BELLAIRE – (By Michelle Leigh Smith for Realty News Report) – The buyer of the Chevron campus in Bellaire told the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission that the existing buildings on the campus will be leased as multi-tenant office space.
SLS Properties, expected to finalize the purchase this fall, is planning to build a four-level parking garage on the 30.5-acre Chevron campus, located Loop 610 at Fournace Place. Chevron has vacated the property.
SLS Properties’ Danny Sheena, speaking at the zoning commission meeting late last week, said his plans were contingent on approval of the parking garage. His plans for the rest of the property are under a confidentiality agreement. “I must have a parking garage to operate,” he implored. “Without a parking garage this would not be a (high quality) building.”
The Chevron site includes two vacant office buildings, a 10-story, 452,000-SF office tower designed by S.I. Morris; and a 95,000-SF six-story structure.
SLS has requested approval to construct a four-level parking garage upping the current 1,400 parking capacity by 600.
The Bellaire Planning and Zoning commissioners questioned Sheena about the redevelopment plans and improvement to the buildings.
“Do you think you can attract the same quality tenant with it currently looking as it does?” asked Commissioner Jonathan Saikin. “You think a CPA firm will find it attractive?”
He also asked Sheena what type of investment he was thinking about.
“There’s not much I can do – it’s brick,” said Sheena. “Glass would be very expensive.”
“Have you worked on any property similar to this,” asked Saikin. “Yes, but not this big,” said Sheena. “I did one with Washington Mutual on West Gray for 20 or 30,000 SF.”
“This is 7 or 8 times that size,” said Saikin. “Have you started pre-leasing?”
“Yes, we’ve talked to a lot of people, but I don’t own the property,” said Sheena. “I’ve got enough generator power there so that tenants would never go down – there’s ten times what is really needed.”
Commissioner John Klug asked if the power could be switched over to the Bellaire city grid should Bellaire lose power. There is currently no conduit or infrastructure to facilitate that sharing.
“What are the other things you have considered?” asked Commissioner Mike Baker. “I’m sure you have looked at the highest and best use of the property.”
“I am under confidentiality,” said Sheena.
The area north of the Chevron property has been used by drivers looking to take short-cuts.
Bellaire citizen Ed Umbricht brought up concerns about the traffic and out of the property daily and permanently keeping the gate closed to Anderson Street. “I want the gate gone – for what it’s worth, Chevron has never opened the gate. They actually put planters on the other side for security to keep people from breaking in.”
Sheena made it clear that he is building a fence and not trying to open it up on Joe Gaither Park.
Elm Street resident Michele Arnold cautioned the commission, “You’re about to make a big quality of life decision for Bellaire. It’s bad enough that Bellaire taxpayers have had to look at the Chevron office buildings for decades.
“Now a parking garage for 2.000 cars will further mar the view of Bellaire taxpayers,” she said. “A garage for 2,000 cars means terrible traffic for Fournace, safety risks, plus the nuisance of noise from hundreds of car radios and motorcycles. Frustrated people will speed down Anderson and Elm trying to get to and from work five days a week. Or can we expect traffic on Saturdays, too?”
Ms. Arnold also raised questions about the sale of the property, which was marketed by real estate brokers from the HFF firm. “Was this the only offer that Chevron had? Wouldn’t it have been lovely to have another Shadyside enclave with just 20 high-end homes and acreage?”
Other Bellaire residents who spoke asked about maintenance, stormwater drainage, sidewalks and the property’s appearance.
Commissioner Baker asked if the single-family houses owned by Chevron on Mayfair Street were part of Sheena’s plan. Sheena said, “no.”
P&Z Chairman Ross Gordon asked why the traffic study was not included in the packet for the commissioners to review prior to the meeting. Evidently it arrived from Sheena only one day prior to when the packets went out. “I’m concerned about the completeness of the application. Has the City reviewed this (traffic study)?” Gordon said. “So without being fully informed, is it good traffic policy to have only a two-way stop on Fournace,” he asked, referencing one of the proposed exits.
SLS also owns a pair of six-story buildings in Bellaire near the Chevron site.