12/11/18 5:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE DELMAN THEATER LIVES ON, ON GOOGLE MAPS “If you look at Google Maps satellite view, you can still see the patterned terrazzo floor of the theater.” [Benjy Compson, commenting on How the Marriage of Richmond and Wheeler Came Too Late to the Midtown Sears Building’s South Side]

12/11/18 1:45pm

Anyone in the habit of leaving the house knows that Houston’s streets are really best appreciated from a distance. And although he’s not a native, Seattle artist Peter Gorman appears to agree. His recent work, “Intersections of Houston,” shown above, is a series of 20 mini-maps depicting some of the city’s most notably tangled roadway crossings. Some — like the nexus of Scott, Polk, York, and Clay streets (top row, second from the left) — take shape at the borders between Houston’s multiple, incongruous street grids. (The Allen brothers laid out the oldest grid parallel and perpendicular to Buffalo Bayou; later planners favored a more north-south orientation. In both cases, the resulting frameworks are some of the longest-lived legacies of the city. We’ve been stuck with them far longer than most of the buildings they contain.)

Others meander to get around park space: See Lamar, Crawford, and Dallas (third row, third from the left). And then there’s that special subset: intersections that do less to fit into their surroundings than they do to stand out as products of intrepid traffic engineering approaches. Take Lockwood Dr. and Wallisville Rd. (fourth row, third from the lift) for instance; it’s really just a claw-like take on a T-intersection.

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Left, Right, Left
12/11/18 10:45am

A Swamplot reader writes in to report that the JCI Grill across I-45 from the Home Depot near Gulfgate Mall is now closed. No need to get too close in order to tell; the electronic sign fronting the feeder road gets the message across to highway drivers as shown above. Behind it, you can see the new ramp TxDOT’s been working on to connect 610 eastbound to I-45 northbound — as well as the shadow it’s cast on the restaurant’s parking lot.

A flyer posted on the building says the construction was in part what inspired the closure:

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The Dog Days Are Over
12/11/18 8:30am

Photo of Main St. Square: elnina via Swamplot Flickr Pool

Headlines
12/10/18 5:30pm

A Swamplot reader sends these 2 photos showing what longtime Avondale brunch spot Baba Yega Cafe looks like after a Friday night fire did a number on the building. Damage to the roof has mostly been covered up now by a blue tarp. At ground level, new orange fencing signals the business’s current status: closed until sometime next year, say the owners.

Next-door, scattered debris and furniture are at rest in the parking lot behind the former Montrose Mining Company. Both the Mining Company and its lot are owned by one of the same partners behind Baba Yega, Fred Sharifi, and have remained empty for the past few months while the shuttered gay bar gets reshaped into Houston’s second Postino Wine Bar.

Photos: Swamplox inbox

Avondale
12/10/18 1:00pm

You may remember the Jack in the Box at 2001 N. Shepherd that was left high and dry in September after shutting down. It’s got a new owner: an entity connected to New York brokerage firm Edry Real Estate. The sale closed last month and includes just over half an acre at the northwest corner of Shepherd Dr. and W. 20th St.

Photo: Swamplox inbox

Burger Flip
12/10/18 8:30am

Photo of Travis St. at Preston St.: Marc Longoria via Swamplot Flickr Pool

Headlines
12/07/18 4:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE MONTROSE DUAL DEALERSHIP WELCOME THAT WASN’T “Too bad . . . I had imagined an identical building being constructed, and as bookends would have made a fantastic ‘gateway‘ into the Montrose/Museum area.” [city cynic, commenting on Stahlman Lumber Up for Sale by Landowner That Didn’t Replace It with a Car Dealership] Photo of Audi Central Houston: Audi Central Houston

12/07/18 2:45pm

Ever notice that the Wheeler-St. side of the Midtown Sears (shown above) doesn’t quite jibe with the rest of the building? It’s become even clearer since all that beige metal cladding was stripped off the structure earlier this year. Upon its removal, the biggest revelations were cascading green, red, and blue art-deco tile mosaics (shown here) running from top to bottom on every side of the building, except the Wheeler one, where the array of facade openings pictured at top are a bit less architecturally refined despite their prominent positions overlooking crosstown traffic.

So, what gives? Well, it turns out that Sears’s south side wasn’t all that visible when the building opened in 1939. Back then, Wheeler was just a narrow side street off Main and did not flow directly into Richmond as it does now, explains Preservation Houston’s Jim Parsons. Richmond, a much larger thoroughfare, also dead-ended into Main St., across from the Sears and just north of where Wheeler began. You can see the missed connection in the 1950 street map above.

It wasn’t until the early 1960s that the 2 streets were joined through a partial annexation of the Delman Theater property at 4412 Main, catty-corner southwest of the Sears:

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When Roads Collide
12/07/18 11:30am

ARE THE NEW FITZGERALD’S OWNERS PLANNING TO BRING DOWN THE HOUSE? “They came and tested for asbestos,” Fitzgerald’s longtime owner Sara Fitzgerald tells the Chronicle’s Marcy de Luna, “so I think they’re looking to tear it down. It was their original intention to build a high-rise there.” Fitzgerald sold Fitzgerald’s along with 3 home lots behind it on E. 6½ St. in July to the same Chicago-based company, Easy Park, that’s been planning that automated parking garage a few blocks west down White Oak Dr. in place of the existing, analog garage next to Tacos A Go Go (which it also owns, along with some other retail nearby). She’s now renting the building at 2706 White Oak from her new landlord and running the 41-year-old business remotely from Seguin, Texas, outside San Antonio, de Luna reports. Following a spree of farewell shows scheduled throughout the month, the club will close with a New Year’s Eve party featuring ’70s and ’80s cover band SKYROCKET! [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Caramels D.