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Electrical permit issued for a 21 story apartment building.

The Ashby high rise land is finally being put to use!    

Comments section...   "This thing had better have long arms and huge teeth like all the ads show it as having or I'm going to be sorely disappointed."     http://www.chro

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surrounding neighborhoods have $1MM+ legal fund put together and 20 area billboards reserved.

true story.

if you thought monaco or shakespeare was ugly, just wait for this one.

popcorn.gif

Unless the billboards are located INSIDE their areas, I think that's a really bad idea. A lot of people who are for zoning and for the overall beautification of the city are VERY anti-billboard. I know if I lived in an area with unwanted billboard clutter, I'd be angry with the rich folks who spent money to advertise their plight in my neighborhood. It also seems to be hypocritical to use billboard advertising when some of their first public arguments have centered around shadow casting, structural height, and protection of "beautiful" areas.

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Unless the billboards are located INSIDE their areas, I think that's a really bad idea. A lot of people who are for zoning and for the overall beautification of the city are VERY anti-billboard. I know if I lived in an area with unwanted billboard clutter, I'd be angry with the rich folks who spent money to advertise their plight in my neighborhood. It also seems to be hypocritical to use billboard advertising when some of their first public arguments have centered around shadow casting, structural height, and protection of "beautiful" areas.

I agree with KinkaidAlum- I think the homeowners should think long and hard before launching a billboard campaign against the developer. I personally have fought against billboards for years and coupled with the ruling this week about Houston's sign ordinance- I think they run the risk of clouding their intent and drawing others into the squabble. That being said, I storngly oppose the location of this new tower.

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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.

Are you trying to tell me real estate investing has no risk? Wow, talk about entitlement...

It just blows my mind that people willing to go to the mat in every other instance to protect the concept of "Property Rights" have an abrupt change of heart when someone legally exercising their own property rights impacts their neighborhood. You can't make this stuff up.

I don't usually lose my cool, but this whole situation involves levels of hypocrisy I couldn't have imagined. They want a truly hands-off city government, except where they need the nanny state to protect/artificially inflate their investments. They don't want zoning, except for their neighborhoods. Crazy.

"Quality of life" issues, sure, ok. NO ONE could have possibly imagined -- the thought was too far fetched to ever pass -- that a nice neighborhood in the middle of the city, with huge developments all around... would ever attract the attention of high rise developers. It was beyond their ken. I used to think people rich enough to buy into these neighborhoods were business savvy enough to understand risk.

Anyway, I just got back from lunch. We drove down Sunset, and there were dozens of signs posted in the median opposing the Ashby high rise, complete with the big scary cartoon. Like the billboards -- if these people are concerned with the "visual integrity" of a neighborhood, they have a strange way of showing it.

Edited by woolie
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Are you trying to tell me real estate investing has no risk? Wow, talk about entitlement...

It just blows my mind that people willing to go to the mat in every other instance to protect the concept of "Property Rights" have an abrupt change of heart when someone legally exercising their own property rights impacts their neighborhood. You can't make this stuff up.

I don't usually lose my cool, but this whole situation involves levels of hypocrisy I couldn't have imagined. They want a truly hands-off city government, except where they need the nanny state to protect/artificially inflate their investments. They don't want zoning, except for their neighborhoods. Crazy.

"Quality of life" issues, sure, ok. NO ONE could have possibly imagined -- the thought was too far fetched to ever pass -- that a nice neighborhood in the middle of the city, with huge developments all around... would ever attract the attention of high rise developers. It was beyond their ken. I used to think people rich enough to buy into these neighborhoods were business savvy enough to understand risk.

Anyway, I just got back from lunch. We drove down Sunset, and there were dozens of signs posted in the median opposing the Ashby high rise, complete with the big scary cartoon. Like the billboards -- if these people are concerned with the "visual integrity" of a neighborhood, they have a strange way of showing it.

nice take

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Are you trying to tell me real estate investing has no risk?

