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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.

deed restrictions are good IF all parcels of land are restricted. this is the crux of problem. Now should the city have given a permit OR should they have delayed granting a permit until a study could be done to ensure infrastructure could support a development such as this.

money talks down at the permit dept.

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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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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?

The only way you're going to put a light rail line down Bissonnet is if you just close the road to traffic entirely. Considering that there is absolutely nothing on Bissonnet right now but cars, I wouldn't expect this to happen.

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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.

Thank you for your sensitive reply. I understand your objection now... and I think you misunderstood me. I did not mean to say that rich people deserve more protection than poor people. What I meant was that anyone should be able to protect what they have. Whether you have worked to own a $4 million house or a $40,000 house, you should expect reasonable protections for your investment, and fight to make laws if such protections are not there. I think that not allowing condo towers next to single-family lots is reasonable, whether it's Northampton, the Heights, or anywhere else.

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?

Both have a demand for urban highrise living, and both have quiet residential areas. The only difference I see is that, whereas Austin is forcing highrises to be built in certain areas with other highrises, Houston is letting them be built anywhere.

And to answer your question, there are plenty of other places in Austin a highrise would work! They could be built right on the other side of Guadalupe in Hyde Park. You don't think people would live in a highrise in Hyde Park if it were allowed? How much time have you spent in Austin?

The whole point of putting a highrise in a residential area is that the highrise tenants can benefit from the quiet, safety, and relative low traffic of the area, while at the same time they are depleting those goods for everyone else. That's why these developers didn't want to go to Midtown or the Museum District, where a hundred empty blocks are waiting, and instead decided to ruin Northampton.

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I did not mean to say that rich people deserve more protection than poor people. What I meant was that anyone should be able to protect what they have. Whether you have worked to own a $4 million house or a $40,000 house, you should expect reasonable protections for your investment, and fight to make laws if such protections are not there.

So, on the basis of protecting investments in residential real estate, you might believe it justified that homeowners would back a politician that wants to halt all new development within a metropolitan area so as to ensure future price appreciation? It'll work if that's your goal. It'll also destroy that city's future and seriously hurt anyone that isn't already a property holder (i.e. people that statistically tend to be poorer). ...of course, that's an extreme example of a barrier to entry, but that is the same essential effect that occurs as a result of restrictive zoning--assuming, of course that the city's leaders aren't just creating a massive bureaucracy and zoning exactly as the market would dictate in the first place, which is fairly typical.

Both have a demand for urban highrise living, and both have quiet residential areas. The only difference I see is that, whereas Austin is forcing highrises to be built in certain areas with other highrises, Houston is letting them be built anywhere.

And to answer your question, there are plenty of other places in Austin a highrise would work! They could be built right on the other side of Guadalupe in Hyde Park. You don't think people would live in a highrise in Hyde Park if it were allowed? How much time have you spent in Austin?

The whole point of putting a highrise in a residential area is that the highrise tenants can benefit from the quiet, safety, and relative low traffic of the area, while at the same time they are depleting those goods for everyone else. That's why these developers didn't want to go to Midtown or the Museum District, where a hundred empty blocks are waiting, and instead decided to ruin Northampton.

I was born in Austin, visit frequently, and have worked on several projects in and around it, including by sheer coincidence one in Hyde Park. I tend to consider multifamily in Hyde Park as competing for the same buyers/renters as product downtown and immediately around UT and up Guadalupe to about the Triangle. Lots of students, even in the more expensive projects; barring age restrictions, which very quickly kill a central Austin deal, they're pretty much unavoidable. They are younger and from a very different psychographic than highrise buyers/renters in Houston, which tend to be transplants from New England, the west coast, or from overseas...there is a reason that Finger's downtown project looks like it was plucked from NYC. Houston highrises need to be situated near work, near cultural amenities, or somewhere quiet and private--Austin's multifamily buyers/renters are all about social hiving. They want to be in the midst of the action as it pertains to people of their own age cohort; they wouldn't care so much about being in walking distance to MFAH and most would find Northhampton pretty boring.

Also bear in mind that in Houston, if you want a view, you've got to go vertical. There is no geographically-convenient alternative. In Austin, there are plenty of nice peaceful hillside neighborhoods with the capacity for sweeping vistas.

