What more quintessential closeup image of Houston is there — the kind you really aren’t likely to come across too many other places — than the one that shows a 17-story office tower under construction right next door to a single-family home? So when you hear of a Montrose resident complaining that the huge and noisy construction crane planted just a few feet beyond his fence to construct the “boutique” building at 2229 San Felipe is causing cracks in the concrete patio and the interior walls of his home, that the smell of diesel is overwhelming whether he’s in the back yard or inside on the ground floor, and that the fumes and noise from the regular Saturday concrete pours cause regular headaches for family members — well, it kinda does make you sit up and pay attention, if not simply to marvel at the unique properties of Houston development regulations and practices that allow such remarkable juxtapositions in our midst.
Still, the owner of the home at 2244 Welch St. might be forgiven if he doesn’t get so philosophical about the wondrous scene arrayed before him. “No representative of Hines has EVER come to us to express any concern about what they are doing,” he wrote over the weekend to an online newsgroup. “Even the construction workers admit they are not comfortable with the position of this crane. So everyone else got paid off, just not us I guess.”
This past Saturday, he filed a report about the situation with the EPA. What happened next?
“Suddenly on the following Monday,” Richard Armstrong tells Swamplot, “a very crappy wood-frame structure with some dirty plastic was rigged up to block the emissions.” It’s pictured here, just beyond the property line.
“It works somewhat —but besides looking like a hobo penthouse, it will most certainly blow apart and fall into my back yard when the spring storms come. The thing is a huge sail waiting for the right wind. A six-story scaffolding collapse at another site across the street has taught us recently that Houston winds WILL bring down such things.”
Armstrong, a professor at the University of Houston, says he used to do his writing in the once-quiet patio. He tells Swamplot that the cracks in the patio and interior drywall form a “clear pattern,” indicating a growing separation between the portion of the house closest to the crane (the northeast corner) and the rest of the house. He first saw the cracks, he says, about 2 weeks after the crane was stationed next door in early January.
- Previously on Swamplot: Lawsuit Won’t Stop Construction of Hines’s San Felipe Tower — At This Time; The Scene on San Felipe: Hines’s Friendly Neighborhood Skyscraper Is Going Up Now; Dear Hines: We’d Settle for a Residential Midrise, Please, Hines Not Stopping San Felipe Skyscraper, Hines Develops Website To Explain 17-Story San Felipe Development, “Stop” Signs Oppose 17-Story Hines Office Building on San Felipe, A Look Around San Felipe at the Randall Davis Condos and Planned Hines Office Building Site, Hines Plans a Shiny New 18-Story Office Building Across San Felipe from River Oaks