06/21/18 4:15pm

The plaza outside UH’s basketball arena — soon-to-feature a statue of the building’s former namesake Roy Hofheinz — is currently a mess of dirt and constructions vehicles working to make the place look like the rendering above. The big red Fertitta Center sign isn’t up yet; it’s set to rise over the glassier new entrance fronting Cullen Blvd.

On the inside, a new scoreboard, new AV equipment, bigger bathrooms and new food and retail are being added. The ceiling is going up 30 ft. above a brand-new court and some lower seating sections, creating a crater-like hole in the roof that — viewed from nosebleed land — will look something like this:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Hofheinz No More
06/21/18 1:00pm

The east side of the River Oaks Theatre building that fronts McDuffie St. and the not-yet-open Perry’s Steakhouse has been quiet since an early Monday morning blaze torched Nail-Tique salon, doing some damage to the Steinway Piano Gallery next door to it in the process. It all started when an air conditioner on the roof overheated and caught fire, shorting the connection to an electrical box on the building that then ignited as well, reports the Chronicle.

No pianos caught fire — according to an employee at Epicure Cafe around the corner on W. Gray — but there was smoke damage in the music store, and firefighters busted out some of its windows to access the flaming salon next door. Nail-Tique is now closed indefinitely, while the piano store plans to reopen next month, as decreed by the sign now posted in its window. Unharmed by the blaze: the building’s movie theater anchor, reports one of its employees.

Photos: Swamplox inbox

McDuffie St.
06/21/18 10:30am

The shaggy customer base seeking a trim at the 1415 Richmond strip between Mandell and Yupon should see some increased biodiversity once The Pet Barber moves in 2-doors down from Henry’s Barber Shop. At nearly double the size of the neighboring human hair care facility, it’s ready to start transforming the space that once housed D&S Washateria (pictured at top) into a Castle Court companion to its existing Spring Branch grooming location.

The laundromat left sometime after Pepino’s gave way to Ms. Saigon Cafe and Michael’s Outpost on the west side of the building. Since then, The C Store also took off; its still-vacant Suite A — shown below in blue at the strip’s east end — is now the only hole left in the building:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Well-Groomed
06/20/18 3:30pm

Photos from the middle of Riverside Dr. between 288 and N. MacGregor Wy. show the new paint job underway on the building once home to the shuttered LaDet Motel. The central 88-year-old Riverside Terrace mansion now receiving a fresh coat is about 50-years older than the ring of 2-story lodging buildings that wrap it as well as its surrounding parking lot on 3 sides — closing off the inner court from all angles, except through the gate at the front of the 2612 Riverside complex.

Now up on that fence, these brighter-hued red tags from the city’s code enforcers:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Ruddy Complexion
06/20/18 1:15pm

WHAT CHANCE WOULD THE KIRBY MANSION STAND TO STAY STANDING UNDER NEW OWNERSHIP? The demolition watchdogs over at Preservation Houston report that a buyer has the 36-room Midtown mansion on the corner of Pierce and Smith St. under contract and “does not intend to retain the building.” Seeking to thwart a teardown, Houston historic commission chair Minnette Boesel met with seller Phlip Azar last week — reports Nancy Sarnoff — and urged him to find someone instead who’ll keep the place upright. Aside from the house’s pedigree (built in 1894 for John Henry Kirby, it was expanded and remodeled 32-years later by architect James Ruskin Bailey), the Tudor at 2006 Smith St. has state and federal tax credits to offer any developer that renovates it for commercial use. That’s what its last would-be buyer Dennis Murphree hoped to do 3 years ago before the sale fell through. His plan: build a 15-story office tower designed “to look as much like the mansion as possible,” right next door to it — reported Sarnoff — and incorporate the 18,000-sq.-ft. house into the complex.[Preservation Houston; more info] Photo: Preservation Houston/The Heritage Society

06/20/18 10:45am

Now that a second, $51 million round of FEMA funding for home buyouts has come through, here’s the map of where the latest government snatch-ups are planned, 294 total. As indicated by the red dots above, they’re all outside the Loop — with a good portion grouped in 3 distinct clusters along Cypress Creek (which drowned out previous flooding records along nearly its entire length during Harvey). Other hotspots include several along White Oak Bayou, as well as a Greens-Bayou-adjacent bunch off Beltway 8 just north of Aldine and a San Jacinto River-side group south of Hwy. 90, near Highlands.

The money Harris County Flood Control District expects to receive for these purchases supplements an earlier $25.6 million FEMA committed to it on June 4. That previous check (along with an $8.6 million match the Harris County Commissioners okayed in order to get it) will be spent on about 169 buyouts, mapped out below:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Along the Bayous
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:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Smoke Signals
06/19/18 2:00pm

Photos from the 13th floor of the office tower at 1200 Binz St. look northeast to show the state of things at Holocaust Museum Houston’s construction site off Caroline St. Peeking out behind the chimney-like roof cylinder on the existing wedge-shaped building, you can seek 3 stories of steel now standing behind it. They make up a nearly three-times-larger structure now taking shape where the museum’s previous single-story northern building was torn down earlier this year. In its place, the new 57,000- sq.-footer designed by Mucasey & Associates will house a 200-seat theater, bigger exhibition spaces, more classrooms, a larger library, and more offices than its predecessor.

