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musicman

Ashby High-Rise: 1717 Bissonnet

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Well I think a lot of people don't want zoning in general, except when it comes to their own neighborhood. Views change when your own property value or neighborhood quality seem threatened.

There are some deed restricted communities in Houston - I am guessing the restrictions are based on covenants that existed before the city annexed these neighborhoods.

One thing to consider is that it's a big city and sometimes things have to change in certain areas for the better of a larger group of people in the city. This extends to Afton Oaks and other NIMBY criers concerning Metro. That said, this area will have light rail running near it soon, and possibly commuter rail nearby if they ever get around to making use of the Westpark corridor. So the possibility is there for this part of town to become more dense without having to necessarily add to road traffic capacity.

At risk of going into something that might be another thread instead - so what if they introduce zoning? Developers with enough cash and leverage can simply get it zoned for whatever they want it to be if they want to. Developers have always owned this city and it's not going to change if there's zoning. Zoning is more likely to tighten their grip on this city and price everyone out of the city except the people coming from California and the northeast to come live here for "cheap."

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One thing to consider is that it's a big city and sometimes things have to change in certain areas for the better of a larger group of people in the city. This extends to Afton Oaks and other NIMBY criers concerning Metro. That said, this area will have light rail running near it soon, and possibly commuter rail nearby if they ever get around to making use of the Westpark corridor.

True that sometimes things have to change for the benefit of the city as a whole, or at least a larger group of people. That is a good argument w.r.t. the rail through Afton Oaks. But that argument doesn't hold here. Plopping a highrise into the middle of Southampton, a stable low-rise neighborhood, simply doesn't benefit the city as a whole in the same way as a rail line can.

I could be wrong, but somehow I suspect that the targeted buyers of condos in this building aren't going to be spending a lot of time on the train.

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While I don't know what the exact distance to the proposed U-line station nearest to this location is, either way it's going to be a bit of a hike, and unless they want to use scooters to get to the line (even to the Main line), it's not exactly feasible to do this.

After the construction, the street is able to handle the potential traffic (for a time) if the street has no changes, but considering the heavy traffic that's going to occur the various trucks for the construction alone are going to tear up the streets.

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I'm a big leftie on almost everything else, but zoning just makes my skin crawl like nothing else. Good quality housing at affordable prices is a human rights issue... and as far as I can tell, the main purpose of zoning is to artificially constrain the market to increase property values of those with enough political connections... and not foster the highest and best use of a property.

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I'm a big leftie on almost everything else, but zoning just makes my skin crawl like nothing else. Good quality housing at affordable prices is a human rights issue... and as far as I can tell, the main purpose of zoning is to artificially constrain the market to increase property values of those with enough political connections... and not foster the highest and best use of a property.

It's not just those with political connections - every property owner has a vested interest in protecting his property value. Lack of zoning regulations may allow individual property owners to attempt to foster the highest and best use of their property, but the problem is that optimization by individuals doesn't necessarily lead to the optimal outcome for the neighborhood as a whole.

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It's not just those with political connections - every property owner has a vested interest in protecting his property value. Lack of zoning regulations may allow individual property owners to attempt to foster the highest and best use of their property, but the problem is that optimization by individuals doesn't necessarily lead to the optimal outcome for the neighborhood as a whole.

And elaboration of zoning regulations may allow individual neighborhoods to attempt to foster the optimal outcome for the current neighborhood owners, but the problem is that maximization by individual neighborhoods doesn't necessarily lead to the optimal outcome for the urban region and its newcomers as a whole.

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While I don't know what the exact distance to the proposed U-line station nearest to this location is, either way it's going to be a bit of a hike, and unless they want to use scooters to get to the line (even to the Main line), it's not exactly feasible to do this.

After the construction, the street is able to handle the potential traffic (for a time) if the street has no changes, but considering the heavy traffic that's going to occur the various trucks for the construction alone are going to tear up the streets.

It looks like one of the more likely options for the U-line station would be Dunlavy and Richmond, which Google maps says is .7 miles away. In the alternative plans it looks like the closest station would be a bit farther (Shepherd and 59). The nearest Main line station is by Rice which is about a mile-long walk.

This is Houston - hardly any of the people who can afford to live in this place will be willing to walk that far every day in the summer... So I agree, proximity to the light rail is definitely not an argument in favor of building this tower. And I'm just not sure how it makes sense to build this large of a building in a location where there isn't a single multi-lane road within a half-mile radius...

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I took this image from the website (I'm sure they won't mind). It really gives you an idea of the scale of the thing. No wonder the neighbors are unhappy.

wroxtonelev_.gif

And elaboration of zoning regulations may allow individual neighborhoods to attempt to foster the optimal outcome for the current neighborhood owners, but the problem is that maximization by individual neighborhoods doesn't necessarily lead to the optimal outcome for the urban region and its newcomers as a whole.

I suppose it depends on the area in which zoning is implemented. If you are talking about the entire urban region, then certainly there are places where a high-rise would make more sense than in the middle of the Southampton neighborhood.

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My only objection to this project is that it would be better suited closer to kirby, Montrose, Sunset, or even the village.

the roads just doesn't seem like it would be able to support the construction traffic alone.

other than that, I'm totally cool with the building, but they should have taken the current infrastructure into account, unless they plan on helping with those improvements.

On the plus side, this might actually spur COH to upgrade that street a bit, lord knows it's already a bit of a shock and alignment killer.

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This isn't terribly different from the towers in River Oaks. I think people are underestimating the traffic that Bissonet carries already... it's probably not going to be a major issue. There is already significant commercial development in the area, it's not quite as pastoral as people are claiming.

The commercial development on this stretch of Bissonnet is hardly significant. Most of it is mom-and-pop businesses in existing structures -- formerly single-family homes. An antique store, photo studio, a caterer, etc. These businesses don't get a lot of traffic. The only businesses that get a lot of traffic in the area are the restaurants Picnic and Raven Grill in the old Butera's grocery location near Hazard. And that's usually only during lunch hour Monday-Friday -- AND it causes jams on Bissonet because the street is too narrow to handle it. Just turning left off this stretch of Bissonnet can cause jams during rush hour because it's hard to pass on the right if the car turning left is a truck or SUV.

West of Greenbriar, Bissonnet is a different story -- with significant commercial development. But from Greenbriar to Montrose, it's mainly residential. A huge tower would, IMO, put too much stress on the area.

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I fear for the developers. They apparently paid significanly above market for the real estate, that no other building options were feasible. They're portraying this project as a slam dunk, however I would not want to go up against these politically connected neighborhoods with significant resources. This could drag out a very, :o very long time.

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It is just my impression that many high rise owners would prefer to be closer to more commerical establishments or green space. The project downtown next to the new park and all of the activity in Uptown would seem to suggest that.

Anyone know how much they paid for the land? More or less than property in the musuem district or near Hermann Park?

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It is just my impression that many high rise owners would prefer to be closer to more commerical establishments or green space. The project downtown next to the new park and all of the activity in Uptown would seem to suggest that.

The only green space that's close is tiny Fleming Park on Sunset at Kent. Of course Rice and Hermann Park are nearby.

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I fear for the developers. They apparently paid significanly above market for the real estate, that no other building options were feasible. They're portraying this project as a slam dunk, however I would not want to go up against these politically connected neighborhoods with significant resources. This could drag out a very, :o very long time.

It was a mistake on their part to buy this land before determining what the local reaction would/could be. You wouldn't catch me spending that kind of money without a lot more due diligence.

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I read that the developers are planning that their market will be older residents of Southampton and Boulevard Oaks, who are tired of the upkeep on their properties. Jimmy Lyons who developed the Huntingdon also thought the River Oaks gentry would also flock. Wrong, they were angry too. It took a generation for them to warm up to the idea or was it that they were able to buy for sub50 cents on the dollar. The Huntingdon bankrupted Jimmy Lyons. The Federal Goverment was Bob Lanier's landlord for several years. :huh:

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from CitizensNet:

Dear Houstonians:

I believe that the proposed development of a 23-story mixed use development with over 450 parking spaces, on the site of the Maryland Manor apartments, will impair mobility on Bissonnet, a two-lane street.

As it becomes more desirable to live in Houston, more people move here. We would like consumers to have many choices to live within the City limits. Ultimately we want people also to be able to live closer to where they work, reducing costs of traffic congestion and enormous infrastructure costs by long commutes.

Houston's City Charter prevents the City from dictating references to landowners concerning the residential or commercial use. I believe the City of Houston does have the power to limit or to impose reasonable requirements concerning on-site parking, flood impacts, the amount of traffic or trips and the reasonableness of places for ingress and egress on a particular property.

As Houston has grown and vacant land has become scarce and many Houstonians want to live in areas close to their work and shopping, we have attracted many more applications for high-rise projects than at any time in the past.

In each case we have required that developers do an analysis of the traffic impact of their development. Obviously much new development and more employment creates more traffic, but we need to consider impacts on on-street parking that may disrupt neighborhoods and discourage cut-through traffic or attempted left turns across two-way streets or curb cuts for entrances or exits too close to congested intersections.

Within the last two weeks a Council Committee held a hearing on ordinances which would require a traffic impact analysis and approval of the access and ingress plan for certain types of development. We must make rules that are clear and predictable and capable of being applied on a non-discriminatory basis. Both I and our Public Works Department have repeatedly told developers that development plans should reasonably address traffic impacts.

There should be reasonable criteria based on the number of automobiles capable of entering or exiting a property onto a street in a residential neighborhood. Those criteria should take into account the size and lane configuration of the street, proximity to traffic signals, location of the curb cuts, turns across lanes, etc. The criteria should not unreasonably impair the ability to satisfy consumer needs to live closer to employment centers or the rights of landowners to convert one multifamily use to another.

In the meantime, I will be prepared to use any appropriate power under law to alter the proposed project as currently planned.

BILL WHITE

MAYOR

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the property was never platted or deed restricted, although everything in the surrounding neighborhood is (height limit of deed restricted buildings is 3 stories). the developers have already paid COH $500K for infrastructure (sewer) capacity improvements. this was done in July and handled by Public Works bureaucrats, completely outside the elected official structure. thus no elected official, including Distict C Clutterbuck, herself a Southampton resident, can tell the builders what to build. they could build a steel mill if they want to.

but civilized societies operate best under just notions of equity. the reason Southampton property has such high value is due in large part to generations of homeowners maintaining the subdivision - both its physical environment and its character. other similar neighborhoods north, south, and east of the area are less valuable b/c they were less successful in warding off various threats to neighborhood integrity over time. there is no doubt a 23 story bldg will drop property values in the surrounding blocks, create long-term environmental impacts currently absent in the area (light, shade, noise, etc), and permanently alter the character of the neighborhood.

so in a sense the developers are profiting from something their proposed development will damage. that's the classic definition of quick-profit, damn-the-long-term-consequences exploitation, Houston-style development.

and that's something most of the posters on HAIF seem to oppose. so why do so many posters on this thread support this?

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The only reason I support it is the fact that if it had retail and restaurants, it would give me more places where I could walk to from my apartment. That being said, I wouldn't mind if they built it on an empty lot closer to Main, or in Midtown or the Museum District instead. I guess that might not work if the whole point is to appeal Southampton residents though.

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the traffic study "process" was supposedly the baby of councilmember lovell. we'll see how that works out.

it's all about issuing a permits which brings in money. public works doesn't do any checks . they still even issue permits in violation of deed restrictions. i know in my parents neighborhood, a neighbor called the civic club pres to report a side setback violation. the builder got mad at the civic club even though the city was incorrect in issuing the permit.

a structure such as this in the neighborhood centric area should at least be flagged by public works at the minimum. i'm sure the COH saw the 500k for infrastructure improvements and stamped the project GO!

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The only reason I support it is the fact that if it had retail and restaurants, it would give me more places where I could walk to from my apartment. That being said, I wouldn't mind if they built it on an empty lot closer to Main, or in Midtown or the Museum District instead. I guess that might not work if the whole point is to appeal Southampton residents though.

i guess negatively affecting the area isn't a problem as long as you have more places to go.

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I guess not. It doesn't really negatively effect the area for me.

I'm not one of the homeowners in the area though. From my standpoint, the more places I can walk to from where I live, the better. I used to live in Southampton (in a really bad garage apartment), and I think the neighborhood is wonderful. I love walking around looking at the multi mullion dollar homes I will most likely never be able to afford, but the one thing the neighborhood lacked was a lot of places I could walk to to eat or shop (I could walk to the village in 45 minutes but that's not very practical most of the time).

