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Chicken Plant At 12th St. & Rutland St.


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I live near there and always wondered what went on inside...was it a slaughterhouse?

 

I do not think that live birds ever went in there.  I never saw any.  My guess is that the birds are slaughtered offsite and trucked over in a refrigerator truck to be cleaned, cut up and packaged.  But just a guess.

 

I drove by this morning and there was one guy working there, but a sign on the door said "closed".  

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  • 1 month later...

Seems like they want those houses smaller than proposed. At the very least, less tall.

 

This is the work that WASN'T done prior to the approvals for the very large new houses at 13th and Ashland.

 

If the HAHC begins enforcing the the ordinance in such a way as to require smaller houses on these large lots, the calculus around the value of the land beneath these old industrial properties will change.

 

 

In this case, the land is currently platted as five separate 33 x 132ft lots.  Since they wouldn't need to further sub-divide the lots to do it, the developer could probably more easily get their plan-B (5 x 2600 s.f. houses) approved, as houses of that size are more likely to be compatible with existing contributing structures.

 

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The Lone Star Poultry Plant is closed. Phase I Environmental has been performed, Asbestos survey completed and abatement notification filed, HVAC evacuated by a licensed and registered technician, and TCEQ underground storage tank removal verified. A demolition permit cannot be issued until the asbestos abatement is finished and signed off by a registered third party consultant.

Our original plan was to take the 8 lots that were part of the plant, 5 - 33 1/3' x 132' on Rutland, 2 - 33 1/3' x 132' on Tulane, and 1 - 43' x 100' on 12th and replat them to 5. We wanted to build one house on Tulane, one on 12th, and 3 on Rutland. We wanted to use George Barbers plans to model these houses. My naive assumption was that the "Design Guilde for the Houston Heights Historic District" on the Planning Commissions website was the guidelines for new construction. I was further used bad logic when we thought an original Barber house on 17th and Rutland (5 blocks away) would pass muster with anybody. When we met with Marlene Gafrick and her staff we quickly learned that the Guide was not guidelines and in fact there were none. When we talked about the Barber house we were told "you can't recreate history" and it was too big for the neighborhood.

After that meeting, I knew I had made a huge mistake and altered our plan to include 2 houses on Tulane and 1 on 12th so that we could at least get started while hemorrhaging money waiting on approvals for the Rutland side. We went to the HAHC last Thursday with hat in hand asking for direction on what they wanted. We got nothing from them.

We have been active renovating and building over 130 homes in the Heights area since 1993. We performed the first remodel in the newly formed Norhill historic district for Kelly Thomason-Frater, a former HAHC member. We supported what we thought was a historic ordinance to “save the bungalows”. It was sold as such, however it was sold under false pretenses. This ordinance is not about history. It is being applied to preserve the existing stock as is with little consideration given to improvements.

In the ordinance the words “compatible” and “typical” are interpreted as “average” by the Planning commission staff that make recommendations to the HAHC to either grant approval or not. These weren’t defined in the ordinance and are therefore applied with a great deal of subjectivity. Additionally, the data they collected using unpaid interns to determine what “average” is, contains unacceptable errors and bad assumptions.

In order for this ordinance to survive, guidelines and definitions need to be developed by ALL stakeholders, not just city appointees.

I would be happy to provide any and all information regarding this project to anyone who wants it. Email me at info@bastianbuilders.com

Michael Bastian

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Barber's works are listed in wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_George_Franklin_Barber_works#cite_ref-Texas_79-29) and the exterior along with floor plans of the Rutland house were published in Barber's The Cottage Souvenir No. 2, design no. 2 on page 16: http://books.google.com/books?id=JYDnAAAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false .

 

The new kids on the HAHC planning staff would have no idea wtf Barber is or architectural historian Stephen Fox, author of several guides to Houston architecture.  His lecture dated December 1998 included the slide show linked by Michael Bastian above (many thanks for that gem, even has the old Kaplan's photo asked for in another thread).  The lecture is here: http://community.rice.edu/focusresources/reference/fox.html and ends with this....

