- 5301 Institute Ln. [HAR]
BUCKHEAD: ASHBY HIGHRISE IS STILL HAPPENING, BUT THAT’S STILL NOT ITS NAME Chronicle reporters Nancy Sarnoff and Erin Mulvaney spend some time on this week’s Looped In podcast dissecting some circuitous answers from Matthew Morgan and Kevin Kirton, developers of the multifamily project commonly known as the Ashby Highrise (which, as Morgan is quick to point out, has never been dubbed anything other than 1717 Bissonnet except by neighborhood opposition campaigners). In the wake of Buckhead’s recent court appeal victory, the duo of duos touches on the project’s permitting history with the city, the ambiguous but active state of current plans, and the unexpected financial and emotional tolls of pushing a project forward through an unprecedented decade of protests (ranging from giant personalized signage aimed at the pair to that grim reaper sighting on Bissonnet). [Looped In Podcast from the Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Rendering of 1717 Bissonnet St.: Buckhead Investment Partners
Texas’s Fourteenth Court of Appeals overturned part of the previous decision on the Ashby Highrise case yesterday, declaring that no, the developers of 1717 Bissonnet don’t have to pay the tower’s would-be neighbors $1.2 million as compensation for property value losses. Nor do the highrise planners have to cover for all those legal fees incurred by the various stages of the case — the homeowners are back on the hook for those as well, along with all costs incurred by the appeal.
The judges declared that even if the property values in the nearby homes did decrease, and even if that decrease was because of the proposal for the highrise, the homeowners can’t ask for compensation for property value drops caused by mere plans for a future “nuisance” — damages can only be awarded after said “nuisance” actually exists.
An uncovered courtyard is the centerpiece of this former home of Astrodome and ex-Houston Post building architect Ralph Anderson, who designed the 1,805-sq.-ft. space and lived there leading up to his death in 1990. The 2-bedroom 2-bath house features floor-to-ceiling windows and brick floors arrayed around the central atrium, which held a large tree until early last year. The 1959 home, now housing a much smaller tree in a courtyard planter, went on the market a week and a half ago at $875,000.
The front door is set into a patterned concrete wall:
Now approaching the Big 1-0, an artsy 2004 contemporary by architect Allen Bianchi has been on the market for a month (this time), bearing a $2,799,000 asking price. A previous listing in the summer of 2013 briefly sought $100K more for the property. The 5,595-sq.-ft. home is planted at the crossroads of Cherokee St. and Sunset Blvd., just north of Rice University. Houston’s headlining art museums are three-quarters of a mile to the east. The house of stucco, glass, and steel is itself a bit of a gallery.
TRICON HOMES STILL TRASHING THE JOSEPHINE Demolition crews turned the Josephine Apartments into a dusty pile of rubble yesterday (as seen in Swamplot’s on-the-spot report), but Tricon Homes cofounder Tristan Berlanga threw in a little trash-talking of his own about the condition of the 2-story Art Moderne complex, which went down in a heap, original steel-frame windows and all: “This, in fact, was a building in very poor structural condition which would have been practically impossible to save, both for safety and economic reasons,” he says to the Chronicle’s Erin Mulvaney. He goes on to tell the reporter he doesn’t like to see buildings demolished, especially those with “architectural or historical significance,” but appears to lay blame for the building’s demise on a lack of city regulation: “Most cities have zoning laws and designated historical areas that help preserve buildings like this,” he says. “Without that, it is hard to do more . . .” Tricon plans to replace the 8-unit building from 1939 with 4 new townhomes, which are still being designed. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Swamplot inbox
The 75-year-old art moderne brick steel-windowed structure at 1744 and 1748 Bolsover St. known as the Josephine Apartments is coming apart in a cloud of (watered down) dust this morning. The 8-unit structure at the corner of Ashby St. 2 blocks north of Rice University was designed in the late 1930s by architect F. Perry Johnston, but demolished by contractors under hire by Tricon Homes, which purchased the property earlier this year.
Rice U. math Ph.D. student, Boulevard Oaks resident, and poet Kenan Ince has been making the rounds of local open-mic nights with his brief ode to the as-yet-invisible but still-ominous spectre looming over 1717 Bissonnet St. known as the Ashby Highrise. The poem, entitled Rise, Ashby, begins with an epigraph clipped from a Swamplot story about the lawsuit that was filed by a few of the 21-story apartment tower’s Southampton and Boulevard Oaks neighbors last year. A video of Ince’s recent performance at Montrose’s Cafe Brasil (seen at left) has been posted on Youtube; you can read the poem — with its original, towering typography intact — below:
After hearing news that a homebuilder bought the 8-unit 1939 brick-and-glass-block Josephine Apartments 2 blocks north of Rice University in Boulevard Oaks, it may not come as much of a surprise to learn that the building’s new owner plans to tear them down. But today a source provides confirmation that demolition and new construction is in the cards: Tricon Homes has informed residents that they will need to vacate the property by mid July.
What? No friendly neighborhood groundbreaking celebration? No pics of developers and local politicos wearing hard hats and wielding pointless shovels? A mere 7 years after Buckhead Investment Partners first quietly upgraded utility service, prepared traffic-impact studies, and replatted the property of the former Maryland Manor Apartments hoping no one would notice, some sort of construction work appears to have begun on the 21-story apartment tower planned for 1717 Bissonnet St. At least that’s what this photo, taken at the scene and sent this afternoon to Swamplot by a reader, appears to show. Last week, a district court judge refused to grant an injunction that would have blocked the building’s construction.
Photo: Swamplot inbox
A spokesperson for Buckhead Investment Partners, the developers behind the building slated for 1717 Bissonnet St. in Boulevard Oaks known as the Ashby Highrise, tells Swamplot that they now “plan to move forward with construction as soon as possible,” on the 21-story apartment tower — “without delay.” Yesterday, Judge Randy Wilson rejected a request from neighbors of the project to issue a permanent injunction that would have barred its construction. In a press release issued yesterday, Buckhead said it planned to appeal the judge’s ruling that the developers must pay 20 neighbors the approximately $1.2 million a jury decided would compensate them for their loss of market value.
Rendering: Buckhead Investment Partners
Judge Randy Wilson today issued a ruling affirming a jury’s conclusion that the proposed Ashby Highrise at 1717 Bissonnet St. would constitute a “nuisance.” But he couldn’t both grant an injunction preventing the building’s construction and award the complaining neighbors the approximately $1.6 million in damages determined by the jury, he explains, because that would constitute a “double recovery.” Instead, citing the extremely local nature of the nuisance, the difficulty of enforcing an injunction, possible harm to the developers, the disruption to city development rules a singular decision in this case would bring, and other concerns, he denied the injunction and the portion of the jury award for loss of use and enjoyment — but ordered the developers of the proposed 21-story building to pay 20 plaintiffs the $1.2 million the jury had apportioned for “lost market value damages,” because “these damages have already occurred.” The plaintiffs had argued they preferred an injunction to the payment; it’s likely they’ll appeal.
Photo of 1717 Bissonnet St.: Swamplot inbox
The 75-year-old Josephine Apartments just north of Rice University have been sold — to homebuilder Tricon Homes. The distinctive two-tone-brick Art Deco structure was built in 1939 from a design by architect F. Perry Johnston. It sits at the corner of Bolsover and Ashby St., a block north of Rice University, just east of Southampton Place, and 3 blocks south of the site of the planned Ashby Highrise. The U-shaped 2-story building with glass block and steel windows consists of 8 single-bedroom units, some of them with sunrooms.