Jump to content
HAIF - Houston's original social media

Bell Heights, (Former AT&T Building)


Recommended Posts

I am hearing that the AT&T building has sold to a developer looking to convert the property to multifamily. No idea whether they will demo the building.

As an ardent preservationist, I will actually say that this building could take one for the team. It is a fairly plain box with early modern and just a touch of late deco. Very little in design elements worth saving, just as long as the replacement is of an appropriate scale.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

So it can only be historic and worth protecting if it fits your personal design preferences.  Got it!

No. There are actually a large number of people in this world who understand and appreciate architecture. There is a widely held consesus about certain architectural periods and styles. A lot of the late decco early modern designs are very poor examples of design, both aesthetically and practically. They have low ceilings, are filled with asbestos and have very little in design elements, but are not striking enough in their minimalism to have any value as an example of modernism. The Macy's downtown and the office building on Montrose that used to have the Sky Bar are examples of this transitional architecture that just did not hold up well, although at least one side of the Macy's had interesting oversized pleats on the facade, but the rest is just a brick box. Likewise, craftsman architecture is well recognized for its aesthetics, but the subsequent ranch style suburband homes of the 1940s is not. If you choose to not have any appreication or understanding of architecture and aesthetics, that is your choice. But that doesn't mean that those who do understand and appreciate architecture act arbitrarily whenever they have an opinion that one style is worthy of preservation over another.

Link to post
Share on other sites

You are so kind to let this building go. Speaking of very little in design elements worth saving, that applies to the 900 homes in Heights South that were designated "historic". 

See prior post. Given that you do not know the difference between tract housing and craftsmen architecture, I would not expect you to be able to understand that it is possible to distinguish between architecture that is worthy of preservation and what is not.

Link to post
Share on other sites

No. There are actually a large number of people in this world who understand and appreciate architecture. There is a widely held consesus about certain architectural periods and styles. A lot of the late decco early modern designs are very poor examples of design, both aesthetically and practically. They have low ceilings, are filled with asbestos and have very little in design elements, but are not striking enough in their minimalism to have any value as an example of modernism. The Macy's downtown and the office building on Montrose that used to have the Sky Bar are examples of this transitional architecture that just did not hold up well, although at least one side of the Macy's had interesting oversized pleats on the facade, but the rest is just a brick box. Likewise, craftsman architecture is well recognized for its aesthetics, but the subsequent ranch style suburband homes of the 1940s is not. If you choose to not have any appreication or understanding of architecture and aesthetics, that is your choice. But that doesn't mean that those who do understand and appreciate architecture act arbitrarily whenever they have an opinion that one style is worthy of preservation over another.

 

With that being said, can I implode my house that is in one of the designated Hysterical Districts?

It was built in 1930 (decco period) and is brick (does not hold up well according to you vast knowledge of architecture aesthetics). It looks like a "brick block" with some windows and a front door.

Let me know!

Link to post
Share on other sites

See prior post. Given that you do not know the difference between tract housing and craftsmen architecture, I would not expect you to be able to understand that it is possible to distinguish between architecture that is worthy of preservation and what is not.

 

The heights is a suburb from the 20's and 30's - just like Pearland...The houses built in this suburb are all very similar just like the houses built in Pearland now.  Both are tract houses, both are following a common architectural preference of the time.  There is nothing special about a 1920's bungalow.  It is still a tract house that was built by the lowest bidder at the time, just like Pearland. - your preferences are that they are great and neat, and worth saving - but others don't share your beliefs. 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

With that being said, can I implode my house that is in one of the designated Hysterical Districts?

It was built in 1930 (decco period) and is brick (does not hold up well according to you vast knowledge of architecture aesthetics). It looks like a "brick block" with some windows and a front door.

Let me know!

