A List of Gentle Ashby Highrise Protest Methods

A LIST OF GENTLE ASHBY HIGHRISE PROTEST METHODS A settlement of its lawsuit with the city earlier this year guarantees that developers of the 21-story residential highrise planned for the corner of Ashby and Bissonnet (at right) next to Southampton will be able to receive building permits. But Culturemap editor Clifford Pugh reports that neighbors still opposed to the project have approved and sent a letter to the developers of the highrise at 1717 Bissonnet that includes a laundry list of the proposed tactics they plan to take to stop the project from being built — or to make things difficult for the company, Buckhead Investment Partners, if it proceeds with the project. Among them: filing their own lawsuit against the developers; appearing at the businesses and homes of the project’s investors and lenders (“as soon as we can identify [them]”), contractors, and other service providers to demonstrate opposition; monitoring and reporting construction violations; picketing the building’s leasing office whenever it is open; sending regular communications to tenants “to let them know that they are not welcome in our neighborhood”; challenging the permits of the building’s restaurant tenant; boycotting the restaurant and — if it’s a chain — all of its other locations; appearing at the homes of the restaurant’s owners, investors, and chef to demonstrate opposition; and (possibly worst of all:) posting “unfavorable reviews” of the restaurant online. [Culturemap; more from the West University Examiner; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Candace Garcia Update, 10 pm: The most recent draft of the “open letter” has been toned down a bit, reports the Chronicle‘s Nancy Sarnoff. The new draft makes no mention of the homes of the project’s investors, lenders, contractors, and service providers, or its restaurant’s owners, investors, or chef; says the leasing office will be picketed only “regularly”; and (most notably) drops any suggestion that area residents might post negative restaurant reviews online.

105 Comment

  • Are we 12 years old? Get over it. High rises go up all over the city but apparently this neighborhood thinks they are special. If you can’t get it blocked in court, stop being jerks about it. You had your chance, and it didn’t work. Let it go.

  • I didn’t really take a stance one way or the other, but after reading that list of Michael Moore style tactics they intend to use to stop this, I’m rooting for Ashby Highrise! Protesting at lenders’, investors’, and construction/managers’ homes and places of business will do nothing and in fact most of those folks have nothing to do with whether this project goes forward or not, they are just doing their job.
    Also I find it ironic that these are the same people (much like the Heights crowd who oppose the Heights Wal-Mart) who helped elect Annise Parker as mayor.

  • I’m all for doing things in a legal manner, like the lawsuit, but all the other stuff just sounds absolutely juvenile, petty, uncivil and otherwise disgusting. I thought this was a top-notch neighborhood? Sounds more like Jersey Shore. I hope they get counter-sued for harassment and damages if they employ these antics. Now look who’s bringing the neighborhood down.

  • I don’t have a dog in this fight, but I’m always on the side of authentic neighborhoods over giant high-rises. However, it appears the opposition side has now resorted to bullying and they have lost my support. Best of luck high-rise developers.

  • The residents of Southampton aren’t exactly the occupy wall street types. They have jobs and responsibilities. And as such, they probably have neither the time nor inclination to take to the streets in protest.

  • I say more power to them. Of course it’s one thing to sit among friends in someone’s living and bullet point everything you are going to do, and another to actually do it. I may be wrong, but I just can’t picture Southamptonites doing anything that involves (1) physical confrontation, (2) work that they themselves can’t hire out. It will dwindle down to a few rabid anti-Ashby protestors, and the rest of the residents will sigh and accept it.

  • Some people just don’t understand not getting their way. Also included in their list of tactics should be temper tantrums and name calling.

  • These proposed actions are downright un-American, un-Texan, and un-Houstonian and the direct result of an unconstitutional legal challenge. TOWER OF TRAFFIC SECURE.

  • These folks and their snarling, aggressive French fry yard signs crack me up. Sure, they’re free to get as nimby as they want. But are we really supposed to believe there’s even a single resident of that neighborhood who isn’t a rabid free-market capitalist in every other facet of their lives?

  • again, if this neighborhood has any issues with the city development codes then they should use their funds to start a campaign to change any codes as they see fit, not use thier money to push “friends” and city elites into difficult positions that jeopardize taxpayer funds.

    in other words, stop acting like petulant brats* and understand that Southampton is indeed a part of greater Houston. i could go off on a rant providing more accurate feelings i have for people that throw around statements such as this “sending regular communications to tenants “to let them know that they are not welcome in our neighborhood”; “, but the vulgarity is unnecessary here.

    i for one cannot wait for the chance to buy an adequate size residence in a great neartown neighborhood and help contribute to providing further infrastructure for the area and greater Houston. now when is the widening of Bissonnet coming?

    * as a note, i’m well aware these are mainly just old folks wasting away their retirement so graciously afforded to them and using their money to protect their vested interests, but do it in a way that doesn’t impose on other communities or call attention to the selfish tactics of the money’d crowd.

  • Highrises do not go up all the time on a half of a block in a residential neighborhood with single family homes on the south side of the same tract of land with a highrise in their backyard. Highrises do not go up all the time on two lane residential streets. The only reason anti-Ashby people get hate is because they are mostly wealthy and have probably at some point engaged in a similar dick-move to get where they are in life. Fair enough, but I would be more concerned if people in Houston just sat on their hands and let developers walk all over their neighborhoods to make a profit while leaving the residents to deal with the externalities. Yeah, Houston has no zoning. But, Houstonians do have First Amendment rights. And more power to anyone who exercises their right to free speech and assembly to protect their neighborhood.

