02/24/17 4:30pm

5922 Richmond Ave., Uptown, Houston, 770575922 Richmond Ave., Uptown, Houston, 77057

The markings left behind by the Key Maps store in the wake of its second move since 2015 are still hanging out this afternoon alongside the leasing notice near the shop’s former place at the east end of the Richmond Avenue Shopping Center strip mall, just east of Fountainview Dr. The Key Maps folks are back inside the Inner Loop again, this time on Durham St. next door to the Dirty Hairy Dog Wash. The most recently former Key Maps location, shown above, has picked up a new neighbor itself since the cartographymonger’s departure: the ex-Subway at the end of the strip is about to reopen as essentialist fried chicken joint Krisp Bird & Batter. A sign on the door says Krisp will be open on Monday: 

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Fried Birdwatching
02/16/17 11:15am

Uptown MD and TIRZ 16 Boundaries

A new lawsuit was filed yesterday against TIRZ 16, the Uptown Development Authority, and the city, alleging that the creation of the reinvestment zone in the Galleria area was in violation of Texas law, since the zone can’t reasonably be considered “unproductive, underdeveloped, or blighted.” Rather, the filing claims, the city ordinance that originally created the TIRZ used the justification that the Uptown area needed traffic decongestion to avoid losing its status as one of the wealthiest districts in the city, and to avoid draining business to the city’s ever-expanding suburban fringe. A hearing is going on today over a possible injunction on further spending or work on Uptown projects, and Mike Morris says that city council delayed a vote yesterday on allowing Uptown an additional $65 million in debt.

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Uptown Up for Trial
02/13/17 5:00pm

houston-isd-outline

A letter up on the website of the Texas Education Agency — addressed to the HISD Board of Trustees and dated to last Thursday — provides what the state organization says is a preliminary list of the high-value Houston properties that might be detached from the district and tacked onto Aldine ISD. The transfer is the proposed response to last fall’s election by HISD residents not to authorize that payment of over-the-per-student-cap property tax revenue to the state for redistribution to other districts. Campaigners had hoped the “no” vote on the resolution would cause the Legislature to look at reforming the state’s education funding scheme (which the state high court raised an eyebrow at last year, but left in place).

On the same day the letter was issued, the HISD board voted to call a new election on the recapture/detachment question; the TEA has also set a lower figure for the district’s initial required payment to the state, in light of the fact that HISD doesn’t collect some potential property tax revenue because of homestead exemption rules. The letter tallies up the marked-for-snagging properties at more than $8.024 billion in total assessment value, and includes the Galleria, the Williams Tower, a slew of downtown office buildings, the CityWestPlace complex near Beltway 8, and 2 refineries. The list itself mentions only addresses and parcel numbers, connected mostly to the buildings below and a number of their associated parking garages:

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Election Rerun
02/08/17 11:00am

HOW MANY DOWNTOWNS DOES HOUSTON HAVE? Williams Tower, 2800 Post Oak Blvd., Galleria Area, Houston, 77056The list of Houston neighborhoods with potential to be mistaken for Downtown by outsiders, Blake Mathews of KHOU writes this week, is long, and includes at least “Uptown (Galleria), the Texas Medical Center, Greenspoint, Greenway Plaza, The Woodlands and perhaps even Westchase.” So what makes a Downtown? Mathews runs through some factors for consideration, ranging from the city’s population density center (which falls somewhere west of Downtown) to total office space (Uptown has less than downtown Houston, but more than downtown Denver) to building height (with a specific shoutout to the Williams Tower, pictured here.) [KHOU] Photo of Williams Tower: Russell Hancock via Swamplot Flickr Pool

12/05/16 5:00pm

Merchant, 1707 Post Oak Blvd., Uptown, Houston, 77056

The back-alley Post Oak strip center corner previously occupied by a franchise of not-quite-ice-cream purveyor Tasti D-Lite appears now to be operating under the banner of New Orleans-based Merchant Cafe, whose signature noun list was spotted over the weekend by a reader in the shopping center. The new cafe is catty-corner to Berryhill Baja Grill, and flanked by Five Guys Burgers and Fries and The UPS Store. The city planning department  started issuing permits for a remodel of the space by September of last year, though some appear to have been given the OK as recently as October. 

The vicinity’s softserve niche is currently filled by a branch of pay-by-the-pile California frozen yogurt shop Pinkberry, facing San Felipe right across Post Oak Blvd. Tasti D-Lite, meanwhile, appears to have largely pulled out of Houston altogether over the last few years, with a lone holdout franchise remaining in Katy.

