dr., Upper Kirby, Houston

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

Wendy's Restaurant, 5003 Kirby Dr. at North Blvd., Upper Kirby, HoustonNotice any differences between the view of the Wendy’s Drive-Thru at the corner of Kirby Dr. and North Blvd. taken yesterday (at top) and a similar image (above) taken this morning? Well, sure, there’s a new construction fence up, and some of the heavy machinery’s been moved around. But you might also note the sudden disappearance of 6 or 7 mature oak trees lining the streets surrounding the restaurant. How did they vanish so quickly? Tree-removal crews worked very quickly, overnight (see photo above left). Here’s another before-and-after comparison:

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Upper Kirby Trees After Dark
10/28/14 1:45pm

Goode's Armadillo Palace, 5015 Kirby Dr., Upper Kirby, Houston

The Goode Company 4-restaurant fiefdom on Kirby Dr. near Westpark is planning another expansion. Plans submitted to the city show the local chain is seeking to expand Goode’s Armadillo Palace with additional covered patio space, a new courtyard facing Bartlett St., and covered walkways connecting them — all on the current parking lot directly across the street from Goode Company BBQ. In addition, a new Goode’s Armadillo Palace General Store is planned for the far eastern end of the site, with a raised covered porch in front of its entrance facing Bartlett St. The single-story structure housing the store, according to the documents, would be built in a “traditional German country style.”

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Moving Around the Corner
10/10/14 2:30pm

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

Kirby Court Apartments, 2612 Steel St., Upper Kirby, HoustonAll remaining tenants of the oak-tree-lined Kirby Court Apartments on the 2600 and 2700 block of Steel St. — across Kirby Dr. from the Whole Foods Market — received notice today that all leases will be terminated on December 31st, a source tells Swamplot. The notices — sent through regular mail and certified mail, taped on front doors, and bearing some lawyerly language — do not indicate the name of any buyer, or describe what might become of the site when it is redeveloped. But according to the source, all portions of the complex have now been sold.

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Upper Kirby
09/03/14 4:15pm

Demolition of Greenway Inn and Suites, 2929 Southwest Fwy., Upper Kirby, Houston

Demolition of Greenway Inn and Suites, 2929 Southwest Fwy., Upper Kirby, HoustonLike the Houstonaire Motor Inn, the Colonel Sanders’ Inn, and the Ramada Inn before it, the Greenway Inn and Suites on the south side of Hwy. 59 between Kirby Dr. and Buffalo Speedway is only a memory now. But it took more than a name change to off it: This redo is final. Thanks to a reader, we have these postcard-ready images from the final checkout proces over the weekend to remember it by. The buildings at 2929 Southwest Fwy. were built in 1965.

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Chickening Out
08/13/14 11:00am

Kuhl-Linscomb, 2424 W. Alabama St., Upper Kirby, Houston

Penguin Arms Apartments, 2902 Revere St., Upper Kirby, Houston (4)The application for a parking variance submitted to the city by the owners of design store Kuhl-Linscomb last week is notable for the details it reveals about the company’s plans for a 17,489-sq.-ft. addition to the Googie-monument Penguin Arms Apartments (pictured at right) it bought in 2011. But it’s also an entertaining read for the stories Pam Kuhl-Linscomb and Dan Linscomb tell about their own retail venture, in making the case that their soon-to-be 7-building campus in Upper Kirby doesn’t need as much off-street parking as city ordinances otherwise require: “Kuhl-Linscomb sells expensive, high-end designer goods, furniture and kitchen systems in a 6 building campus near Kirby and West Alabama,” the application reads. And it goes on to explain why its parking situation is different from those of other design and home-goods stores:

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Reaching for Penguin Arms
08/12/14 2:30pm

Penguin Arms Apartments, Kuhl-Linscomb Campus, 2902 Revere St., Upper Kirby, Houston

The owners of the quirky Kuhl-Linscomb home-goods store, arrayed in 6 separate repurposed buildings just east of the Upper Kirby Whole Foods Market, have plans to attach a large addition behind and next to the Penguin Arms apartment building at 2902 Revere St. — and to turn the completed building into an additional showroom. The proposed addition to Arthur Moss’s distinctive 1950 structure (above), one of the best surviving examples of the Frank-Lloyd-Wright-meets-diner-mashup ‘Googie’ style, would almost quadruple the amount of space in the building, from the current 5,938 sq. ft. to 23,427 sq. ft. A proposed site plan submitted to the city shows how the addition would hang back and to the side of the structure, preserving views of 3 of the rock-and-glass building’s corners:

