03/15/18 2:45pm

YOUR GUIDE TO THE HOUSTON TOYS R US STORES NOW GETTING READY TO CLOSE As part of the bankruptcy filing it submitted this morning, Toys R Us announced plans to close or sell all of its 735 stores nationwide. Thirteen of those locations are in the Houston area: at the corner of Kirby and Old Spanish Trail, on Westheimer just east of Fountain View, in the Village Plaza at Bunker Hill shopping center on the Katy Fwy., in the Katy Mills mall, in the Houston Premium Outlets on 290 just east of the Grand Pkwy., on Beltway 8 just north of Fairmont Pkwy., in Pearland Town Center, in the Willowbrook Court shopping center next to the Willowbrook Mall, in Sugar Land’s Colony Square, in Baybrook Square on the Gulf Fwy., on the East Fwy. in Baytown across from the San Jacinto Mall, in Texas City’s Tanger Outlets on the Gulf Fwy., and in The Woodlands’ Pinecroft Center. Standalone Babies R Us locations are on the Katy Fwy. at N. Fry Rd., on Cypress Creek Pkwy. just west of I-45, on 59 northeast of First Colony Mall in Sugar Land, and on the Gulf Fwy. at El Dorado Blvd. in Friendswood. The OST and Westheimer Toys R Us boxes (both of which include in-store Babies R Us departments) measure 45,000 sq. ft. [USA Today] Photo of Toys R Us at 1212 Old Spanish Trail: Nhan N.

03/15/18 11:15am

Here’s another development that the Oxberry Group has planned: a strip center for the northwest corner of San Felipe and Chimney Rock Rd. dubbed Shops at Tanglewood. The 2-story retail building and its parking lot would go in place of 4 houses that currently occupy the corner east of the Gables Tanglewood apartments — one pair fronts San Felipe and the other sits along Chimney Rock, as you can sort of see in this map:


Residential Replacement
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
03/13/18 3:30pm

The sheet metal façade backed by an assortment of shipping-container parts is now gone, and mountains of stuff have been removed from the longtime junk emporium at 317 W. 19th St. in the Heights, perhaps better known as the open-air building with a front but no roof that lent the shopping district its perhaps now diminished air of funk. The photo at top, sent Swamplot’s way by a flabbergasted reader, shows the now-vacant lot with everything removed. Below it, a rare aerial view from a few years ago reveals secret stashes maintained behind the lot’s corrugated streetfront.

But perhaps what you remember of this lot is different: a mysterious supply house behind whose shiny gate backdrops for hundreds of street scenes emerged over the years? Or a backdrop for fashion shoots?


03/13/18 12:00pm

The teeth, eyes, and . . . uh, overall shape of the new shopping center Braun Enterprises is planning for N. Shepherd and 24th St. can be considered taken care of, now that Lovett Dental, Eyes on the Heights Optometry, and Club Pilates have each signed leases for space in the development. That leaves 11,555 sq. ft. still available in 3 separate end-cap spots for any nail salon, podiatrist, or dermatology clinic that wants to fill out the theming for the complex, which would go on the block catty-corner to the H-E-B Heights Market currently under construction.

This would fit in with N. Shepherd’s ongoing transformation: Braun plans to demolish the Miller’s Auto Body Repair Experts facility (as of now still open for business) as well a building formerly occupied by Auto Electric Service on the site in order to construct the 24,000-sq.-ft. shopping center, which includes structured parking as well as a parking lot on the roof of one of the 2 buildings.

A full human-body-part-focused buildout for this planned complex at 2401 N. Shepherd Dr. isn’t so far-fetched: the latest renderings released for the development include generic signage for both a nail salon and a fitness club:


Body Shop to Body Shopping
03/08/18 2:15pm

Construction fencing is now up in Uptown Park, marking the last call for cornices, pilasters, pediments, faked balcony windows, and assorted handcrafted Styrofoam façade detailing slated for removal as part of renovations planned for the vintage 1998 shopping center parked along the West Loop feeder road.

