If Hines Builds That 17-Story Tower on San Felipe, Everyone’s Gonna Wanna Build One

Seems the concerned neighbors around that 17-story office building that Hines is considering building on San Felipe aren’t worried only about traffic. This map, created by a member of the recently formed nonprofit East San Felipe Association — which says it is committed to supporting “reasonable development” in this area around S. Shepherd, Kirby, and San Felipe — suggests another threat to the ’hood: copycatting.

Clearly speculative, the map takes pains to show those sites where other unreasonable highrises could pop up in response to the precedent that Hines is setting with 2229 San Felipe. On S. Shepherd, for ex., you might see the Red Lion Pub forgo its street-level scale, or Petco abandon the confines of its big box. (But wouldn’t that long elevator ride down give you some quality time to bond with your recently adopted pup?) If this map is to be trusted, it seems like it would be only a matter of time before the bug spreads north and Chipotle throws up a tower of burritos. The last thing the neighbors want, says just one of the messages on that oppositional website that they set up, is for this residential area to become “the next Greenway Plaza.”

Image: Swamplot inbox

39 Comment

  • San Felipe in this area is WAY under utilized. I know because as a cyclist this is my road of choice for a quiet ride with NO ONE else on the road. I mean, compared with Westheimer one street over, it’s dead, it’s empty, it may as well be a residential street and not a thoroughfare that it is. Yes, a big building will increase usage of the street, but traffic it will not be.

    Besides, aren’t there plenty of towers on San Felipe as it is? When they went up, they didn’t start a tower frenzy in the area.

  • While I certainly don’t share their position about the planned office building, I give them points for actually realizing that density can occur on nearby unrestricted parcels. As it should!

  • Someone from another city might read this and be amused at the seeming hyperbole –but as a Native Houstonian I know this is hardly over exaggeration–this is Houston —Houston would even fuck up their grandest neighborhood –the Hoggs and the Kessler Bros along with Hare and Hare must be spinning in their graves —

  • Talk about pure unfounded speculation, by the same reasoning I can make a map of Galleria area where 27 strip clubs COULD be built if this madness does not stop now.

  • However unlikely it is that their fears are realized on any meaningful time horizon, I would welcome a world with so many highrises in central Houston. Good. Bring it on.

  • Where’s the part where they are going to buy the air rights for the properties? That would reasonable.

  • I love the fact that Hines has “reached out” to area neighbor groups …. just not any in which their building is going to be located.

  • I have a theory: The member of the East San Felipe Association who create this is actually a mole planted by multiple developers. Their thinking is that if there is enought “Chicken Little” talk about upcoming development, that all the NIMBY’s will be dismissed as lunatics. Then, the developers will then have carte blanche to build everything on that map!

  • For folks who don’t like tall buildings, despite living in the urban core, there is always an easy answer . . . sell your property for a profit and move to the suburbs.

  • My favorite part is the 17-story Red Lion Pub.
    This has to be a joke, right?

    If they’re going to go slippery-slope with their argument, they should’ve gone all in — pointing out the irresistible lure of a bevy of towers via an animated Godzilla mashing the place to bits.

  • @forethought et.al–no all we need is sane zoning –Jesus, look at Dallas–great skyline, but not a 40 story building looming over Highland Park!–I don’t blame these people for being concerned, you invest 5 million in a house and have them build a skyscraper in your backyard –it’s beyond idiocy

  • Houston isn’t Manhattan and River Oaks isn’t the Upper East Side–maybe y’all need to move to Mahattan instead of these Houstonians moving to The Woodlands–(these River Oaks residents are the rich Houstonians whose taxes support the whole city)

  • @Shannon

    In what way is it idiocy?

    I suppose building a $5m home without securing your investment could be considered as such, but I doubt that’s whay you’re saying.

  • It’s Houston, what do you expect. If you want Dallas, move there. So you spend 5 million on a home. All the skyscrapers come and you sell your home for 10 million. That’s why we come to Houston, not for the great air, wonderful weather, great pollen count, and beautiful hillside vistas.

