Mar 13

Archstone Memorial Heights vs. The City of Houston

Editor's Note: This is the second of three parts outlining the beginning of the redevelopment of the Archstone Memorial Heights Apartment Complex, the first part is posted here, and the final part will be posted in the near future.

At the May 30, 2007 city council meeting, a request to abandon three fire hydrant easements was on the city council agenda:

RECOMMENDATION from Director Department of Public Works & Engineering,
reviewed and approved by the Joint Referral Committee, on request from
Ronnie D. Harris of Brown & Gay Engineers, Inc., on behalf of ASN Multifamily
Limited Partnership [SCA-North Carolina (1) LLC, a Delaware limited partnership
{Archstone-Smith Operating Trust, a Maryland real estate investment trust,
(Peter Grimm, Vice President), sole member}, General Partner], for
abandonment and sale of three fire hydrant easements and a 10-foot-wide
water line easement in exchange for the conveyance to the City of a fire
hydrant easement, all located within Memorial Heights, Section One Replat,
out of the John Austin Survey, A-1, Parcels SY7-082A through D and

A look at the agenda backup quickly shows the areas of the property in question.  This motion was quickly rubber stamped through the council.

People would wonder why fire hydrants would need to be located, and the reason is simple.  With the looming construction plans, the existing hydrants that provided fire protection to all of the buildings were in the way.  These hydrants, located inside the fenced in portion of the property allowed fire crews convenient access in case they needed the water to fight the fire.  With the redevelopment, the locations the existing hydrants are in won't do, and has to be moved.

The Court Street conundrum

In early December, huge signs were posted on the Heights, Washington and Studemont sides of the complex:

What kind of variance was being considered?  In the few days before the December 13th meeting, it was discovered that the complex wanted to get the city to abandon the "Studemont Spaceway" Pocket Park and Court Street South of Washington Avenue:

Click on the image to see it at full size.

The Planning Commission postponed any action at the December 13th meeting, and (although details remain sketchy since the meeting notes just state the decision, and not the discussion around the request) denied the request January 3rd.  Details did emerge that Archstone was setting out on a 5-year plan to redevelop the complex, including demolishing the 30 existing 3-story garden-style buildings, and rebuilding with six 4-story buildings and parking structures.  In addition a retail complex would be built facing Studemont, and hence the request to close Court Street.

This action by the Planning Commision does not yet appear to be the end of the fight, and from the looks of things, they have a few years before they will be reconstructing that part of the complex.

Next Time: We conclude the series with a look at the current activity at the site, and one of the unanswered questions about part of the redevelopment plan.

Permanent link to this article:

Bad Behavior has blocked 770 access attempts in the last 7 days.