Across town from the new “Stop the San Felipe Skyscraper” signs popping up in River Oaks and Vermont Commons to oppose the proposed 17-story Hines office building, another crop of anti-development placards is objecting in free verse to the Morrison Heights complex of apartments and condos that’s currently under construction near Houston Ave. and White Oak. Eschewing both the bold imperative of the San Felipe signage and the cartoon menace of the Ashby Highrise hatred, these seem to prefer the rhetorical oomph of puns and wordplay and rhyme. And what, exactly, is the development that has received this poetic ire?
The complex, being built by Fisher Homes and developed by Camelot Realty, is located at 2802 Morrison St., near Houston Ave. and Wrightwood St., where that swath of Woodland Park was cleared behind another pack of under-construction townhomes from first-time builder Bill Workman.
- From the $200’s [Morrison Heights]
- One Goal [Blight on the Heights]
- Morrison Multifamily? [HAIF]
- Previously on Swamplot: “Stop” Signs Oppose 17-Story Hines Office Building on San Felipe, A Look Around San Felipe at the Randall Davis Condos and Planned Hines Office Building Site, Hines Plans a Shiny New 18-Story Office Building Across San Felipe from River Oaks, The Woodland Park Thinning Story Thickens, Parkland Cleared By Mistake, Says Woodland Heights Townhomes Developer, Woodland Heights Neighbors Accuse Townhomes Developer of Clear-Cutting Parkland
Images: Morrison Heights (renderings); Swamplot inbox (photos of signs)
good lord, will the NIMBY’s just GAFD already? please explain how a relatively small and most defnitely benign condo/apt complex a “blight on the heights”?
heights-folk can be downright insufferable.
People will complain about anything and everything, so as usual, it makes no sense for developers to listen to the “community” input. Never argue with a crazy person, passers by may not be able to tell the difference.
It looks like fruitless opposition on a per-project basis is in fashion in Houston these days. If they really wanted to get something done, they’d stop spending time and resources on yard signs to oppose specific projects and start lobbying for some sort of development rules (though I’m sure they wouldn’t be able to call it “zoning”).
We don’t want to be Portland, gang. All that flannel would get pretty sticky down here.
The building is a mediocre atrocity at best. I would complain also if I were a neighbor.
I’m starting a sign company! Who’s with me?
Unlike Bissonnet and San Felipe, Morrison is a very residential side street; this particular site is completely surrounded by single family homes and a small, two story apartment complex. It’s a couple blocks away from any street of any size. I suspect that the reason that the entire structure is elevated on stilts is because that site is the bed of an old branch of Little White Oak Bayou, and floods in a heavy dew.
What I can’t understand is why one of the wealthy next door neighbors didn’t buy the lot when they had the chance…the property sat on the open market with a “for sale” sign for years. Would have been a great lot for a large single-family home with room for a 3 car garage and swimming pool and some green space left over.
Not only is Fisher Homes erecting a 60 foot monstrosity in the middle of a residential neighborhood, it tore the roof off a historically protected home over in Germantown without a permit or COA. Tsk. Tsk.
Also, VERY CLEVER title on this post. Maybe too clever.
My family came to Houston and built a house in 1836 that I live in to this day and I am against everything ever built since then.
I didn’t know exactly where this was going in until now. That section of Woodland Heights isn’t exactly turn of the century bungalows and huge live oak trees. There’s been a fair amount of new construction on the surrounding blocks over the last 10 years, and not much is “historic” right around there. Plus, Morrison is actually a curbed and guttered street right there, unlike many Heights area streets. 2717 Morrison is like a 3 story version of this condo, so you could say it will play off the existing architecture.
Now when the heck is that loft thing up at 11th and Studewood EVER going to be finished?
I’ll be happy to pass on your comments to my neighbors on Morrison and our supporters in The Heights as soon as you have the courage to use your real names.
Looks like a UH classroom or dorm building…..pretty! I bet the landscaping will be awsome!
Oh no you don’t! I’m going to go put up a little sign in my front yard this very instant! grrr
yes it floods easily, 1st floor retail will be SCUBA shop
Interestingly, this block face is covered by an MLS restriction since October of 2007, which would normally prevent a multi-family project being built on a lot previously used as single family, which is the case for this lot for the last six years.
However, prior to July of 2007, this lot was used as commercial property (office/warehouse). Presumably the MLS application was submitted prior to the change in ownership, and it’s the usage at the time of application submittal that prevails.
If the MLS application had been submitted a couple of months later, this project would not have been permitted.
Comments like Densify’s – “Hey neighbors, why don’t you lobby for zoning,” get under my skin. The real goal of statements like that is to get neighborhood opposition out of the way. It’s to preoccupy them with a long, drawn out campaign that will ultimately fail. Zoning is a nonstarter here in Houston.
Neighbors could make the same type of argument. If you want to live in a world where developers can build whatever they want, wherever they want, without thinking about it, and you don’t want anyone to complain: invent time travel! Transport yourself back to the 1970s. You’ll love it there!
People have wisened up to the damage that bad development can do to their neighborhoods. Buildings that are poorly sited or out of scale will be opposed. And not just here in unzoned Houston. It behooves developers to be more sensitive to neighbors’ concerns, lest they ignite a firestorm. Use common sense. Put yourself in their shoes. The vast majority of developers already do this – and they don’t wind up with signs opposing their projects.
They should convert the first floor parking into retail, and then everyone will love the new building.
BTW — Is the Heights allowed to de-annex itself? Essentially, secede from Houston. Then their weekly protest/moaning about all progress wouldn’t be a part of “Houston’s Real Estate Landscape” and hopefully we could stop hearing about them.
Based on the renderings I first thought this was somewhere in Galveston.
Current signage does not even rise to the level of doggerel. I think project opponents need some help. e.g.
Smite Morrison Heights!
Say goodnight to Morrison Heights!
What really bites
is Morrison Heights.
The sorriest of Houston sights
Is going in as Morrison Heights
Nothing our contempt excites
Like miserable Morrison Heights
Morrison Heights, go fly a kite!
The morrison building looks nice, but shouldn’t be next to single story homes, and probably 2 floor homes, too, but 3 and 4 floors this fits with.
As a long time resident of the Heights, born in Houston, I would glady secede from the city so that we could control development. When it comes to neighborhoods vs developers, the city tilts heavily toward the latter. Most of the redevelopment in the Heights tailored itself to the neighborhood until about 3 years ago when new, outside developers swooped in for the kill.
The concept of “out of scale” is completely non-legitimate as the basis for development regulation, as it is purely subjective. It falls into the same category as, “disrupting neighborhood architectural integrity.” Both concepts should be ignored by policy-makers.
NIMBYs or not, that rendering is the goofiest looking building I’ve seen in awhile. Just looking at it cracks me up. Like something out of a kid’s cartoon. Is this where Sponge Bob is moving to?
Why should developers even bother engaging the neighborhood? It is a complete waste of their time and serves absolutely no benefit to do so. The neighbors are just going to bitch and moan and try to do everything they possibly can to obstruct the project whether the developer engages them or not. That is the reality we live in after the anti-Ashby folks got some traction down at City Hall. The developers are tired of jumping through their asses to try to make people happy who will NEVER be happy when the ultimate outcome will be the same – The developers will get to build their project and the neighbors will have to live with it. On this project specifically, it is worth noting that no one in the neighborhood said a damn thing about it until the developer started construction on the foundation. If the neighbors genuinely cared that much, certainly we would have heard about it before the developer broke ground, don’t you think?
Why does it look like it was made out of all the boring LEGO colors?
#26: ” If the neighbors genuinely cared that much, certainly we would have heard about it before the developer broke ground, don’t you think?”
From what I have heard about this project, months ago the developer told the neighbors that he was building townhomes (which is bad enough), not this multi-unit monstrosity…Smells to me like the developer was deceptively placating the neighbors with lies so that they wouldn’t try to block the permitting process until it was too late.
If you’ve driven down Morrison and seen the neighborhood this ridiculous building is in, you’d realize it’s completely inappropriate! It’s a very quiet street.
We need zoning in particular regarding density. Unless you have deed restrictions, everyone who lives in Houston is vulnerable.
I think with the recent crop of unpopular projects in SouthHampton (Ashby), River Oaks (Hines Office), Museum Disrict (also Hines highrise), Heights (Morrison Heights and Yale apartments), a zoning proposal may stand a chance of passing. I think inner loopers are starting to realize that this is impacting their quality of life.
We didn’t know about the condominiums until the sign went up. Prior to that the builder told us they would be town homes which is why there wasn’t any prior pushback from neighbors.
Over react Over react Over react
Unless you can prove a specific physical threat (i.e., overflowing sewers; traffic does NOT count and multifamily doesn’t generate enough at one spot anyway), we do NOT need density restrictions.
Anyone living in the Heights, Museum Park, River Oaks, and Montrose outside of a deed-restricted area must accept that a denser use can happen on any parcel. It does not hurt the overall quality of life of Houston – it just bugs people made foolish and ignorant assumptions about land use and want to exact unjustifiable restrictions on property rights because of their personal subjective preferences.