 

"The Heights is home to some very provocative new architecture. Many examples, like this house on Bayland Avenue by Thompson-Frater Associates, architects, pay homage to the historic house types of the Heights. Others, like this house in Woodland Heights by the architect Peter Waldman, or this house in Norhill by the architects Pia Wortham and Joan Callis, are bold departures from existing types but carefully adjusted in terms of scale and siting so as not to disrespect their neighborhood settings. What these examples suggest is the vibrancy and excitement that the Heights continues to generate after more than a century as Houston's first new town."

 

Back in 1998 we had architectural vibrancy and excitement, now we have the ordinance and its clueless future.

 

 

 

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The Rose Lawn Home in the 200 block of 17th between yale and Rutland. It was demolished some time ago. The idea for using Barber's plans came from Rice professor Stephen Fox.

http://community.rice.edu/focusresources/reference/foxslides/14.html

 

Darn, I was hoping I might have a picture of it, but I don't. My great grandparents, and my grandfather, lived at 231 W 17th from around 1911 to 1919/20, but the only pictures I have are of the porch of 227, and a small section of 231's front. I can't believe they wanted to show the people in the pictures, and not the houses.

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My great grandparents, and my grandfather, lived at 231 W 17th from around 1911 to 1919/20, but the only pictures I have are of the porch of 227, and a small section of 231's front.

Small world! I renovated 231 in 1997!! Was the second story porch with the shingle surround (I don't know what to call it) original? We hand stripped the balustrade of the 3000 coats of paint down to some beautiful heart pine. I had 6" heart pine milled in New Orleans to match the existing floor. Also had cypress bevel siding made to match the existing pine. Pulled all the windows apart, reglazed them, fixed all the pulleys and placed PVC tubes to run the counterweights in so we could foam the dead air space. We kept the original door with the original center mounted ringer style doorbell. I pulled that thing apart and reworked it. The brass had a patina that was outstanding. That was a labor of love that I lost my backside on.

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Barber designed a handful of the original "showpiece" homes in the Heights.  These homes are few and far between.  The vast majority of the homes in the Heights are craftsman era bungalows, not the large showpiece Victorians.  Just because you are copying the design of one of the original architects does not mean that the design is automatically the appropriate scale for the neighborhood and compatible with the existing historic architecture.   

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does not mean that the design is automatically the appropriate scale for the neighborhood and compatible with the existing historic architecture.

Where in the ordinance is "appropriate scale" and "compatible" defined? I am not trying to be snarky, only trying to understand why a 4000 sqft with front set backs the same as the rest of the block can't be compatible with a 2000 sqft? Using our notional plan as an example, we are starting with a larger house on the corner and steppping down the size and height to a story and a half which will be adjacent to another story and a half. What, in your opinion, makes this out of scale or incompatible?

From your perspective, would you rather two 2500 sqft homes built on 33.33' x 132' lots or one 4000 sqft home built on a 66.67' x 132' lot?

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The neighborhood is a mish mash of size, style, age, and even use (ie chicken plants).  Neither history, nor architectural aesthetic is the goal, but actually an attempt to freeze the neighborhood at some arbitrarily "great" point in time like 1999 or 2004 (or whenever they bought their home).

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So because some of the more unique architecturally interesting buildings were few and far between and have since been demo'd, we shouldn't build any houses like them any more?   I thought you wanted to preserve architecture???

Yes.  That is exactly what I said.  We should never build any more houses in the style of the original showcase houses.  In fact, I think that the commission should order the immediate demolition of the remaining two original showcase homes because they do not match the predominant bungalow architecture.  That is clearly my point and in no way am I arguing that the original showcase homes were few and far between in the Heights (mostly on the occasional street corner or along the main boulevards) and should not be replicated en masse on a single block, much like the McVics that prompted the historic ordinance and the amendments in the first place.  I am certainly not arguing that building three very large homes in the style of the original showcase homes all in a row on a block that is predominantly much smaller craftsman homes is out of scale and character of the neighborhood.  That is because it is impossible to look at three giant houses on a street that is otherwise full of bungalows and think that they are out of scale with the rest of the neighborhood (unless you cherry pick the odd pre-ordinance non-conforming new construction and use it as an example of the proper scale for the neighborhood--and I am certainly not arguing that the beginning reference point for scale should be the historic archictecture).  And there certainly is no history of people in the western HD being concerned about scale and compatibility of new construction.  It is not like people in my neighborhood made yard signs because they were upset about these issues and a development on the corner of 15th and Rutland.   

