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
02/13/19 10:30am

The founder and public face of 4-state sandwich shop Ike’s Sandwiches, Ike Shehadeh, is about to have his bald, goatee-ed likeness installed in 3 more spots: on the north (top), east, and south (above) sides of the new Heights Central Station shopping center at Heights Blvd. and 11th St. The restaurant signed a lease last year to move into the complex’s east building — reported The Leader‘s Betsy Denson — where it’ll neighbor Shine in the Heights salon, the bakery known as Tiff’s Treats, and 2 forthcoming businesses: Ocean Juice and women’s clothing store RichGirls Boutique.

They all sit across from a new Kolache Shoppe drive-thru and next door to the building Dish Society plans to split with a dentist:

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11th St. Newcomer
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: Rex Solomon

Epilogue
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
11/01/18 10:15am

  

A handful of building permits filed recently over at the Marq’e Entertainment Center indicate that kids training center Soccer Hub is kicking off renovations directly behind the spot reserved for the new Spaghetti-Warehouse-like eatery the brand’s parent company is calling Warehouse 72. Together, both new venues will be taking over the space Korean buffet Kpop gave up last year on the shopping center’s non-movie-theater side, across the arch-fronted alley from Dave and Buster’s‘s almost-but-not-entirely standalone building. (There’s now a mystery-themed escape room up in its business, as indicated on the map above.)

It’s not an entirely even split: Soccer Hub is getting about 6,000 sq.-ft. while Warehouse 72 will have 8,600 — enough room for seating, prepared food retail fixtures, and a double-sided bar serving both the restaurant’s insides and a planned 750-sq.-ft. patio, reports Eater‘s Alaena Hostetter. Until the 2 get situated — or get beat to the punch by the Hugh O’Connors Irish-themed restaurant opening in space number 25 on the map —specialty soda and candy shop Rocket Fizz will remain the only thing inside the Marq’e’s center building. It’s been there by itself since Cafe Adobe closed in what’s shown on the map as spot number 26, leaving 10,000 sq.-ft. up for grabs.

Photo: Kpop. Map: Levcor

Tag Team Takeover
10/30/18 11:45am

RANDALLS READY TO SLIP OUT OF SHEPHERD SQUARE A spokeswoman for the grocer tells the Chronicle’s Nancy Sarnoff this morning that the Shepherd Square Randalls Flagship store will be closing, but doesn’t say when. It’s been at Shepherd and Westheimer for about the past 2 decades, back before the brand got bought in 1999 by national chain Safeway — which itself was acquired by Albertsons in 2015. The 128,000-sq.-ft. shopping center housing the store went up in 1989. (It’s shown above before Randalls’ signage was flipped, elevating the “Flagship” branding to a spot above the retailer’s own name.) Over the past year, several Houston-area Randalls have already shut down: at the Coles Crossing shopping center in Cypress, on 34th St. in Oak Forest, and on W. Bellfort in Stafford. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Denise W.

10/16/18 4:00pm

A former employee of the chain says that September 30 was the staff’s last day at the restaurant in the Marq’E Entertainment Center, where its double-decker patio — pictured above — faces off from the Edwards Cinema movie theater (and its vertical water feature faces off from the shopping center’s plaza fountain).

All other Cafe Adobe locations have closed down as well; most recently, the one in terminal B of Bush Airport and the one across Hwy. 6 from Sugar Land‘s Market at Town Center shopping center — which featured this dramatic main entrance:

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Adobe a Goner
09/07/18 3:30pm

It used to just be a buck, until “about 10 years ago it went to $2,” writes a moviegoer. By then the theater had already been around for decades in the back of its namesake Wind Chimes Shopping Center at Westheimer and Eldridge — once the setting itself of a movie shot by a local production company. Following roughly 40 years there, “It was just about the last dollar movie open in Houston,” the former patron declares. (Still around, notes the sign, is the North Oaks Cinema 6 at FM 1960 and Stuebner Airline — where the same owners will sell you a $2 ticket to see any of 8 selections right now.)

What that price got you at Windchimes: admission to feature films that hadn’t quite made it to DVD yet after finishing up their time in first-run theaters. And on top of that, arcade games:

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Cut!
08/16/18 2:00pm

Petco, Michaels, Bed Bath and Beyond, and a big Dick’s Sporting Goods store are among the retailers now lining up for spots in Newquest Properties‘ new Grand-Parkway-adjacent shopping center dubbed The Grand at Aliana. They’ll be buffered from the highway by a roughly 2,400-car-parking lot and a front-line of fast food restaurants. The whole Grand plan hits the Houston Planning Commission’s desk later this afternoon at City Hall Annex, 20 miles away from where the development would be built off W. Airport Blvd.