No. Where did that come from? I've lost money and made money on real estate.

Why do you seem to support the developer's rights 100% over the homeowners'? Have you ever invested your own hard-earned money into a piece of property? Not a car or anything that will lose value, but a home for you and your family? Have you worked for years at a job that you aren't passionate about because you need to pay the mortgage for a house in a decent neighborhood while your kids are growing up? If you have, you would expect to at least not lose money when you sold your home. That's a reasonable expectation, even for a "leftie."

Would your landlord be happy if a 24-hour self-storage facility, for example, went up next to the house you're living in? Would he shrug his shoulders, and say "oh, gee, that's the risk I took."? Would you try to get out of your lease if it happened, and then when your landlord said no, shrug your shoulders and say "oh, well, that's the risk I took."?

And have you driven down Bissonnet to see where this is? Can you honestly tell us you think it's a good thing to construct a 23-story tower in that particular location?

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Are you trying to tell me real estate investing has no risk? Wow, talk about entitlement...

It just blows my mind that people willing to go to the mat in every other instance to protect the concept of "Property Rights" have an abrupt change of heart when someone legally exercising their own property rights impacts their neighborhood. You can't make this stuff up.

I don't usually lose my cool, but this whole situation involves levels of hypocrisy I couldn't have imagined. They want a truly hands-off city government, except where they need the nanny state to protect/artificially inflate their investments. They don't want zoning, except for their neighborhoods. Crazy.

"Quality of life" issues, sure, ok. NO ONE could have possibly imagined -- the thought was too far fetched to ever pass -- that a nice neighborhood in the middle of the city, with huge developments all around... would ever attract the attention of high rise developers. It was beyond their ken. I used to think people rich enough to buy into these neighborhoods were business savvy enough to understand risk.

Anyway, I just got back from lunch. We drove down Sunset, and there were dozens of signs posted in the median opposing the Ashby high rise, complete with the big scary cartoon. Like the billboards -- if these people are concerned with the "visual integrity" of a neighborhood, they have a strange way of showing it.

are you really a Hobbesian "property rights" radical or are you just pissed at the power and apparent hypocrisy of a neighborhood of fatcats?

do you support the so-called gentrification of places like the 3rd and 4th Wards at the expense of the cultural fabric of those places, do you support the "townhoming" of places like the Heights and 1st Ward and the destruction of the RO Center for a Barnes & Noble clone?

if these developers wanted to build a manufacturing facility with big trucks running in and out 24/7 on the property would you support that?

real questions, I'm not trying to offend you.

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Can renters not have views on property rights?

Everyone knows your name must be on a property deed to voice an opinion on property rights. This was covered explicitly in the First Amendment of the Constitution, no?

Put this on Montrose just north of Bissonnet/Binz with the other high-rises and nobody will complain.

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I wonder if developer, T. Sharma, will be a NIMBY. He hasn't shone any concern for the residents of other neighborhoods. :unsure:

Maybe he's a BAYBY (Build Anything in Your Back Yard).

Southampton must feel like the walls are closing in on them. Here's another front they're fighting.

Clinic Building to Tower over Southampton

The Civic Club is opposing a planned expansion by the Medical Clinic of Houston, which includes construction of an 88 foot elevation, 130,000 sq. ft. clinic and adjoining 600 car parking garage, projected for construction on the open lot bounded by Sunset, Cherokee, and Rice. The resulting complex will more than triple the clinic size of the present facility, allowing it to function both as a greatly expanded clinic and as a satellite facility of the Methodist Hospital. Construction was originally slated to begin in June 2007. Limited information on the project is posted at MCH's website. The graphic illustrations presented on the MCH site present a distorted view that minimizes the visual impact of this ugly, out of scale project.

