Must See This: Billboard Bunny Pushes Back New Montrose Office Tower

The art-gallery building at 4411 Montrose, just north of the bridge over the Southwest Freeway, stands only a few feet back from the front sidewalk. But just one block south, the Midway Companies is planning to plant its new 13-story office tower (which, like 4411 Montrose, will feature a restaurant space on the ground floor and gallery spaces upstairs) a full 25 feet back from the Montrose Blvd. property line. But that’s not because Midway is shy about getting any variances necessary to get around mandated city setbacks.

No, Midway director Shon Link tells Swamplot the M Fifty-Nine building must stand clear of the bright yellow Clear Channel billboard that pokes out from the southwest corner of the property. Restrictions require the billboard to have a clear view of oncoming traffic driving south on Montrose. Currently peeking out from the bottom part of the billboard: The Nesquick Bunny.

Behind Montrose, M Fifty-Nine won’t be so shy with the streets:


The site plan shows the developers plan to take over the dead-end block of Kyle St. south of Woodrow — and turn it into the parking garage’s entrance. The dark diagonal line shown in the southwest corner of the site plan is the billboard.

Plans of the second-floor gallery level,

a typical parking floor,

the office floors,

and penthouse:

Photos: Swamplot inbox Plans and rendering: Midway Companies

12 Comment

  • If the billboard is such an important design consideration, why isn’t it shown in the rendering?

  • I know it’s Clear Channel and all, but couldn’t they just negotiate to have this billboard removed. There’s some law about building any new billboard within the city limits, but I can’t believe this is any sort of deal breaker for such a large project.

  • The billboard is likely in a lease or easement on it’s space. When you purchase the property, you have to maintain existing agreement until they properly can be terminated or payoff the party leasing the space.

  • Is there anything more “Houston” than New Development vs. Billboard?

  • kjb434,
    That’s what I was getting at. Would the price to buy out this billboard be prohibitively expensive?
    I wouldn’t guess the person buying the ad space is getting too much annual revenue from Nesquick, and that Clear Channel would get even less.

  • It’s not really Nesquick. They probably just leasing the adspace for a few months. Clear Channel may have a 99-yr lease. The buyout would have to repay CC for that lease agreement. I’m thinking it could get prohibitively expensive.

    Anybody in the ad-world want to chime in?

  • When I worked on another large high-rise building on Montrose (coincidentally visible in one of the pictures above), there was a 25′-0″ setback on montrose that turned into a 30′-0″ setback when we discovered an additional 5′-0″ street widening easement that was not recorded on the plat, but was on the city maps. They may have to get a variance after all.

  • Flash is onto something. This is so Houston it hurts. This has got to be nominated for some kind of best of/worst of award at the end of the year. I don’t know what the category is, but making a building less sidewalk and pedestrian friendly in order to accommodate a billboard is a classic.

  • Hi all. (just found this link via Facebook from my Cousin). As a Limey reading this for the first time, there ‘seems’ to be a viable commercial alternative? I used to work in all of London’s Architectural Universities, and on my London travels saw many rotating billboards made up of multiple triangular segments. Placed on the blank wall on the ‘US 59 South’ side these could be programmed to stop at the optimum angle to be visible to the traffic. Using a computer the image could be skewed to view correctly at the driver’s angle (think painted adverts on football pitches etc), plus the advertising would be tripled (or if Midway built it for free they could have some of the space when they needed it?). Seems a good compromise, and is future-proofed? Anyway, thanks for listening – Sandy

  • @ sandy osborough:
    That sound cool!
    It seems like good sign for Houston’s growth (sure, maybe Mostrose’s demise) that, despite this awkward restriction, Midway just absolutely needs to build this project! here! instead of looking for another parcel.

  • I thought all those friggin’ billboards were being torn down?

  • Is this still going to be built ? I don’t see it on the Midway website