 

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=120371857975554&set=a.120371854642221.19765.112856885393718&type=1&theater

 

We just all want to make sure that the demolition of the original showcase homes is a fait accompli.  In fact, I am going to oppose the demolition of the chicken plant.  It is a great example of 1970s commercial architecture that has been a great benefit to the character of the Heights.  

 

Or, if it is difficult to discern my sarcasm from what I am really arguing, you could actually read my posts and respond to the argument that I am actually making instead of in classic HAIF fashion assigning an argument to me that I never made.  In fact, just to make sure that this silliness ends, I will spell it out for you:

 

ONE LARGE NEW CONSTRUCTION HOME IN THE STYLE OF THE ORIGINAL SHOWCASE HOMES CAN BE CONSISTENT WITH THE EXISTING SCALE AND COMPATIBLE WITH EXISTING ARCHITECTURE WHEN PLACED IN THE HEIGHTS IN A SIMILAR MANNER AS THE ORIGINAL SHOWCASE HOMES.  PUTTING THREE IN A ROW ON A STREET THAT IS MAJORITY SMALLER BUNGALOW ARCHITECTURE IS NOT CONSISTENT WITH THE SCALE AND NOT COMPATIBLE WITH THE EXISTING ARCHITECTURE.  

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ONE LARGE NEW CONSTRUCTION HOME IN THE STYLE OF THE ORIGINAL SHOWCASE HOMES CAN BE CONSISTENT WITH THE EXISTING SCALE AND COMPATIBLE WITH EXISTING ARCHITECTURE WHEN PLACED IN THE HEIGHTS IN A SIMILAR MANNER AS THE ORIGINAL SHOWCASE HOMES.  PUTTING THREE IN A ROW ON A STREET THAT IS MAJORITY SMALLER BUNGALOW ARCHITECTURE IS NOT CONSISTENT WITH THE SCALE AND NOT COMPATIBLE WITH THE EXISTING ARCHITECTURE.

Just to be clear, if you are referring to our plans for the chicken factory you have some of your facts wrong.

1. The end house on the large corner is on an 8800 sqft lot and that would be a showcase home.

2. The second house on a 6600 sqft house is a folk victorian that exists in this district and all over the heights.

3. The last house is a story and a half. The next house in line is a story and a half. The maximum ridge height is so far back on this plan that from the same perspective view from the street, it will appear to be the same height as the next door neighbor. Overlaying 2D drawings is a poor method of perspective as the planning staff did.

4. The 1200 block of Rutland is NOT majority smaller bungalows. This can readily be seen on google earth. Two of the 8 smaller homes on that block will be added onto within the year. How do you incorporate that into what is typical?

What would you choose? These are the only 3 choices and one WILL happen. That I can guarantee.

1. 3 houses on 3 larger lots like the schematic you have seen.

2. 5 two story houses on 33.33' lots

3. an apartment/condo development

There are no other scenarios. I did not buy this property to donate it.

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ONE LARGE NEW CONSTRUCTION HOME IN THE STYLE OF THE ORIGINAL SHOWCASE HOMES CAN BE CONSISTENT WITH THE EXISTING SCALE AND COMPATIBLE WITH EXISTING ARCHITECTURE WHEN PLACED IN THE HEIGHTS IN A SIMILAR MANNER AS THE ORIGINAL SHOWCASE HOMES. PUTTING THREE IN A ROW ON A STREET THAT IS MAJORITY SMALLER BUNGALOW ARCHITECTURE IS NOT CONSISTENT WITH THE SCALE AND NOT COMPATIBLE WITH THE EXISTING ARCHITECTURE.

Just to be clear, if you are referring to our plans for the chicken factory you have some of your facts wrong.

