Renoir and Gotham Residents File Suit Against Company Planning To Fit a Senior Living Facility Between Them

Demolition of RR Donnelley Printing Company Building, 1015 S. Shepherd Dr.,  Shepherd Curve, Houston

RR Donnelley Building, 1015 S. Shepherd, HoustonA group of 7 residents of the Renoir and Gotham Lofts, 2 separately themed Randall Davis condo towers north of the Shepherd Curve just south of W. Dallas St., filed a lawsuit early last week against the company planning to build a senior living facility between the 2 buildings. Bridgewood Property Company’s Village on Shepherd at River Oaks (also called the Village at River Oaks in company documents) will fit on the site of the former RR Donnelley printing company building at 1015 S. Shepherd, which was torn down this week. (The photos above and below, taken from the Gotham yesterday, show what’s left of that building, against the Renoir’s undressed southern flank.)


Demolition of RR Donnelley Printing Company Building, 1015 S. Shepherd Dr.,  Shepherd Curve, Houston

Demolition of RR Donnelley Printing Company Building, 1015 S. Shepherd Dr.,  Shepherd Curve, HoustonAccording to the lawsuit, Bridgewood’s building will be a 9-story combined senior living, assisted living, and Alzheimer’s care facility with enough parking for 250 cars. But the neighbors complain they haven’t seen much detail about the actual plans, despite numerous requests.

A “proposed conceptual site plan” submitted for a variance granted last year showed an 8-story structure facing Shepherd with a 6-story portion and parking garage behind it.

In addition to requests for more information about Bridgewood’s plans and complaints that the new development will be both a public and private nuisance, the lawsuit also alleges that the property’s new owners have usurped an easement granted to the printing company that was not transferable to them, and asks that the court prevent construction from going forward. A hearing is scheduled for March 23rd.

Demolition of RR Donnelley Printing Company Building, 1015 S. Shepherd Dr.,  Shepherd Curve, Houston

Photos: Swamplot inbox

RR Donnelley Site

49 Comment

  • It look like a fishing expedition just because they want a say in aesthetics of the new building. They don’t have any right to know exact details of what’s being there, legal or implied.
    The easement is a different issue, but it’s the city’s job to enforce easements and if they approved the building permit then it is legal.

  • Something similar is happening, on a smaller scale, in the SW corner of Knollwood Village (just west of Buffalo Speedway). In this case, Bethany Methodist Church wants to build a 4-story senior living facility in the midst of a decidedly residential area. The project is on hold while it is determined what exactly “supported housing” means. The project may accept section 8 vouchers, and might be required to accept low income tenants of any age despite the ‘senior affordable housing’ moniker. Church, developer and superneighborhood are still in discussions.

  • No oldies on the curve, man! What a nuisance!

  • isn’t time for the Renoir and Gotham to come down, haven’t they lived past their shelf life……

  • Ok, whatever. It seems the two condo boards are up in arms because they can’t control what is being built on private land, they don’t own. Here’s a thought: Why didn’t you just pool your resources and buy the land yourself…oh wait, what? You? spend money? Please. Don’t be cheap then sure when a private company wants to build on land they own. In addition, I have no respect for anyone who paid to live in one of these Randall Davis abominations. His developements are cheap looking and beyond tacky. It looks like something a Royal Saudi would build. You can see from the backside how cheap Davis is as a developer.

  • Quietest neighbors they’ll have unless they’re living next to a cemetery.

  • No one is ever going to totally happy w large development but that’s Houston’s growth – gotta build somewhere

  • Are they afraid the scents of Tila’s will be overtaken by old people smell?

  • There’s nothing worse than uncertainity. I can understand why the residents on either side of the new construction are concerned. If the developer refuses to share its plans with its neighbor’s, they are likely to fear the worst. I thought Brookwood worked with its neighbors when designing it Heights facility. That would seem to be the pragmatic approach to avoid misunderstanding and minimize conflict.

  • Plaintiffs’ legal team have about five years of experience . . . . total. I guess then it is not quite so surreal that a residential midrise that could have been subject to a nuisance claim when it first went in to a single family residential area is now claiming nuisance for a similarly sized commercial building just because they might hear an occasional siren when Granny has to get shipped down to the Med Center or for smelling the buttered noodles and chicken cooking up in the cafeteria.

  • The petition they filed is funny.

  • Quiet??? If you consider ambulances at all hours quite, I guess.

  • Looks like some Bridgewood insiders are posting here. Charming!

  • There is a place for people who want to control another person’s property… it’s called a deed restricted gated community. Move there and shut up!