UG and Mark:
If that is the case, I think we will see much more of that in the future until people in neighborhoods stop getting nasty with developers. I have lived in the Heights for 12 years in a house that was built in 1928. I love my neighborhood and I’ve seen more changes than I can remember, but for about the last 6 or 8 years, the Heights Association and other civic groups have almost always opposed new development or major infrastructure improvements of any kind in a very hostile, in-your-face kind of way. It is simply a toxic environment that creates a wider divide between residents and developers and destroys any possibility of productive dialogue toward better development.
I finally realized the people in my neighborhood had jumped the shark when they came out in full force against the historic district using the argument that they did not want anyone telling them what they could or could not do with their property, but simultaneously wanted to be able to dictate what Ainbinder could or could not do with the property it bought on Yale.
But developers can already build whatever they want. Why do they need to go elsewhere? They have everything they want right here.
“If that is the case, I think we will see much more of that in the future until people in neighborhoods stop getting nasty with developers.” – Heights Hype.
“As long as it’s inevitable, you might as well lie back and enjoy it.” – Clayton Williams.
Also, Heights Hype, I feel like I have to do this every once in awhile but… you do realize there are more than three people in the Heights, right? There are people like me who support historic preservation and hate walmart’s business practices and the city’s tax incentives to an billion dollar company that outbid a local grocery chain and hate the form of the Yale street development actually delivered. There are people who supported historic preservation and were happy to have a walmart,and don’t care that the walmart sidewalks are already crumbling. There are people who opposed historic preservation and opposed walmart, for whatever reason. There are people who don’t even know that a walmart was built, nevertheless who the developer is. Quit the generalities.
That’s cute, mel … and not even close to the sentiment that was conveyed by the comment I posted.
Good point, Heights Hype. I’ve talked a lot about the bad way some developers approach growth in Houston. But neighborhoods are addressing it wrong, too. They’re too reactionary. They sit around doing nothing until a developer proposes something they don’t like, then they mobilize to try to kill it. They need to ask themselves “what do we really want in and around our neighborhood,” and then create master plans to communicate it. (The master plans wouldn’t be enforced – that would be zoning – but they could be used by developers to get a sense of what the neighbors would oppose.)
The Super Neighborhoods were supposed to be a venue where this could happen – they were originally under the auspices of the Houston Planning Department. But I’ve found that it’s actually the Management Districts that are doing master plans. It’s great that they’re happening, but Management Districts are paid for by and primarily serve businesses; and single family neighborhoods aren’t even trying to get in on the efforts.
Oh God–let the Wal-Mart thing go. It is in the West End for crying out loud. All you Heights fanatics just stay north of I-10 if it is so distressing.
Population density may not affect the overall quality of life in Houston at-large but it most certainly affects the quality of life in specific neighborhoods. This isn’t about saying no to growth. This is about saying no to unmitigated growth. Surely you’re aware of the massive number of apartments getting built on Dallas between Waugh and Studemont? That entire area was already a mess at peak traffic times. Adding over 600 more residents to that specific area is not smart growth. City of Houston permits new high density projects in areas that already get a failing grade for traffic. Traffic is only one problem that comes from higher population density. How can you justify unmitigated growth as a reasonable policy? Houston is booming. No question. But its lack of planning is going to lead to major problems in the near future.
@ZAW – I agree that a neighborhood or district-level planning process would be of benefit – not only to communicate the property owners’ wishes to the world but also to educate them on the realities and possibilities of urban development in Houston. It will only be effective, however, if it focuses on things that can be legally controlled – public facilities and infrastructure vs. private properties. Helping neighborhoods understand this might also help them to plan and propose measures for public facilities and infrastructure that help the area adapt to higher density when it does start showing up.
It is true for the most part these days that such efforts are being primarily conducted by management districts and TIRZs, as opposed to the Planning and Development Department. Though to be fair, COHPDD is doing mobility planning for sub-areas of the city as well as looking at city-wide regulatory issues like parking.
Then what did you mean, Heights Hype?
“I finally realized the people in my neighborhood had jumped the shark when they came out in full force against the historic district using the argument that they did not want anyone telling them what they could or could not do with their property, but simultaneously wanted to be able to dictate what Ainbinder could or could not do with the property it bought on Yale.”
As a Heights resident who opposed the historic district, I must point out that it is generally NOT those opposed to the historic district who opposed Walmart. We were consistent in that no one should tell us or Walmart what we can do with our property. It was the historic district supporters who also want to dictate what Walmart does in addition to the rest of us.
But, you are right. They have jumped the shark.
@ Mark Sternfels: I would think Heights residents might say that directing additional density to W. Dallas, where it would already be adjacent to other density, would be “smart growth” in comparison to more density in the Heights. Under your definition, you could make a case against most of the suburban growth that’s been occurring over the last several decades, placing more traffic onto already at-capacity highways and thoroughfares. In which case, if the growth doesn’t go to the suburbs, it would have to come to the core, in the form of more density…you can see where this leads.