By my previous comment, I wasn't saying I absolutely support the project, I just wanted to point out that the mixed use thing for me is a big plus. That's the reason I said it sounded good when I heard about it - because the property value thing isn't an issue for me like walkability is. Of course not everybody is going to have that viewpoint.

Edited by Jax

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Didn't Bill White Houston to live in the area? I think he might live in the Memorial area now but I could have sworn he used to live in/near Southampton. Also, Clutterbuck lives on Sunset Blvd. between Greenbriar and Shepherd.

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Didn't Bill White Houston to live in the area? I think he might live in the Memorial area now but I could have sworn he used to live in/near Southampton. Also, Clutterbuck lives on Sunset Blvd. between Greenbriar and Shepherd.

And Lovell lives off of Woodhead between Alabama and Richmond -- only a mile or two from 1717 Bissonnet.

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Bill White now opposed to the residential high-rise and is going to try and help stop the construction. Here is the Chronicle article...

http://chron.com/disp/story.mpl/front/5168148.html

It sure seems like the mayor would love to see zoning. This is exactly what it is.

his statement In the meantime, I will be prepared to use any appropriate power under law to alter the proposed project as currently planned. sure leaves room for construction to continue.

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24h Traffic count on Bissonet here was 17k+ in 2001.

250 units are going to cause the Apocalypse?

Wah wah wah... cry me a river. Protection of privilege...

Edited by woolie

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24h Traffic count on Bissonet here was 17k+ in 2001.

250 units are going to cause the Apocalypse?

Wah wah wah... cry me a river. Protection of privilege...

I was thinking about Cluterbuck living in this neighborhood last night. I know her husband is intimately involved in the Civic club and the effort to save the deed restrictions in the neighborhood. This seems to me to be a complete conflict of interest. She is attempting to get the city involved in a fight that benefits her and her family directly. I know she is supposed to represent the area, but with such a vested interest in what is going on here, she should be very wary of using her public office to try and curtail the development. I know, I know, this sort of self-interested politicing goes on all the time. Still seems dirty to me.

BTW, if the truly wants to stop them and succeeds, are they going to be willing to return the 500k investment the developers already put into the project?

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Just drive westbound down Bissonnet around 5:30 on a week day. You will be crying by the time you reach Kirby Drive......

Good to hear that the Mayor is getting involved. It should make for an interesting battle.

side question: Would the economics really not work for building an upper class 4 -5 story mixed use development on this site (similar to Sonoma)? Wouldn't a project like that be even more marketable to potential buyers?

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i make sure to avoid Bissonnet in the evenings on weekdays...bleh!

as far as four to five stories - if the developers overpaid for the land, then the only way for them to make it worth THEIR while is to build up as high as they can go.

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side question: Would the economics really not work for building an upper class 4 -5 story mixed use development on this site (similar to Sonoma)? Wouldn't a project like that be even more marketable to potential buyers?

i think it's the phrase mixed use that makes the project less feasible. if there are a fixed number of cars that will be there then by design parking could be accomodated. when you start bringing in businesses, it is hard to predict numbers. these developer is definitely looking a higher return with more units which is probably why they were willing to put in 500k for infrastructure.

Edited by musicman

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24h Traffic count on Bissonet here was 17k+ in 2001.

250 units are going to cause the Apocalypse?

Wah wah wah... cry me a river. Protection of privilege...

It won't cause the Apocalypse, but it will make the traffic situation much worse, which will bring down property values in one of the most beautiful areas of Houston. When you own a house, and you've worked years to pay the mortgage and you're looking forward to the day you sell it so you can reap the rewards of your years of hard work, you'll understand.

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Isn't the Hillel Center at 1700 Bissonnet considered to have "church Status", could this possibly be problematic for them to serve alcohol in the building?

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Isn't the Hillel Center at 1700 Bissonnet considered to have "church Status", could this possibly be problematic for them to serve alcohol in the building?

yes, the Hillel Center has religious/exempt status, but i don't know if the TABC 300-foot rule applies - and i think it is for the sale of alcohol, not consumption -

or if 1717 Bissonnet would be 300 feet from 1700 Bissonnet

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The Hillel Center being almost directly across the street from the NE corner of the proposed highrise is certainly within 300'. The highrise was planning to include restaurant and a small convenience type market. Their inability to sell alcohol could be a problem to lease restaurant space.

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It won't cause the Apocalypse, but it will make the traffic situation much worse, which will bring down property values in one of the most beautiful areas of Houston. When you own a house, and you've worked years to pay the mortgage and you're looking forward to the day you sell it so you can reap the rewards of your years of hard work, you'll understand.

Except that you purchased a house in the city of Houston where the people insist they do not want zoning. Well, here is the price. It is hard to feel bad for these people.

Also, all the people purchasing homes in Southhampton were the runup in prices has been out of control, have purchased with the knowledge that the deed restrictions will run out in, I believe, 13 years.

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It is hard to feel bad for these people.

Not for me.

If this were happening to you, whether you were rich or poor, I'd feel bad for you. This isn't anything anybody expected on a two-lane stretch of Bissonnet.

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It is not about whether you feel bad for the people in Southampton. Yes, their homes are some of the most expensive in the city (well beyond what I could hope to afford), but they are no different than any other civic association in the city. They want what is best for their neighborhood

In lieu of deed restrictions, Houston neighborhoods have always fought these kind of developments. Some have been successful and some have not, but you cannot fault an association for putting up a fight. A "they should have seen it coming" logic does not apply.

I had a chance to live in the area has a student and have fond memories of Southampton. Along with Rice University, Hermann Park and the Musuem District, I think this is the one of the most appealing parts of Houston, and a high rise on Bissonnet is only taking away part of that appeal.

Edited by talltexan83

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Not for me.

If this were happening to you, whether you were rich or poor, I'd feel bad for you. This isn't anything anybody expected on a two-lane stretch of Bissonnet.

Well, my point is people need to stop listening to special interests who fight zoning so hard if they want to protect their homes from this type of development. Maybe this spur some sort of movement. I do not think many people would be terribly upset is this type of development were limited to certain areas. I prefer the system in Austin personally where dense development spurs dense development in designated areas while protecting the fabric of single-home neighborhoods.

I actually have family who recently purchased a home in this neighborhood. It sucks for them, but, at least, they have always been proponents of zoning to prevent these types of situations.

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I was thinking about Cluterbuck living in this neighborhood last night. I know her husband is intimately involved in the Civic club and the effort to save the deed restrictions in the neighborhood. This seems to me to be a complete conflict of interest. She is attempting to get the city involved in a fight that benefits her and her family directly. I know she is supposed to represent the area, but with such a vested interest in what is going on here, she should be very wary of using her public office to try and curtail the development. I know, I know, this sort of self-interested politicing goes on all the time. Still seems dirty to me.

BTW, if the truly wants to stop them and succeeds, are they going to be willing to return the 500k investment the developers already put into the project?

How is it a conflict of interest to act on behalf of the interests of constituents? It never occurred to me that politicians were somehow supposed to remain neutral about political issues.

Why should the developers be repaid the $500k investment if they lose it? If you believe in the "free market" then that comes with the risk of losing money due to poorly thought-out investments. Tough beans for them. No one is guaranteed a return.

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I prefer the system in Austin personally where dense development spurs dense development in designated areas while protecting the fabric of single-home neighborhoods.

Really? When did Austin become dense?

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24h Traffic count on Bissonet here was 17k+ in 2001.

250 units are going to cause the Apocalypse?

Wah wah wah... cry me a river. Protection of privilege...

Interesting that the argument becomes all about traffic count, as opposed to all the other neighborhod quality and density issues.

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Really? When did Austin become dense?

Over the past ten years, it has started to happen more and more. You would be surprised.

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Over the past ten years, it has started to happen more and more. You would be surprised.
Yeah, I'd be REAL surprised, since the 2007 estimates give Austin a density of 2379 per square mile....hardly what I'd call dense. Even sprawly Houston is over 3700 per square mile.
Interesting that the argument becomes all about traffic count, as opposed to all the other neighborhod quality and density issues.
It seems that traffic count has become one of the few valid attacks on unwanted development. Most of the others are unworkable on property rights issues.

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