11/13/17 4:00pm

Here’s what’s expected to park in the garage at Montalbano Tire and Auto Service after the business shuts down next week: a restaurant or 2, retailers, and office tenants. Kaldis Development Interests purchased the .81-acre property at 1302 Houston Ave in mid-October and plans to renovate it before reopening it as a 15,000-sq.-ft. retail-and-office center.

On the Houston Ave front (see top drawing), windows would be fitted into the building’s current garage bays, with a restaurant patio facing the street at the northern end. On the south side, the metal structure facing Dart St. would be punctured with new window bays as well as doors for individual storefronts.

According to the site plan for the proposed new development (below) 7 head-in parking spaces off of Houston Ave would remain after the redo:

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First Ward Redo
11/13/17 1:00pm

The retirement sale sign up now in front of Montalbano Tire and Auto Service at 1302 Houston Ave isn’t just advertising tire replacement: Owner Tony Montalbano sent out a letter last week to customers informing them that the 76-year-old business would close on November 17, though a source tells Swamplot that date has since been pushed back about a week. The 13,915 sq.-ft. car care building on the corner of Houston Ave and Dart St. went up in 1960 and sits on just over three-quarters of an acre. The first photo above shows the store’s front entrance on the corner looking north up Houston Ave.

Across Houston Ave, Montalbano’s much larger neighbor of the same surname — Montalbano Lumber — remains open for business.

Photos: Marc Longoria

First Ward
11/06/17 4:45pm

Houston’s first board-game-themed cafe and bar is set to move into the long-mostly-vacant strip center near the White Oak hike-and-bike trail off T.C. Jester just east of Ella Blvd. next February. King’s Bierhaus (pictured above) took up residence last year on the opposite end of the same center (which is behind Restaurant Depot and SSQQ) — on the other side of the iCycle Bike Shop. The photo at top shows 2 businesses that have since left the strip; Tea & Victory and its lending library of 500 board games will go into the 3,300 sq.-ft. space formerly occupied by City Nails and Skincare. A first storefront for cake and cupcake vendor AshleyCakes will be moving in next to the game cafe.

$5 will cover an all-access pass for customers to play as many games as they want, including the ones shown in this photo snapped at a Tea & Victory pop-up event in May:

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Tea & Victory
11/06/17 11:00am

THE NEW GALLERIA STORE THAT TRACKS YOUR GLANCES Dwight Silverman explores the tech offerings at products-from-startups-showcase b8ta, which opened in the Galleria last month a couple doors down from the new Saks Fifth Avenue: “The stores are also bristling with cameras, which is common in modern retail stores. However, these cameras — 170 of them in the Galleria store — don’t necessarily capture video. [b8ta CEO Vibhu] Norby said they turn images of individuals into data, and then track them as they move about the store.’ We are not tracking the person’s face, we are tracking the geometry of their face,’ he said. ‘We hash it, then we watch the hash as it’s interacting with products. There’s no identification information; this is just a blob doing these behaviors.’ Behavioral data are then shared with the product makers. Someone who walks into b8ta may look at two or three products before they buy one. Their pathway is provided to b8ta’s vendors.” [Houston Chronicle ($)] Photo: Vibhu Norby

10/31/17 11:30am

A DOUBLE-DECKER H-E-B FOR MEYERLAND PLAZA Ralph Bivins reports that grocery chain H-E-B is planning a new 100,000-sq.-ft. store on the western edge of Meyerland Plaza, near the mall-turned-big-box-collection’s JCPenney. The company announced earlier this month that it would not reopen its store at South Braeswood and Chimney Rock, which flooded after Hurricane Harvey. Stores at Meyerland Plaza, on Beechnut at 610, were damaged by flooding as well. The new structure H-E-B is planning there, Bivins says, would be 2 stories; if the configuration is similar to the company’s new Bellaire and Heights locations, that would mean the store itself would be built on the second floor, on top of a parking-only lower level. [Realty News Report; previously on Swamplot] Photo of parking lot in front of Meyerland Plaza JCPenney: Melanie H.

10/26/17 4:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY RUNNER-UP: HELP ME UNCOVER THE GREAT MATTRESS STORE PROLIFERATION PLOT “There has got to be some kind of conspiracy going on. There is never anyone in any of their locations or Mattress Firm at any time of day except the person that works there. There are 2 Mattress 1 One locations right across the street from each other at Richmond and 610. Anywhere there is a Starbucks, there is a mattress store very close by. I have no knowledge of anyone, or anyone that knows anyone that has purchased a mattress from either of these two stores. Someone please explain how and why.” [Eric, commenting on A Mattress Store Has Closed in Montrose; previously on Swamplot] Photo of adjacent Mattress Firms on Westheimer at Montrose: Swamplot inbox

10/25/17 1:45pm

An intrepid mattress-store-monitoring reader notes that the Mattress 1 One (yeah, that’s how the company spells it out) in the northernmost spot of the strip center at S. Shepherd and W. Alabama across from CVS has closed down. Desperate mattress seekers need not worry, though: Plenty more outlets are available to pick up the slack. A note taped to the front door of the spot at 3101 S. Shepherd Dr., which despite the prominently placed Kensinger Donnelly FOR LEASE signs on the space insists that the location is only “closed for renovation,” directs would-be customers to the chain’s nearest still-open store: a full 3 blocks north on Shepherd, just south of Westheimer.

