Lawsuit Won’t Stop Construction of Hines’s San Felipe Tower — At this Time

LAWSUIT WON’T STOP CONSTRUCTION OF HINES’S SAN FELIPE TOWER — AT THIS TIME Aerial View of Proposed 2229 San Felipe Office Tower, Vermont Commons, HoustonYesterday a Harris County judge issued an order denying the request of some neighbors of 2229 San Felipe across from River Oaks for a temporary restraining order halting construction of the 17-story Hines office tower going up on that site. The neighbors had filed suit last week, complaining that (among other things) the building would interfere with their privacy, cause unreasonable traffic delays, devalue their own nearby properties, and erode the character of the neighborhood. “Unfortunately, Harris County does not make transcripts of arguments at the hearing available online,” writes the tipster who sent Judge Michael Gomez’s order to Swamplot, “but this could be a sign that Judge Gomez may be less receptive to the Plaintiffs’ arguments than those that were heard in the Ashby highrise case.” Maybe. Twice on the signed order, after the word “denied,” the judge added in the phrase “at this time” by hand. [Prime Property; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Hines

17 Comment

  • HAHA…take that NIMBYS!!

  • It is interesting to me that all the people who signed the plaintiff’s seemingly benign petition on Facebook “to show support” are now listed in their lawsuit on an exhibit. Doubtful a single person who signed knew that would happen. Their petition (the real one, not the one on also states that the 1000+ signatures are all from people “adversely affected” by the building. Um, no. People living outside of River Oaks are not going to be “adversely affected” by this building. And frankly, neither are the residents of River Oaks.

  • I agree with Build it. The older tower sure didn’t adversly affect the area. And “privacy concerns” are utter bs. Do people who live here ever go outside?

  • If people in River Oaks are so concerned halting all constructions that inconvenient to them, then they should create a little committee, buy up all the land that could become potential high rises and shut the fuck up. NO ZONING IN HOUSTON.

  • You could tell from the lawsuit itself that it wasn’t going to work. “Construction should stop because the building will be abnormal and out of place.” Really? Define “abnormal.” Define “out of place.” I firmly believe that we need better controls on building here in Houston, and we need more sensitivity on the part of developers. But this lawsuit wasn’t going to serve any purpose to that end.

  • Like I said a few days ago, JS, they don’t even have to keep the land. They can buy it, put restrictions on it. And then turn around and sell it. Buy/ Protect/ Sell.

  • The difference between this and Ashby is HINES!!! Hines runs Houston, you can forget derailing any Hines project. Talk about a fools errand.

  • These crazy-ass tree huggers, nuts and clowns filing these frivolous lawsuits need to find a new hobby. And if traffic, big city life, and world class developers building contemporary and elegant towers throughout our great city pisses them off…they need to hit it to somewhere else. While some complain about no zoning and call the city chaotic, Houston chose to evolve in this manner as no zoning allows Houston to run circles around its competitors. While other cities are limited, restricted and hemmed in with zoning, Houston is quietly having last laughs as no zoning allows it to adjust, capitalize and seize on market trends faster…and allows it to develop and grow on a scale that other cities envy and can not match, and in a manner that is uniquely Houston.

    These fools appear to be stuck in the Houston of yester-year. Back then some described Houston as having a ‘small-town feel in a big city.’ Today, however, Houston 2014 is a very big city…a vast metropolis…a cosmopolitan behemoth.that’s booming and growing by leaps and bounds. It’s been the 4th-largest city in America for years and is quickly approaching 2.5million and projected to overtake Chicago (which continues to lose population) as the 3rd-largest city in America at the next census.

    So if the hustle/bustle, traffic, lofty power towers, massive development and growth, and awesome transformation is too much for you…you definitely need to move because a dynamic booming economy is the new norm in Houston…and if you think the pace is dizzying now…you ain’t seen nothing yet.

    And on your way out…put a deadbolt on the psycho old folks homes and the city asylum…the nostalgic old farts and lunatics keep escaping and filing these futile lawsuits that are dead on arrival.

  • “Abnormal” and “out of place” are among the things one must prove in order to have a building declared a nuisance. For context, think of a massive chicken raising operation in that location – THAT would clearly be abnormal and out of place, and a nuisance in almost anybody’s perception.

    I don’t have that much of a takaway from denying the TRO. The purpose of a TRO is to prevent some immediately threatened harm that can’t be remedied if allowed to happen; the stereotypical example is stopping the bulldozer before it rips out The Old Oak Tree. TROs only last for less than a month unless extended. It will be more informative seeing what happens in a couple weeks at the temporary injunction hearing.

  • @HonestTruth: *sigh*. Can we give the whole “don’t like it, move” thing a rest? It’s incredibly insensitive; it encourages sprawl; and it ignores the fact that Houston is already a spread-out city. There’s plenty of room to grow and accommodate everyone who wants to come here – without wrecking our neighborhoods.
    As I said, I am not a fan of lawsuits as a way to try to preserve the character of neighborhoods. They’re too reactive. They take up time and resources that would be better spent on long-term solutions. I think River Oaks should let Hines build the San Felipe Tower, but take buy/protect/sell measures to prevent any future towers of that scale from going up in the area. And I bet Hines would actually help with those efforts. It’d be a way for them to prevent competitors from building similar towers nearby.

