Without providing too much detail on the scope of the accompanying construction (“a remodel the owner wants to do”), KHOU’s Marcelino Benito yesterday interviewed one of the proprietors of Oak Forest coffee house and occasional goat-yoga venue Slowpokes, who along with several customers and neighbors has been protesting landlord Naushad Momin’s apparent plans to chop down 2 large oak trees on site — to add more paving and parking spaces.
The oak trees sit at the southern end of the strip center at 1203 W. 34th St., which faces Alba St., and shade a lawn (pictured at top) adjacent to the Slowpokes patio deck. Chopping down trees to add more parking might appear to be a landlord’s prerogative, despite tenant opposition. Except possibly not in this case:
The folks fighting a longstanding battle to prevent the reconfiguration of a section of Buffalo Bayou fronting the southeast corner of Memorial Park and the River Oaks Country Club have posted a remarkable series of images showing how a section of the bayou’s bank at the Hogg Bird Sanctuary responded on its own over the course of 2 years to a soil collapse suffered during the 2015 Memorial Day flood. The geologists behind Save Buffalo Bayou claim that the promoters of the Harris County Flood Control District’s proposed $12 million Memorial Park Demonstration Project they’re trying to stop have mistaken a natural bayou-bank process called vertical slumping (or sloughing) for erosion, and that attempting to stabilize the bayou banks to fix the supposed erosion will leave the area “a wasteland of denuded and weakened banks.”
But you don’t have to buy or even follow the riverine logic the organization steps through in a lengthy article posted to its website earlier this week to appreciate one of the examples of waterway-bank adaptation exhibited there. The first image (at top) shows the immediate aftermath of the Memorial Day storm or 2 years ago on the high bluff facing the bayou at the Hogg Bird Sanctuary in Memorial Park, which stands at the downstream end of the proposed project area. According to the organization, an HCFCD consultant claims that this is one of 4 spots within the bayou area that suffers from severe lateral erosion. But to Save Buffalo Bayou, this isn’t erosion; it’s just a slump, which is what bayous do naturally, and which on their own create the distinctive bluffs on the bayou’s banks. There’s no way to fix a slump, the organization’s geologists say — if left alone it’ll restore itself.
Here’s their photo evidence. The second photo, also from June 2015, shows the slumping — and downed trees:
The broker representing the new and prospective owners of the shuttered Macy’s and Dillard’s buildings at Greenspoint Mall gives just a hint of the rancor between the groups who now appear to be negotiating the mall’s future: Maddox Properties’ Jim Maddox tells Bisnow’s Kyle Hagerty that any supposed redevelopment planshinted at by the investment group led by Chinese developer Feng Gao that now has the mall itself under contract are “full of sh*t.” [Hagerty’s punctuation.] Maddox says he hung up the phone on area Chamber of Commerce prez and mall redevelopment partner Reggie Gray after Gray complained to him that plans in place by the owners of the retired department store buildings would ruin redevelopment plans for the area.
About those plans: Spring Real Estate Investment’s Zulfiqar Karedia, Hagerty reports, is seeking to develop a truck stop on a 4-acre portion of its newly purchased Macy’s property fronting I-45. Maddox says a restaurant distribution business is slated to take over the Dillard’s property in the mall’s southwest corner — after a sale he brokered last week closes in September.
The gates are wide open this afternoon at 1717 Bissonnet, notes Mike Bloom, who sends along a few pictures of today’s excavator-vs-concrete action at the scene. Some workers and some pipes can be seen hanging around as the operator cracks into a bit of former parking lot on the northwest corner (a survivor of the Maryland Manor demolition back in 2013).
And a permit related to foundation and sitework were issued this week, following the smattering issued for some electrical and fire line work back before June’s appeal ruling (which declared that the surrounding neighborhood can’t be awarded damages for a project that hasn’t actually been built yet.) Might some deeper digging be on the way?
Texas’s Fourteenth Court of Appeals overturned part of the previous decision on the Ashby Highrise case yesterday, declaring that no, the developers of 1717 Bissonnet don’t have to pay the tower’s would-be neighbors $1.2 million as compensation for property value losses. Nor do the highrise planners have to cover for all those legal fees incurred by the various stages of the case — the homeowners are back on the hook for those as well, along with all costs incurred by the appeal.
The judges declared that even if the property values in the nearby homes did decrease, and even if that decrease was because of the proposal for the highrise, the homeowners can’t ask for compensation for property value drops caused by mere plans for a future “nuisance” — damages can only be awarded after said “nuisance” actually exists.
