7-Story Southwest Freeway Audi Dealership Gets Go Ahead, Will Split Momentum

Expect to see workers moving dirt on the 1.5-acre site at the northeast corner of Greenbriar and 59 within the next few weeks; the city’s planning commission last week voted to approve a variance granting permission for a 7-story auto dealership building at 2120 Southwest Fwy. to poke a few feet further toward Greenbriar (at left in the above rendering) than regulations allow. The result: the country’s largest — and tallest — flagship Audi dealership, featuring a 2-story car display case on the corner of the third and fourth levels that’ll bring the latest models up to eye level for drivers on the raised freeway who aren’t looking where they’re going.

More views:

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Momentum Audi will move to the new building from its current structure a few blocks away at 2315 Richmond Ave — leaving Momentum Volkswagen to expand in that location.

Rendering: Goree Architects

41 Comment

  • A giant shiny monument to consumerism.. It’s going to change the whole feel of that little area, and not for the better.

  • once again i have to say bring it on, but now would be an ideal time for those that lived in that block of homes behind Star Pizza to share stories of the place in it’s heyday. always sounded like a number of notable houston musicians who put a large amount of work into building up the local scene tended to reside there at the same time.

    never go that way much anymore but growing up in pasadena meant that shepherd exit was always my portal to an entirely different Houston than the one i lived in. A 7-story audi dealership is a much better signifier of what lies behind those southwest frwy walls than the independent music and book shops i used to look for in the old days.

  • “A giant shiny monument to consumerism”

    How dare people work to make things that other people enjoy!

  • I think this will save me about a minute or two on my commute the next time I drop off my Audi for service.

  • This will nicely clean up that lot. It has been tossed around to various concepts for commercial retail. This dealership is a great renewal for that corner. The Momentum VW salespersons are probably happy that they won’t lose commission to someone drawn over to their own higher end brand. Yes, Audi and VW are identical will different shells dressing.

  • Yikes – where are your social sharing buttons – am I missing them? How can there be a blog in 2012 without social links?

  • @kjb434 – actually, I went the other way. I was looking at a new A3 at Momentum and ended up getting a new GLI next door for about $7k less. Same engine and transmission as the A3, only in a Jetta body. The factory amplifier in the trunk is even stamped with an Audi logo. I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m not the only person who made that exact same substitution. This move will be good for both the Audi and VW dealerships.

  • @Brooke:

    They used to be here but somehow disappeared.

    I’d like to see them return.

  • I’ve bought two Audis at Momentum; will probably continue to do so in the future. Looking forward to this new dealership.

  • Right above the comments…there is Facebook, Twitter, Email. Only one missing is G+.

  • The space looks better vacant.

  • Hopefully they clean house during the move and fire everyone associated with this business. Their customer service is non-existent and I will never do business with them again.

  • kjb434 writes: “Yes, Audi and VW are identical with different shells dressing.”

    There is some truth to this, especially from the layman’s perspective, but this is a rather large oversimplification. There are some (a significant number) of powertrain and running gear parts shared but the platforms are often rather different even among “shared platform” cars such as the Audi A4 and VW Passat. The availability of quattro in Audis and the TDI in VWs is one of the most significant differences in the US market.

  • Guess they’re giving Advantage a run for their money (FYI, they have an elevated show room next to the Pierce Elevated).

    It’s not hard to long for a better car when it’s right in your face in rush hour traffic =)

  • marmer,

    VW also has a 4WD variant that was pulled from Audi. So VW has quattro, just not called that.

    TDI has been popular in the states with VW, but Audi doesn’t push or have the requests for diesel in the US. In Europe, sport diesels are offered on Audi’s and they use VW’s TDI technology.

    While there are many unique aspects, they lines are getting more blurred. The general rule is the luxury items get pushed out to Audi and then eventually become available in VW a few years down the road.

    Want more of stretch…Porsche was created from the guy that designed the first Beetle. The general shape of Porsche cars were Beetles that were stretched and reshaped and the same rear engine drive train was used. The Porsche SUV is the same as the Audi and VW’s. They are using different engines, but the chassis are identical.

