Here’s Heights Mercantile, Carved Out of the Former Pappas Warehouse Facility at Yale and 7th St.

Proposed Heights Mercantile Retail and Office Complex,  7th St. at Yale St., Houston Heights

Proposed Heights Mercantile Retail and Office Complex,  7th St. at Yale St., Houston HeightsResidents near the section of 7th St. between Yale St. and Heights Blvd. have been discussing plans to turn the group of warehouse buildings long held by Pappas Restaurants into a 4-building “creative neighborhood and shopping destination”テつcalled Heights Mercantile. The Finial Group, which bought the properties from Pappas and a few other landowners last year, hired Austin architect Michael Hsu to come up with plans for renovating 3 of the buildings lining 7th St., tearing down the long warehouse lining Yale St. and replacing it with the new 2-story structure pictured above. The new project is a joint venture between Finial and a local investment firm called Radom Capital.

A notable feature of the 1.4-acre site plan is 3 stretches of head-in parking along 7th St. The plan shows 36 spaces on the north side of the street, facing the row of wooden bollards lining the hike-and-bike trailテつconverted from the path of the former MKT rail line and 2 banks of 11 spaces in a row on the opposite side. Although head-in parking configurations dominate in some portions of the city (Rice Village, for example), new stretches of more than 4 spaces in a row have been prohibited by city regulations for decades.

The Pappas warehouses have head-in parking along 7th St. The developer not only wants to preserve and adjust that arrangement for the new development, but is asking the city to count these on-street spaces toward the required number of off-street spaces.テつThe planning commission is scheduled to rule on the associated parking variance application this afternoon.

Here’s a site plan:

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Proposed Heights Mercantile Retail and Office Complex,  7th St. at Yale St., Houston Heights

“If the long-existing parking spaces on 7th are not considered as parking available for this propose[d] shopping center,” reads the variance application, “it will not be feasible to preserve two of these old buildings or to create this area into a small scale shopping center. If the spaces in front of Building 2 are not reconfigured, there will be insufficient room for a sidewalk along the north side of this building.”

Building 1, at the southeast corner of Yale and 7th, would look like this if only one car were parked in front of it:

Proposed Heights Mercantile Retail and Office Complex,  7th St. at Yale St., Houston Heights

Proposed Heights Mercantile Retail and Office Complex,  7th St. at Yale St., Houston HeightsBuilding 2, at the southwest corner of Heights and 7th, would get this treatment:

Proposed Heights Mercantile Retail and Office Complex,  7th St. at Yale St., Houston Heights

An existing bungalow at 711 Heights Blvd., just north of the northwest corner of 7th, is in the historic district. Finial plans to convert it to a restaurant:

Proposed Heights Mercantile Retail and Office Complex,  7th St. at Yale St., Houston Heights

Here’s a detail of the new-constructionテつBuilding 4 shown at the top of this story:

Proposed Heights Mercantile Retail and Office Complex,  7th St. at Yale St., Houston Heights

Hadn’t heard about this proposal until now, or still need some time to study it before weighing in? The city’s planning staff thought so: A spokesperson says at today’s hearing they’ll be recommending the commission defer any vote for 2 weeks.

Renderings and site plan: Michael Hsu Office of Architecture. Map: Finial Group

Retail Revamp

97 Comment

  • Neat. Looks like a huge improvement over what’s currently there. Development without acres of parking lots is always nice.

  • Replace fuel with a new Bork, and you have yourself a winner.

  • I hope they get the variance, I hate setback strip malls, especially in the heights.

    It has great walking access from the Hike & Bike and from the super long walking trail down Heights Blvd. I hope the city does the right thing and does not force them to add a huge parking lot.

  • I live on Heights BLVD and attended a meeting on this project last night. Almost everyone in the room did not oppose development in general, but all are very concerned about the impact this restaurant will have on the parking situation in the Heights. The case in point is Coltivare. This application should be rejected as the parking ordinances are there for a reason. The parking spots they want to claim for their variance are for public use (primarily for visitors to Donovan Park), and are not his to claim. Their claims of saving historic buildings are baseless (these are warehouses that residents would be happy to see gone). Anyone who lives near Coltivare can attest to the problems that occur when a restaurant is granted a variance for dubious reasons and doesn’t have enough parking spots. The developer needs to follow the rules that are in place for a reason. He has a right to do whatever he wants with his land, but should not be granted a pass while others follow the rules.

  • Fantastic addition to the neighborhood. City Planning should be fired if they don’t approve this.

  • This looks great. I’m happy to see more developments without massive suburban parking lots inside the loop. The Heights is a walkable/bikeable neighborhood, and there is plenty of street-side parking for those who drive.

  • Stephen: Why would you want gobs of ugly parking? The sooner we get rid of the parking rules, the sooner we can move towards a more walkable urban model. By removing parking and making an area more walkable, you don’t make parking worse as you forget to subtract the cars not driven by people who may now find walking an option.
    .
    And if I’m wrong, and someone builds without enough parking, that place won’t do well financially since — well — no one can park. People will then start to build with more parking to match the expected demand. I think someone that’s building a new business has more at stake and knows more about how much parking to anticipate than some generic city enforced rule.

  • I moved out of midtown for a reason. Now they are building midtown in my backyard. All for development as long as it is done responsibly and this is not responsibly. This developer is willing to trample over the residents that live around this area, taking away our access to our own homes, placing trash dumpsters under our bedroom windows. There’s a better way to do this.

