09/25/18 4:30pm

Note: This story has been updated.

Parts left over from the metal barn that Black Page Brewing leased out beside White Oak Bayou out a few years back are now lying in a heap next to a wooden skeleton that’s taken the demolished structure’s place. The deconstruction began last month according to neighbors who called 311 on August 31 to report that it was happening, potentially, they said, without the required permits. An inspector showed up the next day to check things out, one of several field trips the city would make to the planned brewpub’s digs at the end of Glen Park St. over the next few weeks in response to multiple follow-up calls from nearby residents.

By the time a demo permit did show up last Friday, the site had already been tagged twice by city officials: first for the premature teardown, and once again — as shown below — for additional unpermitted work:

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Near Northside
08/06/18 11:00am

Here’s the next target in Houston’s continuing warehouse-to-brewery turnover trend: 1504 Chapman St. A group of local brewers got their hands on the 6,283-sq.-ft. building — pictured above from the south — in April and a budding Facebook page now shows its address as the location of a venue they’re calling Local Group Brewing.

It’s within the same general parish as St. Arnold’s recently-opened beer cathedral and existing brewery. They’re both less than half a mile away on the other side of the former Union Pacific brownfield pictured below, now giving rise to the complex of mixed-use buildings dubbed Hardy Yards:

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Aerial Redevelopment Reconaissance
05/11/18 4:00pm

Houston’s City Planning Commission approved a variance yesterday permitting a developer that plans to build a 4-story apartment building on the corner highlighted above not to extend Dunlop St. through the site, as otherwise required. Instead, plans call for the street to end at the south side of the complex, where it’ll be bounded by a new, 8-ft. tall fence.

The request first showed up on the commission’s agenda on April 26, at which time a couple of residents came forward to complain about the heavy traffic on nearby Karcher and Angelo streets — which northbound drivers use to avoid the light at the intersection of Link and Fulton. Extending Dunlop through the site, they argued, would clear up some of that congestion.

But a 60-ft.-wide swath of road like that would run over the garage, parking lot, pool, and dumpster area the developer plans to build at the center of the complex, as shown in the site plan below:

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Transit Corridor
04/26/18 11:30am

The transit-themed entryway Lennar Homes wants to build to its 39-lot development — dubbed Fulton Station — on the corner of Fulton and Cavalcade will get another shot at city approval when it goes before Houston’s planning commission this afternoon. Lennar’s new residential neighborhood hugs the Charisma Design Studios & Art Gallery Building, west of the southbound stop for METRO’s Red Line in the middle of Fulton St.

The gated entrance would go at the foot of a private park Lennar has planned just across the street from the rail platform, on the parcel highlighted red in the map below:

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Red Line Scenery
01/30/18 12:37pm

A show-stopping announcement posted on the Walter’s Downtown Facebook page yesterday brings sad news for thrashers, metal-heads, punks, and indie fans: the 18-year-old live music venue on the corner of Naylor and Vine streets plans to close down on February 4. Walter’s moved to its current location — the former classic car showroom, video production studio, car parts distribution center, and cabinet warehouse pictured above — in 2011. Before that, the club was located on Washington Ave, in a building just east of Thompson St. that’s since been transformed into the office of Carnegie Custom Homes.

The photo below views the venue from its north side on Naylor back in 2014:

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The Last Set
12/26/17 3:45pm

There’s a new outdoor stairway zig-zagging its way up to the top of the Raven Tower’s above-ground spot at the northwest corner of the White Oak Music Hall complex. The elevated bar opened in January 2016 on North St., just off N. Main east of I-45, but shut down in May of that year after its developer decided to address accessibility issues through renovations. It only received a certificate of occupancy — allowing the venue to operate as a bar — in April of this year.

Railings and landings are still missing from the new stairway. Inside the podium, an indoor stairway wraps around a central elevator shaft that rises from the base of the tower up to its peacock-blue penthouse.

Here’s a view of the tower from beyond an adjacent concert venue, one of several surrounding the White Oak Music Hall’s main building:

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WOMH and Friends
11/14/17 11:45am

More new features are imagined for the center of Houston than just the new Green Loop highlighted in the just-released Plan Downtown proposal. There’s also a mysterious new Downtown island. Where did it come from?

It’s the result of digging the long-whispered North Canal Channel Bypass, a re-linking of White Oak and Buffalo Bayous north of Downtown. Existing bends and narrow banks along the 2 bayous just east of Main St. restrict the flow of stormwater during flooding events. According to reports, engineering studies have estimated that cutting a straighter diversion channel to bypass the oxbow could reduce flooding Downtown by 3.5 ft.

