09/14/17 11:00am

WEST HOUSTON CAN NOW FLUSH IN GOOD CONSCIENCE When last we (and the aircraft supplying aerial images to NOAA) left the West District wastewater treatment plant along Buffalo Bayou just outside Beltway 8 at the flooded southeast corner of Memorial Glen, it looked like this: shut down and surrounded by muddy floodwaters sorely in need of its services. That was September 3rd. As of this morning, the city’s Office of Emergency Management reports, both this plant and the one on Turkey Creek off Eldridge between Briar Forest Dr. and Memorial have been restored to full operation. This means persons in ZIP Codes 77024, 77041, 77043, 77055, 77077, 77079, 77080 and 77094 who had been following guidelines to limit their water use are once more free to shower, flush, brush, and otherwise send wastewater down their drains without special consideration of the consequences. [Alert Houston; previously on Swamplot] Aerial image of West District plant from September 3: NOAA  

09/01/17 3:30pm

Here’s the latest publicly available high-resolution aerial imagery of Houston-area flooding, in an interactive map you can use to zoom in and examine in detail and by address. The imagery in the map above comes from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and was taken this past Wednesday and Thursday, August 29th and 30th — as floodwaters subsided in many areas of the city but continued to build in a few parts west.

Included in the portions of the city photographed by NOAA: the sections of Memorial south of I-10, west of Gessner Rd., north of Briar Forest Dr. (that’s below Buffalo Bayou), and east of the Addicks and Barker reservoirs. That’s the area where Mayor Turner earlier today said residents who already have water in their homes should probably leave their homes now if they haven’t already — because water is likely to remain in them for the next 10 to 15 days as releases from the dams continue.

To zoom in on the latest aerial imagery from that area, you can click on the search box in the map above and type “Memorial, Houston,” then click on the first option that appears below where you’re typing. Then zoom in further to see where the floodwaters are and aren’t. You can identify the date of the imagery and turn on and off various layers if you click on the lower of the 2 icons on the top right of the map. To view the map larger in your browser window, navigate directly to NOAA’s Harvey site.

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Harvey Flooding from Above
08/04/17 11:30am

Demolition has begun, a reader notes, on the Ripple Creek Townhomes at 1015 S. Ripple Creek Dr., a 3-building assembly of 2-story structures fitted onto a 2-plus-acre site directly east of the Second Baptist Church complex on Woodway Dr. The gently named Ripple Creek Dr. is the first north-south street east of Voss on the north side of Woodway; the townhome buildings, which were built in 1970, are wedged between it and the more workaday Bering Ditch, an actual waterway known to carry actual water north to Buffalo Bayou on its straightened, concrete-lined haunches.

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Woodway Breakout
07/21/17 1:15pm

The neon signage facing the I-10 feeder road at the former home of the Mason Jar has been stripped off, as the spot gets built out for a takeover by the Goode folks (as seen in this shot captured by a reader this week). After the ongoing expansion and patio-making wraps up, the spot will offer a menu at least somewhat reminiscent of the company’s Kirby Dr. taqueria, based on barbecue heir and current owner Levi Goode’s musings to Eric Sandler last month. The new brand’ll be called the Goode Company Kitchen & Cantina; Goode told Sandler there’s a second one planned for the Woodlands.

A few old Mason Jar labels are still visible to the east of the building:

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Kitchen & Cantina Conversion
12/27/16 5:00pm

Carvana vending machine, 10939 Katy Fwy., Memorial, Houston, 77079

Along with starting up service at the new 8-story glass car dispensation machine on the former Big Tex Tree Nursery lot on I-10 this month, Carvana has released a bit of drone footage of the new facility (shown above). It doesn’t show the tower in action (though a video of a coin-triggered run-through of the original Nashville machine, which boasts only 5 stories of car-storage tower space, can be found here). The fly-by does show off some new grassy parking lot landscaping and the billboard that Carvana leased out to explain themselves, as well as a few of the residences on Lasso Ln. directly behind the machine. (That’s the east-bound Katy Fwy. on the left, with the flying ramps of Beltway 8 visible in the early morning haze.)

Photo of Carvana facility at 10939 Katy Fwy.: elnina via Swamplot Flickr Pool

Video: Carvana

I-10 Stackup
10/25/16 6:00pm

12020 Tall Oaks St Bunker Hill, TX 77024

12020 Tall Oaks St Bunker Hill, TX 77024

12020 Tall Oaks St Bunker Hill, TX 77024The house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for insurance company exec William Thaxton is back on the market again as of Friday, now listed at just $2.795 million. Wright designed the triangle-and-diamond-themed home with no air-conditioning system in 1954, though Thaxton and the builder eventually snuck some ducts into the red concrete floor; the mid-century space later got a classically-inspired makeover and circled the market drain toward lot-value sale and presumed teardown. But an early 1990’s buyer saved the property from demolition and removed the pineapple-shaped finials — while adding a high-ceilinged, right-angled extension which enclosed the almost-a-parallelogram pool in more of a central courtyard. (That extension contains a living room, lofted entertainment space, bedrooms, and a kitchen, meaning the occupant doesn’t have to spend time in the angular Wright portion of the building if they don’t want to. )

The new listing (the latest in an on-again-off-again series of market stints that started in 2010 at $3.5 million) includes a few new angles on the property, which (as seen from above) sits alongside a channelized ditch draining directly south from Memorial City Mall to Buffalo Bayou. The lights around the front door and entryway are equilateral triangles:

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Mid-90s Modern in Bunker Hill
09/02/16 10:15am

Demo of 12740 Memorial Dr., Memorial, Houston, 77024

An excavator was spotted bowing its head yesterday afternoon in the freshly cleared spot at 12740 Memorial Dr., until recently populated by the likes of Baskin Robbins,  Anne’s Salon, and A-1 Cleaners. Per an associated leasing flier for the property, the newly blanked space looks to be slated for drive-thru bank-dom, with a place next door for a retail friend.  The land sits immediately next to a Bank of Texas branch (visible over the fence on the left), itself across W. Bough Ln. from a freestanding Chase. Heading south down Memorial Dr., a Prosperity Bank keeps watch over the next Memorial Bend bend with help from the strip-center BBVA Compass branch across the street.

Photo: Swamplot inbox

Making Bank
08/17/16 1:15pm

12740 Memorial Dr., Memorial, Houston, 77024A few readers have written in regarding the fate of the Baskin Robbins and its retail strip neighbors at 12740 Memorial Dr., just south of Town and Country Mall. The building which housed the now-closed scoop shop along with Katy defector Anne’s Salon on Memorial and the local branch of More Hands Maid Service appears slated for a full tear-down and do-over (along with freestanding A-1 Cleaners next door), if plans from Streetwise Retail Advisor’s leasing flier are still on the mark:

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Memorial Bends
08/16/16 10:15am

Carvana, 10939 Katy Fwy., Memorial, Houston, 77079

The frame of the octagon-footed tower now rising at 10939 Katy Fwy. suggests that Carvana’s first Houston used vehicle vending machine may be a few stories taller than the 5-story Nashville machine that opened last year (the one featured dispensing a car in the mostly-online company’s noisy promotional video). Reader Tyler Battenfield sends the rainy day update above, showing the tower rising in place next to a more down-to-earth part of the structure, as shown in the construction plan preview that made its way to Swamplot back in early March:

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Katy Fwy. Auto Auto Dealership
03/02/16 5:00pm

Carvana Vending Machine construction site, 10939 Katy Fwy., Memorial, Houston, 77079

Carvana has confirmed that the work going on now at the former Big Tex Tree Nursery lot at 10939 Katy Fwy. is setup for the giant car vending machine referenced in September bid documents labeled with the site’s address. Building permits issued in January were applied for under the name of largely-non-digital used-car chain DriveTime, an investor in the Phoenix-based startup that also allows Carvana to borrow facilities to prepare vehicles for sale.

The new vending machine could be the first in Texas; Carvana opened a vending machine in Nashville last November, and also has a pickup site in Atlanta for those who don’t want to deal with delivery service. A reader sends some fresh shots of the action at the site, as well as a glimpse at a building plan:

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Going Digital on I-10
02/24/16 1:00pm

Update, 3/2: A Carvana spokesperson has confirmed to Swamplot that the company’s first Houston vending machine will be located at 10939 Katy Fwy. This story has been updated.

Online car dealership Carvana appears to have been planning to place a multi-story robotic car delivery system on the I-10-side lot that Big Tex Tree Nursery vacated after the December holidays wrapped up. A reader notes some construction bid documentation dating from September listing a project for the company at the 10939 Katy Fwy. address: The documents show a search for construction contractors for a ‘car vending machine’, scoped to involve multi-level car storage and an automated lift to bring vehicles down to the 1st floor on command.

But it looks like those plans fell through — at least as far as the location on the former Big Tex lot. Permits were issued last month to non-digital car dealer chain DriveTime for construction of a new sales building on the site. DriveTime currently has 4 locations around the Houston area, including one further west on the Katy Fwy. past Highway 6.

Carvana plugged in its first vending machine in Nashville last November, after jumping into the Houston market in October. The above video shows the Tennessee machine in action: cars are shuffled down from their glassy perch after users place a Carvana token into a coin slot.

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Pick Up or Delivery