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Residents file lawsuit against River Oaks tower

Residents near the site of Hines’ future River Oaks tower have filed a lawsuit aiming to prevent its construction.

The 167,000-square-foot project, called 2229 San Felipe, is on a 35,000-square-foot parcel between Kirby and Shepherd. It will have nine office levels, as well as eight parking levels with 400 spaces.

The lawsuit, which was filed earlier this month in Harris County court, cites private nuisance and public nuisance issues in its cause of action, calling the tower “abnormal and out of place” for the neighborhood and claiming the additional traffic going to and from the tower would be a “disaster.” The plaintiffs have a petition with more than 1,000 signatures included with the lawsuit.

“2229 San Felipe, LLC believes that the lawsuit is unfortunate and misguided, but will continue to work with the community during construction and thereafter,” Hines said in a statement. “2229 San Felipe, LLC of course denies the allegations.”

2229 San Felipe - 18 story bldg

The lawsuit has drawn comparisons to a suit filed against the developers of the so-called Ashby high-rise. A jury in December awarded damages to some of the residents who sued over that tower, but they will only receive the money if the tower is built.

The plaintiffs in the 2229 San Felipe case have requested a trial by jury and are seeking a permanent injunction “prohibiting the construction of the 2229 San Felipe high-rise office building in its current form and at its proposed location,” as well as actual damages, “both direct and consequential, including the loss in value of their respective properties if the project goes forward.”

John Boswell, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said one of the main issues for the residents is the additional traffic on San Felipe, which is one lane in both directions in that area.

2229 San Felipe map

Houston-based Hines, which recently began construction at the site, had a traffic impact analysis performed last year. The report found that 24-hour traffic volumes on San Felipe Street totaled 6,830 vehicles, including both eastbound and westbound traffic.

“As part of the permitting process, we worked hand-in-hand with the city of Houston’s Public Works Department, which approved our Traffic Impact Analysis,” Hines spokesman George Lancaster told the Houston Business Journal. “The city also suggested a few modifications, which we complied with — basically locations and angles of access and egress points.”

Lancaster also noted that Hines has taken measures to limit the impact the construction process has on the neighborhood.

Hines’ statement also says:

“The midrise boutique office building under construction at 2229 San Felipe is an important and appropriate development for an area mixed with residential, commercial, and multi-family properties. The building will benefit the community by addressing a significant demand for new office space in this rapidly growing part of town. It will also create valuable jobs and create significant property tax revenues for the City of Houston. 2229 San Felipe is fully permitted by the City and complies with all applicable building codes and other legal requirements. 2229 San Felipe, LLC has given special attention throughout the design process to minimize noise, protect privacy, limit light pollution, minimize traffic impact, and create a sustainable, energy efficient building that will be a valuable asset to the community. The improved site will also offer beautiful landscaping, including 19 trees and pedestrian sidewalks (where there are presently none).

“2229 San Felipe, LLC has secured financing to develop the project and leasing activity is exceeding expectations. 2229 San Felipe, LLC refers you to http://www.2229sanfelipe.com/ for additional information regarding the project.”

Those opposing the tower also have created a website.

Olivia Pulsinelli is the web producer for the Houston Business Journal’s award-winning website.

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