IN ASHBY HIGHRISE TRIAL, ENGINEERS GET TESTY OVER SETTLEMENT Engineers for both sides may be spending much of the coming weekend testing the Southampton soil surrounding the site of the Ashby Highrise. Erin Mulvaney reports that the judge in the civil trial has postponed additional testimony from Paradigm Consultants president Woody Vogt until next Monday, after the attorney for the group of neighbors suing Buckhead Investment Partners complained Vogt was attempting to present new evidence their own expert hadn’t had time to analyze and pick apart. Vogt, who was hired by the defendants, told the jury last week that construction of the proposed 21-story highrise tower at 1717 Bissonnet St. would have no adverse affects on the foundations of nearby homes, and produce only one inch of settlement in the soil. But he also admitted he had used separate sets of calculations for each of those 2 predictions, and that the expert witness for the group of neighbors suing the developers had performed a more thorough analysis of the construction’s potential effects. Writes Mulvaney: “Rick Ellman of New York-based Muesler Rutledge Consulting Engineers testified earlier for the resident group that 10 existing homes near the site could suffer moderate to severe damage, including cracked foundations, buckled walls and busted water pipes. Ellman predicted the ground would ‘settle’ four inches.” [Houston Chronicle ($); previously on Swamplot] Photo of site: Swamplot inbox
Last week, a judge refused to dismiss the lawsuit filed by folks in Boulevard Oaks back in May against Buckhead Investment Partners to stop the construction of 1717 Bissonnet (a.k.a. the Ashby Highrise), setting up a jury trial this November. In the suit, you’ll remember, neighbors cite concerns about traffic and privacy and also allege that the proposed 21-story residential tower would deprive their lawns and gardens of shade and rain. Right now, of course, the site — cleared once and for all of the Maryland Manor apartments — is itself a kind of garden, with grass and weeds sprouting at the feet of a painted-over fence.
In a statement sent to Swamplot, Buckhead explains its side of the story:
The claims contained in the Petition are without merit and are not supported by Texas law. This lawsuit is a serious threat to urban growth and economic prosperity throughout the State of Texas. If successful, the resulting lack of predictability and uncertainty in the law would invite a flood of similarly styled litigation aimed at stopping projects subjectively deemed as inappropriate or undesirable by any individual or like-minded group of would-be plaintiffs. There would be an immediate and economically debilitating statewide chilling effect on the development of new real estate projects due to the new precedent that any lawful, entitled and fully permitted project might be enjoined using these same sorts of baseless claims.
Retail on the Morningside side of Hanover’s Rice Village mixed-use complex seems to be filling up: A reader sends this photo of signage for Cyclone Anaya’s, the Mexican kitchen named for the Mexican wrestler. It appears that the local chain restaurant will go in a few doors down from the walk-thru pizza window of Coppa Osteria, now open on the corner of Morningside and Dunstan, and, as this photo shows, right next to Chris Leung’s not-quite-ready Cloud 10 Creamery.
A HAIF user posted this rendering of what appears to be the 12-story apartment complex that Hanover is busy making room for near the Rice Village. The demolition of the creaky Village Apartments and Garden Gate that used to stand here on the eastern half of the block bound by Kelvin, Morningside, Dunstan, and Tangley is nearly done (save for a lone tree in the middle of the site under the shade of which sits a picnic table). Hanover has said that this second building, unlike the first 6-story one, won’t have any ground-floor retail.
So the site where the 21-story Ashby Highrise is going up appears to have been cleared now of the Maryland Manor apartments and bordered with a nice new fence, which appears to have been freshly tagged with some carefully considered — commentary? The reader who sends these photos suspects that the all-caps shout-outs to 2 of Houston’s most well-known towers showed up early this morning
Once the scrap pile is cleared, Hanover will begin building a 12-story residential tower on this site near Rice Village. The demolition started yesterday to get rid of the aging Village Apartments facing Tangley and the Garden Gate facing Morningside; these properties share the block bound as well by Dunstan and Kelvin with the Village Commons restaurants. And that might be why — unlike its shorter predecessor on the other side of Dunstan, which you can see looming in the background in the photo above — this proposed tower isn’t planned to have any street-level retail. A notice sent earlier this year to Southampton residents suggests that it will have about 200 units.
Boosted optics amp up the color wattage in the listing photos for this pool-centric, book-loving Southampton home by Rice architecture professor William Cannady. The revamped 1971 property just east of Greenbriar is still lookin’ all gussied up after its April appearance on a recent Rice Design Alliance home tour. In June, it popped up on the market, increasing its price by $100K to $1,485,000 the day after its listing.
Just down the block from that recent fence-related mishap at the all-cleared Ashby Highrise site is the proposed site of the . . . Ashby Midrise? Well, the official moniker of this 5-story condo box at Ashby and Sunset is Chateau Ten. And if that name (or the purple-hued rendering pictured on the sign) seems familiar, it’s because an identical building from the Randall Davis Company is already going up on Spann and Welch on the lot adjacent to where Hines might or might not be building that 17-story office tower off San Felipe.
“Nice!” says homeowner Scott Reamer in this video he shot today from his backyard, just 5 ft. away from the Ashby Highrise site, when a bunch of bricks from the Maryland Manor Apartments wall that demo workers were banging on to take down topples his fence.
Here’s what’s going down over at 1717 Bissonnet. Making way for the Ashby Highrise — whose developers this week signed new builder Pepper-Lawson Construction to replace Linbeck, which decided to back out earlier this year — the salvaging and knocking down of Maryland Manor started last week. And this is what things looked like this morning: