Crapitto’s Last Days; Pro Tips for Racing Around the Loop

downtown Marriott Marquis construction

Photo of Marriott Marquis construction: Marc Longoria via Swamplot Flickr Pool


18 Comment

  • Near Northside: “We want you to invest your money here, but we also want to tell you what to build with it.”

    If building 1,300-1,700 ft bungalows on 5-6k lots inside the loop generated great ROI, it would be happening all over the loop. It doesn’t, and it isn’t. Have they considered that perhaps townhouses aren’t a bad thing, if they worked together with the townhouse developers to tie them into the fabric of the community, and worked with those developers to help create new amenities that would improve the lives of everyone in the community? Or, perhaps, work with the city to use the tax dollars from new, bigger houses to ensure they come back to the neighborhood? No, the only answer is “we only want working class people here. Middle class and up, stay out!”

  • Developers that are afraid of “NIMBY lawsuits”, if you don’t want to get sued, quit building properties that necessarily damage the surrounding property owners’ property rights. It’s pretty simple.

  • @drone, you are simply coming from the perspective of a developer and yes, under your scenario it does not seem to make much sense. What your scenario misses is that the neighbors are not looking for a ROI, they are already invested in the community and are interested in maintaining the existing fabric of their community. Change is not always a quantitative value, this is unfortunate for the townhome developer that is looking for a qucik buck. As land values continue to go up, the developers will in fact find the ROI that they are looking for by developing single family homes on 5-K SF lots. I think that if Rice Military and Camp Logan were being gentirfied today with minimum lot sizes, the neighborhood would not be fighting the constant battles of parking on streets that were never intended for such high density. By comparison imagine what Southampton would be like now if they did not have deed restrictions.

  • “Have they considered that perhaps townhouses aren’t a bad thing, if they worked together with the townhouse developers to tie them into the fabric of the community, and worked with those developers to help create new amenities that would improve the lives of everyone in the community?”

    Yeah, and if they close their eyes and clap their hands together, the laundry vents on the townhomes spit out cotton candy and delicious chanterelle mushrooms sprout up from all the shade cast over their property by their new 3-4 story neighbors. Oh please. When you “work with the developer”, you just get a bunch of sunshine blown up your backside before ground is broken and end up with nothing more than what the developer wants when it is all built.

  • Frankly, it’s amazing that something called CRAPitto’s could last 20 plus years——

  • @High Density—totally agree

  • So, explain how building townhouses (or multifamily, or detached McMansions) in a small single family detached neighborhood is violating someone else’s property rights, especially if the new building doesn’t cause any physical damage to the existing properties. Especially in comparison to the forced reduction in property rights a single family lot owner might suffer if a minimum lot size restriction is imposed on them through force of law even though they might oppose it, and are just unfortunate enough to be on a block where their neighbors are of the other opinion.

    Those who impose lot size restrictions through public regulation better not complain when people start tearing down the existing homes to build fancy 3-4 story McMansions. Because that is what will happen, and in no way shape or form should it be stopped by public regulation.

  • Personally, I would rather live in a controlled West U style McMansion neighborhood than a Rice Military town home free for all any day of the week.

  • There is a “McMansion” under construction across the street. At least I know in lot size restricted Oak Forest it will at least in name, be a single family 2 story home, not 8 townhomes with x 2 vehicles that are not likely to be parked in the ground level garages new townhomes all have. And the single family home will have a driveway to park vehicles off the street because of the set back requirements.

    Those Rice Military residents who complained about their vehicles being towed a few weeks back because street parking was prohibited by signs? They stood in front of the gated townhome community and one could clearly see the 2 car garages each one had on the ground level.

  • Higher Density makes most of the point that have to be made here about communities seeing value in things other than how much they can sell their lots for. I have been to a number of the community meetings and one person who has spoken an more than one is a retired police officer that lives in a historic house where next door three townhouses were built on a 5,000 SF lot. He has terrible flooding problems on his lot since the townhomes were built, and the developer, who probably talked a good game about “being part of the fabric of the neighborhood” has, of course, done nothing.
    @Local Planner, I think many people would see McMansions as a lesser of two evils when contrasting with townhouses the way that First Ward has been bulldozed. The neighborhood is eligible for a municipal historic district, and that is something that some, but probably not as many, people may want to pursue. The city does not give neighborhoods very many tools to protect themselves, but residents should be able to use the few that exist.