The reasons for our opposition to this project are summarized in two documents: Why Oppose the MCH/Methodist Medical Clinic Expansion? outlines the reasons why the project will both immediately damage the neighborhood and pose worrisome long term risks for the neighborhood. The second document is a legal memorandum entitled High Risk Neighbors: Methodist Hospital and the Texas Medical Center Have Statutory Power to Condemn Property, Including Property Subject to Deed Restrictions. This document outlines the threat posed by the power of medical center institutions to condemn land, including land covered by residential deed restrictions.

Also posted are our letter to the Clinic and a similar letter from Boulevard Oaks Civic Association, for the initial list of our concerns and questions about this project. The Clinic's response to our letter is also posted on this site. Additional information can be found in the Southampton Winter newsletter and at our MCH update page.

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One look at these guys website tells me that they will put up a pile of GARBAGE. They've built a few crappy apartment complexes in ugly suburbs. This qualifies them to build a highrise in one the most beautiful neighborhoods in the city? These are the residents who fought TXDOT and had 59 buried. If they can't take on these jokers then there's no hope for maintaining quality of life in Houston.

http://buckfund.com/

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Here is a rendering of the project: http://www.buckfund.com/nss-folder/1717%20.../07018-A401.jpg

It continually amazes me that people here (and in general) are not only willing, but eager, to turn their lives and property rights over to government. :rolleyes:

The immediately adjacent property owners are the only ones that will truly be negatively impacted. And that negative impact will be limited to noise during construction and altered sunlight patterns. (most of the area is shaded by beautiful trees anyway) These concerns are not enough to dismantle the entire system of private property rights than Houstonians enjoy.

Edited by nate
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are you really a Hobbesian "property rights" radical or are you just pissed at the power and apparent hypocrisy of a neighborhood of fatcats?

do you support the so-called gentrification of places like the 3rd and 4th Wards at the expense of the cultural fabric of those places, do you support the "townhoming" of places like the Heights and 1st Ward and the destruction of the RO Center for a Barnes & Noble clone?

if these developers wanted to build a manufacturing facility with big trucks running in and out 24/7 on the property would you support that?

real questions, I'm not trying to offend you.

I have somewhat mixed feelings about the idea of property rights in total, but what really irritates me about this and similar issues is when people who are exercising their rights in full accordance with the law are confronted with a pitchfork-carrying mob. I don't care for any kind of lynching. I don't like the idea of people -- the most politically, socially, and economically connected in the city -- changing the law ex post facto to protect an entrenched position. It's just another instance demonstrating the kind of skewed responses our system encourages, the hypocrisy of the whole thing. How many of these Southhampton homeowners are in fact developers trampling all over other neighborhoods, barking the same 'property rights' line all the way to the bank?

I dislike the idea of zoning. I think it's a system that's easily gamed by well connected people to increase their wealth, at the expense of people with less means. I think that introducing zoning into the City of Houston might strongly impact the availability of affordable housing inside the loop.... which to this point has been of Houston's few gold stars. I want to see increases in Houston's density while maintaining mixed-use and mixed-income neighborhoods... instead of a kind of "urban disneyland" heavily-gentrified neighborhoods in other cities have become. And yes, increasing density means redevelopment and change. I understand and accept this. A city isn't a glass-encased diorama. I don't like all the consequences of market-based real estate, but it may be the least bad solution overall in keeping housing affordable generally. Issues like 4th ward are sensitive for historical and political reasons, but I hardly think zoning is the tool. What do you do, mark it as undevelopable and fix the current rent forever? Do you let home prices float, or fix them as well? Townhomes are allowing people who can't afford a half-acro lot on North Boulevard to remain residents of the inner city... to allow it to remain a vital area, which in the end is a net positive benefit whatever your aesthetic tastes about these townhomes (personally I like blocks of townhomes, I think they are an excellent urban form.) I don't necessarily think things should be protected because they're old, or beautiful... in the end, if RO goes, I won't cry, because it's being replaced with something larger and the area is still alive. The only building on my cry-cry-cry-list right now is the Prudential on Holcombe.. I've held death vigil for it now for almost 3 years.

If the developers wanted to build a manufacturing facility, I suppose that'd be fine as well. Although it's mighty expensive land for that purpose :) I lived next door to the Mosaic while it was under construction, and it was extremely noisy, workers would park in front of our driveway, etc. But it's part of the reality of living in a dynamic city, as opposed to the above museum piece. Currently I live next to the midtown Fiesta, also near 59. Grocer's Supply trucks frequently drive down my street, but I guess I just don't consider it an issue. It's a trade-off to live in an affordable place within walking distance to a light rail stop.

Edited by woolie
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Anyway, after work today I went down Sunset again. The signs that were in the median had been moved. Thankyou, City of Houston Sign Enforcement. I imagine someone called the bandit sign unit. I can only hope citations were issued. Many of the lots still had the signs, though.

No. Where did that come from? I've lost money and made money on real estate.

Why do you seem to support the developer's rights 100% over the homeowners'? Have you ever invested your own hard-earned money into a piece of property? Not a car or anything that will lose value, but a home for you and your family? Have you worked for years at a job that you aren't passionate about because you need to pay the mortgage for a house in a decent neighborhood while your kids are growing up? If you have, you would expect to at least not lose money when you sold your home. That's a reasonable expectation, even for a "leftie."

Would your landlord be happy if a 24-hour self-storage facility, for example, went up next to the house you're living in? Would he shrug his shoulders, and say "oh, gee, that's the risk I took."? Would you try to get out of your lease if it happened, and then when your landlord said no, shrug your shoulders and say "oh, well, that's the risk I took."?

And have you driven down Bissonnet to see where this is? Can you honestly tell us you think it's a good thing to construct a 23-story tower in that particular location?

First, I wouldn't work at a job I didn't enjoy. That's one hell of a way to piss your life away. No amount of money is worth misery.

Second, I think your choice of the term "expect" is unintentionally accurate, as in, Expected Value. Statistically, you might even make money. But the damn thing about median outcomes is the bottom half. Humans are lousy at playing odds, we tend to expect unrealistic outcomes even when we know the full probabilities. It's one reason why gambling and religion are so popular.

Third, I already live in a mixed-use neighborhood. A self-storage facility would be a neutral change. And the fortunate thing about a lease is that it's only for a year or two. Whether I think it is a good location is irrelevant -- I'm not the one gambling that it's going to sell well. I just support his right to make this choice.

he's a renter.

This is also irrelevant. This ad hom tries to imply many different things; it would take a novel in response.

Edited by woolie
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I have somewhat mixed feelings about the idea of property rights in total, but what really irritates me about this and similar issues is when people who are exercising their rights in full accordance with the law are confronted with a pitchfork-carrying mob.

I realize that you are probably using this term rhetorically, but you do run the risk of giving a false impression. A pitchfork carrying mob suggests mere middle class home owners. These people are none such. While us Heights residents might resort to such old-fashioned (but historically accurate!) tactics as brandishing pitchforks, this is to be expected in a neighborhood full of aging beatniks, barely employed lawyers, lesbians and former suburbanites looking for the excitement of living in the "urban frontier".

mob.jpg

(Heights residents protesting proposed condo project)

But, Southampton is decidedly no Heights. These people have jobs! They drive cars with actual gasoline engines. The only pitchforks brandished are by the gardeners! No, Southamptoners would never sully their hands with such agrarian methods as pitchforks and torches. These are a fully modern and savvy people. And, they have disposable income. As such, they have gravitated to a far more modern and effective means of protest. I have it on good authority that the residents have opened their mighty wallets to employ the most feared protest group known to man. No, Daryl Hannah is not camping in one of the live oaks. This is much bigger. The Southampton HOA has contracted the Blackwater USA security firm to protest for them.

blackwater_mercenaries.jpg

(Blackwater "protesters" marching down Bissonnet)

This condo protest is as good as done. I look for the announcement that the condo will be moved to the former Eckerds site on 11th Street any day.

Edited by RedScare
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How do you know he is not expressing the view of his landlord, thereby giving his view equal footing with a property owner.....a property rights proxy, if you will?

i'm laughing over danax's post. i'm sure woolie isn't espressing the will of his landlord.

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if you ingore negative behavior it will eventually exstinguish itself

The thing is, there are times where the only way to snuff out bad behavior is if you put it to the pillow filter test.

This consists of putting a pillow tightly against their face and see if they are able to breathe through it under pressure.

Granted, there might be some side effects, but the negativity would subside greatly.

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Sorry I missed it. I was out driving on Bissonnet thinking about how great a highrise would be there.

It'd be better, say, where the CVS on Richmond @ Montrose is. But I guess it was cheaper for the developer to buy the Maryland Manor than the CVS.

It doesn't really look like they can do a whole lot to increase capacity on that stretch of Bissonnet, but I may be wrong. Absent of that I will probably avo...er, hell, I avoid Bissonnet as it is.

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I want Houston to be dense. Bring on the developement, tear down those neighborhoods, expand those roads, and lay down some rail.

Houston is moving, its about time some of you moved with it too.

and I see you're from Abilene, which pretty well explains things ....

Edited by bruce
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Wah wah wah... cry me a river. Protection of privilege...

Um, yes, that's exactly what it is - protection of privilege. Money buys privileges. If you've worked all your life to live on a beautiful street like South Boulevard, you should be able to buy that place without fearing that somebody is going to build a huge tower behind your yard and ruin things. Nothing wrong with having laws to prevent that kind of thing.

If you don't like the concept that people who have money should be able to have things that people without money do not have, I would suggest living in a different country....

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.

Certain sections of Austin have become increasingly dense as a result of zoning policies. Check out the neighborhood west of Guadalupe St. near the UT campus and Hyde Park. It is more dense and more vibrant with pedestrian life than any neighborhood I can think of in Houston. I think this was the original poster's point...

Austin makes an excellent case study in all this. They steered all the high-rises towards one neighborhood, and zoned neighborhoods like Hyde Park for single-family. Hence if you want to live in a high-rise, you are in a neighborhood with other high-rises (and hence more exciting than if they were scattered about), and if you want a nice house in a tranquil lawn, you can live in Hyde Park without worrying about a condo tower going up behind you.

Wow! Planning! What a concept!

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Um, yes, that's exactly what it is - protection of privilege. Money buys privileges. If you've worked all your life to live on a beautiful street like South Boulevard, you should be able to buy that place without fearing that somebody is going to build a huge tower behind your yard and ruin things. Nothing wrong with having laws to prevent that kind of thing.

If you don't like the concept that people who have money should be able to have things that people without money do not have, I would suggest living in a different country....

That someone has money does (and should) not automatically endow them with privileges. It affords them the option to purchase privileges from those willing and able to guarantee them. The City of Houston is not zoned. The site of that proposed highrise is not deed restricted. This knowledge is contained in publicly-available documents. A homeowner in the affected neighborhood could have paid to be in West University, but didn't. They instead chose willfully to purchase a home in a neighborhood that is subject to greater risk of changing. The risk seems to be playing out in a way that is not to their advantage but that is instead to the advantage of hundreds of future residents of a great neighborhood.

Why should the greed/money of a wealthy few trump that of the greater aggregate greed/money of the slightly-less-wealthy masses? This is, of course, keeping in mind that the United States does not recognize an aristocracy.

Certain sections of Austin have become increasingly dense as a result of zoning policies. Check out the neighborhood west of Guadalupe St. near the UT campus and Hyde Park. It is more dense and more vibrant with pedestrian life than any neighborhood I can think of in Houston. I think this was the original poster's point...

