What more quintessential closeup image of Houston is there — the kind you really aren’t likely to come across too many other places — than the one that shows a 17-story office tower under construction right next door to a single-family home? So when you hear of a Montrose resident complaining that the huge and noisy construction crane planted just a few feet beyond his fence to construct the “boutique” building at 2229 San Felipe is causing cracks in the concrete patio and the interior walls of his home, that the smell of diesel is overwhelming whether he’s in the back yard or inside on the ground floor, and that the fumes and noise from the regular Saturday concrete pours cause regular headaches for family members — well, it kinda does make you sit up and pay attention, if not simply to marvel at the unique properties of Houston development regulations and practices that allow such remarkable juxtapositions in our midst.
Still, the owner of the home at 2244 Welch St. might be forgiven if he doesn’t get so philosophical about the wondrous scene arrayed before him. “No representative of Hines has EVER come to us to express any concern about what they are doing,” he wrote over the weekend to an online newsgroup. “Even the construction workers admit they are not comfortable with the position of this crane. So everyone else got paid off, just not us I guess.”
This past Saturday, he filed a report about the situation with the EPA. What happened next?
“Suddenly on the following Monday,” Richard Armstrong tells Swamplot, “a very crappy wood-frame structure with some dirty plastic was rigged up to block the emissions.” It’s pictured here, just beyond the property line.
“It works somewhat —but besides looking like a hobo penthouse, it will most certainly blow apart and fall into my back yard when the spring storms come. The thing is a huge sail waiting for the right wind. A six-story scaffolding collapse at another site across the street has taught us recently that Houston winds WILL bring down such things.”
Armstrong, a professor at the University of Houston, says he used to do his writing in the once-quiet patio. He tells Swamplot that the cracks in the patio and interior drywall form a “clear pattern,” indicating a growing separation between the portion of the house closest to the crane (the northeast corner) and the rest of the house. He first saw the cracks, he says, about 2 weeks after the crane was stationed next door in early January.
- Previously on Swamplot: Lawsuit Won’t Stop Construction of Hines’s San Felipe Tower — At This Time; The Scene on San Felipe: Hines’s Friendly Neighborhood Skyscraper Is Going Up Now; Dear Hines: We’d Settle for a Residential Midrise, Please, Hines Not Stopping San Felipe Skyscraper, Hines Develops Website To Explain 17-Story San Felipe Development, “Stop” Signs Oppose 17-Story Hines Office Building on San Felipe, A Look Around San Felipe at the Randall Davis Condos and Planned Hines Office Building Site, Hines Plans a Shiny New 18-Story Office Building Across San Felipe from River Oaks
What will happen next?——nothing. He chose to buy in a non deed restricted neighborhood in a city that proudly lacks zoning. I agree this poor guys situation is to be lamented, but really this is the consequences of living in a city that lacks zoning–you think you’re depressed now, just wait until you try to unload your house–I mean who what’s a 17 story topiary in their backyard?
I know what he’s going through. I have some property adjacent to “luxury” apartments within the loop. It’s devalued the land about 200k.
i no doubt feel his pain and can only assure him many of these are similar issues for all neighboring houses next to development whether it be a 3-story TH or 17-story boutige river oaks office building. I can assure you that crane sitting next to the fence line is by no means extraordinary, there’s cranes parked next to neighborhood fencelines all over the Houston area. the difference in those situations is the folks just can’t afford to move away from the neighboring heavy industry and construction sites unlike in this case. the one making his different is the foundation issue, but that’s why america is the most litigated land on earth.
definitely sucks and development codes should certainly e better revised with the hoods in mind, but this only speaks of the changes to development codes needed, not that the building shouldn’t be built at all.
Per HCAD, his 1938 house is only worth $14,800 (nearly all the value is in the land), so I guess if Hines makes his house condemned, I wonder if it would be hard for him to get much more than that in court, even if it’s undervalued by a bit.
This is nothing new. 5000 Montrose, Museum Tower, Inwood Tower, the Huntingdon, the Tealwood, etc. etc. were ALL built next door to, across the street from, or over the fence from primarily single family homes. This has been going on in Houston for 40-plus years, and it will happen more in the future. It’s also not unique to Houston in any way. In NYC, Fifth, Park, Madison Avenues, and many others were once lined with nothing but single family homes. Now most of the homes that are left sit directly adjacent to mid and high-rise towers. Houston will become more dense, not less, in the future, building upward. People and property owners need to get used to it, and better yet, use this knowledge to better inform their future real estate investment decisions.