It’ll abut the existing ramped building as shown in the elevation below, with an entrance in between the 2:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

3-Story Steel
06/19/18 11:00am

The curbside rendering above from Schaum/Shieh Architects shows off the changes coming soon to 612 Live Oak now that developer Bercon is redoing it for Brass Tacks, a coworking space with on-site kitchen and bar. Both the TABC notice heralding the bar’s arrival and the door it’s posted on will vanish in the redo, replaced by the single window to the right of the main entrance shown at top. A current garage entrance will also give way to the double-doors and surrounding glass planned in the middle of the facade. Stripped of their existing awnings, newly-uncovered stained glass openings will bookend the building’s face. A fenced-off patio sits adjacent along Live Oak.

Lifting the lid, you can see all kinds of business planned inside, between the single-story structure’s 2 side parking lots

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Coworking Conversion
06/18/18 5:30pm

Inside the facility at 419 Emancipation that federal contractor Southwest Key Programs plans to use as a detention center for immigrant children, vestiges of the structure’s homeless-shelter past remain untouched. Christian nonprofit Star of Hope decked out the hallway of the smaller, 13,222-sq.-ft. building shown in the foreground of the aerial at top with both Old and New Testament scenes during its time on-site. It sold the property between Preston and Prairie streets in 2016 and moved into a bigger shelter on Reed Rd. near Hwy. 288.

In March, the complex wrapped up a 5-month stint as a temporary housing facility for 300 single adults displaced by Harvey. Its current owner (an entity tied to Dave Denenburg, the most recent renovator of Schlumberger’s former headquarters a quarter mile south) then leased it to Southwest Key, a nonprofit that operates facilities for unaccompanied minors in Texas. The organization plans to house as many as 240 children from infants to 17-year-olds inside — although most of the kids will be under 12, reports the Chronicle’s Lomi Kriel. That would make it “the first residential center in the nation detaining such small children without their relatives or other foster parents,” she writes.

A site plan shows how the 2 buildings sit on their 2-acre parcel, 3 blocks from BBVA Compass:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Immigrant Kids Campus
06/18/18 1:00pm

The first stretch of concrete is down along a northern portion of the dedicated bus route that’s set to run up the middle of Post Oak Blvd. between Westpark Dr. and the West Loop. The photo at top looks north to show the freshly-paved southbound lane lying in the middle of the existing roadway, where it’s now making a stop at San Felipe St.

Its next drop-off point: Ambassador Wy., as indicated in the map below:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Trailblazing
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
06/15/18 5:00pm

The results are in from the Kinder Institute’s recent survey of Gulfton sidewalks: where they exist, they’re in bad shape. The map above uses a stoplight-style color scheme to rank the condition of each segment: red means no sidewalks, yellow means they exist but with gaps, hazards, and other obstructions — and green means they’re good to go. (Black areas weren’t assessed by the 16 participant-observers who set out on foot to compile the study last month.)

Out of all charted segments, the worst is a 9-block corridor along Atwell St. that starts a block west of Burnett Bayland Park; it’s completely sidewalk-less between Elm St. and Bissonnet. In total, nearly 43 percent of the examined street segments lacked any kind of pedestrian walkway. Other side-ways where you might want to tread lightly include those along Chimney Rock — which is laced with trip hazards all the way from 59 down to Evergreen St. at the southern end of the neighborhood. Nearly three-quarters of the sidewalks in study fell into this category of disrepair.

Even the areas with smooth pavement were beset with other problems: 70 percent had almost no shade, and 98 percent had no pedestrian-level lighting. The consequences: between 2010 and 2017, 149 people were either killed or injured while walking through Gulfton, according to TxDOT data.

Map: Kinder Institute

Concrete Findings
06/15/18 3:45pm

THE ONGOING TRAVELS OF CITY HALL’S FLOODED-OUT BASEMENT EMPLOYEES Shell has been allowing the city’s procurement staff to stay for free in 74,000 sq. ft. at One Shell Plaza, across Smith St. from the City Hall basement they were forced out of by Harvey’s floodwaters. (They’re joined in the office tower by IT employees from the city’s 611 Walker facility, which suffered its own water damage when its sprinkler system malfunctioned in December). But the free ride is coming to an end this month, reports the Chronicle’s Mike Morris: Shell is charging $70,074 for June rent. Now, the city plans to move its refugee employees again — this time to Enterprise Plaza (pictured above) at 1100 Louisiana where they’ll stay from July 1 to the end of next year at a rate of $93,380 per month for 69,000 sq. ft. (about $1.7 million total). After that, they’ll head back to 611 Walker, which the city plans to have ready for permanent residents by then. As for the damaged City Hall basement and the tunnel connecting it to the adjacent annex across Bagby St., their interiors “remain stripped, the walls peeling or patched with plywood, the wood veneers in one stairwell warped to mark the water line just below the annex’s first floor.” [Houston Chronicle] Photo of 1100 Louisiana St.: Hines

06/15/18 1:00pm

The middle structure in the row of 3 warehouses on McFarland St. just north of Navigation is seeing some new action since former NASA flight controller Caroline Kostak turned it into RePurpose Depot, a material reuse retail space selling cheap lumber, siding, flooring, fixtures, and other supplies and furnishings. Before opening the retail operation last December, she’d worked on salvaging materials from soon-to-be demolished houses. The space at 305 McFarland now draws its inventory from those kinds of deconstruction missions as well as donations.

That makes it a hub for homeowners looking for building supplies after Harvey, along with thrifters seeking more ornamental, DIY-ish trinkets. A grand opening is planned for next Saturday, June 23.

Photos: Swamplox inbox

Off Navigation