Ashby Highrise Developers Copied Site Plan We Made for Them, Says Attorney for Dallas Architecture Firm

A Houston attorney says the site plan for the Ashby Highrise “substantially” copies the one a Dallas-based architecture firm created for the same developers 5 years ago. Patrick Zummo, who is representing Humphreys and Partners Architects in a lawsuit filed last week against Buckhead Investment Partners, tells the West U Examiner‘s Charlotte Aguilar that the plan for the Ashby Highrise site at the corner of Bissonnet and Ashby — which Buckhead attributes to the firm it hired later, EDI Architecture — is “extremely close, if not identical to” both a plan Humphreys drew up for the same site while under contract to Buckhead in 2006 and the site plan the architecture firm produced a few years earlier for the Grant Park Condominium tower in the Elliot Park neighborhood of Minneapolis (above).


A short article mentioning a $1.5 million settlement the company received in 2002 from an Indiana developer as a result of an earlier copyright-infringement suit is featured prominently in the news section of the Humphreys website. Both Buckhead and EDI have been given until December 8th to respond to the current lawsuit; Zummo says he hopes a judge will move shortly after that date to prevent Buckhead from proceeding with its plans to build the 23-story residential tower. A conference between all the parties in the lawsuit is scheduled for February 17th.

Images: Humphreys and Partners Architects; Buckhead Investment Partners

18 Comment

  • What really bothers me about this whole hi-rise development is that practically NO ONE in the entire area surrounding the project supports it. There are no-hirise signs in front of almost every single property for blocks around the site. What happened to being good neighbors? It seems like the developers don’t care about anything but the almighty dollar.

  • This makes me pretty happy, though I thought they already cancelled it.

  • All these highrises look like so much brick and stucco to me!

    Also, not sure why the anti-Ashby Highrise people are so angry, did they all move here en masse from a city that has zoning laws? Welcome to Houston! Maybe the developer can whisper “wine bar,” “gastropub,” “yogurt bar” or “cupcake shoppe” in their ears to change their minds. Don’t forget to leave parking spaces for the food trucks.

  • I live near there and I hate the idea of that horrible thing going in. I hope it gets defeated again.

  • This is extortion, almost as good as what St. Stephen’s Episcopal School was trying with HEB. They forgot you can’t beat the people with all the money.

  • So you drew a rectangular building on a rectangular plot of land and put some trees in front… Good for you!

  • Somewhere in a folder I have the very first pitch the developers made to the ‘hood, which implied that the elder residents would do well to move there as dealing with their homes would soon become too difficult for them. Ummmm, no….if there is one thing I have learned after 30 years of handling various aspects of asset protection, it is to never, NEVER infer that someone is too old to take care of his/her own holdings. Let the kids come to that conclusion and get the fallout. Not that this was the sole point of contention, but it did help rally the troops.

  • The developers, in fact, do not care about anything but the almighty dollar. Pot, meet kettle.

  • A update on the chron says that Buckhead’s Matthew Morgan claims that this lawsuit will not slow down the project and that the building is inspired by the Lovett Hall at Rice University.

  • Build it!!!! If controlling the fate of the Maryland Manor Apartments was so critically important to the well being of the neighbors and their property values they should have bought the property themselves many, many years ago.

    River Oaks hasn’t gone down hill since the Huntingdon was built. Tanglewood seems to doing just fine in the shadow of Four Leaf Towers.

  • “Zummo says he hopes a judge will move shortly after that date to prevent Buckhead from proceeding with its plans to build the 23-story residential tower.”

    So are they suing for damages for copyright infringement or are they suing simply to stop construction? Sounds more like the latter. Which raises the question of why they would care as long as they received damages. And the lawsuit should have been filed a long time ago. But wasn’t. They just recently discovered the “similarity?” Sounds like the pretentious brats and their law firm have been busy fishing again. First they tried zoning by ordinance. Now they’re trying zoning by lawsuit. Should prove interesting to see how EDI responds to the lawsuit given they’ve been accused of copying another architectural firm’s work. Not a minor thing to be accused of. As for Matthew Morgan’s response, well, it does look more like Lovett Hall than this firm’s building in Minneapolis. And unless they stack the jury with “Stop Asbhy” gang members I suspect a jury will agree. I suspect when all is said and done Buckhead will have their building. And quite a bit of damages for the ongoing harassment and defamation. With the taxpayers, of course, paying for most of the damages.

  • Just another sideshow. My guess is that financing for this project has been deader than a mackerel for some time.

  • Copyright infringement claims between architects and developers are quite common. Sometimes it is the result of a developer reusing plans and sometimes an architect actually does copy a design.

    But often, there just aren’t that many variations for a design. If you look at the site plan for most shopping centers, they will line up almost exactly. It doesn’t mean that someone is stealing a design, it’s the result of starting with the same program.

    I doubt this has anything to do with an attempt to scuttle the project.

  • Holy Moley !!!! Buckhead stepped into it big time. They need to be wearing their boots to TRY to keep the caca off of their oft delayed project. I bet Buckhead thought they could just drop this tinsey winsey hut into a deed restricted neighborhood with some overly zealous HOA Nazi’s not making a stink. I love the fact that Southampton is allowing the construction of McMansions ,but how dare anyone ,an outsider no less, try to build a high rise. I say build it.Of course, Buckhead has overly optimistic rental projections.Houston has a glut of rental units, and the higher end of the market has lots of competition.

  • Patrick–Southampton does NOT have a HOA. We are simply a small neighborhood, with a very active civic club, trying to prevent a monstrosity from being built.

  • According to the Chronicle, the “Stop Ashby” gang is who released the “news” about the lawsuit to the media. Rather interesting. And probably very revealing. As for Southampton not having an HOA it does have a civil club. And apparently its very own law firm. Which was named in the Batson Report in the Enron matter. Accused of “legal malpractice.” Nice people obviously.

    At this point the developers probably don’t care whether the building is built or not. They will get rich off the lawsuits. Which of course the taxpayers will pay for. The judgement will probably bankrupt the city. One of the many legacies of Bill White and Annise Parker.

  • The huge differences between the Huntington and Four Leaf compared to Ashby are of course that they face larger streets and sit on larger sites. There is nothing whiny or overreaching at all about private interests attempting to protect themselves from another private interest. It is how things should work. If someone wants to plop a monstrosity down in the middle of a quiet neighborhood then they can expect a fight.

  • Why don’t the local residence buy the property from the developers and make a park? Let the developers make a normal profit on the land flip and this may be over. Everyone chips in say $10,000 and this will be over.