01/18/19 11:30am

This 4-story glass and stucco box dubbed Miabella got pulled from the agenda before Houston’s city planning commission could take a look at it yesterday, but renderings of it are still floating around the interwebs. It’s planned to go up on 3 currently vacant home lots at the corner of Fox St. and N. Nagle St., putting it 3 blocks north of Navigation Blvd. in the Second Ward. The straight-shot rending above shows where its grade-level garage will let out onto N. Nagle.

Its Fox-St.-side will also provide access to parking:

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Second Ward
01/17/19 2:15pm

Jim McIngvale, more widely known as Mattress Mack, told radio host Michael Berry this morning on KTRH that Gallery Furniture’s 30,000-sq.-ft. store at 2411 Post Oak Blvd., shown above, will close following the end of its lease in a year. “The traffic went down by half because they tore up the road,” said Mack, referring to the construction on the new Uptown BRT that now has the street peppered with blaze orange cones and barricades. Gallery Furniture opened the Uptown location in 2009 inside what used to be a Pier One at the Post Oak Shopping Center. The closure will bring the chain down to 2 branches: the one in Richmond off the Grand Pkwy. and its original spot on I-45.

Photo: Isiah Carey

Mattress Pad Available
01/16/19 4:00pm

The shopping center at the southwest southeast corner of Montrose Blvd. and 59 known as Chelsea Market has just recently gotten the chain-link wraparound, as shown above from the west (top) and east (above). Its days had been numbered ever since plans showing a Broadstone apartment tower in place of the 3-building retail complex surfaced online last year.

Renderings of the tower, to be named Broadstone Museum District, show it rising 16-stories high:

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Montrose Blvd. at 59
01/16/19 1:45pm

Like some kind of otherworldly brand ambassador, this large larger-than-life-sized inflatable now looks dutifully out over the strip center parking lot off Belway 8 and Woodforest Blvd., its antennae twitching in the wind. The building it tops — home to Jenny Nails II, J Donuts, Betlway Beverage, Dominos, a hair salon, and Boost Mobile — was once part of the Randalls-anchored retail complex dubbed the Eastbelt Centre that stopped being a thing when Galena Park ISD moved its administrative offices into the supermarket’s building nearly 2 decades ago.

That converted structure lies just next door to the strip building . . .

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Roadside Attractions of Beltway 8
01/14/19 1:15pm

NEW TEXAS SENATE BILL: IF HOME LIES IN ANY FLOOD ZONE, SELLER MUST SAY SO State Senator Joan Huffman filed a bill last Friday that, if passed, would require sellers to tell buyers if their homes are located in a 100- or 500-year floodplain, a reservoir, or a flood pool — the area next to a reservoir that’s expected to fill up with water during major flooding events (but that most were unaware of until reporters blew the lid on their existence in late 2017). The bill, S.B. 339, would also force owners to disclose whether the home they’re listing has flooded before, whether it might flood under “catastrophic circumstances,” and if it’s located less than 5 miles downstream from a reservoir. “If a seller doesn’t disclose the information,” reports the Texas Tribune’s Kiah Collier, “the law would allow buyers to terminate the contract — or sue.” [Texas Tribune] Photo of flooding at Creech Elementary School, Katy, near Barker Reservoir: Breta Gatlin

01/14/19 10:45am

A Swamplot reader perched up in the SkyHouse Main Apartments has been documenting the evolving scene 3 blocks away from his living room, where the block once home to U-Haul Moving and Storage of Midtown at San Jacinto now completely demolished — is now giving rise to a larger, replacement U-Haul building. The photo at top looks east down Pease St. to show workers planting the earth with beams for the new structure. On the left, you can see what the previous moving and storage building looked like during its final stand at the end of last year.

The demolished building consisted of 28,376 sq.-ft. for self-storage, moving supplies retail, and truck parking. Building permits filed for its replacement indicate it’ll be 220,160-sq.-ft.:

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Downtown Block 348
01/11/19 4:30pm

Budding internet etymologist and Albany High School senior Adam Aleksic is out with his latest annotated map (bigger version here), which points out the origins behind some of the Houston area’s most well-known neighborhood names. As you can see in the legend at the top right corner, the author makes a distinction between developers and people — both of which have left their marks in the region’s spacial vernacular. And of course, no map of Houston would be complete without its fair share of wet spots, too, which appear in the meanings behind 6 locations shown above: Lazybrook, Timbergrove, Spring Branch, River Oaks, Clear Lakes, and Denver Harbor.

Image: The Etymology Nerd

Words for Places
01/11/19 2:45pm

Last night Houston’s planning and development department spelled out a proposal to run a new pair of protected bike lanes on Austin St. from Buffalo Bayou to HCC’s main campus in Midtown. South of the college, the officially-designated bike route would continue down to Hermann Park along La Branch and Crawford streets but without anything to buffer it from the rest of the road.

Throughout Downtown and the northern portion of Midtown ending at McGowen St., plans show the bike lanes separated from the street by 2-ft.:

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A Fairly Straightforward Route
01/11/19 12:00pm

BELLAIRE FOOD STREET SCRAPS FOOD HALL PLANS, WILL GO FULL STRIP-STYLE INSTEAD The 10,000-sq.-ft. food hall that had been planned as part of the 24,000-sq.-ft. pan-Asian restaurant building just in side Beltway 8 dubbed Bellaire Food Street will not come to be, reports Eater’s Alaena Hoestetter. Instead, that space will be used to give a 3 more not-yet-named restaurant their own individual storefronts. So far 10 restaurants — Shi Miao Dao, Fat Ni BBQ, Peppery Lunch, Beard Papa’s, Popfancy, Migo, Meet Fresh, Waistation, Chatime, and a South Korean coffee chain called Tom N Toms that serves a “baked sweet potato latte” — have been announced as tenants. Upstairs is reserved for developer Kevin Kan’s office. [Eater Houston; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Bellaire Food Street

01/11/19 10:00am

A Swamplot reader sends this photo from Arnott St. showing ominous new chain-link fencing wrapping what’s left of the Memorial Club apartments at the Washington Ave roundabout. New Years was the deadline for residents to move out of the four 3-story buildings to the west of Westcott St. so that Greystar could tear them down and build a new set of apartments in their place. It already replaced Memorial Court’s other, former 5-building half on the east side of Westcott with a 297-unit Elan Memorial Heights building in 2016. Back when the developer purchased the complex in 2013, Greystar said it hoped to have a grand total of 550 units spread across both sides of Westcott.

Photo: Swamplot inbox

Back for the Last of ‘Em
01/10/19 4:00pm

In an email sent out to constituents earlier this week, a staffer for City Council member Greg Travis writes that the little red rectangle above — marking where Randall Davis has plans for a 50-unit condo tower — is subject to single-family deed restrictions. That doesn’t prohibit the developer from going ahead with the highrise at 3723 Westheimer, she explains, although it does mean Davis perhaps jumped the gun by submitting a variance request for the development to Houston’s planning commission last week. It’s now withdrawn that request and instead plans to hold a public hearing before the commission. The date is TBD, but it will “likely take place on February 28,” according to the staffer.

Residents of Westgrove Court — the subdivision along Eastgrove and Westgrove streets that the tower wants to move into  — and others nearby will receive a written notice 15 days before it goes down. “If residents of the 38 single family home sites in Westgrove Court jointly file a protest (a letter signed by them),” she writes, “the Planning Commission will have to approve by 75% and not simply by a majority.”

On Monday, Nancy Sarnoff over at the Chronicle reported Davis was under contract to buy the 17,300-sq.-ft. property. It isn’t the first time someone’s tried to put something other than single-family on it: For decades, the single-story retail building shown above has been there. It sports a fenced-in patio at its corner:

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The Fine Print
01/10/19 12:30pm

A building permit filed yesterday for renovations to the former Brown Bag Deli at 702 Main St. has this familiar name on it: Shake Shack. The photo at top of the storefront’s north side along Capitol St. show its windows completely whited-out to prevent passers-by from getting too curious about what’s going on inside. On Main St., Brown Bag Deli’s December 21 closure notice remains stuck to the front door.

The storefront takes up the northeast corner of the 10-story Great Jones Building and is right next door to the WeWork that arrived in the structure last year. At the opposite, south end of the block, the adjacent Chase Building (formerly known as the Gulf Building) became home last month to Houston’s newest food hall Finn Hall.

Photos: Swamplot inbox

Main and Capitol
01/10/19 9:30am

ALDI IS MAKING ITS MOVE AT THE CROWDED CROSSROADS OF WESTHEIMER AND S. GESSNER Aldi punched its ticket for entry into the Tanglewilde Center yesterday by filing a building permit to convert the closed 21,300-sq.-ft. Batie’s Ace Hardware at 9525 Westhimer into a supermarket. It’ll be the third grocery store within a 2,000-ft. radius of the intersection of Westheimer and S. Gessner Rd. Randall’s sits at the northeast corner, and Kroger is just west of the crossroads. The hardware store being converted closed down late last year. [Previously on Swamplot] Photo: Swamplot inbox

01/09/19 4:30pm

MEMORIAL PARK GOLFERS WORRY THAT JUST-APPROVED COURSE REDESIGN COULD MESS UP THEIR HANDICAPS Houston’s city council just approved that $13.5 million plan to redesign the Memorial Park Golf Course so that the Houston Open can be held there in 2020. The vote passed unanimously at city hall this morning, but not before a few course regulars had a chance yesterday to vent about how the upgrades will skew the playing field: “I want to be an average Houstonian who plays with everybody else on the same level,” said Joseph Kratoville, who’s out there 4 or 5 times a week, adding that in its present state, the course is “the anti-country club. I get to meet people from all walks of life.” Baxter Spann, whose firm Finger Dye Spann renovated both the Memorial Park and Gus Wortham courses previously, spoke similarly: “I’m concerned that the focus may be on making this a tour-level course without adequate regard for the everyday golfer,” he told the council. The course closes tomorrow, although the driving range and on-site Becks Prime will remain open. It’ll need to be back open by November 1 in order for the PGA Tour stop to be held there the following year, report the Chronicle’s David Barron and Robert Downen. Meanwhile, 2019’s Houston Open will take place at the Golf Club of Houston (in Humble) like it has since relocating there in 2003. [Houston Chronicle] Rendering: Nelson Byrd Woltz

01/09/19 2:15pm

In a series of tweets yesterday, Leah Binkovitz over at the Urban Edge took viewers on a Google StreetView tour of the 9 Houston sites included in the spring 1956 edition of the Negro Travelers’ Green Book, the handy pre-civil-rights publication that, by its own description, existed to “give the Negro traveler information that will keep him from running into difficulties, embarrassments and to make his trips more enjoyable.” Too bad though, there wasn’t left much to see. Almost all the properties — home once to various hotels, motels, and restaurants — are vacant now.

New editions of the guide came out each year from 1937 to 1967, however, meaning a whole bunch of other Houston venues made the list at sometime or other. And, according to Craig Hlavaty at the Chronicle, at least 5 of them are still around, most notably, the art-deco Eldorado Ballroom pictured above at 2310 Elgin.

And perhaps less notably, the two-tone Ralston Discount Liquors #1 store on the corner of Lyons Ave. and Gregg St. formerly known as Ralston Drug Store:

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