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

02/12/16 12:00pm

South elevation of proposed Vantage highrise, Post Oak Blvd. at San Felipe Rd., Uptown, Houston, 77056

This could someday be part of the north-bound view on Post Oak Blvd., if plans that have been filed for a new 40-story highrise tower from Dinerstein at the corner of Post Oak and San Felipe Rd. come to be. The Vantage tower, shown above in a south-side elevation by Gensler, would include 32 stories of apartments atop 2 floors of retail; 2 of the 7 parking levels would be tucked underground, below an amenities deck.

The tower is slated for the same spot as a previously proposed 50-story tower from AmREIT, which back in 2014 spurred the formation of a political action committee by residents of the next-door Cosmopolitan condo highrise directly behind the property. The committee claimed that opposition to the proposed tower had nothing to do with any potential blocking of the condo’s views — though the renderings of the AmREIT proposal did show a ghostly sketch of the Cosmopolitan lurking very close behind in the background:

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Uptown Vantage Points
12/11/15 12:30pm

Proposed 610 Express Lanes, West Loop Between 59 and I-10, Houston

Love that rush of vertigo from driving up the entrance ramp at Hidalgo St. onto the southbound West Loop? Freeway thrill-seekers may have some new options in a few years. The above rendering of new elevated express lanes along the West Loop between I-10 and 59 made an appearance at last night’s TxDOT Open House, where plans for the proposed project were presented for public comment. The drawing faces southwest across the intersection of San Felipe and 610 toward the Williams Tower (far left), and shows the lanes flying high over the existing freeway.

TxDOT also showed schematics and cross sections of the proposed additions — which include previously-considered dedicated bus lanes elevated along the path of the feeder road, from just south of I-10 to the junction with Post Oak Blvd.

Drive through the cross sections below, from north to south:

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Up High in Uptown
12/04/15 2:30pm

SIMON SAYS: SHAKE SHACK IS DEFINITELY COMING TO THE GALLERIA Hypothetical Shake Shack, Galleria, Uptown, Houston, 77056 It’s confirmed: A Shake Shack will be coming to the Galleria’s west end (currently undergoing extensive cosmetic procedures that will relocate Saks 5th Avenue and open up new retail space). A description of the project included in a marketing document from mall owner Simon Property Group mentions Shake Shack as one of 35 “luxury retailers and feature restaurants” coming to the reconfigured space. Speculation that the burger chain would make its Houston debut at the Galleria intensified last month following Simon’s publication of a rendering showing the restaurant in place among the mall’s updates. [Simon Property Group] Image: Simon Property Group

What’s Cooking in Uptown?
06/09/15 1:00pm

HOUSTON’S UNACCOUNTABLE TIRZS AFFLICT BOTH THE POOR AND THE ULTRA-RICH Proposed Dedicated Bus Lanes on Post Oak Blvd., Uptown, Houston“The TIRZ system benefits high-dollar commercial areas and essentially ignores poorer neighborhoods that are primarily residential,” writes reporter Steve Jansen in a longish article that attempts to explain Houston’s arcane and secretive system of Tax Increment Reinvestment Zones. But there’s seething at the other end of the economic spectrum as well — especially over the Uptown TIRZ’s plan to install dedicated bus lanes down the center of Post Oak Blvd. Comments University Line light-rail and Uptown bus lane opponent Daphne Scarborough, who’s attended some anti-TIRZ gatherings, to Jansen: “I’ve never seen so many angry multimillionaires and -billionaires in one room.” [Houston Press; previously on Swamplot] Drawing of proposed Post Oak bus lanes: Uptown Management District

05/18/15 4:30pm

SAVING UPTOWN, HOUSTON’S MASTERPIECE, FROM THE SCOURGE OF DEDICATED BUS LANES Website of The Uptown Property and Business Owners CoalitionThe Uptown Property and Business Owners Coalition is out today with a new website (portrayed here) meant to drum up opposition to the Uptown District and Metro’s plans to install dedicated bus lanes down Post Oak Blvd. The lanes, the last vestige of what was once a plan for an Uptown light rail line, would run from dedicated bus lanes linking to the Northwest Transit Center all the way to the proposed Bellaire/Uptown Transit Center near U.S. 59 and Westpark, where they might someday intersect with a University Line traveling eastward from that point. But the team behind the website wants none of it: “Uptown is a Houston masterpiece. Why do they want to ruin it?” reads the copy on the home page. Meanwhile, an introductory blog post on the site encourages readers to attend a friendly “town hall” meeting, tomorrow night at the Uptown Hilton, in the company of “hundreds of angry business owners and Uptown area residents.” [Save Uptown; previously on Swamplot]

