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W. 11th and Nicholson St

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801 W. 11th St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008

 

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HERE’S A GHOST-DOTTED sketch of what may soon inhabit that empty lot at the northwest corner of W. 11th and Nicholson streets; Adolfo Pesquera notes over on VBX that the project’s developers may break ground soon. (That’s both figuratively and literally — there’s a fair bit of concrete and asphalt removalinvolved in the job.) The medical-themed project is catty-corner from the 2-story building already housing the Heights Clinic (along with a Stewart Title office). There should be some kind of grassy buffer between the 31,010-sq.-ft. building and and the rail-turned-trail Heights hike & bike path running along Nicholson to the east, as well as a bit of open to the west toward recently openedPresidio

http://swamplot.com/second-multistory-medical-office-to-join-the-hike-bike-scenery-at-w-11th-st/2017-04-19/

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This confirms my suspicions that developers and architects never set foot in the communities where they build much less even look at a map.  Why in the world would you design a building that faces due south with tons of big windows?  Yeah, I know the low e windows are great, but they only do so much and you still have to have giant shades to keep people from being blinded by the sun.  

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or look at the buildings around them...i hope this is just a simple concept rendering, and not at all what the final design will be.  looks like a suburban, low cost office box.

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1 hour ago, s3mh said:

This confirms my suspicions that developers and architects never set foot in the communities where they build much less even look at a map.  Why in the world would you design a building that faces due south with tons of big windows?  Yeah, I know the low e windows are great, but they only do so much and you still have to have giant shades to keep people from being blinded by the sun.  

 

This makes me wonder if you have ever set foot in this community.  ;-)  In Houston, south-facing windows are much less of a problem than east-facing and west-facing windows.

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23 minutes ago, Houston19514 said:

 

This makes me wonder if you have ever set foot in this community.  ;-)  In Houston, south-facing windows are much less of a problem than east-facing and west-facing windows.

 Look at the rendering.  It is an office building.  Anyone working there will have the sun in their face from 10 am to 4 pm.  That is why our founding fathers built the downtown street grid like a diamond on a N/S axis.

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Posted (edited)

2 hours ago, s3mh said:

 Look at the rendering.  It is an office building.  Anyone working there will have the sun in their face from 10 am to 4 pm.  That is why our founding fathers built the downtown street grid like a diamond on a N/S axis.

 

I did look at the rendering.  I realize it is an office building.  That does not change the path of the sun.  You are wrong about their having sun in their faces from 10 am to 4 pm.  That might be correct for a couple months in winter, but not so much the rest of the year.  (Besides which, the vast majority of people working in offices do not sit facing the window.)  South-facing windows are the most energy-efficient for buildings in Houston.  (And are you really saying that our founding fathers built the downtown street grid so that office workers wouldn't have sun in their faces?  That's a good one.  Never heard anything like that before.  Most historians believer they just laid out the streets roughly parallel and perpendicular to Buffalo Bayou.)

Edited by Houston19514
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The angle of the grid likely had more to do with prevailing winds than anything.  East and West are the bad directions for sun. South can be dealt with by some minimal window shades.

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16 hours ago, Ross said:

The angle of the grid likely had more to do with prevailing winds than anything.  East and West are the bad directions for sun. South can be dealt with by some minimal window shades.

I worked in an office that was east facing, and my desk was also east facing.  I had an arc of sticky notes on the window to trace the path of the sun, and sometimes needed to wear sunglasses to get anything done

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Variance fight shaping up.  Neighbors are concerned about cutting the driveway across the hike and bike path.  

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Posted (edited)

That requires a variance?  I used to live on Nicholson and run/walk that path, its gotta be crossed by like 50 driveways between what would be 7th and 16th street where it changes.

Edited by JJxvi

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Variance is for zero setback.  But the neighbors are concerned about the garage entrance being on the bike path.  Now you can get hit by a car coming out of the garage, get up and get hit by the same car again when you try to cross 11th.  If the developers were smart, they would push the city into putting in a HAWK signal to get residents off their back.  But if they just show up at the hearing, there will probably be residents complaining.  The planning commission does not need a well reasoned argument to deny a zero lot line setback.  

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Posted (edited)

Based on what my buddy hears from his current tenant, I would have assumed they are all up in arms over "those bastards at Presidio" and rather than a driveway on the bike path.  There's a legitimate issue there, but it's crossing 11th that's dangerous.

Edited by JJxvi

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21 hours ago, JJxvi said:

Based on what my buddy hears from his current tenant, I would have assumed they are all up in arms over "those bastards at Presidio" and rather than a driveway on the bike path.  There's a legitimate issue there, but it's crossing 11th that's dangerous.

 

It is the Heights.  We can multitask.  Presidio is on the verge of becoming the White Oak Music Hall of the Heights.  I get taking a risk with the neighbors when you have national touring acts.  But I do not get pissing off the neighbors for free live music from local acts.  

 

If you look at the rendering, the garage will open up right on to the hike and bike path.  If you are on the south side of 11th trying to head north on the hike and bike path, you will usually have to book it across 11th before the thundering heard of cars start whipping down the street from N. Shep or Yale.  As soon as you make it across 11th, you will then just be feet from the opening for the garage.  People in large SUVs (i.e. 90% of Houstonians) coming out of the garage will have to pull almost half way out of the garage to be able to see to their right to see if anyone is on the bike path.  If they are not careful, it would be very easy for someone to plow over a kid on a bike who just crossed 11th St.  The kid on the bike will not see the SUV until it emerges from the garage.  

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Posted (edited)

22 hours ago, s3mh said:

Variance is for zero setback.  But the neighbors are concerned about the garage entrance being on the bike path.  Now you can get hit by a car coming out of the garage, get up and get hit by the same car again when you try to cross 11th.  If the developers were smart, they would push the city into putting in a HAWK signal to get residents off their back.  But if they just show up at the hearing, there will probably be residents complaining.  The planning commission does not need a well reasoned argument to deny a zero lot line setback.  

 

That doesn't exactly look like zero setbacks in the rendering.  The building has an 8,261 square foot footprint on a roughly 14,520 square foot property.

Edited by Houston19514

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53 minutes ago, s3mh said:

 

It is the Heights.  We can multitask.  Presidio is on the verge of becoming the White Oak Music Hall of the Heights.  I get taking a risk with the neighbors when you have national touring acts.  But I do not get pissing off the neighbors for free live music from local acts.  

 

If you look at the rendering, the garage will open up right on to the hike and bike path.  If you are on the south side of 11th trying to head north on the hike and bike path, you will usually have to book it across 11th before the thundering heard of cars start whipping down the street from N. Shep or Yale.  As soon as you make it across 11th, you will then just be feet from the opening for the garage.  People in large SUVs (i.e. 90% of Houstonians) coming out of the garage will have to pull almost half way out of the garage to be able to see to their right to see if anyone is on the bike path.  If they are not careful, it would be very easy for someone to plow over a kid on a bike who just crossed 11th St.  The kid on the bike will not see the SUV until it emerges from the garage.  

 

You seem to be reading a lot into that rendering... It appears to me that there is quite a distance between the garage doorway and the bike path, at least a full vehicle length.  And I'm not sure how one would design a garage entrance where one would not have to pull part way out  before being able to see to your right, or to your left; which raises the question of why you have no concern for bikers coming from the north ;-)  

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Nicholson's pretty narrow along that stretch. Seems like it'd be easier to put the entrance on Herkimer.

 

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Posted (edited)

^  Are we sure there are not entrances/exits proposed on both ends of the building?

 

Funny thing is, there are driveways all along that bike path.  And most of the other driveways have cars backing out over them, rather than driving forward as they will be from this building.  It's hard to see a legitimate concern about another (safer) driveway being added to the eight already on this block alone.

 

I'm curious about the setback question.  Is the rendering just inaccurate in that regard?  From where is  the proposed zero setback measured?

Edited by Houston19514

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2 hours ago, Houston19514 said:

 

 

Funny thing is, there are driveways all along that bike path.  And most of the other driveways have cars backing out over them, rather than driving forward as they will be from this building.  It's hard to see a legitimate concern about another (safer) driveway being added to the eight already on this block alone.

 

 

Most everyone will be turning right out of the building to get on W 11th.  When people turn right, they look left for traffic.  When I go out on a run, I always run behind any vehicle that is turning right at an intersection because the drivers never look left.  

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Posted (edited)

19 minutes ago, s3mh said:

 

Most everyone will be turning right out of the building to get on W 11th.  When people turn right, they look left for traffic.  When I go out on a run, I always run behind any vehicle that is turning right at an intersection because the drivers never look left.  

 

I'm presuming you miss-typed and did not really mean to say that when people turn right, they look left for traffic and that drivers never look left.  But even allowing for that, I'm not really sure what your point is.  How does that make this driveway more of a concern than the other 8 driveways in the block?

Edited by Houston19514

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4 hours ago, Houston19514 said:

 

I'm presuming you miss-typed and did not really mean to say that when people turn right, they look left for traffic and that drivers never look left.  But even allowing for that, I'm not really sure what your point is.  How does that make this driveway more of a concern than the other 8 driveways in the block?

 

You obviously have never walked across a street in Houston.  Hopefully, you are not one of those people who live in the burbs that has to tell people in the Heights what is what.

 

Just about every vehicle that makes a right turn at an intersection or coming out of a garage onto a two way street will look to their left for on coming traffic (maybe you are in the UK and think this is backwards) but will not look to their right until they start accelerating into the roadway.  That is because there is no traffic to worry about coming from the right (unless someone is driving the wrong way down the street).  The problem is that even though cars do not come from the right side, pedestrians do.  (FYI: pedestrians are people who walk places.  They have them in the Heights.)  I cannot tell you the number of times I have been at an intersection in Houston and saw people come within inches from getting run over by cars making right turns.  It is so bad that when I am out running in the Heights, I will either wait for someone looking to make a right hand turn to go or run behind their vehicle.  People making right hand turns have their heads turned to the left and you cannot even make eye contact with them when you have the walk signal.  

 

 

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the requested 0' setback is from 11th, and i have no issue with that.  in fact, i prefer a <10' setback here.

 

the issue with exiting driveway crossings, is:

1- they were already there when the trail went in

2- they are mostly residential driveways for a single unit.  look at the daily trips generated.  i'll bet more cars leave a 31k sf medical office building parking garage in a day, than leave a residential driveway in a week...

 

there is a 10' setback from the trail, from the downhill driveway coming from the second floor parking deck

 

here is the variance submittal for those that haven't seen it:

 

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B770cE-SaJZHQlJHZjRWMWpVMVU

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Posted (edited)

I lived on Nicholson.  It is not wide enough for cars turning right onto it to only look one direction.  In fact the bollards from the bike trail can really narrow it up and force traffic to stop or slow to allow oncoming traffic to pass first, especially if a car is parked on the eastern side of the street.  If you went around turning right out of driveways on Nicholson looking only one way, you would be a safety problem, because you'd eventually hit another car head on, much less pedestrians or bikers on the bike trail.

Edited by JJxvi

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Herkimer is an oddity.  It's really only a glorified back alley (look at the plat maps), with a narrower ROW than other streets in the Heights, but because its gutter and curbed its actually wider than most other streets in terms of actual pavement

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56 minutes ago, Evil Developer said:

the requested 0' setback is from 11th, and i have no issue with that.  in fact, i prefer a <10' setback here.

 

the issue with exiting driveway crossings, is:

1- they were already there when the trail went in

2- they are mostly residential driveways for a single unit.  look at the daily trips generated.  i'll bet more cars leave a 31k sf medical office building parking garage in a day, than leave a residential driveway in a week...

 

there is a 10' setback from the trail, from the downhill driveway coming from the second floor parking deck

 

here is the variance submittal for those that haven't seen it:

 

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B770cE-SaJZHQlJHZjRWMWpVMVU

 

Thank you for that considered and thoughtful response to questions that have been raised.  And a big thanks for the link to the variance submittal.

 

A few things:

1- I'm not sure the fact that the other driveways were there before the trail is sufficient reason to deny a driveway to this lot.

2- Fair point, but it appears that the parking will be divided roughly evenly between Nicholson and Herkimer, so it will effectively be traffic from a 15K square foot medical office building.  Yes, surely more than a SFR, but if it complies with the code and deed restrictions...

 

On the linked plans, the setback from the trail appears to be well over 10 feet; more like 17 or 18 feet. I think you exaggerate the "downhill driveway from the second floor".  The "second floor" (which the plans call "first floor parking") is very little above grade at the Nicholson end of the building; the driveway coming out is at a very gentle grade. And, it seems that being slightly elevated should be a positive, as it will provide greater visibility from both points of view.

 

Is it standard practice to include a protest letter with the reasons for protest already stated?  (And note that the stated reason for protest has nothing to do with the driveway or garage entrance; it has to do with visibility at the visual triangle at 11th and the Nicholson bike path.

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15 hours ago, JJxvi said:

Herkimer is an oddity.  It's really only a glorified back alley (look at the plat maps), with a narrower ROW than other streets in the Heights, but because its gutter and curbed its actually wider than most other streets in terms of actual pavement

 

I'm guessing the width of the block between Herkimer and Nicholson is due to the fact that there used to be a railroad between what is now Nicholson St and the lots on the west face of Nicholson, and they wanted those lots to have access to a street without a bunch of grade crossings.

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