Comment of the Day: When Townhomes Come to Lindale Park

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHEN TOWNHOMES COME TO LINDALE PARK “Most of the best appreciation in the Heights is in sections that are already deed restricted for lot size or have adopted the minimum lot size under chapter 42. Lindale is not like Midtown or parts of Montrose that have already been torn apart by non-residential development or have been chopped up with lots of townhomes. It looks more like Oak Forest did ten years ago. And if comps were a deterrent, no one would be replacing 1200 sq. ft. ranch homes in Oak Forest with 3500 sq. ft. custom homes. When a neighborhood gets bought out for town homes, the incentive to maintain the existing housing stock is lost. Your house is only worth what the dirt is worth. A foundation that has $5,000 of repairs to get it level looks just the same as one without after an afternoon with back hoe ripping through it. The result is that the existing neighborhood will go way downhill while the new construction takes over.” [Old School, commenting on Headlines: A Giant Kroger for Kingwood; Inn at the Ballpark Rebranding] Illustration: Lulu

21 Comment

  • A group of Swamplot readers needs to dress up as townhouses for Halloween and then surround or just stand uncomfortably close to people all night. When they ask what you’re doing, let them know they’ve just been zero lot-lined or that you just gentrified their party.

  • im not sure i agree with this. the equation for the value of a house is: land value + house value = total value. i lived in montrose, and i believe that the proliferation of townhomess drove the price of my 1930’s bungalow up because it drove up the price of the dirt. the house was not a teardown and many of the houses immediately around it are not teardowns, even though the new townhomes are everywhere.

  • One of the things I liked best about San Antonio was the lack of these skyscraper like townhomes with zero lot line. The city really frowned on tearing down bungalows and buildings these obtrusive townhomes. Frankly they’ve ruined Montrose. In areas of affluence like Alamo Heights or Olmos Park a developer had about zero chance of tearing an exhausting house down for a townhome. There is a reason West U, Tanglewood, River Oaks are so sought after, it’s either being a city within a city or a very deed restricted neighborhood, seriously who wants to live in a sea of townhouses right against the street?

  • I’d never even consider a bungalow hemmed in by townhomes, id feel like that old guy in Up, not to mention how ugly that makes the neighborhood. One story bungalow, 4 story townhome, 4 story townhome, Kroger, bungalow, 4 story townhome….hideous

  • The townhomes may be hideous, but they bring nice people into the neighborhood–pushing their stroller, dog on a leash, prepared to pick up the poop. They are replacing some less savory people, like myself eventually.

  • If the address has a letter, something’s wrong. Aka, the -A, -B addresses resulting from split lots.

    My block in the Heights has a couple but mostly escaped. The 2 blocks west were ravaged. The trees never stood a chance.

  • CREOLE, your point is undermined by the fact that Alamo Heights and Olmos Park are separate municipalities from the City of San Antonio.

  • I used them as an example in addition to San Antonio, just like I used West U in addition to Tanglewood and River Oaks as examples in Houston.

  • I lived in Alamo Heights and paid taxes to Alamo Heights so am fully aware of their status in relation to San Antonio, I simply used them as an example in addition to San Antonio, but I’ll clear up the confusion. San Antonio encourages neighborhoods to apply for historical status, like Monte Vista, Montecello, and Olmos Park Terrace to name few, in order to help fight tear downs in addition strong city ordinances discourage many examples to developer insensitivity to neighborhoods, the COH on the other hand does the opposite, the actually encourage the developers to be as insensitive as they please, that’s why neighborhoods like Montrose and The Heights get uglier by the day.

  • Yet many of the same folks also complain about “McMansions” which are single family detached homes that don’t require splitting the lot. What is it that will make them happy when it comes to new residential construction (that benefits the demographics of the city core, by the way)? I get the feeling that it can only be cutesy severely-undersized craftsman-style bungalows that preserve every blade of grass on the lot.

  • Local Planner, I think people just like to complain, and feel smug by bemoaning change.

  • What will make them happy are when people who look like, act like, and think like them move into the neighborhood, preferably into a dwelling much like their own.

    Those people buying townhomes, “McMansions,” and moving into new apartments don’t fit that bill, and need to be kept out.

  • #10: I correspondingly wonder what will finally make the anarcho-urbanists, or those whose dogsbodies they are, happy? Once planners fussed over slums, and, more latterly, sprawl: then, abruptly, decided they were pleased with slums and sprawl. Now, they survey the city and find fault very narrowly with neighborhoods that seem functional, filled (though not, admittedly, to the max) with people who, on the face of it, do not present an undue burden to the city – indeed people who might, if one did not retain a faith in the power of levelling, be considered desirable citizens.

  • #13: Your are implying, rather strongly I might add, the folks who live in the cutesy bungalows are inherently more desirable than the McMansion or townhome people. Let alone the apartment people. That those “others” somehow make the neighborhood less “functional.”

    Sorry. The bungalow people are in no way more special or worthy than anyone else who has enough disposable income to spend on a new home or fancy apartment. I don’t care how long they have lived there – length of residence (or architectural taste) should have absolutely no bearing on the application of public policy across households, or the honoring of property rights.

  • Houston has enjoyed a number of booms overseen by people primarily interested in writing their own tickets – the difference as I see it is that this time around, it’s, one, in a setting of unrelieved materialism, where most community standards – across the board – are quaintly obsolete; and two, in the service of a federal population policy – yes, we have one – of which the citizenry has never approved.
    It’s worth recalling every once in awhile that “property rights, honoring of” are merely another, very useful community standard, and that historically that honoring was done in the breach, the word “rights” having no particular magic power.
    It’s unfashionable, I know, but yes, I did mean to “imply” (!) that the city benefits a little bit from the presence of those lamentable, single-family, non-zero-lot line homeowners who feel an attachment to the neighborhood they’ve invested in, not a trivial attachment to “walkability” and those stimulating random interactions promised by density, but a real, materialist fondness for real things – homes and trees and maybe even people – of the sort which unfortunately begets the activism you find so distasteful.

  • I would argue that public policy is not representative of the public. It is representative of the development community because it imposes no real restrictions, incentives or guidelines to create any harmonious environments. Public policy also benefits the City coffers to feed its never ending cycle of fiscal mismanagement. It isn’t as though we Inner Loopers who are in the midst of the development boom see any return of our taxes in the way of infrastructure improvements. There is nothing inherently wrong in wanting to preserve a neighborhood. As Creole has stated, the most desirable neighborhoods seem to be those with enforced deed restrictions like River Oaks, Tanglewood, Briargrove, Southampton etc…..and it is because they are for the most part intact single family neighborhoods without all of the sheer crap that other neighborhoods seem to possess. I hope Lindale Park can choose its course without compromising its existence.

  • Luciaphile, you seem fairly certain that bungalow-type homeowners value certain things that are overall more beneficial to the city (in your opinion) than say McMansion or townhome owners. On what evidence do you base the assertion that (1) McMansion and townhome residents don’t share these values and (2) that bungalow-owner values are more beneficial?

    And, if your two assertions are correct, does it justify restricting someone’s property rights – through public regulation (not private deed restrictions) – in a way that the city restricts an area to serving only bungalow owners?

  • For those who are whinging on about how property rights are paramount – a group of neighbors banding together and making an agreement about land use is also a property right. Some see that as a way to maximize their right to the enjoyment of their property, secure in knowing that their neighbors agree not to do certain things. You have the right to not join in that agreement if you wish – you just have to go someplace where you won’t be required to abide by it.

  • I’m afraid I don’t know these “bungalow owners” who have attracted your ire; they will have to speak for themselves. I’m sure, if you say so, they are terrible people. But if they care enough about their neighborhoods to oppose unwanted density, they have demonstrated a commitment to civic life that should not be dismissed out of hand. I live in a place where people are apathetic; perhaps you never have. It has its points, i concede that, but it’s not quite as wonderful as you might think. Another quick example before I have to bid adieu to the internet today is the value of private greenspace that, in my opinion, though I’m hardly original there, enhances the public sphere. A McMansion builder clearly has no such value in mind. If that seems trivial to you, I’m sorry; it could not be more important to me. But it was never to be expected that a paleocon and a libertarian would have anything to say to each other.
    Property rights are wonderful, though, their totemic power, the way they exist in a vacuum, unrelated to culture – I think in the thirties the Third Reich, having gotten carried away by some hideous origin myth/revenge fantasy, was going to strip a few particular groups of all their rights and property, and maybe even their lives. But those people invoked “property rights” so that horrible event never happened, thank God.

  • It’s fine for a group of property owners to band together, draft deed restrictions of whatever sort (within the bounds of civil rights law of course), and attach them to their own properties. The idea that property owners could band together to restrict someone else’s property rights for purely subjective / aesthetic reasons (architectural style, height, etc.), as opposed to true reasons of physical safety or harm, is unjustified and clearly the wrong choice in Houston.

    And yes, to cite a cliched argument, that means if someone who’s not otherwise bound by deed restrictions should have every right to paint their house in neon polka dots, no matter how much the neighbors detest it and believe it lowers their property values, without regulatory intervention by government.

  • Screw the homeowners put up some townhomes/condo towers….this is the H we got no zoning so screw you!!!