That sound you just heard was a massive freakout in the Southampton area.
More than two years after they first applied, the developers of the Ashby high-rise will receive permits for a project that generated protests and a renewed debate over how to regulate development in Houston, city officials said today.
The decision was based on changes developers Matthew Morgan and Kevin Kirton made in their 11th submission of plans for the building at 1717 Bissonnet, said Andy Icken, deputy director of public works and engineering. City engineers concluded that the changes would reduce traffic sufficiently for the development to meet the city’s standards, he said.
The building will be 23 stories high, the same as originally proposed. Houston’s development codes don’t restrict the height of buildings.
The new plans reduce the number of residential units and eliminate a spa, retail space and executive offices, Icken said. These changes significantly reduce the number of peak-hour trips expected from vehicles entering and exiting the property, one of the key restrictions in the code.
Original plans called for more than 180 daily peak-hour trips into and out of the property, while the latest, approved plans would reduce that number to 120, Icken said. In addition, he said, the new plans would limit the residents’ vehicle entrances and exits from the property to Bissonnet only, not onto surrounding residential streets.
Even so, the decision allows for construction of a high-rise tower adjacent to two affluent, single-family residential neighborhoods whose leaders say the location is unsuitable for such a project.
I figured this would eventually happen. Took a long time, but sooner or later the developers were going to come up with something the city would have to approve. And so here we are, with the relatively minor issue of traffic getting addressed, while the bigger problem of a 23-story building in the middle of a residential neighborhood doesn’t. I’m wondering if the neighborhood will try to keep fighting it – Stop Ashby Highrise was last updated in February – or if they’ll give up now. I wonder if we’ll see more of these signs. And I wonder if the next time we tweak Chapter 42, we’ll do something to prevent future Ashby Highrises.