Note: This story has been updated to make clear that the planned garage and office building are 2 separate structures.
A Swamplot reader perched up in the Texas Children’s Pediatric Human Resources building at the east corner of S. Braeswood Blvd. and Greenbriar sends this photo looking out the window to show how Houston Methodistâ€™s soon-to-be 7-story admin building is shaping up on the south side of Brays Bayou, where a growing handful of medical admin buildings are hunkering down to support their more clinical neighbors on the other side of the waterway. All 3 stories shown above — along with 4 more floors to sit atop them — will be for office space. Adjacent to them, an 8-level garage is planned. Although it hasn’t yet risen, its foundation has been poured.
A tower crane and accompanying high-altitude construction equipment are now hovering over the northwest corner of S. Braeswood andGreenbriar where work on a new 14-story 7-story Houston Methodist office midrise is underway. Next door, a separate, 8-level structure will be devoted to parking. It’s all taking off on what used to be the Astrodome Marriott hotel, torn down after the Methodist system bought the land in 2000.
For more than a decade the 10-acre parcel remained unbuilt until a new single-story daycare for Houston Methodist employees’ kids (ages 0 through 5) sprung up on its western portion last year. The center — a brightly-painted and multi-gabled structure to the left of what’s shown in the photos above — enrolled 130 kids when it opened. Once some of them age out, it’ll consider taking on children of Methodist’s business partners, too, as well as those without any parental ties to the hospital system.
The Kroger once on the corner of OST and Cambridge St. is now demolished.Â These photos taken by a Swamplot reader last weekend look south toward a cluster of UTHealth buildings,Â right past where the supermarket stood before its Halloween-eraÂ teardown.
Construction began in June, but the new administration of Houston’s Ronald McDonald House chose this past Tuesday — 2 and a half weeks after water spilling over the banks of adjacent Brays Bayou made Holcombe Ave. in front of the property difficult to pass — to hold an official groundbreaking ceremony for its new 3-phase expansion and renovation project. The facility at 1907 Holcombe Blvd., which sits across the Texas Medical Center’s official southern border between Holcombe and the bayou just west of Cambridge St., serves as a temporary home for families with children receiving treatment for serious illnesses.
Now going up: a new 2-story bedroom wing directly to the west of the main building. A complete renovation of the 50-bedroom existing building — dubbed Holcombe House — will follow. The photo immediately above, taken from the third floor of that building, shows the construction site as it looked earlier this week.
The official rendering below is still being used to raise the $22.5 million needed for the project; it shows the new bedroom wing on the left and the existing buildingÂ on the right:
If a year or so from now you find yourself holed up in acute or intensive care in the North Campus Tower of the Houston Methodist hospital in the Texas Medical Center and for some reason start to wonder how that bathroom behind you was constructed, have we got a video for you! (It’s posted above.) It’s a time-lapse showing how workers from interior finishes contractor Marek pieced together 207 prefabricated restroom pods in the McCorvey Sheet Metal Works warehouse at 4800 Fidelity St. (just southeast of the intersection of I-10 and the East Loop), then shrinkwrapped and transported them, 1 or 2 at a time, to 6551 Bertner St., where they were they were lifted and dollied into place and hooked up to the building’s plumbing.
How’s construction on the $700 million, 960,000-sq.-ft. 22-story north tower Med Center expansion going so far? Here are a couple of views from today — from construction cams trained on the project:
The little swatchÂ of test facade tilted up at 7551 Main St. north of Brays Bayou earlier this spring is still standing, a reader’s drive-by snapÂ attests this week. The piece, which shows off the look ofÂ a handful of warmer and coolerÂ beige-and-brown pairings,Â is likely relatedÂ to the much taller project planned on the site by Allen Harrison Company, which bought the land last year. The developer has the spotÂ marked for an 11-story residentialÂ building (the top 7 of which’ll hold 186 apartments, and the bottom 4 of which’ll holdÂ 285 parked cars). A reader over on HAIF also spotted the recently completed review of the building by the Federal Aviation Administration folks, who okayed the plans for theÂ 125-ft.-tall structure as not a flight hazard.
The little house on the corner withÂ LehallÂ St. is no longer standing in the would-be shadowÂ ofÂ that hotel planned on the 7100 block ofÂ BertnerÂ Ave. (seeing as it’s no longerÂ standing at all). Developers with Zhejiang Blossom Tourism Group Houston had originally sketched upÂ aÂ 9-story hotel with a footprint dipping around the holdout corner lot. Adolfo Pesquera notes over at VBX that the latest plans now show a 16-story structure, and an expanded footprintÂ of the site was okayed for commercial use by the planning commission after the property sold.
Here’s a glance back at what the hotel looked like in its earlier iteration, minus a few floors and motarboards:
The signÂ above announcing the proposed abandonmentÂ of the short dead-end stretch of N. Braeswood Blvd. running east of Main St. was captured in situ by a reader over the weekend. The roadway currently serves as the access road for the remainingSaint Nicholas School campus, though the school is planning to be all moved inÂ atÂ thatÂ new facility further southÂ along Main St. in about a year and a half. That’ll free up the landf for whatever might be in the works byÂ shell corporation 7200 Main St., which now owns both the school propertyÂ and the 8-plus-acre tract north of the N. Braeswood segment, former site of barn-shaped restaurant The Stables.
To the east of the orange-roofed soon-to-be-former Saint NicholasÂ school, HCC’sÂ Â Coleman College for Health Sciences building looks to be just aboutÂ wrapped up, at least in terms of exterior finishes:
An employee confirms to Swamplot this afternoon that the Kroger at 1990 Old Spanish Tr. will be shutting down on January 24th. The formerly 24-hour grocery store (referred to previously asÂ Slow Jam Kroger in Jeff Balke’s 2010 Inner Loop Kroger census, though arguably having earned the nicknameÂ BankRobberyKrogerÂ in the yearsÂ since)Â has already reduced its hours and is closing up at midnight these days. Readers reportÂ low morale among car-less residents of the nearby apartments; they also report a few slightly mismatched rumors that the land has been sold to a big nameÂ in the Medical Center.
The fire that started late yesterday afternoon at theÂ Holmes Road Recycling Center (just west of 288 south ofÂ 610) is still onÂ the Houston Fire Department’s list of active incidentsÂ at the moment, after about 19 hours. Â KHOU reports that the firefighting has been complicated by the need to cool off the heat-retaining piles of burning scrap metal on the scene, as well as a lack of water supply in the industrial patchwork around Pierce Junction. Hazmat crews reportedly say there’s no out-of-the-ordinary chemicalÂ concerns related toÂ the smoke this time, thoughÂ HFD captain Ruy Lozana did note toÂ KHOU last night that the smoke’sÂ strong smellÂ and darker color is probably fromÂ leftover fluids in crushed cars catching fire.
Wind coming primarily from the south and southeast pushed smoke and haze from theÂ fireÂ across 610 all the way toÂ the Texas Medical Center, some 3 miles north. Nearby Rice University sent out an alert around 4:45 warning folks with respiratory issues to stay indoors for a bit — below is a view (from several hours after that warning) of the hazeÂ from the Rice campus parking lot on Greenbriar, east of the stadium:
The doubleÂ hypodermic needles atopÂ the Cesar Pelli-designedÂ O’Quinn Medical Building have just gotten brightened up: a lighting designer fromÂ FUSE sends Swamplot these bare-allÂ shots of the Madonna tower’s roof following the company’s just-wrappedÂ installation of a new LED setup around the tips.Â Down below, Texas Children’s HospitalÂ announced earlier this week that it has bought the tower from Baylor-slash-St.-Luke’s, along with aÂ Baylor outpatient clinic down the street. Texas Children’sÂ told the ChronicleÂ that it isn’t planning to boot tenants until they can move into thatÂ under construction campus on Cambridge St., somewhere around 2020.
Nor does the new owner haveÂ plans to change the tower’sÂ name right away — though many of the physicians who petitioned against the building’sÂ O’Quinn christening inÂ 2005 aren’t likely to mind if they do. At the time, dozens of doctors signed a documentÂ insistingÂ that the current namesake, Houston’s own John O’Quinn (of fen-phen and breast implant lawsuit fame), “bears partial responsibility for the litigious environment in which we work,” and that it was offensive “to have money we earned — and which he took by suing us — going to name after him a medical building in which we work every day.”
The sunset shot above looks west across the Rice campus (that’s the stadium thatÂ played backdrop to JFK’sÂ go-to-the-moon speech, given 54 years agoÂ this pastÂ Monday, on the right above the octagonal base); the itty-bitty silhouette of the distant Williams Tower can be seen poking up from the horizon on the left. Here’s the tip itself, so close you can almost see the filament in the flashing bulb:
The commute northward along Almeda Rd. from the corner with Hermann Park Ct. is much less shady of late, reports a reader in the area who snapped these photos last week. The tipster says that some 15 treesÂ have been cut up and shuffled around by theÂ Marquis Lofts (the ones at the edge of the Med Center, not the ones that once hosted a James Harden rooftop photo shoot). Most of the trees appear to have been directly alongsideÂ the road, though a few of the felled were reportedly rooted on the other side of the sidewalk. (That’s the formerly bankrupt and bank-rupturingMosaicÂ condo highrise in the distance, north across MacGregor and Brays Bayou in the shot above.)
Below is a graphic closeup of some of the arboreal aftermath (a warning here to those uncomfortable withÂ the sight of sap and shredded cellulose):
Here’s a preview ofÂ the 9-story hotel planned for the stretch ofÂ now-mostly-cleared land alongÂ Lehall St. at Bertner Ave. south of the Texas Medical Center. The land slated to hold the Blossom Hotel Houston isÂ right across Bertner from where the TMC wants to build aÂ double helix park and collaborative campus;Â Zhejiang Blossom Tourism Group has been buying up lots on the east and northeast of the block, which have held a mixture of homes, a commercial building, and nothing over the last few decades.
Not shown in the rendering: Â the loneÂ house still standingÂ right on at the corner of Lehall St. and Bertner Ave.: