11/11/14 2:30pm


Over the weekend  Surge Homes removed the sign promising “future development” along the Heights Hike-and-Bike Trail. Workers took the recently-installed bike-scaled billboard Saturday morning. It appears that the sign had been squatting on a public right-of-way.

Around the same time, the newly-created Surge Homes released lots of new information for the trailside colony. Surge is run by the same principals involved with Canada’s Group LSR who closed on the property in 2004. Sporadic attempts to develop the site have so far borne no fruit.

Aerial views show that the project would take quite a bite out of the pocket forest currently on the site; access would come via a lengthened E. 5th St., not a trail-crossing extension of Frasier St., as in an earlier proposal.


Surge Homes Pullback
11/07/14 10:00am


Here’s the sign that a reader says went up earlier this week along the south side of the Heights hike-and-bike trail just south of the Freeland Historic District, at the ends of Frasier St. and E. 5th 1/2 St. Does the promise of “future development” mean that another developer is taking a turn trying to develop the 1.4-acre parcel of land where a proposed 80-plus-unit condo project known variously as Emes Place or Viewpoint at the Heights stirred up a fair amount of neighborhood opposition when it was last in the news a couple of years ago?


11/07/12 2:14pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHO DARE OPPOSE “You have no right to fight it any longer. If they are not asking for a variance then they are within their rights to build it. . . . Because you opposed a reasonable building, I hope they build a 200 unit condo that towers 20 stories, instead of five. Its exactly what you NIMBYS deserve!” [Marksmu, commenting on An End-Around at Emes Place]

11/06/12 3:46pm

The Canadian developers behind an on-again-off-again 84-unit condo project planned for a 1.4-acre wooded property at the end of E. 5th St. adjacent to the Heights hike-and-bike trail have withdrawn their variance request to build a private street for a new Emes Place subdivision. But neighborhood opponents of the project, called Viewpoint at the Heights, may like Group LSR’s newest plans less than the ones they had been fighting against. The Planning Department’s Suzy Hartgrove tells the Leader’s Charlotte Aguilar that the developers of the Serento and Piedmont at River Oaks now plan to construct a public street over a bridge and build their own cul de sac. The latest plans make no mention of the size of condo the company is proposing. And if the new design meets city standards, the city’s planning commission wouldn’t have an opportunity to require any site changes on the project when it comes up for approval this Thursday.

Photos: Swamplot inbox (site and trail); Charlotte Aguilar/The Leader (variance sign)

08/30/10 3:50pm

Neighbors in the Freeland Historic District who imagined the nationwide economic downturn and neighborhood protests a few years ago would have been enough to kill a threatened 65-70-condo development on a wooded tract next to the new Heights hike-and-bike trail have been buzzing about the project’s apparent reappearance. On the agenda for this week’s planning commission meeting: the Emes Place Subdivision, which will give the long-landlocked site access by connecting Frasier St. and E. 5th St. across the trail, just north of White Oak Bayou. The subdivision plat is listed as a “consent item,” meaning its approval is not scheduled to be put up for a separate vote.

Viewpoint at the Heights, slated for that subdivision, is a project of Canada’s Group LSR, which goes by the name Inner Loop Condos in Houston. The company developed the Serento Condominium near the Med Center and the Piedmont sorta near River Oaks. Freeland residents have heard the building being proposed for the 1-acre site will be 4 or 5 stories tall.

04/15/10 2:40pm

When last Swamplot visited the tiny Freeland Historic District at the foot of the Heights almost a year ago, Samantha Wood and her husband, architect Jack Preston Wood, had just given up on plans to purchase a little bungalow at 536 Granberry St., demolish it, and replace it with a new 1-1/2-story bungalow. The Woods’ earlier plans — to build two 4-story townhomes on the property — stirred up protests from neighbors and a rejection from the city historical commission.

Did all that hullabaloo in the newly-minted historic district scare off potential buyers? A Freeland neighbor says no — and suspects most of the neighborhood’s new attention is coming from builders:

525 Granberry Street (now listed on the tax rolls and MLS as 525 E. 5th 1/2 Street) went on the market last week. So many offers have been received they ask that final bids go in tomorrow, April 16.

Why would builders be so interested in this property?


05/11/09 7:07pm

And it’s . . . off! The building designer who had planned to demolish a 1920 bungalow in the newly designated Freeland Historic District and build two 4-story townhomes in its place has now backed out of the deal completely. In a letter to neighborhood residents, Jack Preston Wood and his wife, Samantha Wood, say they’ve canceled their purchase contract for 536 Granberry, in the soppy southern reaches of the Heights.

What made them change their minds? Maybe . . . the gentle encouragement of their would-be neighbors?

We received mean spirited mail, emails, blogs, and visits to our business website all because we were planning on tearing down a house in very poor condition and replacing it with a new compatible home.

The Woods say that after the city historical commission rejected their demolition and construction plans in mid-March, they abandoned the double-townhouse idea and decided instead to replace the bungalow with a new 2800-sq.-ft. 1-1/2-story bungalow. But the neighbors kept at it:

Even though we had sent a response that we were not going to build our original plans and we were working on new plans the neighborhood still held a protest and plastered Freeland with signs. As we watched the news clip on the protest we began to realize that any new home, no matter how compatible, would not be accepted because the Freeland mantra was to remain an “intact” neighborhood. . . .

About three weeks into the six weeks, we realized that we had become the “Poster Child” to deter and slowdown development in the area.

Lots more fun in the full text of the Woods’ letter, reprinted — along with a neighbor’s response — below:


04/15/09 11:37am

House designer Jack Preston Wood has apparently had second thoughts about his plan to build two 4-story townhomes where this bungalow now sits in the Freeland Historic District. The city historic commission turned down both his new-construction and demolition plans last month, and neighbors have been writing him letters and protesting every weekend since.

Freeland Historic District is a collection of 35 bungalows, marked down from the original 37, on two blocks south of White Oak Blvd. at the damp end of the Heights. There’s been no new construction in the district — which was designated just last fall — and residents have been working hard to keep it that way.

Wood tells Chronicle reporter Robin Foster that neither the Realtor nor the owner of the house told him that the house at 536 Granberry was in an historic district before he signed a contract to buy it: