Midtown has come a long way. If you asked someone from the area 13 years ago what their take on Midtown was, you would get a less than ideal and favorable response. If you asked someone today how they could describe Midtown you would hear words such as urban living, artful, fresh, developing, safe and kept. What changed you might ask? If you observed Midtown today you will see new paved streets, freshly painted intersections, beautiful functional parks being built, vibrant landscaping and contemporary architecture popping up on every corner. The combination of these things has enhanced the value of the surrounding property and will continue to grow as the Management District and TIRZ (Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone) push for the greater good of the community. Let’s crunch some numbers. In 2000 the assessed value was $420,319,760. In 2013 the assessed value was $1,244,931,678. That is a 196% increase. In short, Midtown property is and will continue to be valuable as the area flourishes. According to the 2000 Census 4,700 residents were reported, jump to today and approximately 9,100 residents have been reported, totaling to a whopping 93% increase. Ok, we are done with numbers for now but just wanted to show you the boost over the past 13 years. So you’re a Midtown resident/business owner/property owner and you’re wondering what this blog entry means for you. It means new projects. It means economic development. It means renovations. It means more parks. It means more public art. It means options. It means a nice community to thrive in, all positive things in the neighborhood that everyone can benefit from. The near future has some tricks up its sleeve that I am going to share with you right now. (We discussed this at our annual meeting but don’t feel guilty this time just care to join us at the next one) By then end of this year there will be two area parks that include fun staples like a stage, food kiosk, park programming, better playground equipment and more to bring the area back to life. We are estimating a $143 million in new building projects between now until the end of 2014. If that didn’t knock your socks off then the soon to be public art will. There is something for everybody in this neighborhood and we will continue to improve upon that. Midtown has come a long way, leaps and bounds.
Bagby Street in Midtown has made tremendous leaps and bounds from the previous Bagby Street of yester year. Those of us that traversed the street remember a deteriorated road way, pot holes, drainage problems and people zooming down the street for short cut purposes. Asphalt and pavement damage graced the street. It was time to do something, but what? With the great efforts of the community we were able to decide on a GreenRoad.
What exactly is a GreenRoad?
It’s the premier rating system for sustainable roadways around the world. A GreenRoad provides environmental impact, economic development and social benefits. It efficiently uses resources and renewable materials, helps reduce emissions, manages waste, enables multimodal transport, and is designed to be accessible by all. Yes, we had to remove some trees because of disease and Hurricane Ike but we added in rain gardens and additional trees. We increased from 32% to 70% of tree canopies along the corridor. We love trees and always want more.
Where is the GreenRoad?
It is in Midtown, located in the inner city and runs between Hwy 45 and Hwy 59. This is a community that prides itself of being the first and best at everything. Bagby is the first certified GreenRoad in the state of Texas.
The Bagby Street project is an 18 month project. Construction started in January 2012. Construction is scheduled for completion in June 2013.
Why is it a Greenroad?
The Midtown Redevelopment Authority/TIRZ wanted to balance the needs of pedestrians and control the vehicular traffic speed throughout the street. The goal was to focus on sustainability and to design something that would nurture the idea. Bagby Street is the first street in Texas to incorporate a low impact design. This low impact design includes eco-friendly elements such as rain gardens, storm sewers, wastewater, and waterline system upgrades. Remaining construction includes back of curb enhancements consisting of curb ramps. New concrete pavement installation has been completed on Bagby from St. Joseph to Tuam and on Pierce from Baldwin to Brazos.
To accommodate pedestrian life the original four lane street was reduced to two with parking added on either side. This increased street parking by 35%. Lighting and seating (benches) have been added too. Overhead utility consolidation is in full effect to make things safer. When finished, the Bagby Street and Pierce Street Improvements will fulfill the Midtown community’s vision of a sustainable GreenRoads project providing a balance of vehicular mobility, pedestrian mobility, and on-street parking.