Sue Hines. He’s causing damage to your property and ruining your quality. His insatiable greed doesn’t justify him being a nuisance to the city.
Take pictures of everything before construction that you think could be damaged by construction and then if damaged you can try just like if was caused by single family neighbor to get them to pay for it.
I am for this building, and any other building getting built in this city. But, I do think that Hines should do the right thing and fix this mans house. It is one thing to have to suck it up and go with the flow, and realize that it will be built. It is not ok to have your home destroyed in the process.
I’m curious how a Montrose resident is next door to 2229 San Felipe.
This is what you get with a city with no zoning.
Proof that Gerald Hines is a rich douche bag.
This guy most likely voted against zoning a few years ago.
Time to put some sort zoning on the ballot. I appreciate what no zoning has done for the city, but its time has passed.
By the looks of it, the house looks past it’s expiration date and the damage could have happened from a light breeze.
It would be nice if Hines bought out the two remaining homes to build a side courtyard with something green in it. That way, this entire end of the block would be commercial and look, at least slightly, less out of place.
i think Eric pointed out the important thing here. if your house is worth less than $14k already then just have it condemned and take that $14k insurance to build yourself a new one.
there’s kids waking up every day in this city to go to failing schools on failing roads and they need developments like Hines’s to have any shot at a real future in this town. there’s real tragedies going on in this city every day folks and we need tax revenue to make this a better place for everyone, not jus the pre-existing wealthy landowners.
You break it, you fix or buy it.
would be good to start another topic on this for us common folk, but anyone familiar with trusts and property/home values. in this situation is the home devalued specifically because it’s already been gifted in a trust to future heirs so they’re able to write down the value in advance of that “gifting” date, or are there just simply a lot of homes decades ago that have never had their values indexed to inflation?
obviously I have a lot to learn about tax sheltering from the River Oaks crowd and plan on taking a stroll through more of the records to glean a few things.
I think you misunderstand how the property value equation works. Just because HCAD says the improvement value on a property is only $14k does not mean that the house is only worth $14K. I live in a house with a $1200 improvement value on a $500K property. Just how it works. My insurance is not for $1200, shit my deductible is more than that. HCAD tends to assign a total property value, then breaks it into land and improvement. Land is the $/SF they tend to apply all around and then the $/SF for improvement is what they back into.
The coverage on property is repair/replacement if insurance steps in. Same should be required of Hines here. This is not auto insurance where they can just “total” it for some arbitrary value.
Finally, a NIMBY complainer complaining about actual legal nuisances rather than the typical “I don’t like the looks of it, and … and … and TRAFFIC!” BS they usually spew.
If Ashby is a nuisance (yet to be built), then this surely is as well. When the regulators won’t regulate, sometimes the common law will.
His property has gone UP in value. I realize this is his home, and we can all become emotionally attached to a place, but the fact is his property is now going to be situated in a place ripe for a developer.
This is one of the downsides to living in a city with no zoning. We all get to enjoy the benefits of an affordable city, but we also have to live with hap-hazard development.
He needs to sue Hinz, and quietly settle out of court (let Hinz buy his place at an inflated value).
Perhaps Armstrong should speak with his landlord at Bolton Management Trust and in turn he could plead his tenant’s case with Hines management.
He’s now getting TV exposure. I just caught the tail end of a piece on 13 complete with live shot of the patio and comments from his neighbors.
I agree that no-zoning means Hines has the right to build a tower next to a house, but is doesn’t mean they have the right to cause damage to the house. They should have taken precaution to avoid this. Also, property rights mean the homeowner has the right to quiet enjoyment of his property, without nuisance such as the fumes.
I agree with the previous poster, this is one of those rare cases where the complaint has merit.
Pushing the envelope in the worst way. Unsafe construction practices that cause harm. No excuse for this, deed restrictions or not, zoning or not. It’s illegal. Call your lawyer, take pictures, document it.
Sorry Nimbys you live in the middle of the city with no zoning