  • Ha, yeah, just keep dreaming that setting minimum lot sizes in a highly desirable area is going to encourage “affordable housing.” (If you’re bringing up Southampton, you clearly didn’t read the article. The people don’t want Southampton, they want housing they can afford, which is why I brought up 1300-1700 sq ft bungalows. People aren’t going to come in there by the droves to fill in those big empty lots with tiny cheap houses as long as someone is willing to pay them more, for more. So yes, I stand by my original statement – by setting minimum lot sizes, they’re decreasing the likelihood of more affordable housing, not increasing – hey, who knows, maybe they all have rich friends who will throw away money by creating cheap houses? Oh, what’s that? No?

    BTW, here are some examples of sub-minimum lot-size new developments in the area:

    Hmm, looks pretty affordable by area standards and fairly nice. So, tell me again how minimum lot sizes are going to enable affordable housing in the market? Show me where all of those super-high-priced townhouses are being built.

    With minimum lot size, you get this development:

  • Local planner, thanks for the strawman shout out to townhouses in response to my comment about homeowners suing highrise and midrise developers for destroying the surrounding properties. I didn’t see anyone make that argument, so I guess you think a 3 story townhouse is comparable to Ashby highrise. Cool! Anyway, I hope to see more suits like Ashby, then and only then will developers come to see the value in the zoning and/or actually working with communities.

  • Also, I don’t think most “minimum lot size” advocates care so much about providing affordable “new” housing to the next generation so much as keeping their taxes low, and maintaining the character and quality of their community, in which they have made their largest investment, not only with their money, but with their families. I’ve read time and time again the posts from the developers and investors on here cry and whine that unless you personally have invested money in a for-profit venture with some vulture/developer, you have no say about what happens in your community. Guess what, I have invested in my home and my community. But unlike the carpet bagger/vulture/developers that have swooped in, I’m not looking to make money off my neighbors or at their expense.

  • Perhaps those Northside residents are smarter than you think. Maybe they’re not quite as long on Houston, and on boundless population growth, as the Forbes magazine crowd, and they see that they could, by holding tight to their trees and yards, become a haven in the future, which would ultimately be more profitable.
    Far more improbable things have happened.
    If everybody’s betting one way, it might be worthwhile to bet another. In the meantime, you’ve gotta live somewhere anyway.

  • While the article did not do a great job of articulating the point, it is very much the case that when you have minimum lot size in place you take the townhome developers out of the market. That makes a huge difference when bidding on a property, whether a vacant lot or one with a bungalow. I have bid in AS-IS sales against builders. The builders always win. Even if you can match them dollar for dollar, their relationship with the realtors will usually get them the opportunity to make the final and best bid. And most of the time, you cannot match their bids, especially when they are looking to build 3-4 townhomes on a single lot. So, minimum lot size opens up the market in a big way to individuals by keeping out townhome developers.

  • Causing drainage problems on your neighbor’s property is a legitimate complaint and harm, and reason to have public regulatory restrictions on property rights. Being resentful at a neighbor taking up more on-street parking is not. Being resentful at having to look at a three-story building (whether townhome or McMansion) across your back fence is not. Being resentful at a new building that isn’t in “architectural harmony or compatible scale” with the neighborhood is not. Being upset that new homes are completely unaffordable to existing longtime residents is not.

  • @ Mel: I honestly thought that you were referring to unwanted development of any type; I was focused on the townhouse issue due to the debate over the Northside minimum lot size initiative. Plenty of people on this forum, frankly, seem just as opposed to both townhomes and McMansions within existing smaller-home single family neighborhoods as they do to bigger buildings. And bigger buildings generally don’t destroy a neighborhood, they simply change it. It’s almost as if people think that an area that transitions to higher density suddenly isn’t a “neighborhood” any more, which is false. There’s nothing special about single family detached homes.
    @ Old School: I’m in full agreement. But as noted elsewhere, Northsiders should not expect the existing smaller-sized housing stock to necessarily be preserved, or to expect it to remain “affordable” by their standards. See: Bellaire and West U as more extreme but still illustrative examples.

  • @drone, I think and important distinction is that the houses you posted are both projects where an industrial area has been turned into single family housing. Developers that are building on this scale are usually able to do these types of projects on a scale where they are able to make the houses cheaper than the developers that are putting 3 townhouses on a 5,000 SF lot. Have you seen prices for how much those types of townhouses are going for in 77009? because in First Ward they are usually over 400,000 which is not exactly affordable.
    These also are much less harmful to the social fabric of neighborhoods, as they are not destroying a house, it’s not tripling the needs for sewage, parking etc, and not building three story buildings in a one story neighborhood.