10/19/18 3:45pm

The map above shows the land (in red) that Rice is confirmed to have grabbed around the Midtown Sears (orange) it bought out last October, including 2 new parcels (green) it snatched up through holding companies within the last few months. In an email sent out to university staff on Monday, Rice U. President David Leebron said the school “will ultimately redevelop approximately 14 acres of Rice-owned property,” near the Sears building into what it’s calling the Midtown Innovation District. So what are the latest spots it’s gotten its hands on? The first, catty-corner to the Sears building itself at the corner of Wheeler and San Jacinto, is Jack in the Box‘s nearly half-acre lot; Rice bought it in August.

More recently, the school pushed east by picking up 4201 Caroline St., the brick office building shown below that occupies a quarter-acre directly next to Fiesta:

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Sears and Friends
10/17/18 11:30am

A couple of drive-by shots from Clinton Dr. show the state of demolition at the former Kellogg, Brown and Root campus, part of the effort to transform it into the new shopping, eating, working, and living complex that developer Midway has dubbed East River. Since beginning Friday, the teardown work has targeted the pair of warehouse buildings at the west end of the site, where their truck-docking holes front Jensen Dr. The 2 structures are the sole remnants of a much larger warehouse complex that once sat within the bounds of the 136-acre bayou-side site. Most of those industrial buildings were demolished between 2011 and 2012, leaving a swath of open space in the middle of the property — between the complex of office buildings that borders Hirsch Rd. to the east and the warehouses that now look to be goners.

In between those 2 bookends, a new black tarp has been added to portions of the construction fence along Clinton Dr., reports a reader. That’s where a multi-block colony of townhomes is planned; they’re shown in yellow on the map Midway put out over the summer:

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Fifth Ward
10/12/18 11:45am

Spotted on the Instagram story for a not-yet-open venue calling itself The Gypsy Poet: TABC signage going up where it plans to move into Core Church Midtown‘s former home at 2404 Austin St. It’s the fifth liquor-purveying establishment planned for the block — bounded by McIlhenny, Austin, McGowen, and Caroline streets — in the past year-and-a-half, none of which are open yet. But which together have now succeeded in reserving almost all of the space there for themselves.

According to its pastor Jim Stern, Core Church had been negotiating to move into a smaller spot at the back 2404 when the landlord tabled that option and switched its current lease over to a month-to-month agreement. Shortly after, in mid-February, the church was given 60 days to hit the road. It left in mid-March. “I am wondering if we were ‘pushed’ out because of the bars,” Stern tells Swamplot.

Photos: The Gypsy Poet (sign); Core Church (Jim S.)

Change Comes Knocking
10/10/18 4:00pm

Nancy Sarnoff has a few more details today on what the Downtown Redevelopment Authority will be paying the private owner of the area shown shaded at top — which wouldn’t give up its one-acre parcel there for a new park but will grant the Authority a 30-year lease for: “$355,992 in annual rent,” during the first 5 years, a spokeswoman says, with a 10 percent hike every 5 years thereafter. With that agreement in place — and the Goodyear Auto Service Center that currently occupies the block’s Fannin-St.-side slated for demo next April — the Authority is now seeking plans from landscape architects that’d be responsible for designing the space, though it notes that whatever the chosen firm comes up with “will have a potentially short life, between 30 and 50 years, per the lease agreement currently in place and options to extend.” (The parking lot shown without shading belongs to the South Texas College of Law and is there to stay.)

But that hasn’t stopped those involved from dreaming big while they can. A conceptual map of the park drawn up Project for Public Spaces — a New York planning firm hired to brainstormed some preliminary ideas for the Authority — shows it divvied up among a pair of buildings and a variety of different green spaces including a dog park:

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Block 333
10/03/18 1:00pm

A Swamplot reader perched up in the SkyHouse River Oaks apartment building on Westcreek Ln. has been sending in updates on the new strippy building rising directly south of Robbins Brothers Jewlers’ W.-Loop-Feeder location. The photo at top shows the current state of progress on the new structure, and the other one above shows where it was at 2 and a half weeks ago.

Although nobody’s piped up just yet to say what it’ll look like when its done, a temporary address board hanging outside the construction site gives its location as 2111 W. Loop S. — reports the reader — which is the same spot where the city has signed off on permits for a 3-story retail and parking building over the last few months. It’s also the former site of Joe’s Golf House (though its address, 2121 W. Loop S., was slightly different the one now in use) and its feeder-fronting golf ball sign which remains teed-up today.

Here’s a closer view of the site from September:

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Behind Joes’s Golf Tee
10/03/18 10:30am

Crews have begun tearing into the building 4 blocks north of the Pierce Elevated formally known as U-Haul Moving and Storage of Midtown at San Jacinto in order to replace it with a new storage building nearly 8 times larger. About half the existing structure is down now thanks to the excavator that foregrounds the SkyHouse Main apartment building in the photo at top. Still standing: the entrance ramp to U-Haul’s rooftop parking lot — from which a fleet of orange trucks took off sometime before construction fencing surrounded the 28,376-sq.-ft. building late last month.

The new, 220,160-sq.-ft. facility could extend partly into the adjacent surface parking lot along Leeland St. according to plans the developer filed with the county earlier this year. Whether or not it does, most of the extra space will show up vertically in the form of something much taller than the 2-story that’s now crumbling at 1617 San Jacinto.

Photos: Eric Ramon (demolition); U-Haul (building)

Be Right Back
09/25/18 12:00pm

A Chronicle article dug up by the group proposing to renovate 612 Live Oak St. into a coworking space called Brass Tacks reveals that the 4,750-sq.-ft. building — 2 blocks from BBVA Compass Stadium — was originally put there by architect S.R. Slaughter in 1938 to house Oliver Armature Works, a manufacturing plant that produced electrical doodads. It’s now up to Schaum/Shieh Architects to make room inside for a variety of different business professionals who’ll come and go as they please from both private and communal work areas (and a bar).

New previews of the planned venue showcase one way of accomplishing that task: by installing a hive of productivity cubbyholes along the side of the main room. They’re shown at top lining the building’s north wall, with open-air booths on top of them.

To get down from the upper level, take this narrow side corridor up to the spiraling stair structure by the door:

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Brass Tacks
09/20/18 4:00pm

The rendering at top from Texas real estate firm Hunington shows off what Rex Supply’s double-block complex along the Green Line would look like redone with a shop-lined pedestrian zone dubbed Rex Alley at its heart, where Everton St. is now. The full setting is called Milby Junction and would be carved from the array of industrial buildings that sit on either side of the north-south road between Harrisburg Blvd. and Preston St. right now. The 2 biggest are shown preserved in the map above, along with a house to the northwest that appears to play no part in Hunington’s plans.

An L-shaped building adjacent to the house is the one goner. It’s visible just north of the structure labeled REX SUPPLY in the view below from the corner of Harrisburg and Milby:

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Milby Junction
08/27/18 2:00pm

The outline of a 20-story apartment building called Montrose Gardens made its first public appearance late Friday in the city’s planning commission agenda, where its footprint covers over that of the Khun Kay Thai Cafe on the corner of Montrose Blvd. and W. Clay St. Only 9 of those stories will be for living, so what’s going into the rest? According to the building’s engineer: “A variety of retail stores, restaurants, and coffee shops” — all 24,000 sq.-ft. of which would be buffered from the 150-or-so upstairs apartments by 9 stories of resident-only parking. Underground, a separate 2 floor garage will gobble up retail traffic from an opening on W. Clay.

Also present on the 19,900-sq.-ft. site where the apartment’s staking its claim: the restaurant’s 2 parking lots. The northern one ran over the duplex-turned-psychic-shop directly south of it after the structure — memorialized in the aerial below — was demolished in 2016:

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Montrose Gardens
08/27/18 12:00pm

A pile of building parts is now all that stands in the way of the 4,500-sq.-ft. strip that Houston developer Ancorian wants to place at Yale and E. 27th, opposite the other shopping center it’s now ushering tenants into across the street. In place of the standalone Church’s Fried Chicken drive-thru — pictured above before and after its demo last week — a rendering now shows 3 newcomers lined up next to each other at 2702 Yale.

One of them carries on the site’s fast-food legacy with more of a niche focus:

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Chickening Out on Yale
08/16/18 4:00pm

Orange fencing is condoning off the corner of the Westchase Shopping Center where a new Regions Bank is planned in place of the El Palenque that shuttered there in May. A demolition permit issued for the restaurant building exactly a week ago means its days are numbered. But for now it’s still standing, fronted by landscaping and the new Port-o-Potty pair visible in the photo at top from Walnut Bend Ln., just shy of Westheimer.

Also on its last legs: the bank’s nearest existing branch on S. Kirkwood near the Westheimer H-E-B. A company spokesperson told the HBJ‘s Olivia Pulsinelli in June that the planned new branch will take over business in the area.

Photos: Jose Galvan (fencing); Troy M. (El Palenque)

Branching Out
08/14/18 3:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: A HIDDEN MEMORIAL DR. DOG SPOT MEETS ITS END “I always liked to go to that site with the dog in the winter; not sure why, but because of the slope, mixed with the cold air, it made me feel that I was not in Houston. It was not a well known location unless you lived in the neighborhood, though I did not. Others also played with their dogs there. Another cool hidden spot bites the dust.” [Montrose Resident, commenting on Alexan Memorial Apartments Are Heading to Rice Military] Illustration: Lulu

08/08/18 1:30pm

Add F45 Training to the list of businesses taking over warehouses next to where I-45 will run over a few of its own once its rerouted through East Downtown. That’s the gym’s black box in the photo at top, neighbored by the Ferris wheel that new-ish bar Truck Yard recently installed in its own next-door lot. North of an adjacent portion of the building that F45 hasn’t touched, exterior work added new horizontal siding a couple shades darker than the previous off-white onto the structure, as well as the doorway — pictured above — atop which the national fitness chain has been flexing its COMING SOON signage for the past few months.

A permit filed yesterday for the building at 1110 Hutchins indicates rehab work is about to head inside to deal with a 2,650-sq.-ft. portion of its space. It’s 10,000 sq.-ft. total and backs up nearly halfway down the block on Lamar St. where it stands off from the south side of the Kim Hung Supermarket, long-whispered to be about to be demolished for something much taller.

Photos: F45 Training

Bodybuilding Buildings
08/07/18 1:00pm

Memorial Dr.’s Tres Market Foods is expanding to the pair of black and off-white buildings pictured above at 2620 Joanel St. behind the Westheimer strip home to River Oaks Donuts and across the street from the 2-story building housing the Honorary Consulate of Ghana. Formerly a row of separate lots, Houston’s city planning commission approved a request to consolidate the warehouse parcels all into a single property earlier this year. Since then, a handful of permits have come through as part the paperwork to prep the structures for remodeling.

Together, they total 5,400 sq.-ft.:

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Prepared Food Preparations
08/06/18 5:00pm

And in even more beer-related news, another local warehouse is now turning to drinks as its primary occupation. This 7,725-sq.-ft. one — pictured above from Bevis St. between W. 16th and 17th — is about to become New Magnolia Brewing. Its name is a cheers to the original Magnolia Brewing Company — formally the Houston Ice and Brewing Company — that did its concocting along Buffalo Bayou at the corner of Franklin and Milam streets until Prohibition forced it to make ice its flagship product. Following its shutdown, the Magnolia Ballroom took the place over roughly 40 years ago.

The New Magnolia’s 43,560-sq.-ft. digs at 1616 Bevis include this front yard, more than twice the size of the building to its north:

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The Brew and the Old