A North Carolina company that already operates 18 car dealers in the Houston area plans to build the largest “flagship” Audi dealership in the U.S. on the north side of Hwy. 59 just east of Greenbriar. The dealership would consist of a 7-story building fronting the Southwest Freeway and containing offices, parts and service departments, a parking garage, and a ground-floor showroom. A more dramatic showroom, though, will be on the top floors, where drivers stuck in freeway traffic can ogle recent Audi models parked on display. A fenced-in parking lot for 87 cars would sit behind the building on the north side of Lexington St.
One problem: The building’s architects got tripped up by a provision of Houston’s development regulations that requires buildings be set back 25 ft. from the property line when they’re along major thoroughfares (in this case, Greenbriar). The plat Sonic Automotive inherited when it bought the property from developer Frank Liu last summer showed only a 10 ft. setback on that side. So, the company explains in its variance application, it’s hoping the city planning commission will allow an exception at its meeting this Thursday that’ll free it from redoing the plans and clipping off the building’s northwest corner, which is already 31 ft. back from the Greenbriar curb where it curves.
The application argues that city regulations would have allowed a 5-ft. setback for the building if it had qualified as a “retail commercial center” under the city’s particular definition of the term; also, if the University Line ever gets built — along with the proposed station at Richmond and Shepherd — transit corridor rules will eliminate setback requirements along Greenbriar entirely.
- 2120 Southwest Freeway Variance Request Information [Richwood Place]
Drawings: Sonic Automotive. Photo: Swamplot inbox