  • City should not be blackmailed into this, if it was not $$$ “feasable” within the NORMAL guidlines the developer should not have “speculated”. Not against development, JUST DO IT WITHIN THE REQUIREMENTS and dont try to circuvent if you wish to be a good neighor, as the marketing materials suggest. Save our area from overparking and the pending SAFETY concerns that will come along with it.

  • @Stephen

    If you live off a busy commercial street, you are going to have to accept that people will use your area for parking. You likely paid less for your residence as a result. Paving half the land for parking can’t be the answer, especially as density increases inside the loop. If you don’t like it, I hear there’s plenty of parking in Katy.

  • Coltivare has plenty of parking spots for their size. The problem isn’t Coltivare, its the table of six that arrives in six separate oversized vehicles. That’s a Houston thing, not a Coltivare thing. Don’t blame the restaurant because Miss Buffy Bighair shows up in her Expedition to have a date with her new wealthy divorcee Tex Marsupial whose eager to show her his new double parked duelly out front. This is the reality: A table of people that occupies 20 square feet of restaurant space requires 400 square feet of parking out front. That’s the problem.

  • @Stephen: I am at Donovan several times a week with my kids. No one using Donovan parks between Yale and Heights on 7th St. There is always plenty of parking on 7th between Heights and Harvard and plenty of parking on Harvard. There is an entrance to the park on the Harvard side. So, people are far more likely to park on the quiet side of the park than have to cross Heights Blvd twice by parking on 7th st.

    The Coltivare problems will not be repeated with this development. The street parking on Heights Blvd is limited to one side of the street because of the esplanade. No one will be blocking anyone by parking on both sides of the street. Also, a lot of the Coltivare problems are more an issue of people thinking that they own the right of way just because they covered the drainage ditch and created a space for parking.

  • These parking spaces have been here for over 40 years. Many of the parking requirements in this city are archaic and no longer make sense. This development actually features buildings you can see from the street rather than the regular black asphalt eye sore that characterizes most other developments that do not seek variances. If that is the type of development that the parking ordinance encourages, I hope more people start to get variances to circumvent it.

    This is also right next to the hike and bike trail. This will encourage people to use alternative transportation, thus creating less of a parking problem. You also have to think about the fact that most parents bring their kids to the park on the weekends. This is the time that the over 9,000 square feet of office space will be empty and their parking spaces will be too. Use those.

  • I think we should let a developer build a condo across from Memorial Park and let all the pubic parking for the park be used for his condo. After all, why should we preserve public parking for public amenities in the inner loop for those residents that wish to enjoy it when it can go to a private developer and increase his rate of return? If the City sets a precedent on this situation there is no turning back. What our tax dollars have paid for will then be variance granted away one developer at a time. Many in the community are not opposed to development; what MANY are opposed to is taking our public parking and letting it go to a developer so that he does not have to provide adequate parking places for his development. There are hundreds of families in the community that take their kids to Donovan Park. If our public parking goes towards this developer’s required parking spaces, then you can say goodbye to that.

    As to the comment from “Heightsresident” you forgot to put your correct name in the box. aka: Heights Mercantile employee.

  • Welcome development but not at the expense of us in the western portion of the Heights. Two new Trammel Crow monstrosities are being built on Yale which will cause even more congestion on this major thoroughfare, so now they want a variance on parking for this? At the expense of those of us who live here? Will customers be allowed to park on Yale as well? The townhome construction workers on Yale have already made it unsafe for us when they park from 8th to 10th on Yale and I have almost hit cars that have to peek out in the right lane from side streets to see if it is okay to cross. We have a hard enough time getting across I-10 heading south as it is due to the genius city engineers that did not put in a right turn lane when the I-10 exit ramps were put in. Will alcohol be sold at these venues since they are so close to Donovan park and the bike path? Smart development is welcome over the warehouses for sure but the city has not been smart over the past few variances (cough Coltivare cough) and that has had a huge negative impact on residents of Arlington and the like. This has disaster written all over it especially due to the popularity of the bike path that has no safe crossing lights.

  • Please let this happen.

    Parking concerns aside, this is exactly the kind of creative development we need in the area. Incredible.

  • i like it. i may actually venture north of i-10 for more than just bingo if this gets built.

  • You don’t own the street and curb in front of your house. People can park there. This is such a fundamental misunderstanding of urban Texans that I wonder if a law should require it to be taught during the Texas History segment in grade school.

  • Look very carefully at this project. Heights Blvd is a residential street. The few businesses on exist in residential structures and they have provided parking onsite. The City must analyze what is in the best interests of the community and the City at whole. Giving a break to a developer is NOT in the best interests of the City.

    I for one am not impressed by this developer, someone who builds storage units in the suburbs and is still marketing the property for sale while also trying to get a break on the parking requirements to make the property more marketable. Sneaky!

    Everyone single person I have talked to is appalled by the style and scale of the buildings. (Sorry Michael Hsu!) Turning an empty lot on Heights into a parking lot is also a shock. I suggest the developer do it right. Be a good neighbor if you want to come into the Heights. Provide adequate City required amount of parking in back. Create a streetscape that enhances Heights Blvd, not a streetscape that belongs in Midtown or Washington Avenue or Montrose.

    I also find it silly that they say that the developer misled the people at the meeting to say they will “probably build a coffee house” when the plan clearly shows 3 restaurants. If those three restaurants had not been part of a retail center or existing structure, the parking requirement would be double what it is now. Very sneaky. That may work for your storage units, but it will not fly in the Heights.

  • At first glance, I looks great. I like the single line of head in parking myself.

  • @John

    This is not even close to the same thing as building a condo across from Memorial Park. These parking spaces were created to be used for businesses in this area decades before the parking ordinance was even written in the 80s, so get your facts straight.

  • Dear Developers,

    Please send all your trendy, tasty and home-value-improving restaurants (and retail) to Spring Branch, The New Heights but Without the Snobbery. We will gladly take them and accommodate the parking of your customer base from out of the neighborhood.

    Here you will have access to a strong economic base and and even stronger base just south of I-10, just like The Old Heights but you will also have a great lunch and happy hour crowd from the nearby energy companies. Land is less pricey and we will welcome you (just don’t build more apartments).

    – H

  • shocking, heightsians not able to agree whether they want to be suburban or urban. never would have seen that coming, *rolls eyes*

  • Great development, bring it on. The parking has been in place for decades; although, it should not be exclusive to the development, first come first served, yet allow them to use the spaces in the parking count. There is plenty of neighborhod parking for the park, this development and everyone else. The times are a changing folks, change with it instead of fighting it. The precendents are already there and the fear of the insidious developers has been in the Heights for years now. Embrace the positive change and adapt to the 21st century Houston.

  • Building 4 is a nice copy of the Charles and Ray Eames house. And if I remember correctly from Modern Architectural History 101, that house didn’t have much parking either…

  • I am concerned about the 600 plus units of apartments, under construction, that are being built a block away from the site. Planning Commission, please please please do not grant this variance. Let the process play out with the apartments and see how this area looks in a year. The parking is already very difficult at this location without factoring in the impact of the apartments. We will not know that impact until the apartment structure is occupied, but it seems necessary to consider such an obvious impending burden.

    I live a block from the site and walk and drive by 3 or 4 times a day. The public street parking spaces the developer wants to use to reduce its own parking requirement are already being used, especially in the evenings and weekends. It is false to think that the public parking is available to the developer to use. People use that parking to access Donovan Park, the jogging train on Heights and the bike trail on 7th.

    Finally, this is a historic district. The buildings shown and parking lots facing Heights Blvd. do not belong on Heights Blvd. Heights Blvd was created to emulate Commonwealth Avenue in Boston. Can you imagine if Boston had allowed something like this on their storied avenue? There is a place for this project, but it is not in a historic district.

  • The city’s parking requirements really don’t make sense for inner-city neighborhoods. I live in Montrose, so I can report: its not the end of the world to have someone parked in front (on the street their taxes paid for) of your house while they eat their dinner. I promise, it’s not.

  • This is a beautiful design by a renowned & highly acclaimed architect who turns down 90% of the projects he is asked to do. I am in the real estate business and have heard confidentially who some of the prospective retailers are and people in the neighborhood will be downright giddy when they find out. If a couple of malcontents are allowed to upend this variance request, we will get another awful national credit mattress company or pay day loan outfit. I can’t tell you how long most of us in the Heights have wanted something edgy like this that creates an experience at the street rather than the same old throw down suburban garbage across an ocean of concrete.

  • Why do people keep using Coltivare as an example? They have the minimum required parking spots. The variance was only to allow the adjacent building’s spots that were not to built to current code to be allowed and counted toward that minimum. Any popular restaurant or bar that meets minimum parking requirements will have tons of overflow. See Montrose for proof of this. Onion creek has way more parking than they are required and still people park blocks and blocks away to get there. There will be overflow parking in the neighborhood whether or not you approve this variance. The difference is the type and quality of development we will get.

  • I’m all for this development if they are willing to provide adequate parking on their own property. It is very selfish them to take away street/public parking spaces to maximize their profit margin.

  • The developer should be a good neighbor and provide the City required parking just like everyone else! (Except Coltivare, they got a variance, but that is not working out very well).

  • Looks like the over the hill crowd from Nextdoor who just discovered the internet have had a chance to chime in. I’m surprised nobody has pulled the ‘alcohol being sold near where children play!’ or ‘an ambulance would not get to me in time before I died because the streets are crowded!’ cards yet. Well there, I played them for you.

  • I would think it is very unlikely that those head in spaces are 18′ feet long. There is an 18′ long E350 in one on streetview and it is very clearly hanging into the roadway. Given that the whole thing would be a moot point. In order to get the spaces on the South side the developer is proposing that they be allowed to remove the sidewalk …. that is public property …. entirely. How exactly is removing sidewalks rendering the neighborhood more walkable?

    Given that the developer is only going to use these fancy renderings to get the variance granted before watering the whole thing down into a more profitable strip mall by claiming that the buildings are not structurally possible to save ….. why are we even having this conversation.

  • If you want suburban development, move outside the loop. It is as simple as that. I would be surprised if anyone against this development is under the age of 35. This outdated logic of parking concerns and “too much traffic” has gone on for too long.

    Houston is moving towards an actual urban and densified city for once. If you don’t want that move to Katy, The Woodlands, or any of the other million systematically flawed suburbs that surround us already.

  • There are parking lots all up and down Heights Blvd. Revival Market strip center, telephone company, apartment complexes, big house that replaced the Worthington mansion, new strip center next to Lola, churches, Boulevard Realty, library, funeral home, Pink’s Pizza, Lambert Hall, old folks home, and CVS.

    Also, the apartments are coming, like it or not. If there is no new retail for all these people, we will either have to wait in line forever just to get a coffee at Revival or have to head down to Katyville for some suburban crap.

    Lastly, the parking along 7th street was used by Pappas warehouse for years without any problem. The parking is also being temporarily used by workers at the TC construction site without any problem. There is more than enough parking capacity to accommodate everyone.

  • LOL @ Heights Blvd being built like Boston’s Commonwealth Avenue. I’ve just about seen it all now. By the way, the only parking for everyone who lives, works, eats, drinks, or shops on Comm Ave. is street parking. How novel. A city that encourages public transport, walking, and biking rather than more pavement. Would love to see these on Morningside or Kelvin adjacent to the Rice Village. Would love to walk to these joints.

  • A wonderful addition to the neighborhood, and a huge upgrade over the current occupant. If more local residents would do their part and walk or bike to this development instead of driving, it might save a few dozen parking spaces and everybody wins. Katyville is already approaching from the south, so let’s not discourage people who are trying to do something nice by forcing concrete wastelands of parking down their throat.
    .
    @Jeff your Coltivare assessment is spot on. The problem is we as a city don’t know how to function if there isn’t an acre of parking within 20 steps of the business/restaurant we are visiting.

  • @John

    This is nothing like a high-rise using Memorial Park parking. Street parking is in place for general residential and business use- not for the use of a specific attraction. Allowing a high rise to use Memorial Park parking would be like one relying on parking at a Kroger next door. That said, I see no problem if a developer wants to build an apartment complex without parking. Having parking is the exception, rather than the rule for apartments in many denser cities. However, I strongly suspect that the market would fix your hypothetical problem. It would be difficult to find tenants for an apartment that did not offer a parking space for each resident. But if a business thinks it can survive without adding parking, that should be their prerogative. If guests think it’s too difficult, they will go elsewhere.

    And for the record, I have no connection whatsoever to the Houston real estate industry. I read Swamplot to see what’s going on in my neighborhood.

  • @Heights Mom: Do a google image search for images of Commonwealth Avenue. You will notice something in common in all of them. Here’s an example:
    http://friendsofthepublicgarden.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/parks_1.jpg
    Hint: It’s on-street parking that is almost constantly occupied. Somehow, Comm Ave still manages to be a beautiful, vibrant urban street for pedestrians, shops, and restaurants, and one of the most desirable places to live.

    @HeightsLegacy I don’t hope for it to happen, but the neighbors lining up against the variance request may soon learn the definition of a Pyrrhic victory when they succeed in killing this project and the property owner puts in a Walgreens and Taco Bell with all the parking (and more!) that the City requires. Whither, NIMBY?

  • @Frank – Go look at historical google maps…the Pappa’s building was there before the parking spaces. The parking was put in place around the same time as when Donovan Park was created. Remember, when you want to factcheck someone…make sure you actually know what you are talking about.

  • Wow. Now I know where all of the unhappy South Congress dwellers from Austin moved to in 2007 because…development. Here’s the news flash: if you want your property to be valuable, you have to live near cool stuff. If you want to live near cool stuff, people will visit. People who visit will usually arrive in cars. These cars will park. If you don’t like people parking near you, please move to somewhere without cool stuff, or with the cool stuff located in a sterile pre-planned downtown like Sugarland or the Woodlands.

  • I live nearby in West Heights and am really quite impressed with the overall design. It would be a tremendous addition to the neighborhood. One of the major draws and reasons for living in the Heights is for walk-ability and places like this. It really amazes me that people would oppose this just because of the parking issue. We regularly walk right past this to Donovan Park. I don’t see why others cannot walk to Donovan Park as well as walk to this development. Like others have said, you have absolutely no right to the parking on the street in front of your house. If it really bothers you, then maybe you shouldn’t have bought next to a major street or an old warehouse that could (shocker) be turned into something commercial someday. Everyone wants to have their cake and eat it too, but a sea of parking will not bring unique developments like this. Everyone in the Heights screams for independent retailers, but the independent retailers simply cannot afford to buy enough land inside the loop for tons of parking. 19th Street is a great example. And to point to Coltivare as a bad example is laughable! It is a raging success, partly because of its beautiful garden. I understand that residents on Arlington might be upset with people parking on the street, but they bought a block off of White Oak Blvd.–what did they expect? When you buy a property without zoning, you must choose wisely and think ahead.

  • Two words. Underground parking. Keeping our cars cool in the hot summer heat. Minimizing stress on the city streets. If people can’t park easily this project will fail to attract the volume of people needed on a weekly basis to justify the expense. Just look at White Oak Blvd and how restaurants had to close because they weren’t getting enough clientele to cover their expenses.

  • @Cody

    Yes, that is what we should do, if we dont like the RULES we should just ignore them? Not really the way it works.

    Didn’t know we were in the game or subsidizing new start up thru parking credits. There are plently of other methods or incentives out there (tax credits / sales tax breaks etc).

  • I can’t stand all of this wanting a sea of parking stuff……I would walk/bike there. I can’t imagine the anarchy that will be caused by having to park GASP ‘around the corner’ or ‘down the block’ from anywhere. I deserve to park right next to the door.
    People are going to be grumpy no matter what!
    Hopefully someone somewhere with power will let them have the variance and we can all move on…Some of us will be walking to this place then to Coltivare for dinner….The naysayers should probably be driving from a garage to a chain restaurant with front door parking and spending the absolute minimum time possible outside.

  • Underground parking would be great in theory, but I imagine it is cost-prohibitive. And the restaurants that have closed on White Oak had more to do with them just not being good and/or not being the right fit. Many of the restaurants (new & old) seem to be doing just fine.

  • Some thoughts:
    .
    1. This place could look nice. It doesn’t look like the rest of the neighborhood, but it won’t look bad there.
    .
    2. If this is built, it may be left tenant-less by the bust. Be prepared for empty store fronts, or worse, mattress and phone stores.
    .
    3. What an awful lot of comments about one little shopping center proposal.
    .
    4. I bet the folks in Westbury would be happy to have it if the Heights folks don’t want it.

