With Help from Hines, Family Living Next Door to Highrise Construction Site Exits to Pearland

View of Home with Highrise Construction Crane Next Door, 2244 Welch St., Vermont Commons, Houston

The UH professor whose experiences living next door to the vacant-lot-turned-highrise-construction-site across the southern border of River Oaks made for a colorful teevee news report and an EPA complaint has called an end to his protests of the rumbling, diesel fumes, and building and patio cracks caused by the giant crane that showed up next door (pictured above). With an unspecified amount of financial assistance from Hines, the developers of the 17-story office tower going up at 2229 San Felipe, Richard Armstrong and his family will be moving from 2244 Welch St. to a new home in Pearland early next month.

His media appearances “got the attention of Hines and Gilbane Construction,” Armstrong reports in a letter posted to an online news group focusing on the tower’s construction. “Fundamentally, there isn’t much that can be done,” he writes, “given the pace and scale of this construction. . . . We have loved this house and the neighborhood — up until December. This is a wonderful pocket for people who want access to everything the inner loop has to offer. Unfortunately, other people are discovering our secret. So we’ll just have to roll with the changes.

It appears that Armstrong’s “roll” will be bankrolled — at least in part — by Hines.


“We had been considering a move to Pearland in the far future, and now we have decided to act on that sooner,” Armstrong writes. “We found a very good place that was available, and I informed [Hines’s senior managing director for the project] of our new intentions. He immediately asked me if Hines could help out with our relocation, and we reached a very satisfactory agreement in that regard. At this point, we consider the inconveniences to us caused by the project to be balanced out by the ready assistance they have offered us. They still have to find some agreement with our landlord . . . who loves this house and has taken good care of this property. But that is a separate conversation.”

Details of 2244 Welch St., Next Door to Construction Crane for 2229 San Felipe Office Tower, Vermont Commons, Montrose, Houston

Armstrong ends his letter with a goodbye to his once-quiet Vermont Commons neighborhood, and a not-so-subtle suggestion to his neighbors — that addressing their own complaints directly to Hines (who is “interested in being a good neighbor,” he says) might result in some rewards for them, too:

We wish you all well as you come to terms with the massive changes going on on Welch Street. We understand how radical the transformation has been. Our back garden [pictured above] used to be the quietest place in inner Houston, where all manner of birds and critters would come to drink in the fountain. I fear those sleepy, carefree days are gone. . . . Clearly our entire city is being shaken by unprecedented development. In the long run, this might work out well for you property owners — I sincerely hope it does. But I share with you the pains — and concerns — of the process.

Photos: abc13 (2244 Welch); Richard Armstrong (back patio)

Neighbors Helping Neighbors — To Move Away

15 Comment

  • Do I understand correctly that this guy has been RENTING, and still thinks he’s in charge of the property next door? This logic eludes me.

  • Looks like the shakedown worked, the squeaky wheel did indeed get the grease. I can’t believe anyone would choose Pearland (it’s called Pearland, people!) over River Oaks adjacent–seems nuts to me, but then again he is a professor at Cougar High (just kidding, UH has some excellent grad programs)—-seriously this guy may have been on point, but he came off as douche, I just was put off by his harping and hyperbole, (ironic I know, but still), you’d have thought Hines dropped the entire 17 story skyscrapers on his house, instead it was really the indignity of having his Starbucks on his porch interrupted by those noisy ole cranes, oh poo! —alas he got his spec home out in the Pear Fields–seriouly, this was all about him trying to unload his house on Hines, so he wouldn’t have to watch his property value collapse, as the 17 story beheamoth rose in his backyard, nice going Professor Higgins —alas, I hope Hines doesn’t bulldoze it, I’m a fan of red brick Georgian.

  • Everybody has their price. All the chest beating, community values rhetoric, blah blah blah. If there are enough zeros on the check, all of that is worthless.
    That is why no one pays attention to the Heights anti-developers, or Montrose preservationists, or shitgalow holdouts… When the time comes, the Zeros will push you out of the way of progress.

