Texas Construction News from Virtual Builders Exchange
by Adolfo Pesquera
Houston (Harris Co.) – The developer of the Museum at Caroline condominium concept came before the Houston Plan Commission on Thursday obtained a variance, despite city staff recommendation the design be denied.
Surge Homes, the developer of the three-story, 15-unit plat on Caroline Boulevard, between Rosedale Avenue and Wentworth, requested a 5-foot building line–just half the distance required for a development with that density.
The development will have two 24-foot private drives. In explaining the variance request, the applicant stated it was difficult creating an “out of the box” more open condominium design site layout.
Mary Villarreal, planning manager at Interfield Group–the consulting firm for Surge Homes that acted as agent on the application–cited nearby townhome developments with shared driveway and 5-foot setbacks.
“Allowing Museum at Caroline to be consistent with building lines of existing developments along Caroline Street, as well as nearby blocks would make Museum at Caroline more balanced with the other facades of this community,” Villarreal said.
In explaining its opposition, staff noted the developer had an alternative design that complies with the setback and density requirements.
“Staff’s research suggests that this project could be developed as condominiums meeting the 10-foot building line. No hardship is presented and the site is located in the vicinity of many townhome developments that meet the ordinance requirement and have opted into a 5-foot building line and did not request any variances.”
Louis Conrad, A Surge Homes partner and investor in the project, said the preferred design was more expensive because it involved more concrete, however, it was more aesthetically attractive.
Commissioner Truman Edminster III agreed, made the motion to approve and prevailed with a majority vote.
“The city said we fall under their ‘condominium’ regulations because we slightly exceed the maximum density per acre, but really, we are talking about single-family homes detached and townhomes attached, with shared driveways, so it does not feel much like a condo to owners,” Conrad said.
The architectural designs were prepared by Cisneros Design Studio, Architects LLC of Houston.