  • @Heightsresident (aka Heights Mercantile) up until this year, my home on Heights Blvd has been the most tax assessed per sq footage land than any other lot in the Heights -FACT. So get your facts straight before putting assumptions out there. Had I wanted strip malls and bars then yes I would have considered living in Katy and not in the historic, dry area. By the way where do you live?

  • I was really taken aback by the number of people clutching their pearls at the thought of someone parking in front of their house. This is why we can’t have nice things, Houston.

  • For the past 20 years, we have lived 2 blocks away from this site. We would welcome this addition to the neighborhood. It will be much nicer having restaurants and shops for us all to enjoy than a refrigerated warehouse. Our kids are also thrilled that they will be so close to such a “cool” development. It’s time to embrace change, especially when it benefits the community.

  • No one used Donovan Park until the playground was built in 1996. The parking was put in for the Pappas facility. They have always been the ones who used it. The “oh but what about the children” argument is just not based on reality. There is plenty of room for everyone. In fact, as parent, I am very excited about the prospect of having a restaurant across the street for a snack after a trip to Donovan and, more importantly, for a convenient potty.

  • The most exciting thing about this development is the precedent it sets to reverse our ban on public angled and head-in spots.

    Fact is, most of the pedestrians in our “walkable” neighborhoods got there by car. The difference between walkable urbanism and suburban strips isn’t bikes or transit, it’s whether or not people have to use the sidewalk to get between their car and their primary destination. If you can get everyone sharing the same public sidewalk (instead of sequestered in their own little off-street lots), you’ll create that street life and the bikes and demands for better transit will follow.

    This is why the sidewalks along Westheimer between Agora and Hugo’s are well-traveled, while Lower Westheimer east of Katz’s is sparsely-populated unless there’s a show at #’s.

    We can start this transformation tomorrow by liberalizing parking regs and incentivizing the creation of on-street spots. Then in 10 or 20 or 50 years when the transit catches up and the national publications write about how the new streetcar has “transformed” such-and-such a neighborhood, those of us who were around when you could buy a 50′ lot in 77009 for under $1 mm will smile and nod.

  • Lots of great locations for this in Spring Branch with a customer base coming from SB, memorial and the energy companies.

  • A similar variance a few blocks away resulted in revenue for a restaurant without any corresponding public benefit

    (Coltivare – variance allowed zero (0) onsite parking with addition of 40 bike racks. Alas, never more than two (2) bikes ever parked there! And dozens of upset neighbors on Arlington Street).

    What public purpose does granting a variance to this developer serve? The Planning Commission needs to assess the public purpose very carefully. They cannot discriminate between a Chilis vs. Coltivare. I know the developer won’t – they will take whoever pays.

    The truth of the matter is this development was purchased with the current parking requirements in place. The developer did some due diligence before purchasing and now wants a freebie.

    It will fizzle because no smart business will survive in an area that is:

    テ「竄ャツ「DRY and the neighbors have been active recently to get a TABC licenses denied (Gelazzi – two blocks from the subject site). No alcohol license = no successful restaurant.

    テ「竄ャツ「The area is RESIDENTIAL so any outdoor seating with a patio will be right near someone’s bedroom window and I am sure they will call the cops and subject the restaurant to a strict construction of the noise ordinance.

    テ「竄ャツ「The neighborhood is HISTORIC. HAHC will not approve the proposed changes to 709 and 711 Heights. Every alteration requires a Certificate of Appropriateness. The permitting costs will be hefty.

  • When you live in a vibrant, fast-growing urban neighborhood, It’s a selfish thing to think that just because you are slightly inconvenienced by increased street traffic and decreased parking– that meaningful development benefiting the whole of the urban core should be hindered in favor of your own convenient parking spot. If you don’t want to deal with these issues, move to Katy. And if you still feel the encroachment of development out there,move to Alaska and start a meth lab.

  • Geez, people. We don’t need endless swaths of parking spots. Houston’s parking requirements are way out of date. It would be nice to see some centralized parking spots in the neighborhood and then have people walk a few blocks to a destination rather than having dozens of mini parking lots all over the place. It’d be even better if the walk was friendly to people and attractive. Perhaps one day we will get there. Read “Suburban Nation” if you need some help understanding the benefits of urban life The Heights may have been in the burbs at one point in time, but I wouldn’t consider it so any more.
    .
    A few questions of my own:
    1) Why do small neighborhood parks not include restroom facilities?
    2) Where is Shannon? I’m surprised to not see him remarking on this…perhaps he took…*gasp*…a vacation.
    .
    You can bring this over to the Museum Park neighborhood. There are plenty of people that would love it.

  • love it and since it’s along the bike/walk/running path, it’s easy to get to without a car for those in the neighborhood.

  • I just realized this is right by White Oak street which is where I once got a parking ticket back in the neighborhood for “parking within 20 feet of an intersection” during Mardis Gras week when the bars and restaurants were running big events. I was pretty livid when I got that ticket which I know was because of NIMBY’s complaining to the higher ups with HPD. So, I hope this business really inconveniences the heck out of the neighbors. I hope people travelling your precious bike trail have to stop before crossing the street. You people who did that are really horrible and need to move to Lubbock or something so people who will appreciate that area can move in. Katy doesn’t deserve to get stuck with you. I think West Texas will do nicely.

    I hope they have big speakers playing rap music and they crank the base and point them directly at your windows. But only the windows of the NIMBY’s if that can be arranged.

  • You dadgum kids with your hiking and biking and restaurants and new fangled new urbanist designs better GET OFF MY LAWN!!!

