Developer Giorgio Borlenghi may have just shelved plans to build the 26-story condo tower he had dubbed Villa Borghese on the 1.43-acre site a block south of Westheimer at Bammel Ln. and Earl Ln., but work clearing the property of the 15 separate cottage-y structures that once stood in the way of the now-on-hold project has not stopped. A reader sends pics of the scene from last Thursday, as workers from Cherry House Moving mounted the houses-turned-shops-and-offices surrounding the shuttered wedding venue known as the Gardens of Bammel Lane onto steel rails and prepared them for exit:
There’s still “some uncertainty” over the exact schedule, but all the pieces needed to allow Metro to open Houston’s second and third light-rail lines won’t be in place until late December, according to reports delivered to a committee of the transportation organization’s board of directors last Friday. Previously, an opening date sometime this fall had been projected for the Southeast and East End lines (though the far eastern end of the East End line won’t come on line until a newly planned overpass is built under over the Union Pacific East Belt freight rail line between the future Altic and Cesar Chavez stations). Delays in the delivery of trains aren’t the sole reason for the late openings, however.
AN APARTMENT DEVELOPER’S NEW MIDTOWN PEARLS ARE MISSING The Morgan Group’s Pearl Midtown apartment building is still under construction at the corner of Elgin and Smith streets in Midtown, but a couple of follow-on projects have recently drifted away from the process for gaining city approval — for now, at least. Signs announcing a variance request for the Pearl on Smith went up last month in front of the 1940 building at 3100 Smith St. that used to house the Social Security Administration’s offices (pictured at top), across the street from the Pearl Midtown. And on the block surrounded by Helena, Dennis, Albany, and Drew, a sign is still up for a variance request to allow construction of the Pearl on Helena. On that block is the building that until last fall housed the Kindred Hospital Midtown (bottom photo) — along with this 1930 mansion. Applications for both projects showed similar 5-story apartment complexes built around a small courtyard on top of 2 garage levels. But both projects have now gone quiet in the city’s tracking system. The variance application for the Pearl on Smith was withdrawn before its scheduled April 17th hearing. And the Pearl on Helena is listed as an “inactive application” in the city database, even though it was originally scheduled for a hearing on the same date. Photos: O’Connor & Associates (3100 Smith St.); Swamplot inbox (Kindred Hospital)
O ye of little faith, casting doubts here and there that a little 13,000-sq.-ft. standalone fine dining and lounging experience on Westheimer across Stoney Brook from AutoZone would ever open its doors after a mere 3 years of construction, a few long silences, and working so hard behind the scenes to get every detail right! It takes time, and actual anticipation, to truly earn the status of Houston’s Most Anticipated Restaurant. So take this: Fish and the Knife opens today. As in: You can park your car in the big parking lot out back, walk right in through the big wooden doors, and order yourself some sushi and a Japanese-style steak. And maybe this weekend, or some other big weekend night soon, wiggle your tail and fins to the rhythms and the flashing lights in the transformed 4,000-sq.-ft. “Las Vegas-style” nightclub inside.
Okay, but really, what took this place so long to open? Here’s the owner of the new spot at 7801 Westheimer, trying valiantly to explain it all:
On-again off-again would-be Westheimer sushi-nightclub debutante Fish and the Knife has given up on target opening dates, reports Eater Houston. “The big debut is back on track,” reports Darla Guillen in a post that includes actual photos of the actual completed interior at 7801 Westheimer. After almost 3-and-a-half years of construction and several blown promised-opening deadlines, she writes, “the owner is (understandably) reluctant to announce an official date.” But, um, the restaurant is “definitely on schedule to open soon, and is currently hiring staff.”
Update, 3 pm: A daring update to Eater’s report notes the owner now “expects to be open by Feb. 10.”
The tallest, least-curvy tower in the trio pictured at left won’t be built any time soon, Chevron declared yesterday. The new 50-story structure, which the oil company announced over the summer and planned to combine with the 2 structures passed down to it from Enron into a consolidated Downtown campus, had been scheduled to begin construction shortly after March of next year. A spokesperson for the company tells the Chronicle‘s Nancy Sarnoff it won’t even make a decision on whether to proceed with the now-on-hold project until 2015. The 1.7-million-sq.-ft. building on a parking-garage plinth at 1600 Louisiana St. had been designed by architecture firm HOK for the former site of Houston’s Downtown YMCA.
Dallas developer Mill Creek Residential has “called off” plans to build a 5-story apartment block across Dowling St. from Dynamo Stadium in East Downtown. Set just south of the soon-to-open light rail stop at Texas Ave. and Dowling, the 315-unit complex was to have been called EaDo Station. The company recently announced a slightly smaller development near the Med Center: 265 apartments at 1755 Wyndale St. near Holcombe and South Braeswood.
There’ll be a — um — slight delay in the move-in date for the purchasers of the brand-new Madison Park townhomes at 111 and 107 E. 2nd St., just south of White Oak Bayou. Yes, it appears that the 2 stick-framed structures backing up to Heights Blvd. that toppled violently Saturday night — an hour or so after a not-exactly-fierce storm passed through the area — were in fact among the 4 that developer Keystone Classic Homes had been claiming on its website and in a construction-fence-mounted banner were already sold. Their listing in MLS provides perhaps a more conservative assessment: A bank of 4 townhomes — including 111 and 107 — were listed as “pending,” usually an indicator that a contract has been accepted by the seller but that no closing has yet taken place.
If you happen to be the lucky buyer on hook for one of these addresses — presuming you still want in — how much time will the weekend’s rack-and-rumble set you back?