05/23/17 2:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: ASPIRATIONAL HOUSTON DEVELOPMENT NAMING JUST AIN’T WHAT IT USED TO BE ‘Heights creep’ is to the 2010s what ‘River Oaks creep’ was to the 1980s/90s. Back in the 90s when I was living in a (moderately crappy) apartment near the corner of Kirby and Westheimer, anything between Buffalo Bayou, the West Loop, US-59 and Montrose might have been referred to as River Oaks. Hell, even the River Oaks Shopping Center isn’t even actually in River Oaks.” [Angostura, commenting on Putting the Heights Back In Its . . . Uh, Places; previously on Swamplot] Photo: River Oaks Theater

05/22/17 4:45pm

PUTTING THE HEIGHTS BACK IN ITS . . . UH, PLACES “In their rush to capitalize on the popularity of the district, businesses and developers have awkwardly assumed the mantle of the name ‘Heights,’ even though they’re clearly outside the zone of its accepted borders,” writes Jeff Balke this morning for the Houston Press. Where exactly are those accepted borders? And which variation means what? Balke suggests something between a taxonomical scheme and an etiquette lesson on selecting the proper name for whatever flavor of Heights, Heights-adjacent and Heights-aspiring territory you may be seeking to invoke — from the historic city originally spurring the name, all the way to the fringe territories of Katyville and the Heights Walmart. [Houston Press; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Swamplot inbox

12/08/16 2:00pm

Pedestrian Bridge over White Oak at Durham St.

The section of bayou-hugging greenway trail running between Durham St. and Stude Park is getting the official OK tomorrow morning from Harris County Flood Control District and the Houston Parks Board. The photo above is of the pedestrian bridge across White Oak near Durham St. that previously supplanted the area’s “Bridge of Death” route; the segment opening tomorrow runs from that same bridge east along the bayou to the Studemont St. non-pedestrian bridge. The organizers are hoping would-be trail fans will use some means other than car to get to the ceremony location (off Studemont just north of I-10); if you have to drive, however, the invitation says you might be able to get a parking space across the freeway north of  Target.

Further east along the White Oak trail, here’s an updated view of how that link into Near Northside by the Leonel Castillo Community Center is coming along (taken in mid-November, once again from the same spot as that glitzed-up flood photo that made an appearance in Air New Zealand’s recent in-flight feature on Texas):


Greenways Growth Spurts
10/12/16 5:30pm

633 W 20th St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008

The beauty-centric duplex building at 633 W. 20th St. is down to an asking price of $999,999 these days, after starting the summer on the market at an even $1 million. The converted 1930s bungalow, which currently houses the Wax and Relax Day Spa and Lucero’s Hair Salon, was initially listed back in 2015 for $1.3 million; the property sits next to the former house housing custom homebuilder First Crest Corporation, and across the street from the converted bungalow housing 20th St. Grooming & Doggie Daycare. Here’s what the building’s 3 bedrooms currently look like as spa spaces:


Heights Home Makeovers
04/25/16 11:00am

C&D Scrap Metal, 815 W. 25th St., Height, Houston, 77008

The fence around the original home of of C&D Scrap Metal Recyclers at 815 W. 25th St. now hosts signs in English and Spanish announcing the scrapyard’s planned May 12th closure. The metal collectors have spent the last 28 years at the location across Durham St. from Shady Acres Church of Christ, just a few blocks away from the flurry of  redevelopment currently underway on N. Shepherd; since the mid 2000s, the business has also been using an additional lot on the opposite side of W. 25th, next door to Brothers Tire. 

Here’s a look at the company’s new out-of-the-Loop locale, already up and running at 6775 Bingle Rd. just south of Little York Rd.:


Leaving the Loop
03/11/16 1:00pm

March 11th Mural at former Heights Finance Station Post Office, 1050 Yale St., Houston Heights

Update, 5 pm: Work on the wall is finished; this article has been updated with additional photos.

A reader catches more than a dozen folks in the act of dolling up the former post office at 11th St. with some giant hearts and numbers this morning. The building, which was recently given a Valentine’s-themed makeover on the opposite side by some likely-taller members of the Houston mural scene, has been getting romantic attention while waiting for MFT Development to go forward with plans to demolish the structure to build a lowrise retail and office complex.

In the interrim, MFT says they’ve set the art students of Hogg Middle School on the Heights Blvd. side of the building. Here’s another shot of the action, looking closer to 11th:


Love All Around
02/29/16 3:00pm

Mural at former Heights Finance Station Post Office, 1050 Yale St., Houston Heights

The recently dumped Heights Finance Station post office at Yale and 11th streets was treated to a makeover this month, as demolition looms on the horizon. If all goes as planned, the building will eventually be brushed aside to make way for the younger-and-likely-prettier Heights Central Station mixed-use shopping center headed for the site; until then, it’s playing canvas for some Houston graffiti artists, including Wiley Robertson (one of the usual suspects behind giant love notes spotted around town).

A reader sends a fresh batch of lunchtime snapshots of the mural, which seems to have been wrapped up in the last few days:


Love Is In The Aerosol
02/19/16 10:15am

Proposed Development at Yale and 21st streets, Heights, Houston, 77008

Proposed Development at Yale and 21st streets, Heights, Houston, 77008Here’s the latest cloud-edged rendering of what could be coming to the corner of Yale and W. 21st streets, if Wellington Development gets its requested setback variance wish granted. A reader noticed the notice of the request posted outside of the building currently at 2105 Yale, which formerly housed Dorsey’s Beauty Academy prior to a decade of abandonment.

Wellington bought the spot last July, around which time Collum Commercial put out a leasing flyer showing a new floor-slash-parking plan for the property, which is boxed in on the non-Yale-and-21st-streets sides by the 2125 Yale apartments. Planned renovations to the building, which is listed in county records as 13,000 sq.ft.,  appear to involve some major trimming and resculpting to fit in new off-street parking spaces:


Yale Street Plaza
02/12/16 1:15pm

Heights Finance Station Post Office, 1050 Yale St., Houston Heights

Heights Finance Station Post Office, 1050 Yale St., Houston HeightsA brand new multi-building mixed-use development is planned for the site of the former Heights Finance Station post office, which shut down at the end of last year after being declared “no longer necessary” by USPS.  The land on 11th St. between Heights Blvd. and Yale St. will move on, change its name to a less-stodgy Heights Central Station, and start a new life as the site of multiple 2-story lowrises housing ground-floor retail and restaurants with office spaces on top.


Heights Central Station
02/05/16 11:30am

Fitzgerald's, 2705 White Oak Dr, Heights, Houston, TX 77007

Trashed interior of Fitzgerald's, 2705 White Oak Dr, Heights, Houston, TX 77007

Cleanup and updates are planned over the next month for Fitzgerald’s, as owner Sara Fitzgerald returns to management following the previous operator’s recent eviction. Fitzgerald told the Houston Press that the venue at the corner of White Oak Dr. and Studemont St. will be redoing its back patio with an eye to making it food-truck-friendly, as well as painting and cleaning the space. Fitzgerald also says the venue will have to get its liquor license reinstated, and that the bar might have to “give something away” during shows they hold in the interim; the venue will likely not fully book until the cleanup and changes are complete.

The venue’s newest former management team left the space earlier this week, kicking up a cloud of photos purportedly documenting the satanic-graffiti-and-toilet-paper-heavy aftermath of a farewell gathering of the former tenants the night before their planned exit date.  The termination of the tenants’ relationship related at least in part to a rent disagreement: Freshly-ex-GM Josh Merritt told the Houston Press that the rent rates being charged were unfair given the building’s condition, while Sara Fitzgerald maintained that the rent was merely unpaid. Merritt emphasized that the former tenants wouldn’t have done anything to the building that would jeopardize their $50,000 security deposit.


Party Like a Rock Star
01/06/16 3:15pm

The Raven hasn’t landed yet — but the metal-fabrication-shop-turned-icehouse’s website and Facebook page are touting a January 19th Grand Opening date, complete with the kickoff to the venue’s live music lineup. On the other side of the complex, associated White Oak Music Hall itself isn’t scheduled to open until May.

The ice house and its sky-high 70s-bachelor-pad lounge are tucked back off of N. Main along North St., separated from I-45 by only the Skylane Apartments. (The iconic den-on-a-stick can be spotted through the trees from I-45 north of Quitman, just before the freeway ducks under the North St. bridge.)

New renderings posted last month by the bar show the details of the rest of the Raven Tower’s indoor and outdoor spaces:


Winging Over White Oak
01/06/16 1:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: REMEMBERING THE WONDERFUL LIFE IN THE HEIGHTS Heights Candy Bar, 833 Studewood, Heights, Houston, 77007“Back when it was a drugstore, I remember buying sodas from George Bailey when he worked there. His boss Mr. Gower ’bout ripped his damn ear off one time when he almost poisoned a kid. Old man Potter came in with his cheap housing, building all these stucco Mcmansions. Things haven’t been the same since.” [Violet, commenting on Oolala, Heights Candy Bar Calling It Quits on Studewood Storefronts] Photo: Heights Candy Bar

01/05/16 10:00am

Heights Candy Bar, 833 Studewood, Heights, Houston, 77007

Note: This story has been updated.

Take one last lick Heights Candy Bar is closing, as are internally connected gift-clothing-and-knick-knack shops Oolala and Tulips & Tutus. Sweets dealer Tania Gumney announced this morning that the 3 shops at 833 Studewood will melt away shortly; Gumney’s mother-in-law, Judy Pfardresher, runs Oolala, but has decided to retire after 13 years of operation.

Pfardresher has subleased parts of the 833 space to various other businesses throughout her tenancy; Gumney joined the glucose trade and set up shop in 2014.


Sugar Crash in the Heights
12/30/15 9:45am

Remodel of Heights Plaza, 420 E. 20th St., Heights, Houston, 77008

A makeover is underway at the Heights Plaza at 420 E. 20th St. between N. Main and Heights Blvd. Swamplot reader JerseyGirl sends photos of the strip center, once home to Sunny’s Washateria and J & R Boudin; the building is keeping some of its 1970s architectural details (such as those embedded cinderblocks) but is also getting some updates, including a total interior redo and a new white and bubblegum color scheme extending to the parking lot.

Workers on the site confirmed that one of the new tenants will be Birds Barbers, an Austin salon known for providing Shiner Bock as part of its customer experience — in addition to using it as a styling product, for “hair that is smooth and full of shine”. Steel City Pops will also move in — the Alabama-based popsicle chain, which the owner modeled off a Mexican paletas store encountered in Nashville, currently lists flavors including buttermilk, wassail, and spruce on the menu of their Dallas location.

Earlier renderings from Schaum & Shieh show the Heights Plaza strip center (to be rechristened The 420) as it may soon appear — give or take a high-gloss sheen, and those pink parking stops and bricks:


Heights Gets the Birds