03/14/18 4:45pm

The Oxberry Group is ready to rechristen the vacant Gibbs Boats building at 1110 W. Gray St. as Rêve at Montrose: a new, patio-fronting shopping center. The boat business shuttered in the 11,696-sq.-ft. warehouse building it had occupied for 56 years after selling off the last of its fleet in 2014.

Major changes slated for the building now include a takedown of its shed-roofed portion closest to Montrose Blvd. In place of that area, outdoor seating — shown above in the rendering from Tipps Architecture — will line the street. A clock tower planted between the existing 1- and 2-story parts of the building would be its new high point. And at the north end of Gibbs’ former lot — next to the U-Plumb-It hardware store — a 2,630-sq.-ft. retail add-on would take the place of a yard once used for boat work.

The site plan below shows the addition (colored red) jutting out and separating the pedestrian plaza from a driveway to the planned parking lot:


Rêve at Montrose
03/02/18 4:45pm

Excavators have begun clawing at the ballroom that sits behind the La Colombe d’Or hotel’s main building on the corner of Montrose Blvd. and Harold St. — in order to make way for a new apartment tower. Demolition began on the structure formally and formerly known as Le Grand Salon de la Comtesse in late January after portions of its rococo interior — including oak paneling, gold-framed mirrors, and chandeliers — were catalogued, extracted, and shipped to an offsite storage facility by teardown crews.

That’s just about the reverse of how those interiors got there in the first place. La Colombe d’Or owner Steve Zimmerman bought the furnishings — crafted in the 1730s for members of the French royal family — in 1995 from the son of oilman John Mecom Sr., who’d kept them stored in a blimp hangar he owned at the former Hitchcock Naval Air Station of Hwy. 6. He’d been stockpiling other French home goods (including one of Marie Antoinette’s bathrooms) for more than 30 years. Once Zimmerman got ahold of the decor, he built the less pedigreed stucco structure at 3410 Montrose Blvd. behind the hotel building where the items served as a backdrop for weddings, corporate functions, and the occasional speech.

In this view of the neighboring 30-story apartment tower now known as the Hanover Montrose (previously 3400 Montrose), the Colombe d’Or and its ballroom can be seen at the bottom left:


Montrose Stack-Up
03/02/18 2:00pm

Repairs on PJ’s Sports Bar’s patio have the outdoor space back up and running after a sports car hopped the curb near the corner of W. Gray St. and Stanford and nearly totaled the seating area in January. One driver was hospitalized, but there were no major injuries at the scene pictured above; it was past last call when the accident occurred. The bar’s patio, however, remained in pieces for nearly 2 months after emergency workers removed the projectile.

Now, only one pre-crash item remains absent from the bar’s frontage at 614 W. Gray: the fluorescent crosswalk sign shown on the ground in the photo below:


High-Speed Corners
02/15/18 4:30pm

If the Platform Group has settled on a plan for redeveloping the corner of W. Gray St. and Stanford, it hasn’t made it known yet. An entity connected to the developer bought the white corner building home to the Traci Scott hair salon and the former Skinny Rita’s restaurant adjacent to it last December. The firm’s website now explains it’s “in the early stages of feasibility studies” for the pair of 2-stories at 615 and 607 W. Gray.

The 2 buildings share the parking lot visible in the snow-capped aerial above with entrances on W. Gray as well as one on Stanford, behind the hair salon. Not pictured is a narrow patio that runs along the chop shop’s Stanford side. A larger fenced-off seating area and upper deck currently front W. Gray outside the former restaurant, which closed last February after just under a year in the building.

Here’s a closer up view of Skinny Rita’s seating taken from the parking lot entrance between the 2 buildings just after the restaurant vacated the premises:


Skinny Rita’s Plus One
01/11/18 4:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: DIDN’T MEAN TO STOP AT PJ’S SPORTS BAR THAT NIGHT “Love the ‘he forgot his bumper’ story, but it’s not true. I was driving my S4 eastbound on W. Gray, and the Ford apparently ran the stop sign at Stanford northbound and knocked me across the road and into PJ’s. My car was smashed on both ends and definitely could not be driven. Maybe the cops towed it promptly — I was busy bleeding on the lawn and talking to witnesses as I waited on an ambulance. Two nights in the hospital, but I’ll be fine.” [Stefan, commenting on The New Audi-Sized Hole Drilled into PJ’s Sports Bar on W. Gray Last Night] Photo: Swamplot inbox

01/08/18 3:30pm

A car gunning for PJ’s Sports Bar on the corner of W. Gray and Stanford St. ended up inside the bar’s front patio last night. Nobody was seriously injured after a traffic mix-up between a Ford and the Audi pictured above sent the sports car sailing into the sports bar at around 11 PM last night. PJ’s was closed at the time.

