06/17/14 1:45pm

Black Eyed Pea, 4211 Bellaire Blvd., Houston

Variance Sign at Kilmarnock Dr. and Gramercy  St., Ayrshire, Braeswood Place, HoustonHere’s the variance sign (at right) that went up over the weekend at the intersection of Gramercy St. and Kilmarnock Dr., backing up to the power-line easement and ditch that separates the city of Bellaire (beyond the sign) from Houston. Supra Color Enterprises, the Florida-based landlord of the Black-eyed Pea restaurant at 4211 Bellaire Blvd. (above), is requesting a variance from the city as part of an effort to redefine its 1.8-acre property at that address as an “unrestricted reserve.” The variance application doesn’t reveal Supra Color’s plans for the land, but it does refer to a “proposed multifamily development” on the site.

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Development Rumors and Mashed Peas
05/21/14 10:45am

Proposed Elan Heights Apartments, 2222 White Oak Dr., Woodland Heights, Houston

The latest rendering for the Elan Heights apartment complex Greystar is planning for the site of the former Skylane Central Apartments (more recently called 2222 White Oak) it’s getting ready to demolish shows a few changes: The 325-unit building is now projected to rise 7 stories above a 3-level parking garage perched on a raised slab (useful for keeping lower-level cars dry on the bayou-side property). But this design from Meeks + Partners will require a variance from the city, because it scoots 12 and a half ft. closer to White Oak Dr. than city rules currently allow.

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Taking the Skylane to Elan Heights
05/13/14 4:45pm

AN APARTMENT DEVELOPER’S NEW MIDTOWN PEARLS ARE MISSING Site of Proposed Pearl on Smith, 3100 Smith St., and Pearl on Helena, 105 Drew St., Midtown, HoustonThe Morgan Group’s Pearl Midtown apartment building is still under construction at the corner of Elgin and Smith streets in Midtown, but a couple of follow-on projects have recently drifted away from the process for gaining city approval — for now, at least. Signs announcing a variance request for the Pearl on Smith went up last month in front of the 1940 building at 3100 Smith St. that used to house the Social Security Administration’s offices (pictured at top), across the street from the Pearl Midtown. And on the block surrounded by Helena, Dennis, Albany, and Drew, a sign is still up for a variance request to allow construction of the Pearl on Helena. On that block is the building that until last fall housed the Kindred Hospital Midtown (bottom photo) — along with this 1930 mansion. Applications for both projects showed similar 5-story apartment complexes built around a small courtyard on top of 2 garage levels. But both projects have now gone quiet in the city’s tracking system. The variance application for the Pearl on Smith was withdrawn before its scheduled April 17th hearing. And the Pearl on Helena is listed as an “inactive application” in the city database, even though it was originally scheduled for a hearing on the same date. Photos: O’Connor & Associates (3100 Smith St.); Swamplot inbox (Kindred Hospital)

05/05/14 4:30pm

15-HOME WESTMORELAND PLACE DEVELOPMENT CLEARS HURDLES, MORE TREE SPACE Sign for Masterson Oaks at Westmoreland, Westmoreland Place, HoustonWhen last we left the 0.83-acre lot tucked up against Spur 527 between Marshall and Alabama St. (catty corner from the Broadstone at Midtown second block), developer Carnegie Homes was seeking city approval for a variance for reduced setbacks from the spur and Alabama St. The variance was approved last November; the site plan, which lays out space for 7 homesites within the Westmoreland Historic District (on the north portion of the property) and another 8 tighter townhome lots on the free-range southern end, has been adjusted slightly to allow a 5,000-sq.-ft. promenade and private park area leading up to and surrounding the enormous live oak tree (branches visible in the above photo) near the property’s northwest corner. A new sign announcing the development went up last week. It’s been renamed a couple times too. The former Carnegie Oaks at Westmoreland — described on the company’s website as The Oak at Westmoreland — is now Masterson Oaks at Westmoreland, Carnegie’s Arpan Gupta tells Swamplot, after the Masterson Mansion that stood on the site as recently as the 1950s, but was torn down after the spur bisected its grounds. Gupta is still seeking approvals within the Westmoreland historic district for a reduced setback along Marshall St. [Previously on Swamplot] Photo: Swamplot inbox

04/16/14 11:00am

Rendering of Proposed 3615 Montrose Condo Tower with Green Garage Wall

A representative of Riverway Properties, the developer proposing a 7-story condo tower on the vacant former site of the River Cafe in Montrose, says a rendering submitted as part of an application for a variance from the city isn’t an entirely accurate representation of the garage wall the company wants to build in front of the sidewalks on Montrose Blvd. and Marshall St. The rendering of the 3615 Montrose building featured on Swamplot earlier this week showed a blank wall at the base surrounding a single-level parking garage on the ground floor, punctured only by a driveway entrance with an overhead door along Montrose. But Riverway Properties partner Michael Carroll says his company is planning either a “green wall system” or an installation by an artist for the wall.

