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Ashby High-Rise: 1717 Bissonnet

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Just curious...do people favoring this project do so out of spite for the NIMBYs, or do you genuinely think it's ideal to errect high-rises in the middle of low-density neighborhoods consisting primarily of two-story homes and businesses? On one hand, maybe this is our best hope for residential densification in this city, since it's clearly not happening in the CBD. On the other hand, maybe such buildings will in fact degrade the surrounding neighborhood and diminish the desirability, as these are car-dependent developments that aren't going to make neighborhoods more walkable and livable for existing residents, at least with the revised plans. I have similar mixed feelings about 1111 Studewood.

I think it's a beautiful building and is replacing an apartment complex anyway, that's why I'm in support of it.

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Just curious...do people favoring this project do so out of spite for the NIMBYs, or do you genuinely think it's ideal to errect high-rises in the middle of low-density neighborhoods consisting primarily of two-story homes and businesses? On one hand, maybe this is our best hope for residential densification in this city, since it's clearly not happening in the CBD. On the other hand, maybe such buildings will in fact degrade the surrounding neighborhood and diminish the desirability, as these are car-dependent developments that aren't going to make neighborhoods more walkable and livable for existing residents, at least with the revised plans. I have similar mixed feelings about 1111 Studewood.

Every part of this town is low density (it can be argued that midtown is somewhere in the middle). If it doesn't make sense to add density to an area Houston will continue to grow outward, I don't think this is sustainable realistically.

At some point in history, every high density area was once low density. Some group of residents are going to have to not fight against high density in their area in order for this to happen.

full disclosure: I live in east end, so I will not have to concern myself with the direct impact of high density for quite some time, but it wouldn't bother me if I could see a high rise towering from my backyard.

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People need to use google earth and LOOK at this location.

Comparing Bissonnet @ Ashby with say 2121 Kirby (The address of The Huntigdon, Houston's tallest and most expensive high rise) is silly.

First off, The Huntingdon only has 115 units so you are dealing with FAR fewer people. Secondly, Kirby has SIX lanes of traffic at this location. It is just South of San Felipe, a four-laned major street. It's neighbors are River Oaks Elementary across the street and a 15 story office tower next door.

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People need to use google earth and LOOK at this location.

Comparing Bissonnet @ Ashby with say 2121 Kirby (The address of The Huntigdon, Houston's tallest and most expensive high rise) is silly.

First off, The Huntingdon only has 115 units so you are dealing with FAR fewer people. Secondly, Kirby has SIX lanes of traffic at this location. It is just South of San Felipe, a four-laned major street. It's neighbors are River Oaks Elementary across the street and a 15 story office tower next door.

How many units does the current Bissonnet location have compared to the Ashby highrise?

Was the 15 story office building built before or after the Huntingdon?

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People need to use google earth and LOOK at this location.

Comparing Bissonnet @ Ashby with say 2121 Kirby (The address of The Huntigdon, Houston's tallest and most expensive high rise) is silly.

First off, The Huntingdon only has 115 units so you are dealing with FAR fewer people. Secondly, Kirby has SIX lanes of traffic at this location. It is just South of San Felipe, a four-laned major street. It's neighbors are River Oaks Elementary across the street and a 15 story office tower next door.

All joking aside I agree it is a stupid place for a high rise, but that's Houston for you.

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People need to use google earth and LOOK at this location.

As you mentioned in the Parc Binz thread..... Binz(Bissonnet) on the other side of Main has 4 lanes. At Main (where it look like on google maps that they have 5 lanes), The ROW at that point is 72'

Bissonnet transitions from 4 lanes to 2 lanes around Kelvin/ Morningside. The ROW on Bissonnet between Morningside and Montrose is mostly 63' but is actually 77' at Ashby.

EXPAND Bissonnet NOW ! There is plenty of room for a dedicated turn lane or perhaps 4 full lanes.

SouthHampton needs to stop treating their small segment of Bissonnet as a neighborhood street. It is not. All their streets that run parallel to or intersect Bissonnet are their neighborhood streets.

Bissonnet is classified by the City of Houston GMIS as a Major Thoroughfare. The 1.5 mile stretch from Kirby to Montrose can and should be expanded.

All joking aside I agree it is a stupid place for a high rise, but that's Houston for you.

Why ?

This location is on a major thoroughfare. It is located 1/2 to 3/4ths of a mile from 2 other major thoroughfares. It is located less than half a mile from a prestigious university and less than 1 mile from the 2nd largest employment center in the city. It is a great location.

Lots of major thoroughfares have neighborhoods, even insanely pricey neighborhoods, right off them. The only reason this location is any different is that the neighborhood actually thinks they own this stretch of major thoroughfare and that the rest of the city has no right to it. Bissonnet is not a neighborhood street.

It's a fine location for this kind of project and this segment of road is a perfect candidate for expansion.

West Alabama has the exact same ROW - 63'.... Bissonnet could easily be made a 3 lane road with a similar lane changing setup probably without even losing any trees.

PS... I didn't realize Buckhead had this all up on their webpage.. but they a good job explaining what Bissonnet is per the city guidelines.

PS II... Metro doesn't run buses on neighborhood streets.. they run them on major thoroughfares, like Bissonnet.

PS III... And it's not a hi-rise. It's a midrise. It will be close in height to these two residential midrises, which also happen to be on a major thoroughfare immediately surrounded by residential neighborhoods.

Edited by Highway6
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EXPAND Bissonnet NOW ! There is plenty of room for a dedicated turn lane or perhaps 4 full lanes.

But it's already a major thoroughfare [sic]. Why does it need to be expanded?

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But it's already a major thoroughfare [sic]. Why does it need to be expanded?

To relieve congestion and provide for improved regional mobility.

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Pardon my ignorance, but is this going to be a 23-story tower on TOP of a 5 story garage making it 28 stories or is it an 18-story apartment tower on 5 floors of garage?

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Are you seriously calling a 23 story tower a midrise? That's not a stretch, that's a tear.

By pretty much EVERY standard, this tower is a highrise.

Also, Bissonnet near Ashby IS a residential street. The majority of structures along Bissonnet between Greenbrier and Montrose are residential in nature and nearly 100% of the businesses are located in structures that were originally built as single family homes.

Also, I'd have no problem with this tower being built along Montrose near the Museum Tower or 5000 Montrose Condo Tower because that stretch of Montrose is full of towers, offices, churches, libraries, businesses, restaurants, etc... That's exactly where a tower like this one SHOULD be built.

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I agree. Four or five stories is what I would call a midrise.

And just because there are similar atrocities all over Houston, that doesn't make this one right. Still, as I said before, this is Houston and what can you do?

Edited by Fringe

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Just curious...do people favoring this project do so out of spite for the NIMBYs, or do you genuinely think it's ideal to errect high-rises in the middle of low-density neighborhoods consisting primarily of two-story homes and businesses? On one hand, maybe this is our best hope for residential densification in this city, since it's clearly not happening in the CBD. On the other hand, maybe such buildings will in fact degrade the surrounding neighborhood and diminish the desirability, as these are car-dependent developments that aren't going to make neighborhoods more walkable and livable for existing residents, at least with the revised plans. I have similar mixed feelings about 1111 Studewood.

I think much of it is spite, but that's just speculation and stereotyping from comments on here.

Honestly, I don't get the favor of this project in the name of "density" and "walkability". Things like "density" and "walkability" only occur when high capacity facilities are built within walking distance from other high capacity facilities. Building an island of "density"... a single building... in the middle of a residential neighborhood does nothing for "density" nor "walkability" because one still has to drive through the neighborhood to reach other neighborhood-surrounded islands of single building "density".

I suppose someday... eventually... in like many, many years all of the islands will infill and the utopic ideal of "density" and "walkability" will be achieved. But it would occur much, much faster if the high capacity facilities were built closer together, within walking distance from each other. If only... only... there were some mechanism to encourage that.

Edited by Gooch
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Since this city will not get itself together with a comprehensive plan, let alone zoning, projects like this will become the rule, not the exception. Residents have voted down zoning numerous times, but when projects like this sprout up, they cry. I have no sympathy for a place that refuses to think and plan long term. That regressive thinking will continue to pit neighbor against developer and prevent this city from developing into a well-planned "utopia" where both single family and multi-family residences co-habitate peacefully.

And, since there is no plan, I see developments like this as god-sends. At least terms such as "walk-ability" and "density" are being discussed while Houston crawls towards being a place that resembles a smarter, more sustainable, transit-inclusive, viable, post-1950's-era city. Yes, developments like this would be better placed where other, similar buildings were being built and amenities such as wide sidewalks, stores, and markets were within walking distance. But, that would suppose a lot more changes that this city has not made and will not make anytime soon. So, in the mean time, we get developments such as these in "random" places. Welcome to Houston.

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Honestly, I don't get the favor of this project in the name of "density" and "walkability". Things like "density" and "walkability" only occur when high capacity facilities are built within walking distance from other high capacity facilities. Building an island of "density"... a single building... in the middle of a residential neighborhood does nothing for "density" nor "walkability" because one still has to drive through the neighborhood to reach other neighborhood-surrounded islands of single building "density".

The Ashby site is within one mile of Rice University, St. Thomas University, the Menil Collection, the core of the Museum District, the Red Line, the (eventual Universities Line), Hermann Park, the Houston Zoo, the northern part of the Texas Medical Center, the greater part of Rice Village, and Shepherd Square. The neighborhood surrounding it is very pleasant to walk through, with most streets having sidewalks, and with the neighborhood not having a reputation for harboring any significant criminal element.

The neighborhood is already walkable. A highrise simply enables more people to take enjoyment from that fact.

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The Ashby site is within one mile of Rice University, St. Thomas University, the Menil Collection, the core of the Museum District, the Red Line, the (eventual Universities Line), Hermann Park, the Houston Zoo, the northern part of the Texas Medical Center, the greater part of Rice Village, and Shepherd Square. The neighborhood surrounding it is very pleasant to walk through, with most streets having sidewalks, and with the neighborhood not having a reputation for harboring any significant criminal element.

The neighborhood is already walkable. A highrise simply enables more people to take enjoyment from that fact.

Yes, the neighborhood is ideal for recreational walking. But it's 13 blocks to the nearest supermarket, 12-17 blocks to the Village, and 4+ miles to the CBD. The future residents are likely to drive for the vast majority of their trips.

I will grant you that if I lived in the area, I would bicycle as much as possible.

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Are you seriously calling a 23 story tower a midrise? That's not a stretch, that's a tear.

By pretty much EVERY standard, this tower is a highrise.

Also, Bissonnet near Ashby IS a residential street. The majority of structures along Bissonnet between Greenbrier and Montrose are residential in nature and nearly 100% of the businesses are located in structures that were originally built as single family homes.

i think theres still question as to whether this is 23 or 18 stories.

still a highrise.

richmond in multiple areas is flanked by nothing but residential, not even houses that turned into businesses, but nothing but houses, but it's still a major thoroughfare, as designated by the city. so is bissonnet. true there are less lanes, but that can and likely will change. it should change.

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Yes, the neighborhood is ideal for recreational walking. But it's 13 blocks to the nearest supermarket, 12-17 blocks to the Village, and 4+ miles to the CBD. The future residents are likely to drive for the vast majority of their trips.

Well yeah. And the current residents of One Park Place probably drive for the vast majority of their trips. And I just walked back to my single-family home from my watering-hole-of-choice, over a mile and a half distant in suburbia, without the availability of sidewalks. So...what's your point?

Edited by TheNiche

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I think it's a beautiful building and is replacing an apartment complex anyway, that's why I'm in support of it.

Same here.

Well yeah. And the current residents of One Park Place probably drive for the vast majority of their trips. And I just walked back to my single-family home from my watering-hole-of-choice, over a mile and a half distant in suburbia, without the availability of sidewalks. So...what's your point?

I thought that looked like you.

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It looks like Randy Locke (running for city council) is wanting to pay off the developers to try and keep them from building the highrise.

Swamplot

http://swamplot.com/paying-the-ashby-highrise-away/2011-10-11/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+swamplot+%28Swamplot%3A+Houston%27s+Real+Estate+Landscape%29

Yes, let's do it politician style, just pay em off!!

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To relieve congestion and provide for improved regional mobility.

As much of a canned answer as this is, it hits at the real crux of the situation.

Why has Bissonett not been expanded already? Why was only a portion of 59S trenched?

These questions lead to answers people really really don't want to hear.

Edited by infinite_jim

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As much of a canned answer as this is, it hits at the real crux of the situation.

Why has Bissonett not been expanded already? Why was only a portion of 59S trenched?

These questions lead to answers people really really don't want to hear.

Money speaks?

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They have been fighting to build on this property this long, I can't imagine them wanting to jump ship now over money.

Maybe so. I'm not sure what the long term return is and if it can equal, but they're in business to make money. Money is the most important thing to most people, sadly. But it is a business, so if they can receive more money in a handout than they can to build it, I think they take it, no?

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Yes, let's do it politician style, just pay em off!!

so long as it isn't the cities money (ie mine), it's none of my business.

however, bring city money into it, and watch me turn into a raving lunatic.

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so long as it isn't the cities money (ie mine), it's none of my business.

however, bring city money into it, and watch me turn into a raving lunatic.

Well aren't they suing for $40mil already?

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Just saw this today... The news is about two weeks old, apparently...

http://www.yourhoustonnews.com/river_oaks/news/architects-file-copyright-suit-against-ashby-high-rise-developers-seek/article_52a93540-b7b6-533d-8af2-273a693d1ff2.html

A Dallas architecture firm has sued the developers of the proposed Ashby high-rise for allegedly stealing its design and is seeking an injunction to block construction.

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Seems pointless to sue someone because of it being identical. Every building is different not just the exterior but the interoir of the building as well.

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Today, The West University Examiner reported that Mayor Annise Parker sent a letter to residents of the Southampton neighborhood saying the city has no legal basis to stop developers from building the tower as it was outlined in 2009.

http://blog.chron.co...shby-high-rise/

Don't know how important this is, but it sounds like it's a step toward this getting built.

Edited by asubrt
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Should be interesting to see if they can get funding...

If the City had known what was good for them, they'd have approved it in mid-2009. Too late! :)

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Glad to hear it'll have retail. I always like the chance to have new places I can walk/bike to!

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Glad to hear it'll have retail. I always like the chance to have new places I can walk/bike to!

Agreed. I live near the area and would much rather have a good street level integration than the bland high rise that was approved in 2009. Glad they are approving the original design, it will be much better for the neighborhood.

Edited by mfastx

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Live by the sword. Die by the sword. Those who loved it when the mayor strong-armed the historic districts in against the majority opposition probably never imagined that the strong arm that overwhelmed their neighbors could also overwhelm them when it comes to Walmarts, 380 agreements and high rise residential towers. Forgive me my schadenfreude, but I am more than a little amused at this turn of events.

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Nimby tormenting is fun. We should go replace all the yellow signs with "If you build it, They will come"

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I posed a question on swamplot that has not been answered.

Based off the sales price, if available, if not hcad's appraisal, is it feasible for the developer to build anything smaller?

Related to that question is, how old is that complex anyway? I'm guessing it's old and I'm sure in 5, 10 or 15 years it was going to be close to unlivable and I seriously doubt anyone who owned or bought it would simply renovate the current space, right?

My basic premise is this, it seems like the developer probably had no choice in terms of the finance side. I could be totally wrong, just seeking some input.

edit: I did look at other properties like Gables on Bering and Post Oak Place apartments and the appraised values were very similar to 1717. Not sure if that's comparing apples to apples or not.

Edited by lockmat

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Hell, the developer is showing more restraint than I would, if I were in his/her shoes.

I would have kicked all the current tenants out, slapped up a less than permanent chain link fence with a big chain and lock on an akimbo gate and left it to disrepair for years.

in my minds eye, I kind of imagine it having begun to eventually look like the old holiday inn downtown, nice weeds and other things growing, plywood boards covering the windows that had been broken out. gosh it would be glorious in its disrepair!

oh, and when local homeowners tried to go in and clear out the brush, I'd call the cops for trespassing.

Within a year, I'd bet they'd be begging me to build anything on the site.