• Midtown’s Investment in Bagby highlights commitment to the community
• Environmentally and economically sustainable for lasting vibrancy of community
• Innovative and sustainable solutions were incorporated to enhance the lifestyle of residents and visitors
• Pedestrian-friendly destination (lace up your walking shoes because there is so much to see and do in Midtown)
Picture this, you’re walking down Bagby Street and all you see is beautiful landscaping, trees, friendly people and bicyclist biking on a smooth paved street. The street is filled with restaurants and little boutique shops. There is a good balance of parking and sidewalk on either side.
Imagine how perfect that would be? Come to Midtown and everything you just read about will be your reality in June 2013.
Bagby Street Now
You may not be aware that Midtown has three parks currently under construction. When they’re completed we’ll have some excellent space in which to play. Don’t listen to your friends here’s the straight skinny on all the progress.The Midtown Redevelopment Authority has partnered with the City of Houston Parks Department to upgrade Baldwin Park at 1700 Elgin at Chenevert. In the works are major improvements including lighting, jogging trail and entry landscaping. Additionally the Midtown Management District will provide additional playground equipment in the Midtown logo colors for older kids. There is a partial closure at Baldwin Park you’ll notice part of it is fenced off, so for your safety and that of your pet please don’t go beyond the orange fencing. Look for completion within the next 130 days or so.
The Midtown Redevelopment Authority has partnered with the City of Houston Parks Department to upgrade Glover Park at 1400 Elgin at Austin. This park space is completely shut down for a total upgrade of major proportions including a dog run, landscaping with lawn space, seating, exercise platform, and cultural exhibits. The contractor has mobilized and work has started. Look for completion within the next 130 days or so. Glover Park is closed.
The renovations of these parks are included in the Midtown Parks and Open Space Master Plan which was recently honored with a Parks and Natural Areas Planning Process Award from the Houston-Galveston Area Council. Awards went to projects which serve as models for planning and project implementation for parks and natural areas in the region. The contractor for Baldwin and Glover Parks is Millis Development and Construction.
Midtown Park, owned by Midtown at 415 Gray at Bagby is adding a new level of liveliness to this signature intersection in Midtown. Planned improvements include performance space, new water feature, dog run, and a food kiosk. Midtown Park is closed.
The sidewalks on the west side of Brazos are completely closed. Please need to use the east sidewalks. The sidewalks on Gray Street between Brazos and Bagby are also closed. The sidewalks on Bagby are open from Pierce to Gray on both sides of the sidewalk. The contractor is P2MG. Construction duration for this project is 180 days.
Stay tuned to our blog for up to date coverage on its progress.
We are proud to present Truckin’ Thursday at the Wall, Thursday, May 9th 2013 11am-2pm. We’re excited to discuss the newest addition to the neighborhood with the Designers from Eyeful Art. Enjoy a gorgeous view of the Midtown Mural Project while you eat to your heart’s desire. Food Trucks will grace the Super Block of 2800 Main Street. In attendance will be Pho-Jita Fusion serving up fusion thai cuisine with mexican flare and Zeapod Cakery to satisfy your sweet tooth. Admission is Free and door prizes will be provided by our favorite place to eat, BlackFinn American Grille. Food prices vary per truck. The Artisits from Eyeful Art will go on at 12pm to talk about the mural. We can’t wait to see you on Thursday!
“What are we doing this weekend?” The ever frustrating question echoed in households all through Houston every Thursday or Friday night. Sometimes, it’s just nice not to have to think, so here’s a list of the top 4 events happening in Houston this weekend.
1) MFAH Mixed Media Designed By Ikea
Come out to mix and mingle at Museum of Fine Arts Houston. Have some cocktails and dance the night away while listening to the sounds of “Soft Metals” from the UK and later, DJ Ceeplus Bad Knives, Bobby DJ and Dave Wrangler. The first 100 guests receive a limited edition tote bag designed by local artists, using IKEA’s newest textiles. Must be 18 or older to enter.
Date: Friday, July 27, 8pm – 12am
Location: Museum of Fine Arts Houston, 1001 Bissonnet, 77005
Price: $6.00 – $14.00
For details, visit the Museum of Fine Arts Houston.
