Ashby Highrise Neighbors Lose Appeal: No Payment for Damages by an Unbuilt Project

Ashby Highrise construction site, 1717 Bissonnet

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.


Following the 2014 ruling by judge Randy Wilson, the developer appealed the order to pay; the plaintiffs cross-appealed, asking again (unsuccessfully) for that previously denied permanent injunction to stop the project from moving forward. The appeals court’s opinion notes that yesterday’s decision doesn’t stop the neighbors from suing again later following construction.

Bissonnet St. Elevation of Proposed Ashby Highrise, 1717 Bissonnet, Southampton, Houston

Images: Swamplot inbox (photo), Buckhead Investment Partners (rendering)

Potential Appeal

25 Comment

  • Just another confirmation of what we already know: Nobody wins in a lawsuit except the attorneys.

    I hope the developers of this project stand on the rooftop when it’s done and gleefully piss down onto the neighbors rooftops.

  • What Jared M. said.

  • @JaredM. + Ben

    Yes, a thousand times yes. And in other news, Houston continues to develop fabulous towers throughout the city. And if you don’t like it…

  • Whatever they *might* lose in property value, they’ve already squandered on attorney/court fees. It’s not like it’s a porn shop or something. And their posters haven’t added anything aesthetic to our neighborhood yards for the last five years, either. Growth upward happens when you’ve chosen to live inside the city. The upward growth around our home has proven to be a benefit with the added property tax income and road improvements by the developers. Plus the high rents of upscale highrise living attract shoppers who command the increase of local high-end shopping and restaurants to replace the paraphernalia shops being called “corner stores” in the area.

  • I really don’t care if this thing gets built or not, but a few things about it.

    1. In a city with no zoning, the residents should know the risks when they moved in there.
    2. It seems the developers would just be better off selling the land and building elsewhere than dealing with years of litigation before they can even start building this thing.

  • i disagree. the residents won this battle. they delayed this project into one of the worst recessions this city has ever seen. i doubt this gets built now. and even if it does, they paid lawyers to let them keep their neighborhood the same for 10 years . . . .

  • Well said, Jared M. Well said, indeed.

  • @htownproud – I agree. There is such a glut of apartments now the neighbors might have done the builders a favor.

  • Short version: developer tried to steamroll homeowners and got sued into oblivion, narrowly missing out on having to pay $1.2M in damages plus attorney fees. The homeowners clearly won this fight.

    This case demonstrates that while Houston might not have zoning, developers anger and ignore homeowners at their own peril.

  • @htownproud
    What recession? Oil prices went down temporarily, but are gradually coming back up. Sure, that sector took a hit, but the city is not in recession…neither is the country, yet. Meanwhile, whether the Ashby goes up or not, many other towers are and will go up nearby. So it’s clearly a loss for the stupid residents. Again, the Ashby may still go up, along with many others. It was a delay, not a denial: Ashby wins, as it still has money-making options in the matter. The foolish idle residents, not so much.

  • What Jared M + Ben said – the homeowners are pathetic – shame on you! You don’t like it…move!

    And as far as timing – it will take 24-32 months to build – oh and BTW only three deals (ITL) have been capitalized…so the timing could be perfect! – no new HR supply in 2018-2019

    Honest Truth – agree!!

  • What is not mentioned is that all construction in the city now must meet new traffic standards that the Ashby Highrise is grandfathered from. By deciding to build a very tall building in a two or three story residential neighborhood rather than selecting a mixed use site further West on Bissonnet, they missed making a lot of money. Perfect timing, wrong location.

  • No recession, but a pretty awful market for luxury rentals. Two big towers in the Montrose area are underway and a bunch of construction downtown will deliver in the next year or two. The Ashby opponents succeeded in pushing this project well to the end of the line. Maybe the proximity to the med center will get it funded, but demand for luxury rentals will not be why this thing finally gets built.

  • My neighbors are having a party this weekend. I’m going to call HPD today to complain about the noise that I believe will be disruptive and prevent me from enjoying my weekend. I want also want them to give me hot dogs and buns in compensation.

  • htownproud, if the residents won it was a Phyrric victory at best. By claiming a prospective nuisance they’ve depressed the values of their own homes regardless of whether the highrise is built.

  • Bissonnet can not hold other 10x more traffic it is only 2 lanes S M H developer did not plan correctly

  • Tell anyone in luxury retail that we are not in a recession and see what they say.

  • Last Friday the Supreme Court of Texas handed down some new definitions of nuisance which could favor homeowners. The appellate court in the Ashby also ruled the owners could sue after the building is built and there is a nuisance. This will bother future lenders

  • The developers have always had the better end of the purely legal argument and the appellate court probably has it about right, but so what. Having a legal right to build something doesn’t mean that it should be built or that people can’t oppose it, and the fact that this is an affluent, politically connected neighborhood, while offensive to the Hugo Chavez contingent, just means that the opposition has been particularly effective and will probably continue. Developers have had their way in Houston since the Allen brothers by blocking zoning, but live by the sword, die by the sword.

    Instead of stubbornly pursuing the legal right to put up something that provokes near universal outrage in a neighborhood that can do something about it, wouldn’t it have been wiser to save years of misery, huge legal fees and reputational damage and build something that would have enhanced the neighborhood and already made a ton of money in the process?

  • The developers should use the site to build an eatzis or true foods kitchen. Neighborhood doesn’t have many outstanding/healthy restaurants, nor any prepared food markets conveniently located. If they want to build a few levels of living on top, so be it.

  • No mistake that homeowners “win” against developers in Houston’s wealthiest neighborhoods. Meanwhile, Houston’s poorest people in the city’s core are being property taxed and developed out of the modest homes their poor predecessors built from the ground up and off of the streets where their poor ancestors laid the bricks that still line them.

    Southamptonites can cry me a river, and I’ll go ahead and salt their lawns with its evaporated remains.

  • As I have had to recently move to another state, I will miss Houston for obvious reasons. Food, the people, and a great park. however I will not miss the bullshit no zoning laws!! The city is turning into a hodge podge of cell block living with the vanilla condo structures. Good luck single family homeowners. Tax breaks don’t help as Houston is facing a Pension disaster equal to Detroit.

  • Implications for that lawsuit in the Galleria area, about a high rise-yet-to-be-built spoiling views from another nearby highrise? Dinerstein v. Cosmopolitan or some such. Where damages are only potential, and even harder to quantify.

  • The traffic argument never seems to go away. There were 20+ apartments on the site, remember? The tower is only adding another 15. I fail to see how badly those extra cars will affect traffic.