    Here is my take regarding adjacent residences. You bought a house that was contiguous with a fish warehouse. Based on this datapoint alone you have shown yourself incapable of making logical and well reasoned choices. Hence, you are not qualified to speak for the rest of us in the neighborhood. Now – back to your regularly scheduled programming.

  • Houston is changing and our population is exploding and parking density is here to stay. I’m with Heights Jerry on this one, embrace the change and look at the positives of this improvement.

    Dream

  • The people who live nearby purposefully bought in the residential dry area of the Heights (west of Oxford from the bayou to 20th). Fronting on Heights Boulevard is not a good place for this development. It is a residential and dry area. However, Yale is commercial. White Oak east of Oxford is commercial. The Sawyer/Taylor area (near Target) is commercial. Those may be good places for this development.

  • @perplexed: The are is not residential. It is very mixed. Anyone getting a restaurant patio next to their bedroom window will also be losing semi trucks rumbling around at 5 am. Also, the two restaurants are shown to be fronting the corner of Yale and 7th and not in anyone’s bedroom window.

    The people that got in the way of Gelazzi’s TABC license played dirty pool. Gelazzi just wanted to serve some gelato with booze in it. People living near by claimed that they intended to have a “full bar”, which was not true. Also, Dry Creek has a private club license and is just down the street. Revival is getting one too and is just down the street. Anyone complaining about restaurants in this development getting a private club licenses is a little bit late to the punch. And if you think that businesses in this development will struggle, you need to look across the street at the 700+ new units of multi family going up. This development is the real estate equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel.

    Coltivare gave the public a beautiful garden instead of a parking lot. They also beautifully renovated an old storefront. No one else was interested in the property.

    HAHC will not have to approve changes to 709 Heights because it has already been demoed and will be replaced with a parking lot. HAHC may actually be required to approve changes to 711 Heights because it may be a “shall approve” item under the revisions to the ordinance that are currently in the works.

  • You mean that is a fish warehouse? I always thought I lived next-door to a whorehouse.

  • The issue is bending the existing rules in chapter 6 for THIS particular development, not city wide parking density rules. Seems likes that some folks are confused. If you want to amend chapter 6 then pursue those changes.
    :
    Also, interesting income and opinion schism.テつ I am guessing those with higher value homes have a different view from those who rent or those who visit cool neighborhoods on the weekend.テつテつ In my experience, the latter two groups generally drive their cars to the neighborhood which is exactly why parking is an issue.テつテつ

  • Perplexed…. you write in reference to Coltivare, that it was granted a variance “without any corresponding public benefit”. The neighborhood and all of Houston benefits from such a wonderful restaurant. Have you had a drink in the garden? My quality of life would be slightly less if I could not have a drink in that garden before having dinner. Not only my quality of life but many others that live close by have been improved in that we do not have to sit in traffic to drive to another similar restaurant. I think these qualities, among others, vastly outweigh the few people whom think the streets belong solely to them…… The neighborhood is more vibrant and attractive!

  • Send an email to Kimberly.Bowie@houstontx.gov to comment on the proposed variance.

    Personally, I think it’s an outstanding development and a great addition for the neighborhood. If this doesn’t get approved though, we could sure use a CVS surrounded by a sea of parking.

  • I’ve come up with a cunning (but tongue in cheek) solution. Let them build it under the condition that those who drive pay 10% more. Those who drive either a Tahoe, Yukon, Excursion, Escalade, Expedition, Suburban, Sequoia, Armada etc or any full size or larger truck …. pay double. Maybe that will get them to walk the 6 blocks instead.

  • @Perplexed,
    Coltivare did NOT get a variance on the NUMBER of required spaces. They got a variance on the LENGTH of the spaces that the LEASE from the warehouse across Arlington.
    To be sure, Coltivare is a wildly successful restaurant that often draws more customers than they have parking spaces. And perhaps if I lived on Arlington, I’d either petition CoH for resident-only parking, or HFD for one-side-of-the-street-only parking, but that situation is not because they got a variance on the number of spaces required.
    If you’d rather Coltivare had a parking lot fronting White Oak to the east of their building instead of a garden, you’re part of the reason most developments in central Houston are strip centers and big boxes.

  • I have relatives who are similarly possessive about the street parking in front of their house. They get majorly ticked when the neighbor parks a few feet inside the fence line, and would insist that I move my car into “their area” whenever I chose to park in front of a neighbor’s house for any reason. I can understand ex-suburbanites being nervous about the intent of a driver who prefers their curbside over any other when there are plenty of spots available, but in the tight confines of the urban core, it’s a fact of life that you are permanently surrounded by strangers. I suppose it’s only human to want to maximize your personal space; when I visited San Francisco, I received a laughably aggressive note on my windshield from the resident whose door I parked in front of (legally, I’m fairly certain). I believe the city should not cater to such whims; the perceived benefits felt by a few individuals come at a cost to everyone, in the form of reduced walkability, bad aesthetics, and environmental impacts (heat island, drainage, etc.).

  • I live in Heights West and am just glad to see that Yale won’t have an 18 wheeler struggling to back into Pappas for 3 minutes 30 times a day. I’m also amazed that Shannon hasn’t stepped in to drop a huge turd.

  • I like how this development is sufficiently yuppie-friendly to cause the usual suspects from the Heights to turn against their own kind and reveal a lack of NIMBY solidarity. The discussion also subtly reveals peoples’ fickle nature, their xenophobia, and the ease with which they can turn from principled technocrats into disingenuous assholes. This is why Houston shouldn’t have zoning and should revise its rules to be more permissive in the first place, because people behave like this.

  • City will have to do something about the hike/bike crossing at Yale. It’s bad enough now without the apartments or retail.

