Architects of grocery stores, townhouses, and adaptively reused kayak rental places Lake Flato are now trying their hands at Houston park pavilions. These renderings appeared on the San Antonio firm’s blog late last week, giving an early look at some of the stuff planned for Evelyn’s Park. The park has been in the works since 2009, or so; Teas Nursery had operated on this corner of Newcastle St. and Bellaire Blvd., just inside the Loop, for about 100 years before that.
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THE APARTMENTS THAT WANT EXXONMOBIL PASSAGE Here’s a rendering of the complex Alliance Residential has just started building north of the ExxonMobil campus. The 3-story, 341-unit building will be located on 1615 Sawdust Rd. — which the developer appears to hope might be used as a kind of driveway for that big new campus in the pines to the southeast: “Alliance said there are plans to extend Sawdust, which will provide an avenue leading directly to the . . . campus without getting on Interstate 45,” reports the Houston Business Journal. “However, this portion of the project is still in the planning stage and is waiting for funding from the city.” Alliance is also building the midrise Broadstone 3800 complex at the corner of Alabama and Main. [Houston Business Journal; previously on Swamplot] Rendering: Alliance Residential Co.
MAKING MORE SPLASH IN PASADENA The Pasadena city council got together last week to have a look at a $4 million plan that would expand the community pool at Strawberry Park on Lafferty Rd. and Parkside Dr. into something a bit splashier, reports the Pasadena Citizen: “Progressive Commercial Aquatics’ Steve Davis explained the success public and private entities have had with water parks, including nearby Pirates Bay, owned by the City of Baytown. In Davis’ plan for Pasadena, the . . . project would add a new bath house, ‘lazy river,’ concession area, multiple shaded areas and lots of other pool features.” But not all council members were sold. Says Pat Van Houte: “To me, it’s not really a priority. I would look at the economics of, ‘How much is this going to cost long run?’” [Pasadena Citizen] Drawing: Progressive Commercial Aquatics
COASTAL INSPIRATIONS BROUGHT HOME IN MEADOWBROOK “Needs lots of TLC,” says one of the captions of one of the few photos of this 1934 house, designed and built by the C.C. Bell Construction Company just southeast of the Glenbrook Park Golf Course here in Meadowbrook. But the caption and the rest of the photos in the listing suggest only what the house might need in the near future, failing to mention much about its past: The 3-bedroom, 2.5-bath Spanish Mediterranean is described in Stephen Fox’s most recent edition of the AIA guide as one of the “original Coral Gables-inspired bungalows” built in this neighborhood by Bell after a trip to Florida in the ’20s. Want this piece of — er, history? The 2,258-sq.-ft. fixer-upper went on the market on Friday, with an asking price of $135,000. [HAR] Photo: HAR
Here’s a rendering that shows how that informal dog bowl along Buffalo Bayou near Montrose Blvd. will be formalized and capitalized into a Dog Park. Construction, says a PR rep for the Buffalo Bayou Partnership, will begin the first of the year; the park should be open next winter.
Why, you might wonder, would it take that long to build a place for dogs to romp and run and bark and stuff? Part of it will be creating the pond you can see in the rendering. The pond, which will be treated with a “bio-filter” and native vegetation, is meant to keep said dogs 1) safe and 2) away from the bayou, so they don’t muddy up the banks scrambling in and out of the water and contribute to erosion. Other additions? A purty fence that will separate the pups from the joggers and 2 pavilions, at the top of the hill, that will provide a bit more shade.
Rendering: SWA Group
COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHAT KEEPING THE DOME MEANS “People do not want to save the Astrodome because it is a landmark of National / Worldwide significance. People want to save the Astrodome because it is just about all we have in Houston in terms of somewhat significant landmarks. Blowing up the Astrodome is a concession that we never do anything of any lasting significance in Houston. We are just a very fancy tent city set up to house the oil industry as long as they need us. But, once Elon Musk has us zipping around in pneumatic tubes instead of internal combustion engine vehicles, Houston will just empty out and be forgotten. Keeping the Astrodome is an attempt to make Houston feel permanent and not a temporary boomtown precariously tied to the fate of one sector of the economy.” [Old School, commenting on Comment of the Day: The Symbol of the City] Illustration: Lulu
BARS WITHIN A BAR AT LOWBROW IN MONTROSE Eater Houston reports that Lowbrow, the restaurant and bar from Free Press Houston founder Omar Afra, will open tomorrow night here at the corner of W. Main and Mandell in Montrose. This photo shows the mural that’s replacing the former Sophia sign. Inside, there will be even more art: The place will have wallpaper that sports drawings of the Astrodome, Houston Oilers logo, and Barnett Newman’s Broken Obelisk sculpture at the nearby Menil Collection. And it appears that there will also be a channel of rather meta reality programming for you to watch: “[A] projection screen . . . will play scenes from other local bars.” [Eater Houston; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Eater Houston
ADDING UP THE ASTRODOLLARS Teevee reporter Ted Oberg finds that the Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation expects to make about $4 million a year on the New Dome, once it’s cleaned up and converted into 350,000 sq. ft. of exhibition space for things like, say, bowling competitions, hardware shows, or the Quidditch World Championships. “[But] costs,” cautions Oberg, “will eat up $3.9 million of it.” Still, HCSCC chair Edgar Colon seems undaunted by these figures: “It will be self-sufficient.” [abc13; previously on Swamplot] Rendering: New Dome PAC
A developer out of California plans to begin building a 100-acre beachfront community along the Bluewater Highway on Follet’s Island, southwest of Galveston Island, next month. Developed by Salt Water Resorts, the so-called Seahorse Beach Club and Residences will sit across Christmas Bay from the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge. A rendering of the 9,000-sq.-ft. eponymous beach club, above, shows a few of the planned amenities: pools, fitness center, spa, a bar, and 2 restaurants.
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So the city has agreed to hand over maintenance of all the new bayou trails ’n’ stuff to the Houston Parks Board — it was the one condition that the Kinder Foundation stipulated before it would agree to donate $50 million to the Bayou Greenways project. That donation became a done deal earlier today. This dough, says the Parks Board, is going to allow construction to begin before the end of 2014 on as many as 14 new sections of trail — including even more work along Brays Bayou in Mason Park in the East End, shown in this rendering from SWA Group.
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COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE SYMBOL OF THE CITY “I understand that many people in Houston and Harris County have fond childhood memories of attending games in the Astrodome with their families. I too have memories of watching Astros games there, and frankly, I liked the ‘Dome better than Minute Maid Park. That said, no one from out of town EVER has asked me about the Astodome when I tell them I am from Houston. Not a single visitor that I’ve hosted here has EVER asked me to drive them by the Astrodome. The nation, and the world, just aren’t all that interested in a 40+ year old sports venue.” [ShadyHeightster, commenting on It’s Like a Billboard. On Wheels. For the Astrodome.] Illustration: Lulu
A variance to reduce the setback from Caroline and Truxillo was recently approved, clearing the way for this 2-story film studio to go up in Midtown. Dubbed Buffalo Studios, the CONTENT-designed building will sit on a 5,630-sq.-ft. lot at the southeast corner of Caroline and Truxillo, which appears to be currently occupied by a warehouse. The proposed site is catty-corner from the former Houston Light Guard Armory, now open as the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum, a block south of HCC and just around the corner from the proposed site of Retrospect Coffee, the cafe and wine bar being built out at that abandoned gas station on La Branch.
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MAYOR PARKER ENCOURAGES NEIGHBORHOOD GROUPS INTO LAWN MOWING BUSINESS It’s worked for parents — why not the city? A new program will pay civic groups and nonprofit organizations $75 a pop to keep up overgrown lots abandoned by property owners in their neighborhoods. Mayor Parker announced the so-called Mow-Down Initiative yesterday in the Third Ward. How’s it gonna work? First, the city will come in with tractors and run over the big stuff, and then residents will take over, KUHF reports: “[Mayor Parker] says 100 lots around Houston will be included in the program to start, and she expects the city will save thousands of dollars in maintenance costs by engaging civic groups instead of hiring contractors.” Another nonprofit, Keep Houston Beautiful, says it will provide lawnmowers, trimmers, and other equipment for the work, free of charge. [KUHF] Photo of lot in East End: Allyn West
COMMENT OF THE DAY: A DOME’S RANSOM “The problem isn’t that anti-Domers only think about money, it’s that pro-Domers won’t consider it at all. Would you ever tell your mechanic ‘I love my car so much, there’s no amount of money I wouldn’t spend to keep it forever’? No, because that’s an invitation to get swindled — the mechanic knows he can do all sorts of unnecessary work that the actual value of the car doesn’t justify. You’ll end up paying more, which will make it less likely that you’ll actually be able to afford to keep that car forever.
Same thing with the Dome; a lot of people are shouting ‘we’ll keep the Dome at any cost!’ What do you know, along comes a very expensive, not very practical plan for a convention center no one needs. How long will that last before the next person comes along and says the convention center is too old, and we have to spend more money or tear it down?
If you really want to save the Dome, grow a backbone and say that there are limits to how much Houston taxpayers should pour into it; that’s when you’ll get a plan that benefits the community enough to be sustainable. Otherwise you are just keeping the hostage alive until the next payment is due, and that can’t go on forever.” [Alec, commenting on It’s Like a Billboard. On Wheels. For the Astrodome.] Illustration: Lulu
And 4 more blocks to go: Site work began last week here in East Downtown to chunk up the pavement into such tidy piles and clear the way for that 5-block pedestrian path known as the EaDo Promenade. These photos show what the very north end of the path, at McKinney and Bastrop St. a block south of BBVA Compass Stadium, looks like, as of yesterday:
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