With several neighbors and a city council member speaking in support and no one protesting, Houston’s planning commission granted a variance yesterday to the new owners of the former site of the Wilshire Village apartments at the corner of West Alabama and Dunlavy. The variance will allow Sul Ross and Branard streets, which currently dead end into the 7.68-acre vacant tract, to remain dead ends as the property is redeveloped into a new Montrose H-E-B market.
In return, the planning department will get some vaguely defined involvement in planning the site. “As a condition of granting the variance,” explained the planning department’s Brian Crimmins,
the applicant will be required to coordinate with the planning department during the site plan stage to establish a reasonable landscape buffer between the subject site and and adjacent properties as well as reasonable preservation of the mature tree canopy on the site. The applicant has agreed to these conditions.
Neighbors had complained about earlier plans submitted for the property — which did not require city approval because they followed the city’s development ordinance. Those plans connected Sul Ross and Branard to form a loop, like this:
Other permissable options not requiring a variance would have been to extend the streets to Dunlavy
or to build cul-de-sacs at the end of each.
The granted variance will effectively exclude commercial traffic from Sul Ross and Branard:
Representatives of H-E-B have apparently suggested to neighbors that they will build walls at the end of each street, but site plans for the development itself have not been provided to neighbors or city officials.
“The previous owner of the property,” one neighbor explained to commission members,
was very protective of the property. He didn’t allow people to walk on the property, he didn’t allow them to turn around. So putting a wall up there will not change the community’s expectations.
- Wilshire Village coverage [Swamplot]