  • Really? Do these people have nothing better to do? Maybe someone should tell them that they live in a CITY. Perhaps the builders, contractors, etc. should go protest at THEIR homes. Oh wait! They won’t; they have jobs to do. Take your NIMBY attitude to the suburbs if you can’t handle being in an urban area.

  • “…picketing the building’s leasing office whenever it is open; sending regular communications to tenants “to let them know that they are not welcome in our neighborhood.”

    Isn’t the Cow out of the barn at that point ? Sounds like a counter-suit for harrassment to me.

  • Too bad that no one in this little group has a PR background. They need public support in their little fight and these sorts of childish, boorish tactics will quickly turn public support against them. The media will pick this up and boom – they lose any traction that they may have had with politicians and the general public. They appear to be petulant spoiled children and no one is gonna jump on that bandwagon.

  • If property values plummet it won’t be because of the hirise. It will be because most people really don’t want to live next to someone who will harass you and conduct a vendetta against you if you do something they don’t like. A nasty lot as evidenced by this “manifesto.” There is no legal basis to stop the development. Per the mayor. And yet they are threatening to sue to stop it. That alone is probably basis for the developers to file a lawsuit over the harassment. Which they probably will. About the same time they refile the lawsuit against the city. As for these “pillars of the community” they are really nothing more than spoiled pretentious brats. Having a temper tantrum. And the politicians who are pandering to them should remember that there aren’t enough of them to carry the next election. Most really have had enough of this. And of the pandering. The law is the law is the law. The mayor said so herself. When you threaten to harass someone, well, we have harassment laws in this state. And “pillars of the community” are not exempted from those laws. Neither are politicians who pander to them.

  • If our ordinances actually allowed neighborhoods to decide what can and cannot be built, which they do not, there wouldn’t be a single hirise apartment/condo building in this city. Even in Galleria. The two co-chairs of this “Stop Ashby” movement are partners at V&E. I supppose they believe laws do not apply to them. I guess it depends on which judge they may or may not be able to buy. Anyone can read the Batson Report in the Enron bankruptcy filings to know where they are coming from. Odd how they all seem to have moved into Southampton and Boulevard Oaks. One must ask if they’re a neighborhood or a nest.

  • What would you do? Welcome a 21-story building into your backyard?

    Given that Houstonians have no other tools to defend their homes and properties against inappropriate development, these seem pretty logical to me. These folks have First Amendment rights and are willing to use them.

  • These protesters are a bunch of thugs…… Chicago style….. they remind me of the occupy mindset when they threaten to go to folks houses……..

  • As I figured from the beginning, the StopAshby crowd were acting like children.

    When bulk of the argument against the project was that they just didn’t like it, they showed their true colors.

    Anytime they actually had leg to stand on in opposition and the data didn’t support them, they flew of the handle and went crazy.

    When you live this close to the center of the 4th largest city in the US, you need to expect your neighborhood to change a little. Midtown Houston and Uptown areas of Manhattan were upscale single family residential at one time. Times change and neighborhoods change.

  • The high-rise is a terrible idea. Okay, got it.

    I have not heard one iota of evidence that says the developers did anything wrong. They applied to build a building in a city with virtually no zoning. They didn’t break any rules or any laws.

    So now we have West U people or whatever they are using #occupy tactics. Funny.

  • Totally agree scott. These folks think that because they have money, different rules apply to them. Living with high rises is part of living in Houston. High rises with their increased density are more “green” than single family homes and offer amenities and services that people want. If these folks don’t want a high rise, they should move to West U, River Oaks, or better yet Katy.

  • I think the whole deal is terrible, but if I were the owner or landlord, I would sue the pants off of them for harrassment and open a 24-hour-a-day methadone clinic. That might fix it.

  • @Oldschool – The tower is in the middle of a highly populated place with high rises all around it. Google map it and you will find at least 4 within a two mile radius. Furthermore, how could one not be excited by the prospect of replacing Maryland Manor? That place is a dump and an eye sore. It’s not like the developers are knocking down awesome older homes that could be restored; they are simply getting rid of a crappy apartment complex. Also how many homes that back up to the tower are single family residences? I’m pretty comfortable saying that a majority of the places lining up behind the tower are rented out by students from Rice who never even see the light of day let alone their own backyard.

  • After reading these proposed actions, I support Buckhead even more. I’m gonna buy the penthouse and throw raw meat in all the Southhampton yards I possibly can.

  • Sounds to me like the developers and neighbors are all acting well within their rights. God Bless America!

  • It’s a little funny when people refer to the neighbors as “West U. Types”. West University has zoning, so this would never be an issue there. If Houston had zoning like a normal city, there would be no need to resort to the tactics the neighbors have threatened. But unusual land use laws lead to unusual methods of controlling land use. Who would expect otherwise?

  • Seriously, stop throwing tantrums! Be glad its not a nightclub or a homeless shelter. Grow the F*Up.

  • If Kevin Kirton and Matthew Morgan truly believed what they espouse in their media releases regarding their high rise proposal, they would live in a Houston high rise, take shuttles or ride bikes to work and welcome additional invasive construction next door to their homes. Instead however, they raised their families in West U, just a mile away from their proposed construction site, shielded from the high density housing they purport to adore and support as the best plan for this part of Houston’s inner loop.
    The Buckhead developers clearly have no altruist passion for the betterment of the Houston community. They simply plan to exploit a neighborhood and a tree-lined canopy to which they did not contribute, to maximize their personal wealth in two ways. First through this development and second by elevating the value of their personal property in West U as Southhampton’s value’s fall. They live just far enough away to avoid both the literal shadow of the Ashby Highrise, and symbolic shadow of the traffic, plunging property values, and safety concerns they are thrusting upon the neighborhood.
    There are so many quality projects that could replace this one on the same location, but those might only increase their wealth modestly, and provide them with a reputation for responsible development. Instead they choose to take a completely mercenary and hypocritical position in the Houston Development community, and drag the reputations of responsible Houston Developers down with them.

