08/25/17 10:00am

Demo crews making a mess of the former Exxon Upstream Research Facility on Buffalo Spdwy. between Richmond and W. Alabama started early this morning — at 5:30 am, reports a reader. Erick Ganzo, who’s been tracking the steady disappearance of the MacKie and Kamrath Architects 1962 office complex (as well as more recent additions) from the 16.9-acre compound, says workers lit up the site with large bright lights before the rising sun took over that job. He tells Swamplot he assumes workers are aiming to complete demo work before Hurricane Harvey arrives later today.

Photo: Erick Ganzo

 

3120 Buffalo Speedway
08/16/17 3:00pm

The broker representing the new and prospective owners of the shuttered Macy’s and Dillard’s buildings at Greenspoint Mall gives just a hint of the rancor between the groups who now appear to be negotiating the mall’s future: Maddox Properties’ Jim Maddox tells Bisnow’s Kyle Hagerty that any supposed redevelopment plans hinted at by the investment group led by Chinese developer Feng Gao that now has the mall itself under contract are “full of sh*t.” [Hagerty’s punctuation.] Maddox says he hung up the phone on area Chamber of Commerce prez and mall redevelopment partner Reggie Gray after Gray complained to him that plans in place by the owners of the retired department store buildings would ruin redevelopment plans for the area.

About those plans: Spring Real Estate Investment’s Zulfiqar Karedia, Hagerty reports, is seeking to develop a truck stop on a 4-acre portion of its newly purchased Macy’s property fronting I-45. Maddox says a restaurant distribution business is slated to take over the Dillard’s property in the mall’s southwest corner — after a sale he brokered last week closes in September.

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Full of It
08/15/17 12:15pm

The basic structure of a new bridge crossing from one side of the Conrad Sauer Detention Basin to the other in the northward expansion of Memorial City is now in place, this recent photo (above) from reader Marc Longoria shows. The bridge will be part of Mathewson Ln., which developer and property owner MetroNational is extending from Conrad Sauer Dr. eastward over the detention basin and connecting to Gessner Dr., as shown in this recent construction photo:

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Memorial City Marches North
08/11/17 11:15am

The new Holiday Inn Express about to begin construction at 3401 N. Main St. in the Near Northside will have some consistently quiet neighbors and some occasionally very loud ones — with the steady drone of the adjacent North Fwy. available to somehow bridge the gap. The 1.44-acre site, where the Casa Grande Mexican Restaurant stood until it was torn down 2 years ago (and Stuarts Drive-In before it), sits across N. Main St. from the Hollywood Cemetery (yes, the same cemetery featured in Wes Anderson movie Rushmore). And it’s just a bit more than a quarter-mile up N. Main from the White Oak Music Hall complex, whose outdoor concert habit spurred nearby residents kept up late at night by the noise to file suit against the venue — and later, the city of Houston — for failing to follow (and enforce) local sound ordinances.

Late last month, crews removed the concrete paving left behind after the Casa Grande demolition (see photos above). Just this week, a city permit was granted for a 58,929-sq.-ft., 95-room Holiday Inn Express on the site — up 10 rooms from the 85 promised a couple of years ago, when the developers submitted these drawings as part of an application for a variance that would allow them not to have to extend or widen Norma St., on the north end of the lot:

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Near Near Northside
08/10/17 3:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE HYDE PARK SALES AND CLEARANCE RUSH “My family moved out of Hyde Park four years ago, and it’s incredible how much the neighborhood has changed in that time. Yes, I know change is inevitable and can be for the better, but this neighborhood has changed at a breakneck pace. I’m pretty sure at least half of the houses/buildings along Commonwealth and Waugh have been torn down since we left (admittedly some of them really needed to go, given the terrible shape they were in). I guess this will be added to the heap.” [Courtney, commenting on Corazon Now Being Removed from Its Big Red Dot Spot at Waugh and Fairview] Photo of Corazon, 2813 Waugh Dr.: Margo

08/10/17 12:45pm

Corazon — your Hyde Park source for guayaberas, Lucha Libre masks, and other assorted crafty and gifty south-of-the-border imports — has lost its lease and will be leaving its longtime spot at the northwest corner of Waugh and Fairview within a month, store owner Chris Murphy reports. The 6,250-sq.-ft. lot it sits on, which includes a recently demolished property at 1410 Fairview, is now under contract after being marketed as a redevelopment site.

Corazon moved into its current home in 1998 — from a location in the former Gramercy Apartments on Montrose Blvd. across from Bell Park (where the Museum Tower now stands). The corner spot at 2318 Waugh Dr. has a craft-y history: Previously a furniture refinishing shop, the building reportedly earlier had gigs as an antique store, a glass-blowing studio, a general store, and a smithy. Murphy says he expects it to be demolished — and replaced with townhomes.

