October 03, 2007
Hardin versus the high rise

How serious are the opponents of the Bissonnet high rise? Serious enough to hire a high-powered attorney.

Residents of Southampton and Boulevard Oaks have hired trial lawyer Rusty Hardin to help them oppose a 23-story high-rise proposed for the corner of Bissonnet and Ashby.

Houston-based Buckhead Investment Partners plans to develop the residential tower at 1717 Bissonnet, a site currently home to the Maryland Manor Apartments.

"We've done everything that the rules, regulations and ordinances have required us to do to bring this project to this point," developer Matthew Morgan said.

Last week, Mayor Bill White wrote in a letter to area civic groups that the city will use "any appropriate power under law" to alter the development, which opponents say would tower over single-family homes and worsen traffic congestion.

I'll be honest - I'm not sure what legal grounds they have to oppose this. I'd never underestimate a guy like Rusty Hardin, but I don't know what he's going to do besides pound the table. We'll have to see what happens.

Speaking of table-pounding, there will be a protest rally this afternoon by the local residents. It's described as a "media event", so expect to see it on the teevee news tonight. (Aside to the website owner: You might want to consider proofreading the title to this post.) Swamplot has more, including a drawing of what the high rise is supposed to look like.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on October 03, 2007 to Elsewhere in Houston

I would agree with your reluctance to underestimate Hardin. I also don't know what legal ground he has to stand on, but if he can find one solid enough to allow him to argue before a jury he can really put his talents to use. They're probably trying to simply send a message to the developers that they mean business.

Also, Kuff, as a proponant of a more centralized, dense urban Houston as opposed to the expansive suburbia laden landscape we have today, does this project fit into your vision of how Housotn needs to be redistributing its population?

Posted by: dukakis_in_a_tank on October 3, 2007 8:12 AM

Duke - In general, I think denser development, including high rises and mixed-use, are good things, and am glad to see more of each going on inside the Loop. However, I also think that concerns about traffic and flooding are valid, and I think established neighborhoods need to have more of a voice in what happens to them. I think it's appropriate for Council and the Mayor to take a hard look at these things, and come up with a comprehensive approach to dealing with them.

On a related note, I think this kind of development makes much more sense if it's closer to an existing or planned light/guided rail corridor. Move the Ashby project a half mile east, where it becomes a short walk to the Museum District rail station, and I think it's a clear win. Maybe more people than we now think will use that anyway. All I'm saying is that I'd like to see rail proximity be a bigger factor in this process.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on October 3, 2007 9:43 AM