Photo: jatorres

NY to NOLA
10/19/16 11:00am

3111 Chimney Rock, Lamar Terrace, Houston, 77056

The graffiti on the tall face of the former Big Woodrow’s spot at 3111 Chimney Rock Rd. has been joined lately by new signage for Rotana Mediterranean Restaurant. The 2-story 2-bar space north of Richmond Ave. shut down near the end of August last year after a planned temporary closure for building repairs turned into an unplanned permanent landlord dispute, and the building went up for lease around the same time. Some of those repairs to the 5,928-sq.-ft. space may have been getting done over the past year since the closure, if building permits issued in March and at the start of this month are any indication.

Photo: MiraDry team at Mosaic Clinic Dermatology

Rotana Remodeling off Richmond Ave.
07/12/16 10:45am

Canyon Cafe, 5000 Westheimer, Galleria, Houston, 77056

Post Oak Centre Variance Request NoticeThe torches along the stairway to the former Canyon Cafe space at 5000 Post Oak Blvd. are not part of the plan for the southwestern grill’s northern replacement, Dallas hockey owner Tom Gaglardi’s Canadian fusion chain Moxie’s. Renderings of a potential remodel for the space (submitted as part of a variance request for Post Oak Centre) show the whole staircase missing, and depict the restaurant’s footprint spreading out as it adds part of the ground floor of the shopping center to the original restaurant space. The drawings depict an entrance canopy to the south of the development, and a new 2-story covered patio to the eastern side of the building, edging close to Post Oak Blvd.:

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Post Oak Recentering
06/10/16 4:00pm

ZC Renderings of 2120 Post Oak Blvd.

Following this week’s report from the HBJ that the Loews hotel chain is currently considering an Uptown locale, a sharp-eyed reader points to a lot previously marked for 2 more towers to keep the BBVA Compass building company, just north of 2200 Post Oak Blvd. The land has been owned by Loews since 2014 (or by someone using the address of the company’s NYC headquarters); a tipster separately tells Swamplot that the company has been pricing out construction work on that particular spot, though nothing was official as of mid-May.

Architecture firm Ziegler Cooper has posted some renderings (including the one above) of a mixed use project apparently designed for the same BBVA-adjacent land (though labeled only as Confidential Hotel & Mixed Used Development). TRC Capital (formerly The Redstone Company) currently has some very similar renderings more prominently displayed on its website, once again labeling the residential piece of the project as the Perennial Hotel and Apartments, along with another office tower marked as 2100 Post Oak:

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Newly Perennial
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
05/17/16 12:30pm

Weingarten flier for The Centre at Post Oak, 5000 Westheimer Rd., Uptown, Houston, 77056

A northern ambassador to the Houston restaurant scene appears to be moving into the Uptown spot recently vacated by southwest-centric Canyon Cafe. The logo for Canadian fusion chain Moxie’s Grill & Bar now shows up on Weingarten’s leasing flier for The Centre at Post Oak, across Westheimer Rd. from the Galleria. Tom Gaglardi, the current owner of both the Moxie’s chain and the NHL’s Dallas Stars, told the Dallas Business Journal early last year that he was planning to push Moxie’s into the US market by way of several major Texas cities.

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Uptown Moxie
04/08/16 10:45am

CRIMINAL COMPLAINT FILED ON BEHALF OF COSMO RESIDENTS OVER POST OAK BUS LANE LAND PURCHASES Proposed Dedicated Bus Lanes on Post Oak Blvd., Uptown, HoustonFormer ABC13 investigative reporter Wayne Dolcefino, representing residents of the Cosmopolitan condo tower on Post Oak Blvd., filed a criminal complaint with the Harris County district attorney last week over the way the Uptown Development Authority has gone about acquiring land for the dedicated bus lanes planned along Post Oak. The complaint asserts that officials of that group and the Uptown TIRZ may have violated Texas conflict of interest law, as well as the Open Meetings Act. Nancy Sarnoff writes that Dolcefino’s complaint also calls out Uptown’s purchase-agreement-less purchase of a piece of land at San Felipe and Post Oak, from an associate of Dinerstein (which is preemptively suing the Cosmo residents over a tower planned at the same intersection). Uptown District president John Breeding tells  Sarnoff that it’s not unusual for public entities to buy land without a formal sales agreement, and that details of the transactions will be available after they’re complete. The Uptown group either has bought or is working on buying about 80 percent of the land needed for the project; the city council voted in December that eminent domain could be used to acquire the rest, if necessary. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Rendering of proposed dedicated bus lane on Post Oak Blvd.: Uptown District