Unwiring the Yale St. Oaks in Front of the Alexan Heights Apartments

Removal of Oak Trees from Yale St., Houston Heights

Tree-liking readers alarmed by yesterday’s oak-trunk sawfest and takedown along Yale St. between 6th and 7th streets, fronting the construction site for the new 352-unit Alexan Heights apartment complex (work in progress shown above), may be relieved to hear it’s all part of a city-approved chop-and-replace plan. Trammell Crow Residential was granted permission to remove 8 trees along Yale and replace them at the beginning of next year, a post on the apartment complex website notes. A total of 18 new live oaks, each of them more than 22-ft. tall, are planned for the complex’s Yale St. frontage, according to the note: “Furthermore, due to the recent burial of existing overhead utility lines and power poles along Yale Street, these trees will be able to grow naturally without encroaching upon any utility lines, as was the case with the existing trees.”

Here’s an aerial view of the site from June:


Aerial View of Alexan Heights Apartments Construction, Houston Heights

Yale St. runs from the upper left to the lower center.

Photos: John Cerasuolo (removal); AeroPhoto/Trammell Crow Residential (aerial view)

18 Comment

  • Uh, a Live Oak is one of the slowest growing trees. My Mom replanted a one after Ike, a 20 foot one and you can hardly tell it’s grown at all. These trees they’re removing look to be about 25 plus years old. These trees could have been moved. Total waste.

  • Replacing a mature live oak with a “new” live oak, no matter how big, is no consolation. Actually, “replacement” is a terrible word to use for this sort of thing. It should be more a long the lines of: “we removed mature, live oaks and exchanged them for new, but large (for new, that is), live oaks, which in 30 years time, will look nearly identical to the ones that we rooted up.” The Heights is known for its beautiful, mature live oaks. It is sad that developers cannot come up with a way to preserve these trees. It is even more sad that the city allows them to do it.

  • I agree with the tree lamenters
    We all know the quip about ‘they’re not making any more real estate.’
    Well, we’re also unable to make new MATURE and ACCLIMATIZED MATURE TREES!
    These are an asset unto themselves – a class apart – irreplaceable.

  • Good news. Following the success of tree removal and replacement along Kirby, the city implemented this plan.

    P.S. These trees would have been butchered anyway without the development by CenterPoint Energy. Now the new trees can grow without restrictions.

  • Why would the city allow Trammell Crow to remove mature live oaks? So frustrating. Oh, wait…they will plant some new trees next year? I feel so much better now. What a joke.

  • Shame about the trees (to be expected) but at least they buried some power lines (shocking!)!

  • Actually I’ve been very impressed with how fast live oaks grow when planted in decent soil and well irrigated. We moved into our house 10 years after ours were planted, and they were already quite large with a good canopy. However, I question whether they make good street trees, given how their roots tear up the sidewalk and street over time.

    As noted above, the really shocking thing is that TCR is burying the power lines! Note that they refused to bury or move the awful concrete power poles at their project on Richmond several years ago.

  • Rodrigo, LOL. Why didn’t they bury the power lines down the street at the Walmart? That could have preserved the missing sidewalk. What did we get for the $6M tax giveaway there again?

  • I’m more surprised/saddened by the people who decided to plant these live oaks there in the first place. Let’s plant potentially enormous trees with bulging root structures beneath power lines mere feet from a busy commercial thoroughfare….this is definitely going to work out well. FAIL!

  • It appears that the power lines that were supposedly crossing over these trees were not actually there. The power poles along that stretch have been put in recently, probably once they butchered all of the trees.

    Even if power lines were there, the trees would have recovered and branched out and grown better after removal of the lines. The shade would not have been eliminated and the apartment complex would have benefited from mature trees lining its frontage.

    It’s unfortunate Houston developers are so short-sighted.

  • They’re removing 8 trees and replacing with 18 trees, that’s a net gain of 10 trees, by all means though, complain.

    I bet (no, I don’t bet, no one would take the bet, cause it’s a sucker bet) that had they not removed the trees, they would not have been able to bury the power lines and everyone would be up in arms that they didn’t bury the power lines.

  • The city should be required to alert all residents of any and all impending tree removals as well as giving the public a period of 3 days to go by and hug it before it’s murdered.

  • Looks like an entirely sensible plan to me, given that the old trees were still small and scraggly, and probably too root-confined to become much larger.

    I’ve also been told that oaks only grow slowly if they are planted in gumbo and not watered. Given them decent soil and enough water and they will grow to maturity in about 75 years.

    Alexan deserves a tip of the cap for doing the right thing. The cases of other developers cutting down large, mature trees in the middle of the night, though, are a different matter. They should be strung up by their thumbs.

  • A little history here! The Heights held an “Acorn Ball” to raise the money to plant these trees and more on Heights Blvd. and Shepherd, 30 years ago! Those power lines weren’t there then! It was the first wave of bringing the Heights back and the work was done by the (then) newly formed Houston Heights Association and Trees for Houston! It’s sad for those of us that remember all the effort that went into this and have watched these trees become big, beautiful specimens, to see them felled by a company that has been no friend to our neighborhood!
    The ONLY silver lining that could (but probably won’t) come of this is that they now have NO excuse to not build a turn lane at that intersection to help with the added traffic that this 350+ unit apartment complex will eventually dump into this portion of an already stressed area of Yale due to the Wallmart complex and the I-10 access ramps that have made this area an absolute nightmare……..

  • Those trees were planted by Heights volunteers around 1990 – 91, from what I heard about 15 years ago from HHA.

    I thought the policy was to require whoever was cutting down the trees to replace with new trees with equivalent caliper inches (sum of trunk diameters)? It’s not clear from this story if that’s being done in this case. Agree with others that “number of trees” is no kind of equivalent measure when discussing old trees and replacement trees.

    We will be appreciating the buried power lines after the next storm though. Those 25 year old trees wouldn’t have hidden the giant apt complex anyway.

  • I’ve only seen one comment here that half way got it right. Live Oaks don’t mature in 20-30 years. It does take about 75 years.

    We have some in Colorado Co. that self planted in the early 20th century (according to some of the 85-90 year old neighbors) and believe me, they are majestic. The ones pictured above look like toddlers compared to our old guys. They don’t have any buildings near them and they only get water when it rains. Livestock like to lay under them though.

    Their root systems can and would compromise the sidewalks and streets of the heights if left alone for the next 80 years and we all know that there would be plenty of complaints from residents if that happened. The city easement is not a good place for a Live Oak.

  • The whole area is going to look many many times better than it currently does. I would much rather look at an apartment complex with some nice landscaping than all that stuff that is/was there now. I bet they will put in some nice sized trees, and since the complex will be there for many years to come the trees will have lots of time to get some nice size.

  • What are they doing now? It looks like they are about to erect really tall towers to hold more powerlines. what an awful view for the Alexan Heights apartments!