Kirby Dr. Wendy’s Renovation Crews Chop Down North Blvd. Street Oaks Overnight

Partial Demolition of Wendy's Restaurant, 5003 Kirby Dr., Upper Kirby, Houston

Wendy's Restaurant, 5003 Kirby Dr. at North Blvd., Upper Kirby, Houston

Wendy's Restaurant, 5003 Kirby Dr. at North Blvd., Upper Kirby, HoustonNotice any differences between the view of the Wendy’s Drive-Thru at the corner of Kirby Dr. and North Blvd. taken yesterday (at top) and a similar image (above) taken this morning? Well, sure, there’s a new construction fence up, and some of the heavy machinery’s been moved around. But you might also note the sudden disappearance of 6 or 7 mature oak trees lining the streets surrounding the restaurant. How did they vanish so quickly? Tree-removal crews worked very quickly, overnight (see photo above left). Here’s another before-and-after comparison:


Partial Demolition of Wendy's Restaurant, 5003 Kirby Dr., Upper Kirby, Houston

Wendy's Restaurant, 5003 Kirby Dr. at North Blvd., Upper Kirby, Houston

Further to the east, the oaks lining North Blvd. (and its neighbor, South Blvd.) constitute one of Houston’s most-photographed residential-area attractions. All but one of the oaks lining the Wendy’s were on North Blvd. All of them appear to have been in the public right-of-way.

Wendy's Restaurant, 5003 Kirby Dr. at North Blvd., Upper Kirby, Houston

The earlier shots were included in Swamplot’s report yesterday on the expansion plans of Wendy’s neighbor to the south, Goode’s Armadillo Palace. Demolition work on the Wendy’s is part of a renovation plan, and is not connected to Goode Company’s plans. A redone (and far less leafy) Wendy’s is expected to open again in a few weeks.

Photos: Swamplot inbox

Upper Kirby Trees After Dark

70 Comment

  • The story is incomplete, did they have a permit? I find it hard to believe a contractor for Fortune 1000 company would take a shortcut like that.

    Presuming they DID have a permit then doing it overnight is very smart, to keep the busybody hipsters from throwing a tamper tantrum.

  • That’s despicable! I hope there are several hefty fines coming their way! They have certainly lost this customer! Don’t cheap contractors ever learn?

  • Fine them until they are forced out of business. That is not their land, and this was a crime, whether it is illegal or not. Overnight? Like no one would notice. They KNEW they were doing something bad. Time for them to pay.

  • maybe they’re going to turn these right-of-ways into parklets

  • If the CoH didn’t approve of the removal of these trees the contractors and owners of lot should each be fined at least $10K per tree and be forced to replace them with trees of a similar size. These type actions are becoming common and harsh action needs to be taken by the city to send a message.

  • I hope the City has been notified. They don’t look too kindly on removing trees that are designated as “street trees” from City R.O.W. Wendy’s will probably replant some 5 gallon crape myrtles. A criminal act and a shame.

  • Well I hope the franchisee is ready to pay 5 or 6 figures to the city. What an asinine, repugnant move.

  • Without the trees it just looks like another trashy corner in any generic Houston ghettonabe. I assume they did it at night to avoid the protesters and that it was allowed by the City. Shocked but not surprised.

  • WTF was the point?!

    People are so ill-informed and tasteless.

  • Of course they did it under cover of night because they knew it was wrong. I thought it looked odd this morning when I drove by. I can’t see any damn reason why those trees had to go. Infuriating!!

  • I don’t know any other city that has so many shady developers. They knew they’d catch flack so they do this in the middle of the night, this happens constantly. They treat the city like a cheap whore, it’s pathetic that we allow this shit.

  • As if that stretch of Kirby wasn’t ugly enough. Is this so that they can show off their newly renovated store when complete? I don’t get it

    Is there a way to track something as minor as a tree removal permit online?

  • I just can’t see the point. Why spend the money to do that? Who sees that and says, ‘Those things have got to go?’

  • WON’T SOMEONE PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Disgusting. Someone deserves a flogging.

  • Make them pay. The going rate should be ~$1000 per year of the tree’s life for each tree they chopped down. Having said that I figure that the developer has already accounted for that cost in their project estimates, so double the amount as punitive damages.

  • There is no sidewalk on this side of the street along North. The City of Houston probably forced the removal to make space for a required new 5′-0″ sidewalk. A damn shame…

  • Burger King did the same thing last year at Yale and 610 for no apparent reason. They planted nothing back.

