01/04/16 1:45pm

The Eagle, 611 Hyde Park Blvd, Avondale, Houston, 77006

A Saturday-afternoon fire has temporarily flushed Montrose bar The Eagle from its roost at 611 Hyde Park Blvd — day-drinkers at the hotspot’s newish location reported smelling smoke and seeing lights flicker just before a manager ran downstairs to the first-floor bar area in the converted Depression Era-home to hustle patrons and staffers out. Owner Jay Allen told KTRK’s Deborah Wrigley that the permit had been approved for an already-installed sprinkler system in the building, but the City hadn’t hooked up the water yet. (No injuries were reported.)

Despite heavy smoke and fire damage to the second and third floors and water damage to the first, owner Jay Allen vows that the club will swoop back to its Montrose aerie (pictured above during the 2015 Pride season) as soon as possible. Meanwhile, the Eagle is screaming again (albeit only on Sundays) at its old bayouside digs downtown — “the dungeon” in the basement space at 709 Franklin — until repairs on the Hyde Park building are completed.


Back To the Underground
07/16/15 2:00pm

Key Maps Store, 1411 W. Alabama St., Montrose, Houston

Key Maps Store, 1411 W. Alabama St., Montrose, HoustonYou have until tomorrow, maybe, to grab some of the cartographic treasures remaining at the longtime Inner Loop home of Key Maps, Houston’s homegrown map company. Items you buy will be 70 percent off — or free if you fish them from the yellow Dumpster parked out front at 1411 W. Alabama. But it’s a pretty chaotic scene, a reader tells us: Framed wall-maps, Key Map books that used to be found in the back seat pocket of most Houston cars, and other items are being loaded into moving trucks in preparation for a relocation to a new storefront at 5622 Richmond Ave., on the north side of the strip near Chimney Rock.


Which Way from West Alabama
03/17/15 2:15pm

Tent at 1643 Westheimer Rd. at Kuester, Lower Westheimer, Montrose, Houston

A reader from Mandell Place says “everyone in the neighborhood is pretty curious” about the construction going on at the corner of Kuester St. on Lower Westheimer. The formerly vacant lot at 1634 Westheimer is where last summer Paul Petronella, David Keck, and Grant Gordon had announced they had plans to build a new restaurant from scratch, called the Edmont. But the new structure going up on the site “definitely looks temporary, but very robust for a temporary structure,” writes our tipster. “Beams (maybe 2x8s) run underneath with plywood on top, all leveled out to create a platform/floor. Half of this platform is covered by the tent, which is a party tent on steroids.


Vacant Lot Pop-Up
10/23/14 3:15pm



Next on the docket at the Court at Museum’s Gate on Montrose Blvd., a 2-story condo (top) in the 1985 postmodern property (above) presents in its listing earlier this week an unstaged interior — and a $325,000 asking price. It was on the books for $319,000 earlier this year, but that listing terminated in May, prior to a flip-minded reboot. Soon to hit 30, the 49-unit complex appears to be revamping one condo at a time . . .


Plaza Entry
05/27/14 11:00am

Lucky Burger, 1601 Richmond Ave. at Mandell St., Montrose, Houston

A sign on the door of Lucky Burger at 1601 Richmond Ave indicates the longtime barrel-signed drive-up is shutting down for good. No more burgers and no more shakes from the distinctive corner property — but equipment, tables, chairs, cookware, and more will soon be available in a final sale:


Unlucky in Meat
02/28/14 4:45pm

Bullock Mansion, 411 Lovett Blvd. at Taft St., Avondale, Montrose, Houston

Bullock Mansion, 411 Lovett Blvd. at Taft St., Avondale, Montrose, HoustonReaders are reporting to Swamplot that the end appears nigh for the 1906 Bullock-City Federation Mansion at 411 Lovett Blvd. in Montrose. Salvage and demolition crews have been at work there for much of the week, removing wood floors and gutting other pieces from the fancy interior. Portions of the garden (see photo at left) have been torn up to disconnect sewer lines. The new owners have reportedly said they have plans to build townhomes on the site once the existing building is demolished.


Restored 2005, Demolished 2014
01/29/14 3:30pm



Tucked on a lot that hugs the curve of a Spur 527 access road east of Montrose Blvd., a 1930 cottage in the Fitze Home neighborhood — also referred to as Roseland Estates — has been serving as the home office of an air conditioning business. The updated Montrose-area property blew onto the market last week as a home-or-office listing with a $335,000 price tag. That includes the upgrades to the electrical and AC systems.

