11/02/18 10:30am

Black Dog Records blew the lid off its classified relocation plans yesterday by filing a permit on its soon-to-be new address: 726 W. 19th St., the strip center storefront previously home to kids’ karaoke venue Gipsy Girls. Incoming management now plans to redo about 1,700-sq.-ft. of space inside and fill it with the vinyl that populated its last shop — shown above — at 4900 Bissonnet St. until about a month ago. (The location between S. Rice and 610 had been a fertile spot for record junkies since even before Black Dog got there thanks to its longtime previous tenant Don’s Record Shop.)

A few of the neighbors Black Dog can expect to meet once it gets situated in its new Heights environs: alcoholic art joint Painting With a Twist (to its immediate west), Gold Rush Collective Tattoo Parlour, Replay Games old school video game shop, and Texas Dry Clean InStep Pilates. Across the street lies Re:Vive Development’s new-ish 2-building retail complex made up of a standalone Benjamin Moore paint store and a strip home to — among others — Fat Cat Creamery.

Photos: Gipsy Girls (Gipsy Girls); Mark B. (Black Dog Records)

Kids Karaoke Takeover
11/01/18 10:15am

  

A handful of building permits filed recently over at the Marq’e Entertainment Center indicate that kids training center Soccer Hub is kicking off renovations directly behind the spot reserved for the new Spaghetti-Warehouse-like eatery the brand’s parent company is calling Warehouse 72. Together, both new venues will be taking over the space Korean buffet Kpop gave up last year on the shopping center’s non-movie-theater side, across the arch-fronted alley from Dave and Buster’s‘s almost-but-not-entirely standalone building. (There’s now a mystery-themed escape room up in its business, as indicated on the map above.)

It’s not an entirely even split: Soccer Hub is getting about 6,000 sq.-ft. while Warehouse 72 will have 8,600 — enough room for seating, prepared food retail fixtures, and a double-sided bar serving both the restaurant’s insides and a planned 750-sq.-ft. patio, reports Eater‘s Alaena Hostetter. Until the 2 get situated — or get beat to the punch by the Hugh O’Connors Irish-themed restaurant opening in space number 25 on the map —specialty soda and candy shop Rocket Fizz will remain the only thing inside the Marq’e’s center building. It’s been there by itself since Cafe Adobe closed in what’s shown on the map as spot number 26, leaving 10,000 sq.-ft. up for grabs.

Photo: Kpop. Map: Levcor

Tag Team Takeover
10/30/18 3:15pm

Add 6 more locations to the list of Mattress Firm stores the company has decided to close as part of its recent Chapter 11 filing. They are: across Hwy. 6 from the Missouri City H-E-B off Sienna Pkwy., at Baybrook Square across from Baybrook Mall (already home to Mattress Firm Final Markdown that’s sticking around for now), in the Oak Ridge North Shopping Center across I-45 from The Woodlands Mall, off 290 north of Spring-Cypress Rd., and in the Portofino Shopping Center off I-45 in Shenandoah. There’s also one closing within Houston proper: the 5409 S. Rice Ave. store, which fronts  the Walmart off 59. The map above shows all the closures — including standard locations (red), Final Markdowns (orange), and Clearance centers (yellow) — the chain has announced so far.

King-Sized Retreat
10/30/18 1:15pm

It’s not just the Shepherd Square flagship store that’s biting the dust: Locations in the eponymous New Territory Randalls Center (pictured at top) off the Grand Pkwy. and in the Windvale Center (pictured above) on the northern edge of The Woodlands at College Park Dr. and FM 1488 are goners, too. All 3 stores will shut down around December 1, a spokeswoman tells Swamplot.

At the Windvale Center, the closure will leave behind a nearly 57,000-sq.-ft. hole in the middle of the property, mapped out in this old leasing flyer:

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Flagship and Friends
10/30/18 11:45am

RANDALLS READY TO SLIP OUT OF SHEPHERD SQUARE A spokeswoman for the grocer tells the Chronicle’s Nancy Sarnoff this morning that the Shepherd Square Randalls Flagship store will be closing, but doesn’t say when. It’s been at Shepherd and Westheimer for about the past 2 decades, back before the brand got bought in 1999 by national chain Safeway — which itself was acquired by Albertsons in 2015. The 128,000-sq.-ft. shopping center housing the store went up in 1989. (It’s shown above before Randalls’ signage was flipped, elevating the “Flagship” branding to a spot above the retailer’s own name.) Over the past year, several Houston-area Randalls have already shut down: at the Coles Crossing shopping center in Cypress, on 34th St. in Oak Forest, and on W. Bellfort in Stafford. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Denise W.

10/26/18 1:15pm

What better way to make use of all those empty parking spots than with an good old fashioned carnival like this one? It’s been a tradition at Greenspoint Mall going back decades now to plant a few attractions outside the building once the weather cools off enough for visitors to enjoy themselves. And management’s kept doing it — even as Macy’s, Dillards, and Sears all shuttered inside over the past few years and portions of the building and surrounding parking lot have sold to investors with heavy-duty plans for redevelopment. The attractions shown above are all sprawled out on the I-45 side of the building, where they cover up the “For Lease” banner that’s otherwise visible to passing northbound traffic.

There’s even a Ferris wheel:

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Roadside Attractions
10/25/18 3:30pm

With the former Shelor Motor Company building at 1621 Milam St. all but doomed to meet the wrecking ball, historian Stephen Fox digs through some old Chronicle clips to remind us that there’s still a few other old car dealerships lurking down south in Midtown. Sure, they may not be as pedigreed as the ill-fated building to the north, but get this: One of them still sells cars! It’s Midtown Cadillac at the corner of Main and McGowen streets, shown at top. Architect Harvin C. Moore — the brains behind more than 84 homes in River Oaks, as well as Rice University’s chapel — designed it for Sam White Oldsmobile (pictured above), which opened inside in the early 1950s, according to Fox. Sam White and its successor Rice-Menger occupied the building until 1985. It’s been a Cadillac dealership since Don Massey took it over in 1999, followed by Stewart and then Central in 2012.

Catty corner to it, Midtown seafood spot REEF was originally a dealership, too. Built in 1952, the building opened as Smith Chevrolet Co.:

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Inner-Loop Auto Lore
10/25/18 2:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: PARSLEY STUDIOS’ BIKE LAB REDO COMES FULL CIRCLE “Blue Line Bike Lab’s owners are brothers Fred and David Zapalac whose mother Patti Moore Zapalac graduated from Reagan High School in 1966 — actually had senior pictures taken at Parsley Photography!” [Patti Zapalac, commenting on Blue Like Lab Now Has Parsley Studios’ Former Yale St. Building Color-Coded] Photo of former Parsley Studios, soon-to-be Blue Line Bike Lab: Swamplox inbox

10/23/18 5:15pm

Go ahead, name a few of Houston’s most heavily-Instagrammed hotspots. The Waterwall, North and South boulevards, maybe the “We Love Houston” sign that — until recently — sat along I-10. But who ever wanted to go pose next to the Katy Fwy. just to pick up a few new followers? If only there was a location where the photogenic offerings sat under a roof — preferably in one of those hip Houston retail-and-restaurant strips where the food might merit a few pics as well.

Enter Flower Vault, the budding brick-and-mortar Instagram destination shown at top that’s taken over half of Joybird Furniture‘s storefront at 1735 Westheimer, 2 blocks west of Dunlavy. For $20 per person (and $10 per pet), you can spend an hour taking pictures inside the studio’s blossoming interior spaces. The admissions fee won’t preclude other patrons from visiting at the same time, so you may have to take turns in front of the backdrops. But check out the results so far; it appears everyone’s been happy to share.

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Not Your Father’s Florist
10/23/18 2:30pm

  

Following “four or five 3-month lease extensions,” the landlord of 2318 Waugh Dr. dropped by Corazon last Friday to give the business its 30-days notice, reports store owner Chris Murphy. Its exit date is now set for November 20, a Tuesday, so final sales will take place the weekend before. Murphy says he’d been working to track down a new location for the store since learning it’d have to leave more than a year ago — but hasn’t had any luck. Barring any last-minute workable option, “we’ll reluctantly have to liquidate fixtures and retreat to various online platforms,” he says, in order to keep dealing guayaberas, Luca Libre masks, and other imports like the store has been doing since 1998. It’s shown around that year in the across-the-street photo above, which also gives a view of the landmark red dot on the building’s south side. (The taller building behind it occupies the same piece of land but was torn down in 2016.)

Next up for the 6,250-sq.-ft. parcel: a trio of townhomes. The landowner’s plan, says Murphy, “is to demolish the building immediately once we vacate,” and plant the new residences in a line like this along Fairview St.:

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Towhomes Imminent
10/22/18 5:30pm

Renovations to turn the former Parsley Studios building at 1504 Yale St. into Blue Line Bike Lab‘s new Heights location are now nearly finished, and the most dramatic change is the new coat of light blue paint the structure’s 15th-St. side, pictured above. During the 75 years it housed the family photo business and functioned as a portrait studio for mayors and celebrities like Roy Rogers and Loretta Lynn — according to The Leader — the building underwent its fair share of paint jobs; the last big one washed out a checkerboard pattern along its Yale-St. side, leaving the structure mostly brown.

