10/19/18 3:45pm

The map above shows the land (in red) that Rice is confirmed to have grabbed around the Midtown Sears (orange) it bought out last October, including 2 new parcels (green) it snatched up through holding companies within the last few months. In an email sent out to university staff on Monday, Rice U. President David Leebron said the school “will ultimately redevelop approximately 14 acres of Rice-owned property,” near the Sears building into what it’s calling the Midtown Innovation District. So what are the latest spots it’s gotten its hands on? The first, catty-corner to the Sears building itself at the corner of Wheeler and San Jacinto, is Jack in the Box‘s nearly half-acre lot; Rice bought it in August.

More recently, the school pushed east by picking up 4201 Caroline St., the brick office building shown below that occupies a quarter-acre directly next to Fiesta:

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Sears and Friends
10/19/18 12:30pm

MONDAY’S TRUMP-CRUZ RALLY UPGRADING FROM HOUSTON RODEO TO B-BALL VENUE Citing “huge and unprecedented” audience registration numbers, the president’s campaign announced that his Monday rally to drum up support for Ted Cruz will no longer be held at NRG Arena (capacity: 8,000), but instead at the Toyota Center (capacity: 18,043). Trump said in August he planned to pick “the biggest stadium in Texas we can find” for the festivities, at which Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick will also appear. But his schedulers seem strangely to have ruled out the state’s fifth biggest one, NRG Stadium (seats 71,500), which — as Houstonia’s Morgan Kinney noted — sits right across the parking lot from the Arena and remains unbooked on Monday. [Politico] Photo of the Toyota Center: Russell Hancock via Swamplot Flickr Pool

10/19/18 10:00am

“Houston must have looked huge to Lyndon Johnson as he drove toward it across the flat Gulf plains in his battered little car,” writes Robert Caro in his biography of the former president. Johnson’s destination: Sam Houston High School (shown at top), which opened in 1921 in place of the even-older Central High School on the block bounded by Austin, Rusk, Caroline, and Capitol — the same spot where the new Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts is now “90 percent complete,according to Paper City’s Annie Gallay.

Hired to teach public speaking and coach the debate team, Johnson — writes Caro — promised his new principle he’d win the state championship. He didn’t, coming in second at the tournament in Austin. Still, Johnson had succeeded in making a name for himself among staff — who gave him a $100 raise and a contract for the next school year — and among the school’s 1,800 students — who jockeyed for enrollment in “Mr. Johnson’s speech class” during the following school year. By the end of LBJ’s first full year at Sam Houston, reports Caro, enrollment had increased from 60 to 110 new students.

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Sam Houston High to HSPVA
10/18/18 3:15pm

STATE OF QATAR CHIPS IN $2.5M FOR RIVERSIDE GENERAL HOSPITAL REDO Standing alongside ambassador Meshal bin Hamad Al-Thani yesterday in the archway of the hospital’s 92-year-old nurses’ quarters, Ed Emmett thanked Qatar for its donation to help get the hospital back open. It’s the first allocation the country has made from the $30M Qatar Harvey Fund it created last September. (Its diplomatic rival the United Arab Emerites volunteered $10M the same day, according to Al Jazeera) What is it that the money will actually pay for at the Third Ward property the county bought earlier this year? TBD, Emmett tells News 88.7’s Davis Land, although he notes that the county does plan “to have Riverside provide primary and mental health care as part of the Harris Health System,” the network of publicly-owned county hospitals that provide care to under- and uninsured patients. [Houston Public Media] Photo: Ed Emmett

10/17/18 4:00pm

The 2 new buildings that the River Oaks Baptist School plans to start constructing side by side next month don’t have much in common with each other besides their location. The brick one — shown left to right at the video’s 9-second mark — mimics the look of the existing campus structures north of Westheimer and west of Willowick, one of which it abuts. Dubbed the school’s “Leadership Center,” it’s planned to house administrative staff along with some other adults. The taller, southern building on the other hand takes things in an entirely new direction with its multi-level, saw-tooth-edged terraces. Each one of its 4 floors will belong to a specific grade: fifth, sixth, seventh, or eighth. Right now, they all share space  with pre-K through fourth grade students in the existing campus north.

By adding on 160,000-sq.-ft., ROBS will more or less double its existing footprint — reports the HBJ‘s Fauzeya Rahman — and push out to front Westheimer directly (where a new “guard entrance” will go), displacing the former Walgreens building that sits behind Pinkberry and Zoë’s Kitchen’s shared restaurant structure in the process. It’ll also make room for the school to start adding “10 students per grade level,” to what’s now an 853-kid count, Rahman writes, over an unspecified period of time. Follow along to the spot about 35 seconds in, when the camera glides into the first floor of the modern building offering a view of where its youngest tenants will congregate.

