Comment of the Day: Your Inner Loop Neighbors

COMMENT OF THE DAY: YOUR INNER LOOP NEIGHBORS “Who wants to buy a house in the innermost area of Houston when you never know what horrible thing is gonna sprout 25 stories in the sky butted up next to your charming house and garden you spent so much time on? Renting is the only quick easy escape. Of course then your landlord sells the vintage apt bldg, gives tenants notice and the new owners tear it down. I feel sorry for my old neighbors, they’re about to have a colossal monstrosity next to them, after they put up with the banging and the big trucks and the port-a-potty that sits in the yard for 6 months. [Bethsheba, commenting on The First Look at That 25-Story Residential Highrise Hines Might Build in the Museum District] Illustration: Lulu

39 Comment

  • Excellent point! If you live in a neighborhood that’s in high demand and does not have strong deed restriction protections, you’re bound to have redevelopment near your home. And unfortunately most Inner Loop neighborhoods now fall into this category. 90% of that redevelopment is innocuous or even beneficial to its neighbors. But there’s always that 10%.
    If redevelopment bothers you, give Sharpstown and Brays Oaks a try. Don’t be swayed by the horror stories from people who lived here years ago – crime rates are way down since they left, and what crime remains is for the most part confined to nearby apartments. Access to the Inner Loop is very easy. For what you blow in rent every month, you could buy a well built starter home with a back yard. And thanks to lingering Image problems, the single family part of Sharpstown is safe from redevelopment for the time being.

  • I had to move out of my first three rentals in the Heights because they were sold and razed. Three different addresses in four years. I didn’t know if I was just cursed or if this was the norm in Houston.

  • That is unless your neighborhood has strong deed restrictions. I will never have a 4 story townhouse or a 25 story apartment building next to my house without someone first modifying our deed restrictions.

  • Quick, somebody cue up some sad violin music and we can all sit around and have a good cry.

  • Agree. Sacrilege that it may be to say it, but there are reasons other cities have zoning. My inner-loop neighborhood has strong deed restrictions, but that doesn’t stop the 3 story maxi-pads from being built next to my 1950s ranch house. I have 3 being built around me now.

  • Which was my point about how Houston real estate sells at a discount to what similar properties in other markets would, due to uncertainty of what your neighborhood will look like in 5 or 10 years. Lack of regulation and planning do have economic consequences. Investors hate uncertainty, and so do home buyers.

  • the lack of zoning just made that house worth an incredible amount more than it was worth 6 months ago. i feel very sorry for your old neighbor that was undoubtedly offered a very hefty premium to sell his/her house.

  • @htownproud: I do not know about the Hines property, but I have heard in other instances when developers get enough land to do what they want, they offer below market, take it or leave it, “we’re coming, like it or not” offers to hold outs. I think the industry learned its lesson with Greenway Plaza. Make sure that when you want to do a big project that you are ready to build around someone.

  • So true. A person can buy in a deed restricted neighborhood to find out later the house across the street or two blocks behind your deed restricted house exempted itself and has absolutely no restrictions.

    I am tired of COH protecting developers to the extreme prejudice of homeowners.

    Homeowners aren’t just “risking their money” as anti-homeonwers like to chant on this board, homeowners have invested personally, emotionally and financially in their property and that investment is something worthy of protection. In fact, the homeowner’s investment is far more worthy of protection than some vulture’s bottom line.

  • A colossal monstrosity……….

  • Good thing zoning categories are etched in stone forever and can never be changed at the whim of politicians or after the gentle encouragement ($$$) from large developers without a direct vote from the citizens.

    We should try it in Houston. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

  • My advice to anyone who owns a house in the wild west of the inner loop is to budget enough to buy your next door neighbor’s house just in case it comes up for sale. It’s the only way to protect yourself from townhome or mcmansion encroachment.

  • Look at a map of the inner loop. 99.99%(slight hyperbole) of single family housing is not next door to a tower or apartment complex, that is some reassuring certainty there.

  • If you’re relying on deed restrictions to protect your homestead from development-happy neighbors, you either have never had to sue to enforce those restrictions or you’re wealthy. There isn’t a competent real estate attorney in town who will take a case to enforce a deed restriction — especially with pending construction next door — without a cash retainer of $25,000, at least. And you’re looking at, conservatively, up to $100,000 in legal fees (not including court costs) once you start seeking injunctive relief to stop that contractor with the bulldozer and a work crew. Residents of some inner-loop neighborhoods may have that much cash lying around in cookie jars, but most of us don’t, having purchased well before the current land boom and having other financial obligations, like paying property taxes and helping our elderly parents.

  • My fit and active 91 year old neighbor just moved out of the house he’s been in since it was built in the 1950s. He got an estimate on water line repairs that was going to cost him thousands of dollars. And because of his age/life expectancy and the fact that his original house is now considered a tear down, he sold the house to a developer (at a great price) and has moved into an apt. At 91. He of course expected to live out his days in the house. It’s just a weird time to live inner-loop. Yeah we could and can get a tidy sum from selling our property (cuz that’s where the $$ is, not the house). But then where do we move? Living inner-loop for so long, our lives (and jobs) are here.

  • actually, you just have to alert the proper city department. We have done so several times in our inner loop neighborhood. They are not afraid to issue stop orders even after foundations are poured.

  • Zoning is good. We need zoning.

  • I find it tough to believe that zoning will increase the value in neighborhoods like this. There are vacant lots and delapated houses everywhere Currently. Zoning won’t increase property values or bring more residential–allowing the market to make the best use of the property and area is the best way to increase values. And perhaps Hines lowballed end the last hold out, as Old School suggests, but I find that hard to believe — it would be ridiculous to build a highrise around a house if you could purchase it for anywhere near market value.

  • In times like this, got to love West U/Southside/Bellaire.

  • Everybody wants density and urbanization (with ground-floor retail!) as long as it’s near someone else’s property.

  • This comment means a lot. If more people who think they want to buy in the loop were capable of realizing what might happen to their neighborhood I think people might make better decisions.

  • Maybe I’m weird, but when I would buying my house 4 years ago, I told my real estate agent that I would fire him if he showed me any deed restricted properties. I specifically DESIRED the ability to do whatever I want with my property. So, from my perspective, I was DISCOUNTING the value of deed restricted properties (and willing to put my money where my mouth was). Since I’ve bought, the lot next to mine was sold, divided, and three McCharlestorleans houses have gone up in its place. And the house on the other side of me was just sold to developers who will probably divide and build 2 more Mr. Potatoheads. But you know what; while the construction has been a little inconvenient, this lack of zoning, with “greedy developers destroying the character of my neighborhood” has done nothing but significantly increase the value of my property.

    Deed restrictions and zoning may work to limit the downside risk of owning a property, but they also limit the upside potential.

  • The thing about increasing the value of one’s property is that’s only a great thing when you decide to sell. Until then, it just means higher property taxes.

    I don’t think folks who complain about this stuff are unreasonable. It’s not about having a NIMBY attitude about urban density. It’s about knowing what you’re getting into when you buy a property and having some say in what happens around it. And in a city like Houston, there are few places inside the Loop in which you can have that.

  • Homes sell for a a premium in my deed restricted neighborhood. We have a 1 for 1 rule. One house goes and only one house can replace it. We don’t have any of those 1 for 3 or 4 subdivisions. Consequently, the current homes sell for more. Perhaps the tear down value is slightly lower (and I say perhaps because teardowns are still selling for over $420,000) but I tend to doubt it because the new purchasers are also desirous of the deed restrictions to protect the value of their new million dollar pad. Homes purchased to be lived in sell for much more than in the surrounding neighborhoods. Renovated homes are selling in the $700,000 and up range. Yeah, the teardown lots still end up with McMansions, but at least there is only one and it isn’t higher than 2 floors.

  • Anse and Charlie. Absolutely agree.

    The deed restrictions are what kept these inner loop neighborhoods intact and desireable. In my ‘hood the deed restrictions are what kept crazy businesses from cropping up on the outskirts.

