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Variance Notice 14th/Harvard


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some of the newer contstruction on Oxford (west side near white oak)was only possible because they demo'd the delapidated shacks that were on the lots before the ordinance went into effect. Had they not demo'd those prior to the ordinance, we'd likely be stuck with some 800sq. ft crack houses still.

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There are two houses under construction on the western side of Oxford. There are not any under construction on the eastern side of that street. The two blocks from Oxford to Studemont saw new construction commence after the area between Oxford and Heights, so it definitely is not fully redeveloped by any stretch of the imagination. The sampling is small, but there is dose of overstatement going on in this thread.

You may not know this, but most of Oxford...even on the west side of the street...is not in the historic district. The HAHC carved out dissenting properties around the edges of the district until they could get the required 51%. Most property owners on Oxford opposed the historic district. Only the 1000 block voted in.

One of the 2 houses that you pointed to as proof of construction in historic districts is in fact not in a historic district. One is. Along the entirety of Oxford, Columbia, and Arlington that is within the historic district, a grand total of 2 homes are being renovated, and one built new in the last year.

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RedScare - Please clarify those comments. Some (less than half) of the houses in Houston Heights South (I-10 to 11th) on the west side are in the historic district; however, all of the houses north of 11th (south of 20th) on the west side are in the district.

I am basing this on the Historic Heights East and South maps found here.

Also, which two houses on Oxford/Columbia/Arlington are you referring to? I'm not questioning your count; I just want to confirm that we're on the same page.

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Egg,

I was only referring to the South Heights district. However, the East Heights map gives a great visual effect to what I said. You'll notice a nice straight line up Oxford for the East Heights district border. But, on the South Heights border, you'll notice a jagged line. The 1000 block is included, but only about half of the 900 block is included. None of the 600, 700, and 800 blocks are in the district, as virtually all of them signed 'No' petitions, so they were left out of the district in order to meet the 51% requirements.

The 2 houses I refer to are one in the 900 block of Oxford...921 perhaps?...and in the 1000 block of Columbia. The Columbia house was already non-contributing due to a prior renovation. The new house is somewhere in the 700 or 800 block of Columbia. I'll have to go look. Everything else is small changes like doors and windows (shouldn't even require permission for that), or garages. If I missed one, let me know.

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For what it's worth in 100 years they will all be historic and someone will be moaning about how the spray-foam nano-siding with rare-Jupiter crystals lacks the vintage craftsmanship and feel of the turn-of-the-century HardiPlank.

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I'm all for Historic Districs if they keep out the Jupiter crystals.

I think by then we will have moved past the Earthlings Only mentality you planetist!

Of course way back in 2012 no one would have thought that "save the planet" movement was the intergalactic equivalent of the "white power" movement.

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Huh ... thanks for the link to those maps. I thought i was in the Heights South district and successfully used that as one my criteria to reduce my property taxes. But it looks like the east side of Oxford for my block isn't included. Shhh don't tell HCAD.

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Drive down Waverly or Nicholson between 11th and 12th. Look at the quantity of new construction there...13 houses in less than a year...ALL sold. 2 currently under construction, 1 of which is owner building...then drive between 9th and 11th on Waverly and Nicholson....I have not counted but I believe its in the neighborhood of 11 houses completed & sold in the last year - and those have sold DESPITE being located across the street from and next door to an inpatient mental hospital.

The areas West of Yale outside of the district are BOOMING - there is no comparison at all that can be made anywhere inside of the ordinance area. Its not an exaggeration, just drive the area- you will see it yourself. Half the properties never make HAR as the builder is able to sell them without a realtor listing just by putting his sign out front....most of these homes dont list until they are half complete and not already sold.

The "boom" on Waverly and Nicholson is an optical illusion. Builders have taken lots down to 3300 and 4000 to cram more houses into a single block. So, it is easy to outpace other sections of the Heights when you are adding more lots to each block. Also, the districts have seen way more construction/rennovation over the past 15 years compared to west of Yale. The areas west of Yale were behind and are now catching up to the rest of the Heights. Even if there was no historic ordinance, you would not see that kind of growth in the HDs because available land is getting very scarce. But when opportunities come up in the HDs, people are buying, renovating, and building.

Like 930 Harvard. 4200 sq ft addition/renovation on the market for $938,000.

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Egg,

I was only referring to the South Heights district. However, the East Heights map gives a great visual effect to what I said. . . .