Last September, a liquidation sale emptied the place of “a quarter of a century’s worth of photo equipment, furniture, frames and photos,reported the Chronicle‘s Jaimy Jones. By that time, most of the owners’ work focused on photo restoration, so brick-and-mortar amenities like formal seating — “and even a small dressing room with bright, round bulbs that frame a mirror atop an old-fashioned dressing table,” wrote Jones — were no longer necessary. The building sold to a group that’s linked to Blue Line, which has its nearest shop on the corner of White Oak Dr. and Columbia St. That existing location (which predates the shop’s other spot on Telephone Rd.) is now set to close, but not until a fleet of new bikes arrives the Yale St. building.

It’s shown empty in the photo below, although a newly-hung sign along Yale makes clear what will fill it:

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1504 Yale St.
10/15/18 12:15pm

A building permit filed last Thursday reveals that an ice cream shop plans to take over the corner Hazard-St.-and-Westheimer storefront shown on the left in the photo above. Backed by a group that calls itself Milk + Sugar Creamery LLC, the new store plans to grab just a 1,542-sq.-ft. portion of the building’s west side — which has been occupied by a trio of clothing shops over the last decade.

Mio Boutique was the last of them; it picked up from Coquette in 2014, which picked up from Pixie & Ivy about 8 years ago. Although all 3 of the stores dealt in womenswear, Coquette went a step beyond, retaining an “onsite psychic” — reported Culturemap — to assist customers along with its regular sales staff.

Photo: LoopNet

Vermont Commons
10/11/18 11:30am

A Swamplot reader reports that renovations to the shopping center on Westheimer across from Light Bulbs Unlimited “suddenly stopped about a month ago,” leaving a few gaping holes open in the face of the strip. Pictured at top is the space where Radio Shack once stuck out a few ft. from the rest of the building before it shut down along with the rest of the chain and sat vacant prior to the remodeling that began earlier this year.

Despite their presence on the marquee shown above, a number of the other tenants recently hit the road from the center as well: Tanacious Tanning, which occupied the spot (also wide open) just west of Radio Shack; Stars Cleaners, located off Commonwealth St. to the far west; and Consign It!, which punctuated the building’s eastern end. Their spaces are all up for lease right now, according to a LoopNet listing posted back in June. Nidda Thai Cuisine and its next-door neighbor Erotic Cabaret on the other hand appear to be sticking around.

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An Inside Look
10/08/18 12:15pm

Twelve standard Mattress Firm locations (red) are going out of business, as well as 4 Final Markdowns (orange) and one Clearance-branded location (yellow). That’s 17 closures altogether, 2 shy of the number Mattress Firm announced would shutter across the rest of Texas when it filed for bankruptcy last week.

They are . . . on Westheimer near Hillcroft Ave., on I-10 in the Village Plaza at Bunker Hill shopping center, in Westgate Marketplace retail center off I-10 along N. Fry Rd., next-door to the other Mattress Firm in the Westmont Shopping Center at Westheimer and Montrose Blvd., on the W. Loop S. feeder road between Westheimer and Richmond, across Tomball Pkwy. from Willowbrook Mall, on Hwy. 6 north of Bissonnet, across from Baybrook Mall in Webster, in the Riverstone Shopping Center on Hwy. 6 in Missouri City, on 59 in Richmond near the beginning of the Grand Pkwy., in Sugar Land’s Market at Town Center shopping center next to First Colony Mall, at Pearland Town Center, across from the Mason Village shopping center in Katy, further south down S. Mason Rd. near Highland Knolls Dr. in Katy, on I-45 south of Robinson Rd. in Spring, at The Woodlands Mall, and on I-45 north of W. Davis St. in Conroe.

The Big Sleep
10/08/18 10:15am

Soon it appears there’ll be only one Mattress Firm again in the Westmont Shopping Center at Montrose Blvd. and Westheimer: The one on the right at 1005 Westheimer is set to close while the one on the left at 1003 Westheimer is sticking around — for now, at least; more closures are on the way according to the plan Mattress Firm announced in its bankruptcy filing last week to, among other things, thin out areas it thinks are too crowded with its own stores by closing 700 of them after an initial group of more than 200 get axed “within the next few days.”

In a court filing, the chain said no liquidation sales are planned at any of its ill-fated stores. But signage outside the former Mattress-Proturned-Mattress-Firm Final Markdown this morning indicates otherwise:

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Final Days of a Final Markdown