The structure is perhaps best known to passers-by, however, as a frame for the fifth-ever red dot, painted by Red Dot Boys (and former Houstonians) Robert Ramos and Rick Carpenter, as shown here in this undated image from the Red Dot Boys website:

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Folk Art History
08/09/17 4:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: MONTROSE HASN’T EVEN HIT PUBERTY YET “I regularly walk around in Montrose. I’ve also been to many urban neighborhoods in the northeast which are as close to 100% gentrified as you can get. I’m talking Greenwich Village in NYC, Beacon Hill in Boston, Georgetown in DC. Montrose is not anywhere close to that level of gentrification. It won’t even be there in 20 years. Right now, you can still walk around Montrose and see loads of old 60s and 70s garden complexes with $700 a month apartments. There are plenty of trashy convenience stores, rundown strip malls, and vacant lots. And yes, there are still plenty of young artists and musicians who live in the area and hang out in areas like the Menil plying their craft. Any neighborhood where a lot on a major commercial street can sit vacant for over a year is not that gentrified yet. Okay, so yes. Montrose is obviously gentrifying. It’s different from how it was 20, 30, 40 years ago. That’s part of city life–places change, some people move out, other people move in. And eventually, maybe in a few decades, if Houston doesn’t get destroyed in a hurricane or become the next Detroit due to economic collapse, Montrose probably will become the kind of bland-ish upper crust West U-ish neighborhood people act like it already is. But here’s the reality: It’s not there yet, and it won’t be for quite awhile.” [Christian, commenting on Comment of the Day Runner-Up: The Creative Destruction of Montrose] Illustration: Lulu

08/09/17 3:15pm

The final portion of the 6-story former Town & Country V office building at 908 Town & Country Blvd., including its elevator shaft, came down in an awkward curtsy yesterday, leaving workers in the lower floors of the neighboring 15-story CityCentre Five with nothing left to block their views of the Katy Fwy. Demolitions of the adjacent Town & Country III and Town & Country IV office buildings preceded it.

The unobstructed freeway view won’t last forever: Developer Midway is planning 2 new office buildings — as well as a residential highrise — for the cleared site.

Video: Swamplot inbox

Last Fall at I-10 and Beltway 8
08/08/17 1:45pm

Wrecking balls may have gone out of style, but cable hookups still put on a good Houston show. A reader with a front-row view of the soon-to-be north end of CityCentre shows us how, in videos and a photo showing the continuing section-by-section disappearance of the 1977 office building at 908 Town & Country Blvd. known as Town & Country V.

First, demolition workers weaken some of the building’s steel support beams by heating them with torches and making a few strategic snips. Then they attach one end of a cable to the beam:

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Cable Hookups and Yanks
08/07/17 3:00pm

A section of John Nova Lomax’s new Texas Monthly essay on Montrose’s continuing “it was better in the old days” rap chronicles a sequence of prominent changes to the neighborhood from the last decade. That it’s possible to find at least one Swamplot story corresponding to each noted example speaks to the longterm vigilance of this site’s tipsters — if not the author’s research methods. (Lomax in fact wrote a few of our stories himself; he’s a former Swamplot contributor and editor.)

Here’s the passage, altered by a peppering with Swamplot links to provide an annotated and illustrated version of Montrose’s recent journey from former counterculture haven to . . . uh, former counterculture haven:

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You Were There
08/04/17 2:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHAT’S IN STORE FOR HOUSTON’S REMAINING MANSARDS “These clusters of mansard-roofed ’70s apartments and townhouses dot the mid loop area and will be getting dozed by the dozens during these decades for those wanting large wads of land.” [Dana-X, commenting on The Ripple Creek Townhomes Are Now Being Ripped to Shreds] Photo of Ripple Creek Townhomes at 1015 S. Ripple Creek Dr.: Swamplot inbox

08/02/17 3:45pm

Here’s a view from late last week of the back of former Exxon Upstream Research facility at 3120 Buffalo Spdwy., as crews continue their demolition magic. Transwestern Development and Spear Street Capital purchased the 16.9-acre site from the oil giant in March, and shortly thereafter began removing structures from the property, including the 550,000-sq.-ft. 1962 building by MacKie and Kamrath Architects — shown here in half-gone mode — and its attached auditorium, which was added in 2003. The eastern wall of the attached parking garage is still visible in the photo.

And here’s a view from yesterday, as demolition advances toward the structure’s Buffalo Spdwy. façade:

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Slice by Slice
08/01/17 1:15pm

Here’s an interrupted last look at the Town & Country V office building at 908 Town & Country Blvd., which is clearly in the way of the CityCentre expansion.

The 6-story building is the last of a group of 4 being removed from the growing mixed-use district’s northern border. Earlier last month, crews were eating at the structure from the I-10 side:

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Now You See It
08/01/17 12:00pm

From the skies above Montrose Blvd. just north of Bissonnet, here’s a view from late last week of progress on the Museum of Fine Arts Houston’s new Glassell School of Art. The new building, designed by Steven Holl Architects, is under construction across the street from the Glassell Junior School building (in the foreground, with the curved roof) — and on the same site where the original Glassell School, designed by Houston architect S.I. Morris, was demolished in 2015. Morris’s Glassell School featured exterior walls of glass block; the primary exterior materials of Holl’s replacement building are sandblasted panels of precast concrete, assembled to shape an inclined plane along the long edge of the building’s L shape.

If that part of the building is starting to look like it’ll form a giant ramp, it’s because it will: Models of the structure show an outdoor amphitheater at the ramp’s base; a rooftop public path will ascend beyond it to a sculpture garden on the roof of the building’s northern leg. An addition to the existing sculpture garden to the south will extend into the courtyard shaped by the building’s two wings, fronting Montrose Blvd. The space designated for the garden is filled with construction materials in the center of the photo above; it’s pictured in a more completed state in this rendering by the architect:

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A View from Above
07/28/17 10:00am

Here’s the scene from Heights Blvd. this morning, where the former Heights Finance Station — that was the fancy name for the neighborhood’s main post office — lies in trucked-off ruins. The construction fence along the right side of the image lines 11th St. The view from Brie Kelman’s camera faces west, toward Yale St.; the former Citgo gas station now known as whiskey bar Eight Row Flint, on the opposite side of Yale, is visible just to the left of center in the distance (if you look closely).

Here’s a different view of the site from just a few days ago:

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