  • It is painfully apparent that the developers have violated the first rule of development in Houston: don’t mess with a well-organized, single family home- neighborhood. Most developers understand and respect this unwritten code: indeed, it is the reason we have been able to live without zoning for the entirety of our history. Buckhead development may well be responsible for a resurgence in interest in zoning, which all polls say would pass if proposed today.

    Thanks Mathew and Kevin. Who gave you license to jeopardize a system that has worked well so far?

  • So the neighborhood plans to rely on the constitionally-guaranteed protection of free speech to fight the building. Great. It is their prerogative to do so. And it might work by scaring off the investors and tenants. It seems to me there are many good sites for this building. Why are the developers their own worst enemy? They should go where they are wanted. It is a no-brainer.

  • Great example to set for the childrens.

    Rise High Ashby!

  • Here in Austin this fight would be dead on arrival since we have zoning. All the lawyers on this case will simply drain the developers of hard cash. I’d be happy to suggest any number of promising locations near downtown Austin where the building would be welcome, the neighborhood would be happy, and the profit margins would be reasonable. It’s all about predictability in the marketplace. I’m afraid Buckhead’s market research was a bit thin on reality.

  • HAHA, so let be know for a developer who follows the rules, they are ruining Houston for other developers! LOL. So a couple of people decide this project isn’t of quality so that should determine what get built? LOL again. Joan M and Ray are making the case that the Stop Ashby group is a bunch of whiners. Look, if you don’t like how this happened, lobby to have the development rules changed. Houston development is very much a democratic process unlike cities with zoning. Development rules have changed on neighborhood pressures before. Ultimately, Houston development is more natural and organic than any zoning or centrally planned development ever could be. It’s what makes this city so great compared to others.

    Oh, and West U zoning absolutely would have not stopped this project if it was on the edge of the city in Houston. Lets say a high-rise in Houston that over looks the single family homes in West U. Where is your precious zoning?

  • From Ray:
    It is painfully apparent that the developers have violated the first rule of development in Houston: don’t mess with a well-organized, single family home- neighborhood.

    I hate to tell you this but every developer in this city has violated this supposed “first rule” including two in the same area. Bill White and Anne Clutterbuck told these same people “Sorry, there is nothing we can do” about the developments on Bolsover and on Sunset, and yet were the first of the politicians to sing a different tune with regard to this development on Bissonnet. Singing and pandering. Of course they seem to have been pandering to a law firm more than anything else…

  • The snarky naivete is getting a bit deep around here, isn’t it comrades? So what if there’s no zoning in Houston. Land use conflicts, particularly those with legitimate perspectives on both sides–and that’s all this is–still have to be resolved. That means that money and politics are going to be involved. Houston developers have gorged at that trough since forever, so it’s a little lame to complain now about the use of power. Welcome to the real world. I wouldn’t underestimate the aggravation or the resources in those neighborhoods, so I think I’d find something else to do.

  • I keep waiting for River Oaks home prices to plunge since the Huntingdon popped up. Boy, did that thing wreck River Oaks or what? Same for Four Leaf Towers. Tanglewood. Ruined. Who would want to live there now? Prices plunging. Been waiting for 25 years for those places to finally get cheap enough for me to pull the trigger and buy there. Guess I’ll keep waiting.

  • If I worked on that project to support my family and some douchette showed up at my house to protest the building that person would get a HUGE introduction to a quick education in zoning. Grow up you had your chance and blew it. Why did your neighborhood not buy the property yourselves and do something quaint with it.

  • Maybe they aren’t taking the most prudent approach but when someone tries to change your neighborhood you have two choices, roll over or act. For better or worse, Houston is what you get when people consistently roll over to developers.

  • What everybody seems to be missing is that one of these developers grew up in one of the biggest houses in Boulevard Oaks. Did he really not know the culture of the ‘hood? Or the number of lawyers who sit on the civic association boards? Really? He didn’t know?

    Gerald Hines would not have made that mistake if this were happening inside of River Oaks under the same circumstances. But clearly these guys are not Gerald Hines.

  • Do we live in some parallel universe in which the property values in Southhampton Place are falling or there is any prospect of that happening? If they build this thing, will I be able to pick up an estate on North or South Streets for $200k? Maybe Rice will be forced to lease out its campus to pawn shops and fast food joints.

  • disgruntled housewives..menopausal middle aged with nothing to do but bitch…Ashby will eat them all for lunch…grrrrrrrrrr!

  • Zoning is the only answer to this insanity. The marketplace hates uncertainty, and this is what happens when nothing is certain.

    Grow up Houston, and join every other big city in the country. Zoning isn’t perfect but it eliminates the inmates running the asylum, which appears to be what is happening here.

  • These people are lunatics. Any support they ever had is gone. You want to harrass the innocent people not involved with choosing the location?

  • I love how people think that “zoning” will stop something like this. Far from it. Zoning could also cram something like this down your throats.

    What if the zoning boards decide one day that the property that Ashby is to sit on and all the properties to the east were to become dense mixed-use development (leaving South Hampton alone)? Under zoning, the objections of South Hampton would mean nothing. Zoning board decisions are final and rarely are reversed. Residents and business across the country are screwed over by zoning boards everyday.

