Given that nobody has liked any of the proposed Ashby highrise ordinances so far, and that we may not see any action taken by City Council for the next seven months or so anyway, perhaps we ought to start hoping for the developers and the neighborhood residents to come to some kind of accomodation about the project.
"We continue to make an honest effort to cooperate, to negotiate some kind of compromise," said Matthew Morgan, who with his partner, Kevin Kirton, has proposed building a 23-story mixed-use project at 1717 Bissonnet at Ashby.
"That process is ongoing."
Morgan acknowledged that the two sides remain far apart after a series of offers and counteroffers emerged in a Feb. 5 meeting between the developers and neighborhood leaders.
But the fact that the two sides are talking represents progress, he said.
Ever since residents of the Southampton and Boulevard Oaks neighborhoods began protesting the developers' plans last September, the idea of a private solution to the controversy has been attractive to a number of city officials, developers and neighborhood leaders.
Developers, worried that a high-density development ordinance the city was writing in response to the project might hurt their industry and Houston's economy, tried to arrange deals for someone else to buy the property and develop it in a way more palatable to the neighborhood.
Chris Amandes, co-chair of the Stop Ashby High-Rise task force, said he and his neighbors would welcome a negotiated settlement as an alternative to city government action.
"We're interested in the result, not the process," Amandes said.
In the Feb. 5 meeting, Morgan and Kirton offered to reduce the size of their building to 19 stories or to build a six-story project while accepting a $2.65 million payment to recoup their investment.
Neighborhood leaders rejected these ideas but suggested some alternatives.