  • The mayor is too busy trying to figure out if your pastor said something nasty about her or the genderless bathroom ordinance last Sunday to worry about actual governance.

  • Stuff like this makes me inclined to support every zoning proposal or other urban regulation, just to stifle the rednecks until every last redneck instinct is ground away. You do not get to cut down public trees just so you can increase visibility for your business of selling garbage and making people fat. Civilization would be keeping the trees and tearing down the Wendy’s, something we as a city should work toward.

  • @ pedsVSstreets I see sidewalks in the pictures, what the hell are you talking about?

  • Typical sleazy contractors. Maybe the trees ghosts will haunt those a-holes !!!

  • Is there a way to report this to the city (311?) or to find out if a permit request was filed?

  • Every time a street tree is lost, it’s a tragedy. I know, we’re not supposed to like trees. They get in the way of signage and visibility, and to a company like Wendy’s, that’s more important than oxygen, much less shade….
    The fact that they cut the trees overnight points to the cloak-and-dagger nature of development in Houston. Since we don’t have zoning, nobody knows how to handle us. Out of town designers and developers are so used to just doing what a zoning ordinance says they can do, that they’re really scared to work in Houston. They freak out at the notion of a community group having input on their project. They close themselves down and operate in secrecy, lest they get neighbors angry.
    It’s a shame, because this approach just creates more mistrust, and makes it more likely that people will oppose their future projects. They really need to step back and think about what they’re doing – be good neighbors – and most of all be honest about it.

  • For those interested, here is the COH Tree and Shrub Ordinance:

  • Unreal. Wendy’s should be fined a hefty 6-figure number for pulling this shit … so underhanded and slimy to do it at night. Isn’t Houston ugly enough?

  • There’s 2 questions/comments here:
    1) did they pay the fees to the city associated with cutting down trees per COH requirements? if so then Wendy’s isn’t to blame- COH is ofr allowing this.
    2) do the people that eat at Wendy’s really give a $h1t about the trees that once beautifully lined and shaded their drive thru? Doubtful.

  • Do I see a future Comment of the Day here?
    “You do not get to cut down public trees just so you can increase visibility for your business of selling garbage and making people fat.”

  • Don’t (*sigh*, didn’t) the trees exist on public right-of-way? Maybe what needs change is policy– and enforcement. Heck. Could the CoH get enough complaints for a $100 sign to be erected reading “Property owners responsible for tree removal” and that sticks around a decent period of time (it would be illegal to remove such a sign and, if so, another replaced)? Catering to businesses is great, but these sorts of decisions are made by unconsciousness bean-counters disconnected with any local appreciation. CoH’s approach, or lack there of, simply stinks.

  • I was at the Mayor’s Keep Houston Beatiful luncheon on Monday and I couldn’t figure out for the life of me what they did exactly. There was a lot of hot air and self patting on the back.

    Also, since I’m a white heterosexual married male, I didn’t know which bathroom she wanted me to use ;)

  • Why is everyone jumping to the conclusion that they did something illegal? How do you know they were not allowed to cut these down or didn’t do whatever they needed to in order to cut them down?
    And why call them “rednecks”? That might have been the most confusing insult.
    And hell… Nothing wrong with doing things at night. I’ve replaced a roof or two on the weekend so I could replace an old unsafe roof with a new structurally sound roof without having to deal woth the city (as if I had to deal with the city in all projects,mid likely just not do them at all). But maybe at might it was simply easier regarding traffic blocking / safety.

  • I hate that the trees were removed but they purchased and planted the trees and they had the right to cut them down – though it was a stupid move. If you don’t like it, buy the property or vote with your wallet and don’t shop there. I own commercial property and if I needed to remove my trees, I would think twice about taking them down but you can’t make anyone keep a tree without proper HOA or city rules. Fortunately Houston doesn’t have such a rule except in certain cases.

  • There’s certainly no question that the trees did not belong to the property owner. It’s a fact. Your property line ends @ the sidewalk… YOUR side of the sidewalk. The “park strip” as it is commonly known–between the street and the sidewalk–is public property. You are required to MAINTAIN it–as the adjacent property owner–but you do not OWN it. Which is why political signage (“Vote for Pedro!”) is legal only on the property owners’ side of the sidewalk… if they are placed on the city side they are illegal / “bandit” signs and are removed by city crews as soon as they are spotted.

    I don’t know the legality of cutting down trees or anything else in the park strip… but I would imagine that it is verboten without permission from the city.

