04/24/18 2:15pm

After hauling all 6 of their endangered Victorian cottages 8 blocks and arranging them neatly off Sampson St. 4 years ago, Michael Skelly and Anne Whitlock are now ready to part with the 2 pictured at top. $700,000 is the asking price for both structures — which occupy a single 5,000-sq.-ft. lot at 3408 Garrow St. They’ve been on the market for a week.

Since relocating them, Skelly and Whitlock have also redone the interiors of the 2 cottages:

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Firehouse Backyard
04/20/18 2:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: FROM THE DOWNTOWN DAYS INN WATCH TEAM “Before I left work, a guy was at the very top pulling a long rope he had tied to a wooden structure hanging on the corner of the building. It looks like a homemade trebuchet. I’ll keep posting updates if anything major happens; hell, it’s in my sight line all day.” [Kim, commenting on Cleanup Crews Now Polishing Downtown Houston’s Most Famous Abandoned Building] Photo of former Days Inn at 801 St. Joseph Pkwy.: Guy Mahaffey

04/20/18 11:00am

SHUTTERED LANCASTER HOTEL’S POST-HARVEY REDO HAS BEGUN The latest purchasers of the recently-renovated Lancaster Hotel hotel at 701 Texas Ave. had only owned it for about 2 months before 2 ft. of water entered its lobby — and 12 its basement — during Harvey, reports the HBJ’s Cara Smith. Its last redo in 2013 was along the same lines (“significant alterations to the lobby, guest rooms, suites and meeting spaces,” the HBJ wrote then) as what Magnolia Lodging has planned for it now: “a redesigned lobby, guest rooms, a new restaurant and bar, an indoor mezzanine, an espresso bar and a new cardio fitness studio.” The 92-year-old structure has been shuttered since the storm, leaving its 12 stories and adjacent parking lot (where 2 buildings were demolished on Louisiana in 2016) unoccupied. [HBJ ($); previously on Swamplot] Photo: Jay H.

04/19/18 11:30am

CLEANUP CREWS NOW POLISHING DOWNTOWN HOUSTON’S MOST FAMOUS ABANDONED BUILDING A reader in the KBR Tower 2 blocks east of the former Days Inn at 801 St. Joseph Pkwy. reports sightings of several different crews that have appeared outside the north face of the hotel within the past week. A pair of crane trucks have been parked at the foot of the hotel’s garage, and a swing-stage scaffold is hanging near the top of the podium. Also noted: Workers have cleared out debris from inside the garage, and accumulated trash has been removed from the pool of the 31-story hotel-turned-Vedic-school. [Previously on Swamplot] Photo: Kimberly Knight

04/18/18 4:30pm

One week oil and gas equipment warehouse just north of the Katy that Work America Capital is converting into a place of business has been partially skinned. Its street-fronting side is now open and the illuminated sign that spelled out the Surefire Industries name atop the front entrance has been replaced with Burton Construction’s unlit banner.

Work America says the structure at 1336 Brittmoore will anchor a 25-acre business campus it’s developing, dubbed The Cannon. It’s slated to include co-working offices, as well as an event center, athletic facility, restaurants, retail and some sort of living space.

Here’s a view of what the barn-like structure will look like re-sided and with new windows:

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The Cannon
04/13/18 12:15pm

What’s going on at Greenway Plaza besides the coming Lifetime Fitness and the patio addition west of Edloe? A new covered walkway now traverses the complex’s Fountain Green — linking buildings 9 and 11 to each other at ground level. The path divides the quadrant into 2 separate lawns: one to the north where the fountain pictured at top bubbles up behind the row of flags that line Richmond. The other, to the south, is a smaller strip along City Club Dr.

A rendering of the renovated plaza from its then-owner Parkway (which was bought by the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board last year) shows the full partition:

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Office Park Pathway
04/12/18 1:00pm

Coming soon to the strip of vacant 1920s storefronts along Main — catty-corner to the Greyhound bus station at Webster St. and directly north of the Shell station at Hadley: a new bar dubbed Pour Behavior. The 12,600-sq.-ft. building — once home to the Houston Spinal Pain Center, Ambassador Shoe Repair, Liviko’s Printing, Gold & Silver Buyers & Sellers, and the Salvation Army — sits on just over 3 quarters of an acre. A parking lot neighbors it on the corner of Travis and Webster where Downtown Body Shop was demolished a couple of years ago.

The aerial above pictures the whole property with some two-tone manipulation courtesy of the Oxberry Group, which had — but dropped — plans to redevelop it and bring in new restaurants and retailers a few years after the auto shop vanished. A new developer bought the building last year. The rendering above — released on Facebook by the bar’s proprietors last week — views the building from the corner of Travis and Webster streets and shows a patio fronting the current parking lot. Further down Webster to the east, a few windows reopen what was once the entrance to Webster St. Pharmacy, adjacent to the parking lot.

Here’s what the Salvation Army’s front face next to the gas station looked like before it closed:

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Pour Behavior
04/06/18 4:30pm

Aside from some interior remodeling and roof repairs, the 5,362-sq.-ft. Hilliard House on Del Monte Dr. has been mostly untouched since J. Leon Osborn built it in 1936. According to the city planning department’s historical commission: “no updates to any electrical, structural or other systems have been performed.” In February, that commission approved the owners’ application to tack an extra 3,000-sq.-ft. onto the backside of the structure. The portion they’re now set to build — adjacent to a new pool — will include a network of new living rooms on the first floor and a new master bedroom suite with an adjacent office and exercise room upstairs. An added 2-car garage should also bring the property’s parking situation up to modern speed; right now, the only garaging option is a carriage house.

The site plan above shows how the building will sit on its almost-21-acre just-over-half-acre lot after the add-on — designed by Rogelio Carrasco — is complete. Nearly everything running back adjacent to the pool is new.

Right now, the house’s backyard stretches straight back behind the rounded side tower:

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Hilliard House
04/04/18 4:00pm

Exterior renovations are nearly complete on the 39,213-sq.-ft. building Houston’s First Baptist Church took over from a local branch of the Communication Workers of America on the corner of Jefferson and Chenevert last year. The new location is number 4 for the church — existing worship centers include the flagship spot on the Katy Fwy. just outside 610, as well as other sites in Cypress and Missouri City.

Crews began whitewashing the brick walls adjacent to the curved entrance drive along the building in January:

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Downtown Christening
03/27/18 12:00pm

The massive illuminated crosses that once adorned the St. Joseph Professional Building next to the Pierce Elevated have been stripped from the structure’s east and west sides by its new-ish owner, but haven’t yet been removed from the block. West of the tower and adjacent to the highway, the fenced enclosure pictured above now holds the de-crucified metal parts along with the Scrabble-like remnants of the lettering that once spelled out the building’s name below the crosses.

The scrap yard borders the surface parking lot that fronts the 135,586-sq.-ft. building’s garage podium on La Branch St.:

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Cross-Word Jumble
03/23/18 12:45pm

Workers are now applying paint to the 5-level garage stump of the former Americana building at 811 Dallas St. Over the last year, the 10-story office tower that sat atop the southern half of the garage was removed.

9-in. aluminum louvers were added to the portion of the parking podium pictured above on the corner of Dallas and Travis streets during a renovation in 2000. That exterior layer was stripped off as part of the recent work on the building, however, exposing the original clay block surface underneath.

30,000-or-so-sq.-ft. of ground-floor retail are also receiving touch-ups as part of the current work on the property.

Photos: Drew (parking garage); Boxer Property (Americana)

Clay Tile Refresh
03/22/18 9:45am

The building on the corner of Montrose Blvd. and Bomar St. is showing signs of rebranding as Les Ba’get’s owners prepare to open a new, more pho-friendly joint in its place — dubbed Les Noo’dle. February 2 was closing day for the original Vietnamese restaurant; it’s now getting situated in a new Oak Forest shopping center on Ella Blvd. where it will double its space.

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Apostrophe Intact
03/21/18 12:00pm

In the wake of Snooze, 2 more businesses with names suggesting AM activities are on their way to the new Lowell Street Market on 18th St. between Shepherd and Durham. Radom Capital began transforming the 3-building former warehouse complex in something retail- and restaurant-ready back in 2016. Since then, Snooze  has been the only restaurant to open in the development.

Building permits filed for the empty spots neighboring Snooze and Smoosh now show reveal the name of a third eatery that could be on its way to 718 W. 18th St.: Teapresso Bar. The Hawaiian tea shop chain has most of its current locations on Oahu, with a few on Maui as well. Lowell Street Market would be its first step onto the mainland.

The site plan below indicates all 3 buildings in the complex:

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The Early Risers
03/20/18 12:30pm

Crews are now digging a hole through the middle of the Sojourn Heights church campus off Gostick St., south of Aurora in Sunset Heights. The rendering above looks west across Gostick to show the fenced-off lawn that will eventually grow in place of the demolished building. The new green space is bookended by renovated street-fronting structures and backed by a smaller addition that’s planned on the far west side of the just-over-an-acre church property.

Before the takedown got started yesterday, the complex consisted of 3 buildings that lined Gostick:

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Prayer Semi-Circle
03/13/18 4:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHAT’S STILL MISSING FROM THE TOP OF THE CENTRAL SQUARE PLAZA REDO “After all the beautiful exterior enhancements, does Claremont plan to update and restore functionality of the enormous electronic retro clock on top of the building? The building now looks so nice. I can’t believe the clock sitting on top has not been restored, paint peeling off and not turned on, especially when it completes the whole retro-mod feel of the entire project.” [Unsure About This, commenting on Midtown’s Redone Central Square Plaza Looking To Lure Tenants to Its Empty Ground Floor] Photo of former Central Square Plaza clock: meltedplastic [license]