2) Nicki Minaj and 2 Chainz
What can be said about Nicki Minaj that hasn’t been said already? Not a whole lot. Minaj will be performing live in Houston this Saturday. If you want to see a full on, no holds barred production, this is the show for you. Love her or hate her, Minaj puts on a great show and you can bet that Saturday night will be no different.
Location: Bayou Music Center, 520 Texas Avenue, 77002
Price: $49.00 – $99.75
For details, visit the Bayou Music Center.
The 35th-anniversary season of the Ensemble Theatre closes with gospel musical Sanctified, directed and choreographed by Patdro Harris. Sanctified is the story of Easy Piney Grove Church, a floundering congregation that’s desperate for a surge in membership. His plan of action is to revamp the church’s choir so he enlists the help of his classically trained cousin, an operatic diva. But her larger-than-life personality and high-minded musical methods are a bit too much for the elders of the congregation.
Dates: Showing now through July 29 (check for times).
Location: The Ensemble Theatre, 3535 Main Street, 77002
Price: $12.00 – $45.00
For details, visit the Ensemble Theatre.
4) KOOZA by Cirque du Soleil
KOOZA is a return to the origins of Cirque du Soleil in that it combines two circus traditions: acrobatic performance and the art of clowning. The colorful show tells the story of The Innocent and his search of his place in the world while exploring themes of fear, identity, recognition and power.
Location: Sam Houston Park, 7575 North Sam Houston Pkwy West, 77064
Price: $43.50 – $143.50
For details, visit Cirque du Soleil.
Sometimes, the “good ol’ days” aren’t as great as the “new days” to come. This is the case with Aperture located at 2503 Bagby at McGowen. Does that locale sound familiar? Well it should. It’s the address of the former Coffee Groundz but don’t shed a tear for the beloved coffee haven. The venue has simply received a bit of a facelift and a name change and voila … we have the new and improved Aperture!
Aperture offers the same tasty treats, sandwiches and coffee drinks you’ve grown to know and love but there’s so much more! First, the concept has changed and now, in addition to great coffee, Aperture is also a photo gallery (as if you couldn’t have guessed). The gallery exhibitions will be a series of rotating shows and will change every 2 to 3 months. The second change to notate is that Aperture is highlighting a variety of specialty brewed coffees including Chemex, Siphon coffeemakers and single pour over’s. What’s all that fancy talk mean? Here’s a short tutorial for you wanna be coffee nerds:
1. The Chemex® coffeemaker was invented in 1941 by Dr. Peter Schlumbohm. It is an elegant, one-piece, hourglass shaped vessel made of high quality, heat resistant glass. With the Chemex® method, you can make coffee as strong as you like without bitterness. Perfect for iced coffee and coffee flavoring for gourmet recipes. Because of its purity, Chemex® brewed coffee can be covered and stored in the refrigerator for reheating … without losing its flavor! (taken from www.chemexcoffeemaker.com)
2. The Siphon coffeemaker was invented in Europe in the mid 1800’s and was very popular throughout North America until the mid 1960’s. As manufacturers began making more drip coffeemakers, the siphon models fell by the way. This method, while slower brewing, produces a much nicer and richer cup of coffee. (taken from www.coffeegeek.com/guides/siphoncoffee/)
3. Pour over coffee involves a barista grinding enough beans for a single cup of coffee, using a cone brewer with filter and then custom brewing one single serving of coffee by pouring hot water over the beans. This brew method produces a coffee flavor close to the flavor profile from larger drip brewers because it is a brew method that uses a filter, unlike either a French press or a Clover cup of coffee. (taken from www.starbucksmelody.com)
Another exciting change for Aperture is the return of beer and wine! Yep, you heard it. If all goes according to plan, you should be able to enjoy a glass of wine or have an ice cold beer at Aperture within the next couple of months (I’m hoping sooner). Lastly, expect to begin to see a plethora of special events emerging from Aperture such as local bands performing, art shows, meet-ups and more.
