01/19/18 2:30pm

Davis Commercial is showing images of a renovated building on the corner of 11th St. and Rutland in hopes of enticing a burger-flipping collective or something similar to take over the space. Q St. Salon & Boutique shared the 2,712-sq.-ft. building behind the parking-lot gazebo with Heights Discount Dry Cleaners until the latter closed down last year. A bungalow that now sits adjacent to Q St.’s spot to the west (hidden behind the building in the photo at top) is excised from the renderings.

The rendering above shows the building’s windows wiped clean of advertisements for laundry deals and extended to the ground. New awnings are shown in place of the blue vinyl ones now covering the storefronts at 402 W. 11th.

An 800-sq.-ft. patio is also planned for the building’s frontage along 11th St.:

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Wash Cycle
01/03/18 5:00pm

Here’s the first sign of the new law office that plans to migrate to the corner of Dunlavy and W. Bell St., right behind the River Oaks Plaza shopping center. A Swamplot reader reports that a notice announcing the pending presence of David A. Breston and his Associates went up on the 1820 W. Bell property on New Years Eve. The law firm’s current office is on the corner of Main and Preston streets downtown.

In the portion of River Oaks Plaza directly across W. Bell St. from the site are the former Mama Fu’s and VERTS Kebap locations, now being remade into a new Café Ginger.

Photo: Swamplot inbox

Letters of the Law
01/03/18 2:15pm

New renderings released by Sydness Architects show the street-level changes planned for the Bank of America Center, which sits across the street from Jones Plaza on one side and Philip Johnson’s other notable downtown office tower, Pennzoil Place, on the other. Last fall, building owner M-M Properties announced plans to remove the mummified 2-story Western Union building that had been encapsulated within the Bank of America Center’s northeast quadrant since 1983 (see photo above).

Windows and doors are shown added to the skyscraper along Capitol and Louisiana streets — in 2 of the walls that once entombed the telegram building. The rendering at top shows the reconfigured view from outside Jones Hall, with new 2-story openings facing Capitol St.

Only one new street-level entrance is clearly shown in that rendering, however: the awninged door to a new restaurant along Louisiana St. That restaurant is planned for a portion of the former Western Union building’s ground floor in the northeast corner of the Bank of America Center:

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Philip Johnson’s Ghosts
01/02/18 12:30pm

Quick, what’s the most vaulted bank in all of Houston? Easy: the lofty Bank of America branch on the ground floor of the Bank of America Center at 700 Louisiana St. Downtown (pictured at top) — so grand, so postmodern, so . . . unleasable. Philip Johnson designed the 12-story high banking hall to resemble “a sixteenth-century Dutch guild hall, albeit one scaled to be seen from the freeway at sixty miles per hour,” writes Joel Warren Barna in a history of the project included in The See-Through Years. But now big changes are planned for that empty space:

“We’re just going to kind of slip in these two floor slabs,” Jeff Sydness of Sydness Architects tells the Chronicle’s Katherine Feser. Sydness was hired by M-M Properties to reconfigure the lower levels of the 56-floor tower, which was built in 1983. So: Lower ceilings ahoy! New mezzanines are now being planned to colonize the banking hall’s towering overhead emptiness. The new structures, edged with glass walls, will fill much of that air-conditioned but unused airspace with workstation- and cubicle-ready office platforms:

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Loft Office
12/21/17 4:45pm

The first ever H-E-B with a skybridge connection to a neighboring JCPenney is indeed on its way to Meyerland Plaza. The grocery chain’s new 95,000-sq.-ft. building will replace its previous store at South Braeswood and Chimney Rock, which flooded during Harvey. Some of the land that the H-E-B is taking over is occupied now by the BBVA Compass bank branch building at the mall-turned-shopping-center’s northwest corner, although the store will extend back all the way to the existing JCPenney, far southeast of where the bank branch sits now.

The rendering at top shows the grocery store’s second-story entrance; like the new stores under construction in Bellaire and the Heights, this one will sit on top of a parking deck. The second rendering shows the structure fronting a driveway that heads into Meyerland Plaza from Beechnut St. A replacement BBVA Compass branch is planned inside the new complex.

Below, a view of the store’s reinforced northwest corner just across Endicott from an off-camera Chick-fil-A on the right:

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Bright Red Corners
12/21/17 3:15pm

Renderings now up on Lyric Market’s new website reveal more of what’s planned for the parking-garage food hall. The image at top shows David Adickes’s self-playing cello sculpture ascended atop a new pedestal at the corner of Smith and Preston streets. Behind the artwork, outdoor seating and what the website describes as a private terrace back up to the food hall’s main entrance. The new structure, currently under construction, is shown on the left of that rendering — adjacent to the existing Lyric Centre office tower.

Here’s a full view of the completed parking garage from across the intersection of Preston and Louisiana:

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Downtown Food Hall No. 4
12/20/17 4:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: LET THE COLLEGE STATION LAND RUSH BEGIN! “The station in Roans Prairie is a developer’s dream: high-speed rail, new I-14 interstate, and miles and miles of undeveloped land. The master-planned communities will start popping up in no time. Work in the city (Houston or Dallas) and live out in the country on your acreage homestead. Just wait, the Bryan-College Station-Huntsville MSA will see the fastest population growth in the entire nation for years and years to come.” [Thomas, commenting on Proposed High-Speed Rail Line’s Bryan—College Station Station Would Be 27 Miles East of Texas A&M] Map of proposed Brazos Valley Station: Federal Railroad Administration

12/18/17 2:45pm

One of these 3 spots revealed in a report from the Federal Railroad Administration will be the planned site for the Houston-Dallas high-speed rail line’s Houston terminal. All 3 are near the intersection of the 610 Loop and the BNSF rail tracks that run parallel to Hempstead Rd. just south of 290.

In the map at top, the station takes the land directly north of the Northwest Transit Center, where an industrial complex home to Icon Electric, Engineering Consulting Services, and others exists now. Hempstead Rd. is shown fronting Northwest Mall at the top of the plan.

Another proposal puts the station in the spot where the mall is now:

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Bullet Train Station
12/08/17 4:45pm

Number 4 on the list of Downtown food halls, one of which has actually been built: Lyric Market, a 31,000-sq.-ft. multi-restaurant space that plans to move in just north of the Lyric Centre on Louisiana St. Houston’s first food hall, Conservatory, opened 5 blocks east on Prairie St. last year. Both Bravery Chef Hall and Finn Hall are expected to open within the same 7-block sector of downtown as Lyric Market.

Work to build the blocky white parking garage shown above began on the site of a surface parking lot last October. The structure’s street level, allocated to retail, will now be occupied entirely by Lyric Market. The food hall will span Preston St. between Smith and Louisiana and connect directly to the adjacent Lyric Centre, shown looking ghostly in the rendering above. A new plaza with outdoor seating will go between the end of the food hall and David Adickes’s self-playing-cello sculpture at the corner of Smith and Prairie streets.

The floor plan below shows how the restaurants will lay out:

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Lyric Market
12/05/17 3:30pm

There’s nothing left standing at Michelangelo’s Restaurant since its demolition yesterday — except for the tree that used to grow in its dining room, visible in the photo at top. The restaurant’s days had been numbered since March, when its owners sold the building and adjacent parking lot on Westheimer to a developer with plans to build a gym-anchored strip center.

The gym will be Houston’s first Spenga fitness studio, brought here by a Chicago-based chain that signed a 4,011-sq.-ft. lease for the replacement building’s entire second floor back in June. Here it is up above street level:

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Avondale
12/05/17 11:30am

H-E-B is making a bright red appearance in a leasing brochure for The Market at Harper’s Preserve, a proposed shopping center that would go up along the entrance to the mostly-residential Harper’s Preserve development off Highway 242, 2 miles east of I-45. The site plan at top shows the supermarket anchoring a 28-acre retail area that would occupy the northeast corner of the partly-built, 800-acre community. Also included in the image: 2 buildings marked as banks, 2 as fast food, a gym, gas station, and 5 other structures.

A spokesperson for H-E-B said, “At this time it is premature for H-E-B to comment on specific plans for this parcel of land. However, we can share that we are excited about the prospect of building a new store to serve the growing Conroe community.” The site plan below shows one neighborhood of Harper’s Preserve called East Village, as well as the location of the shopping center, labeled “Mixed Use” at the top right corner:

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East of The Woodlands
12/04/17 2:03pm

The renderings and site plan shown here give the clearest view yet of what DC Partners and Chinese firm Tianqing Real Estate Development have planned for their proposed 6-acre mixed-use development at Allen Pkwy. and Gillette St., now dubbed The Allen. The image at top shows a 42-floor tower, home to both a Thompson hotel and private condominiums, fronting Allen Pkwy. A 3-story retail building is depicted to its right; behind it is an office tower. The site plan also shows a future apartment tower and medical office building toward the back of the complex.

The development is planned across Gillette St. from the Federal Reserve building, on the northern portion of an industrial site that was home to one of the city’s first garbage incinerators. A pedestrian bridge linking the development to the bayou is absent from the rendering at top, but indicated in the site plan as well as other images of the complex:

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The Allen
11/21/17 2:15pm

Medistar is planning to build its 550,000-sq.-ft. medical tower right next to the InterContinental Houston Medical Center hotel and the Greystar apartment highrise it is already constructing on the west side of South Main St. The aerial photograph above, looking south toward the Texas Medical Center campus on the east side of South Main, shows the apartment structure under construction on the west side of the block and the shorter hotel tower also in-progress behind it, fronting the street. North of that construction, the photo shows a yellow highlight around the former Best Western Plaza Hotel at 6700 South Main. That hotel is now scheduled to be replaced by the new 20-or-30-something-floor medical tower pictured at the top of this story.

A single ground-floor lobby facing Old Main St. will serve both the 357-unit hotel and the 375-unit apartment building. Retail and restaurants are planned for the new medical tower’s street level. A skybridge, visible in the rendering below, plugs into the south side of the tower just above its garage level and is intended to connect the hotel and apartments to the medical tower:

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TMC Medical Tourism Hub
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
11/13/17 4:00pm

Here’s what’s expected to park in the garage at Montalbano Tire and Auto Service after the business shuts down next week: a restaurant or 2, retailers, and office tenants. Kaldis Development Interests purchased the .81-acre property at 1302 Houston Ave in mid-October and plans to renovate it before reopening it as a 15,000-sq.-ft. retail-and-office center.

On the Houston Ave front (see top drawing), windows would be fitted into the building’s current garage bays, with a restaurant patio facing the street at the northern end. On the south side, the metal structure facing Dart St. would be punctured with new window bays as well as doors for individual storefronts.

According to the site plan for the proposed new development (below) 7 head-in parking spaces off of Houston Ave would remain after the redo:

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First Ward Redo