01/22/19 2:30pm

Renderings that Houston developer Sluco Realty has released of the new double-decker retail building it’s planning on Shepherd show 2 sides to what it hopes will eventually fill the structure: to the north (above) your typical ground-floor restaurant setup, and to the south (top), something a little more potentially lifesaving. For privacy’s sake, the planned urgent care clinic forgoes the windows that open up the rest of building, dubbed Heights Forum. But the all-caps signage perched atop the awning shown at top should make clear what’s going on inside.

Additional therapeutic offerings like a dance studio and martial arts dojo appear to be planned upstairs. To get there, take the highlighter-green staircase at the front of the building or the side stairwell shown below behind the restaurant:

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Heights Forum
01/22/19 11:30am

Those dark green awnings and the sign shown below are now the only exterior traces of Barnes & Noble’s multi-decade presence in the east-facing building in the Westheimer Crossing shopping center just west of Voss Rd. It’s the only business ever to inhabit the 38,700-sq.-ft. standalone structure since it went up along with the rest of the retail complex in the mid-90s.

Unlike the rest of the shopping center — now home to Academy Sports + Outdoors, Michaels, REI, Designer Shoe Warehouse, Petco, Thai Spice and a smattering of roadside fast food and retail buildings — the former bookstore is owned separately by National Retail Properties, a real estate investment trust that puts money into shopping centers across the U.S.

Photos: Swamplot inbox

Epilogue
01/22/19 10:00am

BUC-EE’S HAS OPENED ITS FIRST BRANCH OUTSIDE OF TEXAS, AND MORE ARE TO COME Buc-ee’s opened its fourth location along I-10 yesterday morning at 6 a.m. . . . in Robertsdale, Alabama. With 124 gas pumps, the new 50,000-sq.-ft. store, writes the Chronicle’s Julian Gill, “is almost identical to the one that recently opened in Katy,” except it doesn’t have a car wash. Next up: another out-of-state Buc-ee’s in Daytona Beach, Florida according to the Daytona Beach News-Journal, whose reporter Clayton Park notes that it too will have a 120-pump setup. “Plans also show a 125-foot-tall sign pole for Buc-ee’s,” he adds, “featuring the head of a cartoon beaver above the word ‘Daytona.’” [Houston Chronicle] Photo of Lake Jackson Buc-ee’s: Judy Baxter [license]

01/17/19 2:15pm

Jim McIngvale, more widely known as Mattress Mack, told radio host Michael Berry this morning on KTRH that Gallery Furniture’s 30,000-sq.-ft. store at 2411 Post Oak Blvd., shown above, will close following the end of its lease in a year. “The traffic went down by half because they tore up the road,” said Mack, referring to the construction on the new Uptown BRT that now has the street peppered with blaze orange cones and barricades. Gallery Furniture opened the Uptown location in 2009 inside what used to be a Pier One at the Post Oak Shopping Center. The closure will bring the chain down to 2 branches: the one in Richmond off the Grand Pkwy. and its original spot on I-45.

Photo: Isiah Carey

Mattress Pad Available
01/16/19 4:00pm

The shopping center at the southwest southeast corner of Montrose Blvd. and 59 known as Chelsea Market has just recently gotten the chain-link wraparound, as shown above from the west (top) and east (above). Its days had been numbered ever since plans showing a Broadstone apartment tower in place of the 3-building retail complex surfaced online last year.

Renderings of the tower, to be named Broadstone Museum District, show it rising 16-stories high:

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Montrose Blvd. at 59
01/16/19 1:45pm

Like some kind of otherworldly brand ambassador, this large larger-than-life-sized inflatable now looks dutifully out over the strip center parking lot off Belway 8 and Woodforest Blvd., its antennae twitching in the wind. The building it tops — home to Jenny Nails II, J Donuts, Betlway Beverage, Dominos, a hair salon, and Boost Mobile — was once part of the Randalls-anchored retail complex dubbed the Eastbelt Centre that stopped being a thing when Galena Park ISD moved its administrative offices into the supermarket’s building nearly 2 decades ago.

That converted structure lies just next door to the strip building . . .

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Roadside Attractions of Beltway 8
01/14/19 4:00pm

Now that the former XCars service center across from the Silber St. Walmart has been torn down, construction is underway on the Enterprise Rent-a-Car building that’s taking its place. The new 960-sq.-ft. building’s placement on the third-acre lot suggests there will be plenty of room to fit a fleet of cars there, too. The L-shaped structure that stood on the property previously was a bit bigger — 1,200-sq.-ft. — and featured a long canopy extending out over its parking lot and toward the El Pollo Loco that went up directly across the street in 2015.

Right now, Enterprise’s closest rental office is just down the street, across Silber from the Marq-E Entertainment Center and directly adjacent to Italian car dealership Helfman Imports.