  • Uh you don’t sell a 5 million dollar house for a 200 percent profit with a 40 story skyscraper in the backyard –and I’ll live where I please

  • What if the Red Lion Tower had a revolving pub connected by zipline to Hines Tower? Embrace the vision.

  • Walt – that’s basically the premise of the Matt Damon movie “Promised Land,” except replaced NIMBYs with “fracking opponents.”

  • Yes.

    That’s exactly what I expect in 50+ years.

    Visit Manhattan to get a preview.

  • You guys should have seen the opposition to Burj Khalifa tower in Dubai! They just filled every block with 2700 foot high skyscrapers and said, “Do you want your home to look like Sim City 2000!?!?”

  • That is exactly what will happen in this area, because without any zoning limit everyone could build highrise office and residential apartments. Once the pople who own the land on the Red Lion and the Petco realize they could be making 4 times the money off their land why wouldn’t you sell or develop? It is only a matter of time. Too bad the people who made this image will say they are against zoning (even though that is exactly what they want: to limit what other people can do on their property).

    Why do all these complainers never propose a solution?

  • @Shannon

    River Oaks residents pay tax on their OWN property, not the property across the street, down the block or over in Montrose. If they want vacant lots next to them, then they can spend the money to buy it themselves. If the traffic was so bad as to deter people away from living or working in these towers, then people would move away or find other places to work and the problem would resolve itself. I seriously doubt this will be the case.

  • I lived off San Felipe on Briarglen and Bancroft for nearly 30 years. I watched with sadness as apartments were destroyed so some greedy well heeled heel could roost inside the loop. Of the thousands of tenants who worked hard to create a life in Houston – all have been displaced. My apartment was one of eighty destroyed and its tenants tossed out into the Houston summer sun so a bunch of thugs could build an overpriced town home. The thugs did not care many had no place to go or the funds to do so. Being the narcissists they are – why worry? Now Savannah Club and West Creek victims of the latest let’s tear it all down club. Afton Oaks will become a mirror of classless town homes while beautiful old homes and oak trees destroyed. It is sickening. A strong homeowners association needed but not one ruled by loonies such as Geneva Kirk Brooks who was an infamous slum landlord.

  • Conversely, if Hines builds the tower, other developers might think they are better off looking elsewhere. Just a thought.

  • “From forethought:
    For folks who don’t like tall buildings, despite living in the urban core, there is always an easy answer . . . sell your property for a profit and move to the suburbs.”

    Ahhhh, the old “if you don’t like it move, even though you have lived there over 20 yrs” rebuttle…weak

  • Actually, this area will not densify the way opponents claim because that would actually make some sense. Instead, developers will just put up highrises where ever they can find the cheapest land. That is usually going to be an old multifamily or, even better, a few neglected single family lots. Developers do not usually have to bid against retail developers for these properties because the locations are not suitable for retail development. So, highrises will just get sprinkled here and there where developers can snag cheap property inside the loop. No benefits of density, while maximizing the burdens on residential neighborhoods inside the loop.

  • @ Old School: It’s retailers who usually look for the cheap land. They’re not the ones who will be in the bidding war. The war will be office vs. dense residential.

  • Can’t wait for the bottom to fall out, only by that time the developers will have made their money and ran. Why do people pay those ridiculous rents??? Just because there are two Starbucks right across the street from each other on W Gray doesn’t make it the center of the universe

  • @Ash, don’t be a whiny peasant, there are actually three Starbucks’ on that corner. Two across from each other and another one inside the book store. And that DOES make it the center of the universe.

  • The funniest thing about all the new development coming into the Loop and the NIMBY neighbors is that there is a large number of the said NIMBY’s that have either been developers or limited partners, either passive or otherwise, regardless they have had some finger in the pie. Oh, the bittersweetness of having the horrid new developments being imposed on themselves. Boo Hoo

  • the hines building is a crime against nature. Would he live next door?

  • To Ash. Why be bitter and wish for the worst? If you want that, head to Detroit. It’s good for Houston to become more dense. Success breeds more success. I for one am very pleased with the midrises. It reminds me of DC, which is beautiful.