Give the lawsuit filed by 7 residents of the costumed Gotham and Renoir Lofts buildings along the Shepherd Curve just south of West Dallas St. some credit. News of the legal action has spurred the defendant to do something it previously hadn’t: release to the public an actual rendering of the 8-story senior living facility it’s about to construct between the 2 Randall Davis condos, once it finishes clearing away the remains of the RR Donnelley printing company building at 1015 S. Shepherd Dr. And here it is, showing almost exactly how Bridgewood Property’s Village of River Oaks will look a few years from now — when you view it from Google Street View, that is.
A 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.)
COMMENT OF THE DAY: HOW REAL ESTATE TRAILBLAZERS REALLY CAN BURN UP THE TRAIL “There are very real consequences for having a NIMBY-smashing attitude for developers. Yes, the developers usually get their way, but they often end up ruining it for the next guy. Ashby developers will get to build, but the next guy might not because of the high-rise buffering ordinance that passed in the wake of the Ashby uproar. 380 agreements flowed like a river to Walmart and Kroger, but community uproar has meant that only Costco has since been able to get a similar deal despite some healthy opposition in city council. And there has only been one 380 agreement in 2014 outside of the downtown urban living initiative (which does require first floor space to be retail ready). There are a whole host of development regulations that have their root in NIMBY activism: drainage detention, tree ordinance, and parking minimums, to name a few.” [Old School, commenting on Comment of the Day: Don’t Let the Locals Get in the Way of Your Project] Illustration: Lulu
Over the weekend Surge Homes removed the sign promising “future development” along the Heights Hike-and-Bike Trail. Workers took the recently-installed bike-scaled billboard Saturday morning. It appears that the sign had been squatting on a public right-of-way.
Around the same time, the newly-created Surge Homes released lots of new information for the trailside colony. Surge is run by the same principals involved with Canada’s Group LSR who closed on the property in 2004. Sporadic attempts to develop the site have so far borne no fruit.
Aerial views show that the project would take quite a bite out of the pocket forest currently on the site; access would come via a lengthened E. 5th St., not a trail-crossing extension of Frasier St., as in an earlier proposal.
Here’s the sign that a reader says went up earlier this week along the south side of the Heights hike-and-bike trail just south of the Freeland Historic District, at the ends of Frasier St. and E. 5th 1/2 St. Does the promise of “future development” mean that another developer is taking a turn trying to develop the 1.4-acre parcel of land where a proposed 80-plus-unit condo project known variously as Emes Place or Viewpoint at the Heights stirred up a fair amount of neighborhood opposition when it was last in the news a couple of years ago?
“Never would a game of strip Twister be so badly regretted,” writes Lucrece Borrego in announcing the sudden closure of her innovative Downtown food-business incubator turned brewery-incubator business on the ground floor of the Bayou Lofts building at 907 Franklin St. An eviction notice the two-time startup-startup starter was handed by an attorney representing her landlord as Borrego was cooking for a steak-night “bottle share” event last Friday cited several reasons for the termination of her lease, most of them focusing on items encountered in a common-area hallway outside the business: empty beer kegs and boxes (Borrego says they were left after deliveries), “personal items” (likely including a motorcycle, a source tells Swamplot) — and a live game of naked Twister.
“Indeed,” Borrego writes, “I had agreed to host a naked game night: a completely private event that takes place at bars all over Houston regularly. We covered all the windows and had someone working the door. Only one thing went wrong.”
A new lawsuit filed last week against the developers of the 2229 San Felipe office tower currently under construction between Shepherd and Kirby is a bit different from the one that a group of neighbors initiated against the same party back in February, a reader notes. The plaintiffs in the new lawsuit are the owners of a River Oaks home directly across the street from the construction site, and they appear to have studied the ruling issued in the Ashby Highrise lawsuit carefully. (Back in May, Judge Randy Wilson ordered the developers of that building to pay neighbors $1.2 million to compensate them for “lost market damages,” but denied their request to halt the building’s construction)
Unlike their neighbors who sued before them, the residents of 2237 Stanmore Dr. are not seeking to prevent or delay the construction of Hines’s neighborhood office tower. Instead, it appears they are only seeking compensation for both public and private “nuisances” created by the 17-story building, including pollution, noise, and ground vibration during its construction and the resulting loss of sunlight and rain on their property. The building’s vaunted peepage opportunities don’t please them either: