05/01/17 11:30am

A double-decker strip center appears to be planned for 307 Westheimer Rd., which for just shy of 5 decades has been home to Avondale Italian restaurant and house-with-a-tree-in-it Michaelangelo’s. Michaelangelo’s, Inc., sold the property in March to an entity tied to the CEO of Habitat Construction, and a 2,000-sq.-ft. space in the proposed replacement building is currently for lease. Renderings for the strip label the over-the-edge top floor as set aside for a fitness business, and call for a restaurant to take over most of the street level (noting that another tenant has already staked out a small section of the ground floor floorplan):


Rising Above Parking Requirements
11/07/16 2:45pm

Proposed Heights H-E-B with 10 ft. building setbackProposed Heights H-E-B with 25 ft. building setback

The final go-ahead on H-E-B’s planned store on the former N. Shepherd Fiesta spot at W. 24th St. is still purportedly dependent on whether or not the Heights-Dry-Zone-moistening ballot initiative it’s been backing passes tomorrow — but 2 designs for the proposed structure (depicted above) are already queued up on the agenda for November’s first city planning commission meeting next week. A variance request submitted by the company asks for permission to put the proposed 2-story parking-garage-and-store combo just 10 feet back from the property line on the N. Shepherd side of the block (as shown at the top), instead of the 25 feet that would normally be required (as depicted on the 2nd rendering).

What difference would that make? Documentation submitted with the request says that if the parking structure can’t stick out closer to the street, the company will add an extra row of surface parking spaces between the edge of the garage and the curb, which will cut into space otherwise planned for benches and landscaping. From the looks of the included drawings above, the developers will also ditch a planned bike rack, as well as something labeled as an Art Wall — below are the side-view perspectives on the proposed scene, with those 2 rendered ladies in white and blue stuck roughly in the same spot each time as a reference:


Hedging Against Setbacks
06/29/15 3:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY RUNNER-UP: ZONING WOULDN’T HAVE KEPT THE SPRAWL AWAY Illustration of Oversized Parking Lot“It’s always frustrating when I hear Houston’s sprawl and prevalence of strip malls blamed on our lack of zoning. You can blame these on the setbacks and parking minimums that came along with Chapter 42, which made it illegal to build walkable neighborhoods.” [Angostura, commenting on Comment of the Day: The Kind of Zoning Houston Does Have] Illustration: Lulu

04/14/14 12:15pm

Proposed Condo Tower at 3615 Montrose Blvd., Montrose, Houston

The developers hoping to build this 12-unit condo building on the former site of the River Cafe at the corner of Montrose Blvd. and Marshall St. are requesting a variance from the city so they can scooch the project’s blank-wall parking-area front 15 ft. closer to Montrose Blvd. than city rules ordinarily allow. And if they don’t get their way, they’ll make the 7-story structure even bigger, the variance application threatens. That would mean fencing off the building’s front; putting the parking garage on 2 floors instead of one, and adding “additional living floors . . . making the building much taller than others adjacent.”

A submitted site plan prepared by Element Architects shows the existing right-of-way reduced by 5 ft. along Montrose Blvd. in addition to the setback requirement, to allow for future widening:


At Variance
10/04/13 2:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE LITTLE RULE HOUSTON STRIP-CENTER DEVELOPERS FORGOT “Setback is from edge of right-of-way, not edge of pavement. The original building was on the lot line. Chapter 42 allows for buildings lines of 5′ (even 0′ in some cases) for commercial developments with parking in rear. See 42-154. Diagrams here and here.” [Angostura, commenting on The Retail That’s Replacing the Razed Heights Baptist Temple Buildings] Illustration: Lulu

02/28/13 3:30pm

A SETBACK SETBACK FOR HEIGHTS MICROBREWERY Justin Engle and Steven Macalello want to build a microbrewery at this 9,714-sq.-ft. lot that they own on Cavalcade near the intersection of Main, Studewood, and 20th St. in the Heights; Swamplot reported in November that Engle and Macalello were constructing a tap room, brewery, and beer garden from a trucked-in kit of Houston-fabricated steel parts; they told investors then that they would be open by now. So where’s the beer? The brewers write on their blog that the city rejected their plans on account of the 25-foot setback requirement from a major road like Cavalcade: “Essentially,” the brewers write, “Planning and Development staff would rather have us create a sea of concrete and asphalt in front of our building, than let us preserve green garden space inside urban Houston.” But an update yesterday suggests that the taps just might flow, after all: “In a last minute meeting with City Planning and Development staff and director, we went through all of the plans and their pros and cons,” they write. “As a result, our architects have a lot to do.” But the brewers do say they think they’ll soon have something the city will be ready to approve. [Town in City Brewing Co.; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Town in City Brewing Co.

10/12/11 1:56pm

A new 6-story apartment building is being planned for the now-cleared Midtown block surrounded by Elgin, Smith, Rosalie, and Louisiana streets — one block north of the Calais at Courtland Square apartment complex and a block west of High Fashion Fabrics. A variance request for the 147-unit building doesn’t name the developer or show any renderings, but indicates that the bottom 2 stories of the building will consist of a parking garage, topped by 4 floors of apartments wrapped around an interior courtyard.

That’s similar to the configuration of some sections of the Calais — notably the dramatic arched streetfront along Smith St. (shown in the photo above), which contributes a dynamic tableau of headlights, bumpers, license plates, and the occasional hood ornament to passersby at street level. (The view changes daily.) The developers of this new apartment building are looking to recreate some of that Calais streetside magic, according to the variance:


05/01/09 10:04am

A curious reader writes in to report on a new development on the east side of Jackson Hill St., between Feagan and Gibson:

The developer is building 5 townhomes on the plot. We were of the understanding that there is a mandatory 10′ setback but as you can see from the pictures – his actual setback is only about 5 feet. How did he get a permit for this development? He poured the slabs and did the framing over the weekend so we’re wondering if he’s even legal. Thanks for any info.

Time to pull out Houston’s development ordinance: Any building-line experts want to field this one?

Littler pics below: