03/21/18 12:00pm

In the wake of Snooze, 2 more businesses with names suggesting AM activities are on their way to the new Lowell Street Market on 18th St. between Shepherd and Durham. Radom Capital began transforming the 3-building former warehouse complex in something retail- and restaurant-ready back in 2016. Since then, Snooze  has been the only restaurant to open in the development.

Building permits filed for the empty spots neighboring Snooze and Smoosh now show reveal the name of a third eatery that could be on its way to 718 W. 18th St.: Teapresso Bar. The Hawaiian tea shop chain has most of its current locations on Oahu, with a few on Maui as well. Lowell Street Market would be its first step onto the mainland.

The site plan below indicates all 3 buildings in the complex:


The Early Risers
03/20/18 12:30pm

Crews are now digging a hole through the middle of the Sojourn Heights church campus off Gostick St., south of Aurora in Sunset Heights. The rendering above looks west across Gostick to show the fenced-off lawn that will eventually grow in place of the demolished building. The new green space is bookended by renovated street-fronting structures and backed by a smaller addition that’s planned on the far west side of the just-over-an-acre church property.

Before the takedown got started yesterday, the complex consisted of 3 buildings that lined Gostick:


Prayer Semi-Circle
03/13/18 3:30pm

The sheet metal façade backed by an assortment of shipping-container parts is now gone, and mountains of stuff have been removed from the longtime junk emporium at 317 W. 19th St. in the Heights, perhaps better known as the open-air building with a front but no roof that lent the shopping district its perhaps now diminished air of funk. The photo at top, sent Swamplot’s way by a flabbergasted reader, shows the now-vacant lot with everything removed. Below it, a rare aerial view from a few years ago reveals secret stashes maintained behind the lot’s corrugated streetfront.

But perhaps what you remember of this lot is different: a mysterious supply house behind whose shiny gate backdrops for hundreds of street scenes emerged over the years? Or a backdrop for fashion shoots?


03/13/18 12:00pm

The teeth, eyes, and . . . uh, overall shape of the new shopping center Braun Enterprises is planning for N. Shepherd and 24th St. can be considered taken care of, now that Lovett Dental, Eyes on the Heights Optometry, and Club Pilates have each signed leases for space in the development. That leaves 11,555 sq. ft. still available in 3 separate end-cap spots for any nail salon, podiatrist, or dermatology clinic that wants to fill out the theming for the complex, which would go on the block catty-corner to the H-E-B Heights Market currently under construction.

This would fit in with N. Shepherd’s ongoing transformation: Braun plans to demolish the Miller’s Auto Body Repair Experts facility (as of now still open for business) as well a building formerly occupied by Auto Electric Service on the site in order to construct the 24,000-sq.-ft. shopping center, which includes structured parking as well as a parking lot on the roof of one of the 2 buildings.

A full human-body-part-focused buildout for this planned complex at 2401 N. Shepherd Dr. isn’t so far-fetched: the latest renderings released for the development include generic signage for both a nail salon and a fitness club:


Body Shop to Body Shopping
03/02/18 12:30pm

Newly-released case files from the Houston Police Department include a investigator’s official best guess at how Mary Cerruti’s skeleton ended up in a 5 ft.-9 in. by 1 ft.-7 in. space between the walls of her bungalow: a plank in the attic collapsed, writes detective T. Fay, sending Cerruti down into the 8-and-a-half-foot tall opening where she became trapped and died. The photo above — one of 235 police took at the scene — shows the hole in the floorboards where her remains were found to the right of the attic door.

Cerruti, the former homeowner, was an opponent of the Yale at 6th apartments that eventually encircled her bungalow at 610 Allston St. On an afternoon last March — reports the Chronicle’s Emily Foxhall, who’s been all over the story as it’s developed — firefighters responding to a 911 call from the new renter who’d discovered the remains arrived at the address and busted open the wall from the house’s first floor. Fay, the detective, speculated that the spot in the wall housing the bones might once have been a linen closet, sealed off by renovations.

A missing person’s report filed 2 years earlier in 2015 — after Cerruti first disappeared — suggested that the remains were likely hers. But with the bones and a few other items as the only evidence police could recover from the scene, there wasn’t much for them to investigate. There were no signs of foul play at the bungalow, and no reason to believe someone was out to harm Cerruti. The only thing police had left to do was wait for forensic identification — which the medical examiner announced last month.

Photo: Houston Police Department via Emily Foxhall

A Hole in the Attic
02/28/18 4:45pm

Coming soon to the block on the Katy Fwy.’s westbound feeder just east of the Camden Heights Apartments: a new Courtyard by Marriott hotel. Work on the 8-story building began late last year after the hotel chain filed construction permits on the just-over-an-acre parcel at 3220 Katy Fwy. — which sits between Columbia and Oxford streets. The photo at top sent in by a Swamplot reader looks south from E. 4th St. toward I-10 to show a couple of beams now staking out the lot.

The hotel building will front Columbia on the west side of the parcel, where a First National Bank branch and its drive-thru once sat before they were demolished a few years ago. East of the hotel, a parking garage is planned along Oxford, behind the McBillboard shown in the photo above. That structure’s northeast corner will go in place of a single-family house on 4th St. that was town down before the bank disappeared.

Photos: Kepdogg

By the Katy
02/27/18 10:30am

A new shopping center dubbed South Heights on White Oak has plans to land in the shared parking lot on White Oak Dr. just west of the former Jimmy’s Ice House at Threlkeld St. The rendering at top — taken from a leasing flyer for the development put out by Centric Commercial — views the proposed woodsy building from the north side of White Oak Dr., at the edge of the lot between Christian’s Tailgate and Barnaby’s Cafe. On the east side of the building, a deck fronted by a glass curtain wall cantilevers over a drainage ditch that runs north from White Oak Bayou through the woods between the site and the neighboring ice house.

A view across the parking lot from its southwest corner shows the low-lying area on the right:


Low-Slung in the Heights
02/26/18 4:45pm

Last December a demolition permit was filed on the car hangar parked between Tacos A Go Go and Christian’s Tailgate on the north side of White Oak Dr. Now, a leasing flyer for a neighboring development indicates a new 244-car garage is proposed in place of the existing structure. But that lot measures only 100 by 140 ft. How could 244 parking spaces fit on a lot where fewer than 20 spots exist now?

Well, what if the owner of the property was connected to Easy Park, a developer specializing in automated parking garages? An entity associated with the developer bought the garage at 2912 White Oak in 2016 along with the strip of 3 buildings around it — that includes Tacos A Go Go, Pho Binh Heights, and Lucky Food Mart to the west, and Barnaby’s Cafe and Public House Heights to the east. The Chicago-based company manufactures parts for automated parking developments, finances them, and operates them. It’s been involved in past projects in New York, Philadelphia, Vancouver, Washington D.C., and Mexico City.

Here’s what a robo-valet with parts produced by Easy Park looks like inside The Lift at Juniper St., an 8-story, 228-car garage in Philadelphia:


02/26/18 11:45am

Postino hasn’t opened yet, but there’s already been a notable change to the decor at the Arizona-based wine cafe chain’s first Texas location. Gone from the construction fencing outside the restaurant’s patio are the signs pictured at top that read, “DRINKING WINE AT LUNCH IS NOT A CRIME.” In their place, new banners featuring only Postino’s name and social media handle have appeared. The photo above views them from the west side of the Heights Mercantile development at the corner of 7th St. and Yale.

