GALLERIA WHOLE FOODS MARKET OPENING NOVEMBER 6, WILL INCLUDE AUSTIN-IMPORT BEER-ON-A-TRIKE The 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
Landry’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.
A Swamplot reader writes in with a report on the aftermath of last night’s collapse of a top-story section of the very long parking garage for the One Riverway office building north of the Galleria, on S. Post Oak just south of Riverway Dr. No one was hurt in the accident, which occurred before 8 pm, but abc13 reports that vehicles were still exiting the structure at that time. S. Post Oak Ln. is now closed to traffic while officials determine if the concrete structure is safe, and workers are already mourning the lost parking spaces.
ST. PHILIP PRESBYTERIAN IS NOT FOR SALE “The enduring themes of conversation here include traffic and real estate,” intoned Pastor John Wurster in his Easter Sunday sermon in front of the blue tiled chancel wall in the sanctuary of the St. Philip Presbyterian Church, which is sited on a prime slice of Uptown land at 4807 San Felipe St. “The real estate conversations seem to happen exclusively with those outside of the church. These are the people who call expressing an interest in buying the church property. I explain that we’re not looking to sell. Of course, you are. Everyone is willing to sell at some point. Just tell us what that point is. No, really, we feel like this is where God has called us. This kind of theological talk tends to bring no response beyond bafflement, as if it’s not possible that one could be in a place and not be willing to leave it if the price were right, as if it’s not possible that decisions and actions might be motivated by something besides money.” Saint Philip’s congregation merged with Central Presbyterian Church a few years ago, shortly before that congregation sold its Richmond Dr. facility to the Morgan Group. Central Presbyterian was torn down for apartments in 2011. [St. Philip Presbyterian; previously on Swamplot] Photo: church member Jeromy Murphy
Here are some of the purty watercolor renderings the Uptown District has been presenting of what Post Oak Blvd. will look like after the addition of 2 dedicated bus lanes down its middle. The proposed changes to the thoroughfare won’t take away any of the 6 existing car lanes or 13 existing left-turn-signal lanes. There’ll be a few modifications, though: new protected-left-turn signals will be put in at West Briar Lane and Fairdale, for example, and 3 median openings will be closed. The space for the buses and 8 transit stations along the Boulevard between the West Loop and Richmond Ave will come from acquiring 8 feet of right-of-way from each side of the existing street. The bus lanes and light-rail-style stations will go in the median:
The owner of Uptown Park, Houston’s favorite Europe-in-a-parking-lot shopping center, plans to add a sleek dash of density to the collection of stucco-and-styrofoam-fronted pad buildings. AmREIT has announced that it is teaming up with an unnamed “major national developer” to replace the parking-space fronted shopping island at the northwest corner of the complex with a “contemporary” highrise residential tower. Currently, Baker Furniture, Peluche Decor, and the Bella Rinova Salon occupy the single-story structure on that spot.
But the addition of residents directly above Uptown Park shouldn’t take away from the shopping opportunities below: Renderings included in a promotional video released by the company show that the tower will have replacement retail spaces on the ground floor, and possibly on a second level as well — though the shopping pod’s existing head-in parking and adjacent spaces would be replaced by a porte-cochère and garage entrance ramp.
COMMENT OF THE DAY: DOES THE NAME STICK? “I believe the name of the neighborhood is actually Uptown. The Galleria is a mall.” [Jonathan Hansen, commenting on Houston’s Most Recognizable Neighborhood: The Official 2013 Ballot] Illustration: Lulu
COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE DOWNTOWN TURNAROUND “I’ve always thought it was a little strange that the entire country has adopted a geographic reference specific to Manhattan to refer to the place in a city where the tall buildings are. Elsewhere in the Anglophone world, the terms ‘city center’ or CBD (central business district) are used, which makes a lot more sense. In Houston we’ve gone a step further: we refer to a place 5 miles WEST of ‘downtown’ as ‘uptown,’ and the place immediately SOUTH (ok, southwest) of ‘downtown’ as ‘midtown.’” [Angostura, commenting on Comment of the Day: Downtown Is on the Edge] Illustration: Lulu
Here’s a concept that HKS came up with for a site just behind the Hotel Granduca, Montebello, and Villa d’Este towers in Uptown Park. The concept shows how it might go if you wanted to build a conference center and a combo hotel-condo tower on 14 green acres between Tilbury and N. Wynden off S. Post Oak, just west of the Loop. This rendering shows the boxy exterior of what appears to be the conference center flanking a linear park shooting off from the banks of Buffalo Bayou.
Remember that unusable and really vague tip sent to Swamplot back in January? The one promising that a “major (non-residential) Houston property is about to make a significant change”? And it wasn’t Macy’s? Well, the in-the-know tipster now reports, we can let that cat out of the bag, since the Houston Business Journal and Houston Chronicle already have: The “Houston landmark” the tipster couldn’t tip us off about is the Galleria — which, it was announced yesterday by developer Simon Property Group, will be undergoing extensive renovations and partial demolition to create about 100,000 new sq. ft. of retail and restaurant space.
The plan calls for the Galleria III portion where Saks Fifth Avenue is currently located to be demolished — though the tipster says the Philip Johnson façade will be maintained — to make room for a bumped-out food court (shown in the rendering above). That freed-up Saks space will provide room for 35 new retailers and restaurants. Meanwhile, Saks will be moving into the Macy’s spot on Sage, and that Macy’s will be merging with the other Macy’s on Hidalgo. (Makes sense.) Also, a standalone box will be built in the parking lot for a few tenants who can afford to be more conspicuous to the stop-and-go crowd on Westheimer.
This crosshatched highrise shows up in a recently published marketing video as a potential development to densify the low-slung Uptown Park. The 50,000-sq.-ft. site HFF and AmREIT seem to have in mind for these apartments-upon-retail is right off the Loop, across Uptown Park Blvd. from the Ziegler Cooper-designed 27-story Villa d’Este condo tower — a site occupied now by a 12,000-sq.-ft. 1-story building at the northern end of the low-density Euro-style shopping spread.
Here’s another of the occasional photos a reader sends of the construction progress of the Whole Foods at the mixed-use BLVD Place just north of the Galleria. Thanks to the photos that span almost a year now, you can watch the development develop here at the intersection of San Felipe and Post Oak Blvd.: Witness the preliminary site work beginning last August to the installation of piers and rebar in October and the rising of the parking structure in February. So what else is new? That parking structure appears just about ready, and even more dirt has been moved around — where those cars are parked in the foreground — for the proposed Hanover apartment tower.
Photo: Swamplot inbox
A development report from Hines includes this rendering of what appears to be the new Apache Corporation headquarters planned for mixed-use BLVD Place just north of the Galleria. The report names the wafer-like building “Project Alpha” and describes it as 34 stories and 750,000-sq.-ft. of office space with a fitness center and cafeteria. Currently, Apache is headquartered at Post Oak Central.