Austin makes an excellent case study in all this. They steered all the high-rises towards one neighborhood, and zoned neighborhoods like Hyde Park for single-family. Hence if you want to live in a high-rise, you are in a neighborhood with other high-rises (and hence more exciting than if they were scattered about), and if you want a nice house in a tranquil lawn, you can live in Hyde Park without worrying about a condo tower going up behind you.

Wow! Planning! What a concept!

Newsflash: Austin ≠ Houston

Edited by TheNiche
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H-Town man is also ignoring the fact that, if these neighbors were really that rich, they could (and should) use that wealth to buy those properties that might be used in an adverse way, thereby guaranteeing that they will not be adversely impacted. They chose not to, thereby running the same risk of a highrise going up behind their yard as peons like myself run living in lesser neighborhoods. As capitalists, I would have expected them to know this better than most.

Good to see my pal (and fellow North Carolinian) Rusty Hardin on the case, though.

Edited by RedScare
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Personally, I'd hate to see this rise on Bissonnet. That area of Houston is very attractive and the scale is totally wrong for the neighborhood.

That said, I don't think it should be stopped. The developers have done nothing illegal in putting this project together. Additionally, it appears they've put together a nice project too (other than location). I am all for highrises with ground floor retail, restaurants, spas, live/work spaces, and residential living all mixed together. It certainly beats the walled off, isolated towers we've seen built in the city that do nothing to encourage neighborly interaction.

My only real complaint is why oh why couldn't this be built on any of the numerous lots on a rail line (or on a future rail line)? That will only be fixed by better regulatory policies for developers.

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My only real complaint is why oh why couldn't this be built on any of the numerous lots on a rail line (or on a future rail line)? That will only be fixed by better regulatory policies for developers.

Maybe they ought to run the University Line down Bissonnet. Might as well now if this thing is going up. It can link up with Westpark and they can save the trees on Richmond and Afton Oaks will be happy...by the way, where is John Culberson on this since he was the one throwing his weight around against the light rail line? Or does he only get involved in neighborhood affairs when federal transit money is at stake?

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These two gentleman do not live in Houston but prefer the restricted areas of West University and Southside Place, where local development regulations (zoning) provide protection against out of scale projects.

They know exactly how they got into this situation, and the remedy... in the same breath they trash WU for zoning, but demand zoning in SH. What is their case against this building again? :)

(edit: i hate bbcode)

Edited by woolie
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That someone has money does (and should) not automatically endow them with privileges. It affords them the option to purchase privileges from those willing and able to guarantee them. The City of Houston is not zoned. The site of that proposed highrise is not deed restricted. This knowledge is contained in publicly-available documents. A homeowner in the affected neighborhood could have paid to be in West University, but didn't. They instead chose willfully to purchase a home in a neighborhood that is subject to greater risk of changing. The risk seems to be playing out in a way that is not to their advantage but that is instead to the advantage of hundreds of future residents of a great neighborhood.

Why should the greed/money of a wealthy few trump that of the greater aggregate greed/money of the slightly-less-wealthy masses? This is, of course, keeping in mind that the United States does not recognize an aristocracy.

My post does not debate whether or not Houston has zoning, but whether it should have zoning of some sort. I think people should be able to protect the quality of life in their neighborhood. This is not a question of someone's money trumping someone else's money (not sure how greed entered in). There are a hundred innocuous sites in the city where that tower could be built. The developers just didn't bother looking for one.

Newsflash: Austin ≠ Houston

Way to ignore the substance of my post. I see no reason why the principle used in Austin wouldn't make sense in Houston. It makes more sense to steer the high density developments toward certain areas where they can be together rather than to have them scattered across residential neighborhoods.

H-Town man is also ignoring the fact that, if these neighbors were really that rich, they could (and should) use that wealth to buy those properties that might be used in an adverse way, thereby guaranteeing that they will not be adversely impacted. They chose not to, thereby running the same risk of a highrise going up behind their yard as peons like myself run living in lesser neighborhoods. As capitalists, I would have expected them to know this better than most.

Just because someone is rich doesn't mean they're a capitalist. If they are capitalist, then it probably wouldn't have occurred to them to pool their money together to buy properties to protect the common good. They were just hoping they could handle any situation mano a mano.

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H-Town, Niche and I were merely responding to your post. While I am sure that Niche is dead set against zoning, I am neither for it or against it. I have lived in zoned cities. I know that the developers control the zoning. The same dynamic (money) that will cause this project to succeed or fail in a non-zoned city will apply in a zoned city.

The same thing applies to this project. I do not have a dog in this hunt. I am neither for nor against the homeowners. I respect their right to protest the development, just as I have that same right. However, I am not inherently against the developer, either. Let's face it, they are proposing to replace one apartment complex with another. They just do not like this apartment complex.

The point I objected to in your post is that a moneyed homeowner is owed any more protection than a poor one, just because of his wealth. He is not. If he wants more protection, he must spend his money to gain it. It may be a sad fact of life that the wealthy are accorded more privileges simply because they are wealthy. But, that doesn't mean that they deserve it....or that the law should support it.

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No. Where did that come from? I've lost money and made money on real estate.

Why do you seem to support the developer's rights 100% over the homeowners'? Have you ever invested your own hard-earned money into a piece of property? Not a car or anything that will lose value, but a home for you and your family? Have you worked for years at a job that you aren't passionate about because you need to pay the mortgage for a house in a decent neighborhood while your kids are growing up? If you have, you would expect to at least not lose money when you sold your home. That's a reasonable expectation, even for a "leftie."

Would your landlord be happy if a 24-hour self-storage facility, for example, went up next to the house you're living in? Would he shrug his shoulders, and say "oh, gee, that's the risk I took."? Would you try to get out of your lease if it happened, and then when your landlord said no, shrug your shoulders and say "oh, well, that's the risk I took."?

And have you driven down Bissonnet to see where this is? Can you honestly tell us you think it's a good thing to construct a 23-story tower in that particular location?

I personally think there are several better locations (as everyone else has said). However, I don't think you can say that this is "developer" versus "homeowner". They are both landowners, and it seems to me that in the City of Houston, they are equals. The "developer" also worked hard to get the income possible to buy the land and build on that spot. It's not the developers' fault that he has the money to do this project and his upcoming new neighbors don't. When Houstonians speak of defending their individual property rights--they are also speaking for their neighbor's right to do what they want with their property--no matter if the neighbor is an individual or a company. To think otherwise is hypocrisy or admitting, "oh, we didn't envision this." It may be an unintended consequence, but a consequence nonetheless.

Speaking of--has anyone gotten the Houston Property Rights Association's views on this whole issue? If they don't support the developer, then they are not worth the paper that their name is written on.

People seem to forget (or be ignorant of) the fact that had this been a zoning case (and I'm not advocating zoning in the most traditional sense of governing uses--but in a sense of form), EVERY neighbor would have been notified within 200 feet of this property that the developer was applying to construct a building larger than the surrounding buildings (which would have resulted in a density designation change from the rest of the area). These same neighbors would have thrown a fit, but to the planning commission in a PUBLIC, recorded hearing, who would have then turned the development down or forced them back to the drawing board. People automatically think of something like zoning as the City making decisions for neighborhoods and property owners from an ivory tower overlooking everyone else. This is not the case. There's a reason why other cities have "rezoning battles"--it's because of the same issue as Southampton. The difference is that HOA dues would not have to go to pay for Rusty Hardin to fight a winless battle--instead it would have been their taxpayer dollars (that they already pay) at work through planning department employees and planning commission public meetings revealing development plans before they are done deals.

This development is, for what it's worth, a done deal.

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I personally think there are several better locations (as everyone else has said).