That's an important distinction. The story north of 11th is not as clear as what you described. Take a quick walk and you'll find several recent bungalow renovations for sale on the 1600 block of Columbia and Arlington including 1644 Columbia (listing for $865K) which was discussed on another thread, and 1522 Columbia (listing for $750K) which is in process. Recent sales include 1539 Columbia, 1420 Columbia, and 1602 Arlington. (The HAR iPad app does not show sales prices. My personal observation was that the homes did not sit unsold for very long.)

Oxford Street is more schizophrenic. Although there have been recent sales (1401 and 1433 Oxford, both on the historic side), some homeowners on the historic side have complained at HHA meetings that they are unable to sell their properties because potential buyers are restricted in how the homes can be improved. On the other hand, there are older (seemingly abandoned) homes in advanced stages of disrepair on the east side just north of the high school. These lots haven't sold even though, according to the map referenced above, they are not subject to the restrictions.

I am not opposed to the idea of historic renovation restrictions. I enjoy areas of our country (Philadelphia, Boston, etc.) that have maintained their beauty and historical relevance due to restrictions that are clearly explained, consistently enforced, and generally respected. I can therefore appreciate what the district cheerleaders are trying to achieve. However, I don't believe that the implementation in Houston achieves the desired results and am unconvinced by a lot of the rhetoric on both sides. I'm keeping an open mind, so keep writing.

You're welcome Sonic0boom. It's not surprising that an Oxford St resident would be confused; the street is all over the place on the map. Don't worry. I won't tell.

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Here's the weird thing. s3mh was one of the most militant, if not the most militant, of the district cheerleaders. He even went so far as to threaten those opposed to the districts, saying that they were taking pictures of old houses, in case we tried to renovate them without permission. He claims that McVictorians are ruining the neighborhood, because they are out of scale to the bungalows. But, here he is 2 posts above mine, trumpeting the McMansioning of the very hoses he claims to want to protect. And, apparently the HAHC is APPROVING it! This renovation on Harvard is more than tripling the square footage of the original house. And, of course, to fit within the guidelines they have to design an architectural albatross. But, here these cheerleaders are celebrating this eyesore!

My only point in this is that I know better how to tastefully renovate my home than the government. The HAHC, and those who support it, are only proving that they know nothing about architecture, and worse, that they are not really trying to protect these homes. They are ruining them! But, this is what happens when you try to force your will on unwilling participants through government regulation. They look at the regs and design around them. And, here's the crazy part. A huge part of pushing these historic districts was the painting of builders and developers as evil profiteers, intent on killing off the historic Heights. Did they say that about the builder at 930 Harvard? Nope. Why not? Because he was smart enough to put the word 'Bungalow' in his trade name. Doesn't matter if you build 4200 foot monstrosities as long as you fake everyone out by saying 'Bungalow'. For proof, look no further than post #59. The "builders" on Nicholson are evil, while the "Bungalow" builder on Harvard is wonderful. This, in spite of the fact that the 'bungalow' on Harvard is at least 50% larger than every house on Nicholson...twice the size of many of them.

No wonder I am bitter.

Edited by RedScare
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The "boom" on Waverly and Nicholson is an optical illusion. Builders have taken lots down to 3300 and 4000 to cram more houses into a single block. So, it is easy to outpace other sections of the Heights when you are adding more lots to each block. Also, the districts have seen way more construction/rennovation over the past 15 years compared to west of Yale. The areas west of Yale were behind and are now catching up to the rest of the Heights. Even if there was no historic ordinance, you would not see that kind of growth in the HDs because available land is getting very scarce. But when opportunities come up in the HDs, people are buying, renovating, and building.

Like 930 Harvard. 4200 sq ft addition/renovation on the market for $938,000.

Many of those lots were already 4000 sq ft or less - that area was never very upscale, and had small houses on small lots.

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Many of those lots were already 4000 sq ft or less - that area was never very upscale, and had small houses on small lots.

Heh heh. A quick glance at HCAD would have saved him a lot of embarrassment. Nicholson lots were originally platted at 33.33 feet wide.Further west was even smaller. Those lots, the ironically named Nicholson Addition, were platted at 25 feet wide. So, those builders who built on 3300 and 4000 square foot lots were actually being historically accurate, unlike "bungalow" builders who add 3000 square feet to the backs of old houses.

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Heh heh. A quick glance at HCAD would have saved him a lot of embarrassment. Nicholson lots were originally platted at 33.33 feet wide.Further west was even smaller. Those lots, the ironically named Nicholson Addition, were platted at 25 feet wide. So, those builders who built on 3300 and 4000 square foot lots were actually being historically accurate, unlike "bungalow" builders who add 3000 square feet to the backs of old houses.

