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Leo Linbeck

Ashby Highrise gets its permit

Ready or not, here it comes.

Look out below!

The city of Houston [last] week granted full permitting approval for the 21-story apartment building planned near Rice University at 1717 Bissonnet and Ashby.

An existing apartment complex at the site is now vacant and will be demolished soon, the developers recently said. But one major piece of the puzzle is still missing: a general contractor.

Last week, the head of Linbeck Group said the company had withdrawn from the project.

Developers Matthew Morgan and Kevin Kirton of Buckhead Investment Partners said they have nothing yet to announce on Linbeck’s replacement, but information would be “forthcoming soon.”

See here and here for previous updates. CultureMap notes that since Leo Linbeck III lived near the Ashby location, with Linbeck Group out of the project there may not be any force for neighborhood mitigation. We’ll see what the next step is for the folks that have been fighting this for so many years.

Et tu, Leo?

At least one person living near the Ashby Highrise is looking forward to its construction.

Coming to a neighborhood near you

Linbeck Group, a general contractor whose top executive lives in the neighborhood adjacent to the building site, is expected to start construction at the beginning of next year.

Executive chairman Leo Linbeck III said the company is taking on the project because it believes it “will be able to do the best job of mitigating the impact of the construction process.”

“I realize that folks may decide to attack us for our involvement. A lot of my neighbors are very unhappy, and I can’t change that,” he said. “But we really are trying to help, and I hope that they appreciate that.”

The developer, who announced Linbeck’s involvement late Wednesday, also said it had partnered with an El Paso real-estate firm, Hunt Cos., to develop and finance the project.


Bill Scott, division president at Linbeck Group, said the high-rise will be a technically challenging construction project. If it’s going to be built, “it ought to get built by someone that can do a very good job and can do it safely.”

Yes, if it’s going to be built at all it may as well be built well. As Swamplot notes, the construction schedule has slipped a bit since the last update, but on the other hand they now have funding, and that’s more important. We’ll see how much trouble gets stirred up as this proceeds.

Mighty pricey Main Street you’ve got there

My Irony-O-Meter goes to eleven.

Can I be your sugar daddy?

A Houston-based super PAC is targeting a dozen Democratic and Republican incumbents to reshape the political landscape in five states, including Texas where critics say an election law loophole is being used by a wealthy family to buy a seat in Congress.

The Campaign for Primary Accountability, a conservative political action committee whose largest donor is Houston builder Leo Linbeck III, is working to defeat Rep. Sylvestre Reyes, D-El Paso, and Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Dallas.

The PAC is funding challenges to Reyes and Johnson and congressional Democrats in Ohio deemed entrenched and vulnerable to strong challengers.


The Super PAC has raised $1.8 million to aid challengers in contested primaries where incumbents hold an advantage because of seniority and backing from special interests and Washington lobbyists.

Ellis said the PAC is helping strong challengers against incumbents by leveling the playing field and dilute the power of special interests.

“It’s not about party, it’s about process,” Ellis said. “We want the people of Congress to fear Main Street, not K Street.

“The insiders, the lobbyists, give the incumbents the advantage. We want to equalize that,” Ellis said.

And the way they want to do that is by giving challengers their own obscenely wealthy benefactor:

The largest donor to the Campaign for Primary Accountability, Linbeck, gave $775,000. He is a staunch advocate for tax reform and smaller government.

“We are not funding parties and we are not funding incumbents,” Ellis said. “We are using the power of the system the way it has been adjudicated at the Supreme Court level.”

Well, I can’t argue with that, though I do hope that SCOTUS will rethink the wisdom of that decision. I just can’t say I know anyone on my street who can afford to drop $775K on political campaigns. Forget Main Street, my problem is that I don’t live on Linbeck Street. Leo Linbeck III is the son of Leo Linbeck, Jr, who is one of the founders of Texans for Lawsuit Reform and one of the longtime occupiers of a seat in the owners’ box at the Texas Lege. Always nice to see a son follow in his daddy’s footsteps, isn’t it?

The Super PAC supports Dallas lawyer Taj Clayton in a crowded Democratic primary.

They also support Beto O’Rourke in El Paso. Both Clayton and O’Rourke did very well in the last quarter’s fundraising report, and no doubt some Linbeck love helped them considerably. As ludicrous and distasteful as I find this, I don’t consider this to be a disqualifier for either candidate. O’Rourke has some solid progressive credentials; I don’t know much about Clayton but in general I’m supportive of new young faces on the scene. Ideally, if either or both were to win, I’d hope they spend their careers pushing legislation that the Leo Linbecks of the world abhor. But folks usually do dance with them that brung ’em, and I certainly won’t argue against anyone who would oppose them for taking Leo Linbeck’s money. In the meantime, consider this Exhibit 459,831 for Why We Need Real Campaign Finance Reform.