Dear Hines: We’d Settle for a Residential Midrise, Please

DEAR HINES: WE’D SETTLE FOR A RESIDENTIAL MIDRISE, PLEASE Happy relationships are all about compromise, and even though Hines doesn’t seem that interested in budging on this one, maintaining that it will begin construction before the end of the year on that 17-story office building on the corner of San Felipe and Spann, concerned neighbors have organized a petition addressed to Gerald and Jeff requesting that that project be swapped out for something more “in keeping with our neighborhood,” a 3- to 6-story “residential development.” [Change; previously on Swamplot] Rendering: Stop San Felipe Skyscraper

33 Comment

  • Do you hear that noise? It’s Gerald Hines laughing.

  • 6 story reidential would suck all of the time. 17 story office only sucks five days a week and never at night. Is that all you have River Oaksers? Surely the groupthink of our best and brightest can come up with somehting better than this.

  • Yes…I’m sure Gerald Hines will read this, uh he’s like 90, people! This is so ridiculous, are these people serious? These are suppose to be educated people, they can’t see this idea is a complete no go, what a waste of paper

  • My favorite part of the letter:

    “Taking away parking on San Felipe, Spann and Welch Streets to accommodate this building is highly unfair to those who live adjacent to the proposed building and who will have no parking for vendors and guests”.

    Apparently all street parking should be reserved for the neighbors who’s town homes and patio homes have eliminated their parking with curb cuts.

    Seems fair to me. (not!) My guess is there will still be curb parking, as Hines will be limited in the driveways he can put in.

    I will say, living in Glendower Court, I always prayed that site would someday be a park, but alas, I didn’t come up with the money to buy it. If its going to be anything, I would prefer an office tower by Hines to the 5 story, packed in patio and townhomes.

    The part that bothers me the most is the old oak trees that will be wiped out.

  • They showed the weakness of their hand, Hines go for the kill!

  • No one has mentioned their request for a development that is “in keeping with the neighborhood”. Maybe somebody should point out to the neighbors that their included scare-tactic picture of the site seems to be taken from the 34 story condo tower that is 100 yards away from development site.

  • It’s just too bad that the architecture of the new tower is so blah. The redevelopment of the site is inevitable, just sorry that Hines doesn’t care to do architectural landmarks the way they once did.

  • More anti-homeowner comments.

  • Open letters should really just be called “passive-aggressive missives” but nice attempt at trollin’.

  • the building needs arms and a mouth swallowing up the neighborhood. of course then i suspect the stop ashby highrise crowd would file a lawsuit for trademark infringement.

  • Funny that they chose this rendering and perspective. Do a 180 and you’ll see a similar sized building and one that’s twice as tall, not two blocks away. Is this even an official rendering? The proportions, height, and angles all seem way off, especially the garage.

  • can’t say how much i fully support this plan. it’s not up to direct neighboring homes to do the land planning in this city as it woudl rightly so lead to utter catastrophe. we have simple laws on the books regarding new development that all homeowners should be well familiar with prior to buying. these large residential developments have the same impact on curbside frontage, increasing traffic and taking away light from neighboring homes as townhomes do. why do we scapegoat one and not the other? why is Hines so anti-homeowner/heighborly when he’s proposing a large development that will provide sorely needed tax revenue and funding to this city and its residents. where are these people living in the city to where they don’t see or come across any drastic improvements that still need to be made to our public resources?

    why should the city promote povery among its citizens and resources all so some citizens can obtain unequal land rights to surrounding properties. this obviously isn’t southhampton, but the mood still persists all around the inner loop and you can thank those good kind political donors in southampton for destroying any credibility these embattled neighbors may have once been entitled to. as for now, they need to learn to deal with it like the rest of the city does and start speaking to their neighbors/common citizens about land planning rather than barking up the wrong trees.

    for now, i just cross my fingers that this development means we’ll get protected turn lights at shepherd/san felipe in all directions and hope that these homeowners understand that many in this city still want to see new developments utilizing land to it’s fullest potential and feel that any changes to zoning in this city should be agreed by all citizens and extended to all citizens, not just those that can afford to get their panties in a twist.

  • The difference between this and The Huntingdon is the setback. The Huntingdon has a large setback and has enough land around it on all sides to provide a decent buffer between it and surrounding buildings. The Hines project is being crammed onto a much smaller plot and will have no setback at all. It’s gonna look like crap…NOT like those artist renderings that show lots of green space, trees and big sidewalks.

