Q. Why is there so much neighborhood opposition to this development?
A. Houston’s neighborhoods are important—not just our own. If communities sit back and do not protect the quality of life and the health, safety and traffic conditions in their areas, Houston will not continue to grow in a positive way. This is not an anti-development protest or a call for zoning. This is a protest against “misplaced,” “inappropriate” and “harmful” development. This is an appeal to common sense.
Q: Don’t the developers have the legal right to build anything they want?
A: While it may be true that the city does not currently have regulations to control height restriction or zoning, it does not make sense to allow the predictable traffic congestion that this 23 – story development will cause. Even the developer’s own traffic study indicates a significant worsening of traffic. The number of cars coming from that building has been estimated to be 2,000 per day. They would emerge onto two-lane neighborhood streets. Bissonnet is already backed up many times throughout the day.
Q: Why do you think safety is involved?
Poe Elementary School is 2 ½ blocks from this proposed building. Many children must cross Bissonnet to get to school. There is a crossing guard at Bissonnet and Hazard, but the morning exodus of the high rise residence will cause even more traffic and danger. Similarly, left turns from Ashby onto Bissonnet are already problematic and wait times will significantly increase with the added traffic from this project.
In addition to traffic safety, there is concern about the accessibility of fire equipment. With the setbacks so close to property lines on the east and south sides of the structure, fire trucks may not have full access.
Q: The developers claim that this will not be an intrusion on privacy since the residences will be “above the treeline.” What’s wrong with that?
The first five and a half stories, consisting of retail space and a parking garage, will have set backs of 10 feet on the East and South, within a few feet of neighboring homes on Wroxton and Southampton Estates Drive. The setback from the front edge of the curb on Ashby will be 27’10” (steps for 5 units will protrude into this space) and 54’ from the front edge of the curb on Bissonnet,. Furthermore, while the neighborhood contains numerous beautiful, live oak trees, the tree canopy is not continuous. Residents of the project will be able to look directly into many yards and windows of the houses in the neighborhood, and the project will be clearly visible to hundreds of houses in the neighborhood.
Q: Are you trying to dictate what the developers should build?
A: A survey of the area indicates that many other reasonable development options exist that are economically feasible. We ask that Matthew Morgan and Kevin Kirton build a project that would be acceptable in their own neighborhoods in West U and Southside Place. At a minimum, the project should be compatible with the existing land use in the neighborhood, such that is does not destroy the very qualities that it seeks to take advantage of.
Q: What is the size of the tract?
A: The size is 1.7 acres, or the equivalent of 7 residential lots. The 23 story high-rise, depending on the developers final plans, would accommodate 5 townhomes PLUS either 231 rental units or 187 condo units.
Q: What are the long-term implications of this project?
A: This is not the only site adjacent to an established neighborhood in Houston that is without protection. Our neighbors in other parts of the city have suffered from willy-nilly construction. Other nearby parcels of land in close proximity to Ashby and Bissonnet are also at risk for high density development that would overburden the local infrastructure and damage the community. This is an opportunity to affect the city’s growth, but in a positive way that does not destroy the values that have been carefully built up by the city’s residents over the decades. Urban density is a reality, but it should not occur at the price of urban chaos.
Q: The developers are planning to construct a SILVER LEED building. Wouldn’t that be a good thing?
A: Merely because this proposed project may be sensitive to environmental and energy concerns does not compensate for the numerous detrimental effects that it would impose on the neighborhood.
Q: Isn’t your protest just a veiled attempt at zoning?
A: We are NOT advocating zoning. Rather our intent is to stop this project and others like them.
Our efforts are directed toward stopping projects that unacceptably increase traffic congestion, create an “out of scale,” “misplaced,” and “harmful” structure in the midst of a residential area accessible only by two lane streets.
We hope to accomplish this by calling upon the city’s power to establish regulation as to the form of projects that affect traffic and the resulting safety issues.
We also are urging other civic groups to join forces to affect changes by reasonable means to constrain the form of other projects affecting other Houston neighborhoods.
Q: Who are the architects on this project?
A: EDI, at 2800 Post Oak Blvd., Suite 3800 is the architectural firm. The managing principals are Britten L. Perkins and Dennis F. Thompson.
They are the firm that designed the Galleria area 30-story apartment building, DOMINION at Post Oak, 2323 McCue, Houston, 77056.
To view the elevations of the proposed Ashby high-rise, go to http://www.buckfund.com/elevations.html
According to EDI Client, Buckhead Investments, the 23-story structure located adjacent to one and two story homes was designed to look like it had “always been there.”
Q: Who is the construction company?
A: The construction company is Miner-Dedrick.
John Dederick Miner, CEO
Houston, Texas 77006
“Building History” is the slogan on their web site and signs.
Q: The developers have promoted this project as the type of pedestrian-friendly high-density development appropriate for the inner city. They envision neighborhood residents walking over to the site to eat or shop. They also state that people who elect to live in the high rise will want to “walk to the medical center” and other locations. What’s the problem with that?
A: High density inner city development is desirable in appropriate locations, but this is not an appropriate location, and this project is not “pedestrian friendly.” With many Boulevard Oaks and Southampton residents having expressed their determination to avoid patronizing the limited business offerings planned for this inappropriate location, this development is not likely to lessen the existing neighborhood automobile traffic.
And, for those who choose to live in this high-density building, the distances to the most popular destinations will very likely preclude walking. For example, below are the round-trip “walking” distances to some of the more popular destinations and amenities in the general neighborhood (distances estimated via Google maps):
- Starbucks (Kirby Dr.): 2.6 miles
- Texas Medical Center (University Blvd. @ Fannin): 3.2 miles
- Greenway Theater: 4.2 miles
- Office Depot: 3.2 miles
- CVS Pharmacy: 2.6 miles
- Whole Foods Market: 3.8 miles
- Museum of Fine Arts: 1.4 miles
These distances are farther than most people are prepared to walk, especially on streets such as Bissonnet which are already heavily congested. The proposed and exisiting rail lines are not easily reached from this location. The potential high rise residents would have to drive their cars to virtually anywhere they might go, thus adding to the traffic burden in the area.