    Zoning boards can be legally influenced by developers and often work out deals out of the public spotlight until it’s too late for anything to change. Under Houston’s Planning Commission model, board members cannot listen too or vote on development issues that they have conflicts of interest. Prior to each meeting, they have to provide their conflicts of interest for every item on the agenda. Influence and bribery of the Planning Commission is hard to do unlike a zoning board.

  • This is awesome! This is what makes Houston entertaining. With no zoning rules in place, our residential landscape is essentially open to a free for all when it comes to building. Residents have little or no protection against what can go up right next to them. SO what do you do to protect your current neighborhood, you get creative and fight back. Just as the developer has as much of a right to build there, the community also has the right to reject or stop it any legal way they can.

  • So is Bissonet St. ever going to be expanded to a 4 lane thoroughfare?

  • @scott: Wow. four highrises within a two mile mile radius. It is practically Manhattan. And yes, take a look at google maps. You will see block after block after block of single family homes around the Ashby site. I guess with four highrises in the area, all the land suitable for highrises has been used up and it is necessary to punch a hole in a residential neighborhood.
    It is funny to watch as Houstonians desparately try to rationalize and justify the idiotic no zoning that makes us a laughing stock. It reminds me of Skyline Chili in the midwest. Absolutely sickening food. Cheap cheddar cheese, runny meat sauce/chili and prison dinning hall grade spaghetti all on a plate and given the suggestive name of a “three way”. Midwesterners cannot admit that it is sickening stuff and seem to gobble it up just to try to make themselves feel better for having no decent local food traditions.

  • I am a menopausal, middle aged housewife from the neighborhood, who happens to live directly adjacent to the site. My husband is wheelchair-bound, we have to lease out the other unit in our duplex to afford to stay in our home, and my children, now grown, went to public schools. Do you think it is funny that this high rise will deplete the equity value in our home that we have spent our whole lives working to build? What is wrong with this picture that you can make fun of us?

  • The people of Southampton don’t oppose a high rise in a sensible location. But a 1.6 acre plot on two two-lane streets boggles the mind. It can’t be compared to the Four Leaf Towers or Huntingdon or Inwood Manor. They were built on much larger properties and have access to major streets. I can’t believe tenants would find it desirable.
    The residents of Southampton are certainly working, and have been working, to change the city ordinances so that something similar won’t happen to another, perhaps less well organized neighborhood. It is too late for us to use anything but the bully pulpit to try to prevent a disaster.

  • Do we live in some parallel universe in which the property values in Southhampton Place are falling or there is any prospect of that happening? If they build this thing, will I be able to pick up an estate on North or South Streets for $200k? Maybe Rice will be forced to lease out its campus to pawn shops and fast food joints.

    No, but you might be able to get the estate for 3.5 million vs. 4, atleast, immediately after the high rise is built. Later, as density increases, you’d be lucky to get the land value for 4 million on North St. Value arguments are academic as this will not bankrupt anyone, but no one can deny it will affect the neighborhood in terms of traffic and noise (and no more sunbathing nude in your backyard). If these things matter to the residents, they have every right to dissuade the developer within legal bounds, just as any neighborhood would. If they were organized enough ahead of time to buy the property and resell it with a land use restriction put in place, that would have been the best option, but everyone coming on here and saying they’re just a bunch of crybabies is rediculous. This does affect them and provided they proceed legally, they have every right to express their displeasure at this development.

  • The correct response from the City should have been to take some ROW from the complainer’s front yards and expand Bissonnet to four lanes.

    THAT is what the city should have done.

  • Zoning is the only answer to this insanity. The marketplace hates uncertainty, and this is what happens when nothing is certain.

    Grow up Houston, and join every other big city in the country. Zoning isn’t perfect but it eliminates the inmates running the asylum, which appears to be what is happening here.

    If this situation occurred a significant amount of time, I’d agree with you, but most of the time typical issues with lack of zoning don’t occur because the developers put their own land use restrictions in place in most neighborhoods to prevent this sort of thing from occurring. Commercial develops where it makes sense along major corridors and neighborhoods tucked back away. Only in the oldest parts of the city where development wasn’t thought out in these terms do situations like this arise and when people care enough and have enough free time on their hands, they might protest and fight to stop it.

  • Inmates running the asylym? Really? Because really expensive high-rise condos are being built in a really expensive neighborhood? That’s a stretch. These same types of folks would have burned crosses 50 years ago, if someone would have sold a property to a black man. NIMBY at it’s worst, cloaked in traffic studies and weak “fabric of the neighborhood” arguments.

  • Matt, just because the Mayor says something doesn’t mean it’s true. Like the Walmart 380 being interest-free – it’s not.

  • From Bob:
    The correct response from the City should have been to take some ROW from the complainer’s front yards and expand Bissonnet to four lanes.

    THAT is what the city should have done.

    Which they will eventually have to do anyway. The way they did in Tanglewood with Chimney Rock and Sage and Post Oak.
    If we had mayors and other elected official who didn’t pander to “pillars of the community” that is probably what the city would have done to address the “traffic impact” concerns. But, well, we had Bill White. And now Annise Parker. And lots of others. All of whom may find “term limits” begin at the polls in the next election.

  • I am having a hard time seeing these people standing outside and protesting if the temperature is over 75 degrees. My guess is that the tower will quickly fill up, the restaurant will be popular with the hipsters, and the traffic will get no worse than it already is.