  • Old School, another great addition to the conversation. Consistently one of the best on the site, if not the best.

  • @Niche: But for your unending class envy, you would see that there is a very clear principle being debated here that has nothing to do with your insistence on lumping the world into NIMBYs and nonNIMBYs. People like me chose the Heights because it is a neighborhood that did new urbanism before there was such a thing. You can have a single family home and walk/bike to the park, stores, and restaurants. The original planners of the Heights very purposefully integrated commercial corridors so that everyone would be a few blocks from stores or could hop on a trolley that would take them a short distance to get whatever they needed. The Katyville version of new development detracts from this quality as it reinforces dependence on cars and diminishes the kind of street life that we find on 19th street. Others want the Heights to basically be solely a bedroom community with all the businesses pushed into Katyville developments south of I-10 so that there will be no parking spillover onto their street. While I am usually very sympathetic to the plight of residents versus the externalities of development, in this case, the externalities are being overstated and the benefits of the development are significant. So, we live in a world that is a bit more nuanced that just having one group that always says “development bad”/”yuppie good”. Ainbinder filled his strip center on Heights Blvd with all sorts of Yuppie stuff and I still hate it and have only set foot in it to address one of my kids’ bathroom emergency.

  • Agree that the comments are mostly about public concerns of the parking ordinances. PC needs to address why a developer bought the property with the restrictions. If this developer gets the variance, everyone in the City should get a variance.
    .
    Facts: Coltivare got a variance, has no onsite parking, and has severely underused bike racks. Residents are pursuing parking restrictions on their street.
    .
    Facts: Gelazzi had their TABC license denied (because it is not appropriate for the neighborhood they advertised all over the internet that they were a full bar).
    .
    Fact: the parking all along 7th is full as of ten minutes ago.

  • @Perplexed Too, the parking on 7th is full all day every day because the workers building the apartments across the street park there. You can spot them crossing Yale every morning, high-viz gleaming with the reflection of your headlights..

  • @Perplexed too – Shame on you. I am looking at the 7th Street parking right now and it is completely empty, except for 2 trucks working on the TCR Alexan project. I was there at 1:30 PM and it was likewise empty. Next time, remember that baseless fear mongering only works if you can sufficiently obfuscate the truth.

  • Fact: The ‘dry’ area of the heights is an outdated, ridiculous concept

    Fact: The 60+ NIMBY crowd in the heights would fight any liquor permit at any time anywhere.

    Fact: Nobody would ever hang out at Gelazzi and get wasted if it happened to serve gelato blended with liquor.

    Fact: The neighborhood is getting younger and the next generation will hopefully have more common sense

  • @Perplexed: FACT: Coltivare got a variance to allow off-site parking!!!! The variance didn’t provide ANY REDUCTION IN REQUIRED PARKING. End of story. Why can’t you and others get that? If they didn’t get the variance, the only difference would have been the absence of the garden. People would still be parking in the neighborhood in the exact same numbers. What is wrong with you and others that they can’t understand something so simple?

  • @Perplexed too
    Even among people who support this variance, I’m probably in the minority, but yes, I would support blanket removal of all parking minimums (and minimum setbacks while we’re at it). Before parking and setback minimums we got 19th & Rutland. After, we got 19th & Nicholson. Easy choice.

  • Perplexed – the cars you see parked are trammel crow apartment builders. Barrio antique and urban jungle also park there. Neither of them have the required parking ratios as set forth by the city. Let’s light the stakes and get the pitchforks and take them to task!

  • I second Ian’s comment about Old school’s postings – some of the most reasonable, well-thought out & well expressed commentary here. I guess it helps too that we seem to be kindred spirits in many ways. In our case, my wife & I believe this development is the type of small scale local business that attacted us to the heights and out of the ‘burbs years ago. We were sick & tired of having to jump in the car for any need that arose and love being able to walk to restaurants & stores in our neighborhood. We’re thrilled to have an innovative, high-quality restaurant like Coltivare just 5 or 6 blocks walk away and look forward to having some additional choices with this development. Personally I love the fact that our many walks down White Oak don’t include a massive parking lot as we stroll by Coltivare and I love the fact that this design hides the parking behind the buildings. We’ve paved enough of the Heights already.
    There seems to be a lot of commentary here about this development stealing public parking spots. Frankly I don’t understand this shortsightedness. Just because this development would like to use these spots as part of their required parking doesn’t mean they’ll be unavailable to the public. As far as the “Fact” that all of the parking spaces on 7th were full at 2:10pm this is pure baloney. I walked down that stretch of trail before & after my run down the Heights jogging trail around that time today and there were only 4 or 5 spaces occupied. I live 2 blocks from here and walk this stretch of the trail every other day and the parking is seldom used. It did get pretty full in the early stages of the TCR construction but since they finished the parking garage section about 6 months ago most of the workers park in the building.
    I attended the presentation these developers made to the Heights Association land use committee on Monday and was very impressed at the thoughtfulness evident in their design.
    @TheNiche Old school nailed you big time. There’s a lot of difference in fighting a 5-story apartment building or 2 that contribute nothing but traffic congestion to the neighborhood and a nice well-planned retail & restaurant development that gives the neighborhood some benefits for the costs – a nice balance.

  • Maybe these people who are complaining about other people parking in the public street in front of their houses are from places like Chicago and Pittsburgh, where people reserve “their” parking spaces with chairs when it snows. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parking_chair
    .
    I’m fairly sure that’s illegal in Houston, although I can’t find the exact ordinance. It might fall under Sec. 40-362(a), “It shall be unlawful for any person to place, cause, or allow any impairment or obstruction of a sidewalk or roadway, except as authorized by a permit.”
    .
    I used to have a neighbor who would set out traffic cones in front of his house every morning so that the visitors to the nearby businesses wouldn’t park in front of his house. After we ran over and/or moved his cones a few times, I think he got the idea.