1. The end house on the large corner is on an 8800 sqft lot and that would be a showcase home.

2. The second house on a 6600 sqft house is a folk victorian that exists in this district and all over the heights.

3. The last house is a story and a half. The next house in line is a story and a half. The maximum ridge height is so far back on this plan that from the same perspective view from the street, it will appear to be the same height as the next door neighbor. Overlaying 2D drawings is a poor method of perspective as the planning staff did.

4. The 1200 block of Rutland is NOT majority smaller bungalows. This can readily be seen on google earth. Two of the 8 smaller homes on that block will be added onto within the year. How do you incorporate that into what is typical?

What would you choose? These are the only 3 choices and one WILL happen. That I can guarantee.

1. 3 houses on 3 larger lots like the schematic you have seen.

2. 5 two story houses on 33.33' lots

3. an apartment/condo development

There are no other scenarios. I did not buy this property to donate it.

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#1 all the way. My guess is the neighborhood will rally to your defense if the HAHC gives you any "grief". I think it is universal that just about everyone hates the townhome look of smaller homes on smaller lots. Too much like Rice Military.

Best luck to you. The sane ones are pulling for you. (Please don't put in condos!!!)

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#1 all the way. My guess is the neighborhood will rally to your defense if the HAHC gives you any "grief". I think it is universal that just about everyone hates the townhome look of smaller homes on smaller lots. Too much like Rice Military.

Best luck to you. The sane ones are pulling for you. (Please don't put in condos!!!)

I can promise you I won't put in condos. However, my problem is without an economically viable project, I will sell the property and then all bets are off. Since it is currently designated commercial, there are other option besides lower density residential. If you are inclined, please contact the mayor and city council.

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Small world! I renovated 231 in 1997!! Was the second story porch with the shingle surround (I don't know what to call it) original? We hand stripped the balustrade of the 3000 coats of paint down to some beautiful heart pine. I had 6" heart pine milled in New Orleans to match the existing floor. Also had cypress bevel siding made to match the existing pine. Pulled all the windows apart, reglazed them, fixed all the pulleys and placed PVC tubes to run the counterweights in so we could foam the dead air space. We kept the original door with the original center mounted ringer style doorbell. I pulled that thing apart and reworked it. The brass had a patina that was outstanding. That was a labor of love that I lost my backside on.

 

I'll get pictures up some day, but no, the shingles aren't original. My granddad wrote a description of the house in his late 80's, which was still applicable when I visited an open house the last time that property was for sale.

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Yes.  That is exactly what I said.  We should never build any more houses in the style of the original showcase houses.  In fact, I think that the commission should order the immediate demolition of the remaining two original showcase homes because they do not match the predominant bungalow architecture.  That is clearly my point and in no way am I arguing that the original showcase homes were few and far between in the Heights (mostly on the occasional street corner or along the main boulevards) and should not be replicated en masse on a single block, much like the McVics that prompted the historic ordinance and the amendments in the first place.  I am certainly not arguing that building three very large homes in the style of the original showcase homes all in a row on a block that is predominantly much smaller craftsman homes is out of scale and character of the neighborhood.  That is because it is impossible to look at three giant houses on a street that is otherwise full of bungalows and think that they are out of scale with the rest of the neighborhood (unless you cherry pick the odd pre-ordinance non-conforming new construction and use it as an example of the proper scale for the neighborhood--and I am certainly not arguing that the beginning reference point for scale should be the historic archictecture).  And there certainly is no history of people in the western HD being concerned about scale and compatibility of new construction.  It is not like people in my neighborhood made yard signs because they were upset about these issues and a development on the corner of 15th and Rutland.   

 

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=120371857975554&set=a.120371854642221.19765.112856885393718&type=1&theater

 

We just all want to make sure that the demolition of the original showcase homes is a fait accompli.  In fact, I am going to oppose the demolition of the chicken plant.  It is a great example of 1970s commercial architecture that has been a great benefit to the character of the Heights.  