  • Maybe Mr. Davis should have bought the land and put up an 8 story Egyptian themed pyramid building with Styrofoam sphinxes…

  • I doubt this will be a tax credited development, Gisgo. The land costs are too high. That said, this is exactly what NOT to do when you’re developing in Houston. They’re hiding things; playing a cloak and dagger game with the neighbors. Of course the neighbors are going to think they’ve got something to hide!
    Houcynic: I hate to break it to you, but you are never free to do whatever you want on your property in Houston. Even though we don’t have zoning, we DO have building codes. The City DOES enforce a tree ordinance, and a sign ordinance, and setbacks on sites. Of course they enforce easements, too, and nuisance laws, among other things. So if you want to be free to do whatever you please on your property, may I suggest YOU leave Houston. Go to the countryside where your neighbors are a quarter mile away. You’ll find the freedom you’re looking for; nobody will have anything to say if you throw up a badly constructed cramalot development, or a looming high rise, or a gaudy house, or if you keep toilets and junk cars on your lawn…. You’ll love it!

  • I live VERY close to this site. It’s going to suck living with construction for 2 years. Other than that I’m not too worried about it. I do hope they leave the easement next to Gotham open once they’re done, that’s how I walk to Tila’s, Backstreet and Buffalo Bayou Park.

  • Shannon – the backside of that building does looks like some apartment bunker out of Soviet era Russia. Hard to believe it could actually be worse than one thinks. . .But could they really expect to control what happens next door?

  • Just avoid S.Shepherd between Westheimer & W. Dallas(both ways). It’s a mess.

  • OK so to recap:
    Residents and their neighbors are freakin out because of future neighboring RESIDENTS.

  • ZAW your rant has been misdirected! Your rant should be directed towards many of my neighbors who move in from the suburbs or from cities with zoning and want to take control of everything they don’t like. I have lived in the non-historic district part of heights for over a decade where everything you state happens AND your neighbors are feet not miles away. I don’t plan on moving anytime soon.

  • You completely missed my point, HouCynic. The bigger problem in Houston is people who move from zoned cities, and assume that since we don’t have zoning, Houston is some lawless, unregulated, free for all where they can do whatever they want wherever they want and nobody will bother them. That’s just not the case. If you want that, you need to go to the unincorporated parts of Harris and surrounding counties. The more rural and the lower the population, the better.
    I’ve been a registered architect since 2007, and I’ve dealt first hand with the fire marshals, engineering, planning, drainage, and building permit departments of Houston and it’s suburbs. Houston and Sugar Land are the toughest. Most incorporated cities are tough. Once you get to the counties, they’re actually really proud of how easy it is to get stuff permitted.

  • ZAW, I’m not doubting your professional experiences the slightest bit, however HouCynic is basically correct here that if you want to be assured about who might be your future neighbor then the central part of a big central city is not the place for you. Even in a city with a land use ordinance, it is perfectly reasonable to expect that changes will be made very frequently and perhaps without your consent or consultations — perhaps even by underhanded means. It is also the case, for developers, that they should not necessarily expect an easy time from the neighbors in a big dense crowded central city even when the neighbors have very limited leverage. They shoundn’t be surprised if the “rules” are handled with some arbitrariness. That’s just how it is. It’s utter chaos. It is a risky environment.

    There are aspects about chaos in a central city that are not necessarily undesirable.

    However, when a developer or a citizen is very risk-averse, actually in both instances that would suggest that a master-planned community is a better option.

  • @Niche: true enough, but HouCynic and others who cry I’ll do what I want and if you don’t like it, leave” has had devastating effects on less affluent parts of Houston.
    I’m sure whatever is going up between the Renoir and the Gotham will be nice – secrecy not withstanding. This is about more than that. We can debate the comparative merits of mid rise condos versus mid rise elder housing, but almost everyone agrees that crime, urban blight, pollution, and lagging schools are a bad thing. HouCynic, and others with the “don’t like it, leave” mentality, unwittingly stand in the way of addressing these issues. By elevating property rights over everything else, and railing against regulations and neighbors concerns, they unintentionally support slum lords, concrete crushers, and all sorts of things in the poorer parts of town. It’s a terrible thing, and it’s why I feel the need to confront them whenever I can.

  • Well said ZAW and thank you. I am a neighbor, and not a party to the lawsuit. I do have concerns about the secrecy around Brookwood/village or River Oaks development plans. As you say, the project might be very nice, but, the nagging concern is that if it were so nice why would they be so secretive about what they are building. According to your report there are 7 members to the suit which are individuals and not the Board or HOA’s. I think Brookwood’s openness might keep that number from growing, or not, depending on what they are trying to build. To Houcynic. I’ve lived in Montrose/Heights off and on since 1973. A master planned community sound like hell. I’m not sure what I said to draw your ire, but, I won’t be shut up by you or anyone else for that matter.

  • “Ruin the aesthetics”, lol. I can’t be the only person who finds that building to be one of the ugliest in Houston. It’s proportions are a mess, it’s littered with unnecessary pillars. And its clearly just a façade. Look at the side of that building. Utilitarian and drab. And yet they are concerned about aesthetics. Please.

  • Since when are neighbors entitled too see a developers plans? It seems like more of a courtesy absent of any stringent land use plans that may be intact.

    And to echo the other posters, those condo towers are not exactly setting the gold standard for scale, taste or sensitivity to its neighbors.

  • But ZAW…you lived in Sharpstown, you didn’t like it. You complained incessantly about conditions there. You recently left and patted yourself on the back vigorously and publicly. You’re now a resident of a place that regularly forces developers to go elsewhere if they don’t like local policy. All of the structures and social ails that bothered you still exist, but now you’re not around to report and follow up on them and you’re claiming that the “don’t like it, leave” attitude is a capitulation to an imperfect status quo. Don’t you feel even the slightest tinge of hypocrisy?

    Perhaps you should not have had a right to leave Sharpstown. Surely it was in the interests of the residents of Sharpstown to have you around. They need people like you living there. They have a positive right to you being there. I declare it so! Ipse dixit. You do so much more of a public service for them just by being there than the disamenity can possibly inflict upon you, so that policy is Pareto Efficient. If you disagree with me and are elevating your so-called “rights” over everything else, then you are unintentionally supporting slum lords, concrete crushers, and all sorts of things in the poorer parts of town. It’s a terrible thing, and it’s why I feel the need to confront you whenever I can.

    @ PR: They may not be releasing detailed plans to the neighborhood activists because they perceive that the odds of anything good coming from doing so — or even from talking with them — are astronomically small. The fact is, we don’t know how these activists advanced their concerns from the outset. We know nothing about any prior interactions. Maybe there’s a practical reason for the cold shoulder, maybe not. Its fun to speculate, but we just don’t know.

  • Sounds like another attempt at zoning-by-lawsuit.

  • Accuse me of being lazy, Niche; don’t accuse me of being a hypocrite or anything else. In my defense, I am a lot more busy at the office than I was when I first moved to the Sharpstown area; and more importantly I now have a wife and a kid. Between trying to clean up blight around Sharpstown, and raising my son – I choose my son.
    And to be fair, there are others in the Sharpstown area who are bigger activists than I ever was. I can name two off the top of my head. Plus, part of what I consider my legacy (of sorts) was to get my old neighborhood into a Management District. The benefits of that will long outlast me.

  • The Niche, I’ve been pretty open about who I am. You say the “we” don’t know how the activist advanced their concern and “we”know nothing about any prior interactions. Who are “we”? From my perspective, the aesthetics are secondary. I’m concerned about the safety aspects of inserting an overly large structure between to other large structures all occupied 24 hours by lots of people. I don’t know that the structure is overly large, but in the absence of information to the contrary I have to assume it is. I have seen the original plans received from the City of Houston, showing an 8 story structure with 195 units to include independent living, assisted living, memory care. All of this on 1.8 acres. I’m concerned about the ability of fire trucks, emergency personnel etc to have adequate access to stage a fire fighting operation and get people out if the worst occurs. There have been some jokes about granny posted in the comments. I don’t think granny is a joke.. I’m worried about the granny with Altzheimers trying to get down the stairs with the lights out and the elevators off limits in case of a fire. And, I’m worried about the ability of firefighters to have sufficient room to mobilize and protect my home in the event of a fire or explosion- not necessarily caused by VOR. I think these are legitimate concerns.

  • I wonder if the homeowners on the opposite side of Shepherd from the Renoir and the Gotham tried to file suit against Randall Davis when he built those mid-rises across the street from their 2 story single family homes. I doubt it. But their disgust at looking up at those two buildings everyday can’t be any worse than the disgust felt by owners at the condos looking out their windows at some mid-rise retirement home. Change happens, and not always for the better. Deal with it.

  • PR: ” I’m concerned about the ability of fire trucks, emergency personnel etc to have adequate access to stage a fire fighting operation and get people out if the worst occurs”
    Isn’t all of that governed by a multitude of safety/building codes? If they’re building something that is allowed to be built, then why are you making it something you need to stress out about personally?

  • @PR, your concerns are not valid because you’re not qualified to address those concerns in the first place. When the project is designed, these concerns are addressed by the architect who references rules and laws and double checked by the city and the fire marshal to make sure they comply. So, what you “feel” or “think” about the issue is immaterial and is a mere excuse to be obstructionist.

