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City to settle Ashby lawsuit

Another saga draws to a close.

But not quite as high as before

Mayor Annise Parker has sent a letter to residents of the Southampton area saying the city has no legal basis to stop developers from building the controversial Ashby high-rise as outlined in their 2009 plans.

“I am accepting the advice of city legal counsel and recommending the settlement of the lawsuit,” she said in the Feb. 29 letter.

Under the terms of the settlement, the city would approve a 21-story building consisting of 228 residential units, 10,075 square feet of restaurant space and four town homes. It will also incorporate a pedestrian plaza to enhance the area along Bissonnet Street.

The Chron story has some reactions to the city’s move.

Matthew Morgan, president of Buckhead Investment Partners, said Friday that settlement discussions with the city have “yielded some encouraging results.” Neither he nor his business partner Kevin Kirton would discuss the matter further.

“Until something final has been filed with the court, I don’t think we can really say much more,” Morgan said.

[…]

Jim Reeder, co-chair of the Stop Ashby High Rise Task Force, said the settlement details do not adequately mitigate the impact of the project if it were to be built.

The corner of Ashby and Bissonnet is already congested, he said, and traffic is likely to further encroach into the neighborhood with hundreds of apartments and a restaurant.

“People are concerned about the quality of life, their property values; they’re concerned about maintaining the character of their neighborhood; and they’re concerned about safety,” said Reeder, a resident of Southampton, an upscale neighborhood near Rice University and the Museum District.

You can see the letter and some more information here. It’s pretty much what we’ve known all along, that there was nothing the city could do to stop this thing. Which, in a different and more suitable location, sounds like it would be a fine project. Hope whoever moves into those residential units is real good at making friends. Swamplot has more.

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9 Comments

  1. John says:

    Kuff,

    to quote you “It’s pretty much what we’ve known all along, that there was nothing the city could do to stop this thing” so will you place any blame on Bill White or Parker for wasting how many man hours of city employees and outside attorneys. Not to mention the amount of money they will probably pay the developers? I think it shows zero backbone that Bill White was so focused on appeasing his donors that he would cost the city this much money. If Parker (not an attorney) said she knew all along there was nothing the City could do then why would such an alleged brilliant legal mind like Bill White so carelessly waste City of Houston money? I guess when it is not your money why should you care what you do with something. This could have been avoided instead so far the attorneys are the only people who have made money

  2. What’s to blame them for? They responded to the very loud concerns of the residents, which is what you’d expect any city official to do. If they had actually gone to court to fight that lawsuit, that would have been a poor decision, but they didn’t. They settled, and managed to actually get a couple of minor concessions. All things considered, I’d say they did about as well as they could. I’m not seeing the problem here.

    Note that when I say “we knew all along”, that’s my opinion. I’m not a lawyer, nor do I speak for the city. I’m just saying that I’m not surprised this was ultimately settled, because it was the most sensible outcome.

  3. joshua bullard says:

    i for one am very slow to want to restrict private development-a man or a womans land should for the most part be theres to do as they will/i have always been an advocate of the development of the highrise-heres why-the developers own the land-the development is going to infuse a lot of young professionals in the area and get that area bursting with excitement and energy anew.

    sure, the mayor played a little politics,she is supposed to, shes a politician, thats how they operate,truth be told mayor parker isnt really to blame for the highrise issue-its the blood sucking overegulatory residents of that area that has cost the tax payers millions-shame on them.

    dont get mad @me for telling everybody the way it really is

    joshua ben bullard

  4. John says:

    Kuff

    I guess my point is everything from day 1 pointed to the fact the city would not win and the developers had the legal right to do what they please. I just think wasting taxpayers money (settlement because you know they are going to pay the developers money to make the lawsuit go away) is the real waste of city resources. Bill White should have told the residents that legally nothing the city could do. Kuff will you be happy if the city pays the developers $10mm on top of the alleged concessions they got. Is that being a responsible public official? I personally don’t think it is but you might see it differently.

    I guess we should all wait to see how much money is paid to make this go away to decide whether it was smart of the city to do this fight

  5. KerryG says:

    I think that this is just the end of round one in this fight. Now that the City has thrown in the towel, the neighborhood will be bringing suit against the developers. There are a number of lawyers who will be living in the shadow of this building and they’ve know that the city would ultimately have to back off. If this apartment tower ever gets built, it’s going to come with the highest legal bill in the history of Houston.

  6. John – Yes, I would be unhappy if the city agreed to pay the developers $10M. I would also be surprised, but it could happen. Let’s see what gets brought before Council, since they will have to approve any settlement.

  7. Meg Blakey says:

    I don’t live in Southhampton, but I find the level of vitriol (“blood sucking overegulatory residents”) directed at the home owners bizarre. The home owners are the people who continue to invest significant money and energy into this neighborhood to create an ideal quality of life. Their efforts, and high property taxes, ensured good schools, parks and a sustainable, walk-able community. The developers want to capitalize on those established conditions without mitigating negative impacts or adding significant quality to the neighborhood. It seems like the blood sucking characterization is squarely misplaced.

  8. joshua bullard says:

    when low density housing decides to restrict high density development on property they dont own-“own”its not about the low density residents-its about the hundreds of familys and children that have been shuned from this marvalous area of town in houston-“houston”,i want this opportunity extended to the young professionals,by building high density development,home owners that attempt to restrict other peoples access to city parks-city roadways-these are people who are selfish and self serving-the residents of this area should stop hendering other peoples right to build as they please and do as they please on property they own,does anyone ever consider the feelings of the hundreds of other familys that have a right to live on this land…

    this is the land of the free

    and

    the home of the brave

    joshua ben bullard

  9. rttew says:

    Joshua,

    the desires of the few don’t nor should they ever out weigh the desire of the many. I wouldn’t want that eye sore in my backyard, and if you were honest, you probably wouldn’t want it either. these developers are capitalizing on the allure of a very nice and quaint part of town. there are plenty of other locations for their monstrosity.

    Your argument on private land owners’ rights is asinine at best. Just because a person can doesn’t mean they should.