Along-embattled residential high-rise project in Boulevard Oaks is set to move forward, with one Houston City Council member calling the news “terrible.”
The Langley , a new luxury rental community jointly developed by El Paso-based Hunt Companies, Inc. and Dallas-based StreetLights Residential has just been given the green light to break ground by the City of Houston.
As neighbors are well aware, The Langley (1717 Bissonnet St.) is the new iteration of the hot-button mix-used development that was long dubbed the Ashby high-rise. A turf war between the Ashby’s developers and Boulevard Oaks residents and representatives dates back some 15 years. (The occasional “Stop Ashby High-Rise” bumper sticker can still be spotted in the Inner Loop.)
The Langley, a more intimate version than the original high-rise, is meant to appease residents who opposed the large development’s footprint and effect on traffic and flow. As the Houston Chronicle reported, the city of Houston approved StreetLights Residential’s permit for site and foundation work in March.
Now, it appears the The Langley is cleared to break ground. No word yet if Hunt Companies and StreetLights Residential hope to complete the project by 2025, the original target date.
City Council Member Abbie Kamin minced no words on Thursday, April 20. “This is terrible news and I won’t sugarcoat it,” she wrote in an email to constituents. “Residents and I have been fighting this grossly out-of-scale development – and its negative impacts on traffic, congestion, safety, and quality of life for neighbors – with both hands tied behind our backs.”
Hunt Companies and StreetLights Residential are “taking advantage of Houston’s lack of zoning,” Kamin continued. She added the developers are “using state vested rights laws to disregard new residential buffering standards, and other neighborhood protections that have been fought for and passed by City Council during my time and before.”
Kamin, for her part, vows to fight for residents. “Let me be clear: I stand strongly opposed to this development and others that do not incorporate and include the measures we have put in place to make development better for neighborhoods,” she wrote. “I will continue to advocate for and alongside our residents to mitigate the impacts this construction project is going to have on the neighborhood.”
See here and here for the background. It’s hard to know what CM Kamin and the rest of the opposition can accomplish at this point, but it can’t hurt to try. We know from the previous experience with this property that a vocal group of homeowners in a nice neighborhood can do quite a bit. As I’ve been on this train for a long time, I’ll ride it till it reaches its destination. Never would have thought it would still be going after all these years, and at this point clearly with some more to go, but here we are.
UPDATE: From the Chron story:
Pete Patterson, an attorney representing some neighbors who oppose the Langley, said the neighbors sill don’t think plans meet the requirements outlined in the 2012 agreement with the city.
“We’re very disappointed,” said Patterson. “We’re reviewing our options and we’ll be making a decision with respect to legal action in the near future.”
Litigation would certainly extend this ride even more. Who knows how much longer I’ll have to keep an eye on this?