07/09/18 3:00pm

Since longtime Times Blvd. tenant G&G Model Shop left its storefront last August, the space has been whitened, renovated and snapped up by ArtMix Creative Learning Center — a children’s art school that relocated from 3701 W. Alabama St. earlier this year. But the model shop — located at 2522 Times for over 60 yearsremains attached to the space. A G&G representative told Swamplot previously that the metal sign would follow the business over to its new spot in the strip center at the corner of 59 and Shepherd (home to a few more elderly Rice Village expats as well).

But just last Thursday, a poster on HAIF noted that address is still crowned by a temporary vinyl banner:

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Rice Village Relics
03/07/18 12:00pm

New possibly aquatic-themed street and sidewalk art is bubbling up on Amherst St. west of Kelvin Dr. in Rice Village. The photo at top views a few of the freshly-laid, not-quite-concentric circles from outside the Everything But Water swimwear store that occupies part of the recently renovated retail building on Amherst St. The designs are being placed there by Crossroads Decorative Pavement — whose truck is on site in the photo above looking toward Kelvin.

Here’s a view of what’s under foot on the southern bank of Amherst:

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Moistening the Pavement
02/02/18 12:00pm

Now on its way to a portion of the Village Arcade building on Amherst that La Madeleine restaurant abandoned last March: Shop Rice Owls, a clothing and merchandise store selling exclusively Rice University gear. The 1,071-sq.-ft. off-white-walled space beneath the rooftop Rice Village parking garage was once the east end of La Madeleine’s space on the corner of Amherst and Kirby. A partly-built Shack Shake has since taken over the French bakery’s former home — but not all of it, leaving room for the off-campus store to squeeze in between the back side of the fast-food spot and the staircase leading up to the garage.

A view looking east down Amherst shows more renovated storefronts lining the street to the right of the stairs, in place of the black-awninged brick building that stood on the block before 2016:   CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Rice Village Homecoming
01/12/18 4:00pm

There’s some news about the space next door to Athleta in the Rice Village Arcade shopping center on University Blvd. where mannequins were spotted limbering up on the sidewalk the other day: it’s about to shut down. A source tells Swamplot that national retailer Yankee Candle will close the store — one of 8 locations in the Houston area — on January 28.

A sign in the storefront window announces its last big blowout:

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Leaving the Village
01/08/18 2:30pm

Spotted in the pre-retail hours at 2512 University Blvd. by morning Rice Village dog-walker Gerrit Leeftink: This convocation of under-dressed athletic figures — in warm-up mode outside the local outlet of women’s clothing chain Athleta.

More views of the gathering, as participants awaited their new attire indoors:

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Street Mannequins of University Blvd.
06/27/17 2:30pm

The startup 3-barrel “nano-brewery” carving its ferment-and-serve spaces out of the former Bissonnet Auto Service Center garage on Bissonnet St. between Kirby and Greenbriar is scheduled for a Labor Day Weekend opening, according to a recent report in the Chronicle. New glazed overhead doors have been installed in the 2 garage bays, but according to this photo of the spot from earlier today, there’s still a bit of work going on inside.

If future passers-by do a double-take after seeing drinkers out on the front patio of the single-story structure at 2322 Bissonnet, it might be because the brewery-bar will be next door to the former Kay’s Lounge, also a single-story building serving drinks on a front patio, which was demolished last fall. These homes are scheduled to go up on that site.

Photo: Swamplot inbox

06/27/17 11:00am

Newly posted to MLS: a listing for 1 of the 6 townhomes patio homes from Frasier Homes intended for the site of the former Kay’s Lounge. Garages, spare bedrooms, and side yards only will grace the ground floors of the properties in this shared-driveway 6-pack, however, because Kay’s Lounge itself — an establishment that was founded back in 1939 — was demolished last year. The new residential compound covers both the Kay’s lot, formerly known as 2334 Bissonnet, and the one immediately to the west at 2332 Bissonnet, which formerly housed an adjacent structure as well as longtime bar’s parking lot.

But if it’s the idea of living very close to storied nightlife that attracted you to this property in the first place, don’t be disappointed: Just next door to this property, in the former Bissonnet Auto Service Center at 2322 Bissonnet, a new brewery and lounge called Baileson Brewing Company is about to open. The fourth-floor patios at the top of the homes at 2332 Bissonnet (pictured at top right in the rendering above) will overlook Baileson’s driveway-turned-drinking-patio directly.

Here’s the second view from the listing, showing how the shared-drive fronts of the 3 units on the Baileson side might look if they’re completed before the other 3 are begun (they’d be in the foreground):

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New Neighbors in Rice Village
05/10/17 11:30am

Remodeling along the lines of what’s depicted here is now underway on Amherst St. between Kelvin St. and Kirby Dr., according to a Rice Village District rep. A couple of newly released drawings shown here fill in details to some of the previously mentioned changes planned for the south side of Amherst, including the conversion of part of the roadway itself into more walking and sitting room behind some protective planters. And that narrow passageway in the building, running between Amherst and University Blvd., appears to be getting its own signage labeling it as The Alley (complete with light-up arrow directing shoppers inside).