DING DING - I live on Waverly - I own a lot and a half which made my lot 50' wide. My neighbors on both sides, own old small homes that are on 33' lots....

S3MH cant be bothered to check facts. Furthermore it is not an optical illusion - its actually happening Areas to the West of Heights INSIDE the district which was not built up prior to the ordinance being passed are still being ignored....Areas to the West of Heights OUTSIDE the district are booming. New beautiful construction with every single one of them being sold PRIOR to completion....meanwhile you have "bungalows" that look like someone actually dropped another house on top of the old house sitting complete and unsold on HAR for months.

Any realtor with half a brain can tell you, and prove to you, that the ordinance is having a negative effect on properties inside the district. You cant get all your information from HAR because the properties that people actually are fighting over never have to list on HAR - the builders can build them and save the 6% for themselves because people actually want them.

Its not illusion, its not hyperbole, its not exaggeration. The historic district has improved the market for new construction in the areas outside of it. It is a fact; any argument to the contrary is non-factual opinion.

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Its not illusion, its not hyperbole, its not exaggeration. The historic district has improved the market for new construction in the areas outside of it. It is a fact; any argument to the contrary is non-factual opinion.

Germany tried the historic district thing in the 1930s-to early 40's and only succeeded in making Swiss property values go up. Maybe the Brownshirts in the various historical districts should take this into consideration when they stamp their fists at historical board meetings.

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Any realtor with half a brain can tell you, and prove to you, that the ordinance is having a negative effect on properties inside the district. You cant get all your information from HAR because the properties that people actually are fighting over never have to list on HAR - the builders can build them and save the 6% for themselves because people actually want them.

Its not illusion, its not hyperbole, its not exaggeration. The historic district has improved the market for new construction in the areas outside of it. It is a fact; any argument to the contrary is non-factual opinion.

Anyone with a real brain can tell you that there has been absolutely no negative effect on properties inside the district. Builders are building and renovating. Houses are selling. Realtors will even admit that the market in the Heights is doing just fine after the ordinance. The hack builders who only know how to tear down perfectly good bungalows and build cheap boxes have all fled the districts to the outlying areas. Good ridance.

The opponents claimed that the ordinance would be the end of real estate in the Heights. They claimed there would be no more renovations, new construction. They claimed that everyone would just let their homes decay instead of having to deal with the HAHC. Quite the opposite has happened. The districts are thriving. People with smaller bungalows are no longer afraid to invest in them for fear of ending up the only bungalow on a block of McVics or ending up next to some monstorous modern thing. The quality builders/renovators (Lucas, Bungalow Revival, Heights, Southland, etc.) are all doing great work in the districts. The districts are rapidly filling up and that is helping the outlying areas get more investment. If the ordinance was as onerous as the anti-district people hyped it up to be, you would not be seeing a long list of new builds and renovations on the market now. You would not be seeing bungalows selling within days of listing. But it is happening. that is because the historic ordinance, though imperfect, works. No one has been able to show any real evidence of any negative effect on the market absent speculation about people sitting in their bungalows chewing on stones instead of putting their plans before the commission.

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Anyone with a real brain can tell you that there has been absolutely no negative effect on properties inside the district. Builders are building and renovating. Houses are selling. Realtors will even admit that the market in the Heights is doing just fine after the ordinance. The hack builders who only know how to tear down perfectly good bungalows and build cheap boxes have all fled the districts to the outlying areas. Good ridance.

They didn't flee the district, they were pushed out by a minority group of know-it-all (know-nothing-at-all is more accurate). But thanks for sharing your factless based opinions as the gospel truth yet once again.

BTW nobody said construction would stop or all real estate would end in the district, you simply made that up. It would hurt growth, cause ugly camelback hemroid additions, and decrease value of small shacks was what was stated, and you have helped prove a lot of that with your earlier posts.

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Anyone with a real brain can tell you that there has been absolutely no negative effect on properties inside the district. Builders are building and renovating. Houses are selling.

The opponents claimed that the ordinance would be the end of real estate in the Heights. They claimed there would be no more renovations, new construction.

If the ordinance was as onerous as the anti-district people hyped it up to be, you would not be seeing a long list of new builds and renovations on the market now.

In the South Heights, there are only 3 houses for sale on Oxford, Columbia, and Arlington. These streets comprise one half of the nearly 900 homes in the district. Of those 3 houses for sale,one was built on a vacant lot (3600 sf McVic), one is an existing 5,100 sf McVic (built in 2007), and one is a massive add-on onto the back of an existing house, complete with humongous 2 story porte cochere.

I don't know how the realtors are keeping up.

