12/11/17 12:00pm

A new banner just tacked to the forehead of the building on Richmond Ave., barely east of I-610 announces what’s due to move in: a second Galleria-area showroom for Nazar’s Fine Jewelry. The photo at top, sent in by an on-the-spot Swamplot reader, shows workers getting a boost to place the sign at sundown on Sunday. The northeast crotch of the 59-West Loop interchange is visible south of the building at 4901 Richmond.

Interior renovation permits for the 25,890-sq.-ft. building — formerly home to Morton Kuehnert Auctioneers & Appraisers, and, even more formerly, to Parvizian Signature Rugs — were filed in September. Before it closed down in October 2016, the auction house’s windows were covered with photos of artifacts:

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Richmond Riches
11/07/17 1:00pm

In case you were curious what the 9th-floor 1-bedroom condo in the Cosmopolitan owned by southwest Houston charter school Accelerated Interdisciplinary Intermediate Academy looks like, here are some photos taken when the property was listed for sale in February of 2011, for $468,500. The school purchased the condo that June. 250 elementary and middle school students attend Accelerated Interdisciplinary Intermediate Academy on its mostly bare 7-acre campus at 12825 Summit Ridge Dr., near the intersection of Alt. 90 and the Fort Bend Pkwy. Toll Rd. The taxpayer-funded school’s 2 buildings have no windows.

So what’s the condo for? An unidentified school representative emails the Chronicle‘s Jacob Carpenter to explain it’s used for “”back office support and SECURE storage of historical records.” Repeated break-in attempts, according to the representative, prevented the records from being kept at the school. “The writer also reasoned that the charter preferred buying property instead of paying rent, and that its options were ‘very limited,’” writes Carpenter. “The author didn’t explain why the school opted for the condo when cheaper storage and office space were available.”

The almost-floor-to-ceiling windows and balcony in the school’s Cosmopolitan condo face south, down Post Oak Blvd.:

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A Charter School’s Uptown Holdings
10/02/17 3:30pm

Here’s evidence that the scheduled reconstruction of the entire West Loop—I-69 interchange just southeast of the Galleria is about to begin. “Crews have been ripping out trees and other vegetation,” reports reader and 610 traveler John Greiner: “Much more than could be argued for improving traffic sight lines.”

These pics show the scene:

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Foliage First
09/06/17 9:30am

HARVEY NOW READY TO HIT GALLERIA THEATER A WEEK LATER THAN EXPECTED Opening night for Mary Chase’s 1945 Pulitzer Prize–winning play Harvey at the Jeannette and L.M. George Theater is now set for September 15th — just a week after its originally scheduled opening date was preempted by a downgraded Hurricane bearing the same name. The A.D. Players‘ brand-new playhouse at 5420 Westheimer, just west of the Galleria, did not flood and suffered only “minor leaks” from the storm, but in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Harvey the theater-ministry group announced a decision to postpone its season-opening production, which stars an invisible rabbit named Harvey. New executive director Jake Speck says some new “arts-access and fundraising initiatives” will be announced soon. [A.D. Players; American Theatre; previously on SwamplotPhoto of George Theater: A.D. Players

08/29/17 12:15pm

HARVEY UPSTAGES HARVEY The A.D. Players‘ new 450-seat Jeannette and L.M. George Theater at 5420 Westheimer just west of the Galleria, which opened earlier this year, “has stood the storm well,” its operators report today on Facebook. But not so much the very first set of shows in the resident theater company’s new season: Because of Hurricane Harvey’s devastation, a production of Mary Chase’s 1945 Pulitzer Prize-winning play about a 6-ft., 3-and-a-half-in.-tall invisible rabbit named Harvey (scheduled to begin a 3-and-a-half-week run on September 8th) has been put off — for a while, at least: “Harvey the storm has not been our friend. ‘Harvey’ the show will go on — more details to come,” reads a note posted by the theater last night. “When it does, we want it to be a lighthearted lift to our beloved community, which has suffered so much in just a few short days.” The theater company began planning its production of Harvey months ago, but says it had been promoting the production “in earnest” for only a little more than a week. [A.D. Players] Photo of George Theater: A.D. Players

05/17/17 5:00pm

A waste-no-time tipster briefly stuck on the southbound West Loop earlier this week spent the downtime documenting some of the current activities of various cranes hanging around north of the US 59 junction. On the right is Tilman Fertitta’s The Post Oak, being fleshed out behind the Landry’s headquarters as part of a new mixed-use development; the previously tipped hand of 4 logo diamonds are already being framed at the top:

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Uptown Updates
05/17/17 11:30am

Now hanging in the newly remodeled central nook on the Galleria’s curved facade along Westheimer Rd.: these strips of hexagonal rings spotted early last week by a passing bus rider. (That curved wall is where Saks Fifth Avenue used to be, before the store scooted into the boxy new building next door.) The rendering up top was released last fall, around the time Simon Properties confirmed that Nobu and Fig & Olive would be taking up 2 of the 4 restaurant spaces shown.

For comparison, here’s what the entry through the Philip Johnson-designed facade looked like as of last August, after the new windows had been cut (but before the top edge of the facade got trimmed off): 

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Westheimer Faceoff
02/16/17 11:15am

Uptown MD and TIRZ 16 Boundaries

A new lawsuit was filed yesterday against TIRZ 16, the Uptown Development Authority, and the city, alleging that the creation of the reinvestment zone in the Galleria area was in violation of Texas law, since the zone can’t reasonably be considered “unproductive, underdeveloped, or blighted.” Rather, the filing claims, the city ordinance that originally created the TIRZ used the justification that the Uptown area needed traffic decongestion to avoid losing its status as one of the wealthiest districts in the city, and to avoid draining business to the city’s ever-expanding suburban fringe. A hearing is going on today over a possible injunction on further spending or work on Uptown projects, and Mike Morris says that city council delayed a vote yesterday on allowing Uptown an additional $65 million in debt.

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Uptown Up for Trial
10/31/16 5:30pm

POLAROID NOW HIRING FOR FAKE FILM PHOTO STORES IN THE GALLERIA, WOODLANDS MALL The Woodlands Mall, 1201 Lake Woodlands Dr., The Woodlands, TXIn the apparent leadup to setting up shop in several major Texas cities, a few job postings are up this month for Polaroid Store positions at locations in the Galleria and Woodlands Mall. The stores’ raison d’être: to pull photos from customers’ electronic devices and social media accounts to turn them into pseudo-Polaroids of various sizes. The Polaroid company launched its Fotobar stores in Florida earlier this decade; after a few years of interstate spread and subsequent shutdowns, a 2014 variation on the business model shifted focus onto 300-sq.-ft. mall kiosks, before the store’s founders announced a rebranding last year. No word yet on opening dates for the 2 Houston-area shops, though they appear to be hiring under the wing of Austin-based toy and calendar outfit Calendar Holdings; the postings mention that locations are also in the works in Austin, Frisco, and San Antonio.  Photo of Woodlands Mall: GGP

07/12/16 10:45am

Canyon Cafe, 5000 Westheimer, Galleria, Houston, 77056

Post Oak Centre Variance Request NoticeThe torches along the stairway to the former Canyon Cafe space at 5000 Post Oak Blvd. are not part of the plan for the southwestern grill’s northern replacement, Dallas hockey owner Tom Gaglardi’s Canadian fusion chain Moxie’s. Renderings of a potential remodel for the space (submitted as part of a variance request for Post Oak Centre) show the whole staircase missing, and depict the restaurant’s footprint spreading out as it adds part of the ground floor of the shopping center to the original restaurant space. The drawings depict an entrance canopy to the south of the development, and a new 2-story covered patio to the eastern side of the building, edging close to Post Oak Blvd.:

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Post Oak Recentering
02/09/16 11:30am

Scaffolding on the Williams Tower, 2800 Post Oak Blvd., Galleria Area, Houston, 77056

A more senior representative of the Williams Tower’s property management office wrote in yesterday with a correction to Friday’s note about the recent return of the rotating spotlight at the top, after another employee told Swamplot that the beam had been off while a new bulb was being hunted down. In fact, the source tells Swamplot, the entire beacon fixture has been replaced, as part of a redo of the tip of the tower itself.

The current work on the top started in November 2014 and includes the replacement of the “apex roof” (consisting of the sloping panels directly beneath the beacon, and the vertical panels directly below those, above the start of the glass skin). The above photo shows those vertical panels missing late last spring as the swap was underway. The new spotlight turned on in late December, and final touches to the roof should be done by March, if the weather cooperates.

Here’s what the roof looked like back before the work began:

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Spotlight on the Roof
02/05/16 4:15pm

Williams Tower, 2800 Post Oak Blvd., Galleria Area, Houston, 77056

Update (2/9): The entire beacon fixture has been replaced. See this story for details.

The rotating spotlight on top of the 64-story Williams Tower in the Galleria area has been back on for a few weeks, following an autumnal hiatus. According to a representative of the tower’s property management office, the beam stayed dark during difficulties finding the correct kind of bulb for the fixture. A reader sent a report this week from a bedroom window overlooking the Galleria area:

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Twinkle, Twinkle, Giant Bulb
01/21/16 10:00am

51Fifteen, 5115 Westheimer, Galleria, Houston, 77056

While you’re waiting for that Galleria redo to wrap up, renderings have been released of the new home of 51Fifteen, the upscale bistro tucked into the existing Saks Fifth Avenue location along with its sister bar Bar 12 (currently located “amidst the men’s fashion selections”). The restaurant will follow Saks 5th Avenue to its new home, landing in its own swanky new space designed by the Contour Interior Design folks. The restaurant’s website is now booking events at the new location for dates as soon as April 2016.

Here’s a rendering from Beck Architecture of the new Saks building’s boxy exterior, slated for the spot where the Galleria III used to be:

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51Fifteen at 5115