If that location doesn’t work for you, the Texas-and-Florida mattress chain lists a total of 16 Mattress 1 One locations within a 5-mile radius — though that includes the still-listed Shepherd-and-Alabama spot. And don’t forget competitor Mattress Firm, which has 18 locations of its own within that same area.

Photos: Margo

Mattrose
10/24/17 12:45pm

Not too much in the way of timelapse settings, drone footage, pulsating but string-infused soundtracks, supertitles, or accompanying sound effects appears to have been spared in the making of this video ode to the Arch-Con crane assembly now hovering over the southeast corner of Washington Ave and S. Heights Blvd. That’s the location of the planned H-E-B Market with the office space and 5-story apartment building on top of it soon to be known as the first phase of Midway’s Buffalo Heights development, on the northwest corner of the former Memorial Heights apartments.

Video: Midway Companies

Going Vertical
10/23/17 9:45am

Halloween is almost upon us, and again the full-store gift wrapping and Christmas trees have gone up at the Highland Village shopping center — as these pics sent in by a reader show.

You now have 9 full shopping weeks before Christmas (and a little less than 5 before Thanksgiving), but if you’re still getting your gifts ready for Halloween next Tuesday, you’d better hurry.

Photos: Swamplot inbox

 

 

’Tis the Preseason
10/19/17 11:00am

Here are a few shots of 195 Yale St. just south of I-10 from yesterday afternoon, showing workers a few letters away from spelling out the long-delayed LA Fitness at the Yale Street Market shopping center. The sign, which faces the freeway, was completed by the end of the day:

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Fitn In
10/18/17 1:00pm

A sandwich update is in progress along Dairy Ashford directly opposite Fern Dr., across the street from Stratford High School and the Spring Branch ISD athletics complex. The Subway sandwich shop sandwiched between the shuttered locations of a printing company and a small used-car dealership has now been torn down after a brief Harvey reprieve. A reader sends in the above series of photos panning the combined and now-cleared 1.1-acre site at 851 Dairy Ashford, where a new 4,640–sq.-ft. Panera Bread building is scheduled to rise.

Photos: Swamplot inbox

Up from Subway
10/13/17 10:15am

16 months after the Fiesta Mart on site was torn down and 11 months since Heights-area voters approved a modification to longstanding local dry-zone prohibitions to allow alcohol sales for off-premises consumption, H-E-B at last appears ready to begin construction of its store at 2300 N. Shepherd. This week fencing went up around the site, which stretches between W. 23rd and W. 24th streets — and a couple of trailers have rolled onto it. An official groundbreaking is scheduled for October 24th.

The store will sit on the east side of the site but up one level, on top of a concrete parking deck. Here’s a view looking east along 23rd St. toward that part of the site and Lawrence St. beyond:

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10/12/17 12:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY SECOND RUNNER-UP: THINGS TO THINK ABOUT BEFORE YOU START PLANNING UNDER-FREEWAY DEVELOPMENTS “One conclusion I’ve made about the U.S., compared to European countries, is that we don’t use space efficiently. We’ve got all these open ditches, grass patches . . . along our roadways. So this Tokyo solution appeals to me. But while I haven’t traveled extensively, I feel that selling/renting under-highway space to retail smacks of third-world. Would Houston ever go for that? There is so much filth that washes off roadways and would filter into/onto these shops. A friend has his bike storage cage under the apartment driveway. It’s just a drive! yet the bikes always have a greasy blackness on them. Ever park in an airport garage for more than a couple days? Your car is filthy. Maybe it’s just me, but I wouldn’t/couldn’t eat a taco made under the Pierce Elevated.” [movocelot, commenting on Midtown Sears Closure Nets Rice 9 Acres near the Wheeler Transit Center] Illustration: Lulu

10/11/17 1:30pm

A half-decade after the demolition of its on-site predecessors, the retail building replacing the former Ruggles Grill at 903 Westheimer Rd. just east of Montrose Blvd. is almost complete. Going inside the new 6,536-sq.-ft. structure across from Uchi: a couple of Dallas imports.

On the right, on the side closer to the Smoothie King drive-thru, will go the first out-of-Dallas location of the East Hampton Sandwich Company chain. On the left, next to the side parking lot and the Woman’s Home’s Cottage Shop, will be the second Houston location of Velvet Taco. Sandwiched between them is a 1,120-sq.-ft. space that appears to be still available, according to leasing documents — perhaps for a third wheat-wrapped-lunch spot of north Texas origin.

A 57-spot parking lot wraps around and in back of the building:

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Dallas Comes to Montrose
10/09/17 10:45am

The anticipated departure of Hyde Park gift shop Corazon from its perch at the corner of Fairview and Waugh has been delayed by 3 months at least. Although the property it sits on has been sold to a new owner interested in building a trio of townhouses, demolition of the former smithy, antique store, and glass-blowing studio won’t take place this year: Corazon now has a new short-term lease that runs until December 31st and will convert to a month-to-month status after that.

If the lease does get extended for a few months into 2018, it’ll mark the store’s 20th anniversary at 2318 Waugh Dr. In either case, it’ll probably be an awkward extended goodbye: A clearance sale begun in August on the store’s current inventory of Lucha Libre masks, guyaberas, and other items from South and Central American artisan cooperatives is ongoing, but popular items will probably be restocked for the holiday season. The store’s owner is searching for a new location.

Photo: Corazon

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