- Friday, July 27 – Live Music & FREE BEER (beginning at 9 p.m.). Performances by: Say Girl Say, the George Mitchell Trio and Spilling the Beans.
- Sunday, July 29 – Modeling Industry Mix & Mingle from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Come out mingle with the beautiful people; plus a variety of hair stylists, photographers, makeup artists and other!
To hear more about upcoming events or to host your own event at Aperture, call 713-874-0082 or visit Aperture on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ApertureHouston.
The word is out! Dallas eatery and hot spot, Gloria’s Restaurant opened its doors in Midtown Houston and the award-winning margaritas are already flowing! Located at 2616 Louisiana Street (the old Ruby Tequila’s building), Gloria’s Houston offers the sultry Latin atmosphere and elegance you are accustomed to at the 13 other locations throughout Texas. And let’s not forget about Salsa Saturdays, which begins July 7 and continues on thereafter each and every Saturday night.
Now, let’s move on to the really important stuff … the food! Gloria’s fuses traditional Salvadorian dishes with the Texas state signature cuisine, Tex-Mex. The combination is nothing short of delicious! Enjoy tasty Salvadoran delights such as Pupusas, which are hand-made corn tortillas stuffed with cheese and pork or Platano Frito, which are fried, ripened plantains that are served with black beans and sour cream. Not feeling like trying something new? You can always resort to the one of the three staples of Texas cuisine: enchiladas, tacos or flautas. My personal suggestions? Try the Carne Flameada, your choice of steak or chicken, served with sautéed onions, mushrooms and Queso Flameado; or the Pescade Acajutla, a tender marinated tilapia (the way they do it in Acajutla, El Salvador) served with grilled vegetables. Both come with black beans and rice. Basically, Gloria’s has something for everyone.
Today, patrons of Gloria’s Restaurant know Gloria and Jose Fuentes as successful business owners and entrepreneurs. But this success story has its humble beginnings. Gloria and Jose Fuentes first came to the United States in 1978, both were 17 years old. Like so many young immigrants, they were filled with hope and longed to create a better life for themselves. Eventually, Gloria and Jose met in Houston and fell in love. That love carried them to the Dallas area to work at a Salvadorian restaurant owned by Gloria’s sister. Only a year after arriving in the Dallas area, Gloria’s sister decided she didn’t want to run the restaurant any long and the rest is history. Now in business for 26 years under the management of Jose and Gloria, this Salvadorian restaurant has grown and prospered and the Fuentes family has created a legacy they can be proud of.
To view the menu or for more information, visit Gloria’s Restaurant on the web at www.gloriasrestaurant.com or call them at (832) 360-1710.
Specials & Events:
- Happy hour all day Mon – Thur; Friday from 3 p.m. – 6 p.m.; $5- Margaritas, Sangria & Mojitos.
- Sat & Sun offers a brunch menu and bottomless mimosa’s.
- Lunch menu available Mon – Fri from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
- Salsa Saturdays (beginning July 7) – Live Music 11 p.m. – 2 a.m.; $10- cover starting at 10 p.m.; Must be 21+ to enter – after 10 p.m.; Dress code enforced.
It has been said that the only constant is change. That sentiment holds true in life and in business. In April 2012, the landmark San Marcus record store, Sundance Records, closed its doors after nearly 40 years. But, as we well know through the power of music, the “greats” live on. Thanks to a unique relationship that began in the early 90s, Sig’s Lagoon’s Thomas Escalante, has “rescued” the nearly 10,000 piece collection of vinyl from the closing, a history-making move that quadruples the Midtown record store’s inventory.
In homage to the legendary institution, Sig’s is undergoing a major overhaul, the upstairs soon to be known as the Sundance Annex. Bobby Barnard, former owner of Sundance Records, is working with Escalante to assist in giving Sig’s that well-loved Sundance look and ‘feel’. The remodel is expected to be complete by the end of summer and will include extraordinary items from music history such as autographed posters and a Jimi Hendrix painting which incorporates items from Hendrix’s instruments. Barnard will also continue to work with Escalante as he tirelessly ravages the streets seeking out “new” used vinyl for Sig’s.