 

Or, if it is difficult to discern my sarcasm from what I am really arguing, you could actually read my posts and respond to the argument that I am actually making instead of in classic HAIF fashion assigning an argument to me that I never made.  In fact, just to make sure that this silliness ends, I will spell it out for you:

 

ONE LARGE NEW CONSTRUCTION HOME IN THE STYLE OF THE ORIGINAL SHOWCASE HOMES CAN BE CONSISTENT WITH THE EXISTING SCALE AND COMPATIBLE WITH EXISTING ARCHITECTURE WHEN PLACED IN THE HEIGHTS IN A SIMILAR MANNER AS THE ORIGINAL SHOWCASE HOMES.  PUTTING THREE IN A ROW ON A STREET THAT IS MAJORITY SMALLER BUNGALOW ARCHITECTURE IS NOT CONSISTENT WITH THE SCALE AND NOT COMPATIBLE WITH THE EXISTING ARCHITECTURE.  

 

I reject your entire summary here.  You don't like it, a few other people dont like it.  Support for this position is inconsistent with the ultra majority of the Heights.  I sincerely wish you would move away, and bless your heart, I really mean that in as polite as a way as I can.  I do not dislike you, I just honestly believe you are terrible for the Heights, and very un-neighborly.

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What would you choose? These are the only 3 choices and one WILL happen. That I can guarantee.

1. 3 houses on 3 larger lots like the schematic you have seen.

2. 5 two story houses on 33.33' lots

3. an apartment/condo development

There are no other scenarios. I did not buy this property to donate it.

 

 

Just out of curiosity (and if you're unable to comment, I understand), has the HAHC indicated that option #2 would have an easier time getting approved than option #1?

 

Looking at the HCAD maps, it seems like the property is already platted as 5 33.33' lots. Presumably the total square footage would be similar for either option.

 

However, if the objection is with the height of the structures rather than the square footage, would building on narrower frontage resolve the issue? It seems to me that if the homes are built with the current typical crawlspace height and ceiling heights typical of newer construction, the height issue doesn't go away under scenario #2.

 

With respect to selling the property for multi-family development, the rules for issuing a CoA for residential construction (33-242, 1-4) don't appear to differentiate between single- and multi-family, and I don't think there is a precedent for the HAHC issuing a CoA for multi-family development, at least not in this district.  

 

With respect to commercial development, the restriction is that the height not exceed what it "typical" for existing commercial structures in the district.  In this case, there are very few such structures (single-digits, I'd bet), and most appear to be single-story.  Also, I'd guess that any commercial use of this space will require about half land area be used for parking, which I'm sure the neighbors would be thrilled about.

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What would you choose? These are the only 3 choices and one WILL happen. That I can guarantee.

1. 3 houses on 3 larger lots like the schematic you have seen.

2. 5 two story houses on 33.33' lots

3. an apartment/condo development

There are no other scenarios. I did not buy this property to donate it.

 

This presumes that there are no other options other than what one builder is willing to do and an assumption that a hypothetical subsequent buyer/investor would do a condo/apartment complex (i.e. we are supposed to believe that the problems one builder has with HAHC will just result in another builder making an even larger investment with no guaranty that the problems with HAHC will have been abated).  It also comes across as a bit of a threat.  Either we support one builder's side in a dispute with HAHC or else we will get something worse.  I am more than willing to call that bluff. 

 

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This presumes that there are no other options other than what one builder is willing to do and an assumption that a hypothetical subsequent buyer/investor would do a condo/apartment complex (i.e. we are supposed to believe that the problems one builder has with HAHC will just result in another builder making an even larger investment with no guaranty that the problems with HAHC will have been abated).  It also comes across as a bit of a threat.  Either we support one builder's side in a dispute with HAHC or else we will get something worse.  I am more than willing to call that bluff.

1. I guess I could build 4 houses.

2. Have you heard of Farb or In-Town? There are some investors who can allocate more resources to a project. Think Ashby. The asst director of Planning has already told us apartments could be built here.