The map at top shows it vying for attention up there amid the blue jigsaw grid of proposed and recently-built neighborhoods that keep appearing around the highway. In orange is the shopping center’s namesake, the 2,8000-house-and-counting Aliana community that wraps it to the east.

Viewed from the east in the conceptual shot below, you can see some of those houses in the foreground:

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Grandstanding
08/03/18 10:00am

A just-issued building permit indicates Aldi is now on its way to the north end of the Garden Oaks Shopping Center, pictured above, where it’ll occupy the spot formerly home to Yoga Collective — plus a little extra room the developer’s adding on to help it fit into the 95,046-sq.-ft. building. Before it arrives, exterior renovations will also make over the outer face of the strip.

Other comings and goings in the building just north of the North Loop: Life Savers 24-hour Emergency Room is taking over 6,300 sq.-ft., and Dollar Tree is due to relocate from its current spot in the main strip to the new freestanding building marked yellow in the site plan above.

Photo and site plan: Hartman

3938 N. Shepherd
03/13/18 12:00pm

The teeth, eyes, and . . . uh, overall shape of the new shopping center Braun Enterprises is planning for N. Shepherd and 24th St. can be considered taken care of, now that Lovett Dental, Eyes on the Heights Optometry, and Club Pilates have each signed leases for space in the development. That leaves 11,555 sq. ft. still available in 3 separate end-cap spots for any nail salon, podiatrist, or dermatology clinic that wants to fill out the theming for the complex, which would go on the block catty-corner to the H-E-B Heights Market currently under construction.

This would fit in with N. Shepherd’s ongoing transformation: Braun plans to demolish the Miller’s Auto Body Repair Experts facility (as of now still open for business) as well a building formerly occupied by Auto Electric Service on the site in order to construct the 24,000-sq.-ft. shopping center, which includes structured parking as well as a parking lot on the roof of one of the 2 buildings.

A full human-body-part-focused buildout for this planned complex at 2401 N. Shepherd Dr. isn’t so far-fetched: the latest renderings released for the development include generic signage for both a nail salon and a fitness club:

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Body Shop to Body Shopping
02/22/18 5:00pm

Here’s the 1,340 sq.-ft. storefront Modern Acupuncture is now stuck in near the east end of the River Oaks Shopping Center building that hugs Origin Bank on the corner of W. Gray and Shepherd. The clinic took over the vacant spot at 2021 W. Gray earlier this month after women’s wear shop Em & Lee abandoned it several years ago. It’s the chain’s first treatment center in Houston, although 2 others are nearby in Webster and Sugar Land. So far, the company has 23 locations either open or in the works across 10 states — and expansion plans call for 20 more in and around Houston alone.

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You’ve Got a Point There
02/06/18 5:00pm

The glassy storefront shown on the far right in the photo at top — on Ella Blvd. just south of W. 34th St. — is where Vietnamese restaurant Les Ba’get plans to move in once construction on the new 33 1/3 @ Thirtyfourth shopping center is complete. The restaurant’s existing location on Montrose Blvd. closed down last Friday ahead of the planned move. In its new life inside the shopping center [which is — disclosure — a past Swamplot Sponsor], Les Ba’get will have double the space it did in its former 1717 Montrose location as well as 80 seats, according to Eater.

The new 2.5-acre development shown from the north in the aerial above has been in the works since last year on the site formerly shared between That Pizza Place on Ella, the Century Marking stamp company office, and an El Rey Taqueria. Les Ba’get’s spot is pictured on the right in that photo, at the end of the brick strip adjacent to Ella.

Here’s the site plan for the whole complex:

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Montrose Moveout
02/02/18 5:00pm

Construction on Shake Shack’s new burger hub in Rice Village — next door to the coming Rice University clothing boutique on Amherst — looks about medium well now that the brick building has been blackened, stripped of its awnings, and shielded by a metal frame bearing all-caps signage. La Madeleine restaurant left the building last March ahead of renovations planned for the entire Village Arcade structure between Kirby and Kelvin.

A Rice Village property manager announced in 2016 that the born-in-Manhattan chain with current locations as far-flung as Bahrain was on its way to Kirby. Back then, Houston was completely Shack-less, but that changed when a debut location opened in a Galleria parking lot later that year. Since then, one other Shake Shack has cropped up in the city — behind center field in Minute Maid Park.

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Faster Food