Cottage Industry
01/24/14 1:30pm

2015 W. Alabama St., Montrose, Houston

Jazzy Girls Beauty Boutique, 2015 W. Alabama St., Montrose, HoustonAn episode of Animal Planet’s hit show Call of the Wildman that aired 5 months ago featured the show’s star Ernie Brown Jr. (who goes by the nickname “Turtleman”) and his sidekick Neal James ridding a Montrose beauty salon of an infestation of about 20 Mexican free-tailed bats. The escapade filmed in the back storage rooms of the Jazzy Girls Beauty Boutique on West Alabama St. just east of Shepherd was only one of several dozens of purported animal rescues performed by Turtleman “with his bare hands” in the course of the top-rated Sunday night cable TV show, which is now in its third season. In the other segment of the episode, called “Bat Hair Day,” he rescues a raccoon from a cave.

The supposedly cruelty-free “live action” Montrose winged-creature extrication, which was filmed in April, was reported locally in the Chronicle and Culturemap as another quirky Turtleman success story shortly before the episode aired in early August. But an investigation published earlier this week by Mother Jones reveals that the show’s creators had themselves planted the bats in the salon to allow them to film Turtleman and his assistant removing them.


Jazzy Girls Have Left the Building
01/06/14 10:00am

Marfreless, 2006 Peden St., River Oaks Shopping Center, HoustonThe new owners of Marfreless have updated the website of the shuttered River Oaks Shopping Center bar to indicate that it plans on reopening in January. Which makes sense, since the previously promised summer 2013 re-launch date for the 2006 Peden St. location has come and gone. A comment appended back in December to a Facebook photo album showing renovations of the signless institution’s famed dimly lit interior provides an actual opening date: “probably” January 17th. What delights await inside? A unisex restroom with 2 stalls, chandeliers, plus new VIP areas carved out of what were previously storage rooms: “There will be curtains upstairs that you can pull closed for privacy or open for groups. Or . . . pull closed for groups, if that’s what you’re into.” The stairs, however, will still offer the “same place to hit your head.”

Photo: Marfreless

Behind the Blue Door
11/20/13 10:15am

APARTMENTS AND RETAIL FOR WESTHEIMER AND MONTROSE CORNER? NOT UNTIL HALF PRICE BOOKS AND SPEC’S SCOOT Half Price Books in Westmont Shopping Center, 1011 Westheimer Rd., Montrose, HoustonThe owner of the once-Art Deco but now slathered-with-stucco shopping center at the southwest corner of Westheimer and Montrose says it’s willing to wait 7 to 10 years for the center’s leases to run out before building something new on the site. Unless, of course, they can negotiate an early exit (or time-out while construction takes place) for the Half Price Books, Spec’s, Papa Johns, 3-6-9 China Bistro and Jack in the Box currently on the site. If they can’t buy out the tenants, PM Realty’s Wade Bolin tells Shaina Zucker, they’ll start leasing out the still-vacant spaces in the former Tower Community Center, which the company calls the Westmont Shopping Center. “PM Realty Group did not share early design plans,” Zucker adds, “but several sources confirmed the mixed-use structure could include residential with retail on the ground floor.” [Houston Business Journal; previously on Swamplot] Photo: PM Realty

11/30/12 10:57am

Those of you waiting with bated breath for the renovation, redevelopment, or removal of the 1950s-era office building at 3400 Montrose Blvd. (across Hawthorne St. from the Montrose Kroger): keep on bating. The company that bought the vacant 10-story building last September has told its 500 Israeli investors that its operations in Israel and Houston are both “in dire financial straits,” according to a report in Israeli newspaper Haaretz.


10/13/08 10:44am

MONTROSE WILDLIFE Poet Mark Doty, while explaining Houston to the Travel set: “Here the city’s splendid tradition of patronage is on its best display, so the great old live oaks thrust their bowing branches out beside the Cy Twombly Gallery and the Rothko Chapel. The limbs dip perilously toward the ground, and the roots heave the sidewalks beneath them into little concrete alps, but since nobody walks anywhere it doesn’t make much difference. In summer the trees resound with cicadas, like electronic versions of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir chorusing an insanely repetitive song. Gangs of bronzy black birds—boat-tailed grackles—prefer smaller trees in busier areas; they like grocery store parking lots and the drive-through lanes at the Taco Cabana, and they shriek and holler long into the night, as if in avian parallel to the traffic below. They’re the loudest part of a plethora of urban wildlife: opossums, raccoons, the occasional snake slithering across the road, a sadly large population of stray dogs. Coyotes roam the cemetery north of Buffalo Bayou, where Howard Hughes is buried. All over town, tiny green lizards hold their heads up with notable alertness.” [Smithsonian, via HAIF]