Ashby Highrise Appears Ready To Rise Again, This Time as an Apartment Tower

The development company behind a proposed 23-story residential tower at 1717 Bissonnet near Southampton known as the Ashby Highrise submitted its plans to the city again today, after taking a 2-year break. Buckhead Investment partner Matthew Morgan tells the West U Examiner‘s Michael Reed that the plans sent in today are mostly identical to those submitted in August 2009. Those plans, which the city ultimately approved, were for a version of the tower that axed some of the buildings’ commercial features, including retail and office space and a pedestrian plaza in front of the building. The lawsuit Buckhead filed against the city early last year, challenging the repeated rejection of its earlier plans for the building, is still pending in U.S. District Court.

There is one notable difference in the new plans: The units will be rented, not sold, Morgan says.

Rendering: Buckhead Investment Partners

41 Comment

  • Cue the scary music. The Tower of Terror returns. Looking forward to the impending imbroglio.

  • Awesome~ can’t wait to see more Tower of Traffic signs. I’ve missed that menacing tower.

  • I wish they weren’t ditching the retail. Houston needs more mixed use retail apartment type developments and it’s sad that this one got shut down.

  • This will provide great fodder for the Swampie awards in December.

  • In honor of Halloween, I vote that this time the signs be jack-o’-lantern orange and feature dripping blood from the angry french fry’s teeth. Built-in strobe lights and fog machines are optional.

  • Bravo. Excellent upgrade over the existing Maryland Manor Apartments.

  • I hope all the retail wasn’t cut from the plan. I’m really looking forward to checking out RESTAURANT and MARKET.

  • I am very torn on this issue. On the one hand, the developers are totally following the rules of the land in Houstonia and should be able to build this tower. On the other hand, this location makes absolutely ZERO sense for a massive high rise. Laugh all you want at the Boulevard Oaks, Southampton, Broadacres, and Shadowlawn folks, but these historic neighborhoods are about to get destroyed and that makes me sad.

  • Oh no… Change. A threat to all the lovers of status quo. Maybe we can make Maryland Manor historically zoned. We need to find some new way to steal these entrepreneur’s property rights…

  • Maybe they just want to have the city reject the plans again. It would garner a bigger jury award in the lawsuit. No doubt the pretentious brats will try to get “Mother” to step in and find something wrong with the application. “Mother” probably should just spank the pretentious brats and put them to bed. But I doubt she will. So be prepared for another temper tantrum. And lots of tacky signs…

  • good news, now where i can vote for the Bissonet widening to 4 official lanes?

    the montrose definitely deserves this tower more as it’s doing all the heavy lifting to create jobs and tax revenue in the inner city, but southampton is prime territory and desperately needs more housing.

  • And the heights folks complain about a 6-story building!

  • Ah, Houston. The model for urban planning. Put a 22+ story building in a single family residential neighborhood, literally in people’s back yards, on a two lane street. Build 2-3 story garden style apartments in midtown where the streets are 4+ lanes wide. Put suburban strip malls and Walmarts in an emerging West End residential neighborhood. Developers get crazy rich and residents are left to deal with the mess.

  • It’s too bad both of the principals of Buckhead Investment Partners live in zoned, deed-restricted communities. Morgan lives in West U., and Kirton lives in Southside Place. Otherwise some Southhampton homeowners could pony up the money to buy the homes next to them and put in a car repair shop, a bar, or something out of character with the existing neighborhood.. But West U is sooo anti “property rights”, I just can’t believe those two would want to live in a place that denies the entreprenurial spirit!

  • Awesome – can’t wait to move in!

  • @ Old School: Seems like our model works better than Dallas’, which is the same but includes bribery and the systematic and intentional displacement of low-income households. Or San Antonio’s, which (again) is the same but includes nepotistic favors.

    @ shadyheightster: The developers knew what they were getting into when they purchased homes in zoned municipalities; they *thought* they knew what they were getting into when they purchased the Ashby site (probably because they were used to playing by the rules and having those rules applied consistently).

  • “the montrose definitely deserves this tower more as it’s doing all the heavy lifting to create jobs and tax revenue in the inner city, but southampton is prime territory and desperately needs more housing.” @joel

    Southampton needs more housing? It’s a fully developed subdivision. That’s like saying River Oaks needs more development.

    This will just destroy property values. But don’t worry–we SH-ites have lots of pull, and will find a way to delay & delay…

  • @SH-snooty,

    “Southampton needs more housing? It’s a fully developed subdivision. That’s like saying River Oaks needs more development. This will just destroy property values.”