Photo: Swamplot inbox

Walmart’s New Neighbor
01/14/19 10:45am

A Swamplot reader perched up in the SkyHouse Main Apartments has been documenting the evolving scene 3 blocks away from his living room, where the block once home to U-Haul Moving and Storage of Midtown at San Jacinto now completely demolished — is now giving rise to a larger, replacement U-Haul building. The photo at top looks east down Pease St. to show workers planting the earth with beams for the new structure. On the left, you can see what the previous moving and storage building looked like during its final stand at the end of last year.

The demolished building consisted of 28,376 sq.-ft. for self-storage, moving supplies retail, and truck parking. Building permits filed for its replacement indicate it’ll be 220,160-sq.-ft.:

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Downtown Block 348
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

01/07/19 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.
01/04/19 1:15pm

Sure, there’s been a whole lotta talk lately about how In-N-Out Burger is on its way to the redo of Texas Instruments’ 192-acre Stafford campus that developers have dubbed The Grid. But what about those not-yet-named retailers that renderings put out by Gensler, the architect for the project, show taking over the air conditioning towers that TI left behind at the site? The photo above shows what those decommissioned cooling units looks like right now.

They sit behind the centerpiece of the site, TI’s abandoned office building:

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Adaptive A/C Reuse
01/04/19 10:00am

NINTH HOUSTON-AREA SPROUTS DEBUTS IN SUGAR LAND THIS MONTH Workers are putting the finishing touches on the Sprouts Farmers Market inside Sugar Land’s new University Commons Shopping Center off 59, a 150,000-sq.-ft. complex that includes everything depicted in the rendering above, plus a whole extra crop of retailers and restaurants that are already open on the other side of University Blvd. The grocery store’s opening date: January 16, at which time it’ll become the ninth Sprouts store operating in the Houston area (and the only second one in Fort Bend County). About 150 new hires will be on duty inside following a successful job fair Sprouts hosted on December 6 at the Hilton Garden Inn Houston-Sugar Land just up the street in the University Plaza shopping center. [Houston Chronicle] Site plan of University Commons Shopping Center Phase II: Capital Retail Properties

12/20/18 10:30am

In just under a month, longtime Richmond Ave record shop and turntable repair destination Sound Exchange will move from the brick house pictured above to a Second Ward spot near the corner of N. Milby and Commerce. The 39-year-old business didn’t originally open in Montrose, but it got there right away: After a one-year stint in Rice Village, it moved to the strip at 1617 Westheimer, where it spent 19 years before relocating to its present digs at 1846 Richmond.

Already in the works for the block where Sound Exchange sits: rejiggering the property lines to create a new 29,466-sq.-ft. parcel out of the lot shown above, plus 2 additional lots behind it on Colquitt St. that house apartments. Houston’s city planning commission is set to review the proposed replat at the beginning of next year.

Photo: Vinylhub

Winlow Place
12/13/18 4:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHAT ELSE LEFT MIDTOWN WHEN RICHMOND AVE MET WHEELER ST. “In addition to the Delman Theater, an adjacent retailer named the Delman Juvenile Shop was also destroyed. The popular 1950s children’s clothing store featured a behemoth machine, the “Shoe-Fitting Fluoroscope,” that zapped the kids’ feet with unshielded x-rays, ostensibly to make sure the new shoes were a correct fit. In reality, it was used as a babysitter while Mom shopped. I couldn’t wait to grow tall enough to actually peer down the metal tube to view my wiggling skeletal toe bones.” [Patsy Schillaci, commenting on Comment of the Day: The Delman Theater Lives On, on Google Maps] Photo of Delman Theater and adjacent retail: Predator [license]

12/12/18 5:30pm

The new owner of 812 Main St. (shown above) is the same entity that owns the JW Marriott next-door at 806 Main St. Well, sort of. Technically, the properties belong to 2 separate entities, but they both tie back to the same real estate overlord: Pearl Hospitality, a Houston-based hotel operator with a few extra properties in Lubbock. Pearl closed on the 812 Main St. building last month for $3.6 million.

Designed by Houston architects Joseph Finger and George Rustay the recently-transacted tower was completed in 1950 for the Battelsteins’s department store — which occupied each of its 10 floors. It’s now been vacant for roughly 30 years. Battlestein’s signage has been replaced by the smudges visible above the mural-ized storefront face in the photo at top. But 2 naked flagpoles remain on either side of where the lettering once was.

After visiting the property in December, 2015, PDG Architects estimated it’d cost nearly $17 million to renovate it into something suitable for office tenants to inhabit. Just bringing it up to code could cost $8 million, according to public records.

The JW Marriott next-door at Rusk St. — formally known as the Samuel F. Carter building — underwent its Pearl-Hospitality redo starting in 2010 with a bit of financial help from the city and HUD, as well as architectural know-how from Gensler:

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Department Store Skyscraper