  • It would be a lot easier to swallow all of this development if the city put a substantial proportion of the new tax revenues into infrastructure improvements. Like managing/improving the traffic flow from all of these thousands of residential units coming online around the galleria/greenway plaza/upper kirby.
    Our streets are pothole-ridden, we have fewer police officers per capita than most major cities (23.5/10,000 population according to versus 40-something/10,000 for New York and Chicago, 25.7 for L.A.), our mass transit is a joke.

  • ZAW wrote:
    @HonestTruth: *sigh*. Can we give the whole “don’t like it, move” thing a rest? It’s incredibly insensitive; it encourages sprawl; and it ignores the fact that Houston is already a spread-out city. There’s plenty of room to grow and accommodate everyone who wants to come here – without wrecking our neighborhoods.
    Dear ZAW:
    Can the ‘idle minds’ filing these frivolous lawsuits refrain from harrassing law abiding developers? Their lawsuits are ‘incredibly insensitive’ and a waste of time as City of Houston allows such development. LA, Houston and New York are all spead-out and sprawl several hundred square miles, each. Yes, the biggest cities do sprawl. And if the tower is a wreck, as you say, that sure is an opulent and elegant wreck; and it compliments the neighboring towers nearby (some larger). And yes, there’s plenty of room to grow and accommodate everyone who wants to come here. And when they come we’ll welcome them to our great city and only ask that they respect the Houston way. And if they “don’t like it”…

  • @Honest Truth: You forgot to mention that he lawsuits are also a waste. They cost a lot of money, take a lot of time, and for what? A temporary restraining order based on some ethereal, subjective interpretation of a law? Even if they succeeded in stopping the development, what would neighbors be left with? A gaping hole or a half finished, abandoned construction site? As I’ve pointed out, there are other, more effective, legal ways to protect neighborhoods. They just require that people be more proactive and, as Cody pointed out, put their money where their mouths are.
    But the reason I take offense at the whole “don’t like it, move” attitude is that I spent years studying cities. I’ve seen the long-term benefits of well thought-out, sensitive development. I’ve seen the damage that can be done when developers say “fuck it, the law doesn’t prohibit this, so I’m gonna do it.” You can see it, too – take a drive through Westwood. (Just don’t tell those people to leave if they don’t like the crime and blight, please.)

  • Oh and by the way: New York City has almost 9 million on only 300 square miles of land. Los Angeles has almost 4 million people on 470 square miles of land. We have about 2.2 million people but we have 600 square miles of land. We have a lot more open land waiting for development than either of those cities do; a lot more room for greater density WITHOUT sacrificing our neighborhoods and history.

  • I detect among some (ahem, ZAW) an underlying distinction between low-density single family detached suburbia – the form in which nearly all of Houston was originally developed, including River Oaks and Montrose – and all other uses when it comes to falling under the term “neighborhood.” As if allowing our urban core neighborhoods – and our currently suburban ones (are Sharpstown, Spring Branch, Memorial, etc. still suburban, or urban now?) – to trend toward higher-density and mixed-use as dictated by the market somehow eliminates their qualifications as a “neighborhood.” The transition into higher density and taller buildings isn’t destruction of a neighborhood, it is the evolution of a neighborhood.

    Much of Manhattan NYC was once single family detached, yes? There is nothing special about single family detached relative to other land uses. Nothing. And there is no reason for public policy to act that way.

  • @ Planner. First, there never used to be an impetus to stay in old neighborhoods. People left The Wards to move to The Heights, originally a Streetcar suburb, in the 1890s and 1900s. They left The Wards and The Heights in the 1950s to move to early postwar suburbs like Oak Forest and Sharpstown. When those deteriorated, they left to newer suburbs. And now some of the newer suburbs are starting to deteriorate. People rightly ask: why should we keep running? Why not stay in our old neighborhoods, and preserve them?
    Second, it’s not about single family neighborhoods. It’s about giving people who live in neighborhoods the power to shape those neighborhoods. In some cases (the ones that always seem to make the news) that means giving them tools to fight unwanted development. But more often, it means helping them market themselves to lure development they DO want to the area. This is a huge deal in my part of town.

  • Exactly, ZAW. Your neighborhood is lucky to have you. I live a five-iron’s distance across from a school, that the children here around walk or bike to; and should it ever close, I will be actively hoping for new development that is not single-family homes. I welcome a mix. I certainly don’t vote in national elections, but you can bet I have an opinion about my immediate surroundings. People are needlessly politicized about things beyond their control, and which are thus not their proper concern; it is far more natural that they should care about the local. When they stop, that’s when history favors another group of people.