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The Langley: Residential High-Rise At 1717 Bissonnet St.


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Using the same logic and given that the developer has spent substantial money on legal expenses I vote that if the value of the adjacent properties actually goes up (more likely than go down) the respective owners pay the developer royalties for making them richer.

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Using the same logic and given that the developer has spent substantial money on legal expenses I vote that if the value of the adjacent properties actually goes up (more likely than go down) the respective owners pay the developer royalties for making them richer.

I was wondering the same thing -- what happens when their values go up - which I am pretty sure they will -- do the neighbors have to pay back the developer ?

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I'd guess the opponents have spent more than $1.2 million fighting this thing. Given what interest rates have done recently, the delay might have actually saved the developers money on net. 

 

Also, if that is split among 20 neighbors, for that neighborhood, you're talking peanuts in relative value of the property. 

 

Tend to agree that this neighborhood will not decrease in value, though perhaps it will be lower than it would have been otherwise. So, if this is the last of it, it seems that you can squeeze money out of developers of nearby property if you have a good enough lawyer is the lesson of the Odyssey of the Ashby Highrise.

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Funny, everyone hates the neighbors... you know, the ones who live in Houston and pay astronomical property taxes on their properties. Meanwhile, the developers live in the City of West University Place and don't have to worry about an outside developer building a 20+ story tower next to their single family house.

 

Sure, their case was stupid. Their homes aren't going to be horribly devalued (well, the ones directly backing up to them will probably suffer short term) because the neighborhood is healthy and has a great location. However, allowing this tower sets a precedent. Will a new tower be proposed on the vacant lot on Greenbrier @ Bissonnet? Will an outside developer decide that the lot that houses Picnic, Raven, and an antique store would make a good place for another tower? Will Rice sell the Hillel House to make a quick buck? Do the owners of the single family homes that still line Bissonnet start thinking about cashing out because their neighborhood has in fact changed for the worse (more traffic, less trees, more transient neighbors (renters vs. owners, etc...?)

 

I think this is what the folks who live on Albans, Wroxton, North, and South worry about. Do any of you really think the houses that line Woodway, Chimney Rock, Kirby, or San Felipe command the same premium as those  further away from those streets do? Do you think a house on Wroxton Court that backs up to a 21 story tower will be as valuable as one 5 blocks away? If you've invested a few million into a historic home on South Boulevard, do you now worry that when you go out to your back yard there will be a tower hovering above you rather than live oak trees? 

 

This is what the closest residents were worried about. As a citizen of the City of Houston, I'd support them over some carpet bagging developers just looking to cash out on a neighborhood's popularity by potentially harming it over the long run. That's what this case is about to me. 

 

 

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Funny, everyone hates the neighbors... you know, the ones who live in Houston and pay astronomical property taxes on their properties. Meanwhile, the developers live in the City of West University Place and don't have to worry about an outside developer building a 20+ story tower next to their single family house.

Sure, their case was stupid. Their homes aren't going to be horribly devalued (well, the ones directly backing up to them will probably suffer short term) because the neighborhood is healthy and has a great location. However, allowing this tower sets a precedent. Will a new tower be proposed on the vacant lot on Greenbrier @ Bissonnet? Will an outside developer decide that the lot that houses Picnic, Raven, and an antique store would make a good place for another tower? Will Rice sell the Hillel House to make a quick buck? Do the owners of the single family homes that still line Bissonnet start thinking about cashing out because their neighborhood has in fact changed for the worse (more traffic, less trees, more transient neighbors (renters vs. owners, etc...?)

I think this is what the folks who live on Albans, Wroxton, North, and South worry about. Do any of you really think the houses that line Woodway, Chimney Rock, Kirby, or San Felipe command the same premium as those further away from those streets do? Do you think a house on Wroxton Court that backs up to a 21 story tower will be as valuable as one 5 blocks away? If you've invested a few million into a historic home on South Boulevard, do you now worry that when you go out to your back yard there will be a tower hovering above you rather than live oak trees?

This is what the closest residents were worried about. As a citizen of the City of Houston, I'd support them over some carpet bagging developers just looking to cash out on a neighborhood's popularity by potentially harming it over the long run. That's what this case is about to me.

All valid points. If you're worried about that, either mobilize to get zoning on the ballot, or don't buy an expensive house in a desirable neighborhood without deed restrictions in Houston - but don't sue to stop someone from doing something that complies with current laws. Edited by fernz
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All valid points. If you're worried about that, either mobilize to get zoning on the ballot, or don't buy an expensive house in a desirable neighborhood without deed restrictions in Houston - but don't sue to stop someone from doing something that complies with current laws.

Exactly. This has been defeated by public ballot many times. You can't have your cake and eat it too.

The law is the law, they should be petitioning to have the law changed not suing a developer who went through all the legal hoops he was required to.

Its bad for development and the legal process in general if anyone can tie you up in the courts for breaches of imaginary laws.

No one is hating on the woes of the residents. But the residents had no legal basis to enjoin the developers from erecting the building.

I can understand suing for depreciation of value(barely), but halting the project? Really?

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Honestly, do you think Southampton and Boulevard Oaks are lacking deed restrictions? Both neighborhoods have strict deed restrictions and the neighbors enforce them actively (especially quick to catch spec home builders trying to break the strict height limitations). 

 

The main issue is that Bissonnet at one time fell under those deed restrictions but when the City declared it a major thoroughfare, it changed the rules mid-game allowing for insane proposals like adding a 21 story apartment tower with a couple of hundred units in the middle of what is essentially a healthy, single family neighborhood. 

 

 

 

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Honestly, do you think Southampton and Boulevard Oaks are lacking deed restrictions? Both neighborhoods have strict deed restrictions and the neighbors enforce them actively (especially quick to catch spec home builders trying to break the strict height limitations).

The main issue is that Bissonnet at one time fell under those deed restrictions but when the City declared it a major thoroughfare, it changed the rules mid-game allowing for insane proposals like adding a 21 story apartment tower with a couple of hundred units in the middle of what is essentially a healthy, single family neighborhood.

That's the first time I hear of that argument. I didn't think the deed restrictions could be overturned without majority of owners agreement. Otherwise, it constitutes taking and the owners should've fought to get compensated by the city at the point that happened; if was not the developer who took away the deed restrictions (assuming that actually happened)

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Honestly, do you think Southampton and Boulevard Oaks are lacking deed restrictions? Both neighborhoods have strict deed restrictions and the neighbors enforce them actively (especially quick to catch spec home builders trying to break the strict height limitations). 

 

The main issue is that Bissonnet at one time fell under those deed restrictions but when the City declared it a major thoroughfare, it changed the rules mid-game allowing for insane proposals like adding a 21 story apartment tower with a couple of hundred units in the middle of what is essentially a healthy, single family neighborhood. 

 

Whoah there.   The city's declaring of Bissonnet as a "major thoroughfare" does not have any effect on deed restrictions.

 

And BTW, that part of Bissonnet has not been declared by the city to be a "major thoroughfare".

Edited by Houston19514
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I pretty strongly suspect that neither Southampton's and nor Boulevard Oaks' deed restrictions would have permitted Maryland Manor, either.  If they do, it would just about have to be in some sort of a predecessor of the "reserve" areas on the periphery of more recent subdivisions with different restrictions that would have permitted a multifamily use without foreseeing high rises decades later.

Edited by mollusk
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Funny, everyone hates the neighbors... you know, the ones who live in Houston and pay astronomical property taxes on their properties. Meanwhile, the developers live in the City of West University Place and don't have to worry about an outside developer building a 20+ story tower next to their single family house.

