08/14/18 5:15pm

The biggest eye-level change to the former Social Junkie restaurant building is the one shown over the Acura in the photo at top. And while it’s definitely less of a statement than its predecessor — a nod to the Texas Real Estate & Co. office across the parking lot — what exactly it means is more of a mystery. Renovators are still putting the finishing touches on the structure — blackwashed earlier this year — so the lettering could just be a sign of things to come.

Or maybe it’s there to stay, like the 2 Shell Shack signs and adjacent menu teasers that went up not long ago beneath the butterfly roof:

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Art Goes Here
08/02/18 1:00pm

Both Pi Pizza and Star Fish have been locked out of their leases in the Washington Heights shopping center building on Heights Blvd. just south of White Oak Bayou and roughly across the street from the Art Car Museum, leaving the strip absent its 2 endcap tenants. Star Fish picked up where Bradley’s Fine Diner left off in the building’s north side about a year and a half ago, and the pizza parlor took over from Funky Chicken on the south end of things in 2016.

Pictured below is the notice a Swamplot reader found stuck to Pi’s storefront right around lunchtime:

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Off the Menu
06/19/18 5:15pm

Coming soon to the block across Durham from W Grill, just south of Washington: Otto’s Barbecue & Catering. The 67-year-old chain has plans for its first standalone location since the original on Memorial Dr. was sold in 2009 (for less than its owners felt it should’ve been) and demolished to make way for a collection of strip buildings.

Until last November, Luke’s Icehouse (pictured above) was the only structure standing in the way of the planned new restaurant on the corner of Lillian St. and Durham — but after shuttering last June, its building was torn down 5 months later. The rendering above shows Otto’s taking over the site from the north above Durham, where a courtyard fronts a covered patio adjacent to a parking lot.

Inside, the site plan indicates that 3,293-sq.-ft. would be devoted to the restaurant, while 1,722 would make up an attached catering kitchen:

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Smoke Signals
06/18/18 10:45am

B&B Butchers owner Benjamin Berg has a new restaurant in the works for the former Caddy Shack Bar & Grill building pictured at top, across the street from his existing venue’s parking lot on Wash Ave and 2-doors down from the redone building now housing Gus’s Fried Chicken. An entity connected to Berg filed a permit last Friday to prep 1809 Washington for the new business it’ll host, dubbed Cafe Lemon.

Caddy Shack (not to be confused with Candy Shack, the drive-through daiquiri spot 2 miles west on Washington) debuted in the 1,968-sq.-ft. structure 6 years ago following the Broken Spoke Cafe’s shutdown and posthumous fire. After a brief stint as Turkey Leg Hut — a Cajun restaurant which brought hookahs to the patio pictured above — the space rebranded back to Caddy Shack before shuttering for good around the end of last year.

Photos: Gil G. (Caddy Shack); Te Y. (patio)

Cafe Lemon
06/14/18 10:00am

Only about 250 ft. separate I-10’s eastbound feeder from White Oak Bayou between Heights Blvd. and Yale — and within that never-developed span, Texas C.R.E.S. and an adjacent landowner are hoping to plant a food truck park, as advertised on the sign up near the southeast corner of the site. The conceptual plan above from architect Marshall Porterfield — not yet okayed by the city — indicates parking spaces for 10 vendors (and 6 patrons) accessible via entrances on the feeder and on Heights Blvd., across from the Heights Business and Mediation Center. A deck seating island in the middle of the parking lot provides some dining room within the third-acre site, owned by the current pair of developers since last year.

The rest of the land is devoted to park space for people and dogs. It backs up to an imagined spur of the White Oak Bayou Trail (currently only accessible on the other side of the bayou) that curves to the south.

Photos: Jason Cockerell. Site plan: Marshall Porterfield via Texas CRES and Delux Realty/Michel Coret

South of I-10
04/27/18 11:30am

The airy eastern façade of the new Big Brothers Big Sisters building at 1003 Washington opens it up to the adjacent parking lot, and beyond that — across a short north-south street — the one-and-a-quarter-acre Centerpoint substation that’s bounded by I-45. Previously, the half-acre parcel that now plays host to the volunteer organization housed Health Masters Clinic of Massage Therapy. Its warehouse structure — pictured from the east in the photo above — bit the dust in April, 2015. Two months later, Big Brothers Big Sisters’ previous home met the same fate off Hillcroft Ave. in Gulfton.

Here’s a cloudier view of the new building looking east along Preston St.:

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All Grown Up
04/16/18 1:00pm

The marketing materials for Hunington Properties’ new apartment building planned in place of Bethel Church a block north of Wash Ave come chock full of cultural references. There’s the Seinfeldian restaurant sign depicted on the corner of Shepherd and Center St, pick-up and drop-off zones adjacent to the parking garage’s entrances labeled Uber (sorry, Lyft!) in the site plan — and if that’s not enough, the leasing brochure notes that tenants “will be given latitude to incorporate unique elements into their storefronts promoting their individual brand identity.

Of the 4 corner retail segments planned — 25,000 sq. ft. total — 3 include patios. To accommodate them, Hunington is requesting several modifications to the setbacks: on Center St., on Durham, and the boldest on Shepherd — where the patio would sit only 5 ft. from the roadway, 20 ft. closer than is typically allowed. Last Thursday, Houston’s planning commission deferred the variance request. It’s now waiting on more information regarding the proposed patios before reconsidering the developer’s plans.