  • Developers don’t care about neighborhoods.
    The city needs zoning, zoning, more zoning.
    It helps to level the playing field.

  • “i just cross my fingers that this development means we’ll get protected turn lights at shepherd/san felipe in all directions”.

    Fat chance. Some bean counter will wax on about feasibility studies and empirical data and blah blah blah. One more way this City takes and takes and takes and never gives back.

  • I pray every night that we have more zoning and unions. If only we could be more like the thriving NE and Midwest. . .

  • I’m not anti-homeowner. I’m pro-property-owner, and that includes all of them, commercial and residential alike, on an equal footing. Our cherished neighborhoods and towering landmarks were all built with an initial investment by a commercial developer, after all. If what exists is so awesome that it deserves protection, then so is the mechanism of creation.

    But there’s a more sinister subtext to this, I think. Neighbors — and in particular immediate neighbors as opposed to a municipality at large — should not have the ability to arbitrarily modify one another’s bundle of rights. If we were to get into that mode of thinking, then River Oaks would probably win this and every other neighborhood-level battle, but most other neighborhoods would lose out to moneyed commercial interests, unable to muster wealth or influence. It would reflect an additional concentration of influence toward people with money. And goodness knows, its not as though we’re starting from a balanced position here…

  • Yes, let’s make investing in Houston an unpredictable morass of zoning variances, neighborhood meetings, and committee reviews like it is in Philadelphia! That’s a great idea!

  • “an unpredictable morass of zoning variances, neighborhood meetings, and committee reviews”

    Exactly… preferable is “an unpredictable morass of litigation, neighborhood meetings, and swamplot reviews”

  • Mike, that’s why everybody should hope Southampton’s litigation is tossed.

  • Really dudes, enough about this individual “bundle of rights” crap. If it is a developer with commercial interests, a majority on Swamplot are alllll for it! If a residential property owner DARES to disagree, they are labled as NIMBYs or worse. Do any of those who express this view think that the individual residential property owners have ANY rights to express an opinion, or is that opinion somehow much less important than the developers? Hines will build this and turn around and sell it in a heart beat. In this city as in this state and country, we, last time I looked, all had the same property rights. Hating on the Heights, River Oaks, the Ashby neighbors and others about their admittedly self oriented postions is just stupid. They bought for a certain quality of life they now find threatened. Anyone with any investment would do the same.

  • understand your point sjh, but i can’t concur. TheNiche touched on what i was intending to allude to in my quick and sporadic rant. this division of neighbors, homeowners and communites and such does a tremendous disservice to the overall community/city as a whole.

    even yourself only called out the heights, river oaks and west u which should raise a red flag. these are certainly not the only places in town that are finding the communities they bought into changing in our economic boom and many of these other parts about town are changing in much more dramatic fashion.

    of course homeowners are entitled to opinions, but they’re also entitled to be familiar with and respect the laws of the city where they are buying property. this throwing money around to try and circumvent the laws on the books or to have them applied in unequal fashion and harassing developer’s should make everyone’s stomach turn.

    just because you have a legal right to do soemthing, obviously doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do. a bunch of geriatric republicans causing slight harm and tremendous troubles to people all around the world right now is a prime example of this.

    and it does help to take a step back from here, less street parking and a more cars on the road does not equate to someone’s “standard of life” being threatened unless there’s a punchline involved.

  • You do understand the NIMBY concept, right? I don’t think it’s unfair to label these folks NIMBY’s. Perhaps you could proffer a case for a better moniker. Maybe ROLA’s (River Oaks Left Alone)or perhaps NIRO’s (Not In River Oaks) or maybe even ROOMDB’s (River Oaks Over My Dead Body. The point is, the neighbors don’t oppose modest 17 story office buildings, ust modest 17 story office buildings on the perimeter of their neighborhood. A neighborhood that, perhaps unfortunately, is an urban rather than suburban neighborhood.

  • @ sjh: Allow me to clarify a few things that might ameliorate your persecution complex.

    1. The “bundle of rights” is a legal construct that applies to every form of property ownership and leasehold interest. Commercial and residential alike. The ‘bundle’ can be modified by rule of law (i.e. zoning, setback, easement, et al.) or from private covenants (i.e. deed restrictions, lease agreement, et al.). You claim that everybody has the same property rights, but that is absolutely and demonstrably FALSE.

