08/23/16 10:30am

17695 Hwy. 249, Willowbrook, Houston, 77064

With the Mattress Firm peeking in from the left and the Office Depot edging in from the right, here’s the former 59 Diner across Hwy. 249 from Willowbrook Mall. The jagged freestanding building went up for lease around the same time as all those other 59 locations opened up in the wake of the chain’s March shutdown; now, as other former 59s are beginning to pick up new tenants, the Willowbrook spot is being spruced up to reopen as a branch of Dimassi’s Mediterranean Buffet. That boxy framework hanging around over the entrance looks to be the leftovers of the 59 signage, shown below in this previous listing shot of the restaurant (taken before the structure’s teal-heavy retro color scheme got beiged away):


Ups and Downs Willowbrook
06/30/16 12:30pm

Beltway Crossing Northwest Construction Progress, April 2016 Beltway Crossing Northwest Access Map ExcerptMost of the square box just left of center in the above photo was officially leased by Amazon yesterday, reports Cara Smith for the HBJ. The deal is for roughly 100,000 sq.ft. in the Beltway Crossing Northwest business park, located on the other side of 249, Greens Bayou, and an AMC Theater from Willowbrook Mall (as seen in the access map and intended eventual site plan from developer Panattoni). The agreement on the park’s Buildnig 5 was reportedly made official within 24 hours of the commissioners court’s Tuesday vote to approve a larger-than-normal tax abatement deal for a different Amazon facility — the proposed 855,000-sq.-ft. warehouse in Pinto Business Park (catty-corner across Beltway 8 and I-45 from Greenspoint Mall). But building permits naming Amazon as the occupant of the Willowbrook site at 11720 N. Gessner Rd. date back to at least 2014.

Here’s a shot of the Pinto site — the park’s 971 acres lie in place next to the Houston National Cemetery (the yet-unoccupied eastern end of which is visible on the far right in the south-facing aerial below):


06/06/13 3:00pm

FLESHING OUT WILLOWBROOK’S DINING OPTIONS Rivals in that niche sports-and-cleavage market Twin Peaks and Hooters will have a bit more competition starting today, reports Eater Houston, and this from the only restaurant that’s legally allowed to call itself a “breastaurant:” Bikinis Sports Bar and Grill — which in April trademarked the term — opened its first location last month in The Woodlands; this new one will be at the former Burger Girl at 17117 Tomball Pkwy. near the Willowbrook Mall. And what, you might wonder, sets Bikinis apart? It might be the food: “In addition to traditional American bar-and-grill fare and cocktails and microbrews,” reports the Houston Business Journal, “Bikinis offers its Big Bucking Burger. Customers can win a T-shirt if they finish the $24.95 five-pound burger on their own.” [Eater Houston; Houston Chronicle; Houston Business Journal] Photo: Bikinis Sports Bar and Grill

12/14/10 3:34pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: ANOTHER WESTWOOD GARDENS WELCOME “Sylvia, welcome to the WG Homes community. I am very sorry to hear about your cats. Yes, there are stray dogs outside our community (the first trailer home on Gessner). It is very sad indeed. Yes, it does feel a lot like a community, and it is going to go uphill from now on. No looking back. Hope you enjoy your stay.” [Westwood G Resident, commenting on Westwood Gardens Still Life: A Photo Tour of Half-Built Houston Homes; previously]

03/25/10 11:05pm

Which Houston houseguesser walks away from this week’s contest with the grand prize — a shiny new one-year individual membership in the Rice Design Alliance?

Well . . . none of you, actually.

Too bad. Nobody was even close. Here’s where the place is:


11/24/09 11:32am

Channel 2 investigative reporter Amy Davis sends a KPRC newschopper to buzz the 80-acre Cypress party pad estate of former Royce Builders president John Speer. More than a year after we featured the innumerable builder upgrades of that Mack-Daddy mansion on Swamplot, it’s still sitting on the market — for the same $9.8 million.

Meanwhile, less than a mile to the west, sales aren’t going so well either in former Royce Homes subdivision Grant Meadows:

“Houses are in disrepair. Fences are in disrepair,” explained homeowner Matt Adams. “The whole neighborhood’s been left in ruins.” . . .

Royce stopped paying the bill for the street lights in Grant Meadows in July 2008.

Reliant recently switched them off, and told homeowners they must pay the $14,000 owed before they can turn them back on.

“It’s pitch black out here at night,” said homeowner Evit Byrd, who planned to retire in Grant Meadows with his wife. “You can’t see anything.”