The new project — announced last October by owner Edens Investment Trust — will pare down the complex’s Olde World gewgaws, leaving behind simpler and more modern exteriors. Live oak trees are to be planted near some of the parking lots’ sunnier spots. (Former owner AmREIT’s plans for adding hotel and residential buildings to the complex were scrapped when Edens bought the entity in 2015.)

The 2-story space shown in the photo at top (next to Cafe Express) was abandoned by women’s wear store BB1 Classic at the end of last year. Soon, it will be remade into a restaurant dubbed Flower Child. The vacant, porticoed east side of the building in the northwest corner of the center — pictured above — is also now fenced. (Class, however, is still in session at the MISS Academy finishing school on the west side of the structure.)

This parking-space corral is now up at the building’s northeast corner:


Just a Trim Trim
03/06/18 11:15am

Longtime Upper Kirby resident Chateau Domingue has packed up the floor tiles, doorknobs, and candlesticks at its former W. Alabama St. showroom just west of Edloe St. and left for a new location in Timbergrove. An entity connected to energy businessman Douglas Foshee bought the building that housed the antique furniture and building materials store at the end of 2016. Fencing went up around the site last week, and on Friday, a permit was filed to disconnect the structure from the city’s sewer system — typically a sign that a demolition is imminent.

Chateau Domingue’s old location is abutted on one side by a complex of warehouse buildings that runs south from W. Alabama toward the middle of the block. At its new location on W. 12th St. between Hempstead and Seamist Dr., the showroom is now hugged entirely by industrial structures.

Photos: Swamplot inbox

02/27/18 10:30am

A new shopping center dubbed South Heights on White Oak has plans to land in the shared parking lot on White Oak Dr. just west of the former Jimmy’s Ice House at Threlkeld St. The rendering at top — taken from a leasing flyer for the development put out by Centric Commercial — views the proposed woodsy building from the north side of White Oak Dr., at the edge of the lot between Christian’s Tailgate and Barnaby’s Cafe. On the east side of the building, a deck fronted by a glass curtain wall cantilevers over a drainage ditch that runs north from White Oak Bayou through the woods between the site and the neighboring ice house.

A view across the parking lot from its southwest corner shows the low-lying area on the right:


Low-Slung in the Heights
02/22/18 5:00pm

Here’s the 1,340 sq.-ft. storefront Modern Acupuncture is now stuck in near the east end of the River Oaks Shopping Center building that hugs Origin Bank on the corner of W. Gray and Shepherd. The clinic took over the vacant spot at 2021 W. Gray earlier this month after women’s wear shop Em & Lee abandoned it several years ago. It’s the chain’s first treatment center in Houston, although 2 others are nearby in Webster and Sugar Land. So far, the company has 23 locations either open or in the works across 10 states — and expansion plans call for 20 more in and around Houston alone.


You’ve Got a Point There
02/22/18 4:30pm

Update, 7:00 pm: At the request of the copyright holder, the images of Caydon Properties’ proposed development have been removed.

The Australian company that’s already begun construction on a residential tower in place of the Mental Health and Mental Retardation Association building on the corner of Main and Tuam has plans for a pair of additional towers on the 2 blocks north of that site, along Metro’s red line. These renderings from visualization studio Large Arts show the extent of the complex — including a hotel, offices, residential space, and street-level retail fronting the rail up to McGowen St.

The rendering at top views the development from the corner of Main and Drew St. to show the new southern tower — home to a hotel — fronting Fannin while the northern one faces Main. Further up the tracks, a train pulls into the northbound McGowen St. station stop — shown lined with storefronts that sit below the north tower. An alley runs along the north end of the development, between the building and Greensheet Media’s former office — just out of view on the left at the corner of Main and McGowen.