    2. If a property owner’s bundle of rights can be modified unilaterally by a self-interested third party or perhaps a small group of self-interested vigilantes, that might be construed as somewhere along the spectrum of theft, organized crime, or terrorism…depending on whom you were ask. (Thankfully that sort of thing doesn’t happen too often, as evidenced by the River Oaks/Hines situation.) Its the sort of thing that, if a judge were to go along with it and the rest of the judiciary upheld the ruling, that a reasonable person might conclude that anarchy had broken out.

    3. As far as I can tell, nobody has suggested that your right to free speech should be impaired. If you want to advocate anarchy, it’s your right to do so. It’s also my right to demonstrate the embarrassing idiocy of your assertions and I absolutely WILL take a certain deviant satisfaction from doing so. (Caveat: However unlikely, one of us or the other may draw the ire of the privately-operated media enterprise(s) that hosts our content submissions. They are not legally obligated to enable either of us. We have a right to free speech, but not a right to a bullhorn.)

    4. Hines will build this and turn around and sell it. Yes. It’ll be a bit longer than a heartbeat — they’ll want to lease it up first — but that’s how the business model of a developer works. They aren’t in the construction business, they aren’t in the screwing-over-homeowners business, and they aren’t in the empire-building business. They are in the money business, just the same as the developers that gave us…drum-roll please…River Oaks.

    5. If a home buyer purchases a home along the perimeter of a deed-restricted neighborhood within a city that has no zoning, then they must understand that their quality of life is constantly under threat of modification from factors external to their control. In contrast with what might be suggested from the naming conventions surrounding the Westcreek redevelopment, River Oaks has boundaries. Those boundaries have to exist somewhere; there’s no reason that they should be anywhere other than where they are. Their deed restrictions do not and cannot enable them to annex adjoining parcels or neighborhoods any more than that other parcels or neighborhoods might annex THEM.

  • The picture of this from ground level doesn’t look half bad. The aerial picture above looks like the architects haven’t looked at a building built in the last 35 years. I would support this project with a more interesting design.

  • More anti-homeowner drivel. Go count your money.

  • More anarcho-leftist drivel from Mel. Go start a revolution, why don’t you, and see what happens to your home values and public infrastructure if you get your way.

  • You realize Swamplot intentionally stirs the pot on this stuff, right?

    I’ve gotten the most links from here when I was intentionally being inflammatory, scraping right up against the barrier that separates reasoned discourse from trolling.

    Swamplot is very much our localized Gawker media. Playing up 4-20 neighbors bitching about a property gets them hits, whether it’s this building or the Morrison Mid-rise or whatever.

  • Thank you Niche, I am humbled as usual by your ability to educate the masses such as myself. I am familiar with the “bundle of rights” concept, having been a city planner in the past. I was not implying that there aren’t difference in property rights, I simply stated that it seems that commercial property rights are consistently favored over non-commercial. And this belief that everyone affected by this is rich is a little off base as well. The neighborhoods I referred to in my comment are the ones where the actions and emotions of a few residents has vilified entire neighborhoods without the commentors actually living in the neighborhood or really understanding the cause of the complaint. Also, I didn’t know that the Supreme’s had decided that the right to free speech was limited to not using a bullhorn! Thank you so much for that little piece of insight!

  • What is leftist about supporting homeowners? Niche might want to consult a dictionary, or even hit up wiki.

  • @ sjh: You seem confused and/or to be missing the point.

    @ Mel: It seems fairly consistent with leftist principles to redistribute property rights away from businesspeople or investors and then “accidentally” give them to people that were already had wealth to begin with; and the disregard for the rule of law suggests anarchism. Hence my descriptor for you: anarcho-leftist. If the notion seems ridiculously contradictory, it is. That’s my impression of you.

  • Of course, Mr Gus Allen (the owner of Swamplot) stirs the pot to gets more hits = more revenue.The Hines building is going up. And the ROaksies are pissed , but they NEED to get over themselves.. Like they were when the ROB&T Building @ the SouthEast corner of Kirby & San Felipe went up in the very early 1970’s.And when the Huntingdon residential high rise went up in 1983 @ the North East corner of Kirby & Avalon. South of San Felipe and East of Kirby is NOT ROaks proper. And it is not governed (from what I understand/know about the area) by deed restrictions nor a HOA. Hines,Ltd. does their homework. Houston changes and is a work in progress. Some people(they and we know who they are) need to adapt/adjust/grow up and quit being obstructionist whiny wussies !!!!