  • Learn from history, highs and lows. Don’t be mad because the coolness has left your area (please don’t tell me you think 3 Starbucks = cool). Maybe you could get another one inside the River Oaks theater, haha. I’m not bitter, I just like when greed catches up to people. Somebody better fix those roads before the traffic increases

  • By the way Detroit is cool, but their situation is a great example of the perils of greed and corruption. D.C.??? too many politicians in one place for me, my brother-in-law lives there, it’s not like Houston

  • @ Shannon: If you have $5 million with which to purchase a home and you buy one that adjoins a sizable unrestricted commercial parcel and within earshot of a major thoroughfare, then — first of all — you probably realized a substantial discount on the price from what would have been paid for a house that is deeper into the neighborhood. If you want more control over what happens in your back yard, you should’ve PAID MORE MONEY OR LOWERED YOUR EXPECTATIONS.

    But second of all, due diligence takes just about as much effort for a $5 million house as a $200,000 house. A buyer should do it for one and they should do it for the other. The only difference between the two is that someone that’s buying a $5 million house should know well enough to contract some professional expertise even if they know how to do it themselves; whereas Joe Schmo might be reasonably excused if he gives up on due diligence out of ignorance and for lack of funds.

    You can cry out for zoning all you like, but zoning only enables corruption, cronyism, and nepotism. If as a homeowner you are not important to somebody, then zoning does not protect you. It’s a ‘Blue Blood Protection Act’ at best, and a pay raise for elected and appointed officials at worst.

  • I wonder if anyone could gain ground by restricting parking area sizes? A 25-story apartment building won’t do well if it has ten parking spaces. It would also limit the increase in traffic and promote mass transit use…

    It would still hurt residential neighborhoods more, but not as much.

  • You may find it funny to suggest the Red Lion or Petco might be turned into high-rise sites, but take a harder look…. http://www.stopsanfelipeskyscraper.org/questions.html#next

    Do you really think that all the strip centers on Shepherd will remain there forever? Do any of you ever travel up Shepherd at any time during the day and see all the traffic we already have? This is not just River Oaks… it’s anyone who lives in or uses the Shepherd or Kirby corridors.

  • First, some of these comments are obvious plants by developers. Sad.
    Also, such short memories people have here. There were plenty of grand homes now gone or rotting in areas close to downtown and the med center. For every Shady Lane mansion, there are dozens of homes which stopped appreciating, and eventually lost relative value as their areas became overly commercialized.
    Furthermore, the stupidity of joking about a high rise Petco. Idiocy.
    Imagine you paid a premium to buy into beautiful neighborhood (if you can imagine that), and that most of the non deed restricted land near you started increasing its density at an astounding rate. Finally, you find out the new mid rises are to be joined by a high rise. The people there are rightly upset. I am half a mile away and I am upset. These projects are likely to kill property appreciation, not help it. There are plenty of spots close by available for this sort of high rise. Why there?

    To Steal Value!

  • More STRONG deed restrictions /HOA’s that ENFORCE the restrictions /property rights. And enact ZONING. @TheNiche:Your argument against zoning is lame. We already have corruption /cronyism /nepotism!!! Put an enforcement mechanism in place to bring about proper development/land use/controls.And enact city wide permanent ,non-changeable MLS’s: Minimal Lot Setbacks.And NO more fricking variance exemptions. Setbacks exist Mayor Parker for several reasons,among them to set into place size to lot ratios. You have sold out to the ABCDE’s: Architects Builders Contractors Designers Engineers a long time ago.Your administration is so gun ho on denser development.Good let’s build a few of those in YOUR neighborhood,Annise.Of course as a politician,you live by : DOUBLE standards/ hypocrisy/posturing/speciousness/a holier-than-thou mind set/sanctimonious ideals/ resulting in a self-righteous/self-defined supposedly superior life.If you get re-elected, your administration,thankfully-God willing, will only be limited to 3 years of further damage!!!!

  • @commonsense: Quick note: There are only two Starbucks on that corner. One is in fact a Barnes and Noble Cafe that only features Starbucks coffee. Food products are noticeably different.