 

Sure, their case was stupid. Their homes aren't going to be horribly devalued (well, the ones directly backing up to them will probably suffer short term) because the neighborhood is healthy and has a great location. However, allowing this tower sets a precedent. Will a new tower be proposed on the vacant lot on Greenbrier @ Bissonnet? Will an outside developer decide that the lot that houses Picnic, Raven, and an antique store would make a good place for another tower? Will Rice sell the Hillel House to make a quick buck? Do the owners of the single family homes that still line Bissonnet start thinking about cashing out because their neighborhood has in fact changed for the worse (more traffic, less trees, more transient neighbors (renters vs. owners, etc...?)

 

I think this is what the folks who live on Albans, Wroxton, North, and South worry about. Do any of you really think the houses that line Woodway, Chimney Rock, Kirby, or San Felipe command the same premium as those  further away from those streets do? Do you think a house on Wroxton Court that backs up to a 21 story tower will be as valuable as one 5 blocks away? If you've invested a few million into a historic home on South Boulevard, do you now worry that when you go out to your back yard there will be a tower hovering above you rather than live oak trees? 

 

This is what the closest residents were worried about. As a citizen of the City of Houston, I'd support them over some carpet bagging developers just looking to cash out on a neighborhood's popularity by potentially harming it over the long run. That's what this case is about to me. 

 

It's a free world (or at least a free city).  Anyone of us or them has the option of buying a property in West U or deeper in a deed restricted neighborhood if not having a 20+ story tower next to their single family house is high on their priority list.

 

Allowing this tower does not in any way set a precedent. Not allowing this tower would set a precedent.  Anyone who bought a house along Bissonnet knew they were buying on a collector street that also has commercial properties and rental properties (the residents of Maryland Manor were every bit as transient as will be the residents of the new building.)

 

Do you think the houses that line Bissonnet commanded the same premium as those further away from Bissonnet do, with or without this high-rise?  Do you think a house on Wroxton Court that backed up to Maryland Manor apartments was as valuable as one 5 blocks away?  If you've invested a few million into a historic home on South Boulevard without checking on the status of deed restrictions on your lot and neighboring lots, either you don't care about what's built next to you or you are a damned fool.  If your house backs up to a lot that is not deed restricted you probably should worry about what is going to be built behind you.  That's why houses at the edges of neighborhoods generally go for less money.  (For that matter, even if you live in a zoned city, if your house backs up to property that lines a collector street, you probably should worry about what is going to be built behind you.)  This building may actually raise the values of nearby houses because it removes the nearly-blighted Maryland Manor apartments and gives them certainty as to what will be on that property for the long-term.

 

The closest residents bought houses that were to one degree or another close to a property that was not deed restricted (and lines a collector street  Guess what?  They probably paid less for their houses because of that.  Having gambled and failed they relied on political connections to try to impose their desires on the property of another.

 

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they relied on political connections to try to impose their desires on the property of another.

 

Weren't they actually relying on the legal system?  Isn't the redress of (real or imagined) wrongs why we have a legal system?  I've never felt strongly one way or another about the tower, but I've also never felt that the residents were somehow wrong in taking it to the courts. 

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"To stand at the foot of South Boulevard in Houston is to look down what is perhaps the most magnificent residential street in America. Staged rows of soaring live oaks form the vaulted arches of a great Gothic cathedral over a grassy esplanade, lined with imposing yet graceful mansions from the 1920s by such eminent architects of their day as John F. Staub and Birdsall P. Briscoe."

 

This is what was written in The New York Times in 1987 about the area. Boulevard Oaks is a special place. It's one of the few largely unaltered places remaining that helps make Houston feel unique. I simply do not think this project is worthy of the location. It doesn't fit the area at all and it actually threatens one of the few jewels this city has. 

 

I don't live in Boulevard Oaks, but I've strolled down North and South many times. I've posed for family photos under the oaks. I've entertained out of town visitors with a walk that always amazes. 

 

We're about to lose this, and for what? A generic apartment tower built by people who don't even reside in the City of Houston?

 

 

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How are we going to lose anything? The oaks will be there still. North blvd will be there still. The mansions aren't being torn down. You won't see the highrise from North or South blvd. To me it'll be no worse than Maryland Manor. The only difference for me will be that in the future I can take visitors for a bike ride under the oaks and then potentially stop off at a cafe or restaurant at the ground floor of the highrise for a snack.

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I agree with you JAX. I think it will be fine once it's up, and furthermore would bet $$ that some of those that are complaining will eventually move into it when they downsize. Or maybe their kids or parents might move in to be close to them.

The views will be spectacular.

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Directly across Bissonnet from this project are a couple of houses converted to businesses with the front yards paved in to parking lots.  There were crappy apartments there before. This seems like a visual net plus to the neighborhood to me, unless you just don't like tall things. 

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Wait, what?

 

In what world will you not be able to see a 260 foot tower from 100 feet away? Do you know where South Boulevard is located? There are houses on South with backyard fences lining Bissonnet on the 1700 block...yeah, the very same block. But, you wont be able to see it or it wont be any "worse" than the Maryland Manor, a complex that was lower than the dozen or so trees that were clear cut for this proposal?

 

 

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Of course this is about height. The Deed restrictions on either side of this project limit structures to 35 feet. The scale is part of what makes for such a great area. 

 

You can't even build a full three story house in Boulevard Oaks (historic district) or Southampton. Third floor living space has to look like it was converted attic space. 

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Isn't the tree canopy pretty thick? When I lived around the corner from there (Dunlavy and Milford) I could barely see the sky. Maybe it'll peek through in places, more likely in back yards than the street, but I doubt it will really affect the aesthetic of the area.

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Wait, what?

 

In what world will you not be able to see a 260 foot tower from 100 feet away? Do you know where South Boulevard is located? There are houses on South with backyard fences lining Bissonnet on the 1700 block...yeah, the very same block. But, you wont be able to see it or it wont be any "worse" than the Maryland Manor, a complex that was lower than the dozen or so trees that were clear cut for this proposal?

 

I think what he meant was, looking down South Blvd, you wouldn't see it. Like this:

 

nxtcn9.png

 

Of course this is about height. The Deed restrictions on either side of this project limit structures to 35 feet. The scale is part of what makes for such a great area. 

 

You can't even build a full three story house in Boulevard Oaks (historic district) or Southampton. Third floor living space has to look like it was converted attic space. 

 

Can you convert your house in Southampton to a Barber shop with a striped pole the size of an oil drum or pave the yard for parking? They did that years ago right across the street. Scale may be your thing, but what if I liked grass in front of every house like structure I see and the absence of red, white and blue spirals?  

 

Restrictive boundaries have to end somewhere, when your property abuts (or is within sight of) that boundary, you take your chances with what might happen with the visual aesthetics around your property. Either that or you pay lawyers to find some way to effectively extend that boundary through any means they can come up with. All fair game I suppose, those attorneys can get quite creative when billing by the hour. 

 

It would be nice if we could all respect our neighbors' every wish, but it would also be nice if we could do what we want with the stuff that we own, sometimes the two niceties collide. 

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Whoah there. The city's declaring of Bissonnet as a "major thoroughfare" does not have any effect on deed restrictions.

And BTW, that part of Bissonnet has not been declared by the city to be a "major thoroughfare".

Kinkaidalum:

You have made a number of statements here which tells me that you are passionate about your dislike for this project. But, when you are challenged on some of your points, you sometimes don't respond and just move on to other points.

May I ask you to address this one? You made an unequivocal statement that the City of Houston's declaration regarding Bissonnett somehow eviscerated the neighborhood's Deed Restrictions. You might be correct or the poster above might be correct. Please be so kind as to present your facts regarding your very specific and unequivocal statement as I would like to better understand how this could have happened. Facts?

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Instead of fighting the courts for years, it seems to me like a better solution would have been to get some sort of "special district" in the area to limit building heights out of the city. That way, it wouldn't risk setting an anti-development precedent or anything and we can all go home happy (even the developers, who manage to make some ultra-dense townhomes on the site instead)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Great article on Houston history and the Ashby highrise:

 

 

 

Sprawltastic Houston Is Densifying and the Courts Can’t Stop It

HoustonAshby_920_680.png

Houston’s reputation as a development free-for-all — it is by far the largest U.S. city without a zoning code — took a hit recently, when a judge upheld a jury award for “lost market value damages” to 20 single-family homeowners near a 21-story apartment building about to rise near Rice University. He denied the neighbors’ request for an injunction preventing construction of the Ashby high-rise at 1717 Bissonnet Street, but he did award them $1.2 million, ruling that the tower is indeed a nuisance. The decision was not well received by the local real estate industry, and led to headlines like Opposition Mounts to Houston High-Rises in the Wall Street Journal.

Though Houston is not quite as unplanned as its reputation — it doesn’t have zoning, but it does have a number of other planning rules — the city’s generations-long pattern of growing outward without densifying the core is starting to reverse itself.

 

 

http://nextcity.org/daily/entry/ashby-high-rise-lawsuit-houston-developers-sprawl

 

Edited by Triton
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Nice to see an article where someone did some homework. We often forget how much impact the sewer moratorium had on inner loop development.

 

Yes, they did homework. I had no idea about the restrictions the city had in the 1970s. imagine what the city would have looked like it had allowed all the development that wanted to come into the inner city.

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Yes, they did homework. I had no idea about the restrictions the city had in the 1970s. imagine what the city would have looked like it had allowed all the development that wanted to come into the inner city.

I am uncertain if the city would have looked much different had these restrictions not been in place. Sharpstown was already 15-20 years old at that point and had set the model for suburban sprawl.

I guess one could argue that the woodlands (started in the early 70's) and Kingwood (1970) might not have been established. But, I don't agree. IMO, Sprawl would have happened anyway. Many Families wanted to live in "master planned" communities (and many still do), these huge "towns" would have happened regardless of Houston's sewer issues.

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Yes, they did homework. I had no idea about the restrictions the city had in the 1970s. imagine what the city would have looked like it had allowed all the development that wanted to come into the inner city.

Probably pretty nasty-looking, which could've only delayed the already-happened-in-the-East-Coast inner city exodus to the suburbs (and for what it's worth, inner Houston never got as bad as the East Coast cities did). You do know that the bayous were once completely filthy drainage ditches in the 1980s, right?

 

Anyway, on 1717 Bissonnet, I am disappointed, as the development just seems so out of place. It isn't in the major "edge cities" or downtown, but without zoning codes...

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"To stand at the foot of South Boulevard in Houston is to look down what is perhaps the most magnificent residential street in America. Staged rows of soaring live oaks form the vaulted arches of a great Gothic cathedral over a grassy esplanade, lined with imposing yet graceful mansions from the 1920s by such eminent architects of their day as John F. Staub and Birdsall P. Briscoe."

 

This is what was written in The New York Times in 1987 about the area. Boulevard Oaks is a special place. It's one of the few largely unaltered places remaining that helps make Houston feel unique. I simply do not think this project is worthy of the location. It doesn't fit the area at all and it actually threatens one of the few jewels this city has. 

 

I don't live in Boulevard Oaks, but I've strolled down North and South many times. I've posed for family photos under the oaks. I've entertained out of town visitors with a walk that always amazes. 

 

We're about to lose this, and for what? A generic apartment tower built by people who don't even reside in the City of Houston?

They can build it.   Is there anything else to discuss?

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  • The title was changed to The Langley: Residential High-Rise At 1717 Bissonnet St.

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