Mission residents lobby council to reject proposed mixed-use project on Martway

Jay Senter - February 8, 2018 8:40 am
Neighborhood residents, including Brad Gregory, argued that the project would not meet the character of the neighborhood.

A group of Mission residents told the city council on Wednesday that they remain strongly opposed to a mixed-use development on Martway that would require the approval of several deviations from city code as currently proposed.

Developer Christian Arnold’s revised plan for the Martway project, which would replace three single-story office buildings, has been reduced from five stories, shown above, to four.

The latest plan for the building, which was approved by the Mission Planning Commission in December, calls for a four-story mixed-use facility that would include 117 housing units. The ground level would have just under 3,500 square feet of retail space.

Developer Christian Arnold’s initial plan for the project, which was rejected by the city, called for a five-story building with more than 150 apartment units. But even with a reduction in scope, several neighbors say, the project would still be out of sync with the surrounding neighborhood, towering over other buildings in the area and dominating the view from several residences.

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Mary Ann Martins, who purchased her home on 61st Street in 1993, said she was concerned that the building would “would directly affect the value and prosperity” of houses in the area.

Moreover, the opponents argued, the deviations from city building regulations the developer has requested suggest the project does not meet the city’s basic standards. Among the deviations requested by Arnold are:

  • A waiver of the restriction on the maximum height of a four-story building to allow for a 53’ structure
  • A waiver of the city’s requirement for a certain number of trees on the site
  • A waiver of regulations requiring minimum setbacks for the building and parking lot

“Why do we even have codes?” asked Brad Gregory, whose home is on 61st Street. “Trust me. I lived in Houston for the longest eight months of my life, and I can tell you what living with no codes is.”

Gregory said he hoped the city council would require that the developer stay within the city’s building guidelines. It was incumbent on Arnold to understand the city’s building guidelines before purchasing the property, he argued.

“Did they buy this property and say, ‘We’ll just bamboozle our way to get what we want’?” Gregory said. “That’s what this feels like.”

The project plan will advance to the city council at its Feb. 21 meeting for consideration of final approval. Ward IV councilman Ken Davis, who was recently appointed to fill the seat of Ron Appletoft after he was elected mayor, said he would be strongly considering whether the granting of all the developers’ variance requests would have a negative impact on the surrounding area.

The development group purchased the three single-story office buildings on Martway that would be demolished to make way for the mixed-use facility in 2016 and brought the initial project proposal before the city last summer.

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