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Virtual Video Tour
10/17/18 1:30pm

ON THE PEARLAND ARBY’S MENU THIS WEEKEND: DUCK SANDWICH SPECIAL Saturday is Duck Sandwich debut day at the Pearland Arby’s on Shadow Creek Pkwy., one of just 16 locations across the U.S. chosen for the promo — a chain spokeswoman tells Nations Restaurant News reporter Bret Thorn — because of their proximity to “waterfowl migration flyways,” areas where duck-hunting is a popular pastime. “Based on past experience from similar Arby’s LTOs [Limited Time Offerings],” like the venison sandwich special of 2016 and elk offering the following year, Thorn expects supplies to sell out in “less than a day.” After arriving in-store from global, Indiana-headquartered duck supplier Maple Leaf Farms, the breasts will be seared and cooked in sous-vide (sealed in pouches and placed in hot water) before landing on a bun along with “fried onions and smoked cherry sauce.” [Nation’s Restaurant News; list of participating Arby’s] Video: Arby’s

10/17/18 11:30am

A couple of drive-by shots from Clinton Dr. show the state of demolition at the former Kellogg, Brown and Root campus, part of the effort to transform it into the new shopping, eating, working, and living complex that developer Midway has dubbed East River. Since beginning Friday, the teardown work has targeted the pair of warehouse buildings at the west end of the site, where their truck-docking holes front Jensen Dr. The 2 structures are the sole remnants of a much larger warehouse complex that once sat within the bounds of the 136-acre bayou-side site. Most of those industrial buildings were demolished between 2011 and 2012, leaving a swath of open space in the middle of the property — between the complex of office buildings that borders Hirsch Rd. to the east and the warehouses that now look to be goners.

In between those 2 bookends, a new black tarp has been added to portions of the construction fence along Clinton Dr., reports a reader. That’s where a multi-block colony of townhomes is planned; they’re shown in yellow on the map Midway put out over the summer:

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Fifth Ward
10/16/18 4:00pm

A former employee of the chain says that September 30 was the staff’s last day at the restaurant in the Marq’E Entertainment Center, where its double-decker patio — pictured above — faces off from the Edwards Cinema movie theater (and its vertical water feature faces off from the shopping center’s plaza fountain).

All other Cafe Adobe locations have closed down as well; most recently, the one in terminal B of Bush Airport and the one across Hwy. 6 from Sugar Land‘s Market at Town Center shopping center — which featured this dramatic main entrance:

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Adobe a Goner
10/16/18 11:15am

CHASE BANK CLOSING IN THE TOWER THAT BEARS ITS NAME December 13 is the last business day at Chase’s Chase Tower branch. The bank — which a portion of the lobby shown beyond Joan Miró’s Personage and Birds sculpture in the photo above — is following in the footsteps of the upstairs Chase employees who left in 2006 when the corporation moved its offices out of the building and lost the naming rights to it, reports the Chronicle’s John C. Roper. The nearest branch: in the former Gulf Building at 712 Main St., on the block catty-corner southeast of the Chase Tower. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo: 42 Floors

10/15/18 3:45pm

The new owner of the former Mary Barden Keegan Center along the southbound I–45 North feeder goes by the name Houston Market Center LLC and is connected to J. Luna’s Produce, a longtime vendor at the soon-to-be redone Houston Farmers Market on Airline. The sale closed late last month and included both the parking lot and 5,000-sq.-ft. community garden that sit behind the warehouse, closed-off from Vincent St. and the rest of residential Brooke Smith by a wrought-iron fence. Last week — reports a neighbor — workers got rid of that fence, “cleared out” an onsite homeless camp, began dismantling a retaining wall, and cut down a few trees adjacent to the parking lot.

The seller, Virgata Property Company, picked up the building from the Houston Food Bank 2 years ago and — last summer — leased it to the Peli Peli restaurant group as a prep center for the South African chain’s catering operation and a production hub for its house-brand sauces and spices. Since then, Peli Peli’s added 2 more order-at-the-counter restaurants to its lineup of formal and informal locations: one in the Esperson Building at 808 Travis downtown, and the other in the new 365 by Whole Foods Market on 610.

Photo: Virgata Property

2445 N. Fwy.