3. I am an engineer and cursed with logical thinking. I don't need to threaten anyone. I am simply stating the facts. I have buyers lined up for the big houses, I have buyers lined up for the smaller houses, and I have a buyer lined up to take it off my hands. In order of profit potential a) 5 smaller houses b)3 larger houses c) sell it to someone else.

I don't have a dispute with the HAHC. I have a dispute with the City of Houston for an ordinance that promised guidelines within 6 months of passage voted on by the City Council. Hasn't happened. The fact that the Planning Department had a "Design Guide" on their preservation website in lieu of duly adopted guidelines borders on fraud. Intentionally or unintentionally they represented a false reality.

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1. I guess I could build 4 houses.

2. Have you heard of Farb or In-Town? There are some investors who can allocate more resources to a project. Think Ashby. The asst director of Planning has already told us apartments could be built here.

3. I am an engineer and cursed with logical thinking. I don't need to threaten anyone. I am simply stating the facts. I have buyers lined up for the big houses, I have buyers lined up for the smaller houses, and I have a buyer lined up to take it off my hands. In order of profit potential a) 5 smaller houses b)3 larger houses c) sell it to someone else.

I don't have a dispute with the HAHC. I have a dispute with the City of Houston for an ordinance that promised guidelines within 6 months of passage voted on by the City Council. Hasn't happened. The fact that the Planning Department had a "Design Guide" on their preservation website in lieu of duly adopted guidelines borders on fraud. Intentionally or unintentionally they represented a false reality.

 

1.  Why not?  Just south of 11th, a builder did a couple of new build bungalows based on original catalog designs.  Why not do the same?  By the time anything gets built on the chicken plant site, most of the new single family homes being build down by the TC apartments and up by the ATT building will have been bought up.  The market will probably go from being very tight to just about impossible as far as finding new construction in the Heights by the end of 2014.

2.  I do not see Farb or In-Town rolling the dice on HAHC, especially if the property is flipped due to a reject from the commission.  If the ordinance was repealed, sure, a number of different builders would take a shot at it.  But if the result of the ordinance being repealed was having that lot turn into something like the Fisher condos on Morrison, the ordinance would be back in place in a matter of weeks with a much more restrictive mandate for the commission. 

3.  So, plan A is to do the designs you have in mind, whether it be 5 lots or 3.  Plan B is to flip it out if you do not get what you want from HAHC.  What about plan C?  Why not go back to the drawing board and find designs that can get approved?  Sure, you will take a hit with fees for architects.  But, it is a hot market and the price of doing business in a historic district.  At least you do not have to hire a historic preservation consultant to prepare a report for the commission as is required in many of the historic districts in the east.   

 

A design guide isn't going to tell you everything you need to know and will not do away with the subjective element of historic preservation.  The Germantown and Montrose design guides do nothing more than give the commission more ammunition to be even more restrictive than what they allow in the Heights.  I suspect that the design guide is the briar patch for the ardent preservationist and not the answer to any of the problems that builders have with the commission. 

 

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Why not?  Just south of 11th, a builder did a couple of new build bungalows based on original catalog designs.  Why not do the same? 

  What about plan C?  Why not go back to the drawing board and find designs that can get approved?  Sure, you will take a hit with fees for architects.  But, it is a hot market and the price of doing business in a historic district.

The three bungalows built south of 11th were put on 33.33' wide lots with 3 ft side setbacks. The land cost $30/sqft. Those prices can't be touched anywhere in the heights right now. He sold those house for over $300/sqft. To match his deal the price would have to be $375/sqft. Remember I based my decision to buy the chicken plant on Design Guidelines posted on the Planning and Development website that turned out not to be the "real" guidelines.

I have been in front of the staff of the Planning and Development Department 8+ times trying to get something worked out. Had an appointment today but the City closed down.

What is it about a 4000 sqft house on a corner 8800 sqft lot with 20' front setbacks, 15' corner setback, and 8' right side setback you find so incompatible with the district?

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  • 5 months later...
 I am writing to inform everyone that have supported or opposed my original plan for the Chicken Plant at 12th and Rutland that I have thrown the towel in on the Rutland side of the project.  As you may know, we are moving along on the two houses on Tulane and have begun site work for the one house on 12th.

 

The 16 months of dealing with bureaucrats that really want NO new construction despite their vehement denial of that has taken its toll on me emotionally and financially.  We have two houses "approved" by the Houston Archaeological and Hysterical Committee on the Rutland side.  The level of compromise REQUIRED by the HAHC make them unidentifiable from the original plans.  When you are in the heat of the battle you give a little but when you step back and look at what was "approved" you recoil in disgust.  The corner house will NEVER be approved.  They say that a big house is OK as long as it isn't bigger than the typical contributing house in the district.  In other words, it can be big as long as it is small.  They wanted a 25' side set back even though the City setback is 10' AND the average setback of ALL corner contributing houses in the West Historic District is 11'.

 

Right now we have 3 commercial developers and one single family builder looking at the property.  At least two have contacted the staff of the Historic Preservation group to get direction on apartments.  I am deeply sorry and saddened by the intransigence of my City.  The dogmatic fervor of those enforcing the ordinance will destroy this neighborhood in my opinion.  There is an outside chance I could still move forward if certain changes occurred.  I don't hold out much hope for that though.  My wife and I were going to live in the corner house.  Now, I don't even want my name associated with this debacle.

 

As a complete side note, We are not demolishing the chicken plant, we are deconstructing in an environmentally responsible fashion.  We abated the asbestos in the front offices with a TCEQ registered company.  Two of the steel frame buildings that were part of a complex of 8 separate but attached buildings are being rebuilt as a barn and auto shop.  We have recycled over 120,000 pounds of scrap metal, 16,000 pounds of copper, 3500 pounds of aluminum, 320 pounds of Freon evacuated by a licensed HVAC technician.  The cinder block walls have been ground and re-purposed in a half mile road.  ALL of the concrete is being purchased by Southern Crushed concrete to be turned into road base.  We are recycling or re-purposing 99.9 percent of the material by weight and 95% by volume. 

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Right now we have 3 commercial developers and one single family builder looking at the property.  At least two have contacted the staff of the Historic Preservation group to get direction on apartments. 

 

 

 

Get the popcorn ready!

 

 

Chapter 33 doesn't differentiate between single-family and multi-family residential. 1100 Harvard is a 4-story contributing multi-family building, but isn't in THIS district. I don't know of any contributing multi-family structures exist in the district, but there ARE some two-story non-contributing multi-family structures.

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Apartments in the middle of that area? That would look so bad. There are older smaller complexes in the area that have been there a long time. This is crazy.

 

The language of the ordinance gives the HAHC pretty good justification to block an apartment building, at least any apartment building larger than typical single family houses in the district.

 

In practical terms, by requiring additions to start at the back wall of existing structures, and by clamping down on the size of new construction (despite some approvals of larger houses early on, e.g. 13th and Ashland), the HAHC seems to have capped house size in this area at about 3000 s.f. or so.

 

 

I'm not sure we can say it's been driven by HAHC, but there does seem to be more construction activity in the Free Heights than in the HD's.

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HAHC doesn't want any new construction?  That is just going too far.  You have approval for five out of six new construction projects.  There is another new build going in two doors down from the pair you are building on Tulane.  There are three new builds under way on the 1300 block of Ashland and four on the 1500 block of Ashland.  Thus, HAHC has recently approved twelve new builds in the WD. 

 

And before you tell us that HAHC is going to destroy our neighborhood, you should at least take advantage of your right to appeal to the planning commission.  Most appeals are successful.  But if you do not want to take advantage of the rights afforded you under the ordinance and just want to sell, that is fine.  Just save the hyperbole about HAHC destroying the Heights.  It is not destroying the Heights. 

 

 

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"HAHC doesn't want any new construction?  That is just going too far."

 

My opinion based on 7 HAHC meetings, 15+ staff meetings, and dozens of emails and phone calls.  Whether there is new construction or not, doesn't mean that THEIR DESIRE (ie want) is NO NEW CONSTRUCTION.  You obviously have not been following the planning commission in the past 6 months.  Most appeals in that time frame have NOT been successful.

 

The most recent two "approvals"  were compromised beyond recognition and have roof pitches that do not belong on those style homes.  The reason, they would be taller than the "typical" house.  But by Gawd, a chicken plant or apartment building is just fine!  In what universe is a 35' ridge height that is on a hip roof 100' from the street creating a diminishment of the historic fabric of the existing contributing structures?

 

You fail to understand the tenuous legal ground this ordinance holds.  One of two things is going to happen.  Someone is going to challenge this ordinance in court and win OR Parker will serve her remaining time and it will be overturned when she leaves office.  Your accusation is without merit.  IF the real intent during the sale of the ordinance to the property owners (including me) is not protected then the HAHC will destroy the neighborhood.  Preservation as the ordinance is being applied is NOT what was sold.  Save the Bungalows was the sale.  When the ordinance is kicked, you better have minimum lot size and setbacks filed and approved for your block.  Otherwise the townhomes are coming.  That is FACT, NOT hyperbole.

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I am saddened to hear you are throwing in the towel.  Your houses makes the Heights look tremendously nicer than the older smaller homes.  I can't wait to see the day the ordinance is appealed....The ordinance is truly destroying the hood. 

 

I would say fight on, but I know that it can come at a high cost....It will take a few good developers to fight they city...and win...just think of the satisfaction you would have if you defeated them and built what you wanted.  Get your other homes done, then come back and do this big one and fight them with everything you have.  I am so sick of these people telling others what they can build on their own lots.

 

 

"HAHC doesn't want any new construction?  That is just going too far."

 

My opinion based on 7 HAHC meetings, 15+ staff meetings, and dozens of emails and phone calls.  Whether there is new construction or not, doesn't mean that THEIR DESIRE (ie want) is NO NEW CONSTRUCTION.  You obviously have not been following the planning commission in the past 6 months.  Most appeals in that time frame have NOT been successful.

 

The most recent two "approvals"  were compromised beyond recognition and have roof pitches that do not belong on those style homes.  The reason, they would be taller than the "typical" house.  But by Gawd, a chicken plant or apartment building is just fine!  In what universe is a 35' ridge height that is on a hip roof 100' from the street creating a diminishment of the historic fabric of the existing contributing structures?

 

You fail to understand the tenuous legal ground this ordinance holds.  One of two things is going to happen.  Someone is going to challenge this ordinance in court and win OR Parker will serve her remaining time and it will be overturned when she leaves office.  Your accusation is without merit.  IF the real intent during the sale of the ordinance to the property owners (including me) is not protected then the HAHC will destroy the neighborhood.  Preservation as the ordinance is being applied is NOT what was sold.  Save the Bungalows was the sale.  When the ordinance is kicked, you better have minimum lot size and setbacks filed and approved for your block.  Otherwise the townhomes are coming.  That is FACT, NOT hyperbole.

 

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So why don't you challenge it in court BB?

 

Cheers

James

 

James, 

 

A former Supreme Court Justice for the State of Texas and friend, told me this would get defeated in a heartbeat.  Local litigators have indicated the same.  However, I am not interested in an expensive crusade to prove something.  I have to continually tell myself that the best business decision is likely to take the losses and move on.  I will NEVER do anything in the historic districts in Houston again. 

 

IF the ordinance is removed, I fear the results on the Heights.  The all or nothing approach of the Historic Preservation Staff is frankly disturbing.

 

Michael Bastian

 

Edited by BBLLC
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  • 1 year later...

There are approved plans for on large house on the southernmost lot on the property.  They should be breaking ground soon.

I think there are also approved plans for three or four houses on the remainder of the property, but have not seen any signs of life.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I live half a block from there, and I'm very happy to see that houses are going in and not an apartment building.

 

But IMHO the façades on those houses don't measure up vs. other similarly priced new construction in the area.  They are a little too plain I think.

 

And I have to laugh that the realtor posted a picture of "Example of the finishes for JLynn Homes" which is a close up of a bathroom fixture with a burned out bulb.  Do you even quality control?

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  • The title was changed to Chicken Plant At 12th St. & Rutland St.

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