Hines Plans a Shiny New 18-Story Office Building Across San Felipe from River Oaks

Hines is planning to build an 18-story office building on a 3-lane section of San Felipe between Shepherd and Kirby, across the street from tony River Oaks. The site is the 35,000-sq.-ft. former lushy garden and grounds of a Vermont Commons home, which features several trees and at least one giant oak. “No one knows anything about this,” a source tells Swamplot. “They think a few nice townhouses are about to rise from the earth. That is the story that’s circulating the hood.”


The site is on the southwest corner of San Felipe and Spann. The proposed building, designed by HKS and Ziegler Cooper, is meant to include approximately 170,000 sq. ft. of office space in 10 office stories; they’ll be sitting atop an 8-level parking garage. The main street entrance appears to front Spann St. Randall Davis’s now-reportedly “sold out” Chateau Ten 10-unit condo building is going up across that street, at 2221 Welch. The leaked rendering above is a preliminary design.

Hines appears not to have announced the project to neighbors, though obsessive Googlers might have come across a company press release from late last month that happened to drop the name of the project, which also happens to be its address: 2229 San Felipe. “The neighbors are only now starting to learn the truth,” claims a source. “They were led to believe that nice River-Oaks-type luxury townhomes were going to built on that corner. Who knows who started that rumor, but that’s what we heard . . . To say that people are upset is an understatement . . . it’s going to be another Ashby Highrise brawl. . . . The River Oaks folks are not going to like tenants looking down on their pools, backyards, terraces, balconies . . .”

An entity connected to Hines bought the property last November. The company expects to complete the building at the end of 2014 or the beginning of 2015.

Rendering: Hines

56 Comment

  • Not big enough.

  • Very handsome – and registered for lees certification http://www.gbig.org/activities/leed-1000030957

  • The old River Oaks Bank building is 13 floors. Those folks in the cool horseshoe lots on Stanmore to the north are gonna be upset.

  • Why would people be upset? It’s two blocks from the much taller Huntingdon condo building and there’s an office tower at San Felipe and Kirby.

  • STOP SAN FELIPE HIGHRISE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • It’s understandable that people might complain having office workers peeping down on their backyard pool parties but I’ve heard no one complain about the HPD helicopters who violate our airspace multiple times daily. Maybe once the drones are released people will protest….nah.


  • This is a prudent business decision. Houston’s elite are nearby and likely to pay a premium for space in such a convenient building. Hopefully, it will not fill with bufoonish middle managers. Let’s keep that lot on the energy corridor.

  • Go Spann Go!!! LOL

  • Stanmore is one of the most unique streets in RO, and this will certainly detract from the houses/street. That said, I’m all for more vertical buildings (even if only 18 floors), so I look forward to seeing this get completed.

  • “Hopefully, it will not fill with bufoonish middle managers.”
    Indeed. Imagine the outrage locals would feel knowing the peeps peeping down on their classy cleavage were only buffoonish middle managers. Eeewwww….

  • Buahahahahaha!!!! See, this is the way to do it, don’t tell the NIMBY’s until it’s too late and there’s nothing they can do about it. Very smart business move.

  • I’ll be leasing an office there w/balcony so I can have a launch facility for my new
    origami drone business.

  • i couldn’t imagine a worse location to have to commute in and out of everyday, but i imagine such pricey office space is going to be more for the locals to the area anyhow.

    san felipe is an amazing cut through for the inner loop area though and is certainly a prime place for developments like this. now if they could just do something about the obnoxious speed limit, but i guess we all know that’s never going to change.

  • I guess the new Chateau residents just lost their north view…

  • I don’t sympathise with NIMBYists, but I do think it would make more sense to group construction like this in certain areas. Houston could have a much richer urban landscape if all the buildings in Westheimer/Upper Kirby were next to each other. Instead, we have islands of urbanity that require people to drive between them — vertical cul-de-sacs. The city could at least incentivize or penalize developers through taxation to promote certain levels of density in certain areas.

  • One thing is for sure. The mayor won’t be siding with the homeowners. There are powerful people. And then there is Gerald Hines.

  • Only 18 stories? Why not really stand out from the neighborhood and go for 40 or 50 stories?

  • Well, I guess the cat’s out of the bag now.
    Only time will tell if neighbors mount an opposition to the project. I know everyone assumes they will, they are rich after all, but it is by no means a foregone conclusion.
    If I was Hines, I’d be more worried about neighbors on Welch Street – especially on the north side of the street, than I would be about the people who live on the other side of San Felipe. Without seeing a detailed site plan, it’s tough to tell if they took the neighbors into account in their design. (I would hope for their sake that they did).

  • So no one is actually upset. We’re all just assuming that people will be upset. Got it.

    I live in the area, although not close enough for this to have a direct impact on my property.

    I think it’s a great and welcome addition to the neighborhood. There’s already a nice sized office building a block away on San Felipe. I’d like to see a few more of these in the area.

  • No scary eyes, pointy teeth or wavy arms? So disappointed.

  • “I do think it would make more sense to group construction like this in certain areas. Houston could have a much richer urban landscape if all the buildings in Westheimer/Upper Kirby were next to each other. Instead, we have islands of urbanity that require people to drive between them — vertical cul-de-sacs.”


  • That is big news. The River Oaks Bank Building (BBVA) has always been 100% leased. It think this building will lease instantly. I wonder what kind of fight will happen to prevent this, if that is even possible at this point.

  • Rendering doesn’t show the coin operated telescopes??

  • needs first floor retail

  • As modern city planing is concerned, the biggest surprise in the above rendering is that the power lines and poles have altogether vanished. Otherwise a typical example of Houston’s developmental randomness.
    I am now waiting for the first modern highrise to show up right in the midst of Glenwood cemetery.

  • LandedGent #8 for comment of the year.

  • …and the other big surprise in the above picture is that I can see more people than cars on a Houston street. Will Hines hire actors who play pedestrians near this building?

  • Oh, I don’t know…I find the development randomness in Houston to be rather endearing at times. :-) Houston would be so boring if it was, like, Woodlands.

  • This has got to be the best news that Matthew Morgan and Kevin Kirton have heard, now there are other “Evil Developers” among us.

  • “Sold out” Chatueau Ten? No, a quick google search shows 5 currently for sale… so “sold out” it is not!

  • Everyone is a closet NIMBY…the only one’s who aren’t are the one’s who haven’t had a nasty or objectionable structure near them or next to them. Those who complain the most about NIMBY’s will be the worst when their time comes, and in Houston, for every home owner, their time will come.

  • I look out my window at the NE section of Downtown and see a sea of parking lots. Midtown has lot after lot of burnt out old warehouses and commercial buildings. Huge tracts on the near north and east side of downtown sit waiting for development. All have street grids ready for the traffic, great access to public transportation, great proximity to other offices and restaurants as well as highway access. Yet, developers prefer to stick 18-22 story buildings on tiny lots in the middle of residential areas. Sure, there are two similar mistakes down the road, but three wrongs do not make a right. Every time a developer does a dart board move like this, they are depriving the city of further developing central business districts and gaining the benefits from the densisty.

  • Hey Larry – My plot in Glenwood is the only permanent residence inside the loop I will ever be able to afford. As a ghost I could be the ultimate NIMBY.

  • Former Governor Connally lost his shirt and filed for bankruptcy when he built a similar office building now called Shepherd Place over at 2323 South Shepherd. Similar to this, it is 7 floors of offices sitting atop about 6 floors of parking. Land in that area is very expensive to be able to assemble the right sized lot to build multi-story structures. But if anyone in town knows how to make the financials work, it would be Hines. I do wish they would go back to their 1970’s and ’80s business model of building great structures by well known architects in prime locations. But those day are past now…
    I like Derek’s comment about “vertical cul de sacs”!

  • Whenever I see highrises like this plunked down in a non-highrise neighborhood I always think of that monstrosity on Shepherd. Built by Connally. They built it and no one (else) came. Such an eyesore. Standing out among all the 1-2 story buildings around it.

  • Old School, San Felipe is right in between the Galleria and Downtown. Why shouldn’t it get more dense?

  • Makes no sense! Another eyesore on the horizon.

  • Isn’t there something inherently unsettling about the need for stealth in association with the permitting and construction of a commercial project? Clearly, the developer anticipated extreme resistance to this project and has taken the necessary, clandestine steps to avoid it – and has been successful in doing so…thus far. This kind of Machiavellian approach has been in evidence in Houston for decades and has more often had a degrading rather than enhancing effect. I suggest that the owners of the properties to the immediate west of this new Hines building agree to sell, in aggregate, their properties to a topless bar franchise and really stir things up.

  • Spoonman:
    That’s insane. The Galleria and Downtown are 6 miles apart, and “more dense” does not mandate throwing down towers on random city blocks. Particularly considering the amount of vacant lots in midtown and downtown.

  • stupid location. they can’t find a more suitable location? really?

  • They should put the office building on the cafe adobe site and put their multi family project on this site. Switch sites.

  • Another PIA.

    So lemme guess… every weekday from 4:45p-5:45p there will be a couple HPD/LEO type fat-asses screwing up traffic so these automaton wage slaves can exit the parking garage?

    No thanks.

  • River Oaks already has a number of high-rises in the immediate area. I’m not sure what the alarm is with this project. In fact, this project is many stories shorter than Huntington Tower (which is just a couple of blocks away). So the argument of being spied on seems a bit specious to me.

    Here’s the reality. Houston is modernizing. Houston is densifying. And projects like this are only as successful as the city’s interest in investing in infrastructure and mass transit. The city has, as of late, been reluctant to expand light rail at the speed that development is expanding these kinds of projects.

    The point is, we can’t expect the densification of inner Houston to be a success unless it is also coupled with far better public transport options. We shouldn’t waste this opportunity to modernize the city.

    So while the “traffic” argument might be relatively pertinent to this project, give the number of other similar projects in the vicinity, it seems a negligible impact. But for sure, issues of privacy are far over blown.

    Also, the “luxury type townhomes” that this article references are actually really poorly built crap boxes that homeowners should be avoiding like the plague. Just because it has crown molding and granite counter tops doesn’t make something a well-built project.

    Houstonians need to wake up, visit some other cities, and realize that their perceptions of living are beyond antiquated. So they can either sit on the sidelines and watch projects like this go up; or accept the fact that things will be changing, and at least be a positive voice in that change.

    But for sure, sticking up a picket sign while sticking your head in the ground is not a great strategy.

  • Giorgio, given how much more successful Houston has been lately than most other cities, maybe they need to take a drive on the Loop?

  • “Houstonians need to wake up, visit some other cities, and realize that their perceptions of living are beyond antiquated…”

    Giorgio, dude, the drivel about densifying Houston is just that, drivel. You sound like a broken parrot. Houston has an outer outer beltway grand parkway. So go densify Dallas. Or Atlanta, or wherever it is that you think has better “perceptions of living”.

  • As a resident of the immediate area, I can not stand the thought of this building going up. Clearly those commenting do not know the area and just lump the Huntington and BBVA in as being a factor here. They sit directly on Kirby and were built what, 30 years ago? This building is quite frankly in the middle of the neighborhood. It will create traffic, block well paid for views, and be a damn eyesore in a residential neighborhood.

  • We must stop this! Just think with a new highrise building there, it might slightly change the direction of the flow of wind in the neiborhood (by maybe as much as 1 degree). How DARE they impact the neiborhood in such a mannor!

  • This office building is going to completely block my view of the downtown Houston skyline. So who do I sue first? With all the space available in Houston why does this office building have to be built there? Nobody ever builds over in east Houston say i10 east & 59, why is that? I tell you this no zoning thing is a real pain in the @$$!

  • Sorry Giorgio, but this development will do nothing to improve density. It will be in use 5 days a week,offer no value except to the owner and a few tenents, and will not encourage more mass transit. People left Houston years ago partly because they didn’t like the traffic and congestion in the loop. Now plopping a building like this is not going to suddenly change behavior and create a light rail line down the middle of San Felipe. So, as congestion reaches a critical mass due to poor planning and inappropriate development, then the cyclical pattern of flight to the suburbs will begin again. Thanks Giorgio, but I would rather sleep this one out rather than “waking up” as you would prefer.

  • I need to register http://www.StopSanFelipHighrise.com and .org.

    Time to plan my retirement savings.

  • I love it. Those snooty River Oakers NEED a tower looming over them.

  • “I love it. Those snooty River Oakers NEED a tower looming over them.”

    So, you were “touched” in River Oaks/

  • Patrick above exemplifies the petty “eat the rich” mentality that plagues this country. You can just hear the pathetic frustration in his voice. I feel sorry for an individual whose sole contribution to this conversation is jealous invective. But that is what this country has degenerated into. Rather than work towards whatever one may aspire individuals like Patrick sooth themselves with rejoicing in the perceived misfortune of others. Finally, if this were a good idea it wouldn’t have been done covertly.

  • This is probably great news for the business owners in the River Oaks Shopping Center and down Shepherd. Some residents may not like it, but chances are their property values will go up as a result, helping them sell and move for a better price.
    Comment #50 is pretty silly… people left because it was too congested? You’re saying it became less dense because it was too dense? I don’t think so. Outer Houston grew because inner Houston was getting expensive to live in. Them’s the breaks for living in a booming city. You make a city people like and want to live in, and then people start moving there. People want to live close to where they work.
    Myself, I’d love for a project like this to be built right by me, but my portion of the loop isn’t as good real estate (few are). Hines builds some beautiful buildings and they seem to like green areas too. It’s a shame it isn’t taller.
    I don’t doubt there aren’t better locations for a building like this (midtown, or closer to AIG), but I don’t think the San Felipe location is a bad one either. I hope Houston continues to grow for a long time

  • As someone who lives on this block – Welch I have mixed feelings about this. I agree it may add value to nearby homes but that lot had the most beautiful trees in Houston. It is sad they will all be cut down it was so charming. I bought my condo almost 2 years ago and in that time I have watched every lot available go for astronomical prices with tiny green spaces left when they are thru. I have a 1950’s condo with a courtyard and tiny pool. I call it 50’s motel chic. We all know each other. One day it may be the last thing left. I wouldn’t vote to sell it ever and luckily you can only own 2 and 75% have to agree to
    sell. My place has already almost doubled in value. I feel lucky to have bought before the boom.