    Coincidentally, I happened to ride my bike right by that location last night and saw the crews working around 9-ish and thought to myself, “That’s strange… I’ve never seen a landscaping crew tearing OUT landscaping this late at night… I wonder what’s up.”

  • When they try to be sneaky and cut trees down in the middle of the night, they forget one important fact–many things can happen at a Wendy’s in the middle of the night.

  • the end results will look great – remodeled Wendy’s locations sales have greatly improved and the over growth of trees for sure needed removing to show off the new building and new signage coming – they have to stay competitive

  • “Without the trees it looks like another trashy corner in any Houston ghettonabe.”. It looked like that with the trees.

    You know it isn’t like the live oak isn’t the most overused tree in Houston and it isn’t exactly the Chihuahuan desert around here. I’m sure they will replant trees so all of those hundreds of street life loving pedestrians that we see ambling about won’t have to break out their parasols. Then all will be right with the world. And everyone can go get Frosties again. I must be the only one that thinks Cody is the voice of reason on this particular thread.

  • Had the Greenbriar exit off 59N been open last night at 9:30 pm, I never would have stumbled across this–the worst case of arborcide I’ve personally witnessed. When my car’s headlights swept across the SE corner of Kirby and North Boulevard, I immediately noticed an absence and felt a profound “disturbance in the field” if you know what I mean. I pulled over, and when I opened my car door the insane, insistent screams of several chainsaws brrrzzzzzing at once filled my ears and the (once, to me) lovely scent of freshly cut healthy oak filled the air. I was deranged by the arrogant insanity confronting me, I was almost blinded by confusion. Another man (who seemed sane) was photographing and said “They’ve already got 6 of them,” when he walked by me to get in his car.

    I started shouting at everyone to “Stop” and then shouting in Spanish to the men clambering in and out of the huge “cage” landscaping trailers which held the limbs and trunks of murdered live oaks, but they kept working in the dark, sawing down into the accumulated body parts of trees in order to compact the piling limbs and foliage, their heads hung in shame. (I am still stunned by what I witnessed last night, but grateful that I didn’t witness the maiming of a worker moving so fast with a whirring chainsaw, standing alongside another tree-dissector on top of limbs piled and shifting in a trailer, in total darkness. It was crazily dangerous and certainly not OSHA approved.)

    I took pictures and video I until my iPhone died.

    The crew boss–who self-identified as Freddy, of Freddy’s Landscaping and More–approached me and wanted to know why I was taking pictures. I could barely speak. I asked him who hired him and did he realize there was a hefty fine for cutting street trees. I was insistent. He got his “boss” on the line and nonchalantly handed his cellphone to me. I couldn’t hear well through the whine of chainsaws, but I believe this man’s name was “Brock”. When I demanded whether he had a permit to cut the trees, he replied, “Hey, Lady, I’m just the contractor.” I asked who hired him and he very clearly–spelling it out–said “Haza Foods.”

    I drove away, grabbed a neighbor and civic club leader and went back to the scene. We called 311, we called the police, we documented the decimation as well as we could (it was very dark.) My neighbor knew more than I did about the City ordinance and told Freddy what the fine could possibly be (if you measured all the “caliper inches” of the stumps) and he said (this is a DIRECT quote) “Go ahead–fine me! They’ll pay me back, and more!”

    We waited for HPD while Freddy and his crew cleaned up all but the largest stumps and trunks and left. A HPD Sergeant responded and did take a police report.

    When I got home I sent the pictures to as many neighbors as I could, and to the Chronicle tip lines–,, and

    This morning I made “DO NOT CUT THIS TREE” signs and attached them to two remaining trees with packing tape around their trunks. One of the men working on the site yelled, “Get a life, lady!” and when I asked a worker nearby why those trees had to go he said, “They f@#$ up the concrete.”

  • As if that stretch of Kirby wasn’t ugly enough, got even uglier.

  • @mfn8 – If that is true, WOW, and they need to be assessed a massively punitive fine. I hope to hear more on this one.

  • $10 says they did it to reduce the bird poop situation on the lot.

  • @mfn8, they’re right, get a life.

  • mfn8—thank you for being so tenacious, we need more like you.

  • Per the eyewitness to the event, “Freddy’s Landscaping and More” as well as “Haza foods” violated the letter and the spirit of the law by opting to blatantly disregard various provisions of the city Tree and Shrub ordinance. The COH must bring up charges against them and uphold the statute.

  • @mfn8 – thanks for posting and don’t pay attention to any of the half wit detractors here. They just love concrete too much.

  • mfn8, good for you. I appreciate your effort.

