02/12/19 12:00pm

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 Methodist’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.

Photo: Swamplot inbox

Med Center Outskirts
02/04/19 3:00pm

The arrival of chain link fencing outside the arched office complex at 2715 Bissonnet known as The Upper Kirby Building last week caught the attention of several Swamplot tipsters, who’ve sent in photos looking across the street at the new perimeter and the vacant scene beyond it. The image at top looks southwest to show the complex’s largest building, an L-shaped structure that fronts the central parking lot on 2 sides. In the second photo, you can see where that building abuts its neighbor, a smaller, rectangular structure that runs along the east side of the parking lot on its way out to the curb. Not depicted: a pair additional small 2-story buildings and their adjacent parking lots to the west, which take up the rest of the block ending at Wakeforest St.

An entity connected to Cornerbrook Development bought the whole 1.56-acre tract housing the 4 buildings last December and since then has filed a few permits to disconnect the plumbing, but it hasn’t laid a hand on the structures themselves yet. They all went up in late ’60s and early ’70s and — though currently vacant — recently played host to Montage Bridal, Synergy Day Spa, an Allstate insurance office, and an assortment of hairdressers.

Photos: Swamplot inbox

West U.
01/31/19 12:45pm

The first illustrations of what Rice University wants to do with the Midtown Sears building it bought 2 years ago and has since stripped down emerged yesterday, casting a glance across Fannin St. to show what the northeast corner of the building — to be renamed The Ion — could look like once it’s been reworked into a nexus for tech entrepreneurs and students of various academic institutions who want to be like them. Among the Art-Deco-era bells and whistles shown intact are the sets of vertical mosaic tilework that flank the building’s corner entrance; they’ve got some new shine going on courtesy of light fixtures that appear to be installed directly above and below them. Up above the original late 1930s structure, the 4 architecture firms at work on the building (Gensler, James Carpenter Design Associates, James Corner Field Operations, and SHoP Architects) propose adding a 2-story glass-curtain-walled topping that’d help funnel sunlight into a whole bunch of empty space they’re calling a “central light well.” It would run vertically through the building’s interior, from the roof down to the lobby.

Work and meeting areas would go along the perimeter of the abyss:

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Midtown Growth Spurt
12/20/18 4:00pm

Any and all rumblings you may have heard coming from inside the former Greensheet building on Main St. lately should have now ceased, at least for a little while: Demolition and abatement inside the 5-story structure are done and the architects at Metalab studio are thinking over a redo of it that’ll include “creative office space” and “probably retail, food and drink on the ground floor,” writes the firm’s principal Joe Meppelink (adding that before Greensheet moved in, the 1955 structure was occupied by IBM.) That roster of tenants should feel right at home next to the other mixed-use buildings that Australian developer Caydon has said it plans to build between the former Greensheet building and the condo tower — dubbed The Midtown — that it topped out earlier this month 2 blocks to the south, between Drew and Tuam streets.

Inside, the upper-story windows of the office building frame a view of the upper-Midtown skyline:

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Turning the Page
12/19/18 3:45pm

Just because the St. Joseph’s Professional Building isn’t getting a pair of massive exterior arms doesn’t mean it isn’t getting some of the more, um, professional building upgrades you might expect to see in an office structure. Boxer Property CEO Andrew Segal tells Swamplot that the company — which bought the building last year — is adding wine storage to its basement and plans to start work soon on a restaurant for its ground floor. It’ll go at the base of the red brick podium where a couple of cherry-pickers have been spotted in recent months shoring up deteriorating portions of the brickwork. (In place of the illuminated crosses Boxer removed from the building’s upper facades about a year ago, some sort of “fun graphic” is still planned, according to Segal.)

On the 8th story — part of which is shown above — new collaborative office space and adjacent amenities have already cropped up:

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Along the Pierce Elevated
12/17/18 3:45pm

The new owner of the Pasadena’s tallest empty building has 2 items on its agenda for the 1962 structure: air it out and tear it down. For nearly 2 decades, the 12-story office tower at 1002 Southmore Ave. — originally known as the First Pasadena State Bank building — has managed to get by untouched by those who want it gone. (It came this close to vanishing in 2005 when the city issued a demolition permit for it, but a new owner scooped it up before anything went down.) In June, the city filed a lawsuit demanding that the property owner demolish the tower or reimburse the city for taking matters into its own hands. The defendant did neither, and instead passed the building off in October to the Pasadena Economic Development Corporation — which, having secured financial help from Pasadena’s city council shortly after the sale closed — now plans to go through with the teardown.

It’ll cost about $2.5 million to get rid of structure, the private development group estimates, after having negotiated the terms of its demise with various demolition and asbestos abatement contractors. According to the PEDC’s meeting minutes following the purchase: “the roof leaks so badly that water has gone through the whole building.

When Houston architectural firm MacKie & Kamrath designed it for what was to become the commercial center of Pasadena in the early ’60s, the challenge was to make something “that signalled the former Strawberry Capital of the World‘s transition into the era of manned spaceflight,” according to the Chronicle’s Lisa Gray. It became an icon in town — showing up on school report cards and in the logo for the city’s chamber of commerce — and beyond, as a notable waypoint between downtown Houston and NASA’s then-new manned spaceflight facility further south off I-45.

Looking from closer up, you can see the corner holes in the building’s cantilevered roof overhang:

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Breaking the Bank Building
12/14/18 11:30am

Last year, Boxer Property told reporters it wanted to do something “iconic” with the St. Joseph’s Professional Building along the Pierce Elevated. Well, how about this idea: bringing the 18-story Midtown office building to life by attaching 2 massive, swinging arms to its east and west sides. Boxer engaged The Art Guys (Jack Massing and Michael Galbreth) shortly after purchasing the building in September 2017 to make it happen. They worked on the project in secret, dubbing it The Walking Building. It had an estimated budget of $2.8 million.

Alas, the vision of a giant robotic pedestrian attempting to cross a busy section of I-45 into Downtown was not to be. Boxer informed The Art Guys 2 months ago that it would no longer pursue the project.

The arms would have swung back and forward roughly once a minute, making for a somewhat leisurely gait:

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St. Joseph’s Professional Building, Reimagined
11/30/18 5:00pm

Images are leaking of the new tower Marathon Oil wants to build on a patch of recently-vacated land between CityCentre and the Katy Fwy. In an email sent out to employees on Tuesday, company CEO Lee Tillman set a tentative move-in date of 2021 for the imaginary building and wrote that its planned location was a plus partly because it’s closer to where the average Marathon employee lives, out in “west Houston and along the I-10 corridor.” The new whereabouts are just under 6 miles away from Marathon’s current ones in the eponymous Marathon Oil Tower at 5555 San Felipe, near the Galleria.

The rendering at top of the new building shows it looking a lot like the middle structure in this group of 3 that Midway proposed building on the site last year:

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On Deck Along I-10
11/16/18 3:00pm

Here’s an eastward look at the new office building that could tuck in between the District at Washington and Pearl Washington apartments along T.C. Jester Blvd. north of Wash Ave. Not pictured: the parking garage and adjacent parking lot that the developer proposes to build — both to the north along Schuler St. Last week, Houston’s planning commission deferred a variance request for the site, calling the 3 curb cuts the developer had proposed along Schuler St. “excessive” and recommending it get rid of at least one before resubmitting plans.

Marshall Construction’s office and yard complex occupies the site right now and includes a southeastern carve-out for a couple of townhomes along Detering St.

 

 

 

Off T.C. Jester
11/13/18 12:30pm

WHAT’S NEXT FOR HALLIBURTON’S EMPTY OAK PARK CAMPUS ON BELLAIRE? A newly-formed group of real estate experts is now brainstorming ideas for Halliburton’s 48-acre former Oak Park campus at 10200 Bellaire Blvd., just west of Beltway 8. Included in the brain-trust: architecture firm HOK and landscape and planning firm SWA Group — as well as Hines and Transwestern, which will handle property management and leasing, respectively. They’ve all been called in by a private investment group that bought the complex over the summer and that’s headed up — reporter Ralph Bivins has said — by longtime Sharpstown land huckster Lawrence Wong. Halliburton employees began trickling out of their offices in the bow-tie-shaped 1979 building 3 years ago, leaving behind the amenities (a basketball court, daycare center, and auditorium) and adjacencies (a conference center and 5-story garage) that the new owner is now touting. Photo: LoopNet

11/06/18 2:45pm

Trying to pin down where Ted Cruz and Beto O’Rourke stand before casting a ballot this afternoon? Here’s a last-minute rundown: O’Rourke, the out-of-towner, slapped his trademark black-and-white signage in August on the concrete OST building shown, picking up where the Encore Theatre — a venue focused on works by black playwrights and casts — left off inside. The structure shares a wall with a back-door bar dubbed Speak Easy, a 1,000-sq.-ft. outfit that’s been around off Conley St. for over a decade.