“I feel very lucky to have someone with 40 years of experience backing me up,” said Escalante.
It all began back in 1991, while Escalante was attending college at Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State University). Escalante worked at Sundance for several years, then moved on to work for Southwest Wholesale and was the sales rep for Sundance. As time went on, Escalante was introduced to a girl who was looking for a job and he encouraged her to go to Sundance. Through that connection, the “girl,” later became his wife.
Named after journalist Sig Byrd, Sig’s Lagoon first opened its doors in Midtown in 2004 and has been strong ever since, experiencing its fair share of changes throughout the years. Sig’s was originally destined to be a coffee shop and record store, however, Escalante quickly found out that the art of coffee was not his cup of tea. In 2012, Sig’s moved into its current location at 3622 Main Street, literally just around the corner from the original spot. (Ironically, you enter Sig’s door off of Winbern, just a few steps from the official Main address.)
As for the future of Sig’s Lagoon, Escalante says he’s going to keep doing what he does best – offer great new and used vinyl, as well as collectibles.
Note: This article is featured in the Midtown Paper (2nd Quarter 2012). To view the Midtown Paper, visit http://www.houstonmidtown.com/cmsFiles/Files/2Q121.pdf.
Are you starting to think about plans for the 4th of July? If you’re a grumpy Inner Looper like I am, you spend your 4th of July avoiding crowds by any means necessary or … if you’re really lucky … you (or a friend) live in an apartment with a fabulous balcony that offers the perfect view of the fireworks.
But what about the rest of the folks out there? The folks that want to proudly display their red, white and blue (while having a few cocktails). Furthermore, even the grumpest of the grumpy Inner Looper’s get motivated on occasion. So here’s a list of all, or at least most, of the events going on in the Houston area for Independence Day.
HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY!
INNER LOOP Freedom Over Texas @ Eleanor Tinsley Park at 4pm If you’re looking for some Texas sized fun, the annual Freedom Over Texas celebration at Eleanor Tinsley Park is where you want to be. Headlining on the main stage is country musician Billy Currington and CMA Vocalist of the Year Sara Evans. But don’t just stand in one place! A whole slew of activities will be going on all through out the park. Admission: $8.00. Eleanor Tinsley Park, 150 Sabine Street, Houston, TX 77007. http://www.houstontx.gov/july4/
A Star-Spangled Salute @ Miller Outdoor Theatre, 8:30pm -10:30pm Enjoy an evening with Michael Krajewski and the Houston Symphony at ‘A Star-Spangled Salute.’ Make sure to stay until the end for the 1812 Overture—complete with booming cannons! This celebration concludes with a display of fireworks provided by the City of Houston through the Miller Theatre Advisory Board. Miller Outdoor Theatre, 6000 Hermann Park Drive, Houston, TX 77030. http://milleroutdoortheatre.com/
IndeFINNdence Day Firework Party @ BlackFinn Step out for the IndeFINNdence Day Fireworks Party and watch the fireworks from the 8th floor rooftop at BlackFinn American Grille. Come out for what promises to be one of the best evenings … and views in town! BlackFinn Houston, 1910 Bagby Street, Houston, TX 77002. http://houston.blackfinnamericangrille.com/
4th of July Celebration @ Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens Festivities get going at 1 p.m. Event highlights include live performances, crafts and a puppet show. At 3 p.m. there’s a reading of the Declaration of Independence with costumed actors. Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens, 1 Westcott, Houston, TX 77007. http://www.mfah.org
CINCO RANCH Load up the family and head to La Centerra for an evening of live entertainment, great food, a colorful Kids’ Zone and an incredible fireworks display. The July 4th BIG Backyard Barbecue kicks off at 5:30 p.m. and includes live entertainment, great food, events for the kids and a fabulous fireworks display. https://www.facebook.com/events/314490295306084/