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To Preserve and Expand
08/12/14 12:15pm

hanover-river-oaks-render-se

Renderings of the 30-something-story highrise apartment tower Hanover plans to build on the site of a portion of the Kirby Court Apartments (and a couple of nearby retail buildings) across from the Whole Foods Market show the building hanging back from Kirby Dr. That’ll leave room for a bit of a restaurant complex facing the busy north-south street (at right in the above rendering): One of them will be the existing Becks Prime drive-thru at the corner of Kirby and Kipling, which is not a part of the project. But a new (and likely more upscale) standalone restaurant structure next to it at the corner of Kirby and Steel St. will replace the structure currently housing Ashly Fine Rugs:

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Hanover River Oaks
08/11/14 5:15pm

Kirby Court Apartments, 2612 Steel St., Upper Kirby, HoustonThe apartment tower the Hanover Company is planning to replace the northeastern chunk of the Kirby Court Apartments on Steel St. and a few surrounding properties will defer to a range of cuisines. Sure it’ll be directly across the street from the Whole Foods Market on Kirby Dr. But it’s also leaving alone the property on the corner of Kirby and Kipling St., where Becks Prime will continue to pump out burgers to customers passing through its drive-thru. If that bit of culinary contrast doesn’t impress, wait for the building to be finished: According to documents submitted to the city for the variance the developer is seeking, the ground floor of the 370-unit Hanover River Oaks apartment complex will have lease space for restaurants.

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Stand Back from Steel
08/11/14 12:00pm

kirby-court-and-sign

Variance Sign at Kirby Court Apartments, 2700 Block of Steel St., Upper Kirby, HoustonApartment developer the Hanover Company appears to be the purchaser of the Kirby Court Apartments — or at least a portion of it. A chunk of the 1949 garden apartment complex, which faces Steel St. west of Kirby, directly across from Whole Foods Market, is outlined in a variance application submitted to the city by Hanover for what the company is calling the Hanover River Oaks. The property earmarked for the development extends halfway (or 350 ft.) into the block between Kipling St. and Steel St. from Kirby Dr., but leaves out the Beck’s Prime drive-thru on the northeast corner.

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Just South of West Ave
07/31/14 5:00pm

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

The Office of James Burnett has posted more detailed renderings of the newly expanded Levy Park just north of the Southwest Fwy. at Eastside St. as it’s supposed to look when work is complete sometime after next fall. Included in the $10 million plans for the 5.9-acre space are a performance pavilion, 2 big lawns, a dog park, and a food kiosk. A winding “children’s garden” will have tree houses and fountains around the middle-aged live oak trees relocated to the center of the park. There’ll be restrooms and room for farmers’ markets as well.

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Putting the Groove in Kirby Grove
06/30/14 10:30am

Mustang Stuck in Concrete, Southwest Fwy. Feeder Rd. at Greenbriar, Upper Kirby, Houston

The closest thing Houston has to a Bermuda Triangle — also known as various patches of curing roadway concrete known to appear in and around the intersection of Kirby Dr. and the Southwest Fwy. — claimed its third (known) victim over the weekend. It wasn’t a Lexus this time, or a Jaguar, but a bright red Mustang that found itself solidly rooted in the recently poured stew on the westbound feeder road between Greenbriar and Kirby Dr. early Saturday morning.

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Feeder Road at a Standstill
06/20/14 1:30pm

DON’T BOTHER THE FINE FOLKS AT CAFE JAPON, BUT WOULD YOU LIKE TO LEASE THEIR BUILDING? Cafe Japon, 3915 Kirby Dr., Upper Kirby, HoustonA listing for the 4,000-sq.-ft. restaurant space tucked deep into the space at 3915 Kirby Dr. just north of the Southwest Fwy. appeared last week on LoopNet. “Please do not disturb the tenant,” the listing says, noting that the building is currently occupied month-to-month by “a Japanese restaurant.” That would be longtime sushi purveyor Café Japon. How long might it be until some new-kid-in-town restaurant displaces it? An interloper would have to pay $14,000 per month in addition to a share of property taxes, the listing says. [LoopNet, via Chris Frankel] Photo: LoopNet

06/02/14 3:30pm

Brio Tuscan Grille, 3029 Kirby Dr., Centre at River Oaks Shopping Center, Upper Kirby, Houston

The sign is down and workers are moving equipment out of the Brio Tuscan Grille at the corner of Kirby and West Alabama. The restaurant shut down yesterday, a reader informs Swamplot. “They had a bunch of stuff all over the floor and about 3 rental moving trucks with guys hanging out,” writes the informant, who adds that one of the unnamed workers said the restaurant had been “not that busy” and wasn’t making enough money. Brio took over the space formerly occupied by Pesce at the 3029 Kirby Dr. spot in the Centre at River Oaks Shopping Center 2 years ago, around the same time the former Borders Books in the same building was being carved up into separate spaces for a pediatric clinic and Ulta Beauty. The Brio CityCentre location remains open.

Photo: Swamplot inbox

Moving Out Senza Brio