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At long last, the Ashby Highrise Lawsuit

The Ashby Highrise developers have filed suit against the city.

The developers of the Ashby high-rise sued the city of Houston today seeking more than $40 million in compensation after repeated denials of their permit application.

“The city must learn that it cannot misapply the law to please a select few or to achieve de factor zoning regulations that our community has consistently rejected,” said Kevin Kirton, the chief executive of Buckhead Investment Partners Inc., the company that sought to build the 23-story tower at 1717 Bissonnet near Rice University.

I presume “de factor” is a typo in the statement they sent out about this, but as I am not on their press release distribution list, I cannot confirm that. I will simply note that both the neighborhood and the developers have threatened to sue at one time or another, and it actually feels a bit like relief that one of them finally went ahead and did it. As you know, I do think the original project, with the mixed-use component, is a better overall idea than what was eventually approved, but it remains the case that this is the wrong location for that project. We’ll see what a judge and/or jury makes of it.

On a side note, think about all the grand projects that were going to happen in recent years, for which things were torn down, and whose sites now lie fallow for who knows how much longer thanks to the crappy economic and financial environment. I’m talking about sites like the Robinson Warehouse, Allen House, The Stables, and of course Sonoma. Is is just me, or is anyone else amazed that Morgan and Kirton are so secure in their financing position that they keep bulling ahead like this? You have to wonder what their secret is.

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6 Comments

  1. Charles, Morgan and Kirton’s lawsuit — speculative as it is — remains a much better investment at this point than the actual project. Although that was not its purpose, the White Administration did Morgan and Kirton a favor by putting up roadblocks to the construction of the project. Funny how these things work out sometimes.

  2. Justus Pang says:

    I was thinking the exact same thing as Tom. I lived in the area while going to Rice and I have a similiar feeling that White actually did them a favor by nixing the project till the economy cratered. Personally I think their business plan is now to do just enough to prove that they would have “made money” and thus deserve “damages”.

    In the end, if the folks in Houston want to live without zoning, they don’t get to raise a ruckus when something they don’t like gets built in their neighborhood. And as much as I hate to see my tax dollars go to a pair of developers, I don’t mind it so much on principle. That said, they choose a horrible site and I would also have no qualms seeing them go down in flames and get nothing for their troubles either.

    Maybe the best thing would be for them to build an empty tower and then go bankrupt? Then the neighborhood preserves their precious traffic condition and the developers get spanked by the market for such an awkward site selection.

  3. John says:

    Totally agree, the lawsuit is not about taste or whether it is appropriate for the area. It is about what the law says, and White thought he was above the law. Now the city will pay out money due to his arrogance. Until there is zoning all of these people will just have to sit back and take it.

    I just find it ironic that some of the Stop Ashby folks (particularly the lawyers) have yet to put a single legal case why it should not be built instead talk about ethics etc. Yet these same guys go to V&E and A&K every a.m. and defend polluting energy companies. Hard to feel sorry for the city and Annise will sign the check that White created

  4. Michael says:

    The aspect of this situation that has always rankled me was the fact the anti-Ashby highrise people took this morally superior stance on this development. They claimed they are doing this for the betterment of Houston, but you won’t see them standing up with you if one of these ill-advised projects lands in your part of town. Now we (the citizens of Houston) are going to have to pay for their selfish attempt at protecting their (not our) neighborhood.

  5. […] a longer version of the Chron story about the Ashby Highrise lawsuit. The key point: Although the petition filed in a Harris County civil court-at-law does not specify […]

  6. […] filed in county court, the lawsuit by the Ashby Highrise developers has been re-filed in state district court. [The […]