You might be able to demo your house if it meets the requirements of the ordinance. There are definitely some partially contributing houses in the HDs that have very little craftsmen architectural elements. Many of them were built later in the 1930s (Craftsman architecture is part of the Arts and Crafts movement, not Art Deco). I am not opposed to seeing some of those houses get demo-ed. Despite the beliefs of the folks on this message board, people who support historic preservation in Houston do not just look at the date a building was erected to determine what is worthy of preservation. I think the Glenbrook district goes too far in that it extends out beyond the great mid-century modern homes to very ordinary ranch style houses in the neighborhood. Residents have used the HD to try to keep people in the neighborhood from doing ugly DIY additions and renovations instead of preserving worthy architecture. The MCMs are definitely worthy of preservation, but too much of the rest of the district is architecturally insignificant.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The fact of the matter is that I would love to have a discussion about what architecture is worth preserving and what is not. It is a very interesting issue. But, in my opinion, if you have no interest in architecture, you have no right to call out someone else's opinion about what is worth preserving just because you do not want to preserve anything.

 

So, you don' think that the owner of a piece of property should have the right to do use his own aesthetic values on his own property? I'm curious as to why you think your architectural views ought to override the wishes of the property owner. What makes your views more valid than someone who disagrees?

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

So, you don' think that the owner of a piece of property should have the right to do use his own aesthetic values on his own property? I'm curious as to why you think your architectural views ought to override the wishes of the property owner. What makes your views more valid than someone who disagrees?

Couldn't have asked this question any better....can't wait for the response.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The heights is a suburb from the 20's and 30's - just like Pearland...The houses built in this suburb are all very similar just like the houses built in Pearland now.  Both are tract houses, both are following a common architectural preference of the time.  There is nothing special about a 1920's bungalow.  It is still a tract house that was built by the lowest bidder at the time, just like Pearland. - your preferences are that they are great and neat, and worth saving - but others don't share your beliefs. 

 

My grandparents house in the Heights on Ashland was built in the 1890's not the 1920's. They acquired it in the 1920's. Even though they were not preservationists, they kept the house mainly intack on into the late 1980's.Thankfully it is still standing, the new owners opting for presevation rather than demolition. Even though these houses may have been track houses in their day, they still represent and era in Houston that should be thoughtfully preserved. True, not ever structure is historical but keeping a group of homes standing together, instead of one here or there does alot to give the neighborhood it's desirable appeal.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I have no problem having a preservation debate. The fact is, I have been preserving old homes longer (and better) than you ever have. There are even threads on this forum that document same. Our disagreement is your belief that you know better how to preserve than I, and worse, that government knows better. Your beloved HAHC has proven hideously that such is not the case, and your posting camelbacks as proof of good preservation gives me license to question whether you know anything about either preservation or architecture.

 

The only difference between modern tract homes and 100 year old ones is the fact that modern ones tend to be built by one or a few builders, whereas 100 years ago small builders built the same or nearly identical catalog designs. Otherwise, one man's 2 bedroom one bath bungalow was just like another's. If you'd like to use semantics as a way around the debate, feel free. Everyone else knows your position from your numerous debunked posts.

 

I will refrain from accusing you of alerting Subdude to my posts. He has been deleting mine for longer than you have been on the forum, so he is likely just following me around the forum. This is nothing new from him. By the way, you best hurry and respond to this one, as it will be gone as well in a few hours...or minutes.

I have posted camelbacks to show that the historic districts did not result in the real estate armageddon that opponents predicted. Opponents repeatedly argued that the restrictions would be so onerous that no one would buy old bungalows, and they would be left to decay bringing down the entire neighborhood. I would like to see a much more restrictive ordinance and would be perfectly happy to see an end to the humper houses. They are a design that builders and realtors are inflicting on the Heights. I know people who saw a bungalow that was going to be rennovated by a builder but the first buyer fell through. They wanted 1500-2000 sq ft and asked if the builder was willing to do a different design. The builder would not do anything less than 4000 sq ft.

