BELLAIRE – (By Michelle Leigh Smith) – City officials in Bellaire are considering rezoning the 28-acre Chevron campus, one of the largest West Loop land parcels in the Houston area.
Chevron is preparing to put the property on the market and move its 900 Bellaire employees to downtown Houston.
The Chevron site is just south of the Galleria, on the west side of Loop 610 and stretches to the corner of Fournace Street and S. Rice Avenue. The Chevron tract, which includes a mid-rise office building, is currently zoned as a “Technical Research Park District” by the city of Bellaire.
But with the sale of the property anticipated, a rezoning to allow other types of commercial and residential development are on the table.
“There’s a possibility of a new stand-alone office development, mixed-use or something institutional, like medical,” said Gary Mitchell, president of Kendig Keast Collaborative, which has been studying the property’s dynamics.
Bellaire, an independent municipality with a population of about 20,000 people, is an affluent close-in community. Unlike neighboring Houston, the city of Bellaire has strict zoning.
The Chevron property was a topic of hot discussion at a recent Bellaire Planning & Zoning Commission, where a number of citizens expressed concerns and ideas.
“This is a City of Homes. If you want townhomes or condos, you’ve got the rest of Houston to do that,” said homeowner Michael Tweedy. “We need to keep this for single family homes. Bellaire does not have great track record protecting the residents in this area.”
“Let’s not get greedy to try to boost the tax base in trying to put something there that captures the highest value like high-rises,” cautioned resident Antonio Fernandez. “Please go with single family homes.”
“There’s a possibility for new development which had not been seen previously,” says Development Services Director John McDonald. “Right now, Chevron is paying a little over $300K a year in taxes to Bellaire.”
“This proposal looks at how this land may be better developed. Before the City can consider any new, the Comprehensive Plan has to be updated,” McDonald said.
Chevron owns 13 residential lots facing Mayfair Street on the north side of the corporate campus. Those lots – carrying Harris County Appraisal District (HCAD) values ranging from $279,000 to $313,000 each – will be sold to a homebuilder, McDonald said.
The HCAD appraisal for Chevron’s 28 acres of land and their 10-story building rose from $37,243,445 in 2013 to $47,538.671 for 2016. The Cushman & Wakefield firm is under consideration to get the listing to sell the property.
Chevron is currently Bellaire’s largest employer and it owns the biggest contiguous land and pays $300,000 annually in property taxes. Recently there has been discussion about moving Bellaire High School to the Chevron site, but the tax-exempt status of the school would take a large bite out of Bellaire’s tax revenues.
Mitchell, the planner from Kendig Keast Collaborative, outlined the “Bellaire sensitivities” like “development intensity, single-family adjacency and residential protection, traffic generation,”
“It’s an opportunity for creative site planning and an expectation for quality development that has green components,” Mitchell says. “We talked about that with this property opening up, with some of the players that could be involved, mature trees could be brought in – you don’t have to wait 30 years for a mature tree anymore.”
Mitchell made a reference to the Bellaire High deal. The words “BUT Not tax exempt” were emphasized in larger font in his power point presentation.
If this proposed text to the zoning amendments were to be adopted, it would no longer be designated as a business park, but instead, North Bellaire Special Development.
Resident Lynn McBee says the name of the proposal represents everything she finds repellent – North Bellaire Special Development Area. She sais the Comprehensive Plan amendment should be done now, but creation of zoning regulations should wait until a development proposal is received.
Citizen John Monday mentioned seniors housing at the committee’s session. “’The need for lower cost housing and property taxes, particularly for our seniors in Bellaire, is growing. Those good folks, who actually built Bellaire and have lived here for 40 years, must leave the community to find smaller or lower cost housing,” he said. “. Our older residents should be able to move within the community as their needs change. Hey, these are my neighbors and my friends!”
Jan. 14, 2017 Realty News Report Copyright 2017