Council denies plans for larger Ashby high rise

December 9, 2009 5:04:08 PM PST
An update now on the Ashby high rise battle we've been following for months. Houston City Council Wednesday denied plans for developers to build a large high rise at Bissonnet and Ashby near the Museum District. That doesn't mean the battle has ended though. There hasn't been an Ashby high rise protest in over a year, but any time the developers try to gain an inch, neighbors against the project show up in force at City Hall making sure politicians know they don't want the development.

"It's fine the way it is," said homeowner Bill Cunningham.

Council members have certainly gotten the message. On Wednesday, developers for the proposed residential high rise appealed a denial of their original building permit due to the expected traffic impact. As expected, the city council turned them down.

However, the mayor was quick to clarify, this wasn't a zoning issue.

"We're not deciding how tall buildings are, we're not deciding who can build what in Houston," said Mayor Bill White.

Even though the appeal was denied, the developers have been granted a permit for a slightly smaller, though still significant building.

"We are not thrilled about that, but we think the project they approved will be more difficult to construct than the project they originally wanted to build," said Chris Amandes of the Anti-Ashby Coalition.

For now, the site of the proposed high rise is still just a few apartment buildings and even though the neighbors have threatened a lawsuit, Mayor White says the current economy may be accomplishing something city ordinances could not.

"The market has turned against them. It's harder to get financing for large projects. We're in a global recession," said Mayor White.

The developers, who had wanted to build a 23-story building, were not present at the city council meeting, and so far have not returned our phone calls. They told us in the past, they are businessmen who take their projects seriously and they are willing to wait it out.


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