04/27/15 4:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHY THEY WON’T BE LINING POST OAK BLVD. WITH POST OAKS Post Oak Forest“So close! Just imagine how impressive it would be to have a forest of 800 post oaks on Post Oak Blvd. Unfortunately, post oaks don’t tend to transplant well compared to live oaks, which is why we use live oaks in our landscaping instead of post oaks. (Source: Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center)” [GoogleMaster, commenting on Boxed Forest of 800 Trees in Tomball Preparing for March Down Post Oak Blvd.] Illustration: Lulu

04/24/15 1:00pm

Post Oak Live Oaks Growing at Environmental Design, 23544 Coons Rd., Tomball, Texas

Post Oak Live Oaks Growing at Environmental Design, 23544 Coons Rd., Tomball, TexasFor Arbor Day, the Uptown Houston District is showing off the 800 live oaks earmarked for Post Oak Blvd. now being trained in Tomball for a life on the streets. The tree reboxers and transplanters at Environmental Design are breeding the trees on the company’s Tomball campus at 23544 Coons Rd.

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Live Oaks Training for New Post
04/23/15 12:00pm

Landry's Proposed Post Oak Hotel Complex, 1600 West Loop South, Galleria, Houston

“Remember, I’m the guy that took the old fire station and made it an aquarium,” Tilman Fertitta explains to Nancy Sarnoff. “I took the old Flagship and made it the Pleasure Pier. I took an old fishing village and made it the Kemah Boardwalk.” All of which might help explain the simple concept behind the Landry’s CEO’s latest venture: taking a surface parking lot next to the Landry’s corporate headquarters near the Galleria and turning it into a 35-story hotel-apartment-office-tower with a 2-story auto showroom in front, then filling out the rest of the 10-acre site with a parking garage and couple of pad-site restaurants facing the West Loop southbound feeder.

A row of 4 large lit-up diamonds facing east across the freeway will festoon the forehead of the Gensler-designed tower at 1600 West Loop South. Fertitta calls the not-really-a-sign a “subtle message.” It’s meant to stand in for the 4 diamond shapes in the Landry’s logo — dining, hospitality, entertainment, and gaming — though until a few pesky laws can be changed not all can be offered on site.

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Landry’s Post Oak
09/15/14 1:00pm

GALLERIA WHOLE FOODS MARKET OPENING NOVEMBER 6, WILL INCLUDE AUSTIN-IMPORT BEER-ON-A-TRIKE BLVD Place Whole Foods Market Under Construction, 1700 Post Oak Blvd., Galleria, HoustonThe long-awaited BLVD Place Whole Foods Market will finally open on November 6, reports the HBJ‘s Jenny Agee-Aldridge. And the grocery juggernaut has fed her another notable market-marketing nugget: Shoppers at the new 55,000-sq.-ft. store at 1700 Post Oak Blvd. will be able to make beer orders and receive deliveries while shopping — from a beer-toting store employee riding a tricycle around the market. The non-motorized alcohol delivery setup, Agee-Aldridge notes, is an Austin import. But the beer source is a Houston first: The store will be the first Whole Foods’ anywhere to have its own brewery on the premises, and will feature beer-themed breads and desserts as well. [Houston Business Journal; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Russell Hancock

09/11/14 12:00pm

Proposed Development at 1600 West Loop, Galleria, Houston

Proposed Development at 1600 West Loop, Galleria, HoustonLandry’s is planning a multi-use development including a 30-story hotel, a parking garage, and a conference center for a site adjacent to the restaurant and entertainment company’s headquarters on the Loop 610 feeder road in the Galleria area. The proposed address for the new structures is 1600 West Loop, but the tower, conference center, and garage would be tucked back from the freeway toward Hollyhurst St., according to a site plan (above, tilted clockwise 90 degrees) submitted to the city. Along with it, the developers have submitted a variance application asking for a reduced setback for the development along Hollyhurst.

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1600 West Loop