The plans also call for some rooftop greenery and the chopping off of some pointy brick pediments — a swap which the District says will make all that 2-hours-free rooftop parking more visible, in the wake of the recent parking scheme changes:

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Retail Redistricting
03/21/17 2:30pm

Shake Shack planned at 6205 Kirby Dr, Rice Village, Houston, 77005

Rice Village, Houston, 77005The 26th will be the last day of business for the La Madeleine on Kirby Dr. at Amherst St., a rep for the Rice Village District says this afternoon. After that the space’ll get a significant makeover, part of the ongoing de-suburbanization of the 1990s Village Arcade buildings. Changes planned for the space appear to include a total blackout of the corner’s pediments, a gutting of the existing canopy level (paired with a boxy see-through enclosure of that area) and a hip-high hashtag-biscuitpaintwall-style landscaping feature (replacing the existing hedge as Amherst’s walkable zone gets widened). The company says the burger place should be ready to open sometime around November.

Images: Rice Village District (rendering), Swamplot inbox (photo)

Kirby Corner Shake-Up
02/07/17 10:00am

Owl Sculptures by Dan Mabry, Kelvin St. at University Blvd., Rice Village, Houston, 77005

Rice Village, Houston, 77005The sculpted birds above are now staring intently in various directions from just south of the entrance ramp for the Rice Village’s rooftop parking lot between University Blvd. and Amherst St. The new bird-studded cage hangs around the upper half of the Kelvin St. access staircase for the lot, previously shielded from prying eyes by a since-removed blinder of brick (as pictured second above at the start of the work last year, before much of the paint-up or knock-out action had taken place on the eastern side of the structure). The birds are the work of Californian metalworker and periodic perched bird sculptor Nathan Mabry. Changes to the building roughly align with the older renderings of the remodel, though the space was previously depicted with an extra new window (along with some ghostly stand-in art): 

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Kelvin St. Bird Cage
01/26/17 1:45pm

Rice Village parking meters, Morningside Dr. at University Blvd., Rice Village, Houston, 77005

The latest edits to the Rice Village area’s look include the installation of the above parking meters for the spaces along Morningside Dr., as captured by a reader this morning. The Rice Village District folks announced in January that the formerly free spots around shopping complex will become pay spots in February. There will still be free parking in the area, for those who watch the clock: parking in the garage between Morningside and Kelvin St. and on the rooftop lot on across Kelvin will be free for the first 2 hours.

The changes appear to fall in line with some of the suggestions made in a 2015 Kinder Institute report on the area’s parking congestion and access inefficiencies; the authors noted at the time that the shopping district always had at least 1,000 unused parking spots even at times when parking seemed hardest to find (like during the peak of the weekday lunch rush).

The to-be-metered zones are marked in light blue in the map below; those zones include the spaces around the former Village Arcade structures between Kirby Dr. and Morningside along University, as well as parts of Times and Rice boulevards and parts of Amherst St.:

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Spot Spotting
01/23/17 12:30pm

Baileson Brewery renderings, 2322 Bissonnet St., Rice Village, Houston, 77005

A few sketches show the gist of Method Architecture’s plans for converting the former Bissonnet Auto Service Center at 2322 Bissonnet St. into Baileson Brewing Company. The auto shop’s original carport structure looks to be incorporated into the plans for the space as a patio shade-provider, while the 2 former garage bay doors look to be getting glassy replacements. The brewery will enter the area beer niche vacated last year by no-longer-next-door Kay’s Lounge, which met its end in October, and by Hans’ Bier House half a mile a way (last seen bearing signage announcing a planned coffee shop). Here’s a few more angles on the potential redo:

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Brewing on Bissonnet
08/15/16 11:30am

ChristoMio Coffee Bar, 2523 Quenby St., Rice Village, Houston, 77005ChristoMio Coffee Bar, 2523 Quenby St., Rice Village, Houston, 77005The sign in front of the former Hans’ Bier Haus (which after 21 years shut down last month as previously announced) now reads a little differently: ChristoMio Coffee Bar is setting up shop at 2523 Quenby (in the shadow and projectile range of the nextdoor 2520 Robinhood condo tower). The new logo appears to have been planted onto the old sign just a few days after Hans’ mid-July final hurrah; no official opening date has yet been announced.

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Kirby at Quenby
07/27/16 11:00am

Rice Village, Morningside Dr. north of University Blvd., Rice Village, Houston, 77005

Rice Village, Morningside Dr. north of University Blvd., Rice Village, Houston, 77005The latest work by sanctioned graffiti artist Gonzo247 is dry this rainy morning, hanging back from Morningside Dr. on the sheltered stretch of shopping center wall between Black Walnut Cafe and New York & Company. (That’s along the eastern edge of the Rice Village building group currently being rebranded away from its long-running gig as the Village Arcade.) The new piece is a little more coy in its messaging than some of the artist’s previous work (which includes the edited Houston Is Inspired Hip Tasty Funky Savvy mural commissioned by the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau near Market Square in 2013) — though it does include a lot of letters. Take your own shot at deciphering the close ups below of the piece, around the corner from the space on University recently vacated by the theater-hearkening Village Arcade sign:

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Spelling It Out