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So, on the basis of protecting investments in residential real estate, you might believe it justified that homeowners would back a politician that wants to halt all new development within a metropolitan area so as to ensure future price appreciation? It'll work if that's your goal. It'll also destroy that city's future and seriously hurt anyone that isn't already a property holder (i.e. people that statistically tend to be poorer). ...of course, that's an extreme example of a barrier to entry, but that is the same essential effect that occurs as a result of restrictive zoning--assuming, of course that the city's leaders aren't just creating a massive bureaucracy and zoning exactly as the market would dictate in the first place, which is fairly typical.

This is the classic false dichotomy of anti-zoning arguments. Zone, they say, and you'll stifle growth in the city and create a stagnant urban museum. Um, no, zoning does not need to stifle growth. All it does is order it and prevent it from happening in ways detrimental to what's already there. Dallas and Atlanta have zoning... are they growing any less than we are?

I didn't see anything in your Austin comments that weakened my argument. They have protected residential districts like Hyde Park while creating exciting high-rise districts close by. None of their restrictions have stifled the growth of the city. Condo developers in Houston would get by if they were forced to build in places like the Museum District and not next to houses. Just look at Museum Tower... it seems to have been successful.

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I think ultimately this is going to get scaled down to something not a whole lot more high-density than the apartment complex that's already there, and that's if they end up not scrapping the whole thing altogether.

Who needs zoning ordinances when you can just have people raise hell on a per-case basis whenever something is proposed to go up that encroaches on them? Maybe instead of a formal code they could just have some sort of land-use court where a neighborhood association or individual property owners go present their case to a judge/arbiter against a developer who in turn could try to explain how their project will not have severe negative effects on the surrounding area. This would avert the whole process of going to a zoning system where you are trying to retroactively apply use restrictions to places that do not have them and have mixed-use developments throughout.

As it is, Southampton residents ought to do is pool their funds to buy the Maryland Manor and then do whatever they see fit - sell it to someone who will develop something they would want, or run the apartments as they are, or just tear it down and put a park there or something.

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This is the classic false dichotomy of anti-zoning arguments. Zone, they say, and you'll stifle growth in the city and create a stagnant urban museum. Um, no, zoning does not need to stifle growth. All it does is order it and prevent it from happening in ways detrimental to what's already there. Dallas and Atlanta have zoning... are they growing any less than we are?

I didn't say that growth would necessarily be stifled--only if, contrary to the way that it is typically practiced, zoning is actually implemented with the intention of doing something other than what market forces would otherwise bring about. While zoning does provide order, so does the free market. The key premise of zoning is that government bureaucrats are able to provide a better order than individuals acting alone. I would dispute any such assertion.

Dallas and Atlanta each have zoning, and yes indeed, they are growing less than we are. I'm not going to attribute that entirely to zoning, however. The different levels of growth are affected by a myriad of issues, the first among them being that Houston's land area is larger.

I didn't see anything in your Austin comments that weakened my argument. They have protected residential districts like Hyde Park while creating exciting high-rise districts close by. None of their restrictions have stifled the growth of the city. Condo developers in Houston would get by if they were forced to build in places like the Museum District and not next to houses. Just look at Museum Tower... it seems to have been successful.

Austin's zoning policies are regularly nonsensical. I would provide a specific example to which I am privy, but am held to confidentiality. The bottom line is that there are sites zoned for something that can't possibly exist on them, either because it is just a bad zone or because the zoning in concert with other codes makes it impossible for a developer to turn a profit.

However, that they would create a highrise district in the CBD and not Hyde Park is mimicking market forces. I've already explained to you how the Austin market is fundamentally different than the Houston market. If you have a criticism of that explanation, please make it known. Otherwise, I'd request that you read what I write and not ignore it in your response.

Btw, it always astounds me when someone just assumes that developers in Houston (or anywhere) could get by with one or another new regs in place. While it is true that there are always other places for them to invest their money--and perhaps not in condos/apartments--the developers are hurt less than the prospective residents of projects that restrictive public policy makes impossible to build. Not only are they denied the option of living in the best neighborhoods, but it puts in place a barrier to development that in the long run drives up the market price of housing.

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Who needs zoning ordinances when you can just have people raise hell on a per-case basis whenever something is proposed to go up that encroaches on them? Maybe instead of a formal code they could just have some sort of land-use court where a neighborhood association or individual property owners go present their case to a judge/arbiter against a developer who in turn could try to explain how their project will not have severe negative effects on the surrounding area. This would avert the whole process of going to a zoning system where you are trying to retroactively apply use restrictions to places that do not have them and have mixed-use developments throughout.

If there are going to be public policies that restrict development, they need to be codified. Even more dangerous to a pro forma than having to comply with lots of rules or regulations or paying fees is uncertainty. It costs money (and lots of it) to be able to evaluate a site, conduct initial due diligence, draw up architectural plans and renderings, and make a public presentation. And if the developer is required to prove that there aren't any negative effects, then they usually have to hire a bunch of third party consultants to prove their point. They won't even bother in the first place if the outcome is based upon the whim of an arbiter, and not steadfast rules.

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I don't think that the project is going to be scrapped (but I would suggest it should be relocated, which isn't going to happen), but a feeling that unless the creditor falls through, its going to go forward.

The compaints of a relatively small number of the community isn't really going to affect it one way or another. If Z***ing was involved, this wouldn't even be up for discussion.

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I don't think that the project is going to be scrapped (but I would suggest it should be relocated, which isn't going to happen), but a feeling that unless the creditor falls through, its going to go forward.

....

Buckhead has hired HFF to find financing for the project, and it ain't a done-deal yet, as we say here in the provinces.

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According to the Chronicle, some of the neighbors have no problem with the idea of buying the property from the developers:

One kink in the plan to try to buy out Buckhead or get them to do something different is that the developer has already invested $500,000 to expand the sewer capacity, Clutterbuck said. That did not stop some residents from offering up funds to buy out the developer.

"How much did Matthew Morgan pay for this property and how much has he put into it,'' asked Alexandra Tyson of the 2300 block of Quenby. "Why not just go ahead and see if we can buy him out? I think it's a shame we were asleep at the wheel and didn't know about this project prior to this going on.''

Civic club leaders said there was at least $5.2 million worth of debt in the property. Tools to use

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The key premise of zoning is that government bureaucrats are able to provide a better order than individuals acting alone. I would dispute any such assertion.

If individuals always made the right decisions on their own, we wouldn't have governments. The idea of a government is to give the public some control over what can happen so that there aren't abuses. Building a highrise next to single-family houses is an excellent case.

Dallas and Atlanta each have zoning, and yes indeed, they are growing less than we are.

It's been pretty dead even since 2000, thanks largely to the high oil prices; in the 90's, both of them grew much faster than us.

However, that they would create a highrise district in the CBD and not Hyde Park is mimicking market forces. I've already explained to you how the Austin market is fundamentally different than the Houston market. If you have a criticism of that explanation, please make it known. Otherwise, I'd request that you read what I write and not ignore it in your response.

And I have not even once mentioned the CBD, but rather the two sides of Guadalupe St., where on the west side you have high density developments and on the east side, a protected single-family neighborhood. Who is not reading whom?

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It's been pretty dead even since 2000, thanks largely to the high oil prices; in the 90's, both of them grew much faster than us.

You may be confusing metro population growth with city population growth (In this case, only the city numbers are relevant, as the city's zoning or lack thereof would not likely have any significant effect on suburban growth, or lack thereof)

Here are the numbers from the US Census Bureau:

Houston:

1990: 1,630,553

2000: 1,953,631

2006: 2,144,491

Dallas:

1990: 1,006,877

2000: 1,188,580

2006: 1,232,940

Atlanta

1990: 394,017

2000: 416,474

2006: 486,411

Numeric Growth

1990's:

Houston: 323,098

Dallas: 181,703

Atlanta: 22,447

2000-2006:

Houston: 190,860

Dallas: 44,360

Atlanta: 69,937

1990-2006:

Houston: 513,938

Dallas: 226,063

Atlanta: 92,394

Percentage Growth:

1990s:

Houston: 19.81%

Dallas: 18.05%

Atlanta: 5.7%

2000-2006:

Houston: 9.77%

Dallas: 3.73%

Atlanta: 16.79%

1990-2006:

Houston: 31.52%

Dallas: 22.45%

Atlanta: 23.45%

Edited by Houston19514
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If individuals always made the right decisions on their own, we wouldn't have governments. The idea of a government is to give the public some control over what can happen so that there aren't abuses. Building a highrise next to single-family houses is an excellent case.

The idea of a government depends upon who you ask. As far as I'm concerned, the purpose of our government in its current form is to prevent tyranny and to ensure that basic human rights are upheld IMO. That a house and a highrise could be adjacent to one another is a non-issue in that context.

It's been pretty dead even since 2000, thanks largely to the high oil prices; in the 90's, both of them grew much faster than us.

Don't confuse the 'City' with the 'city'. All that matters in a debate over zoning impacts to population growth is the municipality in which the laws are enforced. Your comments apply to the metropolitan areas, but not very well at all to the central Cities. If I'm not mistaken, the population of the City of Dallas was actually declining for a few years. Houston encompasses an area from the urban core to the suburban fringe; it cannot be directly compared to any other City within a metropolitan area of similar population anywhere in the country.

And I have not even once mentioned the CBD, but rather the two sides of Guadalupe St., where on the west side you have high density developments and on the east side, a protected single-family neighborhood. Who is not reading whom?

You were refering to a "highrise district". I don't recall there being such a district just along the east side of Guadalupe from Hyde Park; there is however something that could approximate that description in the CBD. I know because I was there, rowing back and forth on Town Lake two weeks ago today, watching the cranes at work.

Edited by TheNiche
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sorry if this has been covered before...

1) this deal is faaaaaaaaaar from being a "done deal".

2) as an example: the land that LSR owns (monaco) has zero restrictions. in theory and by the letter of houstons law, they can build a highrise on their site. their current model could be built without any setback variances and they could hit their number. the reason why they havent is because anyone's name involved in that deal will become mud in houston. from social to business partners to anything.. for a lack of better words, they will be considered a leper in social circles.

3) im not saying this is right or wrong BUT the surrounding neighborhoods have very deep pockets and even more politically connected .

i do not foresee this deal going foward without it getting very, very, very ugly and bloody. honestly, it doesnt affect me one way or the other because i have zero personal interest either way. however, its going to be fun to watch.

popcorn.gif

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The idea of a government depends upon who you ask. As far as I'm concerned, the purpose of our government in its current form is to prevent tyranny and to ensure that basic human rights are upheld IMO.

Luckily the purpose of government doesn't depend on your opinion. Right now city government does a lot of things besides preventing tyranny and ensuring that basic rights are upheld. There are many ordinances in place that protect quality of life in our neighborhoods; preventing highrises from being built next to homes could be seen as another such ordinance.

Don't confuse the 'City' with the 'city'. All that matters in a debate over zoning impacts to population growth is the municipality in which the laws are enforced. Your comments apply to the metropolitan areas, but not very well at all to the central Cities.

Most if not all of Dallas's suburbs have zoning as well (don't know about Atlanta), so you still need to explain to me how the metro area has grown so fast if zoning stifles growth.

You were refering to a "highrise district". I don't recall there being such a district just along the east side of Guadalupe from Hyde Park; there is however something that could approximate that description in the CBD. I know because I was there, rowing back and forth on Town Lake two weeks ago today, watching the cranes at work.

Guadalupe is west of Hyde Park (you sure seem to know Austin....). The urban district that I am referring to is west of Guadalupe. Most of the buildings there could probably be more accurately described as midrises, but this does nothing to change the point of my post, which is that putting all the high-density developments together and keeping them out of single-family neighborhoods makes more sense than letting such things be built in quiet neighborhoods.

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I suspect there's no gain in arguing with ideology, but I would point out - one more time - that it is misleading to assert that because Houston has grown, and has no zoning, that therefore growth is attributable to lack of zoning. Correlation is not causation.

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Luckily the purpose of government doesn't depend on your opinion. Right now city government does a lot of things besides preventing tyranny and ensuring that basic rights are upheld. There are many ordinances in place that protect quality of life in our neighborhoods; preventing highrises from being built next to homes could be seen as another such ordinance.

I'm not saying that zoning is an illegal practice--just that it should be. As I said (and you then pointed back out to me as though I didn't already know it), I only stated one man's opinion on the purpose of government. You may have your opinion too, but luckily your opinion is just as irrelevant as mine in the big picture of things.

Most if not all of Dallas's suburbs have zoning as well (don't know about Atlanta), so you still need to explain to me how the metro area has grown so fast if zoning stifles growth.

Firstly, as I have already told you time and time again, most cities use zoning to replicate the patterns of market-driven development. Doing so is to essentially create a bureaucracy without purpose or very much effect--which is just stupid--but that's what happens very frequently.

Secondly, the growth of a city is dependent upon more factors than just zoning or no zoning, and given that Houston is so unique not only in that the central City is large, that it is the only major City in the country without zoning, that we rely so greatly upon MUDs for utilities, and that its economy is so specialized, it is an inadequate sample from which to measure conclusively the impacts of zoning or no zoning on regional growth. Poor validity of the empirical data largely relegates research to economic theory.

Guadalupe is west of Hyde Park (you sure seem to know Austin....). The urban district that I am referring to is west of Guadalupe. Most of the buildings there could probably be more accurately described as midrises, but this does nothing to change the point of my post, which is that putting all the high-density developments together and keeping them out of single-family neighborhoods makes more sense than letting such things be built in quiet neighborhoods.

You're right about that. I was confusing Hyde Park with a neighborhood opposite Guadalupe from it. My mistake. No matter, though. My point still stands. No highrises there, and you were talking about a "highrise district". Highrises are a distinctly different beast from stick and podium construction because the costs increase dramatically and the market for them reflects that. This thread is about a highrise on Binz in Houston. Why do you want to talk about stick and podium development in Austin?

Why does it make sense to keep all the high-density developments together, in your opinion? Doesn't that fail to acknowledge that there is more than one kind of highrise buyer, that might prefer different settings? And if a City does force all the density into one little pocket, what of the people that live, work, or own property in that pocket? Why should they be subject to all the construction noise, strained infrastructure, extra traffic, teardown activity, etc., but not the owner of an expensive single family home? What makes the wealthy single family home owner special? Why should they be privileged at the expense of others?

Edited by TheNiche
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You're right about that. I was confusing Hyde Park with a neighborhood opposite Guadalupe from it. My mistake. No matter, though. My point still stands. No highrises there, and you were talking about a "highrise district". Highrises are a distinctly different beast from stick and podium construction because the costs increase dramatically and the market for them reflects that. This thread is about a highrise on Binz in Houston. Why do you want to talk about stick and podium development in Austin?

Uh, actually, if this were a thread about a highrise on Binz, it would be about 75 posts smaller...

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I'm not saying that zoning is an illegal practice--just that it should be. As I said (and you then pointed back out to me as though I didn't already know it), I only stated one man's opinion on the purpose of government. You may have your opinion too, but luckily your opinion is just as irrelevant as mine in the big picture of things.

I was talking about the purpose of government as it exists, not your or my idea of what government should be.

Firstly, as I have already told you time and time again, most cities use zoning to replicate the patterns of market-driven development. Doing so is to essentially create a bureaucracy without purpose or very much effect--which is just stupid--but that's what happens very frequently.

If zoning merely follows the market, why are you so against it? Are you telling me that a zoning law would not protect this neighborhood from this highrise?

Secondly, the growth of a city is dependent upon more factors than just zoning or no zoning, and given that Houston is so unique not only in that the central City is large, that it is the only major City in the country without zoning, that we rely so greatly upon MUDs for utilities, and that its economy is so specialized, it is an inadequate sample from which to measure conclusively the impacts of zoning or no zoning on regional growth.

Then why do you argue that zoning will hamper Houston's growth?

You're right about that. I was confusing Hyde Park with a neighborhood opposite Guadalupe from it. My mistake. No matter, though. My point still stands. No highrises there, and you were talking about a "highrise district". Highrises are a distinctly different beast from stick and podium construction because the costs increase dramatically and the market for them reflects that. This thread is about a highrise on Binz in Houston. Why do you want to talk about stick and podium development in Austin?

To make the point that they have put in one place developments that would be intrusive and out-of-scale in other places. That they understand the difference between an urban and a low-density district, and they have decided not to mix the two.

Seriously Niche, if you just read my posts and thought about what I was saying, you would understand my point, and you would also realize that whether the subject is "highrise districts" or "midrise districts" really does not change that point. You expect everyone to read and digest your voluminous posts, but can't read the relatively concise posts written by others.

Why does it make sense to keep all the high-density developments together, in your opinion? Doesn't that fail to acknowledge that there is more than one kind of highrise buyer, that might prefer different settings? And if a City does force all the density into one little pocket, what of the people that live, work, or own property in that pocket? Why should they be subject to all the construction noise, strained infrastructure, extra traffic, teardown activity, etc., but not the owner of an expensive single family home? What makes the wealthy single family home owner special? Why should they be privileged at the expense of others?

I understand that different people like different settings, but I don't have much respect for a highrise renter who wants his setting to be a single-family neighborhood so he can benefit from their lack of noise and traffic while taking away those very things from them. Like deserves like.

There are better places to build a highrise than a single-family neighborhood, wealthy or non-wealthy. We have plenty of empty blocks in places like Midtown, the Museum District, Downtown, or Uptown where this would work, not to mention major boulevards like Allen Pkwy. where a pattern of highrise building has been established and the impact on homeowners would be minimal.

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I was talking about the purpose of government as it exists, not your or my idea of what government should be.

Governments exist in many forms and to many ends. You cannot adequately describe the existing situation (as you claim) by saying, "The idea of a government is to give the public some control over what can happen so that there aren't abuses." Frankly, the purpose of government as it exists is open to interpretation. To a crooked politican, the purpose of the government is fame, fortune, and power. To an entrepreneur, it is to protect his property rights and to screw his competition. To a poor person, it is to ensure a redistribution of wealth. To an environmentalist, it is to protect an endangered fruit fly. To an academic scientist, it is to secure funding for a study. To a religious fundamentalist, it is to force everyone to be like them. Governments accomodate many constituencies, even those that are in conflict with one another. Government abuses are in the eye of the beholder, and that makes impossible the conclusion that the prevention of abuses is exemplary of the purpose of government as it exists.

Besides, that they exist in one form or another does not mean that it should continue to exist in that form. This line of argument does nothing to support your position.

If zoning merely follows the market, why are you so against it? Are you telling me that a zoning law would not protect this neighborhood from this highrise?

Then why do you argue that zoning will hamper Houston's growth?

Zoning as it is typically practiced replicates the market-driven land use and density patterns, and does so both at great cost to the taxpayer and at a cost to developers seeking an additional rubber stamp. What is the benefit of higher taxes and more red tape? Besides, giving power of this sort to elected officials is a recipe for corruption and cronyism. I could also make a compelling arguments that zoning discourages architectural creativity (Santa Fe), discourages organic urban form with mixed uses (Anyplace, USA), and that it strongly favors wealthy constituencies (League City, Sugar Land, Pearland, et al.).

I am not sure that the City of Houston would practice zoning in a typical manner, however. And that's what scares me the most because I know a lot of planners--and a good number of them are more certain of where you want to live than you are. I'd prefer to let individuals determine how they want to live their lives because I think that they're a better judge of what makes them happy than is a bureaucrat.

I will not tell you that a zoning law would not protect this neighborhood from this particular highrise. That is a very specific question, and nobody can know what would be in an alternate universe. Near the affluent Pirate's Cove subdivision in Galveston for instance, a developer proposed a highrise that met all of Galveston's zoning and planning guidelines, and after having received every rubber stamp that was necessary, the planning folks refused to grant a final approval on account of the wealthy folks whining about property values and birds' migratory paths. There was a lawsuit which was settled, and ultimately the thing didn't get built...but the outcome had nothing at all to do with zoning.

Seriously Niche, if you just read my posts and thought about what I was saying, you would understand my point, and you would also realize that whether the subject is "highrise districts" or "midrise districts" really does not change that point. You expect everyone to read and digest your voluminous posts, but can't read the relatively concise posts written by others.

If you want me to understand you to mean "high-density neighborhood" and not "highrise district", then you need to say "high-density neighborhood". Highrises aren't the same thing as stick or podium multifamily, and Austin isn't the same as Houston. I've explained that to you numerous times and at great length. If you aren't going to read and digest my voluminous posts, then you shouldn't respond to them.

I understand that different people like different settings, but I don't have much respect for a highrise renter who wants his setting to be a single-family neighborhood so he can benefit from their lack of noise and traffic while taking away those very things from them. Like deserves like.

And I don't have much respect for a single family homeowner that wants government to force the highrise renter (or buyer) out of their neighborhood of choice and into someone else's. But I don't think that the highrise renter (or owner) or the single family owner really care about whether you or I respect them. They're each just looking out for themselves...and perhaps like does indeed deserve like. Why should government favor one over another? I support indifference.

There are better places to build a highrise than a single-family neighborhood, wealthy or non-wealthy. We have plenty of empty blocks in places like Midtown, the Museum District, Downtown, or Uptown where this would work, not to mention major boulevards like Allen Pkwy. where a pattern of highrise building has been established and the impact on homeowners would be minimal.

Midtown has lots of bums. Highrise residents don't like bums. Downtown's land prices are so heavily driven right now by office demand that building residential is nearly impossible except possibly as condos over a five-star hotel. And that's a vastly different product than what is proposed for Binz. Downtown also has bums. The Museum District has an excess of supply right now; getting presales would be very difficult. Land values are also pretty extreme. Uptown is always a good place but is another area with a lot of supply. Having too many preselling condo projects in the same area at the same time can easily kill the whole lot of them because there just aren't enough presales to go around...I'm concerned that that is going to happen down in Clear Lake as well. Allen Pkwy. has the Royalton, which sucked as a condo conversion.

I've already explained in previous posts that there will almost always be a better site for a highrise, and I've already explained how sites are rationed by the market based upon land prices. We should not expect or want for today's highrises to be built on the *best* sites because then those best sites wouldn't be available for any of tomorrow's highrises. We should want highrises to be built where people want to live. Bottom line: (1) the consumer is a better judge of that than a bureaucrat, and (2) if a highrise full of happy people offends the neighbors, who took the risk of buying into an unprotected neighborhood, then they should either buy the site themselves and develop it as they see fit, sell their home immediately and move somewhere that they'll be more happy, or just shrug it off.

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Did anyone happen to drive home through Bissonnet tonight. Hundreds of people picketing with signs, lots of media coverage, helicopters flying overhead, peak traffic time........Traffic moving really sloooowly. These folks are VERY organized. GENIOUS. Who's brain is putting this together. My guess is this is just beginning. They're going to make this personal with "developers". It's something new everyday!

Where do I join the pro-developer protest?
Make yourself a sign and stand on the corner of ashby and bissonnet. Party of one.make yourself a sign and stand on the corner of ashby and bissonet. Party of one.make yourself a sign and stand on the corner of bissonnet and ashby. hire a lobbyist.
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I support indifference.

that's part of the problem. if the infrastructure is being pushed to its limits, granting a permit just because someone has the money, shouldn't be the proper response. the city should determine whether a development such as that could be supported properly.

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that's part of the problem. if the infrastructure is being pushed to its limits, granting a permit just because someone has the money, shouldn't be the proper response. the city should determine whether a development such as that could be supported properly.

A traffic study has already been done even though it wasn't required of the developers, and the City of Houston had accepted it. ...and then the City dug out an old document from when the developer made infrastructure with their own money that cited preliminary numbers that had since been revised (and for those not aware, revisions of some sort happen with nearly every development project). The City then rejected the traffic study because of the supposed inconsistency--but not because of a flaw in the study.

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Coverage of the protest from the Chron

Mayor White denies favoritism in high-rise fight

Houston withdraws approval of traffic study as affluent neighbors protest development

By MIKE SNYDER and NANCY SARNOFF

Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle

Affluent neighbors protest high-rise Two days after Mayor Bill White pledged support for residents fighting a planned high-rise building near Rice University, city officials withdrew their approval of the developers' traffic impact analysis of the project.

This reversal of the city's position, the mayor's personal involvement and the announcement that prominent attorney Rusty Hardin would represent the opponents have reinforced concerns that affluent, politically connected neighborhoods enjoy an advantage over others in Houston's frequent land-use battles.

``There is a terrible inequity here,'' acknowledged City Councilman Peter Brown, who lives a few blocks from the project site and joined at least 300 of his neighbors standing along both sides of Bissonnet on Wednesday afternoon protesting the developers' plans.

Link to full article

Watch the 6 pm local news tonight- SH Civic Club and BOCA are staging an angry protest on Ashby for the cameras and media.

Can you think of a better way to stage a protest?

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The City then rejected the traffic study because of the supposed inconsistency--but not because of a flaw in the study.

that's the point, a defiinitive process should be outlined/used so that an accurate reponse will be given to a developer prior to them performing work, even if it takes some time.

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It's good to see the City of Houston addressing this issue. There were clearly flaws in a traffic study that indicated "no measurable impact."

I think that the last line in the article is telling....

"Whether we develop that site or not, there will be other developments in close proximity that will be traffic generators in that neighborhood," Kirton said.

That is a far different tune than we were hearing a few weeks ago. I still think some kind of compromise is just around the corner.

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Is it likely that they'll build this thing to the East near Montrose or Binz, or is it more likely that since they have already invested in the property that they will build something smaller in Southampton?

Personally, I'm hoping the highrise will be built somewhere else rather than scaling down the project.

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Anyone read the comments for today's Chronicle article? Good grief! :lol: Except for a few rational voices addressing the property rights and zoning issues, everyone seems to think this is a battle of the elitist rich and a corrupt government against the poor unwashed masses. As one poster pointed out, a high-rise of that caliber with a fine dining restaurant and a spa isn't going to be Section 8 housing. The prospective tenants are probably as wealthy as the protesting homeowners.

Latest one:

This project will not impact traffic one bit. Let these whiners move to the Woodlands, if they want a decent neighborhood.

The premiere of Cavemen wishes it could have been this funny.

Edited by Native Montrosian
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Is it likely that they'll build this thing to the East near Montrose or Binz, or is it more likely that since they have already invested in the property that they will build something smaller in Southampton?

Personally, I'm hoping the highrise will be built somewhere else rather than scaling down the project.

It is very unlikely that the land costs were forgiving enough that they could downsize sufficiently to make the neighbors happy and still make money.

Buildings of this sort don't just get moved to a different site. They are designed to suit the needs of a particular site. If this dies as proposed, they'll just pull the plug.

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Hopefully the developer will add 10 or 15 stories, just for spite.

Whenever I see this type of reaction I always hope they cancel the project...

...and put in a junkyard or a landfill instead. Or maybe a hazardous waste incinerator. Or a cement plant. Or a paper mill.

Then they'll be begging for that high rise. >:)

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If you want me to understand you to mean "high-density neighborhood" and not "highrise district", then you need to say "high-density neighborhood". Highrises aren't the same thing as stick or podium multifamily, and Austin isn't the same as Houston. I've explained that to you numerous times and at great length.

None of which interferes with my point whatsoever. You've explained things numerous times and at great length that have nothing to do with what I wrote. It's as if I said, "Austin has chosen to protect its single-family neighborhoods, why shouldn't we?" and you responded with, "But Austin has hills and Houston doesn't. Therefore the comparison doesn't work" (actually, I think that was one of your responses).

Bottom line: If you ever hope to convince people of your view, and not just drown them out with ever-longer responses, you need to actually read and consider what they say.

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None of which interferes with my point whatsoever. You've explained things numerous times and at great length that have nothing to do with what I wrote. It's as if I said, "Austin has chosen to protect its single-family neighborhoods, why shouldn't we?" and you responded with, "But Austin has hills and Houston doesn't. Therefore the comparison doesn't work" (actually, I think that was one of your responses).

Bottom line: If you ever hope to convince people of your view, and not just drown them out with ever-longer responses, you need to actually read and consider what they say.

What I've explained has everything to do with what you've said. Market demand justifies highrises. Understanding the differences between highrise demand (which is fundamentally different than stick or podium demand on account of the differences in price and form) is essential to understanding why similar policy would have different effects in each city. If you don't get it yet, there's nothing more I can tell you.

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Again......please drive by this site sometime during rush hour to get a better feel for the traffic flow. I don't have a wealth of insider knowledge or 5300+ posts for reference, but this stretch of Bissonnet would be pushed to the max with this development.

It is not specifically the number of residents that will cause problems. There are already plenty of cars at Maryland Manor, but they have multiple exits and entrances to help with traffic flow. I am most concerned with the retail component (I know, it pains me to say that). The in-and-out of visitor parking could cause havoc. See the effects of the Raven Grill just down the street.

I also find it interesting that the developer has offered to build a stop light as a form of compromise. I am not sure what this would accomplish. Maybe more traffic lines on Ashby instead?

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Again......please drive by this site sometime during rush hour to get a better feel for the traffic flow. I don't have a wealth of insider knowledge or 5300+ posts for reference, but this stretch of Bissonnet would be pushed to the max with this development.

Again. 17k traffic count in 2001. Bissonet is not a quiet, neighborhood street. The impact of 250 units will not be that great. How many units does Maryland Manor have?

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The proposal is to replace 67 apartment units with 187, an increase of 120 units. The average apartment occupancy is about 1.5, resulting in an increase of about 180 vehicles. With a daily vehicle count of over 17,000, a 180 vehicle increase is indeed negligible. If the neighborhood is so concerned about a restaurant, whose primary busy period is in the evening after rush hour, It would seem that an offer to delete the restaurant component would solve the "problem". That would be a shame, since most residents probably would enjoy a nice restaurant nearby, but that is what often happens in these battles...the good stuff gets deleted, and the main structure that no one wants stays.

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

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