    The other differences come in traditional tuning aspects. Audi’s are tuned to have more sportier suspension unlike VW. So the cars ride differently. This has more to do with the culture of the divisions.

    I love my VW CC. All the luxury of an Audi with a much lower price tag (and lower service price tag).

  • I’m curious what some of the complainers would like to see built here. This is the ideal use for that tract if you ask me. The elevated freeway cuts off visibility that is required for a standard retail center. Too much traffic and noise for residential use. Too good of a neighborhood for industrial use.

    It seems to me that the general consensus among Swamplot commenters is that all new construction sucks unless it’s an I.M. Pei designed, dense, mixed-use, pedestrian friendly, affordable, non-traffic causing, choo-choo train served development with lots of on-site parking and a ban on leasing to any non-local chain stores.

  • The Sprawl house is now a Audi dealership. I guess that’s about right. In other news, I am REALLY freaking old.

  • @kjb434

    Audi offers and promotes TDI in both the A3 and the Q7 and they sell very well.

    Looks like a lot of you folks should stick to commenting on real estate not automobiles =)

  • Bernard, LMAO!

    Mike, good to know. I know the European market pushed out Audi’s with diesels for a long time.

  • Well, one major difference is that many VW’s undergo final assembly in Mexico, whereas Audis are shipped completed from Germany on big blue boats that dock across from Brady’s Landing.

  • Excellent. When my Audi needs servicing I can drive from my Ashby high rise condo, drop it off and walk back to my swankienda in the sky (that inadvertently steals sunlight from some mad as hell South Hamptoner). When they call to say my car is ready I can walk back to pick it up!

  • “Utility” hit the nail on the head….Hecho En Mexico makes ALL the difference in the world.My last 4 cars have been VW’s. The first was imported from Germany, the last 3 assembled in Puebla. Each of the 3 have been progressively worse. NEVER again.

  • @Bernard: I will never forgive Pei for what he did to the Louvre. I have reserved the domain name http://www.stopimpeihouston.org just in case.
    But seriously, it is interesting how hard the City fought this variance with virtually no community opposition. After Ashby, I thought the City lost its Mo Jo.

  • Well all Passats are being made in Tennessee. The CC’s are still made in Germany but are transitioning to the U.S.

    Mexico makes the VW small cars. The original reason they have factories in Mexico is not because it was cheaper than the in the U.S., it’s because VW’s were much more popular in Mexico for the longest time compared to the U.S. market. Also, it’s much cheaper to manufacturer in the U.S. and/or Mexico than Germany.

    Why do you think Mercedes and BMW are shifting a lot of production to the U.S. (particularly in the right to work states).

  • What’s lame is that VW won’t sell any of those 74 mpg European rides(Like that sweet BlueMotion 1.6 TDI 6spd.)over here in the USA. Because the USA won’t let them. Screw that Americanised Audi Eurocrap.

  • I guess a lot of people don’t know that I.M. Pei designed Houston’s tallest building. Bernard, your use of “choo-choo” in your comment marks you as a member of the talk-radio tribe that howls at mass transit out of paranoia that concrete utopia might be endangered. It narrows your audience to the well-indoctrinated.

    Oddly enough, the building looks like something that Pei might have designed, if he were in the business of designing car dealerships.

  • Seems like a good use for that lot. And it will block a little freeway noise.

  • Mike,

    I didn’t see Bernard making fun of Pei. I clearly see Bernard making fun of posters that think that every proposed project be some architectural masterpiece and if it’s not is pointless development.

    It’s like posters crying because we don’t have showpiece building by Gehry or a bridge by Calatrava. To me these people will never be happy in Houston.

  • kjb, I didn’t think Bernard had made fun of Pei. My comment about unawareness that he had designed our tallest building was more directed at the stopimpeihouston.com idea.

    I think you overstate the attitude of some posters a little. People are understandably disappointed when new projects in exciting parts of town sacrifice creativity for status quo, green for concrete. The arguments that such people don’t understand capitalism are mostly nonsense: profits can be made through creative development as well as bland repetition.