  • Building a tower next to houses is beyond the pale. But people like Hines love money and they love to exercise their power, building wherever and whatever they want. There is a reason why every other major city has zoning. It’s clear no one can count on ethical standards from developers to keep things reasonable.

  • I wonder if something like that will actually increase the property value of the homes? I have a general question for the swamplot community about home value increases. I live in the 5th ward and attend a lot of public meeting. Excluding the area I live in, the average home value is about $25k. The residents get outright angry anytime a person mentions development out of fear of property taxes going up. My question to the Swamplot community is this, has anyone seen this type of anti-development stance on this large a scale before? Does the community have a valid argument even though homes are already 1/10 the average home values in Houston and in a prime location? and How have communities found a middle ground for development? or is there one?

  • “They still have to find some agreement with our landlord”. He is just a RENTER. I wonder how he broke the lease with the Landlord, and now can the landlord have a loss of revenue lawsuit against Hines?

  • @ Greg: I can assure you that having zoning induces a wide assortment of financial transactions. It only pulls the people that you elect into the fray, and not in a good way.

  • @Mr.Clean19, that “battle” happens all the time in every city in the country. It is usually fought by people who can barely afford that $25k house and can’t afford the theoretical increase in taxes. Firstly, even with fast development the tax increase is gradual over many years and does not mean the $25k house will cost at some point the same as new construction. Secondly, the people are being shortsighted by complaining about potential small increase in taxes by ignoring the increase in property values. For a lot of them the sell a house in a gentrified neighborhood is the only chance in life to make any real money.
    On a bigger picture, people that live in $25k houses generally do not have the pull with officials or even enough community organization to make any changes that will stick.

  • Commonsense: it depends how many zeros it’s worth to the developer. Slum lords in my neck of the woods are very adept at jacking up the price every time someone expresses interest in their property. They just want the money, nothing altruistic about it, but it has the effect of scaring away good investors who would turn the properties around. It’s what led us to the practice of reporting every little violation over and over again as a way to get them to come down and sell for a reasonable price.
    Shannon: I’m baffled by the choice of Pearland, too. It’s no great shakes now, and with the way Pearland is developing, it’s going to get a lot worse.

  • The folks at Hines are some inconsiderate D-bags.

    MrClean – tune into KCOH 1230AM and listen to what the folks in the hood think about being gentrified out of their own homes and neighborhoods. Nobody in the hood lookin forward to Whitey movin in.

  • Professional Anglos bring money, real estate stability to the area, usually care about improving the parks and infrastructure and work hard to improve the area. I’m thrilled they’re gentrifying Riverside Terrace, Eastwood, etc.–and frankly as an Anglo I don’t appreciate being called a racist pejorative like “whitey”– keep those comments to yourself (plus I’m more bronze than white)

  • If the previous reports are true (see first link under previously with swamplot),

    This is exactly what should have happened. Hines made the living area uninhabitable (vibration, diesel emissions), and damaged the structure. Thus , even without zoning, both the tenant and the owner have actual real viable claims for damages against Hines. Hines is recognizing this and is paying them off instead of going to court then paying them plus the lawyers off.

    This is not the typical case of NIMBYs arguing based on aesthetics or subjective values (e.g. character of the nieghborhood), rights they don’t actually have (e.g. traffic, parking), or wanting suburbia in the middle of the city (e.g. too dense).

  • I guess my frustration is hearing the same phrase uttered in the 5th ward everytime someone wants to shut something down. “They wouldnt do that if it was River Oaks!” All i can think to myself is… no, no they wouldnt because they pay vey high taxes and our area is a den of property tax evasion. Keep in mind this is the same area that protested the school closing (Schools were less than 40% occupied) because it was “racist”.

  • really glad shannon is around to give us the Anglo perspective.

  • @SAYWHAT: I didn’t get that he was trying to control the construction. Even a renter could be affected by adjacent construction. Granted, he couldn’t really claim property damage as his own loss since he doesn’t own but that wasn’t his sole complaint if you read.