Cruz’s team on the other hand, has been holed up on the seventh 12th floor of the Phoenix Tower (shown above) in Greenway Plaza, off Buffalo Spdwy. near 59. He’s a longtime fan of tall Houston buildings: In 2008, he and his wife Heidi bought a condo on the 19th floor of the Royalton at River Oaks — shown below — which then became ground zero for sightings of the couple, as well as a choice spot for the occasional protest. They sold it last July a few months after picking up a $1.6 million house in River Oaks proper.

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Electoral Tales
11/05/18 11:30am

Chevron made some strikingly real 3D changes to the fake 3D facade of the old Houston Press building last week, bringing it closer to total collapse. The photos above — shot over the weekend from the YMCA catty corner to the scene — show Suzanne E. Sellers’ 1994 trompe-l’œil additions to the building’s east face no longer fooling anyone, though a few sections of her work on that side and off Leeland St. remain intact.

Nothing’s crumbled yet on the unpainted, Pease-St. side:

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Illusions Shattered
10/26/18 10:30am

THE CASE AGAINST THE HOUSTON FORENSIC SCIENCE CENTER’S SHARED OFFICE SETUP Last month, leaders of the Center told Houston City Council their 200-plus person staff just isn’t fitting in at HPD’s downtown offices in 1200 Travis, pictured above. For one thing: “Technicians test guns by firing live ammunition on the 24th floor,” which neighbors offices above and below, reports the Chronicle‘s Zach Despart. They also “transport evidence upstairs in public elevators.Although “shortcomings in the Houston Police Department’s own crime lab” were what prompted the city to found the Center as an independent body in 2014, the agencies’ ongoing closeness tends to raise eyebrows: “You walk into HPD’s headquarters on the way to the laboratory,” says Center president Peter Stout. The good news: their proximity is only temporary. Earlier this month, City Council approved a new 30-year lease for the Center at 500 Jefferson — a privately-owned building 9 blocks away — where it’ll get 83,000 sq.-ft. for “toxicology, DNA testing, fingerprint analysis and narcotics storage,” as well as a 25-ft. firing range in the basement, reports Jasper Scherer. [Houston Chronicle] Photo of 1200 Travis St.: WhisperToMe

10/12/18 10:00am

HINES PICKING UP LESS THAN AN ACRE ACROSS FROM MONTROSE WHOLE FOODS PARKING LOT The developer entered into an agreement earlier this year to buy the property at the corner of Waugh Dr. and D’Amico St., reports the HBJ’s Olivia Pulsinelli in her round-up of recent North Montrose land sales. On-site that nearly three-quarter acre parcel right now: a parking lot, driveways, and 2-story dingbat office building that backs up to the adjacent strip housing Pimlico Irish Pub and others. To the east, BMW-focused auto shop Bavarian Machine Specialties buffers the tract from what’ll soon be Stages Repertory Theatre’s new theater and green space on Rosine St. [HBJ] Photo: LoopNet

09/13/18 1:00pm

A FINAL FAREWELL TO THE FORMER HOUSTON PRESS BUILDING The former alternative newspaper HQ at 1621 Milam St. that’s also done stints as an auto dealership will be demolished, reports the Chronicle’s Craig Hlavaty.  Back when the Houston Press moved into it 15 years ago, the structure’s parking-lot sides were unadorned; artist Suzanne E. Sellers slapped her trompe-l’œil mural onto the north and east facades in 1994. Along Milam, however, things haven’t changed as much since the building’s first tenant Shelor Motor Company opened up in the ’20s — according to former Press staffer Abrahán Garza. Even its original 1920s glass windows — he reported — stayed put on the second and third floors through 2010. Now construction barriers are up around the whole block, and the property owner Chevron tells Hlavaty that a demolition permit is under review by the city. The oil company bought the 38,000-sq.-ft. structure in 2013, the same year Houston Press staff left it for a new spot on the corner of La Branch and McGowen. [Houston Chronicle] Photo: Capital Realty