And I am not playing semantics with the definition of tract homes. There is a very specific meaning in real estate terms to what is a tract home. Tract homes are built at the same time by a single builder. There are only a few designs for hundreds of houses. Earliest versions of tract homes were often built with only one design. Tract housing was a response to the massive demand for housing after WWII. By using a single design and prefabricated plumbing trees and other building elements, tract home builders were able to build up to thirty houses a day to meet post war demand. By contrast, the craftsman bungalows of the Heights were mostly built from designs selected by the buyers. The designs were catalog designs, but that was just how it was done back then. Catalogs had designs for everything from the smallest 800 sq ft home to 2000+ sq ft residences. There were numerous different catalogs for craftsman homes back in the early 1900s. Each different catalog took a slightly different spin on the simple craftsman designs of the Greene brothers that became very popular in California after the turn of the century. So, in the Heights, while most of the homes are two bed/one bath buildings, there are rarely two identical homes on a block. In fact, there are usually dozens of very different designs on every street. Some bungalows are narrow, some are wide. Some have Victorian influences (Queen Annes, mostly) others have more influence of the modern prairie style. And there are some four squares and dutch colonial revivals mixed in as well. Thus, any claim that the craftsmen bungalows of the Heights are nothing more than "tract housing" simply denies the existence of architecture and design altogether.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Eh, still semantics, but whatever. I'll let you have that argument, because it is not relevant to the discussion. The bigger issue is the one you addressed in the first paragraph, and strikes at the heart of this issue. You believe that the restrictions should be even tighter. You have no problem violating my rights to my property, apparently simply because you like old homes. We will never see eye to eye on that issue, and I will always fight you and the historic ordinance on that basis.

 

FWIW, opponents predicted that the HD ordinance would not protect the character of the old homes, and the camelbacks are proof that we were correct. The camelbacks are simply proof that government cannot prevent the people from doing what they want. Camelbacks, termites, weather, and fire will do in time what the homeowners want.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Disillusion by idealism.

 

Not everyone wants your version of Utopia. 

 

 

The Macy's building is very achitecturally interesting... I mean it was built with 39,000 capacity fallout bunker...  there is more to architecture than front view aesthetics...

Link to post
Share on other sites

Disillusion by idealism.

Not everyone wants your version of Utopia.

The Macy's building is very achitecturally interesting... I mean it was built with 39,000 capacity fallout bunker... there is more to architecture than front view aesthetics...

Which is why it pisses me off when taggers refer to themselves as graffiti "artists". Your spray can job is art, but the architecture you painted on is not? I digress.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 5 months later...
  • 3 months later...
  • 3 weeks later...
  • 3 months later...
  • 1 month later...

I'm assuming "Bell Heights" is the development in the old AT&T building on Rutland and 18th?

 

 

http://www.bellheightshouston.com

 

The link came from this HBJ article:  http://www.bizjournals.com/houston/news/2014/06/09/multifamily-monday-developers-set-sights-outside.html?ana=twt

Edited by HoustonMidtown
Link to post
Share on other sites

It's close - it's on Ashland and 18th

 

My bad - I was thinking about the to-be-redeveloped-into-something-trendy former Southwestern Bell switch building around 9th & Heights.

Link to post
Share on other sites

My bad - I was thinking about the to-be-redeveloped-into-something-trendy former Southwestern Bell switch building around 9th & Heights.

That one is on 8th between Harvard and Heights, with the better looking part on Harvard, as opposed to the brick brutalist crap on Heights. As far as I know that's still a phone exchange. I haven't seen anything that indicates redevelopment is nigh.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 10 months later...

So they are repurposing the building next door and adding a rooftop terrace? How many units are they planning in there?

Yes they are going to remodel the old Bell building into 24 lofts.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Those townhouses are the so-called "cottages"? I dunno, I always thought a cottage should be one story. 

 

I went to an event in the main building recently, the Houstonia Top Shops party. Looked like it had potential.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...
  • 1 month later...

It was pretty clear from the renderings that some pretty big modifications to the facade were going to happen.

 

BTW, this little stretch of Ashland turned out pretty well. I was skeptical of the townhouses there, but since the garages face inward, there's decent landscaping along the sidewalk, and extra street parking for the businesses on 19th.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 month later...
  • 2 months later...
  • 1 month later...

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
×
×
  • Create New...