    Our city has been blessed by some truly remarkable architectural works that have shown that a port city in southeast Texas can be more than conventional wisdom says it should be. With those feats come higher standards, and folks are disappointed when new development doesn’t live up to that tradition.

    All that said, I don’t really mind the Audi dealership, just wanted to answer your comment.

  • anon,

    thanks for dropping the name sprawl house, was able to find some brief recollections of the era scattered throughout the remnants of the early 00′s interweb.

    sounds like a lot of folks are running VW’s in this thread. say what you want about them being mexico-made, but i’ll still take my TDI over any other market alternative. i actually get excited when gas starts skyrocketing, it’s fun to be on the other side

  • @Mike: http://www.stopimpeihouston.org was a joke. Come on. I wrote “But seriously” after it. He is a great architect, but he did murder the Louvre. The idea that anyone would put together a movement to keep a particular architect out of Houston is beyond absurd.
    And I do not think that anyone thinks that every development should be an architectural masterpiece. People just lament the architectural group-think that has befallen much of the new development in Houston and are tired of new development that is out of scale and not compatible or beneficial to the neighborhood. There are only so many times you can expect people to be greatful that the new development is better than the empty lot that was there before it.
    The Audi store looks as good as a car dealership will ever look. But it will also mark another step in dismantling the funky Star Pizza/Amy’s Ice Cream/Cactus Records area. No need for protests. But expressing a little distaste with the new development is more than fair game.

  • kjb,

    I have a 1999 A4 Avant and at the time I heavily cross-shopped the Passat Syncro (later 4Motion.) At that time VWAG was really dragging its feet about offering the AWD Passats (especially the wagons) here, and that, plus a much nicer interior, is why I went with Audi. It is true that there are a lot of VW/Audi badged shared parts on both cars but the Passat of that period was actually a stretched and updated version of the A4′s platform. The Passat had a larger rear seat area, a cooled glove box and under-door courtesy lights, to name a few of the features the Audi didn’t have. In the ensuing years VW has de-contented the US-market Passat and Jetta and stopped offering any AWD or manual transmission options to further differentiate them from Audi.

  • Considering all the property between Greenbriar, Richmond, and Shepherd is owned by HEB, there is a good possibility that those blocks could see a lot of change (likely not an HEB though).

  • Yep marmer,

    VW has followed what Volvo has done and eliminated a lot of choices in their offerings in the U.S per line of cars. Audi’s premium price (and now surging sales in Europe and US) has allowed them to offer more here.

    Audi’s are still good and have reasons to pick them over VW. Audi typically takes the same base engine that VW uses in most cars but pushes them further especially their 2.0L 4-cyl blocks.

  • 2012 Audi A3 TDI, Houston to the San Jose on S. Congress and back, 44mpg driving 70mph

  • Joel,

    re: “… i’ll still take my TDI over any other market alternative.” My wife and I were looking at the VW TDI in the Touareg vs the “BlueTech” diesel in the ML350 over the weekend. Any reason not to look at the Mercedes diesel?

    As for people disliking the current situation of the dealership building on that chunk of land… you had many years that you could have bought it and done what ever you wanted with it. Someone is willing to risk their money to do something with it, and good luck to them. If you would have rather seen that piece of land turned into a park, then you should have put your money at risk and turned it into that. Ok, flame away.

  • Stop Audi Highrise!!

    Now we need bumperstickers and yardsigns.

  • Oldschool – you took more offense at my I.M. Pei comment than I intended. I knew the website was a joke, just wasn’t sure if you were aware of his Houston work. No worries.

    As to your second paragraph, I think we agree.

  • Living a block away from this corner on Lexington, I can say that I am excited to see something come to that corner. If we could only get the right hand lane of the exit ramp onto Shepherd turned into a right-turn only, things would be grand. It kills me that cars go through the light in that lane, when it would really help with the backup at the Richmond light.

  • So they will grant favors to some and not others?! OMG. You know what those city approvers are getting for kickbacks.

    I smell investigation time…