Duck Duck Goose: Heights Law Office in Disguise

Turkestanian-rug dealer Geoffrey Vaughan was the mastermind behind that strange sign posted a couple of years ago threatening a 10-to-14-story mixed-use building on the corner of White Oak and Oxford — right next door to the Onion Creek Coffee House. His latest project is a bit more modest: Getting a variance approved by the city tomorrow that will allow him to build a 2-story law office building a few blocks to the southeast at 409 Cortlandt, just north of 4th St. There’s another commercial building a block to the south, along the I-10 feeder, but there are homes directly around Vaughan’s site, which isn’t platted for a commercial building. To build one there he’ll need the approval of the planning commission.


Which Vaughan hopes to win with a bit of design magic. The rendering handed out to neighbors one-ups the grand recent local tradition of “built to look like” buildings: It’ll be built to look like a home, which of course in turn will be built to look like old. The south portion of the lot will feature an 8-car parking lot; plans show a 2-car garage and 2 more head-in spaces from the alley. But the city isn’t reviewing the building. Unless the commission restricts him to the design he’s showing as a condition of granting the variance for the replat, he’ll be free to touch it up later.

9 Comment

  • To be honest the Heights could use more small office space like this. A lot of the commercial buildings have been removed over the last few years and replaced with residential. Given that we are unlikely to see light industrial expand in the neighborhood small office buildings will be the next best thing. On top of that the traffic noise is more of a pin this close to the freeway which I would imagine would limit the residential value.

    If I have to choose between this an the ghastly townhomes going in at the bottom of Oxford I’ll choose this any day of the week.

    However they should definitely tie him down somehow on architecture and size.

  • Jimbo, you don’t have to choose. There are plenty of people happily living so close to the freeway noise, more will come.

    I hope the neighbors show up in droves to protest this and I hope the city listens.

    Let’s see, let’s build a commercial building on Cedar Creek on Briarmead in Briargrove. What would be the difference?

  • I worked for a few years at the commercial office building at Memorial near Chimney Rock -a very residential neighborhood; in fact, the driveway leads into a subdivision of patio homes. I thought it was a very workable arrangement.

  • While I may not like this design, doesn’t this go with the whole “preserve the small town feel” thing of the Heights? What’s more small town cozy than a close-in mix of residential and office / retail space. It’s also very green to be able to live so close to where you work. I wish people would make up their mind.
    Briergrove has deed restrictions so this couldn’t be built inside of the neighborhood. If you want deed restrictions in the Heights draft them and get 75% of the people to agree. It’s that simple.

  • EMME, what exactly would be the problem of having a small office space like this on what is currently an empty lot? I think this fits very well with the concept of mixed use development. I wish I could work that close to home.

  • I have a law firm doing business in the residential house next to mine. I don’t like it. They don’t participate in community events (decorating for holidays). They are not home in the evenings. They don’t feel the same about their property. They are the only ones not to sign the minimum lot size/minimum building line petition. There are plenty of main thoroughfares around the Heights to accommodate business/commercial buildings without putting them in the middle of residences. They are like landlords times a thousand. Their properties are investments to finance their living. Our properties are where we live.

  • The new feeder will turn everything south of 4th into the usual feeder road fare. That will mean that everything on 4th will be abutting commercial development. The planning commission needs to hold the line or else businesses will creep in south of 6th street and chip away at neighborhoods that are not protected.

  • If you had deed restrictions you wouldn’t have the attorneys next door. Well, you wouldn’t have their office next door.

    Wonder if you don’t specify race, color, creed, gender, religious affiliation, I forget all the protected classes, shame on me but who pays attention in MCE classes, if you can just ban attorneys altogether. That alone would improve quite a few neighborhoods.

  • I doubt very much whether the new feeder will have any effect at all between Heights and Stude. All of the feeder adjacent buildings on that stretch are already commercial or multi-family now. Most of the homes on 4th already face commercial on at least one side and have done so for 20-30 years. That house that they have been struggling to find a use for on the W corner of Heights may be finally doomed now though.