There are indeed better sites, but those sites tend to be more expensive so as to kill the deal's profit margins. That means that many of our city's best sites will be vacant for a long time, but that when they are put to use, it'll be on on a scale that reflects the land price. Since the land price is supported by high enough market demand to justify a highrise, what is really occuring here is market-based zoning for both use and density.

People seem to forget (or be ignorant of) the fact that had this been a zoning case (and I'm not advocating zoning in the most traditional sense of governing uses--but in a sense of form), EVERY neighbor would have been notified within 200 feet of this property that the developer was applying to construct a building larger than the surrounding buildings (which would have resulted in a density designation change from the rest of the area). These same neighbors would have thrown a fit, but to the planning commission in a PUBLIC, recorded hearing, who would have then turned the development down or forced them back to the drawing board. People automatically think of something like zoning as the City making decisions for neighborhoods and property owners from an ivory tower overlooking everyone else. This is not the case. There's a reason why other cities have "rezoning battles"--it's because of the same issue as Southampton. The difference is that HOA dues would not have to go to pay for Rusty Hardin to fight a winless battle--instead it would have been their taxpayer dollars (that they already pay) at work through planning department employees and planning commission public meetings revealing development plans before they are done deals.

If a zoning variance occurs, the process that you describe applies. But in coming up with a zoning plan, usually what happens is that cities bring in outside consultant that goes through the motions of soliciting public input, which is then summarized and put in the appendix of a document that nobody will ever read. The zoning plan reflects market demand and usually won't vary greatly from what developers would've built anyway. The exception, of course, is that any industry near residential (which was usually built prior to the homes being there) gets rezoned to some special designation. It doesn't change anything though; the industry is still there, but it gives the local politicians a reason to play up that they care about environmental issues and the public health.

Many cities, especially those that are largely suburban in character (like most of Houston), initially zone out multifamily almost altogether because they know that it would piss off a lot of people throughout the city all at once. Instead, good multifamily sites are zoned commercial. When a developer requests that a zoning designation be changed, it usually happens if the site is in a lower- or middle-class neighborhood; this pisses off a small portion of a constituency each time it happens, but not one large enough to make a difference. Politicians don't get much campaign support from these areas anyway and usually don't live there, themselves. Wealthier neighborhoods, on the other hand, complain loudly and in an organized way, contribute to campaigns, and vote. So they receive special treatment.

Smaller cities are certainly more entrenched on account of that it is harder to build away from where the politicians actually live, however their public officials tend not to be under as great a level of scrutiny; it is a breeding ground for back-room deals and under-the-table goings-on.

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My post does not debate whether or not Houston has zoning, but whether it should have zoning of some sort. I think people should be able to protect the quality of life in their neighborhood. This is not a question of someone's money trumping someone else's money (not sure how greed entered in).

I agree that people should be able to protect the quality of life in their neighborhood. I do not agree that zoning is an effective mechanism, especially considering that a City that chooses zoning has to zone their entire municipality--not just the neighborhoods that want it. This is one reason of many that I prefer deed restrictions enacted among private parties.

There are a hundred innocuous sites in the city where that tower could be built. The developers just didn't bother looking for one.

What, you think they threw a dart at a map, it landed on 1717 Bissonnet, and so they decided to build a tower there!? To get as far as they have, they've probably cleared half a dozen individuals both internal and external to the company that could've killed the deal.

Way to ignore the substance of my post. I see no reason why the principle used in Austin wouldn't make sense in Houston. It makes more sense to steer the high density developments toward certain areas where they can be together rather than to have them scattered across residential neighborhoods.

Austin is different in nearly every respect from Houston--demographically, economically, politically, geographically. Attempts at comparison between their multifamily or highrise markets are very weak. Let me just ask you, with a market perspective in mind: who would want to pay highrise pricing to live in just about any part of Austin other than where their highrises are being built?

Edited by TheNiche
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  • Highrise Tower changed the title to Ashby High-Rise: 1717 Bissonnet

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