COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHO DARE OPPOSE “You have no right to fight it any longer. If they are not asking for a variance then they are within their rights to build it. . . . Because you opposed a reasonable building, I hope they build a 200 unit condo that towers 20 stories, instead of five. Its exactly what you NIMBYS deserve!” [Marksmu, commenting on An End-Around at Emes Place]
The Canadian developers behind an on-again-off-again 84-unit condo project planned for a 1.4-acre wooded property at the end of E. 5th St. adjacent to the Heights hike-and-bike trail have withdrawn their variance request to build a private street for a new Emes Place subdivision. But neighborhood opponents of the project, called Viewpoint at the Heights, may like Group LSR’s newest plans less than the ones they had been fighting against. The Planning Department’s Suzy Hartgrove tells the Leader’s Charlotte Aguilar that the developers of the Serento and Piedmont at River Oaks now plan to construct a public street over a bridge and build their own cul de sac. The latest plans make no mention of the size of condo the company is proposing. And if the new design meets city standards, the city’s planning commission wouldn’t have an opportunity to require any site changes on the project when it comes up for approval this Thursday.
Photos: Swamplot inbox (site and trail); Charlotte Aguilar/The Leader (variance sign)
Neighbors in the Freeland Historic District who imagined the nationwide economic downturn and neighborhood protests a few years ago would have been enough to kill a threatened 65-70-condo development on a wooded tract next to the new Heights hike-and-bike trail have been buzzing about the project’s apparent reappearance. On the agenda for this week’s planning commission meeting: the Emes Place Subdivision, which will give the long-landlocked site access by connecting Frasier St. and E. 5th St. across the trail, just north of White Oak Bayou. The subdivision plat is listed as a “consent item,” meaning its approval is not scheduled to be put up for a separate vote.
Viewpoint at the Heights, slated for that subdivision, is a project of Canada’s Group LSR, which goes by the name Inner Loop Condos in Houston. The company developed the Serento Condominium near the Med Center and the Piedmont sorta near River Oaks. Freeland residents have heard the building being proposed for the 1-acre site will be 4 or 5 stories tall.
When last Swamplot visited the tiny Freeland Historic District at the foot of the Heights almost a year ago, Samantha Wood and her husband, architect Jack Preston Wood, had just given up on plans to purchase a little bungalow at 536 Granberry St., demolish it, and replace it with a new 1-1/2-story bungalow. The Woods’ earlier plans — to build two 4-story townhomes on the property — stirred up protests from neighbors and a rejection from the city historical commission.
Did all that hullabaloo in the newly-minted historic district scare off potential buyers? A Freeland neighbor says no — and suspects most of the neighborhood’s new attention is coming from builders:
525 Granberry Street (now listed on the tax rolls and MLS as 525 E. 5th 1/2 Street) went on the market last week. So many offers have been received they ask that final bids go in tomorrow, April 16.
Why would builders be so interested in this property?
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House designer Jack Preston Wood has apparently had second thoughts about his plan to build two 4-story townhomes where this bungalow now sits in the Freeland Historic District. The city historic commission turned down both his new-construction and demolition plans last month, and neighbors have been writing him letters and protesting every weekend since.
Freeland Historic District is a collection of 35 bungalows, marked down from the original 37, on two blocks south of White Oak Blvd. at the damp end of the Heights. There’s been no new construction in the district — which was designated just last fall — and residents have been working hard to keep it that way.
Wood tells Chronicle reporter Robin Foster that neither the Realtor nor the owner of the house told him that the house at 536 Granberry was in an historic district before he signed a contract to buy it:
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