Redo Plans for the Office Building at 3400 Montrose Blvd.

Sure — you wanna hear the scoop behind this set of drawings showing the vacant and forlorn 10-story office building at 3400 Montrose Blvd. across Hawthorne St. from the Montrose Kroger transformed into a glassy white figure with real big numbers. Unfortunately, the tipster who sent these pix to Swamplot didn’t include additional info on any possible plans for the structure, which since last September has been the property of real estate firm Global Paragon. The rendering shows a building that’s jettisoned its distinctive limestone panels in favor of a more conventional office-building grid. Progress in that de-facing process began last fall. A watermark in the bottom right corner of the image reads “Lizard House, Inc.”

Images: Swamplot inbox

30 Comment

  • Since when are limestone panels distinctive? Every generic office building in town has them.

  • The rendering looks nice in my opinion. It would be nice if this took place.

  • Another idea from the “everything in Houston must look the same” committee. Oh well, I guess we should be glad they’re not tearing it down?

  • It doesn’t matter how sleek you make the outside… that will not change the height of the floors on the inerds…

  • I’ll believe it when I see it.
    Currently I don’t believe it.

  • Mike,

    Why should we be glad? It will go from looking like a dilapidated old Houston style office building to a pretty cruddy looking completely generic office building. What would it matter if it was torn down and replaced with a new building. It certainly wouldn’t become a parking lot at that location.

    Actually thinking back to my childhood, that was always a completely foregettable building.

  • honestly, I’ll believe it when I see it. I had offices in that building ten years ago…it needs *way* more than a new facade.

  • That is a very nice design and would be more than welcome in place of the current eyesore.

  • Why will it be called “Lizard House”? Maybe that is the new 1st floor or top floor venue? I remember a place somewhere in Upper Kirby called Lizard Pub…

  • I think the rendering looks awesome. I got to say, I’m extremely jealous I couldn’t do something like this with the building. A bit out of my league at the moment.

  • Roy – If they tear it down they lose their grandfathered setback.

  • Could they take out every other floor and then have very tall loft like office spaces? They would lease in about 10 seconds for pretty much name their price.

  • Ugh, just do something with it already.

  • Take out every other floor? That would reduce the rentable square footage (and thus the value) by 40% or so. Which would mean double the square foot price to get to the same rent.
    Lofts rent for a bit more per foot than a typical apartment… but not 100% more.
    If the property were just managed better they would probably make as much or more as they will if they gut and spend months and hundreds of thousands (if not millions) renovating it.

  • This location has some of the best views of our city. It looks like DT is right there.

    Isn’t this bldg full of asbestos? The elevators are horrible.

  • Roy, what is a “Houston style” office building? As far as I could tell this is International style, and if cleaned up would look rather distinctive. Reminds of the old Polaroid building in Massachusetts:

    People think that the only historical buildings worth saving are the ones with classical arches or Victorian carvings. The mid-20th-century stuff is just now starting to look distinctive, and will only become more attractive long term (if we don’t tear it all down).

  • perhaps this is an architecture student’s CAD project.

  • The awning above the front door says “Cody’s” and the picture says “Lizard House”… I am still trying to figure out this puzzle.

  • Truds: I love that when Skybar took their sign down, it left the old “Cody’s” sign. Makes me think it’s my building when I drive by :)

  • I did due diligence on this property a few years ago. Big problems in this building:

    1. Entire structure will have to be fireproofed (steel frame) Currently does not even meet 1962 building code.
    2. Garage has serious structural problems.
    3. New stairwell needed on north side of building. Currently there is only a fire escape for the upper levels.
    4. Add fire sprinklers and alarms. Building will have to comply with the highrise code ($$$).
    5. Strangely, building restrooms are on the mid-landings in the fire stairs, stacked/alternating by floor. Sucks if you are in a wheelchair.
    6. Elevators are too small for ADA.
    7. Not one linear foot of piping, wiring, or mechanical duct/piping can be salvaged.
    8. Floor to Floor is very low for a class A building. It would be a B-plus building on its best day, which is not good for rents.
    9. Views are awesome to the East and north. Backside is bad facing garage.
    10. Tearing down the building and replacing it would require a 30′-0″ setback from Montrose (25′ plus an extra 5′ required by the city on Montrose).
    11. Garage levels do not line up with building levels vertically. It makes for some very weird entries from the garage to the building.
    12. Grade conditions and the lobby are a little funky. Expect to see some strange ramp conditions on the front of the building.
    Pretty much strip the building down to structure and start over is the only way to go. I recommended that the client look at making it into a hotel or apartments. The floorplates lay out nicely for this use. A hotel would do really well here.

  • “Why will it be called ‘Lizard House’?”

    It probably won’t. That’s the designer’s watermark.

  • As a bit of history, in my childhood ( the 40’s) , there was a splendid home on this lot that belonged to E. H. Buckner, who was a founder of the old Houston Natural Gas Co. and the Houston Oil Company —richly panelled —my recollection is that the first natural gas in Houston was brought from a Houston Oil Company lease in Live Oak County to this home, probably in the early 20’s. Just some background :)

  • Not worth saving. Tear it down and hire a good architect.

  • Jared, I suggested maybe taking every other floor out because, in case you haven’t noticed, low ceilings are the most horrific thing possible in an office building. People run away in horror because we are apparently all 7 feet tall and must have 10 feet of open space over our heads.

    IMHO if they simply fixed the building up to standard they could lease it, and if they did something retro and nice with it they could name their price.

    The 3 office buildings down the street at Colquitt/Richmond have waiting lists, or so I’m told.

    I would like to see it renovated, yet funky to keep with Montrose, but I know that ain’t gonna happen. I’m not impressed with the new design but as we Houstonians know all too well by now, anything is better than nothing, and we take what we can get re architecture and renovations.

  • Randall Davis’s Cosmopolitan building on Post Oak doesn’t have 30′ setbacks. Does anyone know how they were able to get around that?

  • Regarding setbacks…West Ave is right on the street as well.

  • Perhaps the owners should pay the property taxes before they dump a bunch more money into it?

  • I doubt office space is in that great of demand in that area. If there were waiting list for the buildings at Colquitt and Richmond then why hasnt the M59 office building designed by Midway broke ground?

  • Setbacks are always determined by how much a developer pays under the table to get a variance. Please. Let’s finally get real about how this city operates. As for 3400 Montrose a developer is going to have to pay big bucks to get the city to overlook what are obviously major problems which only an insane developer would attempt to correct because of the insane amount of money it would cost. Sorry but for most of the last ten years there should have been a sign at the entrances. “Enter at own risk.”

  • This one needs to go. There should be a beautiful high rise there.