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Throwin’ Shade: Bellaire Residents Question Height of Proposed Towers on Loop 610 Tract

Chevron sold this tract in the City of Bellaire. The new owner has a grand plan.

BELLAIRE – (By Michelle Leigh Smith for Realty News Report) – Plans for the 30-acre Bellaire Place development, located on the site of the former Chevron campus at Loop 610 continue to draw scrutiny by the Bellaire Planning & Zoning Commission.

In October, SLS Properties bought the property from Chevron, which relocated all of its 900 Bellaire employees from the Bellaire campus to downtown Houston.

The property, bounded by Loop 610, South Rice Avenue and Fournace Street, has two office buildings on site, plus a significant amount of land for future development.

Plans for developing the land were discussed Thursday night at a second public hearing before the Bellaire Planning & Zoning Commission. The discussion focused on 9.6 acres at 5901 S. Rice Avenue for request for a Specific Use Permit (SUP) to allow for an increase from 53 to 85 ft. to be used for an indoor theatre and fitness club.

Questions were raised about the height of new development on the site and the shade they might throw on neighboring residential properties.

Developer Danny Sheena, representing SLS Properties, wants to build a 145,000 SF interior building towering to 85 feet tall.  He shared some math ratios referencing height and told the Commission that they should grant the request “as a matter of right.”

 “Technically, I could go another 33 feet to 101 feet,” he said.  As the hearing went on, Sheena said the structure might be used as a big box store if the fitness facility didn’t materialize.

“Kirksey (Architecture) did a shading study about how the 164-foot garage would impact the residents on Mayfair,” says Sheena. “That showed that the only impact to light would be in December only for about 30 minutes, so basically no affect for the residents,” Sheena said.

Resident Thomas Reed presented another set of drawings and photographs that showed major shadowing at various times throughout the day, after sunset, at noon, 45 minutes after sunrise. “In contrast to what he (Sheena) showed you, which was a confusing collage of colors of olives and pinks, I will actually show you a real shadow,” says Reed. “I ask you to ask yourself if these are consistent with the Comprehensive Plan.”

Reed asked for protection to adjacent areas and adequate separation and buffering to the single-family homes on Mayfair Street.

The residents have been hearing various versions of the Bellaire Place plans from Sheena since September 2018.

“Every time we turn around, something is different,” said Bellaire resident Jim Balogh.

“The long shadow will kill vegetation because of the additional lack of sunlight and lack of the greenspace,” said  Catherine Lewis, a geologist with 30 years of industry experience. “The setback based on line of sight isn’t realistic as far as the shade is concerned and there is a second garage that is not shown.”

“I call for a moratorium on this project,” said resident Lynn McBee. “We have not received a final report from the Texas Coalition for Environmental Quality and that is essential. If it goes to City Council, I will request that the City hire a professional consultant who is not from Houston.”

Chairman Ross Gordon asked again for the packet of all information, with environmental studies. “In the last meeting, there were a lot of requests for additional information about traffic issues and a master plan. What is the plan for sharing that new information?” he asked.

Sheena says he’s provided a master plan and he says City staff is reviewing.

“Is it possible to ask about the eastern components of the plan,” asked Gordon.  Sheena has told some residents that he plans to add a hotel and another building on the eastern part of the property, but there was not public discussion of those plans at the meeting.

An Ed Wulfe partnership owns the gas station and some adjacent land at the corner of Loop 610 and Fournace. Mr. Wulfe passed away in July.

Houston Methodist leased 100,812 SF of the former Chevron office space on the site for administrative use, reports Colliers International’s Coy Davidson, who  represented Methodist in the lease transaction. Davidson reports Methodist will occupy floors 8, 9 and 10 of the 10-story building and move in during the first quarter of 2020.

Sheena’s SLS Properties has proposed a 300-unit mid-rise residential tower atop a new parking garage, a movie theater, a 145,000-SF mixed-use building with office space and the creation of several restaurant-suited pad sites along South Rice Avenue.

Aug. 9, 2019 Realty News Report Copyright 2019

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