Houston’s own Hanover Company wants to build this 5-story apartment complex on the current site of the Tavern on Gray, just east of the shopping district that extends along West Gray to Shepherd. And it’s hoping to get a variance from the planning commission that would allow the buildings to have smaller setbacks than current regulations allow: 15 ft. along Waugh (where 25 would otherwise be required) and just 5 ft. along West Gray (otherwise they’d need 15). Sure, the Hanover West Gray project would have 2 floors of parking (one of them underground) underneath 4 residential floors — but the extremely persuasive variance request kinda makes it hard not to wish the place had conditions that were less — you know, tough and urban:
The narrow (200’) width of this inner-city block, when coupled with the required setbacks, creates dimensional problems for apartment development and particularly for the structured parking. Suburban apartment sites are several acres in size and do not have this kind of dimensional constraint.
It is a whole lot better out there, isn’t it? If it can’t get reduced setbacks, the company would have to build buildings that were “substantially” taller, Hanover says in the application.
Further, the standard setbacks push the open space to the public edges along the street, reducing the area available for courtyard open space for the enjoyment of the residents.
Notably absent from the application and the included rendering (at top), which imagines a view of the project from the corner of Waugh and West Pierce: Any hint that the company might be planning to put in some retail spaces — or hey, even tavern spaces — on the ground floor. No matter: The sidewalks in the drawing sure look like they’ll get a lot of foot traffic anyway. We count 33 pedestrians, 2 bikes, and a baby in a stroller hanging out in front. And according to the variance application, the building will end up with all of the benefits of ground-floor retail anyway, even if it ends up with parking spaces — and no stores — up against the sidewalk:
Allowing the setbacks to be reduced provides the opportunity to create an urban style apartment building with an unfenced and heavily landscaped area between the building and the street. The resulting proximity to the sidewalk promotes “eyes on the street” by the apartment residents, increasing the safety for pedestrians walking to the numerous nearby existing stores and office
buildings as well as to the Whole Foods Market now under construction.
- Tavern on Gray Could Soon Be an Apartment Complex [Eating Our Words]