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Angostura last won the day on July 7 2010

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  1. Interesting that the staff recommended rejecting the design, but the HAHC approved it anyway. Staff objected to the setbacks on Studewood and Main (15 and 21-ft, respectively), the materials and the funkiness of the massing (though not the overall size or height). Can't seem to find a video of the meeting online so it's not clear what counterarguments the developer used or why HAHC approved.
  2. Another of the configurations floated for this was "right-turn" ramps only, with michigan lefts (u-turn lanes on Waugh). The only real area opened up for development would be on the NW corner of the intersection. The NE corner would probably be an expansion of Spotts Park, and the SE and SW corners would probably be given over to BBP. But selling the land on the NW corner could defray part of the cost.
  3. This is why we can't have nice things.
  4. 1: Yes. 2: However, that runs counter to what seems to be the entire development philosophy outside the loop, which is to drive traffic onto major thoroughfares, and discourage thru traffic on secondary streets. 3: It's really expensive to do this. Take the area bounded by Westheimer, Post Oak, Sage, and San Felipe. To put in 8 east-west streets and two additional north-south streets, with 70-ft right-of-way, you need about 1.5M s.f. of land. At $150/s.f. (current assessed value on HCAD), that's $22.5M in eminent domain payments before you even consider the extra payments for the buildings you need to knock down, plus the cost of building the streets themselves.
  5. They're not really empowered to do a whole lot. They enforce Chapter 42, and can allow variances under certain circumstances, but that's about it. When someone sells a site like this for development, they don't have a whole lot of say in how it gets developed. In theory, back when Sawyer Heights was being developed, the City could have used eminent domain powers to secure rights of way to extend Spring, Shearn and Crocket Streets to Oliver, then replatted the area as smaller reserves. They could then have extended those streets further, to Studemont, when the additional parcels became available several years later. Now, however, there's no street grid to connect to, so it's very hard to make a convincing eminent domain argument for this parcel. However, in order to have done this for Sawyer Heights (where Target it now), in addition to an uncanny ability to see the future, the city would have had to pay for the RoW. At $40/sf, it'd be $9M; more if they acquired ROW for north-south streets as well. In addition to paying for the RoW (and the lawyers for when they have to defend the taking in court), the city would be forgoing its portion of the property tax on the land they acquired for RoW, plus its portion of the sales tax revenue on a pretty big commercial development, as presumably much of the development would shift to residential after the re-plat. So for it to have made sense, the additional property tax revenue from denser development and subsequent appreciation in value would have to compensate for the cost to acquire the RoW, PLUS the forgone property tax revenue, PLUS the forgone sales tax revenue. And that additional property tax revenue probably wouldn't have kicked in until well after the end of the then-mayor's term. Oh, and the city would have had to have several million dollars laying around to do all this.
  6. It's on the agenda for tomorrow. (Item 109)
  7. Part of the problem is that IS big. The existing and announced projects along lower Washington and around Sawyer St are better because there's an existing street grid to engage with, and they're smaller. This development would probably be better as 20 1-acre projects instead of one 20-acre project. That said, that development along Washington is still an archipelago of street-facing buildings in a sea of surface parking.
  8. Not shown: the 300 parking spaces CoH will require.
  9. This looks amazing, and fits in well with B&B and 1902 Wash (the building w/ Tacodeli). Also love the improvements on Center St., including the angled parking. What I'd really love to see is a parking management district for this stretch of Washington, say from Liberty Station to Sabine St. A couple of well-placed parking structures would allow another half-dozen developments the size of 1902 Washington to replace surface lots in the area.
  10. There looks to be some engagement with the Kroger to the West, but the north side, which faces the freeway feeder, the south side, which faces the railroad, and the east side, which faces the back of the Target, will be essentially blank walls. However, if they were to use the spaces on the ground floor of the parking structure as restaurant spaces, fronting a pedestrian mall, with the retail across the way, it could potentially be not terrible.
  11. This explains why there are so few "true" comps in the neighborhood we're coded to, despite the type of house we're in (3/2.5, 2-story, detached garage) being ubiquitous in our part of the Heights. I stopped counting when I got past 100 within a 5-block radius.
  12. Something I found out while putting together info for our protest hearing: HCAD's system looks for comps based on a neighborhood #. It turns out some of these "neighborhoods" overlap. For example: 8305.06: Bordered by 23rd, 16th, Yale and Nicholson 8305.10: Bordered by 20th, N. Main, Shepherd and 610. Which of these neighborhoods HCAD codes your house into makes a BIG difference on valuation. We're coded as 8305.06. Our next door neighbor (same floorplan, same year, same builder, same finishes, same Grade and CDU in HCAD's system), is coded as 8305.10 and has an appraisal $175k less than ours.
  13. My understanding is that the central building is all parking, and the retail is on two levels. I'm not sure I'd call this walkable, but aside from the apartments next to Target, there's not really anyplace from which to walk to this development. The Heights bike trail cuts across the NE corner of the site, though, and it looks like they're trying to connect it to the Kroger next door.
  14. Both of these concepts were very much tied to the chefs that created them. Once both of the them left, closing them was probably the right thing to do. Here's hoping someone snaps up these (still pretty nice) 2nd generation restaurant spaces quickly.
  15. I figured it's OK, since Sports Illustrated beat me to it by 35 months.