The Ford came to a stop upside down, in between 614 W. Gray and its neighbor — Cecil’s Pub:


A Front Porch Welcome
10/27/17 1:30pm

Here’s the other new purveyor of brownish fluids at the corner of Richmond Ave and Woodhead: The 13th area Take 5 Oil Change — and the chain’s fifth location in Houston proper — is now open for business, a few steps ahead of the adjacent new Starbucks. The building takes the place of a pair of 2-story brick 4-plexes at 1823 and 1827 Richmond torn down last year.

Take 5’s leaky-oil-can logo will greet drivers lined up for the Starbucks drive-thru, as this site plan shows:


Now Open and For Sale
10/26/17 4:15pm

The mocha-colored drive-thru Starbucks that’s been brewing at 1801 Richmond Ave. since its predecessor building was torn down in January now appears just about ready to serve. Landscape crews are plopping in plants on the Richmond Ave. side; this view taken from an upper floor of the nearby Fairmont Museum District Apartments shows how the new building looks nestled next to its notable neighbors, which include the Big Tex Storage facility and King Cole liquor store across Richmond and Mexican restaurant La Tapatia just across Woodhead:


Montrose Drive-Thru
02/01/17 3:45pm

Lighting of Bridges over US-59

The newly LED-equipped crossings over US-59 between Shepherd Dr. and Midtown should be getting officially flipped on around 8 pm tomorrow, after a few weeks of on-and-off testing. The 2 Gandys of Gandy² Lighting Design tell Swamplot that the lights will likely run from sunset to sunrise; the tentative plan in the leadup to the Super Bowl is for the bridges to show off the competitors’ team colors. The Patriots’ red-white-and-blue are demoed above, but here are some shots of what else the new fixtures can do, now that all the tuning up is largely finished:


Getting Turned On
09/22/16 10:30am

LANIER MIDDLE SCHOOL CEREMONIALLY CHANGES NAME TO LANIER MIDDLE SCHOOL Bob Lanier crestThe Lanier-Lanier name change got the official seal of approval as of yesterday morning by way of a seal-updating and renaming ceremony at the middle school’s campus at Woodhead St. and Westheimer Rd. That previously threatened lawsuit over the HISD’s plan to flush out Confederate sympathizers from its campus name roster was in fact filed in late June by a group of parent-and-alumni-types; documents filed with the district clerk’s office show that a request by the plaintiffs for a temporary injunction to stop the renamings from moving forward was denied by the judge on August 22nd. Lanier’s campus is keeping all but its first name, swapping author Sydney for former Houston mayor Bob; the other 7 schools on the changeover list started the year with more dramatic shifts in nomenclature. [HISD Blog; previously on Swamplot] Image of new Bob Lanier Middle School seal: HISD    

12/30/14 3:00pm



Chomp goes the excavator on a portion of the 3 adjacent 1950s and ’60s-era complexes at 1920 W. Alabama St., 1924 Marshall St. (pictured at left), and 2810 McDuffie St., right across the street from the Alabama Icehouse and just south of Admiral Linens.

In late July residents of the 3 complexes were told to move out by September 1, so that new owners City Centre at Midtown, an affiliate of developers Dolce Living, could be begin tearing down the 2-story buildings to clear the 1.58 acre parcel for one 6-story, 258-unit luxury apartment building.

Though it will be situated in the western edge of Montrose’s Winlow Place area, the building will be named City Centre at Midtown.

Here is a rendering released to the media in the days after the 35-day eviction notices went out:


Making Way For Montrose’s CityCentre At Midtown
04/23/14 11:15am



Beneath the glulam arches of a 2004 contemporary home designed by Houston architect Scott Ballard, living spaces line up in an open floor plan (top) with double-stacked windows fore and aft. The east-west property in First Montrose Commons near the HSPVA campus was listed last week, but recently upgraded its listing photos. It carries has an asking price of $1.22 million.


Let’s Roll
12/17/13 1:00pm


A slope, a staircase, and 3 floors of living space likely make an across-the-traffic bayou-view 1998 townhome on Allen Pkwy. east of Montrose Blvd. a bit of a workout as well as a place to rest. The end unit rising behind Buffalo Terrace is part of the 11-home Townes of Buffalo Bayou development, designed by Looney Ricks Kiss. It went up for sale Monday, with a $450,000 asking price.


A Home You’ve Driven By