  • PR – Swamplot is a blog open to all to comment on / speculate about / offer insights / critique real estate in our fair city. If you are truly worried about potential residents of the Bridgewood development contact them and the city of Houston, maybe there is an open comment period or a meeting planned. Off the top of my head I can think of similar developments (20th & Heights, 34th Street a few blocks west of Shepherd) that don’t have any issues. Multi story assisted senior living is not a new and untried project in Houston.

  • actually matx, you are wrong about my qualifications. I’ve spent 30 years working for Fortune 500 companies (petrolchemical) as an employee or being well paid as a consultant to advise them on issues like this and other much more complex issues. I don’t recommend making assumptions about people’s background based in ignorance. One of the more simple concepts about fire safety is separation of exposures which is not the case in this situation. And, if city codes and regulations were infallible there would be far fewer accidental events. BTW, there seems to be another assumption that I am totally opposed to this project. In fact, I primarily want it to be safe and only hope that it will be aesthetically pleasing. And, despite the build free or shut up standard that seems to permeate this discussion board it is my right to have concerns about a project that may or may not threaten my safety. Don’t worry sweetie just doesn’t cut it.

  • Matx: yeah, good luck trying to get permit drawings or information out of the City if you’re a neighbor. I tried this on the Willow Waterhole Concrete Crusher. My reasoning was that the TCEQ governs air quality and the concrete crushing apparatus, but surely a concrete crusher has to abide by landscape and building setbacks, and easements right? Curb cuts need to be permitted regardless of what they’re there to access. And then there’s SWPPP. Surely something has to have been submitted to the City on that thing.
    But no. I still don’t know where on site they plan to put the Willow Waterhole concrete crusher. Probably just as hard for an interested party to see the plans for the building between the Renoir and Gotham. One would think they should be public information, but it looks like they’re not.

  • Points taken ZAW but I am from one of those cities that has had zoning for many decades. I actually voted for zoning when it was on the ballots but the people have spoken not just once but twice against zoning since I have lived in Houston. I’m a cynic and believe our fine elected city officials only respond to “money” especially corporate and tax dollars over concerns from unhappy peon neighbors. Unhappy neighbors didn’t stop Ashby and many other developments. So, dollars and demand continue to shape and change our fine city sometimes for the better and sometimes not so much. But I do love Houston and have accepted all it has to offer good and bad. There are many who purchase real estate and do not perform the proper due diligence on deed restrictions, historic designations, or proximity to traditionally commercial areas. They later find that their wonderful view over the mowed and cleared half acre lot where the kids play and walk the dog is now being developed into a six story 300 unit apartment building. They then take to neighborhood message boards or attend development hearings because how dare someone build in front of them and destroy the quality of life they thought they had purchased for little Billy Bob and Sallie Sue. If you want quality of life protection purchase in an HOA strong development or master planned community. The only true winner is the city of Houston as they increase tax dollars and somehow seem to not reciprocate with increased city services.

  • @ ZAW: I’m not sure that you completely processed my ‘modest proposal’ according to its intended analogy.

    You should live wherever makes you happiest. I don’t begrudge you that at all, in fact I applaud it and congratulate you on a perceived enhancement of your well-being. Its just that — maybe you shouldn’t blow a gasket over a third party’s thoughtful and well-intended advice to do exactly as you’ve done or as a real estate investor might do. That’s what I’m talking about. That’s the hypocrisy.

    @ PR: “We” is the same as “us” unless you demonstrate that you know the circumstances of the complainants’ relationship with the developer. You may know the complainants and you may have talked to them about this (hearsay), but it was not my impression from what you have said that you have direct personal knowledge because you are not one of them. Correct me if I’m wrong.

    Your safety concerns are legitimate. As others have pointed out, this is why there are overlapping layers of permitting and code, and then ongoing liabilities pertaining to operating the facility. Whether code-compliant or not, its not in anybody’s interest, especially the owner/operator of the facility, to create some deficiency that poses a safety hazard. They mitigate the risk by hiring consultants and staff that have specialized in-industry experience whose job that is and will continue to be. If they go outside of those bounds (especially by consulting with non-expert third parties whose interests may pose a moral hazard to the business concern), that seems like it might invite a variety of troubles. Its easy to imagine that an attorney might have advised them against even talking with neighborhood activists if these issues are being raised. If that’s the case (and it is plausible that that is not the case, but one of my key points here is that we’re speaking from ignorance) then that doesn’t make them assholes. It doesn’t mean that they’re being disprespectful or dishonest. It means that they’re doing what the system demands of them, because any exhaustive attempt at mitigating risk actually gives rise to a different type of risk. Maybe. Again, there are many possibilities. This is one. If you have direct personal knowledge, you’re welcome to share it.

