02/19/19 11:30am

Work is underway to turn the 2-story brick house Kaye Marvins Photography occupied for 70 years into a new location of Memorial Tailors, currently a 2-spot chain with shops in Cypress and the Village Plaza at Bunker Hill shopping center. The photo at top shows all the doors and windows torn out of the 1920s-era former photo building as part of the renovations that the builder Ecological Living is overseeing. Also vanished: the long green awning that once extended out from the front door to the curb on the east side of Montrose Blvd.

Here it is from across the street:

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Roseland Estates
02/13/19 2:00pm

International fitness chain Barry’s Bootcamp plans to pick up where Luke’s Locker left off in the easternmost portion of the River Oaks Shopping Center south of W. Gray, and before doing so, will dress the storefront in the full military-style regalia that’s typical of its existing locations. The photo above looks south to show the space shortly after the former running store left it. At top: Barry’s’s chevron-heavy vision for what it will become.

As indicated by the awning on the right, some kind of retail component appears to be planned inside, along with room for a fitness studio. With a just a bit more detail, the windows drawing might also show a reflection of the new 30-story highrise, dubbed The Driscoll, that Weingarten’s got going on the opposite of W. Gray, in place of Café Ginger and a few of its former neighbors.

Photo: Katie Schon. Drawing: Houston Archaeological and Historical Commission

Fitness Invasion
02/04/19 12:37pm

A Swamplot reader sends the photo at top showing a bright yellow permit notice for something called Kubo’s Sushi and Washoku up in the window next to Tacodeli’s storefront at 1902 Washington Ave. The portion of the building now sporting the sign — designated suite C — most recently housed a different sushi restaurant dubbed Kukuri, but not for long: It closed last March after just over 6 months in business.

The new Kubo’s sushi spot is backed by the same team behind former Japanese restaurant Kubo’s Sushi Bar & Grill, which closed its second-story spot in the former Rice Village building between Kelvin and Morningside drives in 2016 after about a decade and a half in business.

Photos: Swamplot inbox (sign); Kukuri (restaurant)

Raw Fish Redo
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
01/25/19 12:30pm

ASTRODOME RENOVATION BUDGET ISN’T ENOUGH FOR AIR CONDITIONING, SAYS COUNTY JUDGE LINA HIDALGO While looking into those Astrodome renovation plans to raise the floor and slip 2 levels of parking underneath it that the previous commissioners court set aside money for last April, new Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo appears to have had a revelation: “What I’m discovering,” she tells Houston Matters’s Craig Cohen on air yesterday, “is that the 105 [million dollars] that was allocated is not enough to air condition the building.” And so she asks: “Is the current design enough for folks to actually want to rent it out? I don’t want this to be a white elephant,” she says. “So that’s what I’m trying to figure out.” [Houston Public Media] Photo of Astrodome: Russell Hancock via Swamplot Flickr Pool

01/24/19 3:00pm

A Swamplot reader who for the past few days has been monitoring changes at the intersection of Westheimer and Voss roads sends the photo at top showing a new Taco Cabana banner strung up on the roadside fast food pad that Pollo Tropical left in 2017. Although the new restaurant’s flavor profile won’t be much different from that of its predecessor, the look of the place appears to be changing quite a bit. So far, the white pergola fronted by Pollo Tropical’s signage on the east side of the structure has been removed and a fresh coat of gray paint has been applied to all sides of building, including the one home to that blue tagline and accompanying palm tree illustration shown opposite the sedan in the photo above.

Also gone: the 4 painted palm-tree window awnings along the south and east sides of the building, each of which fronted its very own live palm tree as shown in the photo. The trees themselves don’t appear to have been disturbed since Pollo Tropical left:

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Staying South of the Border
01/11/19 2:45pm

Last night Houston’s planning and development department spelled out a proposal to run a new pair of protected bike lanes on Austin St. from Buffalo Bayou to HCC’s main campus in Midtown. South of the college, the officially-designated bike route would continue down to Hermann Park along La Branch and Crawford streets but without anything to buffer it from the rest of the road.

Throughout Downtown and the northern portion of Midtown ending at McGowen St., plans show the bike lanes separated from the street by 2-ft.:

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A Fairly Straightforward Route
01/10/19 9:30am

ALDI IS MAKING ITS MOVE AT THE CROWDED CROSSROADS OF WESTHEIMER AND S. GESSNER Aldi punched its ticket for entry into the Tanglewilde Center yesterday by filing a building permit to convert the closed 21,300-sq.-ft. Batie’s Ace Hardware at 9525 Westhimer into a supermarket. It’ll be the third grocery store within a 2,000-ft. radius of the intersection of Westheimer and S. Gessner Rd. Randall’s sits at the northeast corner, and Kroger is just west of the crossroads. The hardware store being converted closed down late last year. [Previously on Swamplot] Photo: Swamplot inbox