  • Thank you for your efforts mfn8. The before and after photos make me so sad…

  • I’m 80% sure mfn8 is being serious with her comment, but I’m 20% sure it’s a well done troll.

    If it was a troll, it was perfectly done. A bit over the top but not too much to be obvious.

  • Wendy’s did not have a permits to remove the trees. The five trees along North Blvd were originally planted about 20 years ago in conjunction with the Boulevard Oaks neighborhood and Trees for Houston at the request of the Wendy’s franchise owner. The tree removed on Kirby was also planted through the Trees for Houston project for Kirby Dr. at about the same time. Each of the 6 trees had trunks that were around 2 ft. in diameter.

    The trees were removed by Freddy’s Landscaping and More. The contractor listed on the city’s building renovation permit is GLOBAL NEW MILLENIUM PARTNERS, 4415 Hwy 6 in Sugarland. This is also the address of Haza Foods LLC which purchased all Wendy’s franchises in Houston and Austin last year.

    Neither the 311 operator and nor HPD officers who answered the general HPD non-emergency line as the trees were coming down understood the severity of the situation or that illegal removal of street trees is considered a criminal offense. City personnel at 311 and newer HPD officers need to be made aware of the tree ordinance and have processes in place for responding to calls for enforcement, especially in situations involving under-cover-of-darkness tree removals.

  • Whether they did it it without or without a permit, the public needs to let Wendy’s and the franchisee know that cutting down these trees is intolerable to their customers. I hope there is thorough investigation as to how and why this happened.

  • @commonsense..

    its ignorant people like you who think they have “common sense”, but are too close minded to realize that if you truly had common sense you would be out there with that lady too, trying to protect the trees..

  • So clearly fines aren’t a deterrent – at least the city should re-plant the approximate equivalent amount of younger trees and/or landscaping, in roughly the same place, at their discretion. Then send the contractors an invoice, since they clearly don’t seem to care about the money. Think of it as a blank check for landscaping, induced by the bad faith and incivility of these trashy contractors.

  • i just love the presumption of guilt that’s so widespread across american culture. yes it’s a travesty to remove trees against the law, but i don’t necessarily see the point in promoting detrimental actions against uninvolved parties and certainly not until the full story is well communicated here.
    is there any truth to the line about a sidewalk being placed on North St. here? if so it’s certainly needed and I could understand the removal of the trees in this case. exact opposite throughout the montrose where homeowners consider the public right-of-way there own personal gardens because they chose to buy a house without a sufficient yard. as a walking pedestrian I always have much much more difficulty with trees and foliage in this city then i do with vast expanses of concrete. if anything, many parts of this city do in fact need much more concrete in order to be pedestrian friendly. same with driving, so many trees and bushes are allowed to pop up in this city impairing safe fields of vision.

  • Of course, joel – pedestrians hate shade. We much prefer to walk in the noonday sun like mad dogs and Englishmen.
    No, don’t replant. Houston has spoken over and over again. Represented among the donors to Trees for Houston and Keep Houston Beautiful are some very wealthy individuals, corporations, and big foundations. I hope they take notice and resolve to send their philanthropic $$ elsewhere.

  • It is only fitting in Houston that this string winds-down with “joel” attempting to rationalize-away the loss of the trees, and the emotions that folks have about it…

  • The over the top outrage is comical, it’s not like trees grow on trees … oh wait they do. It ain’t an arm, it’ll grow back.

    Trees are cut down every day for a number of reasons, doesn’t make it illegal. I’m glad 311 and HPD though you were a bunch of retards for screaming bloody murder over some foliage.

    Let’s all wait and see if they had a permit before looting, we ain’t Ferguson.

  • Unfortunately, Texas limits Cities to $2,000 fines for municipal code violations. So even if they were to impose the maximum fine and treat each tree as a separate violation, it’d still only come to $12,000. Not nearly enough to make it right.
    What I’d like to see the City do, is require that similar trees be placed to replace those that were cut. Set a deadline for the installation of the new trees, and fine them $2,000 per tree, per day past the deadline. Then it might come to an amount that hits the gravity of this situation.
    Honestly, if you don’t like trees, leave Houston. Head out to Phoenix or Las Vegas. You’ll be happier there.

  • That section of Kirby is pretty much a concrete slab from University Blvd all the way to 59. Those trees were a gift to anyone who needed their shade in the steamy summer. The franchisee is an idiot for defacing his own property by removing these trees. No more shade for folks waiting in the drive-thru!

