11/15/12 2:31pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: HOUSTON FIRST SKIPS THE BULLY SALES BLOCK “Instead of ‘hoping’ to get residential/retail development on the site, why not REQUIRE such development on the site via deed restrictions or other contractual agreements with the buyer? This is how HISD screwed themselves on the sale of their old administration building. They sold to the highest bidder and ‘hoped’ they would build something like the fancy mixed use rendering they were passing around. Instead we got a Costco and an LA Fitness. When you consider that HISD pockets more than 50 percent of every tax dollar paid by the property, they might have made more money in the long run by GIVING AWAY their land to someone who would have developed it more intensely.” [Bernard, commenting on Headlines: Downtown Block for Sale; Accessing Remote Hermann Park]

05/28/10 11:10am

Got a question about something going on in your neighborhood you’d like Swamplot to answer? Sorry, we can’t help you. But if you ask real nice and include a photo or 2 with your request, maybe the Swamplot Street Sleuths can! Who are they? Other readers, just like you, ready to demonstrate their mad skillz in hunting down stuff like this:

Some fine sleuthing and rumor-mongering by Swamplot readers this week! Here’s what you dug up about the 2 properties in question:

  • Greenway Commons: That building going up at the corner of Richmond and Cummins is . . . an Iberia Bank! Just a little pad-site action for the sprawl-eriffic Costco Plus retail-and-parking-lot development that replaced the former HISD headquarters building a few years back. The most polite and knowledgeable-sounding response came from Amir, who added info about a nearby corner, for all you bank fans out there:

    The location currently going up on the CostCo pad site is an Iberia Bank ground lease. The property located at Richmond and Weslayan is owned by BBVA Compass, which operates the drive thru behind it and will eventually build a location there.

What about that Heights church building?


12/01/08 10:18am

A 3-story section of The Collection, the Morgan Group’s 528-unit apartment complex under construction behind the new Costco on Weslayan and Richmond apparently collapsed early Sunday. A Swamplot reader sends in these photos of the scene following the accident, along with a few sharp comments:

The 4 story “stick built” apartment facility known as “The Collection” (www.collectionliving.com) became a “collection of sticks” early Sunday morning. It seems as if the contractors and the Morgan Group were in a Thanksgiving hurry to get home for turkey and giblets and forgot to “tie in” to the adjoining 3 and 4 story section of the main building.

Good thing it was a Sunday as Monday morning will bring back a tribe of contractors to push to get this facility on the Harris County Tax Roll by Summer 2009….Someone could have been seriously hurt if not killed. The Morgan Group should be “thankful” this Thanksgiving that it was not the case – and that they can “rush” to completion.


11/14/08 11:41am

COSTCO SIDEWALK MAZE: BETTER FOR THE TREES Lee McGuire gets to the bottom of the wacky sidewalk screwup at Trammell Crow’s Greenway Commons, on the corner of Weslayan and Richmond: “It turns out the city actually required the new sidewalk to run right through the utility poles to save a row of trees. The developer said the project meets federal guidelines — except perhaps the blocked handicap ramp. The final inspection won’t take place until the shopping center is finished. If it’s in violation, the developer promises to fix it.” [11 News, via BlogHouston; previously]

10/27/08 11:15am

Sidewalk Along Weslayan St., Greenway Commons, Houston

The wise folks behind Greenway Commons — the new shopping center replacing the old HISD headquarters building at the corner of Richmond and Weslayan — have apparently taken some extra-special steps to make sure the new development (which includes a brand-new Costco) is super-friendly to pedestrian visitors!

Making everything welcoming to people arriving on foot makes sense — the project had been criticized for exhibiting suburban-style development patterns in a location that some dreamers had imagined would be a street-fronting mixed-use center. It’s already a busy corner, and Metro’s new University Line will have a stop only a short walk away.

But “easy to access” can also mean “boring.” So it’s comforting to see these pictures of the project’s street edge sent in by a reader, which show a gentle, fun infrastructure-themed obstacle course taking shape along the new Weslayan and Richmond sidewalks in front of Trammell Crow’s grand development:


07/02/08 11:15am

Costco at Richmond and Weslayan Under Construction

Street trees in medians on Weslayan and Richmond will likely be disappearing soon, reports Sarah Kortemeier in the offline-only Village News. Three left-turn lanes on Weslayan and two on Richmond are planned for the new Greenway Commons Costco-powered Power Center under construction on the northeast corner of that intersection:

Trammell Crow Managing Director of Retail Development Craig Cheney says that the company was required by the City of Houston to put the turning bays in for traffic mitigation purposes, and his company was not made aware of any extra permitting required to remove trees. . . .

The median does not appear to be wide enough to accommodate extra lanes without removing trees. Cheney says that Trammell Crow is “open to any suggestions [the City] might have” about relocating or mitigating the effect on trees, but that the turning bays cannot be constructed without removing or relocating at least some of the trees.

Photo of Costco construction: Flickr user Graustark

03/05/08 11:42pm

Greenway Commons Costco at Richmond and Weslayan, Houston

Didja know that the new Costco going up on the former site of the HISD headquarters building at the corner of Richmond and Weslayan . . . is gonna have its very own gas station right out front?

Costco liked the idea of coming inside the Loop so much . . . it decided to bring all its friends! The city just issued a building permit for the new Costco Fuel station. But that’s just the latest addition to Greenway Commons, which is turning out to be quite a mix: A 45,420-sq.-ft. LA Fitness is going above the Costco, next to a 4-story parking garage which is connected to a 2-story retail strip center. It’ll all be protected from the busy surrounding streets by more than 500 surface parking spaces and 2 corner pad sites slated for “banks.” In back: a 550-unit Morgan Group luxury apartment complex . . . with two more separate garages!

After the jump, more drawings and plans of this surprising development.


08/07/07 11:05pm

Former HISD Central Administration Building on Richmond

Proposed Costco on Richmond

The building was simply too big, too lavish, too expensive, too outmoded, and too hot a property for a school district to keep. The site was prime real estate, near the projected path of a new rail line, and perfect—said the buyers—for a dense “New Urbanist-style” mixed-use center. The big concrete box surrounded by parking just didn’t seem to make sense. So after HISD sold its Central Administration building on Richmond at Weslayan, Trammell Crow Co. had it razed last year to make the site ready for new, fresher, denser development.

And the new development is . . . a Costco! With an LA Fitness above it! Plus some outside-the-mall-style pad sites in a big surface parking lot facing Richmond! A small parking garage too. Oh, and an apartment complex tucked in back.

What happened?

[Trammell Crow project manager Craig] Cheney said the project had quietly shifted direction some time ago.

“We looked around, and we had all these competing projects with integrated residential, office and retail, all competing for the same few retailers,” he said. “Life is too short to get into that kind of situation.”

So the project — which had an initial design including a hotel, high-rise and garden homes, a bookstore, grocery store and other features integrated into one “village” — took on a different form.

Shorter version: Costco wanted the site, so the developers jumped at the chance for some of that inside-the-loop big-box excitement.

After our jump, dreamy architect sketches of Paseo, the mixed-use European-style “lifestyle center” Trammell Crow and the Morgan Group waved in front of us for a brief, shining moment in our—yes, too-short lives.