  • http://blog.chron.com/primeproperty/2012/04/ashby-foes-tone-down-letter-to-developers/

    Sounds like maybe they realized they might be sued. It’s a little late to “tone it down.”

  • It would be interesting to see where all the pro-Hi Risers live, and what their reaction would be to the same situation in their ‘hood. (Also, word on the street is they cant get the funding needed to go ahead anyway.)

    Several other developers have offered them big bucks for the property, with the plan of building something like the Cheyne Walk townhouse cluster on Sunset. It seems to be a matter of pride now, and a determination that no one is going to tell Buckhead what they can and cant do.
    Spite makes people do lots of weird things.

  • I wonder with all the other apartments coming on line in the Village, on Greenbriar, and on Dunlavy, if these units will actually lease. They will try to price the rents over any of those projects because of the “Boulevard” effect. With nothing walkable in the way of services, and a huge traffic snarl likely on Bissonnet, I don’t know why any investor would consider this building a good bet. Smart money would think twice and look for a more suitable location where access was easier and a grocery store was walking distance away.

  • sounds like democracy in action. more power to them.

  • Gary, what’s with the misogyny?

  • Sounds like all we need to do is widen Bissonnet and the problem will be solved. It’s a MAJOR thoroughfare all the way from Highway 6 to Kirby. No reason not to widen it all the way to Montrose. Everyone wins!!!!!!!!

    Oh. Wait. If we do that, I’m sure the haters will find some other reason to fight the project.

    Zoning is a joke. Just because everyone else has zoning doesn’t make it any good. I’ll take Houston’s system over any other. That’s why we are better than everywhere else.

  • LOLing at the idiot who said protesting in such a manner is un-American. I suggest you revisit an American history course.

    Good on these guys for fighting for their rights. And, for all of you supporting Buckhead, you might want to investigate how they got control over the Maryland Manor and what their initial proposals were…

    Lastly, 85% of the posts here are so clearly tainted with class envy, which is funny since this building will actually be replacing an affordable apartment complex with a top-of-the-line class A rental highrise!

  • Sometimes I spend hours driving up and down this area of Bissonnet. Just because I can. Up and down, up and down.

  • I’m fairly certain that many of those protesting on here are the residents themselves, organizing to make it seem that they have sympathizers. Swamplot is not invisible to them, to say the least.

    As a resident of the neighborhood. I support Ashby highrise. It will be an improvement to what’s there now. My neighbors are clearly insane.

  • I can’t believe they sent a letter telling them they were going to commit libel.


    Actually the developers didn’t win nor did the residents lose.
    I find it funny how people don’t realize that the Ashby project is NOT in Southampton. It’s adjacent too it. That’s a big difference.
    The Huntingdon tower on Kirby is NOT in River Oaks. It’s just south of it.
    The Ashby project could never be built in Southampton because there are deed restrictions (localized form of zoning where property owners decide the rules and not a zoning board).
    If you live on the edge of the a neighborhood with deed restrictions, you know very well a project can be built next to you that is not in sync with the neighborhood (because it technically is not in it.
    If Ashby were attempted to get a variance to build within Southampton, they wouldn’t have been granted it.
    The process worked and worked well.
    It’s no difference than living in a masterplanned community on the edge of Houston. You have strict deed restrictions, yet if your property is on the edge of the neighborhood, you know very well that something that you don’t like can develop there.
    Also, the reason that Bissonet could have traffic impacts is the fault of the residents of Southampton, not Ashby’s. Bissonet should have been widened or at least striped for 4 lanes many years ago. The community stops. All this happened long before Ashby. Bissonet being identified as a major thoroughfare means the city should respond with improvements when the traffic may warrant it. Ashby can be built because Bissonet technically should be expanded as development increases. This is how all major thoroughfares have been upgraded in many neighborhoods throughout Houston. Somehow the residents of Southampton are exempt? I don’t think so.
    These residents have a major stick up there a$$ because for once they aren’t getting there way. JUST GROW UP. Houston is densifying, and this battle will keep going on in the future. We have good rules in place. These residents were no blind sided by this. This could have very well happened all along. They just ASSUMED it wouldn’t happen to them.

  • The 8-liner game rooms seem to be doing a great job of destroying my neighborhood. How about we give you those in exchange for the tower?

  • From doofus:

    Lastly, 85% of the posts here are so clearly tainted with class envy, which is funny since this building will actually be replacing an affordable apartment complex with a top-of-the-line class A rental highrise!


    More likely tainted with a disdain for people who think the laws, and ordinances, don’t apply to them and that they can simply harass people who don’t do as they tell them to do. Who are these people to tell the developers what they can and cannot build on an UNRESTRICTED parcel of land in a city whose city charter clearly states THERE IS NO ZONING? Dismissing those who are “protesting the protestors” as beingsimply motivated by “class envy” is just another indication of how pretentious and spoiled these people are. Pillars of the community? More like cracked foundations.

  • Class envy?

    The whole Southampton bunch have shown how much class they really lack.

  • It will be nice when the Ashby Highrise is finished, it will offer a chance for some people with class to move into the neighborhood.

  • Why didn’t Southhampton buy the air rights from Buckhead in the first place?

  • I saw one of those Stop the Ashby Highrise bumper stickers yesterday at Liberty Kitchen in the Heights. It made me chuckle. Much like a Confederate flag on an old pick up, it really amounts to nothing more than a reminder that you lost.

    The letter posted on the stopashbyhighrise.org website is nothing short of childish, classless, and disgusting. Threatening to harass tenants to tell them they aren’t welcome in your neighborhood? Really? Get over yourselves. That letter has certainly removed any shread of sympathy any sane person may have had for you.

