Q1: Where are you in the permitting process?
have submitted documents to the City for the foundation
Q2: What’s the status on platting this property? When will you schedule your first public meeting?
property was platted as an unrestricted reserve for
our use in mid-July 2007. No public hearing was required.
Q3: Your proposed high-rise is going to overload the existing sanitary sewer. How are you going to address this problem?
already completed construction of a new over-sized
sanitary sewer entirely at our own expense, which will
also provide extra capacity for the neighborhood in
the future. Actually, the sewer became a key determining
factor for us. No matter what we wanted to do on this
property the City would require us to build a new sewer.
We were looking at close to half-a-million dollars
in sewer work whether we built single family homes,
apartments, town homes or a high-rise.
Q4: This project is going to create even worse traffic problems than we already have. What are you going to do about that?
A4: We’ve completed a traffic study based on what we believe to be the highest occupancy scenario of 231 units. What it shows is no significant impact on the area street system and that no mitigation measures are required.
Q5: You are proposing a restaurant and a market on your first floor. Won’t that type of retail use cause additional traffic?
A5: Our traffic study takes those uses into consideration. It is important to note that both of these retail operations are designed for resident and neighbor use. The restaurant will seat approximately 150 patrons and parking, both self and valet, will be available in our garage with no impact on Bissonnet. The market will be more of a convenience market offering gourmet prepared foods and basic sundries to not only the building residents but the neighborhood as well.
Q6: You told the neighborhood association presidents that you explored options other than a high-rise, in particular town homes. Why aren’t you pursuing that option?
A6: We did explore town homes as a redevelopment option. As we finalized the price of the real estate followed by the required sewer work, town homes quickly became economically unfeasible.
Q7: The back of this structure is right on the property line of the Wroxton Court duplexes. Won’t your residents look right into their backyards?
A7: All of those neighbors currently have fences and landscaping as a barrier to the apartment complex. Our building is such that the residences don’t begin until the seventh floor, which is above the tree canopy. Additionally, on the back of our property, the residential portion of our building is set back nearly 70 feet from the property line, making it impossible to see directly into our neighbors’ homes. And even then the tree canopy shields the view above the third floor.
Q8: The Wroxton Court view will be of the garage. What are you doing to make that less of an eyesore to those people?
A8: We’ve learned a lot from the neighborhood’s conversations with the Medical Clinic of Houston. First, the lighting in our garage will use low-impact fixtures that direct the light into the garage. Second we have asked the architect to develop a plan incorporating an attractive screening system similar to what you would see on the Moran Center garage at the University of St. Thomas .
Q9: There are a lot of high-rises under construction in Houston , much more than the market will bear. What makes you believe you will be able to sell any of these units?
A9: We’ve become students of this market. What we know is the demographics of the immediate area are perfect. Many of the current residents no longer need their large home but don’t want to leave the neighborhood and are thinking about their alternatives. The location is ideal. We are building residences to suit the kind of people who already live here.
Q10: Why does this have to be so tall? It is completely out of scale for the neighborhood.
A10: There are several reasons. First, economics - we have a significant investment in this property between the purchase of the land and the required sewer construction. To justify that investment means more units and the only way to accomplish that density is vertically. Second, the location offers unmatched views of Downtown, the Medical Center , Greenway Plaza & the Galleria/Post Oak and the beautiful tree canopy below. We need to go up in order to take advantage of these spectacular views. Third, in order to maximize the appeal of the property to the same sorts of people already living in the area, we need to go up in order to have sufficient area to provide the types amenities that they expect – things like the pedestrian plaza, the restaurant & market, pool, outdoor living area, day spa, office suites & rooftop lounge. Also, it is important to point out that the scale of a building is perceived at the pedestrian level. We’ve worked hard to make sure this structure is consistent with the neighborhood at that level. That’s one of the reasons we will have a pedestrian plaza, restaurant & market as well as town homes occupying the first several floors.
Q11: How much will a residence cost?
A11: We haven’t set our pricing structure. In fact, we’re still examining whether we will be rental with approximately 231 units or for sale with 187 units. Once we formalize our construction costs and finish our competitive market study we’ll know for sure. Either way the units will be priced to attract a similar demographic to the people who currently own in this neighborhood.
Q12: Why not just refurbish the current apartment complex?
A12: The current apartments have reached the end of their useful life. They need to be torn down.
Q13: What are you doing about all those wonderful trees on the property?
A13: We are working with our architect and an arborist to make sure we preserve as many of our trees as possible. A few may need to be relocated.
Q14: What makes you think you can build a high-rise? You’ve never done anything like this before, have you?
A14: We’ve done several projects this size or larger. In fact, we’ve built projects with more than 300 units. Whether you build the units horizontally or vertically, it’s still about understanding the market and building what is right for the demographics of the area.
Q15: Who’s your lender?
A15: That’s a confidential business matter that we will not disclose. We’ve discussed with them that this project may meet some neighborhood resistance to change.
Q16: Why haven’t you come to us earlier with your plans for this property?
A16: For us to have come to you before we had worked out exactly what we wanted to do with this property would have been speculation. Our first obligation is to the City of Houston and we have first made the rounds to the City Planning and Development Department, second to the elected officials and now to the neighborhood representatives. Next, we plan to open a dialogue with the tenants of our apartments, followed by our immediate neighbors on Bissonnet, Ashby, Wroxton Ct. and to our east.
Q17: We don’t want you here.
A17: I’m sorry you feel that way. Our goal is to build a residence that in the future will be heralded as the right place, the right time and the right way to become an integral part of the neighborhood. We’ve studied how cities all over North America have gone t hr ough densification of their inner city. We know what is successful and what is not and why. What we will build is something that we as long time residents of this neighborhood can be proud of.
Q18: How far is the property set back from the street curb or property lines?
A18: Because of the design of the building, there are several measurements to take into consideration. The table below explains:
North face: Bissonnet Street
From curb to pedestrian level: 54’
From curb to residential tower: 66’9”
West face: Ashby Street
From curb to town homes: 27’10”
From curb to residential tower: 45’6”
South face: Wroxton Court
From property line to garage: 10’
From property line to residential tower: 69’7”
From property line to garage: 10’
From property line to residential tower: 47’6”
Q19: What is the name on the plat?
A19: East Court .
Q20: Are there adequate storm sewers for this project?
A20: Yes. Our storm sewer connection has been approved by the City. We are almost doubling the existing amount of pervious cover on the site, meaning that we are actually reducing the impact on the storm sewer caused by the existing apartments. Also, we will be retaining rainwater for irrigation purposes.
Q21: Will there be any parking below grade?
A21: No, all parking will be in the above grade garage.
Q22: Will use of this building create a significant increase in traffic on neighboring streets?
A22: No. A traffic-impact assessment (TIA) study has been conducted based on traffic counts taken last spring. This TIA was given to the City of Houston Traffic Division of Public Works and Engineering for review and was approved. No mitigation was required by the City.
Q23: Would you consider working with the civic associations to encourage the City to install a traffic light at Bissonnet and Ashby?
A23: Yes. Analysis of the traffic-impact assessment has been completed and a traffic light is not warranted. The traffic analyst recommends an analysis be conducted after the building is fully operational to provide the City with actual traffic counts. Only then will the City look at any indication of need for an additional traffic signal within 1200 feet of other signals.
Q24: Where will deliveries and trash pick up take place?
A24: Deliveries will be made t hr ough the Bissonnet entrance. Trash containers will be housed inside the building on the Ashby side. Trash pick-up will be made in exactly the same manner and in approximately the same location as is currently the case with the existing apartments.
Q25: Are there adequate turning areas on your property for delivery trucks?
A25: Yes, all turning radii have been confirmed by the architects to meet or exceed standards.
Q26: What are you proposing for the exterior façade of the building?
A26: The exterior façade of the building will be red brick with cast stone details.
Q27: Why don’t you build this on Montrose, Kirby or Main streets?
A27: This unrestricted site is perfect to meet the needs of our prospective residents.
Q28: What are you doing to assure our neighbors privacy?
A28: Much has been done to design a building that provides privacy to its neighbors. No high-rise residences will exist below the tree canopy, and all of these residences are set back from the property line a greater distance than is required by home setbacks.
Q29: Will there be enough parking for residents, restaurant and retail?
A29: Yes. The 468 parking space in the garage exceeds the minimum parking requirements of the city with 377 spaces allocated for residents and guests, and 91 spaces for the restaurant and retail spaces.
Q30: How will you minimize the impact on the neighborhood during construction?
A30: The construction firm selected has considerable experience in construction of this type in proximity to residences. A complete plan is being developed to assure minimal impact on the neighborhood.
Q31: Where will the construction workers park?
A31: The workers will park off site and be shuttled to the site until the parking garage is completed at which time they will park in the garage on site.
Q32: Are you doing anything to improve the environmental impact of this development?
A32: This project will be among the first residential buildings in Texas to receive a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, which is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high performance green buildings.