Bethel Church’s building currently takes up half of the block:

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The Interpose
12/27/17 12:30pm

The pile of mangled disco parts beyond the fence pictured at top is all that remains of the less-than-2-year-old La Roux nightclub building at 4011 Washington after crews brought down the house last week. In March, a real estate company connected to Zadok Jewelers bought the entire 39,000-sq.-ft. block on Washington between Leverkuhn and Jackson Hill St. La Roux was evicted earlier this year.

The club’s entrance was off Leverkuhn:

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La Roux-ined
07/25/17 10:30am

One clue that the Social Junkie Sports Bar has come to the end of its almost-4-year run at the northwest corner of Washington Ave and Sawyer St.: The end-zone-styled valet parking lot pictured in the above recent photo is empty — all the way to the 25-yard line. Another clue: the “It’s been real . . . we outgoodbye notice posted to the establishment’s Instagram feed over the weekend. A reader tells us the place is shuttered and everything inside has been “thrown away.

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Gone Braun
07/19/17 1:30pm

The self-styled “House of a Million Parts” at 1225 Sawyer St. once known as Johnny Frank’s Auto Parts Company was torn to pieces last summer. Freshly applied to the chain-link fence surrounding the now-vacant lot: a new TABC notice, announcing to passers-by that an establishment named the Sawyer Ice House is hoping to sling cocktails on the premises before too long. The land is across the road from those arted-up rice silos on Sawyer St., which are across Edwards St. from the Shops at Sawyer Yards. It appears to be another of the projects in that neck of the woods that trace back to Lovett Commercial, which is working on parking lots and a slew of other developments in the area as well. Here’s what Sawyer Ice House might look like, per what appears to be the bar’s new save-the-name Facebook page:

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Car Lot Reincarnation
05/30/17 12:00pm

Catty-corner to the southwest of the area’s newest self-storage midrise, the block at N. Shepherd Dr. and Nett St. housing Bethel Church is now broadcasting plans for a mixed-use development from several large signs standing around on the property. A couple of readers reported the new decor from various angles late on Friday (including the one above, which includes a glimpse of finally settled, named, and opened FM Kitchen + Bar on the former Alva Graphics lot across the street). The church’s 1.48-acre block (bounded by Durham Dr. and Center St. on the other 2 sides) hit the market last summer, and looks to be getting wrapped into the Hunington development fold.

The conversion of the church property would put a mixed-use development right next to the Azure Apartments midrise currently going up right across Durham:

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N. Shepherd Conversions
05/09/17 5:15pm

A little more of the what’ll-go-where has been filled in lately for Midway’s H-E-B-footed midrise, planned at the corner of Waugh St. and Washington Ave. (and now under construction following the corner’s clear-out earlier this year).  The glassy box overlooking Washington from above the main H-E-B entrance will hold the structure’s office spaces, with the face of the parking garage visible a bit further to the left; an updated siteplan also shows that the sides of the development will also be insulated from the street and sidewalks with a layer or 2 of parking spaces:

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Buffalo Heights Close-Ups
05/08/17 11:30am

The green-and-yellow speckled warehouse at 1005 Sawyer St. has a new blue leasing sign from Braun Enterprises tacked to its forehead, as regular real estate surveillor Chris Andrews noted over the weekend. Braun bought the mid-sixties building last month, per county records of the transaction; the 6,360-sq.-ft. structure sits north of Washington Ave. sports-nightclub Social Junkie (which Braun also bought early last year), under the watchful gaze of the 24eleven Washington apartment midrise (to the left below):

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Center St. Industrial Turnover
03/07/17 1:15pm

4504 Nett St., Washington Corridor, Houston, 77007

4504 Nett St., Washington Corridor, Houston, 77007The little house on the angular 10,000-sq.-ft. lot along Patterson St. (wedged between Nett St. and the railroad tracks that run along scattered segments of Allen St.) is looking more like a bar these days, now that a tentacled tree logo has been applied to the side of the building. That logo doesn’t match the name originally picked for the spot on its TABC application — Mission Athletic Club and Drinkery — but a few other aspects of the plan have likely changed since 2015 as well, given the handful of revisions to the house-to-bar conversion plans on file with the city (the most recent of which dates to January).

Some digging around has been going on in the property’s yard of late:

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Digging In off Washington Ave.
12/29/16 10:45am

J. Black's, 110 South Heights Blvd., Memorial Heights, Houston,  77007

J. Black's, 110 South Heights Blvd., Memorial Heights, Houston,  77007The building housing the Houston expansion of Austin’s J. Black’s at the southwest corner of Washington Ave and Heights Blvd. now bears a new for-info-please-call sign, a reader notes. The bar appears to have events planned through at least New Year’s Eve; the 5,948-sq.-ft. space was only listed online as up for lease about 2 weeks ago. Back before 2012, the property was home to Phil’s Texas Barbecue, for about the same amount of time as it took Phil himself to restaurantize the corner’s original muffler shop setup. And soon another corner at the intersection will be getting a full workover as well, if all goes as planned — J. Black’s sits across Heights Blvd. from the subsection of the Memorial Heights apartments slated to go away some time next quarter, to make way for that planned Midway midrise with the H-E-B at the bottom:

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Cornered in Memorial Heights