Some People Have To Work: An Office Building Among the Bars on Washington Ave

So much for that walkable plaza with bike stations and jugglers and food trucks: It appears that an office building is going to go up instead on this underused triangular slice o’ land along Washington Ave. The variance is to reduce the setback from 25 ft. to 5 ft. in order to make room for parking and a 3,517-sq.-ft. office building. The 0.26-acre triangle is bound by Henderson, White, Union, and Washington. A site plan included in the variance request shows that the office would go up on the Henderson side, across the street from Liberty Station.


A rep from the city says that the request has been deferred until next week’s planning commission meeting. Meanwhile, there’s been quite a lot of activity along this stretch: A new bar is set to open at 1919 Washington, and TABC signs have gone up inside other old buildings on Union and Henderson.

Images: Element Architects (site plan); Swamplot inbox (photo of sign)

22 Comment

  • This is actually supposed to be a really cool building. It is supposed to mix the old with the new. A great way to balance all the bars / restaurants coming in. The dream for this space to be a park is long dead – this is not a loss, but a gain for the community. I am hoping for a speedy construction.

  • That’s great! It’s nice to see the east end of Washington getting some development.

  • Cool building or not, it’s not going to be a public space. It won’t be a catalyst for development. It’s building like all the rest around it. In 2 years it won’t be anything special and possibly a bail bondsman.
    That whole Washington corridor concept / Super neighborhood 22 is a crock. It’s not a TIRZ. It is truly a useless entity that was created to placate the masses because the Houston city government fails to serve its citizens and does not adequately plan for future growth.
    There is no funding mechanism for any of those suggested changes the Super neighborhood has asked for except for parking meters that aren’t really getting used at all.
    I’m so fed up with getting Wal-marts, Targets, and Guitar centers when we need mix-use development. I’m tired of getting parking meters when we need sidewalks and buried utility lines. I’m tired of getting bars when we need a mix of retail to support an actual community. I’m tired of having studies that talk about street cars when we don’t even have an easily understood, frequent, and reliable bus system that gets us to desirable locations.
    The dream of a thriving, walkable district in that area is just that right now, a dream.

  • @DNAguy, all the things you listed are just a WANT for small group of people, vast majority of people don’t care about those things. Those things may come to fruition eventually but only when the NEED arises or we will have NO OTHER CHOICE. You’re calling for a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist yet.

  • First floor retail, density, metro rail, blah, blah , blah……

  • To me Washington ave. blew its chances at being a great night life. Ideally they should have worked off of market square then developed west. Instead you have a nice looking section close to Houston st., a massive dead gap with poor sidewalks, and then the final kill shot with the gigantic garden apartments near studemont.

  • Wow, all of y’alls comments have nothing to do with this building. This building will have wide sidewalks, retail space on the bottom floor, and 2 floors of office space. Pretty mixed use as it is planned now… I dont know what else you really want. If you want this to be a park… right next to washington avenue high traffic area, than maybe you didnt think too hard about it… And someday in the near future, those garden apartments will come tumbling down for something much better.

  • –I’m tired of having studies that talk about street cars when we don’t even have an easily understood, frequent, and reliable bus system that gets us to desirable locations.

    Actually, we do have a bus system that is understood by lots of people. Many of whom do not even have graduate degrees. Could it be improved? Sure. The slow-moving (thanks, Tom Delay) light rail extensions will also help.

    The Metro site has lots of hints. Google Maps (on my smartphone) has specific info, suggested by my GPS info. Really, the people who claim we have NO mass transit just haven’t tried…..

  • I agree. It is not be a “catalyst for development,” but something better–actual development. I’m all for things that encourage development of a neighborhood. But if some developer is willing to actually develop something–something that sounds pretty good–why complain?

  • @ commensense
    So when does a ‘want’ become a ‘need’ then. What’s the breaking point. And please tell me what the vast majority of people care about commensense. I’d really like for you to tell me that. It’s tough being so out of touch from the majority of all the good people of Houston. I’m dying to hear it.
    It’s not just a ‘want’ to ask the city of Houston to provide adequate public transportation, adequate public infrastructure in the form of unobstructed sidewalks, an enforceable master plan for an area, and a means to fund said master plan. It’s not too much to ask government to provide services and be accountable.

  • A want becomes a need when an overwhelming majority needs it or when a situation deteriorates to the point where there are no alternatives. So far it’s neither. Outside of Swamplot, I’d be hard pressed to find anybody that would have any opinion at all about size and obstruction of sidewalks. Houston is still and will be for the foreseeable future a car city, so public transport is still small potatoes issue. And don’t get me started on the whole Master Plan thing… who’s plan? who decides? who’s property gets ruled over?
    So, in my not so humble opinion… I like the way it is and let the market make it’s own decisions.

  • I’d like to see the plans for this building. A few of you mentioned seeing them. Where can I find that?

    I live in the hood and love the sound of this new office space. The current lot is an eye sore. I’m excited for all the new developments happening in the OSW area right now. Except Throne. That place is unwanted by pretty much everyone in the neighborhood. It’s loud and obnoxious.

  • @Maggie
    Look, I’m not the only person saying the bus system is complicated and too hard to understand, Metro is:
    Watch the video.
    They’ve got a whole campaign going on to re-imagine the ENTIRE bus system.
    I’d like to see lightrail. I’d like to see commuter rail. However, we haven’t fundamentally addressed the problem with our bread-and-butter: buses.
    At any company when you ask for new stuff/money, the first question you’re going to be asked is “What about the stuff you’ve got now? Are you running that as effectively as possible?”
    Metro can’t say they are.

  • @commensense
    A.) The market did not create our dependence on the car. We did. Tax and public policies that favor freeway development did. Free parking and parking requirements actually hinder true market forces from acting on an area by blocking density that would then necessitate more public transportation.
    B.) Your idea of a want becoming a need seems to represent a boom-and-bust type set-up. I think we can agree that no one wants all our freeways to become like 610 and 59 at 5 pm Friday. So we can take proactive steps that promote smart growth and help ppl become less dependent on cars to avoid this.
    You either pay for it now or wait and pay. Because they’re no free lunch. Growth has a cost. We can transfer some of it onto developers or we can pay for it later in congestion, larger freeways, businesses moving to places w/ better traffic conditions, etc.

  • @DNA, the developers merely front the money for whoever buys their property. Smart growth is stupid, its main impact is higher housing prices and a complete screwing of the poor.

  • DNAguy hits it right on the head commonsense. It is not about want and need but sheer quality of life. Why wait until we are bursting at the seems with traffic and congestion? Let’s plan ahead and keep the growth going. Boom and bust cycles are not good. Should we just wait till everyone is pulling his/her hair out sitting in traffic 24/7 before we build some alternatives?

  • @Ross
    I can’t tell if you’re being purposely ironic when you call smart growth ‘stupid’.
    Our growth strategy now, does nothing to help the poor other than to disincentivize investment in already established neighborhoods and by not providing services to poor neighborhoods. This keeps poor people where they are. This keeps prices in their neighborhood down. It perpetuates poverty. It’s tough love w/out any heart.
    We create neighborhoods, invest nothing in them after they’re developed, eventually they become less desirable, ppl of means move out, poor ppl are left / move in.
    This is not an affordable housing strategy. It’s a land/freeway Ponzi scheme that relies on always having new land to put a master planned community on for the middle class to move to. When we no longer have $ to build / expand a freeway, when congestion / commute times become to great , when companies grow tired of creating yet another suburban job center, we’re screwed.
    The writing’s on the wall.

  • @DNAguy, you’re right, there are no free lunches. If you “shift the cost do developers” you will pay for it by higher prices and less development (less tax base). Don’t get me wrong, pre-planning maybe a good idea on paper, but in reality it never works out well, especially in Houston. In Houston things usually happen when we reach the cost/benefit tipping point, and we’re not there yet.

    @NewHeightsresident, quality of life is very subjective and individual. To me easy parking and no neighbors on the other side of the wall IS quality of life. I’ve lived in Houston for over 20 years and couldn’t care less what happens with sidewalks or public transport, in fact I’d probably against their expansion because it would impact MY quality of life negatively.

  • @DNA. Yes sir, you hit on the head from the opening. And to all other naysayers, I work at an office in the spring street studios earlier this year. My vehicle was in the shop and I had to try walking/bus. I walked up Washington to Montrose and it took 45mins. I never saw a bus as the schedule said they came every 20-22mins. This after waiting at a stop for said 20mins… Figured one I got to Montrose/Studemont I could catch the Montrose headed south to my house in First Montrose Commons. No such luck, kept walking on those s*$ty sideswalks feeling as though I was going to get slamed by a car… 1.5 he’s later I made it home. I should have just spent the $10 on a cab like I did that morning.

    Yea! METRO WORKS PERFECTLY… whatevzzz!

  • In the “transit system reimagining” link the guy talks about how you should be able to walk up to a stop and have a bus arrive in a reasonable amount of time.

    That is reasonable and should probably be the case if there were enough funding. But since most bus schedules end up being somewhat irregular, in addition to more frequent arrivals it might be more useful to have a posted schedule and have the bus actually follow it.

  • If you start redoing sidewalks and building parks and the development doesn’t immediately follow, they are all going to deteriorate to their previous state immediately because there will be no reason to maintain them. The Buffalo Bayou area is almost completely builtup along inside the loop before they started the work they are doing now. Have some things to walk between first like this and then put the finishing touches. East Washington has a little ways to go before they need to start having streetside parks.