03/08/18 2:15pm

Construction fencing is now up in Uptown Park, marking the last call for cornices, pilasters, pediments, faked balcony windows, and assorted handcrafted Styrofoam façade detailing slated for removal as part of renovations planned for the vintage 1998 shopping center parked along the West Loop feeder road.

The new project — announced last October by owner Edens Investment Trust — will pare down the complex’s Olde World gewgaws, leaving behind simpler and more modern exteriors. Live oak trees are to be planted near some of the parking lots’ sunnier spots. (Former owner AmREIT’s plans for adding hotel and residential buildings to the complex were scrapped when Edens bought the entity in 2015.)

The 2-story space shown in the photo at top (next to Cafe Express) was abandoned by women’s wear store BB1 Classic at the end of last year. Soon, it will be remade into a restaurant dubbed Flower Child. The vacant, porticoed east side of the building in the northwest corner of the center — pictured above — is also now fenced. (Class, however, is still in session at the MISS Academy finishing school on the west side of the structure.)

This parking-space corral is now up at the building’s northeast corner:


Just a Trim Trim
01/02/18 4:30pm

Flower Child — the health-minded restaurant that announced it was coming to Houston back in October — will take over the space that houses women’s clothing boutique BB1 Classic in the Cafe Express building at Uptown Park. Bidding is already underway for construction that will turn the 2-story, corner-side store into the new restaurant, whose owners already run North Italia and True Food Kitchen, both located in the same shopping center just south of Uptown Park on Post Oak Blvd. at the corner of San Felipe St.

Ads for a moving sale were posted on the high-fashion retailer’s Facebook page last Thursday. BB1 Classic’s current location opened in 2003. Before that, the store had spots in Memorial City, south of Uptown Park on Post Oak, in River Oaks, and in the Galleria.

Photo: BB1 Classic

Dining in Style
02/20/14 11:00am

Proposed Alterations to Uptown Park, Post Oak Blvd., Uptown Houston

The owner of Uptown Park, Houston’s favorite Europe-in-a-parking-lot shopping center, plans to add a sleek dash of density to the collection of stucco-and-styrofoam-fronted pad buildings. AmREIT has announced that it is teaming up with an unnamed “major national developer” to replace the parking-space fronted shopping island at the northwest corner of the complex with a “contemporary” highrise residential tower. Currently, Baker Furniture, Peluche Decor, and the Bella Rinova Salon occupy the single-story structure on that spot.

But the addition of residents directly above Uptown Park shouldn’t take away from the shopping opportunities below: Renderings included in a promotional video released by the company show that the tower will have replacement retail spaces on the ground floor, and possibly on a second level as well — though the shopping pod’s existing head-in parking and adjacent spaces would be replaced by a porte-cochère and garage entrance ramp.


Towers in the Parking Lot
10/04/13 3:30pm

CUPCAKES AND COCKTAILS FOR THE DOME It’s been a long week for the Astrodome. And whether you want to see the old thing saved or destroyed you might feel fairly wrecked yourself at this point. Could you stand to tip one back or perk up with some sugary calories? Well, a pair of local retailers are providing wares that just might do the trick: Through November 5, the date voters will decide whether to approve that bond measure that would pay for the Dome’s conversion into convention space, Triniti on S. Shepherd will be offering a special cocktail, the Colt 45. And through October 24 Crave Cupcakes will be selling at its Uptown Park and Upper Kirby locations the “Save the Dome” cupcake toppers shown in this photo. [Preservation Houston; previously on Swamplot] Photo: @KPRCawillis

09/26/13 10:00am

Here’s a concept that HKS came up with for a site just behind the Hotel Granduca, Montebello, and Villa d’Este towers in Uptown Park. The concept shows how it might go if you wanted to build a conference center and a combo hotel-condo tower on 14 green acres between Tilbury and N. Wynden off S. Post Oak, just west of the Loop. This rendering shows the boxy exterior of what appears to be the conference center flanking a linear park shooting off from the banks of Buffalo Bayou.


07/23/13 12:00pm

This crosshatched highrise shows up in a recently published marketing video as a potential development to densify the low-slung Uptown Park. The 50,000-sq.-ft. site HFF and AmREIT seem to have in mind for these apartments-upon-retail is right off the Loop, across Uptown Park Blvd. from the Ziegler Cooper-designed 27-story Villa d’Este condo tower — a site occupied now by a 12,000-sq.-ft. 1-story building at the northern end of the low-density Euro-style shopping spread.


01/27/11 11:52am

Will the rumored reality TV show featuring Leslie Tyler Fink ever reach the airwaves? Or are these listing pics the best view you’ll ever get of the house the “lifestyle expert” and her husband (pictured at left) own in a gated subdivision just west of Uptown Park, and which the U.S. Attorney’s office has identified as “property involved in, or traceable to, money laundering”? Leslie and Randy Fink bought the the 4,096-sq.-ft. home at 5 Wynden Oaks Dr. 2 years ago for $740,000 in cash, but the entire amount (plus an additional $8,980 to cover closing costs) was wired in for the closing courtesy of Leslie’s pal Jonathan Barnes — as a gift, the Chronicle‘s Tom Fowler reported last week. How generous! Sadly, Barnes — who worked as a marine chartering manager at Houston Refining (now part of LyondellBasell), was indicted late last year along with two oil traders for his involvement in a multi-million-dollar kickback scheme. According to the Feds, Barnes’s thoughtful house gift came from funds “traceable to . . . unlawful activity,” and the ill-gotten property, which is named as the plaintiff in a complaint filed by the U.S. Attorney’s office, is therefore subject to forfeiture if Barnes is convicted. Isn”t this exactly the kind of stuff great reality TV shows are built from?

“Drama right?! . . . This is going to be one of the episodes for the show,” the apparently unflappable Fink — who identifies herself as “princess of the modern Houstonian socialites” on one of her websites — declared last week in an email she sent to CultureMap’s Shelby Hodge. Can’t wait to see footage of the parties!


10/01/08 12:05pm

UPTOWN PARK DOES BARBERSHOP Keith Scullin, owner of the recently opened Gentlemen’s Tonic in Uptown Park, talks to HBJ reporter Allison Wollam: “. . . the store was designed as a place where ‘men can be men’ in a discrete and relaxing environment. The barbershop offers traditional services such as a wet shave, beard trims, hair and scalp conditioning, haircuts and coloring and head, neck and shoulder massages. Grooming services include facials, back treatments, hair removal, eyelash tinting, eyebrow shaping and manicures and pedicures. Head and body massages and sports massages are also offered.” [Houston Business Journal]

04/02/08 8:17am

Karl Rove(?) in the Lobby of the Hotel Granduca, Houston

So a lot of Houstonians don’t really get the Hotel Granduca. Who does? During a recent visit, the proprietor of Houston restaurant blog Tasty Bits came up with one answer:

I was always curious about the people who pay $1,300 a night for a hotel suite in Houston. Who are they? What do they eat? I got my answer as soon as I arrived and saw Karl Rove waiting to get picked up in the lobby (sulfur, smoke, instant drop in temperature, and all). For a split second I thought about inviting him to join us for lunch. It’s not often you are in the presence of one of the more diabolical political minds of our generation.

Tasty Bits has more juicy commentary on the hotel:

Entering Hotel Granduca is a little like following the rabbit hole – just beyond the iron gates and right past the horse mounted statue of Adalberto Malatesta Granduca of Monfallito (?) is a different world than one might find in otherwise sensible Houston.

After the jump: What’s down that rabbit hole! Plus: tasteful commentary on lunch at the hotel’s Ristorante Cavour.


03/28/08 11:34am

Arturo’s Uptown Italiano Restaurant in Uptown Park, Houston

Interfin Companies president Giorgio Borlenghi, who developed Uptown Park and the Hotel Granduca, explains how it’s done:

. . . developers must not forget the principles we Houstonians like so much such as ease of access to the various components of the building and plentiful and readily available parking. As an example, when we planned Uptown Park, we decided to keep it exclusively retail to allow our patrons to park directly in front of the shops and restaurants without having to deal with multistory parking structures.

Keeping Uptown Park “exclusively retail,” of course, meant that his luxury hotel had to go across the street:

I created Hotel Granduca as a unique, elegant and extremely exclusive boutique hotel for the Uptown/Galleria area. I wanted it to be very different from all the other hotels: It had to feel very Italian, of course, and to have a true residential setting, so that it could be someone’s home away from home. What surprises me is that a number of people in Houston are still not understanding this very European concept and somehow think that Granduca is not a regular hotel, but some type of apartment building.

Photo of Arturo’s Uptown Italiano restaurant in Uptown Park: Flickr user heyjebbo