  • Please, this is far more civil than acts committed all the time by busybody neighbors. At least the NoAshby people are acting within the law. Does anyone remember 2520 Robinhood? Plus to those critics arguing that Southampton is just a bunch of anti-progress babies, go and take a look at the proposed building site and ask if it’d belong there. Half of the comments are probably from people who have no idea where this is. And to the freedom-thumpers, I bet if a check-cashing place were to open near your house then you’d LOSE YOUR MINDS arguing about your authoritarian right to control the neighborhood. Just this year, Katy residents were up in arms that a discount grocery store was opening up near their quiet neighborhood and it made the 6 o’clock news.

  • No one in the neighborhood has broken any laws yet, but apparently there are thieves and criminals out there who are entering private property and defacing and stealing property clearly not theirs. The stop ashby signs are legal and a free speech right. Trespassing and criminal theft and grafitti is not. WHo are these criminals? Someone hired by the unethical developers? They are certainly not law abiding Houstonians.

  • Joan M,

    Conspiracy theory much? Could it just be a criminal element? This kind of stuff happens in lots of neighborhoods.

    Do you ACTUALLY believe the developer would do something like this to help his situation? Grow up. You’ve been watching too many movies.

  • Amen, kjb! And Joan M., you say “no one in the neighborhood has broken any laws yet” – the operative word here being “yet.” That letter sure sounds like there are concrete, premeditated plans to harass people, though. And I’m talking about the revised, “toned down” version of the letter. It still threatens harassment. Do I think the developer would break the law and steal your ugly signs? No. Do I believe a bunch of nuts from the neighborhood will follow through on these childish threats? Absolutely.

    The only people I feel sorry for are residents of the neighborhood who don’t approve of the tone and content of that ugly letter.

  • From Joan M:
    No one in the neighborhood has broken any laws yet, but apparently there are thieves and criminals out there who are entering private property and defacing and stealing property clearly not theirs. The stop ashby signs are legal and a free speech right. Trespassing and criminal theft and grafitti is not. WHo are these criminals? Someone hired by the unethical developers? They are certainly not law abiding Houstonians.


    Or someone hired by the “co-chairs” of this “movement?” As for the “threat” of harassment, that’s illegal as well. A felony actually. Read the stalking statutes. And this is what all of this “manifesto” really reads like. A stalking. Watching and hunting the prey. The way a stalker does. Personally I think the residents who “signed on” to this need a psychiatrist more than an attorney. Although some no doubt will need an attorney at some point.

  • “this neighborhood thinks they are special.”

    “petulant brats”

    “spoiled children”


    “pillars of the community”

    “disgruntled housewives”

    “because they have money, different rules apply to them”

    These are just some of the things the pro-developer folks have written and yet you are claiming there’s no class envy? I bet you deny racism exists too?

    These property owners have every right to fight this proposal to the bitter end whether you like it or not. That’s what makes this country so damn great.

  • @ Joan M: I’ve done our neighborhood favors in the past by removing debris from the public right-of-way on my walks. If that debris has happened to be approximately two-dimensional and yellow and black in color, then so be it. I feel that to clean up our neighborhood is my civic duty, is within my rights as a citizen, and is perfectly ethical considering the aesthetic imposition upon our neighborhood and the symbol of (myriad forms of) disrespect for the rule of law that such debris represents.

  • If the villagers donning pitchforks to attack the tower sounds historic it’s because the developers have designed a monster. If it sounds juvenile it’s because they hsve been acting like playground bullies for five yeats now. Many, many alternatives have been offered and they still want to do what they want to do, regrdless of the consequences. Find an endangered species on thaat land and it would be no go, but an endagered neighborhood counts for nothing.

  • It was established at the beginning of this whole mess that this building is not in the Southampton neighborhood. And it’s not. It’s adjacent too the neighborhood.

    Of course simple things like the truth don’t matter.

    I’ve never once put forth the class argument. I’ve could care less what this building look likes.

    The simple TRUTHS here are that the Southampton deed restrictions don’t affect this property. The developers followed the rules (even when they were changed on them and they had to redo everything they already did). The Planning Commission and Permits office were put in a bind when they were being asked to reverse the decisions they made (which is a dangerous precedent)

    To me, the neighborhood should act like grown ups and blame the correct party. The development rules. If they wanted to do anything proper, they would try to get the rules changed through the proper channels.

    As I said before, this neighborhood sat idly by while the Ashby developers were going through all the proper channels to get their approvals, then after they were approved they rioted. Then they had the gall to think they could have it changed ex pos facto.

    Neighborhoods and residents all over the city routinely participate in the process outline in the development codes to object to all kinds of the development. Valid concerns are actually taken into consideration and compromise is often reached. I’ve been on both sides of the planning decisions.

    The developers did nothing wrong but followed the rules, yet somehow they are evil and destroying a neighborhood. Again, this is so silly because they are not in the neighborhood. If the developers bought a property in the neighborhood and then proceeded to move forward with a high-rise, then the residents complaining have a case because there would be a violation of the deed restrictions.

    There is nothing beyond that to discuss. You can stomp around and be mad, but your objection is just a difference of opinion.

    P.S. Harassing parties you object to and protesting like a bunch of baboons is not what the 1st amendment is about. It is not what made this country great. If think it is you need a lesson in history. Breaking law is not a valid method of protest. It’s a one-way ticket to ruining your cause and making you look like an idiot. Just look at the Occupy Wall Street protesters.

