A Setback Setback for Heights Microbrewery

A SETBACK SETBACK FOR HEIGHTS MICROBREWERY Justin Engle and Steven Macalello want to build a microbrewery at this 9,714-sq.-ft. lot that they own on Cavalcade near the intersection of Main, Studewood, and 20th St. in the Heights; Swamplot reported in November that Engle and Macalello were constructing a tap room, brewery, and beer garden from a trucked-in kit of Houston-fabricated steel parts; they told investors then that they would be open by now. So where’s the beer? The brewers write on their blog that the city rejected their plans on account of the 25-foot setback requirement from a major road like Cavalcade: “Essentially,” the brewers write, “Planning and Development staff would rather have us create a sea of concrete and asphalt in front of our building, than let us preserve green garden space inside urban Houston.” But an update yesterday suggests that the taps just might flow, after all: “In a last minute meeting with City Planning and Development staff and director, we went through all of the plans and their pros and cons,” they write. “As a result, our architects have a lot to do.” But the brewers do say they think they’ll soon have something the city will be ready to approve. [Town in City Brewing Co.; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Town in City Brewing Co.

16 Comment

  • “A herd of buffalo can only move as fast as the slowest buffalo. When the herd is hunted, the slow and weak at the back are killed first. The speed and health of the herd keeps improving by the regular killing of the weakest members.

    “In the same way, the human brain can only operate as fast as its slowest brain cells. Excessive intake of alcohol, as we know, kills brain cells. Naturally, it attacks the slowest and weakest brain cells first.

    “In this way, regular consumption of beer eliminates the weaker brain cells, making the brain a faster and more efficient machine. That’s why you always feel smarter after a few beers.”

    -Cliff Clavin

  • Gee, and I thought that here in No-Zoning-Town entrepreneurs could run free and build the kinds of businesses that they want and the market will support.

  • Walt: Thanks for that. I’m going to print that on a teeshirt and use that to make myself feel better about my 4-5 times weekly ‘lunch meetings’ that are not — how you say — dry.

  • I know that most folks in the heights area want this but at least one of the neighbors to this property is not happy.

    Miya Shay did a story on it last night and she interviewed the man who said he didn’t want a brewery there.

    As long as it’s a business that heights folks approve of, I guess it’s OK to step on the neighbors.

  • Are you kidding, Pyewacket? That’s all we do here in the Heights is step on our neighbors. We run around bragging to outsiders how “small town friendly” we are, then come home and stab each other in the back. Those brewpub dudes should consider themselves lucky. At least their property is not in one of the historic districts.

  • Hope thye know how to run the joint. Setbacks are one of the most basic planning requirements in the city and their designers should have known this from the start. good luck with the health department, etc… if that’s how it starts.

  • While the combination of the two is why I believe we can’t have nice developments as-of-right, I am not sure which regulation is more anti-urban or frustrates me the more. Parking minimums or excessive setbacks. Are they planning on turning Calvacade into an interstate?

  • Who are these “architects” that didn’t verify the setbacks the day they started designing?

  • I thought we were a no zoning and property rights kind of town. Why in the hell do we need setbacks and parking requirements?

  • Hahaha! Now all the naysayers know why it took the Moon Tower so long. As the designer and person who secured the building permit, I can say it is quite a task to approve a brewery component in the CoH! Especially when done out of ISBU shipping containers.

    First, yes set backs are a pain! You also have easements, aerial and grade, parking requirements, MEP requirements for larger water supply, sidewalk and other chapter 42 municode issues and lest we forget the HEALTH dept… yea! It takes time…

    I’ll have that IPA now. Anyone need any help, come find me!


  • They knew about the set backs and were trying to get a variance. The City planner came out against the variance the day before the variance was up for a vote at the planning commission. This is a chicken shit tactic that city staff have adopted to keep people from having any time to lobby planning commission members to vote against the city’s recommendations. The Town in City guys deferred and ultimately were able to work it out with the City. The new Audi dealership on the SW freeway was able to get the PC to vote against the city on a setback variance because they had the resources to do the lobbying. The little guys do not and have to cave in or risk expensive delays.

    The city needs to get over the fetish with 25 ft setbacks. It makes it impossible to bring buildings up to the sidewalk and put parking in back. It basically requires all redevelopment in the Heights to be strip mall style.

  • doofus: I know that was sarcasm, but I think most people would understand the need for setbacks as it effects the entire block/street/city as a whole. Outside of that is where it gets dicey. The person best to understand the need for parking is the person building the property since they are the ones trying to best anticipiate how much they’ll need. Often they’ll need a lot, sometimes not.
    The city doesn’t require x amount of light inside (hell, maybe they do) yet you don’t go into buildings that are pitch black.

  • @#5 Dave,

    Sarcasm or not, it shows that hypocrisy is alive and well in the heights area.

    I mean, he’s probably the only one who objects, right? So he doesn’t count.

  • Thanks for posting this. I saw the Channel 11 news van out there the other night on the way home, but couldn’t find a story about what they were reporting.

  • I know the owner. When they received the survey, West Cavalcade was marked as a variable R.O.W. The only data that had a setback established was the corner of Main and W. Cavalcade. If you walk down W. Cavalcade, you would see that 25′ is excessive and 5 to 10′ is the norm.

    They also had public signage mid last year for alcohol permits (CoH, TABC, Feds), which they received, no protests.

  • #13 – What hypocrisy? That word gets thrown around here a whole lot.

    Inconsistent opinions and actions of the many Heights residents are possible without the competing views and actions being “hypocritical.”

    For example, when the owner of the Breakfast Klub patrolled his private property with an assault rifle, it would only have been hypocritical if the Breakfast Klub owner previously stated he wanted to ban assault rifles OR if the owner was James Brady. Get it?