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
03/19/15 1:15pm

Dallas St. Streetscape Improvements, Downtown Houston

Chopped Trees on Dallas St. Near Milam St., Downtown HoustonIf you’ve been waiting to see what changes are coming to Dallas St. after the street-tree-chopping event earlier this month, here’s your scoop: the Downtown Redevelopment Authority is redoing the streetscape from Milam St. to Discovery Green with hopes of identifying Dallas St. as an actual shopping district. The plan was hatched back when one of the buildings facing Dallas was Downtown’s lone remaining department store, but it’s still going forward with the Macy’s out of the picture (actually, its former site is just behind and to the left of the view in the rendering above).

Instead, the repaving and re-treeing plan is intended to allow a bit more pedestrian activity and street parking for the remaining retail — including the entire northern flank of GreenStreet, the Houston Pavilions redo — and encouraging more to move in.

The changes will shrink the number of car lanes on the one-way street from 4 to 3, but add a parking lane to its north side.


Tree Chopping for Street Shopping
09/13/13 2:30pm

That retail task force that Mayor Parker put together about the same time that Macy’s announced it was closing the Downtown store came through with its first report yesterday, recommending that Dallas St. between Milam and La Branch — or between the hotels on the west side of Downtown and the hotels, Discovery Green, and George R. Brown Convention Center on the east — be prettied up into a kind of retail promenade. And the task force recommends that it happen sooner rather than later, in time to capitalize on the disposable incomes of the hordes coming to town for the NCAA Final Four in 2016 and the Super Bowl in 2017.

The rendering above, included in the report, shows a Kardashian body double strolling through the intersection of Main St. and Dallas; the Sakowitz building, catty-corner across from the to-be-demolished-in-a-week Macy’s, would pair with GreenStreet to anchor the linear district and provide similar photo opportunities. It appears that the task force hopes to lure national retailers and rally existing tenants and landowers, like Hilcorp, to the cause with tax breaks and other incentives, including waiving the city ordinance requiring that signage Downtown be no taller than 42.5 ft.


09/06/13 10:00am

Remember that unusable and really vague tip sent to Swamplot back in January? The one promising that a “major (non-residential) Houston property is about to make a significant change”? And it wasn’t Macy’s? Well, the in-the-know tipster now reports, we can let that cat out of the bag, since the Houston Business Journal and Houston Chronicle already have: The “Houston landmark” the tipster couldn’t tip us off about is the Galleria — which, it was announced yesterday by developer Simon Property Group, will be undergoing extensive renovations and partial demolition to create about 100,000 new sq. ft. of retail and restaurant space.

The plan calls for the Galleria III portion where Saks Fifth Avenue is currently located to be demolished — though the tipster says the Philip Johnson façade will be maintained — to make room for a bumped-out food court (shown in the rendering above). That freed-up Saks space will provide room for 35 new retailers and restaurants. Meanwhile, Saks will be moving into the Macy’s spot on Sage, and that Macy’s will be merging with the other Macy’s on Hidalgo. (Makes sense.) Also, a standalone box will be built in the parking lot for a few tenants who can afford to be more conspicuous to the stop-and-go crowd on Westheimer.


02/19/13 11:00am

HAKEEM OLAJUWON’S MOON SHOT, A LONG WAY FROM THE GALLERIA The two-time NBA champ opened DR34M in December to showcase his line of luxury men’s sportswear, leather goods, and body lotions — but the 3300 East Nasa Pkwy. location struck some as unlikely: The Jim West Mansion? In Clear Lake? Where NASA used to study the moon? Houston Chronicle‘s Joy Sewing drops by to see what the baller has done to the old place: “[Olajuwon] took great care to maintain the integrity of the mansion . . . . The great room is likely one of the most impressive entry ways of any luxury store from Louis Vuitton to Hermès. . . . He commissioned an artist to add gold-leaf accents throughout the mansion. . . . In the west wing, the DR34M sportswear collection is prominently displayed in a room that features flooring from the Rockets’ 1995 NBA championship game.” And it’s only about 40 minutes south on I-45, far from Uptown: “It would not make the same impact (at the Galleria),” Olajuwon tells Sewing. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Candace Garcia

01/22/13 2:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: INTRODUCING THE LA BRANCH ST. SHOPPING DISTRICT “La Branch Street is the answer. Make a linear ‘shopping district’ 5th Avenue style. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel — copy what already works. Instead of a cluster inspired district that will encourage development of a few blocks, the entire street will become synonymous with shopping in Downtown Houston. The street’s location has many benefits to creating a thriving retail shopping district: connectivity from the Northside all the way down to Hermann Park, ample empty parking lot blocks immediately adjacent ripe for development from the ground up, walking distance from all four of eastern Downtown’s major attractions (Minute Maid, Toyota Center, Discovery Green, and GRB), future MetroRail stops nearby (though an added stop between Austin and LaBranch would benefit such a district tremendously), and relative ease of location finding for drivers. A linear shopping district downtown would further accelerate residential development in all of eastern downtown, be it north, central, or south. No resident living on the eastern side of Downtown would have to cross more than three streets to get to La Branch. A cluster shopping district would only encourage development in its immediate vicinity; only so many residents could live within that three block range. The greatest advantage of a linear district is location finding — there’s no need to study maps and such to find where the Downtown retail is — just go park near La Branch Street and you’re there. Who really knows how to get to Houston Pavilions anyhow? No kitschy names that are created by focus groups — the La Branch Shopping District. Put up some new place identifier street name signs to be sure. Flags on light poles too. How many more out of town tourists/fans/convention attendees will be more likely to go shopping if directions will consist of ‘Walk thata way ’til you reach La Branch–You’re there.’? Create a TIRZ for the linear district to incentivize the retail pioneers until the tipping point is reached at which retail and residential will create growth off of each other. Perhaps make the focus of the TIRZ building mixed-use parking garages to replace parking lots — create such a vast, easily accessible, free quantity of parking that the current perceived barrier to venturing downtown is eliminated.” [Thomas, commenting on Downtown Would Like To Know If You Would Like To Shop Downtown]

01/18/13 1:00pm

One more of each, thank you: Creekside Park Village Center, rendered above, will be the Woodlands’ 7th and will be anchored by its 4th H-E-B, the master-planned community says. The shopping center will serve Creekside Park, a 100-acre community planned to go in up there west of Lake Paloma. It appears that the center will herd its shoppers inward toward a 4,300-sq.-ft. glass-walled restaurant, which you can see in the rendering. And there’s gonna be a fire pit in that park-like median-thing. (And a water feature on the other end. You know. Just in case.) In all, 80,000 sq. ft. of retail and office space are proposed for the site on Kuykendahl.


01/18/13 12:00pm

DOWNTOWN WOULD LIKE TO KNOW IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHOP DOWNTOWN Around the same time that Macy’s announced it was closing its store at 1110 Main St., Mayor Parker announced that she’d organized a task force to figure out how to plug up the gaps in Downtown retail; accordingly, the Downtown Management District’s recruiting whichever Houstonians it can to respond to a 20-question shopping survey. It’ll be up through January 31. [Downtown Houston; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Flickr user cjt3

01/15/13 2:03pm

A FAKE STREET FOR REAL ESTATE SHOPPERS IN SPRING Opening in February, reports CultureMap, is a 10,000-sq.-ft. real estate “park” where a dozen lavishly turned-out showcase homes, ranging in styles from “The Midtown” to “The Calais” to “The Ashby Manor,” are presented for your perusal on a private cul-de-sac near I-45. Think of the immersive, don’t-mind-if-I-do shopping at IKEA blown up to the scale of Disney World — except at MainStreet America there will be fireworks and Christmases and tailgating parties and almost everything will be for sale:Do you like the paint color, the metallic faux technique on the ceiling or the graphic wallpaper accent in the bedroom? The details are available and so are the prices. In fact, you can make the purchase on site. If that couch, occasional table or rug is what you are looking for, swap that credit card and have them delivered. Floral arrangements? Yes, those are for sale as well. Mirrors? Check. Artwork? In stock. Window treatments? You bet.” Admission for adults is only $10; children aged 5-17 can get in for half that. [CultureMap] Photo: MainStreet America

06/27/11 11:25am

BATTLE OF THE HOUSTON ART FAIRS Kelly Klaasmeyer scores the 2 rival events planned for this fall, all the while hoping that “a crop of completely unsanctioned peripheral shows and events will erupt and liven things up.”: “What Houston is getting are two temporary art malls. That’s what art fairs are, malls for art. They can be malls with good art or bad art but they are still malls. But, hey, I like shopping. And I’m not so idealistic that I’m going to pretend that art isn’t a commodity. And if they are good malls, then maybe more people will come to us for their art shopping needs. And maybe they will discover Houston artists to collect. Hopefully all the events for VIP collectors, ‘cocktail parties at collectors’ homes, special museum tours, viewings of corporate collections and on-site receptions’ will help the cause as well. But I’m not so gullible that I’m going to believe these are somehow civic events. (And they are by no means free to the public.) Oil is high now and Houston has money. Here come the carpetbagger-fair organizers.” [Glasstire]

05/04/11 4:33pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: FREEING YOUR MIND AND YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD FROM THE SHACKLES OF THE RAT RACE “Reading these comments . . . I am stunned at the level of hyper-consumerism displayed by those who claim to be enlightened and conscientious stewards of our urban landscape. Every post regarding anything in the inner loop unleashes a torrent of demands for more retail…but only the RIGHT kind of retail…and only the RIGHT size and location. There are always several nuanced posts about what type of consumer good is the RIGHT one to buy, what type of purveyor is the RIGHT one to patronize, and what type of building is the RIGHT one to house said consumer goods. It strikes me that there is precious little attempt at limiting over-consumption, simply demand for the type of consumption that befits one who is attempting to burnish one’s green or socially conscious bonafides. Several years back, as I tired of competing for attention with the products that I purchase or wear, I noticed that once I limited my consumption, the concern over what type and location of the stores around me waned as well. I certainly do not care if the clerk selling me a $3 bottle of wine wears a Hawaiian shirt or a blue one, especially knowing that the company selling the wine engages in the same cutthroat business practices as all of the other retailers . . . This is why it matters not whether Walmart builds in the neighborhood, or Whole Foods, or Trader Joe’s. I spend so little at any of them that they aren’t moving here for me. Any of those stores (minus Trader Joe’s) would fulfill my weekly shopping needs, and the 1 mile drive once a week that I make isn’t hurting the environment nearly as much as the apparent daily shopping trips to buy the RIGHT products that many of my neighbors apparently make.” [Dave, commenting on Trader Joe’s Is Now Looking To Open Stores in Houston]

11/22/10 7:52pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: SUGAR LAND SHOPPING OUTINGS, BETWEEN INNINGS “Maybe this is a new suburban form of mixed use development. Who says you can’t pick up your prescriptions, grab a venti latte and watch a ball game all at the same place?” [Matt, commenting on New Sugar Land Minor League Stadium Easily Assembled from Standardized Suburban Parts]

09/20/10 11:55am

WHERE SHORT-TERM LEASES ARE AVAILABLE Last year’s temporary store in the Galleria (one of 90 nationwide) worked out well for the company, so Toys “R” Us is trying it again, in 7 sites throughout the Houston area. Lucky them: A number of malls have space available this year. Toys “R” Us Express stores will open soon at the Galleria, in the West Oaks Mall, Pasadena Town Square, Greenspoint Mall, Katy Mills Mall, Baybrook Mall, and the Outlets at Conroe to handle the holiday toy rush. But all are scheduled to close in January. Nationwide, 600 new 4,000-sq.-ft.-or-so short-time Express locations this year will double the number of Toys “R” Us stores for the real part of the retail season. Half of those stores have already opened. [Houston’s Hiring]

09/13/10 2:10pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: APPRECIATING ARCHITECTURE IN A STATE OF DISTRACTION “Sad to see the area lose some of its deco history. That being said, I shop at the Walgreen’s next door once weekly, and I’ve never even noticed this building.” [Superdave, commenting on Daily Demolition Report: MiniMax Axe]