- Residents of surrounding neighborhoods have continued to petition the city against the development, citing lower property values since it was built and seeking damages for lost equity dollars.
- Texas' Fourteenth Court of Appeals overturned the 2014 decision granting residents $1.2 million in damages.
Buckhead Investment Partners of Houston, the developer of the controversial Ashby Tower high-rise in Houston, will not have to pay $1.2 million in damages to neighboring residents.
Ashby Tower has been making waves in the Houston community since 2007. Residents of surrounding neighborhoods such as Boulevard Oaks have continued to petition the city against the development, citing lower property values since it was built and seeking damages for lost equity dollars.
Some 29 neighborhood residents are named in the case, several of whom have filed jointly, and they were awarded $1,200,000 in damages by a jury in 2014.
However, the appellant, 1717 Bissonnet, LLC, fought the suit on the grounds that it would impossible to determine damages from a building that has yet to be built, and the Texas Fourteenth Court of Appeals overturned the 2014 verdict on June 30.
Text from the Opinion of the Fourteenth Court of Appeals reads:
We reverse the portion of the judgment awarding damages to Homeowners and render judgment that Homeowners take nothing on their claim for damages without prejudice to their right to seek damages once a cause of action for an existing nuisance accrues. We also reverse the portion of the judgment taxing costs against Developer and render judgment taxing all costs against Homeowners except for those costs that the trial court taxed against the non-prevailing plaintiffs. We affirm the remainder of the judgment including the denial of the application for a permanent injunction.
When the case went to trial in 2014, State District Judge Randy Wilson wrote that granting a permanent injunction “will have a chilling effect on other developments in Houston.”
Jean Frizzell, attorney of the suing homeowners, told Houston Public Media that the court’s decision gives residents the option to sue again.
“They made clear that if the developer chose to go forward and build the Ashby High Rise in a form that would be a nuisance, that the community and the neighbors who are impacted by it are then free to sue them again for damages,” he said.
Ashby Tower developers argue ‘commercialization’
One of the issues with any development in Houston is the lack of zoning code and regulation. Matthew Festa, a professor of law at South Texas College of Law, told Inman earlier this year that there would be two possible outcomes: either a judge will grant an injunction, or award damages.
The 21-story building that is planned to be developed at 1717 Bissonnet angered local residents, who felt the commercialized property would lower property values.
On Buckhead Investment Partners of Houston’s website, the developers refute this sentiment.
The website reads: “Some people believe the property at 1717 Bissonnet has ‘always been residential’ and not already commercialized, which is not true. Since it was first developed in the 1920s, the south side of Bissonnet between Ashby and Cherokee has been predominately commercial and, to be fair, more recently multifamily and high-density single-family.”