But digging a new canal while maintaining the existing path of the bayou would create an island out of the area just north of Commerce St. An imagined map of the area in Plan Downtown’s report (rotated so North is aimed down and to the right) shows what car and pedestrian bridges might link it to the mainland:

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Plan Downtown
10/20/17 2:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: HOW LAST NIGHT’S A$AP MOB SHOW ON THE WHITE OAK MUSIC HALL LAWN MIGHT’VE BROUGHT DOWN THE HOUSE “Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered. WOMH should cut a deal fast to make major sound mitigation improvements before the court and the City shuts them down. People on both sides of I-45 are hopping mad about the concert last night. It is a huge roll of the dice to expect a bunch of jurors to say: ‘Yeah, a big concert venue in the middle of a residential neighborhood is no big deal.’” [Old School, commenting on FEMA Aid Deadline Extended; Pre-Trial Outdoor Shows Can Go On at White Oak Music Hall; Hakeem Olajuwon in the Red Mango Biz] Video clip of last night’s outdoor concert (NSFW): FIRST CLASS BEATS

08/29/17 2:15pm

“If you don’t know that’s a big dip,” reports a reader who scouted the scene of the impromptu lake formed over the weekend on the lawn of the Near Northside’s Hollywood Cemetery, “you don’t appreciate just how much water that is.” The cemetery lies between Little White Oak Bayou and I-45, along the northeast edge of N. Main St. The water level has lowered a bit since these photos were taken on Sunday. Do note the bouquet, presumably perched above one of the completely submerged gravestones, in the right foreground of the view above.

More views of Lake Hollywood:

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High Water Marks in the Near Northside
08/11/17 11:15am

The new Holiday Inn Express about to begin construction at 3401 N. Main St. in the Near Northside will have some consistently quiet neighbors and some occasionally very loud ones — with the steady drone of the adjacent North Fwy. available to somehow bridge the gap. The 1.44-acre site, where the Casa Grande Mexican Restaurant stood until it was torn down 2 years ago (and Stuarts Drive-In before it), sits across N. Main St. from the Hollywood Cemetery (yes, the same cemetery featured in Wes Anderson movie Rushmore). And it’s just a bit more than a quarter-mile up N. Main from the White Oak Music Hall complex, whose outdoor concert habit spurred nearby residents kept up late at night by the noise to file suit against the venue — and later, the city of Houston — for failing to follow (and enforce) local sound ordinances.

Late last month, crews removed the concrete paving left behind after the Casa Grande demolition (see photos above). Just this week, a city permit was granted for a 58,929-sq.-ft., 95-room Holiday Inn Express on the site — up 10 rooms from the 85 promised a couple of years ago, when the developers submitted these drawings as part of an application for a variance that would allow them not to have to extend or widen Norma St., on the north end of the lot:

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Near Near Northside
07/18/17 5:15pm

Currently listed for an undisclosed amount on CBRE’s website: a 10.69-acre chunk of the former Union Pacific railyard brownfield property previously sketched up for future conversion to the Hardy Yards mixed-use development. The section up for grabs appears to snuggle up to the west against a piece of land owned by Metro, whose Burnett Transit Center and light-rail Red Line are elevated above that semi-catching segment of N. Main St. tunnel; the parcel extends east to the new-ish segments of Fulton and Leona St., likely not too far from the spot where that rail car full of lithium batteries blew up back in April.

On the other side of the site, meanwhile, the Residences at Hardy Yards apartments are under construction, per photos from the Zieben Group published back in May:

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Near Northside Reallocations
05/25/17 2:00pm

Not to be outdone by last week’s midday plug-up of the Alfred Hernandez Tunnel beneath the railroad tracks and the Burnett TC Red Line stop, another semi making its way through the passage got lodged in the tunnel late this morning — getting torn open end-to-end in the process. But that’s not even the first truck stuckage incident at the underpass in the last 24 hours, according to a reader who’s had both a camera and a Twitter account trained on the recently retooled intersection for at least the last few months.

The reader tells Swamplot that another truck got stuck briefly last night, and that it happens about 6 times a week: “Our camera system auto-wakes when it hears something beyond a certain threshold; most drive away, presumably nervous[ly] on their way to have a talk with the boss.” Some work on the tunnel has been on the city’s docket this spring, and was approved at a mid-April meeting; that’s likely to start around the end of the month. 

Here’s the scene from above as of early this afternoon:

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Near-Daily Grind in Near Northside
05/19/17 11:45am

The light at the end of the N. Main St. tunnel beneath the Union Pacific Line was obscured for a bit this morning where the northbound side of the road re-emerges into tossed-coffee-cup range of the Burnett Transit Center light-rail stop (atop the topmost overpass in the shot above.) The semi that briefly plugged the hole looks to have scraped its way through the entire length of the tunnel before getting stuck at the northern exit. Transtar pinned the stopup to about 10:38 this morning; not much had changed as of 40 minutes ago (see below), but the road is now marked by professional traffic-watchers as cleared. 

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Yards from Hardy Yards
04/18/17 11:30am

Demo of Elysian St. Viaduct, Near Northside/Downtown, Houston, 77002

The rapidly disappearing elevated segment of Elysian St. pointing north out of Downtown is the latest aging roadway structure to be crumbled apart, though it won’t be the last. But death is a natural part of the Houston roadway cycle! And a healthier, brawnier replacement viaduct is planned to take its place along roughly the same right-of-way — this one with broad shoulders and a sidewalk. TxDOT spokesman Danny Perez told Houston Public Media‘s Gail DeLaughter last month that work on the new structure, which connects Downtown to Near Northside by funneling drivers over Buffalo Bayou and I-10, should start before the demo of the mile-and-a-half-long original wraps up.

hunched excavator was spotted helping to bring the aging bridge down from above:

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Traffic Cycles in Near Northside