01/09/19 4:30pm

MEMORIAL PARK GOLFERS WORRY THAT JUST-APPROVED COURSE REDESIGN COULD MESS UP THEIR HANDICAPS Houston’s city council just approved that $13.5 million plan to redesign the Memorial Park Golf Course so that the Houston Open can be held there in 2020. The vote passed unanimously at city hall this morning, but not before a few course regulars had a chance yesterday to vent about how the upgrades will skew the playing field: “I want to be an average Houstonian who plays with everybody else on the same level,” said Joseph Kratoville, who’s out there 4 or 5 times a week, adding that in its present state, the course is “the anti-country club. I get to meet people from all walks of life.” Baxter Spann, whose firm Finger Dye Spann renovated both the Memorial Park and Gus Wortham courses previously, spoke similarly: “I’m concerned that the focus may be on making this a tour-level course without adequate regard for the everyday golfer,” he told the council. The course closes tomorrow, although the driving range and on-site Becks Prime will remain open. It’ll need to be back open by November 1 in order for the PGA Tour stop to be held there the following year, report the Chronicle’s David Barron and Robert Downen. Meanwhile, 2019’s Houston Open will take place at the Golf Club of Houston (in Humble) like it has since relocating there in 2003. [Houston Chronicle] Rendering: Nelson Byrd Woltz

01/07/19 1:15pm

Documents put out by Houston’s planning commission reveal that Sweetgreen isn’t the only tenant signed up to take over Doc’s Motorwork’s empty structure at 1303 Westheimer; there’s also a Steel City Pops on the way to the back of the building. The site plan at top shows it grabbing about 900 sq.-ft along Graustark St., leaving the rest of the 4,400-sq.-ft. building reserved for the plant-based anchor tenant.

This is Sweetgreen’s first step into Texas, according to Eater’s Alaena Hostetter (or second, if you count the other not-yet-open location it has planned for Rice Village) and it wants to make Doc’s building look like this before setting foot in it:

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On Deck Along Westheimer
01/07/19 10:15am

Shuttered Rice Village pizza parlor Pizza L’Vino is set to become the second Reach Stretch Studio in Houston and fifth across the greater Houston area: Katy, Sugar Land, The Woodlands, and Memorial branches of the wellness chain are already up and running. A building permit filed last Friday for the 2,100-sq.-ft. storefront at 2524 Rice Blvd. — across the street from Buffalo Wild Wings — indicates conversion work is about to begin.

Pizza L’Vino’s other location has also closed down in the Waugh Dr. shopping center it once shared with competitive axe-throwing venue The Ratchet Hatchet.

Photo: Pizza L’Vino

2524 Rice Blvd.
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
12/20/18 12:45pm

COUNTY COMMISSIONERS HOLD OFF ON REPAIRS TO DOWNTOWN’S SOGGY CRIMINAL JUSTICE SKYSCRAPER The County Commissioners were set to approve repairs to the chronically wet Harris County Criminal Justice Center on Tuesday when District Attorney Kim Ogg — who occupies the building along with her 735 employees — convinced them to tap the brakes, calling it “unseemly . . . that we would be spending $14 million when we still don’t know the cause of the flooding.Writing in November, the Houston Chronicle‘s Brian Rogers blamed it on: “unprecedented amounts of standing water,” that “seeped into the underground walls” of the building even though its flood gates remained secure. But he noted that some county officials believe there were “multiple sources,” of water and remained unsure about how it all got in. The 18-year-old building at 1201 Franklin St. partly reopened in June. The repairs that the commissioners had planned to authorize this week included fixes to its elevator shafts and parts of floors 2 through 20. (They suffered damage when the electronics in the basement — dampened by floodwaters — malfunctioned, sending gallons of water through the building’s anti-flood pumping system, which ironically, burst pipes and flooded the upper stories.) Following up on Ogg’s remarks, County Engineer John Blount raised the possibility of building a new criminal justice building from scratch. The estimated cost he gave for doing so: $430 million. [Houston Chronicle] Photo: Harris County

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
12/18/18 3:11pm

The new restaurant moving into the northeast corner building on 11th St. is pitching itself as a spiritual successor to the long-running business that closed there 3 months ago, Dacapo’s Pastry Cafe, with some new signage that touts the planned menu’s closeness to the old one. Chocolate fudge cake, for one, will be made available when the new restaurant called Carmalita’s Cuisine opens next year, along with other leftovers from the shuttered pastry shop’s recipe book such as banana split cake and Italian cream cake. In terms of new offerings: The butter pecan cake slice pictured on the sign now up along Shepherd is Carmalita’s own concoction, as will be the handful of gluten-free offerings hitting the spot next year.

The building at 1141 E. 11th St., part of the Norhill Historic District, is currently split between the not-yet-reopened storefront and and some upstairs office space home to — among others — Elijah Rising, the Christian nonprofit that lobbied both Houston and Harris County officials to block that planned sex-doll brothel from opening on Richmond near Chimney Rock a few months ago.

Photos: Dacapo’s Pastry Cafe (building); Swamplox inbox (sign)

 

North Norhill Staple Foods