More retail fronts the alley, adjacent to the McGowen platform:


New Main Drag
02/21/18 3:30pm

Spear Street Capital is teasing a rendering of what it has planned for Exxon Mobil’s former Buffalo Spdwy. research campus, a new complex that takes the initials of River Oaks without daring to speak its name: The RO. The glossy new view above looks west across Buffalo Spdwy. to show 3 new highrises planted on the Upper Kirby site — the stockiest of which rests atop a 3-story windowed pedestal likely to house retail between W. Alabama and a new roadway.

The new street appears in place of the driveway that entered the 16.9-acre complex on Buffalo Spdwy. and ran just north of the 1962 building MacKie and Kamrath Architects designed for the oil giant. The aerial photo above shows what that building looked like from the south before crews began tearing at it last year. South of the new street and directly in place of the MacKie and Kamrath structure, a complex of retail buildings with upper-level patios retreats along a pedestrian corridor that starts at Buffalo Spdwy. and heads toward the 2 other highrises on the west side of the site, near Mercer St. A few outdoor seating areas front Buffalo Spdwy. — one by the footpath, another on the north side of the new street. A larger patio appears on the corner of W. Alabama.

The buildings shown shaded on the left in the rendering likely make up other additions planned for the block. Here it is viewed from its backside looking toward Buffalo Spdwy. last year:


A Twilit View
02/20/18 3:45pm

2 new signs are now up on the Main St. side of the Mid Main Lofts across from MATCH: one for Kura Revolving Sushi Bar, and the other for kickboxing gym 9Round. The photo at top looks across the platform of Metro’s Ensemble Theatre stop to show Kura’s new name tag affixed near the corner of Main and Holman. Identical markings appear on the Holman St. side of the new raw fish restaurant, which uses touch screens and an automatic conveyor belt to deliver your food. The 3510 Main location is Houston’s second Kura; one opened in the Westchase Shopping Center last year. Another debuted in Sugar Land last month.

9Round — shown in the photo above — sits further south down the block on Main, near Double Trouble Caffeine & Cocktails’s spot at Winbern. All 18 of the workout venue’s current locations are in west South Carolina. The new gym follows 4 others the chain already operates inside the 610 Loop.

Photos: Natalie W

And in This Corner
02/20/18 10:45am

The Label Warehouse clothing resale store 3 doors down from Boomtown Coffee on 19th St. is now selling off the last of its stock ahead of the planned closing announced on its Facebook page earlier this month. The Heights thrift venue and its Midtown sibling location on the corner of Main and Eagle streets — also on its way out of business — are the last 2 spots remaining in the chain, which once held outposts in Conroe, Misouri City, and Angleton, as well as others in Houston. Its first location — opened at 6708 Harrisburg under the name Insurance Claims Fire Sale Warehouse in the early 60s — closed last year.

The photo at top looks south across 19th St. to show the few items left in the soon-to-be shuttered 7,425-sq.-ft. Heights building.

Photos: Some Random Property Gossip (storefront); Chelsi H. (sign)

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
02/15/18 2:00pm

The skeleton of a new strip center across the street from the Alexan Yale St. apartments — dubbed Heights Village by a banner attached to its construction fencing — is now rising on the corner of Yale and W. 5th St. Construction began on the just-under-an-acre parcel last month, reports the Swamplot reader who snapped the above photo of the site from outside the Alexan complex. The corner — on the opposite end of the block from where Better Luck Tomorrow opened last year — had been vacant since 2010, when a warehouse on the site was demolished.

The aerial rendering above from Cisneros Design Studio shows what an upper-story Alexan Yale St. resident might see out the window when the retail center is complete. Parking lots hug the building on 3 sides and include entrances on Yale, 5th. St., and Yale Ct. — a short dead end that runs behind the property. Patio seating is shown fronting the chamfered corner on the building’s northwest quadrant, and an elevated walkway runs along its storefronts, a few steps up from the lot.


Yale Retail