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Montrose Street Life
04/14/14 12:15pm

Proposed Condo Tower at 3615 Montrose Blvd., Montrose, Houston

The developers hoping to build this 12-unit condo building on the former site of the River Cafe at the corner of Montrose Blvd. and Marshall St. are requesting a variance from the city so they can scooch the project’s blank-wall parking-area front 15 ft. closer to Montrose Blvd. than city rules ordinarily allow. And if they don’t get their way, they’ll make the 7-story structure even bigger, the variance application threatens. That would mean fencing off the building’s front; putting the parking garage on 2 floors instead of one, and adding “additional living floors . . . making the building much taller than others adjacent.”

A submitted site plan prepared by Element Architects shows the existing right-of-way reduced by 5 ft. along Montrose Blvd. in addition to the setback requirement, to allow for future widening:

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At Variance
03/17/14 10:30am

Proposed Studemont Midrise, 1011 Studemont St., Memorial Heights, Houston

Morrison Heights Midrise, 2802 Morrison St., Woodland Heights, HoustonThe developer behind the Morrison Heights midrise building (pictured at left) now under construction in the southeast corner of Woodland Heights has plans to build a similar “apartment and condo” complex at the southwest corner of Studemont and Center St., just north of Washington Ave. Like its neighbor to the northeast, the Studemont Mid-Rise would be a 4-story structure of 36 units mounted over an open parking area underneath. To fit the proposed building on the lot at 1011 Studemont St., however, Fisher Homes needs a variance from the city that would allow a reduced setback on either Studemont or Court St. Its application was deferred at a meeting earlier this month, and is up for consideration by the planning commission this Thursday.

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All the Single Bedrooms
01/22/14 11:15am

Proposed Timbergrove Heights Townhome Development, W. 12th St. Between Seamist and Ella, Timbergrove Manor, Houston

Proposed Timbergrove Heights Townhome Development, W. 12th St. Between Seamist and Ella, Timbergrove Manor, HoustonSuburban-style retail and apartment complexes may have all but conquered the former industrial block southeast of the Heights Swamplotters have taken to calling Katyville, but there are still plenty of warehouse-y buildings to tear down — often of the more Mod variety — south and west of Timbergrove Manor. Here though, just inside the West Loop, isolated pods of townhome colonies would be the more likely result. A resident of the area tells Swamplot neighbors only found out about a 131-unit townhouse subdivision planned off of W. 12th St. between Ella and Seamist because developer InTown Homes is seeking a variance (in a hearing before the planning commission this Thursday). The variance is to gain approval for not including a north-south street through the 6.916-acre property.

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Heights Townhomes, Now in Timbergrove!
01/17/14 10:45am

Former Stables Restaurant, 7325 S. Main St., Old Braeswood, Houston

7200 S. Main St. at Greenbriar, Old Braeswood, HoustonThere’s a stub end of North Braeswood Blvd. that extends just east of where the Stables Restaurant (pictured above) stood until 2007 at the corner of Greenbriar Dr. and South Main St. It leads to the St. Nicholas School along the northern bank of Brays Bayou, southwest of the Texas Medical Center. A reader alerts Swamplot that a variance sign has gone up on the now-vacant 8.5-acre parcel (at right) that surrounds the school and extends along S. Main up to Pressler St., and which used to house the Stables, the Red Lion restaurant, and the Bermuda Apartments. The variance lists 7200 Main and Springwoods Realty Company as the developers of the site, but doesn’t announce what the development is. Springwoods Realty is best known in Houston as the developers Springwoods Village, the curious 1,800-acre eco-themed development also of possible Aristotle Onassis origin whose announcement preceded that of the adjacent new ExxonMobil campus south of The Woodlands. And 7200 Main shares the New York address of Springwoods Village’s somewhat mysterious developer, Coventry Development Corp. The variance asks for permission not to extend North Braeswood or terminate it in a cul-de-sac, as would normally be required:

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What’s up at Greenbriar and S. Main?
12/11/13 10:30am

Demolition Work at Richmond Ave and Cummins St., Greenway Plaza, Houston

This was the scene yesterday on the southeast corner of Richmond Ave and Cummins St. near Greenway Plaza, where the Redstone Companies and Hansen Partners are planning to build a new 11-story office building and 5-level parking garage with — if a Planning Dept. staff report describing the project is correct — an attached 5-story retail center. The development received planning commission approval last week for a reduced setback along the 2 streets that meets with planned but not-yet-approved standards for transit corridors; if Metro’s stalled University Line ever gets built, it’ll make its get-off-of-Richmond turn at this same corner. Accordingly, in documents submitted to the city, the developers appear to be holding out the undescribed retail portion for some later date: [Only] “the office building and related parking garage to be built on this site are nearing the time that a building permit will be required,” the variance application reads.

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5-Story Retail?
11/06/12 3:46pm

The Canadian developers behind an on-again-off-again 84-unit condo project planned for a 1.4-acre wooded property at the end of E. 5th St. adjacent to the Heights hike-and-bike trail have withdrawn their variance request to build a private street for a new Emes Place subdivision. But neighborhood opponents of the project, called Viewpoint at the Heights, may like Group LSR’s newest plans less than the ones they had been fighting against. The Planning Department’s Suzy Hartgrove tells the Leader’s Charlotte Aguilar that the developers of the Serento and Piedmont at River Oaks now plan to construct a public street over a bridge and build their own cul de sac. The latest plans make no mention of the size of condo the company is proposing. And if the new design meets city standards, the city’s planning commission wouldn’t have an opportunity to require any site changes on the project when it comes up for approval this Thursday.

Photos: Swamplot inbox (site and trail); Charlotte Aguilar/The Leader (variance sign)

09/14/12 1:17pm

KNOCKING THE TREES AROUND PEGGY SHIFFICK PARK The duplex at 720 Bomar St. adjacent to East Montrose’s tiny Peggy Shiffick Park is back on the market, a week and a half after its prospective purchaser, developer Vinod Ramani of Urban Living, scaled back his plans to build 3 townhomes on the site (pictured at left) to just 2, and just a few days after backing out of the deal altogether. Some neighbors concerned the planned 3-1/2-story townhomes would clip a large portion of the branches and roots of the park’s signature oak tree had opposed 2 variance requests Ramani had submitted for the project. In the meantime, both Urban Living and neighborhood groups were alarmed to discover that city-contracted workers had severed the main roots of large trees on the property at the corner of Bomar and Crocker earlier this month while installing sewer-line connections. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Image: Urban Living

05/14/12 9:59am

Expect to see workers moving dirt on the 1.5-acre site at the northeast corner of Greenbriar and 59 within the next few weeks; the city’s planning commission last week voted to approve a variance granting permission for a 7-story auto dealership building at 2120 Southwest Fwy. to poke a few feet further toward Greenbriar (at left in the above rendering) than regulations allow. The result: the country’s largest — and tallest — flagship Audi dealership, featuring a 2-story car display case on the corner of the third and fourth levels that’ll bring the latest models up to eye level for drivers on the raised freeway who aren’t looking where they’re going.

More views:

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04/24/12 11:36am

A North Carolina company that already operates 18 car dealers in the Houston area plans to build the largest “flagship” Audi dealership in the U.S. on the north side of Hwy. 59 just east of Greenbriar. The dealership would consist of a 7-story building fronting the Southwest Freeway and containing offices, parts and service departments, a parking garage, and a ground-floor showroom. A more dramatic showroom, though, will be on the top floors, where drivers stuck in freeway traffic can ogle recent Audi models parked on display. A fenced-in parking lot for 87 cars would sit behind the building on the north side of Lexington St.

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12/06/11 5:44pm

The request for a variance that would allow developers of the 3.68-acre property at the corner of Dunlavy and West Alabama to avoid putting in cul-de-sacs at the ends of Sul Ross and Branard St. — and that prompted the posting of signs around the Fiesta Food Mart on the property — isn’t the work of a new owner. It was submitted by the same owner who has held the property since the early sixties when the current shopping center was constructed.

So why the need for a variance that would only matter if the grocery store were redeveloped?

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