Look, Houston, including most of what is considered its urban core now, was primarily developed as a low-density suburb, oriented to automobiles. Growth almost anywhere – suburban, urban, whatever – is going to cause traffic and other such “problems.” That’s no reason to deny a property owner the right to satisfy market demand. Why don’t we focus on helping our infrastructure and amenities to adapt to growth, rather than force growth to shift around in a never-ending shell game? Under the latter approach, would Manhattan, Paris, London, Chicago, even Los Angeles – places people love – ever have happened?
Everybody likes to talk about all the traffic problems that will come with new buildings. I guess everybody should feel bad about always voting down on improved public transit. And maybe the people of Houston should demand more public transit, and get there fat asses out of their cars.
Rather high prices for mid-rise condos built on stilts. What’s the deal with the lack of parking structure? How do they plan on providing parking for 40 units with just one flat surface level of parking? I don’t get why they didn’t make multi-level parking like so many other new buildings around town.
If you’re going to live in a condo, at least live in a high rise condo so you can enjoy the view–because at less then 1,000 square feet, there isn’t much to see inside.
With all that said, people have paid the high prices for the units as designed. Just goes to show how much demand there is in town.
Don’t assume I’m motivated by NIMBY. Unmitigated growth is a bad idea no matter where it occurs. I think we can agree there is a compromise to be had between total acceptance and total resistance. Many of us think, not just folks in The Heights, that for too long the conversation has been focused on growth over sustainability and livability.
If you want a pretty, cohesive community, you gotta move
Don’t get me wrong– I’m all for new development (especially on vacant land), but this is one of the most poorly designed structures I have ever seen. C’mon, a college-aged architecture student could do better than those renderings.
I’m glad I don’t have to look at that eyesore.
The Walmart/Ainbinder 380 is still relevant. The City thinks there is green space between the sidewalks and the curbs.
If the City is so ignorant about what anyone can see if they actually look, what is going on with the infrastructure that Ainbinder built that we can’t see?
The City hasn’t started paying this back yet, but it’s time for a complete independent audit of all these retail 380’s the City has been handing out like candy on Halloween.
lhd- this thing is so big and so ugly, you’d have to hide out in Pearland to avoid it.
graeme- this was never vacant land. For years and years and years prior to its birthing Godzilla, this land hosted a rental house and lots of trees.
Ash- I think most people would rather stay in the cohesive neighborhoods they already live in and instead work to change peoples’ minds about who and what is really blighting our communities.
Thomas- demand for this? Terry Fisher told neighbors it was divine providence to build that thing on that site. So, other than God, nobody asked Terry Fisher Homes to build this thing. TF Homes is taking the risk with everybody else’s property values and quality of life that people want to spend $300K for a 1,000 sq. foot 1/1 apartment.
What architect designed this or the other messes at 639 and 641 Rutland? No reect for details, proportions, context.
Per the developer, his architect lives in Iowa.
we can build affordable housing for people in the suburbs. Let’s tear out the railroad tracks to expand the freeway so they can get there faster. I wonder how we could get rail to the suburbs, if only we had tracks. Quit building railroad tracks through my neighborhood. What we really need is urban density. Quit building apartments and high rises in my neighborhood! Can’t you see how your high rise project doesn’t fit in with my million dollar house I had to tear down 2 bungalows to fit?
Bryan- a $220-$320k 1/1 1000 sq foot, with a few covered parking spots, condo building is not affordable housing.
Is it really so crazy to want to preserve the qualities that come with a neighborhood of single-family homes?
People:the site is surrounded by NEW construction townhouses and commercial structures/warehouses. No of y’all were bitching then.Now that a LOW level building goes up, you whiners kevetch like a 40 story high rise is going to ruin your “quality of life” in your quaint hood.Deal with it. We live in a NO zoning city(which the voters TWICE shot down),in neighborhoods-some of which there are NO to non-enforced deed restrictions ,and not all hoods have MLS (minimal lot setbacks) nor a viable property owners association. Even if all of those are in place, MOST-if not ALL developers with a really good real estate lawyer can weave through the so-called restrictions/guidelines/etc. in place, buy a property, lobby the current administration(usually by making a sizeable campaign “donation”),apply for a variance and our development happy current mayor will approve the project and viola the developer is off to the races. And the hell with what the neighborhood thinks. That’s the reality in a wide open city like Houston. You don’t like it: do something about it,quit bitching or MOVE !!!
All against thus project should just let it be, nothing you can do now.
This thing is still sitting empty. Shocker.
And now this thing is about half-full.