10/19/18 3:45pm

The map above shows the land (in red) that Rice is confirmed to have grabbed around the Midtown Sears (orange) it bought out last October, including 2 new parcels (green) it snatched up through holding companies within the last few months. In an email sent out to university staff on Monday, Rice U. President David Leebron said the school “will ultimately redevelop approximately 14 acres of Rice-owned property,” near the Sears building into what it’s calling the Midtown Innovation District. So what are the latest spots it’s gotten its hands on? The first, catty-corner to the Sears building itself at the corner of Wheeler and San Jacinto, is Jack in the Box‘s nearly half-acre lot; Rice bought it in August.

More recently, the school pushed east by picking up 4201 Caroline St., the brick office building shown below that occupies a quarter-acre directly next to Fiesta:

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Sears and Friends
10/17/18 4:00pm

The 2 new buildings that the River Oaks Baptist School plans to start constructing side by side next month don’t have much in common with each other besides their location. The brick one — shown left to right at the video’s 9-second mark — mimics the look of the existing campus structures north of Westheimer and west of Willowick, one of which it abuts. Dubbed the school’s “Leadership Center,” it’s planned to house administrative staff along with some other adults. The taller, southern building on the other hand takes things in an entirely new direction with its multi-level, saw-tooth-edged terraces. Each one of its 4 floors will belong to a specific grade: fifth, sixth, seventh, or eighth. Right now, they all share space  with pre-K through fourth grade students in the existing campus north.

By adding on 160,000-sq.-ft., ROBS will more or less double its existing footprint — reports the HBJ‘s Fauzeya Rahman — and push out to front Westheimer directly (where a new “guard entrance” will go), displacing the former Walgreens building that sits behind Pinkberry and Zoë’s Kitchen’s shared restaurant structure in the process. It’ll also make room for the school to start adding “10 students per grade level,” to what’s now an 853-kid count, Rahman writes, over an unspecified period of time. Follow along to the spot about 35 seconds in, when the camera glides into the first floor of the modern building offering a view of where its youngest tenants will congregate.

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Virtual Video Tour
10/12/18 2:45pm

A local franchisee of nationwide chain Camp Bow Wow is getting started transforming about 8,000 sq.-ft. within the 30,000-sq.-ft. warehouse building shown above into something more pet-friendly than what’s inside now. About 150 Camp Bow Wow kennels are currently spread across the U.S. and Canada, according to the chain’s promotional materials, but this so-called “Greater Heights” location would be the first in Houston.

The building is one of 3 with identical exteriors that make up the Wynwood Park industrial complex, part of the even larger landscape of industrial buildings north of Hempstead Rd. and just east of 610. Some of the dog facility’s soon-to-be neighbors in those whereabouts: laser printer retailer Alpha Laser, construction tool supplier Expert Equipment, and a distribution center for specialty food purveyor Swiss Chalet.

Photo: First Industrial Realty

Camp Bow Wow
10/12/18 11:45am

Spotted on the Instagram story for a not-yet-open venue calling itself The Gypsy Poet: TABC signage going up where it plans to move into Core Church Midtown‘s former home at 2404 Austin St. It’s the fifth liquor-purveying establishment planned for the block — bounded by McIlhenny, Austin, McGowen, and Caroline streets — in the past year-and-a-half, none of which are open yet. But which together have now succeeded in reserving almost all of the space there for themselves.

According to its pastor Jim Stern, Core Church had been negotiating to move into a smaller spot at the back 2404 when the landlord tabled that option and switched its current lease over to a month-to-month agreement. Shortly after, in mid-February, the church was given 60 days to hit the road. It left in mid-March. “I am wondering if we were ‘pushed’ out because of the bars,” Stern tells Swamplot.

Photos: The Gypsy Poet (sign); Core Church (Jim S.)

Change Comes Knocking
10/10/18 4:00pm

Nancy Sarnoff has a few more details today on what the Downtown Redevelopment Authority will be paying the private owner of the area shown shaded at top — which wouldn’t give up its one-acre parcel there for a new park but will grant the Authority a 30-year lease for: “$355,992 in annual rent,” during the first 5 years, a spokeswoman says, with a 10 percent hike every 5 years thereafter. With that agreement in place — and the Goodyear Auto Service Center that currently occupies the block’s Fannin-St.-side slated for demo next April — the Authority is now seeking plans from landscape architects that’d be responsible for designing the space, though it notes that whatever the chosen firm comes up with “will have a potentially short life, between 30 and 50 years, per the lease agreement currently in place and options to extend.” (The parking lot shown without shading belongs to the South Texas College of Law and is there to stay.)

But that hasn’t stopped those involved from dreaming big while they can. A conceptual map of the park drawn up Project for Public Spaces — a New York planning firm hired to brainstormed some preliminary ideas for the Authority — shows it divvied up among a pair of buildings and a variety of different green spaces including a dog park:

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Block 333
10/09/18 2:00pm

 

The Friends of Downtown Friendswood withdrew its plan last week to install a new wooden carousel in Stevenson Park next-door to City Hall. Since last November, the site’s been home to a concrete pad left behind when the 42-year-old Fire Station #1 pictured above was demolished and its staff relocated to a new facility at 1610 Whitaker Dr., built with funds from a 2013 bond referendum. By the time of the teardown, the carousel idea (code-named “Project C”) was already on the table, and some residents accused city council of being a little too demolition-happy, owing to their friendliness with the civic organization that proposed it, reported the Chronicle‘s Jeremy Gingrich.

Instead of getting rid of the building, some argued, why not turn its 9,000 sq.-ft. into a community center to double down on the space offered by the city’s existing 9,500-sq.-ft. Friendswood Activity Building shown below at 416 Morningside St.?

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Stevenson Park
10/05/18 10:30am

All that foreplay over the sex doll brothel planned inside the 2 story building pictured above on Richmond Ave just east of Chimney Rock ended up going nowhere Wednesday when city council blocked its opening by amending an ordinance that regulates adult businesses within city limits. Following the council’s unanimous vote, having sex with what the amendment calls “anthropomorphic devices” inside stores that offer them is now illegal in Houston. However, selling the dolls for take-home use remains no problem — provided that the retailer is more than 1,500 ft. from all nearby schools, churches, daycare centers, areas with 75% residential density, and public parks

City-owned Anderson Park is just about catty-corner to the brothel’s planned location at 5615 Richmond — meaning the property is now off-limits to any kind of R-rated establishment. (Existing PG tenants include Kaan Cafe, Omni Salsa Dance Studio, and a handful of clothing shops.)

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5615 Richmond
09/27/18 5:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHITE OAK’S WOULD-BE TALLEST BUILDING “So the robo-garage on White Oak will be ‘no taller than 75 ft.‘ ?” That’s about 5 or 6 stories, which is exceedingly tall in that particular location. It will certainly stick out, when no other building in the immediate area is even half that height.” [Donald (not that one), commenting on How Houston’s 2 Planned Robo-Parking Garages Compare in Size] Map showing proposed automated parking garage on White Oak Dr.: Centric Commercial

09/27/18 4:30pm

Tune Up: The Manly Salon got the city’s approval yesterday to start renovating the building shown above into the latest member of its barber-shop chain, now roughly 20-stores strong. Following those locations’ lead, the 626 W. 19th St. shop — next to the former Southern Goods — would appeal to guys by offering them free drinks and access to an arcade stocked with video and old-fashioned games while they wait to get groomed. Hair care services include standard cuts, beard trims, straight shaves, and eyebrow waxing. Perhaps less manly are the cosmetic offerings: manicures, pedicures, and a mani-pedi combo for 4 bucks less than the cost of the two combined.

Photo: LoopNet

Making the Cut
09/26/18 4:30pm

The building with a roof that’s bigger than its body at 3024 Houston Ave. is now slated to become a cafe operating under the name Uncle Bean’s Coffee Shop. The photo at top — posted to the venue’s fledgling Facebook page this morning views the structure from the west side of the road, just south of Alma St. Its most recent occupant: Mr. Details Hand Car Wash.

White paint hit the exterior sometime during the former tenant’s tenure, washing out the yellow splat marks that once graced its north and south sides:

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Woodland Heights
09/26/18 12:30pm

HOW HOUSTON’S 2 PLANNED ROBO-PARKING GARAGES COMPARE IN SIZE The one that’d go next to the proposed Railway Heights food hall will be bigger: 89-ft. tall with a roughly 18,000-sq.-ft. footprint, reports Nancy Sarnoff. A site plan for the development at Wash Ave and Hempstead previously indicated it’d hold 600 cars. The other high-tech garageplanned in place of the existing analog facility on White Oak Dr. next to Tacos A Go Go — is being designed for a third of that capacity: 200 vehicles, reports Sarnoff, would fit there in a structure “no taller than 75 ft.,” with a 6,500-sq.-ft. footprint. The same tech company — New Jersey-based U-tron — is behind both buildings, in cooperation with Chicago developer Easy Park. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Image: Centric Commercial

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
09/25/18 12:00pm

A Chronicle article dug up by the group proposing to renovate 612 Live Oak St. into a coworking space called Brass Tacks reveals that the 4,750-sq.-ft. building — 2 blocks from BBVA Compass Stadium — was originally put there by architect S.R. Slaughter in 1938 to house Oliver Armature Works, a manufacturing plant that produced electrical doodads. It’s now up to Schaum/Shieh Architects to make room inside for a variety of different business professionals who’ll come and go as they please from both private and communal work areas (and a bar).

New previews of the planned venue showcase one way of accomplishing that task: by installing a hive of productivity cubbyholes along the side of the main room. They’re shown at top lining the building’s north wall, with open-air booths on top of them.

To get down from the upper level, take this narrow side corridor up to the spiraling stair structure by the door:

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Brass Tacks
09/14/18 12:45pm

SPENGA’S UPPER-DECK GYM WILL JUT OUT REAL CLOSE TO ITS NEIGHBOR Just 8 in. will separate the cantilevered fitness studio’s eastern, over-the-edge portion from the eaves of the 1915 home adjacent to it — reports abc13’s Christine Dobbyn — which will soon house Arden’s Picture Framing and Gallery. The 15,700-sq.-ft. lot where the new retail building’s planned at 307 Westheimer is currently going up; Italian restaurant Michelangelo’s went to pieces on its west side last December (the east was all parking). [abc13; previously on Swamplot] Rendering of 307 Westheimer Rd.: Spenga

09/12/18 1:00pm

Although only one includes living space, both structures shown separated by St. Charles St. in the rendering at top are intended to give people spaces to live. The big one — depicted in more detail above — is Kirksey Architecture’s 5-story design for an affordable housing operations center, to be placed directly across the street from 20 units of actual housing. The Midtown Redevelopment Authority bought the vacant land for both sites along Elgin in 2015, back when the renovation of neighboring Emancipation Park was still taking shape.

On the left in the aerial below, you can see the parcel where the HQ is planned across from the park and its on-site Emancipation Community Center:

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Third Ward