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The hack builders who only know how to tear down perfectly good bungalows and build cheap boxes have all fled the districts to the outlying areas. Good ridance.

.

Old "bungalows" are almost always a Box, sometimes a perfect box, so it's even funnier when you complain of the new builds being boxy. Not only that these old boxes are not some incredible type of construction...they are nothing more than track homes that just happened to have been built a long time ago. Next your going to tell me we need to preserve the west side of Pearland....if we start now we can preserve the suburb exactly as it was built!

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  • 3 weeks later...

Redscare, I see your post above that you are just saying that you know how to build your house better than the government. However, I do recall when the Stella Sola building was built that you were quite adamant about the right of the builders to rip out as many houses on that block as he wanted to. You weren't concerned about the impact on the property values of the remaining houses on 10th. I think your overall philosophy is that the government shouldn't have any rules that impact what you build on your property (let's not get into fire regulations and such). Let me know if I'm off on that.

Regarding a previous post, I see four houses under construction or renovation on Columbia between 11th and White Oak. I don't think you can say with any statistical significance that there has been any drop off in construction activity in the historic district, whether or not the west side of Oxford is included.

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Yes, I AM saying I know better how to renovate or build my house than the government. Are you saying that the government knows better?

I remember well the Stella Sola building thread. The owners bought one lot behind the building to provide additional off-street parking. I remember you being a big opponent of people parking on the street. Have you changed your mind? I also recall that the building on the lot prior to Stella Sola lost an entire wall of brick before it was mercifully torn down. It was replaced with another 2 story building. What is your point? Even in your beloved NYC, zoning laws would allow replacing a crumbling 2 story commercial building with another 2 story commercial building? Are you advocating zoning for the Heights? Worse, are you advocating stricter zoning than New York?

I checked out your claim of 4 new homes under construction on Columbia. It is actually two. One new home is replacing the 864 square foot shack that was on the lot. Even HAHC appears to concede 864 sf is useless. More likely, since it was built in 1940, they didn't care if it was demolished, since the Heights is all about 1920, it seems. The other is replacing a house that had its front elevation change somewhat. Don't know why it was allowed to be demo'd.

The other two houses that you claim to be new are actually renovations. One is a renovation to a home built in 2009, prior to the new ordinance. The other is to a house that had been extensively renovated in the past. The new work is somewhat better than the non-contributing renovation that preceded it. So, really we are talking only 2 new houses under construction. In fact, I looked at HCAD for the 600-1000 blocks of Columbia. Since the historic restrictions went into effect in 2010, only 3 new homes have been built. In the several years prior to the new restrictions, more than 22 new homes were built.

I'd call that statistically significant (86% decline). How about you?

EDIT: According to the HAHC, the house with the extensively changed facade that appeared to be new construction is actually only a renovation. Since the front elevation had already been modified extensively, nothing is lost in allowing the renovation. So, the new total is ONE new house since the historic ordinance went into effect, 2 renovations to previously modified homes, and a new garage (the 4th new construction that you mentioned).

Edited by RedScare
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Sounds like a lot of investment going on given that homeowners / businesses now think the neighborhood is destined to go to hell. There is still a lot of construction in the area between Heights and Studemont. The market for land in the area is obviously tightening. The number of available lots is declining as the average quality of the remaining housing rises. So no, I don't think you have proved anything.

I don't have a problem with onstreet parking. My point around Stella Sola was that if we had appropriate zoning, it wouldn't be an issue, because Studemont was not a commercial street until the deed restrictions lapsed. Replacing the existing building would have been fine, but ripping out the neighborhood to build a parking lot isn't much of a plan. The ability to do that doesn't create a predictable environment for impacted homeowners. And if you look at the extensive new construction on that block (not), you can see what I'm talking about.

That said, I also think the city's rules about required parking for new development really condemns us to suburban-style development. Dallas is way ahead of us.

Edited by NYC Texan2
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I personally appreciate all the new development on Studewood (Studemont is south of 1-10 and there is no such place between Heights and Studemont), including the parking that makes the development work/happen. We now have a place to go, to be proud of, to enjoy. It's been for the "better good." I also enjoy the newer homes in the Heights, and all the architechural variety. Unfortunately more of them are now forbidden, at least temporarily.

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Sounds like you didn't read my post.

I agree, but as you have corrected me in the past, it is not about architecture, history or reality for the hardcore, so why would they read your posts? Now I have got to get back to searching for the alternate reality portals to prepare for the HAHC, I thought I spied one in the alley next to Antidote but it was just one of the old washing machines. I'm thinking Tom's Ice House may have had one, so it's off to Berryhill for now.

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