Here’s another look at the current fence abutting Rye 51’s storefront on 7th St.:


Restaurant Rebranding
02/20/18 10:45am

The Label Warehouse clothing resale store 3 doors down from Boomtown Coffee on 19th St. is now selling off the last of its stock ahead of the planned closing announced on its Facebook page earlier this month. The Heights thrift venue and its Midtown sibling location on the corner of Main and Eagle streets — also on its way out of business — are the last 2 spots remaining in the chain, which once held outposts in Conroe, Misouri City, and Angleton, as well as others in Houston. Its first location — opened at 6708 Harrisburg under the name Insurance Claims Fire Sale Warehouse in the early 60s — closed last year.

The photo at top looks south across 19th St. to show the few items left in the soon-to-be shuttered 7,425-sq.-ft. Heights building.

Photos: Some Random Property Gossip (storefront); Chelsi H. (sign)

02/15/18 2:00pm

The skeleton of a new strip center across the street from the Alexan Yale St. apartments — dubbed Heights Village by a banner attached to its construction fencing — is now rising on the corner of Yale and W. 5th St. Construction began on the just-under-an-acre parcel last month, reports the Swamplot reader who snapped the above photo of the site from outside the Alexan complex. The corner — on the opposite end of the block from where Better Luck Tomorrow opened last year — had been vacant since 2010, when a warehouse on the site was demolished.

The aerial rendering above from Cisneros Design Studio shows what an upper-story Alexan Yale St. resident might see out the window when the retail center is complete. Parking lots hug the building on 3 sides and include entrances on Yale, 5th. St., and Yale Ct. — a short dead end that runs behind the property. Patio seating is shown fronting the chamfered corner on the building’s northwest quadrant, and an elevated walkway runs along its storefronts, a few steps up from the lot.


Yale Retail
02/14/18 11:45am

Braun Realty is gearing up to replace Johnny’s Gold Brick’s next door neighbor and redo the warehouse behind the 2 structures as part of a new retail development it has planned for the corner of Yale and Aurora. An entity connected to the developer snatched up the property on Yale — as well as a few adjacent parcels east on Aurora — last October. The site plan above taken from Braun’s leasing flyer for the complex now indicates all 3 buildings decked out with new adjacent patios. East of the buildings, a parking lot sports entrances on both Aurora and an alley that runs north of the site.

The photo at top shows the front door to Johnny’s Gold Brick next to the brown brick building that Lucas Craftsmanship contractors moved out of in 2015. Here’s the view from the corner of Yale and Aurora showing the 2-story structure that’s slated to replace the former construction office:


Heights Corner Shake-Up
02/06/18 12:00pm

A sideways glance at the renovations underway on 1815 Washington — formerly home to the Pandora Lounge nightclub, and even more formerly to Throne Ultra Lounge — reveals 2 new openings in the building’s east side ahead of its coming grand opening as Houston’s first Gus’s Fried Chicken location. The older listing photo above depicts the full building on the block between Silver and Sabine back when its street frontage was a wall of bricks. The white wall and front door shown on the right in the photo at top had replaced the brick face and garage entrance by the time Braun Enterprises bought the place in late 2015.

Renderings of the building released by Braun around the time Gus’s signed up for it in 2016, however, showed plans to rebrick it, as well as add new windows and a patio on its east side:


Tennessee Transplant
01/31/18 2:45pm

Which suits the new Washington Ave better: sidewalk-fronting buildings or strip centers? If ever there were a project that illustrated that fundamental choice, it’s this one. New exterior renderings from developer NewQuest show the block of Washington between Leverkuhn and Jackson Hill St., just west of Five Guys’s strip center spot, redone as Washington Central — a  shopping center with one building set back from the street and the other left out on the curb.

The 9,040-sq.-ft. planned strip center building shown fronting the parking lot in the renderings above provides some company for the existing brick building east of it. Planted on the corner of Washington and Leverkuhn since 1930, the 2-story structure has been empty since Guadalajara Bakery shuttered in it nearly 6 years ago.

New large windows open the bakery building — shown below with some legalese on its face — onto the street:


Walk or Drive?