    The city’s interests are hard for me to detect with respect to these trees, so lonely in their sad, concrete surroundings. I’m no arborist, but I don’t think they could have been very healthy trees. In any case, Trees For Houston planted those trees for the city’s benefit, and the city requires permits for removing trees, and this franchisee should have to answer for that.

  • I drove by this morning and the 2 trees mfn8 marked with DO NOT CUT SIGNS still stand. Maybe they got the message.

  • well i do agree with you luciaphile. all those philanthropic donors would be doing houstonians and the community a much bigger favor if they were donating to help build better sidewalks and pedestrian thoroughfares rather than planting trees.
    on that note, who are the wealthy donors helping make Houston more pedestrian friendly and what organizations can I donate to that help build better sidewalks? just not familiar with these myself.

  • As if that stretch of Kirby needed to get any uglier. Such a shameful act.

  • Taking this to the media, the neighborhood association and city council rep will get this issue the most visibility. But sadly COH will AT BEST slap the developer on the wrist with a small fine and all will move on. We’ve encountered this issue countless time in the Heights with ROW trees that do not impede construction by developers. But as others have said, if you want a city that has tree ordinances or developers that value green space Houston is not that city.

  • Maybe we can take Anise Porker and her Burger-Wolfin GLBT companion on over to Wendys and Plant their a$$es in place of those trees!…..They are “Shady” enough that it should more than cover the loss by the former trees!

  • Texas has had an anti-wildlife group with the word “wildlife” in its title, but I don’t think, joel, we’re yet to the point that there’s a group billing itself as “environmental,” urban or otherwise, that’s explicitly hostile to trees. You may have to launch that yourself.
    Austin does have an active, very much anti-tree urbanist group where you would perhaps feel at home. Don’t know about Houston. What’s required is a concentration of people who graduated college between 10 and twenty years ago, absorbed vaguely libertarian or market-oriented ideas there but nevertheless love big government, or just thoroughly internalized it because they’ve known nothing else; which is echoed in an ability to think critically at some scales and not others. They have probably read a lot of sci-fi but definitely not much science; have a zealous desire for civic engagement; borrow a page from Boomers in that it’s important to their identity to think of themselves as anti-Establishment — but at the same time distinguish themselves from anything Boomers liked: e.g. trees. A fairly predictable generational response.

  • Where are the thousands of squawking, pooping grackles going to go now?? We’re depleting the urban flying rats’ environment!!

  • luciaphile, i think you’re going down the wrong road on this one and should know better than to feed the trolls. this obviously has nothing to do with pedestrians at all or you’d be calling up all your philanthropic donors looking for a tax write-off to ensure that all bus stops along kirby, bissonett and etc. are provided with adequate structures providing shade and protection from the elements for pedestrians and bus riders. this area is already a cancerous tumor on the inner loop and pedestrians aren’t going to be keeling over left and right because they no longer have that 4.7 seconds of shade on their walk down the street in front of Wendy’s.
    i was just making dumb commments because you get tired of seeing the affluent parts of town get all riled up and at arms the second someone starts desecrating the aesthetic appeal of their city while they show disregard for much more major issues impacting the lives of their fellow houstonians. the boulevard oaks civic association is located in one of the wealthiest districts in Houston. is it really an adequate use of Trees for Houstons resources and volunteers for them to prioritize the planting of trees along major commercial corridors when these groups have many more avenues for addressing such issues?
    obviously the city is already on this and will be doing something about it regardless. we all remember full well how the city bent over backwards to jeopardize taxpayers money and distort the cities development codes when nearby hoods lawyered up like crazy and started asking favors from their friends in the hall. they couldn’t just let this slide by even if they had wanted to.

  • Nah, valuing living things is never going to be the wrong road. I’m sorry, joel, if you had the misapprehension I was a fellow populist. Nothing could be further from the truth. If someday rich people are the only people who care about trees, then I will readily join a group called Save the Rich People.
    Good luck with your sidewalk campaign.

  • This is a crime. The trees are city property, in the city right of way, just like a fire plug or street lamp. The fine for destruction and no permit is one thing, the value of the trees and the charge to the responsible party for the destruction of city property is another. This will cost the Wendy’s owner dearly. Look at the COH tree and shrub ordinance. The rules are clear. And if Wendy’s corporate in Ohio fails to work on this problem, it will cost them. This will not go away soon.

  • Chop it down. Apologize later. It’s the Republican plan!

  • Will Freddy’s Landscaping get a big fine and the franchise owner?? Can we get a petition to make sure. I will sign it.