    You are exactly right. Adding supply of luxury housing to the neighborhood will apply downward pressure to existing properties. That will ripple to other neighborhoods in the vicinity (Hyde Park, Midtown, Museum District), keeping housing costs low for people who would like to move to the area. It will also attract more people, commerce and culture. The added amenities will drive prices back up until more supply is added.

    This dynamic is exactly why Houston is cited as a great place to live. Low housing costs, great amenities. I happen to think this a great thing for Houston and the neighborhood. I live in Boulevard Oaks, for the record.

  • Three years after completion, it will be as though nothing happened. Traffic is increasing, regardless.

    It’s laughable that this would hurt Southampton property values…they are solid gold. I know better than most.

    As to the backdrop, I agree with TheNiche.
    Don’t like the rules? Get the votes.
    Change them.

  • TheNiche – the Heights Walmart has already displaced affordable housing – the Heights Plaza Apartments were torn down to make way for the Koehler Street Extension – for which we taxpayers will reimburse the developer.

    I don’t know if there was any bribery, but I have no explanation for why the Parker administration pushed so hard for the Heights Walmart – including Parker saying the 380 deal is “interest-free” (it’s not) on the radio less than a week before the 380 went on the Council Agenda. There are also a lot of discrepancies between the Request for Council Action (the Parker-staff prepared summary of the 380 for Council) and the 380 itself.

  • a fully developed subdivision in high demand with high property values located in the inner city close to all major inner-loop work centers, scenic parks and roads AND rail…if we dare. to say this isn’t a neighborhood ripe for development that could provide huge gains to our city defies the basis of supply and demand. restricting the ability of more families to raise their standard of livings and promote more growth for all citizens in this city by simply being able to move into one of the best neighborhoods in town without being a multi-millionaire is detrimental to all houstonians outside of southampton. you guys talk of neghborly values and established neighborhoods all while blatantly disrespecting current city development laws that have been voted on time and time again by your very neighbors. you have to come up with a better defense than simply trying to protect your shade and property values if you wish to skirt city laws, impede growth and jeopardize tax funds.

    this is why we have the villages and sherwood forest and note how they’re not located in prime real estate at the focal point of the 3 largest job centers in town. inner cities need density, rice u will need more housing and southampton must keep up, these are the dynamics of growth that can’t be impeded no matter how many lawyers live in the neighborhood.

    i understand you want neighborhood rights, but those have to be compromised with the demands of the city to properly provide for it’s citizens. i’m avoiding the word selfishness because i have my own selfish desires in seeing increased density in this city, but it’s obviously in full play here.

  • I, for one, welcome our new robotic overlords.

  • @Niche: The developers of the Heights Walmart gave Parker $30,000 in campaign contributions (plus another 30k for the upcoming election) and got 6 mil for infrastrutcure improvements. That makes any zoning board look like a panel of 21 bishops.
    Face it, developers hate zoning because they believe that they are some sort of higher form of life that should not have to take any direction from the peeons who have to live with there crappy stripmalls and misplaced highrises. And while zoning isn’t perfect, it is certainly better than a 22 plus story highrise in your back yard.

  • Joel- Your rant would be better if not for the fact that these new class A high rise apartments will cost three times as much as the current Maryland Manor they are replacing. This isn’t some great class warfare issue about the “rich” keeping people out. There are hundreds of relatively affordable rentals in older units like Maryland Manor, fourplexes, duplexes, and even garage apartments in that general vicinity. This debate is about Houston growing up and getting smarter development. Just because something has 23 floors and hundreds of apartments doesn’t mean it’s quality density. There’s nothing smart about placing a highrise on 2 laned residential streets (yes, Bissonnet is still largely a residential street in that area).

  • Agree 100% with joel. This is a perfect place for a highrise, and I don’t understand why Bissonnet is only two lanes here. They have the right-of-way, this street is much too heavily traveled to have it as just two lanes.

  • Old School — How did you come up with 30k?

    There are two donations from the employees of the Ainbinder company listed on Mayor Parker’s July report, each for $5000. That’s $10,000.

    Her Runoff Report (January 2010) from 2009 doesn’t include any of them.

    I did see that he gave to Gene Locke during the 2009 race though. Funny way of bribing someone. Funding their opponent.

  • IF Wilshire Village was the perfect place for HEB to locate their monstrous turd, then Maryland Manor is the most perfect place for the Ashby to Rise High.

  • @ Jules & Old School: The City’s powers to authorize 380 agreements, tax abatements, direct subsidies, OR any form of zoning are alike in that they enable corrupt people. And whether I trust the sitting mayor or not (I don’t), I recognize that good politicians will eventually give way to bad ones. This is why I do not approve of such policies, even if they have the potential to be utilized to do a few isolated instances of good.

    @ Old School: As a former developer, what I hated were municipalities where the rules were not clearly written and also applied randomly. I don’t mind playing by the rules, but I absolutely must know what the rules are. Otherwise I’m not going to risk hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars on site selection and acquisition, planning, and permitting.

  • doofus – i understand where you’re going, but it’s much more than just the availability of housing, it’s the type of housing. someone making 6-figures isn’t going to be moving into a duplex or garage apt (outside of very very small minority of course) but they’re also not going to be able to afford a $2M home in the area. this opens up a high valued area to more high-income folks and if it’s enough to convince some of those looking further out like the woodlands to try renting in the city for a while instead then there’s a huge benefit to the city’s revenue and local economy.

    i understand your concern for “smart” development, but placing something on bissonet which is one of the main thoroughfares linking the village/West U to the museums/medical area does seem very smart to me. people still live next to the museum tower and love it, park 4&5 didn’t stop development behind them. the demand is there

    also, this sounds like a shovel-ready project ready to add jobs for many folks that could desperately need one right now.

  • @Niche: So, throw out policies that may do some good in favor of giving a free hand to people who have absolutely no interest in how their actions affect the community. And stop with the developer denial. Anytime a developer gets turned down, it is always because those in power were corrupt or the rules weren’t applied fairly and never because the proposed development was wrong for the community. Democracy isn’t easy, but it does work. Libretarianism is easy, but the liberty ends up in the hands of the wealthy with absolutely no check on their power.

  • @ Old School: Is it so wrong for me to want a clearly written code of law that is also uniformly applied?

    Also…you’ve got a lot of balls to play the class warfare card in light of this particular controversy! lol

  • From SH-snooty:

    But don’t worry–we SH-ites have lots of pull, and will find a way to delay & delay…


    Pretentious little brats. And obvioiusly proud of it.

  • Joel- There are very few homes in Southampton or Blvd Oaks priced anywhere near the $2 million dollar range. Most come in well under $1 million unless they are on North, South, or Sunset. The real problem with affordability is that spec home builders are tearing down the cottages (usually priced between $4-600,000 and replacing them with lot monsters.

  • Real estate developers have treated Houston like a free-fire zone since the Allen brothers got off the boat, so let’s not go ooey-gooey with policy arguments when the tables get turned. This looks more like a couple of stubborn guys with questionable decision-making skills trying to make a buck.

    And they have financing, huh? Hmmm.

  • At $2.43/sf for an apartment, seems awfully pricey. There’s the Museum Tower at Montrose and about Milford-wonder if that’s full and what they charge. After about 4-5 years, they’d convert them to condos….
    I’m getting a little old, don’t know if I can hold my water till we get from even the 15h floor to the door.

  • How much of a setback would the builders take to widen Bissonnet just in that area? The occupancy along Bissonnet from Montrose to Greenbriar consists mostly of single-family dwellings/duplexes or businesses in what was once a dwelling without much of a front yard after one gets past Mandell. Put in another two lanes and people will be stepping off their front stoops into traffic.

  • For those against Ashby – all they did was renew their permits that had or were about to expire. No plans are in the works to begin construction. There is a pending lawsuit and nothing will start until that is decided. The developers want their retail plan and are willing to see what the courts decide before they move forward. But if the suit is decided in favor of the plaintiff, there will be no amount of community opposition that will prevent it. The more the neighborhood is ugly to them, attack their families, etc., the harder they dig in and could care less about the concerns they have. If you don’t like it, change the laws in Houston but the methods used by the anti-Ashby folks have ensured it will get built as designed, or at least as permitted now. They have the legal right to build on that site and they will, ESPECIALLY because of how terrible people have acted towards them and their families.

  • Hmmm, maybe the residents should have settled for the first version. Now they get (gasp!) renters rather than owners. They may not even make six figures. The very thought!

  • @ joel. That’s the kind of thinking that has made Houston the confused hodge-podge of automobile-driven development that it is and why it will always be the Rodney Dangerfield of major American cities. I don’t feel any particular affinity for the residents but am opposed to this development as a general rule.

  • @ doofus. Correct! Same thing is happening in Montrose. Unregulated development sucks.