Houston: Long Awaited Senior Living Midrise Opposed by Neighbors
Feature Illustration (above): A rendering of the façade elevation of the proposed Campanile on Briar Hollow. Courtesy: Mucasey & Associates.
by Adolfo Pesquera
Houston (Harris County) — The long awaited second phase of a condo tower development made a brief appearance before the Planning Commission this fall, but is once again in a state of limbo.
The developer, Les Kilday of Kilday Partners LLC, proposes to construct an 85-unit senior housing building atop an existing underground parking structure.
The project name is Campanile on Briar Hollow and it’s located east of Briar Hollow Lane at Post Oak Boulevard in the Afton Oaks/River Oaks super neighborhood. It’s been described as a five-story apartment building over a garage (six levels in all).
The proposed senior living tower is landlocked and requires a city variance that would allow access via a private drive easement.
The building would have net rentable space of 70,849 square feet. Including an addition to the existing parking garage, amenity spaces such as a dining hall and a second level pool on a terrace, fitness center, balconies, patios, breezeways and stairs, bring the total square footage to 131,620 square feet.
Kilday obtained a 9% housing tax credit award this summer from the Texas Department and Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA), and a $6.7 million Community Development Block Grant Award from the city of Houston.
The total construction cost has been estimated at about $15 million, according to TDHCA records.
Eligibility for state tax credits and city grants require very detailed applications that are scored on many criteria and must compete with other projects.
It would seem as if the project was well on its way to a construction start date, but a variance request that appeared on the Planning Commission’s October meeting was deferred to November, withdrawn prior to the November meeting and did not make it onto the December agenda.
The bump in the road comes from strong opposition from at least one neighboring homeowner’s association that has led to a lawsuit.
During public comment in October, George Reardon, a spokesman with the Briar Hollow Townhouses HOA, referred to a deed restriction founded on a decades old settlement the limits what can be done on an easement–the paved roof of the existing parking structure is how Kilday proposes to gain access to the new building, which is landlocked and has no other means of entry.
It was further alleged that the easement would not be accepted as a right of way for fire trucks.
Mark Mucasey, the project architect and principal of Mucasey & Associates, vigorously denied Reardon’s claim.
The building proposed is a revised design of one that was never built that was intended to be Phase 2 of a residential project. Phase 1, a 22-story tower, was constructed long ago.
“This building has completely respected all of the easements, the setbacks, the orientations that were mandated by the townhouse project immediately to our west,” Mucasey said. “We have designed this building accordingly.
“Our building sits at our ground level, and does not violate (the) building line facing towards the townhomes.”
Mucasey said claims about the easement not being in compliance as an acceptable fire lane would mean the existing 22-story tower would be in non-compliance, “and I can’t imagine that would be the case.”
Kilday needs a variance to allow an unrestricted reserve without public street frontage. In the early 1980s, when the original developer planned for the existing 22-story tower, Park Square One Condominiums, building footprints were created that would gave access to a 28-foot-wide private drive.
According to the city staff report, the new design doesn’t match the original platted building footprints.
“Granting the variance request is the only possible way to overcome these hardships and restore the applicant’s ability to reasonably use their land,” the staff report concludes.
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.