  • boo hoo poor you. No zoning is what makes Houston unique, if you dont like it, go buy a home in katy or the woodlands

  • So if we had zoning, there would be no McMansions? Does zoning regulate the number of storeys, square footage, number of bathrooms, color of brick, species of landscape shrub and so forth?

  • Comment #14, by Sic Transit Gloria, is pretty compelling and perhaps illustrates why deed restrictions are an insufficient safeguard against unwanted development.

  • It’s obviously wanted or it wouldn’t be built.

  • #29 NIMBY

    Wow, I’m speechless.

  • Westbury. Come on out y’all. Park and ride to downtown = 3 miles.

  • Build baby, build.

  • Hines shows the entrance on Oakdale but the name of the building is “Southmore”? Odd. I heard they secured the other three properties and lowballed the owners of the home on the Register who actually care about the neighborhood. Said they’d block their air and light. Woo hoo, bully boys.

  • I am just glad there are places left with no zoning. Not many cities can offer that as a feature.

    Having said that, some of these deed restricted and/or pseudo-historical neighborhoods might as well up the ante and turn into de facto zoned neighborhoods. I would be interested to see what would happen.

    There are probably other more innovative land-use policy packages that Houston could offer, you know, just to keep people interested in the place, but right now my imagination fails me.

  • so what exactly is the point of discussing our cities zoning policies while only highlighting the negatives and ignoring the positives? i think some of you are forgetting that there’s no way you’d be able to afford a similar home so close to a cities prime amenities in a well zonez city.

    another worthless conversation…

  • “The deed restrictions are what kept these inner loop neighborhoods intact and desireable.”

    for example, this is what makes your home more expensive. any claim of added desirability over neighboring locations is pure subjectiveness without proof. i’ve seen no shortage of people clamoring to get onto streets that are undergoing massive changes nor those that will obviously follow suit.

    and this is just classic hilariousness. as if everyone in Houston that isn’t a homeowner isn’t deserving of the same protections or playing na equal role in the progress and fruitfulness of our city.

    “Homeowners aren’t just “risking their money” as anti-homeonwers like to chant on this board, homeowners have invested personally, emotionally and financially in their property and that investment is something worthy of protection. ”

    wouldn’t hurt if we all step out of the echo chamber every once in a while and learn the economic benefits of our cities current path and how making small sacrifices in some areas can provide vast benefits in others.

  • Houston is said to “work” because industry and the development community and arriving immigrants are all pursuing their self-interest unreservedly.
    It’s striking, then, that one group, single-family homeowners, should alone be continually reminded to forfeit their interests (or, in that perennial irritant of social engineers, what they perceive to be their interests) and embrace a collective vision of the city.
    In this view the urban paradise is being held captive by the existence of small single-family freeholders. Perhaps the single-family lot is a faint vestige of the rural, and the distinction between the rural and the urban must be erased, as a Marxist would say.
    It would be just like a peasant, as against a “worker,” to become unreasonably attached to his little patch of soil.

  • Well, nobody would argue against the idea that the single-family homeownership experience is/was completely subsidized all the way through, including the whole automobile and freeway thing.

    The fact that the single-family homeowners tend to see things adversarially doesn’t help their case either.

  • Home ownership subsidized? Sure. But when it takes the form of sprawl it’s blessed, as it’s the leading edge of urbanization.
    We’re so over ideological consistency:

    Sprawl = an expression of the desire of the people for a better life; the people are always right

    Urban Single-Family Neighborhoods = a missed business opportunity for a few; the people are wrong, or they’re the wrong people, and want correcting

    Please understand: Smart Growthers, Anti-Smart Growthers – I’m “color blind in that range.”

    And adversarial? Ah, yes. Here’s a quote from an “academic paper” ( the urbano-libertarian types loved:

    “Networks, reciprocity, trust, tastes for participation, and social ties facilitate factional collusion to restrain residential property supply and to act on pre-existing preferences for illiberal exclusion.”

    Gotta tear apart those social ties – they’re so damned primitive, and they’re holding progress back!
    There’s a familiar echo to that …