  • No thank you !!!

  • I find the city cares little about residents when they stand to benefit from commercial and developers more. Same applies to anything regarding historic or esthetics and architectural integrity

  • How about all you people sitting in your cube collecting a paycheck making negative comments quit your job, take some risk, and show all the big bad developers how it’s done?

    Not likely… Continue the comments on your employers dime so you can pay your house note and the accord payment…

    Not the developer, a investor, or lender in the project

  • @ Old School: Class envy? Hardly. There are lots of affluent neighborhoods in Houston that I wouldn’t live in under any circumstances. The Woodlands is one of them. The Heights is another. There are other examples. Yeah, part of it is that I’m notoriously miserly and I often don’t feel like these communities offer upside potential or amenities that match the price, regardless of how much money I want to spend. (The East End has everything you described about the Heights at a fraction of the cost to live there, which is why I’m calling you out on your subtext.)

    But its not just that…

    People tend to self-segregate geographically. The sort of person that dramatically overpays for an amenity of any sort is probably not the sort of person that I’m likely to get along with. No matter how fiercely they insist otherwise, that person is seeking more than a built environment; they’re after a sense of belonging and group identity. Exclusivity and scarcity and fear that their values and their identity and self value may be undermined (especially by a heretic outsider), these things all reinforce a pattern of voluntary socioeconomic and indeed psychographic segregation. This is how the Heights and The Woodlands end up in the same blacklisted category.

    But indeed this is occurring in most neighborhoods at some level or another. The truth is that no matter where I or anybody might go to live (and regardless of financial circumstances or other circumstances that confer status), there’s going to be a significant number of people that would really prefer it if I and the other people around them were just as they idealize their own persona and characteristics. That is to say, this is human nature, it exists everywhere, there’s no escaping it. The best I can hope for is to be mostly excluded (or rather peripherally included) from the community and also left alone; that’s feasible in a variety of places at a low cost, but certainly not the Heights. Perhaps least of all the Heights.

  • As a Heights resident who uses the bike path, I WELCOME this development!

    Hasn’t the city seen that a SMALL group of Old-time misersble Heights people COMPLAIN about everything that has to do about change?? Everything. EVERYTHING!!!

    For example, before the feeder roads were constructed, one would think the DOT was putting in gravel paths: complaints galore. Then complaints about any building being torn down. Complaints about Walmart. Complaints about the retention ponds that prevent flooding. Complaints of crime when it is MUCH lower here than most neighboring area (yes, idiots: people will steal your stuff when u leave your garage door open!). Complaints when a resident built a beautiful word train for kids in the park, complaints when “outsiders” use the running trail, complaints when anybody parks in front of their homes (this is “public parking) complaints when bikes use our streets because they come from other areas, complaints when nice new housing replaces a junky bungalow that can’t be sold otherwise because what family can live in a two bedroom one bath termite-ridden home?… Complaints about tearing down a slumlord gang infested apartment complex to build a nice shopping center, etc, etc,

    I can’t stand these old misersble complainers and I’ll bet the city is tired of it as well. More important, the common sense residents of Hrights are concerned as well. Progress is here and MOST Heights residents welcome it.

  • Thanks HeightsDweller, I hope there are many of us out there who think this way too..

    It doesn’t matter what gets put in, there is always a collection of people with too much time on their hands that will complain about it.

  • I suspect that when the developer bought the land recently, they probably checked out some models for revenue. They will develop that area whether they get the variance or not.

    Everyone I speak to feels that this developer should not get a free pass. If the parking rules need to change, let’s change them for everyone. Hundreds of people are concerned enough to take the time to oppose this variance. Surely that means something?

  • I urge everybody who is in favor of this project to reach out and say something. The opposition is always the loudest so it would be nice to let the City know that people support this project. I’ve met about two people now not in favor of this project and countless in favor of it. It was a hot topic yesterday at Donovan park! Anyways I think the project looks great and definitely will be voicing my support to the city.

  • Thanks Heights Dweller. My family and I live in Heights West and have lived in the Heights since 1994. My Father grew up on Waverly and walked to All Saints. The neighborhood is far better than it was in 94. Sure, a little charm has been lost with neighbors knowing neighbors but I am sick of the small, miserable group of people who will never be pleased. At some point city officials roll their eyes at them. What started out as a move to keep things from turning into Shady Acres and Cottage Grove (which I couldn’t agree more with) has turned into a joke.

  • Old School, I think you may be on to something…why not get the trolley going again? Require businesses that are granted fewer parking spaces to contribute to, or pay for it.

  • People were parked all over this intersection and the area east down 7th all the way to Cortlandt and beyond this weekend. Donovan Park seems to be more popular than usual. It is really busy there already on weekends, evenings and especially anytime the weather is nice. Someone needs to build a parking lot.

  • Awesome. Another great walking/biking destination. So does the martial arts school need to get a revised parking permit since they have ZERO parking but uses that area for their 30+ cars daily. At least Coltivare provides some parking and valet. I bike on this intersection hopefully we will get a pedestrian signal light.

  • It will take a whole lot more than a light to ameliorate the parking issues. No doubt a light is needed, but the developer should provide all parking as required. It is the right thing to do given the anticipated growth of this area once the apartment so are occupied.

  • Planning Commission UNANIMOUSLY denied the variance despite Planning Department staff support. Hopefully Planning Department staff will do a better job representing the city and not just developers now.