Edited by samagon

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I posed a question on swamplot that has not been answered.

Based off the sales price, if available, if not hcad's appraisal, is it feasible for the developer to build anything smaller?

Related to that question is, how old is that complex anyway? I'm guessing it's old and I'm sure in 5, 10 or 15 years it was going to be close to unlivable and I seriously doubt anyone who owned or bought it would simply renovate the current space, right?

My basic premise is this, it seems like the developer probably had no choice in terms of the finance side. I could be totally wrong, just seeking some input.

edit: I did look at other properties like Gables on Bering and Post Oak Place apartments and the appraised values were very similar to 1717. Not sure if that's comparing apples to apples or not.

It was there, and old, in the mid-80's. It was renovated pretty thoroughly around 1995. I wouldn't assume it would be anything close to unliveable (even by Montrose standards) in 5 or 10 years.

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It was there, and old, in the mid-80's. It was renovated pretty thoroughly around 1995. I wouldn't assume it would be anything close to unliveable (even by Montrose standards) in 5 or 10 years.

Sorry, a poor choice of words on my part. I was also assuming it was already unsightly, which based on these photos that I just found, it is not.

http://www.hettig-kahn.com/mm.htm

I'm just trying to see it from a developers point of view, too. I mean, neighborhood residents can't expect, in this imperfect world, for someone to see the opportunity that Buckfund did and not do something about it. It would have been wise for area residents to consider the economics and opportunity a developer might see in that site and get it's future use restricted somehow (would that have even been possible?). It's not as if this is totally unprecedented in Houston and you know there are not any zoning laws. Of course, this is easy for me to say in hind sight, but then again I never considered buying into that neighborhood either.

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Sorry, a poor choice of words on my part. I was also assuming it was already unsightly, which based on these photos that I just found, it is not.

http://www.hettig-kahn.com/mm.htm

I'm just trying to see it from a developers point of view, too. I mean, neighborhood residents can't expect, in this imperfect world, for someone to see the opportunity that Buckfund did and not do something about it. It would have been wise for area residents to consider the economics and opportunity a developer might see in that site and get it's future use restricted somehow (would that have even been possible?). It's not as if this is totally unprecedented in Houston and you know there are not any zoning laws. Of course, this is easy for me to say in hind sight, but then again I never considered buying into that neighborhood either.

Maryland Manor is unsightly and I think that it smells odd. But that's only because it is surrounded by decadence. If it were in Montrose, it'd be a decent-enough complex...but still a teardown. To my mind, a highrise with street level retail at this location will look better, smell better, and provide a neighborhood amenity that is better integrated with the charm and elegance of the neighborhood.

To the question of whether a commercial property, a multi-family property, a property with minimal setbacks, or a property with a tall building should have been a concern of area residents, I think that the fact that original and revised deed restrictions in those neighborhoods have specifically restricted all of those building elements speaks volumes. Yes, people were previously aware and concerned regarding these issues. And yes, it is perfectly legal and permissible to pay a property owner in exchange for them agreeing to a restrictive covenant.

The developer's perspective is fairly straightforward. This existing complex is functionally obsolete, yet the site is only large enough to allow for the feasibility of townhomes (similar to "Cheyne Walk") or a residential highrise. A midrise cannot achieve the density or efficiencies of scale that would be necessary to make it feasible as an apartment complex; and new condos are just...stupid. The highrise is the highest and best use due to the visibility and access afforded by a major thoroughfare; it helps to generate leasing traffic. And that is why this is highrise land rather than townhome land. That is a developer's perspective.

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I think this weekend I will make some poster signs and go have a Pro-Ashby celebration on the sidewalk. I'll bring a video camera to get the license plates of people who yell obscene things at me.

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I just hope there's a bar included in this supposed street-level retail. This way everyone who drives by can see the bar patrons drinking and getting plastered. Cool.

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I just hope there's a bar included in this supposed street-level retail. This way everyone who drives by can see the bar patrons drinking and getting plastered. Cool.

Too close to the entrance of a school for a bar, I think, but let's not rule out a 24-hour game room such as exist further down the way along this major thoroughfare.

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