FRIENDSWOOD The City of Friendswood is hosting “The Sounds of Freedom,” a day long 4th of July celebration. Festivities begin at 10 a.m. with a parade that travels down Friendswood Drive followed by activities for the whole family such as rock climbing, a bungee trampoline and more. Fireworks show starts at 9:20 p.m. http://www.ci.friendswood.tx.us/Special-Events/
Spend the day on the beach and the evening enjoying a parade and fireworks show at the Galveston Island 4th of July Celebration. The parade begins at 7:30 p.m. and runs along Seawall Blvd, from 28th Street to 53rd Street. Afterwards, it’s time for the beachfront fireworks show at 9:15 p.m. at Seawall Blvd and 37th Street. http://www.galveston.com
KINGWOOD Kingwood Town Center is hosting a festival and fireworks display from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. DJ Mark Linabury spins from 2 p.m. – 6 p.m.; Live music from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.; Fireworks display at 9 p.m. http://towncenterevents.com/july4th.html
MISSOURI CITY The 4th of July celebration will begin at 6 p.m. at Buffalo Run Park. From 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. take advantage of the free activities including a moonwalk, rock wall, mechanical bulls, pony rides and more! The first 600 kids (12 & under) will receive a free giveaway! The fireworks show begins at 9:15 p.m. http://www.missouricitytx.gov/Calendar.aspx?EID=294
PEARLAND The city of Pearland is hosting a full-size carnival at the Pearland High School Football Stadium beginning at 2 p.m. A military salute will begin the evening’s entertainment followed by the National Anthem. Then sit back, relax and sing along to the sounds of Drywater, spinning pop, R&B and country music. At sundown, enjoy a spectacular 20-minute fireworks display. http://www.pearlandparks.com/celebration_of_freedom.html
SEABROOK The City of Seabrook will host its Children’s Bike Parade at Meador Park at 10am. After the parade enjoy hot dogs and soda plus face painting, games, a moon walk and much more! http://www.ci.seabrook.tx.us/
SUGAR LAND Sugar Land gets fired up for the 27th annual Red, White and Blue Fest at Oyster Creek Park from 5 p.m. – 10 p.m. Celebrate America’s 236th birthday with family and friends while enjoying new main stage performances, delicious county fair-type food, goodies and numerous children’s activities. http://www.sugarlandtx.gov/parks_recreation/special_events/red_white_blue_fest/index.asp
THE WOODLANDS The Woodlands Convention & Visitors Bureau hosts the annual Red, Hot & Blue Festival at the Woodlands Waterway Square. The Festival features live music, face painting, strolling performers, games, hot dog and watermelon eating contests, vendor booths, concessions, Fireworks and much more! Be sure your kids enter the “Little Firecracker Essay Contest” to win great prizes for the summer. Fireworks extravaganza will begin at Dusk. http://www.redhotblue.org
On Tuesday, June 5th, Gallery Sonja Roesch celebrated the installation of the latest Mac Whitney sculpture and Whitney was present for the festivities. This massive, glistening, red sculptural piece stands 20 feet tall and is a reminder that art is certainly alive in Midtown.
Today, while at Gallery Sonja Roesch, not only did you have the pleasure of meeting this artistic visionary but also, you were being able to sit at the table and enjoy a meal with Whitney. It was truly a rare opportunity to get up close and personal with this artist who has been showing work for more than 40 years in top museums and galleries throughout US and abroad.
If you weren’t able to make it by today…well, you missed out. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy these incredible works of contemporary art. Come out and see art history in the making at Gallery Sonja Roesch (2309 Caroline). Don’t be shy, actually get out of your car and pose for a photo of you and your friends with the sculptures (you know you want to).
A little about the man … Whitney relocated to Texas in 1969 and began his artistic career. In 1979, he was awarded a commission by the City of Houston to build a large-scale sculpture funded by grants by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Department of Urban Development. The 50 foot tall sculpture can be seen at Stude Park. Currently, Whitney lives and works in Ovilla, TX.