But there’s some good news: Speer has been building again! His new company, Vestalia Homes, which Speer founded 3 weeks after he closed down Royce, is busy constructing and selling homes a little closer to FM 1960, in a subdivision called the Lakes of Cypress Forest.


06/12/09 10:35am

A STRETCH OF THE TOLLWAY THAT SUCKS, QUIETLY The Harris County Toll Road Authority is hoping its first expanse of Permeable Friction Course asphalt will reduce accidents caused by hydroplaning: “Taking a pitcher, [HCTRA engineer Quinton] Alberto poured water on a one-foot square block of PFC asphalt sitting in a plastic tray. Instead of running off as it would on concrete or regular asphalt, the water was absorbed — almost instantly. The water then trickled to the bottom and out the sides. It works because the PFC asphalt is full of tiny holes and air pockets that allow rainwater to drain through it. On RM 1431 in Austin, TxDOT says the PFC asphalt is a big reason why there has been a dramatic decrease in wet-weather accidents. Before laying down the new pavement, wet weather accidents accounted for nearly 60 percent of all crashes. After the PFC, they accounted for less than 10 percent. In Harris County, the Toll Road Authority is using PFC for the first time, spending $4 million to pave a five-mile section of Beltway 8 between US 290 and SH 249. The authority picked the section because it said in just the last two years, there have been over a hundred injury accidents there, many in wet weather.” [11 News]

03/06/09 3:33pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WELCOME TO WESTWOOD GARDENS “The neighbors are starting to join together to remove the graffiti. Not many kids are on the blocks but they do range in age from babies to happy teens. You can see them outside at times with their parents, riding scooters, riding bikes or just playing around. The neighbors even have indoor small pups, not those that you see on the news that maul on people or those that are seen used to fight. They are small well cared for happy dogs. Never without being on a leash when they are outside. A few neighbors have been seen flying small model airplanes. Everyone is friendly. Try it, if you see any one of the neighbors outside just wave and you will get a smile and a wave back. Hopefully one day we see you, if so Welcome to Westwood Gardens where you are Not just a Neighbor, Your Family!” [We Are Family!, commenting on Westwood Gardens Still Life: A Photo Tour of Half-Built Houston Homes]

01/16/09 10:48am

So where are all the half-built homes? That question, asked by a Swamplot reader last week, prompted a slew of comments from other readers eager to identify pockets and neighborhoods in and around Houston where construction has come to a halt because of problems connected to the nationwide housing-market collapse. (As well as a few where construction stopped for reasons of a more local nature.)

Swamplot reader subprimelandguy suggested looking at Northwest Houston:

You need to go to the suburban areas, particularly the non master planned communities between the Beltway and Highway 6 / 1960. The most aggressive one is actually inside the Beltway near West Road and Gessner – a former Royce Homes (go figure) development called Westwood Gardens. It is a bombed out poster child for the subprime fiasco.

Then late yesterday, subprimelandguy sent in photos!


04/28/08 7:18pm

Site of Fallbrook Distribution Center, 8103 Fallbrook Dr., Houston

Just add punchline: If all goes as planned, Home Depot will soon be operating a LEED-certified distribution center just south of the Sam Houston Race Park in Northwest Houston.

Pennsylvania REIT Liberty Property Trust began constructing the enormous 535,000-square-foot Fallbrook Distribution Center at the southwest corner of Fallbrook Dr. and Fairbanks-North Houston on spec, and plans to submit it to the U.S. Green Building Council for core & shell certification. Home Depot will be leasing the entire facility.

But Home Depot wanted a few changes made . . .

Liberty Property . . . switched gears in the middle of construction to make the facility — originally planned as 615,000 square feet — smaller to suit the long-term tenant. “We disassembled the east side of the building and relocated tiltwall concrete panels to create a larger employee parking area,” [Liberty Property’s Joe] Trinkle says. “We had to take apart the building to accommodate their need.”

The west side of the building was also disassembled and reconstructed in order to add a third loading dock, he says.

Gary Mabray, an industrial broker with Colliers International, says it is unusual for a construction project to undergo as many changes as this one did.

“That building was basically finished,” Mabray says. “They had to go back in and demolish slab and everything.”

Liberty Trust, a real estate investment trust, offered the tenant a build-to-suit option at another site so the building would not have to be converted, but Trinkle says the timing was off.

Photo of Fallbrook Distribution Center under construction: Liberty Property Trust

12/03/07 10:58am

Listing from Oodle.com

How important is location? Well, here’s a four-bedroom, three-bath home for sale near Mayor Bill White, and they’re only asking $137,900?! This listing found on Oodle.com sounds too good to be true!

It is.

Below the fold: the awful truth.