Traffic concerns plague new River Oaks building project

A proposal to build a 17-story office building in River Oaks is meeting opposition from some residents who are worried about traffic congestion.

September 11, 2013 4:50:16 PM PDT
A proposed 17-story office building right in the middle of River Oaks has some neighbors upset. They say the new building will cause traffic problems when it's finished.

We have previously heard from neighbors and business groups who say they would welcome the addition of this building, but the group meeting that met Wednesday evening says it could create a traffic nightmare.

The 17-story building is scheduled for groundbreaking by the end of this year. It is being built by the Hines Real Estate Company. Its location is 2229 San Felipe, which is between Kirby and Shepherd.

The upscale area is desirable for an office building, but some people who are against the project call it the "San Felipe skyscraper." This particular opposition group is called the East San Felipe Association or E-SAFE. The group says it hired an independent civil engineer who looked at Hines Real Estate's traffic impact analysis and concluded that the building would have a negative impact on residential side streets, and called it "an extraordinary traffic hazard."

The group says it is now asking the city to review the plans and deny the building permit.

"You look at the effect of a 400-car parking garage dumping on these streets. It seems illogical," said Cornelius Morely, who's opposed to the construction of the building. "The streets here are already choked."

Hines issued the following statement in response to the concers:

"Our comprehensive traffic study by Voigt Associates is 556 pages with more than 24 exhibits, involved extensive field work and took more than six weeks to create. The document being presented at tonight's eSAFE meeting was drafted by Lawrence Dunbar, an engineer specializing in drainage and flooding, not traffic.

"Dunbar notes in his own report that he has conducted only a "preliminary" review. He did not contact Voigt Associates or make any original calculations or traffic simulations. Mr. Dunbar appears to misunderstand fundamental principles and practices of traffic engineering, and our study in particular.

"We are 100% committed to excellence in urban development and believe 2229 San Felipe will be an asset to the community. There is significant leasing interest, especially among nearby residents."

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