  • Southampton, an endangered species!? Ha!

    Faschingbauer, are you a double agent? Do you not realize that such hyperbole can only possibly destroy your credibility?

  • From kjb434:
    Of course simple things like the truth don’t matter.

    Especially to attorneys who have a “vested interest” in hoping people believe their lies. Some do. Some don’t. I suspect what is going to happen is that our mayor will continue to pander to the attorneys who are the “co-chairs” of “Stop Ashby”and their law firm and end up violating the city’s agreement with the developers and the developers will refile the lawsuit against the city for double the damages this time, or triple if they can find a way to prove “Deceptive Trade” to the violation of the contract, and then will file a second lawsuit against “Stop Asbhy” including everyone who donated a dime to it, and will end up extremely rich. And still build the hirise! I would be ashamed to tell anyone I lived in Southampton or Boulevard Oaks at this point. I also would have my home for sale. Before the values plummet. And they will. But not because of the hirise.

  • Zoning would have precluded this whole mess. Stop people. Think. Many states, far older than Texas, allow even counties to zone. In Virginia and North Carolina, counties zone aggressively just like cities do. All developers know exactly what to expect. Neighborhoods retain their character and value.

    It works. We are in the dark ages here.

  • Stu,

    If you read through the posts, you may realize that praising at the alter of zoning could have actually cause this to happen too.

    Zoning is prone to corruption and insider dealing unlike the organization of our Planning Commission. The board members on the Houston Planning Commission cannot vote or be involved in any dealing with developers they have a conflict of interest. There have been tons of incidents where developers have direct influence over Zoning boards.

    Typical Zoning rules would have easily allowed this building to be built just like this scenario played out (with little to no recourse of for the residents).

    Of course Zoning zealots will never listen to reason, because they somehow believe putting all the power of development into the hands of bureaucrats is a solution. Houston’s model actually lets residents have a say and can directly influence outcomes. If you followed this story, you would also know that the Stop Ashby group didn’t do anything at the Planning Commission level and waited until the developers started pulling permits. That is not the time to be involved. Many other neighborhoods in the city get involved because they don’t have lawyers. As I brought up before, the Heights (just one of many examples) are active in voicing their opinions, objections, support, etc at Planning Commision meetings. They’ve had more control over how change affects their neighborhood. Change will happen, they decided to be a part of it versus harass and act like children.

  • @ Stu: Zoning does not create any guarantee or certainty regarding what can be built next door. Zoning only monetizes an additional barrier to entry.

  • Stu: I’d encourage you to look at the fight over the Brooklyn Atlantic Yards in New York City. This is happening despite (or some would argue because of) New York’s zoning ordinance – the granddaddy of all zoning ordinances.
    Don’t get me wrong. I am firmly on the side of neighborhoods in most battles over unwanted development. It’s just that, if you think zoning will forever keep unwanted development away from your home – you could be in for a very rude awakening.

  • I beg to differ. Having spent 40+ years in the development business in Virginia, I was shocked to retire here in Houston where no developer has any security on his investment. Let’s get this straight. The facist neighborhoods are fighting for predictability in land use? Why don’t you realize that predictability is your friend? Zoning laws are imperfect: use the existing culture and carve out your niche before the legal structure defines your limits.
    There is no similar neighborhood in the country that would roll over to this juxtaposed mess;agree that differences rule, and argue for the little guy. The developers are never the little guy. They wiil just try to pretend to be so. Do not be fooled!

  • @Stu,
    What’s there now is multi-family residential. The proposed project is multi-family residential. How can you be so sure that IF Houston adopted zoning, this residential tower wouldn’t be allowed?

  • The proposed enormous project is starkly out of scale with the proposed location in an older part of Houston. It will create gridlock on Bissonnet, and result in speeding cars cutting through nearby residential streets. Development inside the Loop is inevitable, but it should not be of the kind that overwhelmingly destroys the charm and liveability of long-established urban neighborhoods. A ginormous project like Ashby Highrise is simply not appropriate on a postage stamp size corner lot bounded by narrow streets — not in the Boulevard Oaks/Southhampton area OR IN ANY OTHER neighborhood of inner Houston. All Houstonians should want our city to grow in a way that appropriately balances the need to preserve the integrity of established neighborhoods with the need to accommodate a growing population.

  • Barbara,

    By your comment, NO redevelopment could occur within established neighborhoods. The argument can always be made that “gridlock” and “starkly out of scale” will occur with new development.

    By your development concept, Greenway Plaza, Texas Medical Center, Uptown, and Westchase, Memorial City, etc. couldn’t be what they are today. All of these areas are completely “out of scale” and could contribute to “gridlock”. The Museum District and Midtown are primed for denser development. Ashby is more part of the denser Museum District area than Southampton. Being adjacent too does not mean you control it.

    Also, Bissonet is a major thoroughfare. Southampton is to blame for the increased “gridlock”. Under normal development patterns, Bissonet would have been at least been constructed to a 4-lane with no median and occasional left turn lanes at major street crossings. Southampton has stopped this width increase which means they have to live with creating the gridlock problem. Ashby will create a negligible traffic impact compared to the jobs in the Medical Center, Museum District, Midtown, etc. that actually cause the traffic on Bissonet. If Ashby was an office building, you may have a weak leg to stand on for traffic. As residential tower, there is none.

  • @Barbar, you could have said the same about the ginormous shiny turd of a grocery store that HEB built at Wilshire Village.
    But did you?

  • Barbara you obviously live in the neighborhood and yet obviously have not driven around it, let alone walked around it, very much. It gets a little “fuzzy” with regard to this ongoing claim that it is a neighborhood of single-family homes on quiet tree-lined streets once you actually leave Southampton and Boulevard Oaks. Bissonnet is a commercial street for one thing. With total disregard to the “established neighborhood” it cuts through. To the east and to the west it is even “fuzzier” with an assortment of older duplexes, fourplexes, and small apartment complexes. Plus some newer townhome complexes including, and particularly, Cheyne Walk. The only thing that saves it from total doom to the north and south is the Southwest Freeway and Rice University. Bottom line is you all doth protesteth too much. And also threatened too much.

  • Right on Barbara! I had friends in from the East Coast over the weekend. I couldn’t resist driving them over to the Ashby site and playing “guess what they are going to build here?” When I told them a 21 story apartment complex, they nearly spat their coffee all over my car. The best sarcastic comment was “is this the last available parcel for a high rise in Houston?”
    The only benefit this high rise will bring will be to the developers and to the few hundred people who will live there. The immediate area will not become more dense as a result. There are far too many single family homes in the area to see any further density. But this is the utter stupidity of development in Houston. Areas like Midtown, near East, near North (like where the ill-fated Hardy Yards would have gone), and downtown would benefit greatly by a development like the Ashby high rise. The ground floor retail would be a benefit, the proximity to downtown would reduce commute times, encourage walking/public transit, be a draw for additional development in the area, and so on. But, instead the Ashby high rise will stand alone in a residential neighborhood, proving that Houston’s development motto should be “it’s better than nothing, isn’t it?”

  • Old School,

    Do you have any clue how the development process works? Do ever considered the long list of factors that go into buying a piece of property to develop? Do understand that most developers are under on their investment until the project completes and is utilized. This piece of land in its location was likely priced high enough that a small mid-rise or luxury townhomes couldn’t be built on it as a profit which means it would have languished as an abandoned or dilapidated building.

    Developing is not a computer game simulation where you just plot things where you like (neither is zoning).

    All this what best suites a neighborhood talk is also subjective and opinion based. Reality escapes the discussion.

  • But, instead the Ashby high rise will stand alone in a residential neighborhood…


    Oh, I don’t know Old School. May just be the first of many…

  • @ Old School: Is that what you do with out-of-town guests? Take them on a driving tour of proposed highrise sites in their pre-demolition state and talk about local politics? REALLY!? Jeez, if Houstonians think that’s an appropriate way to treat guests, then its no wonder we can’t attract tourists.

    Btw, nobody is arguing that the Ashby highrise will set off a trend of additional densification; it very simply IS additional densification. And that is good, all by itself.

    And as for Midtown, near East, and near North, when those areas can drive rents that merit the construction of highrises, I’m sure that highrises will be built. It’s a big city; one real estate project does not mutually exclude another.

  • @kjb434: That’s rich. The only way to make a profit on that parcel is to put up a 21 story high rise? That one had me spewing my coffee all over my monitor. And the land would have languished with a dilapiated or abandoned building if no one was willing to do a 21 story high rise? That is pure comedy. If anything, in Houston, going small is the best way to manage risk and make money. There is a long, long list of high rise projects that went bust before shovel hit dirt (Shamrock, a couple of different crazy proposals in the Memorial park area, etc.). The Ashby tower has already downgraded itself from condo to apartment. The reality is that something sensible would have already been built by now and be making money. Plenty of projects in Houston have gone up on pricier land without having to build a highrise.

  • Old School and his friends sure spew a lot of coffee from their mouths. …or something similarly colored, anyway.

  • @TheNiche,
    That’s a very good point.

    How often do we hear “whenever I bring out of town guests to Houston, they are mortified at how ugly (unsophisticated, etc.) it is.”?

    If a Houstonian ONLY takes guests here
    and here
    what do you expect them to conclude?

  • Old School,

    Since you are so smart, based on the purchase price of the parcel, what could you have developed at a profit?

    Yes high-rise projects have failed, but that just shows you how difficult it is to develop.

    Also, Ashby’s switch to apartments from condo has more to do with the outrageous delays incurred on it by a neighborhood that sat on its hand and did nothing through the whole development process until the end, then decided to whine and litigate. Southampton brought this upon themselves for not getting involved from the beginning. If they would have got involved just like many other neighborhoods do, they could have had their questions answered publicly on regard in front of the planning commission.

    This neighborhood, as much as they try not to, need live in the real world like the rest of the city and deal with change in the proper channels.

    How many of the residents involved in the StopAshby group are involved in the development code changes public hearings? How many of them write, speak, etc. for the comment periods of these proposed changes? I know many citizens and neighborhood groups that are involved in this. I’m involved…or you?

  • From kjb434:
    How many of the residents involved in the StopAshby group are involved in the development code changes public hearings? How many of them write, speak, etc. for the comment periods of these proposed changes? I know many citizens and neighborhood groups that are involved in this. I’m involved…or you?

    Our mayor appointed Chris Amandes to some planning commission committee when she “arrived” at City Hall. Would be interesting to know what suggestions he has made. If any. Except suggestions about how to stop a hirise on Bissonnet of course.

  • Does anyone have any information about pre construction purchasing. I like the development so far from what i have read and I am eager to lock into one of the units. I think the local residents are “mental”. Go ashby highrise!

  • Builders have a dedicated staff who can log on and make press comments in their favor. Its a well known tactic.

    I dont live there but I really hate to see more and more honeycombs cram in what was once a homey area in the middle of concrete.

    Leave some space, greenbelt and parks!