  • PR – you’ve listed your concerns on this anonymous blog more than once– now go make them known to an entity that can address them if you truly care. Trot out your qualifications if you think it will help, but lose the condescending attitude first if you really want someone to care about what you say, Sweetie.

  • Commonsense, my post addressed to matx was meant for you and I won’t repeat the content. However, I will say that free speech is protected by the constitution while Houston’s zoning laws are not. On the surface, it appears that the latter is more important to you than the former. This doesn’t surprise me as some people cannot tolerate anyone’s freedoms but their own. The motive you ascribe to my speech as trying to be obstructionist is a convenient way to dismiss and invalidate my concerns. In reality you are engaging in idle speculation because you have no possible way to know. . My idle speculation is that a lot of comments on this board are being made by Brookwood/Village of River Oaks insiders trying to discredit any criticism of this project. The comments regarding the lawsuit which were poted the first day the story appeared seems to support my belief. Whoever made those comments knew a lot more about the particulars than I did. , But in reality who knows – that’s the purpose of a board where postings are made by anonymous identities.

  • matx, first of all I apologize for addressing you when I should have addressed Commonsense ( March 16-4:55pm) Having said that and after reading your last post I can only say,, Really, You’re telling me to lose the condescending attitude?, I think it’s the other way around. And now with a little mysogeny thrown in to enhance your masculine bona fides. Yes, I have made my points more than once. And they have been discredited more than once. Seems to be a fair trade.. This is important to me because it has an impact on me. What interest do you have that compels you to work so hard at shutting me down.

    Niche, you are right I am not a party to the suit; although all of the aggression on this forum may cause me to rethink that decision.. Also, I don’t recall calling anyone an asshole, nor do I think it was implied. It was certainly not intended. I understand the developers concerns, but would like to suggest that sharing information could be helpful to the developer. I’ve been led to understand by Spawglass ( well received and well handled courtesy call) that the building plans may have changed. They did not say that directly, but the plans described were different than the original plan that we saw from the City. For example, as described there is more space between the VOR and the Gotham. If so, that would give me some comfort. However, my point has been made and I’ll give you guys a rest so you can go back to your day jobs.

  • Statements of Fact: I am not presently affiliated in any way shape or form with Brookwood/Village at River Oaks and I can’t recall having even heard of them up until now. I have never evaluated that site in any professional or personal capacity. Brookwood is not at present a prospective client of mine. Furthermore (transitioning into the realm of personal opinion), I presently have little or no marketable experience in their niche industry, although my experience in related fields is certainly more transferable than yours, PR.

    On the subject of idle speculations, I suspect that your purported concerns about what might happen to residents of the proposed development are not genuine. Have you ever advocated a concern of this nature regarding any similar facilities, or is this a unique case. If it is unique, why is that? You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to. Its only an idle speculation, that’s all. Nothing more. It harmless to put them forward, wouldn’t you agree?

  • @PR, that’s some fancy words from someone who lives in one of the architectural abortions that Randall Davis put up with numerous very well known defects. You still have not listed a single qualification in the field of architecture or commercial construction fire safety that you hold that will make anyone listen to your unqualified opinion.
    A lawsuit without a TRO will not stop construction and is not worth the paper it’s written on. SpawGlass is not those Ashby amateurs, they know how to deal with the mob with torches and pitchforks. Usually ignoring them works. Or just drag the lawsuit in procedures and delays that it will not see the light of day til after the project is complete.

  • PR: “My idle speculation is that a lot of comments on this board are being made by Brookwood/Village of River Oaks insiders trying to discredit any criticism of this project. ”
    For what it’s wroth, most of the commentators are the same people that always comment. So I don’t think they’re plants unless they’ve been building up a reputation on swamplot for a long time just waiting to comment on their own project.

  • @Cody. It’s called planning ahead. We play the long game here. The unreasonably long game.

  • I don’t think there are plants here, PR. But I would note that white, young, Inner Loop hipsters are drastically over-represented on Swamplot. You can see it in the stories that get published, and the stories that get comments. A lot of these young Swamploters are perpetually frustrated because they can’t afford nice houses in the cool neighborhoods, and they’re scared of the neighborhoods they can afford (like Sharpstown). They rail against the folks in the Renoir and Gotham because they think you guys are rich, and they’re jealous.

  • @ZAW—Jeez….must almost every comment with you somehow relate back to Sharpstown ?

  • @ZAW seriously?!?!?!?!?!? Lot’s of assumptions in your last comment.