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Multi-block Development in Montrose District Passes Planning Commission

Texas Construction News from Virtual Builders Exchange

Posted:  4-6-2016, 12:11 p.m.

by Adolfo Pesquera

Houston (Harris Co.) – The Planning Commission on Thursday approved building line variances for a series of commercial buildings to be constructed in the Montrose District.

The March 31 vote on the Fairview+Mason project was to allow building lines of 6 feet on Fairview Street, 5 feet on Genesee Street, 2 feet on Mason Street; and for canopies that would encroach 5 feet on Fairview, Genesee and Fargo streets.

The developer’s written explanation to the city stated: “This stretch of Fairview is a unique area with a small scale, intimate urban experience. Our development will endeavor to keep that character by creating pedestrian and bike friendly amenities within a more urban context. The reduced setbacks will give the district a less suburban feel. It is our intention to use the City of Houston’s Complete Streets design standards in creating this pedestrian realm. Compliance with the building setbacks in this area is contrary to sound public policy.”

City staff recommendation was to approve the variance. One neighborhood resident, Robin Holzer, spoke in favor as well. A resident of the district since 1999, Holzer said she was raising a young family and enjoyed the pedestrian-friendly neighborhood.

“What we’re missing is fabulous sidewalks and fabulous bike lanes. We’ve got old bike lanes that are small and we’ve got shared lanes that are too fast.  We need better infrastructure in the public right of way to make it safer and easier. I’m here because I am super-excited about what the applicant has proposed. What I see is a proposal that includes great sidewalks, canopies to make it pleasant to be on those sidewalks,” Holzer said.

According to a Nov. 17, 2015 report in MontroseDistrict.org, the developer is Fred Sharifi, who owners Gratifi, Cuchara and Max’s Wine Dive–all hospitality retail venues in the neighborhood. Sharifi is founder of SFT Investments.

This is a $20 million project that will include three mixed-use structures. As explained by Ray Lawrence in the Montrose District blog:

“One will be located at 2302-2308 Genesee (Building E), currently the location of some older apartments and Meteor Lounge. 10,000 square feet of office and retail space on the ground floor are planned, with a 5-6 story parking garage above, which Sharifi hopes will alleviate some of the parking pressures in the area.

“The second construction project will be situated on the southwest corner of Mason and Fairview ( Building F). The structure will include 7,450 square feet of retail space on the ground floor, and 10,500 square feet of office space on the second floor, which will overhang the retail space at the rear of the building and provide a covered drive off Mason leading to surface parking, and an outlet on Hyde Park.

“The other two buildings (C & D) being planned are as follows. Building D on the northeast corner of Mason and Fairview will be a 2-3 story, 10,000 – 15,000 square foot mixed use retail, showroom, and event facility.  Building C will be a small 1-story 1,000 square foot structure in the corner of the parking lot next to Cuchara and Max’s Wine Dive, envisioned as a dessert spot, flower shop, or ice-cream parlor.

“Sharifi is contracting with the well-known Houston architectural firm Gensler to undertake the designs of all four buildings, with engineering and design work expected to take close to four months, and a planned start date in late August or September 2016.”

Back at the Thursday meeting, Planning Chairman Mark Kilkenny commended Sharifi, stating the development would be great for Montrose District, a congested area that would benefit from a multi-level parking garage.

Warehouse Development on FM 529/Spencer Road

In other business, the commissioners approved a variance on a project involved the construction of seven warehouse buildings varying in size from 3,000 sq. ft., 4,000 sq. ft., 12,000 sq. ft. and four buildings of 22,500 sq. ft. each for a total floor area of 109,000 square feet.

These are one-story buildings that will have 123 parking spaces and a detention pond to the far rear of the site. FK+Architects of Plano was retained by the developer, F&A Investment Inc., to draw up site plans. Project name on the site plan is Spencer Shopping Center. Landtech Consultants Inc. is handling civil engineering.

F&A Investmentsought and was granted a variance to allow construction of a north-south cul-de-sac rather than extend an existing public street, Crossing Drive, which would have cut the tract in half.

City staff noted the existing land is vacant and Crossing Drive has ended on its eastern border for 33 years.

“There still is no necessity to extend this street because there is adequate traffic circulation already existing in this area without the extension of Crossing Drive. Thus, Crossing Drive meets and is in compliance with the City of Houston’s requirement for adequate vehicular traffic circulation. The applicant is requesting a variance to not extend the public street Crossing Drive and add a cul-de-sac instead,” the staff report stated.


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About the Author:

Adolfo Pesquera (Reporter/Editor) is a veteran news journalist. He has worked for Hearst Corp., American Lawyer Media, News Corp and Freedom Communications. His work has been published in newspapers and magazines across the USA. He is a journalism graduate of UT-RGV. He writes, edits and creates digital pages for VBX.

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