Thousands of residents outraged by new storage facility in the Heights

HOUSTON – Big Tex Storage is slated to move into Houston Heights and some residents are not happy about it. By Friday afternoon, more than 3,000 people had signed an online petition.

Heights residents are protesting the seven-story building project, one of the tallest buildings in Houston Heights, located on 11th Street near Studewood. A 1930s church, which was formerly a movie theater, was demolished on the site to make way for the project.

“As a city with no zoning, we need stronger neighborhood protections,” wrote City Councilmember Abbie Kamin. “While some areas in the Heights have protections through historical districts, historical landmarks, or lot and setback restrictions, the lack of zoning leads to situations like this.”

There are few, if any, legal mechanisms in place to stop such a project, which is lawfully permitted.

“It’s not going to bring any value to the community. It’s going to increase traffic, increase pollution and make the heights a less pedestrian and bike-friendly place to live,” said resident Ragen Doyle.

Another Heights resident Fred Lindner said he planned to organize a protest at the site in the future.

Big Tex also operates storage facilities in Houston: River Oaks, Garden Oaks, Montrose.

Bobby Grover, the president of Grover Ventures and the developer behind Big Tex Storage, released a statement:

“We consistently strive to build aesthetically pleasing best-in-class storage facilities in some of the area’s best neighborhoods like River Oaks, Montrose, Garden Oaks and The Woodlands.” “As a life-long Houstonian, I recognize the importance of our properties being an integral part of the unique and diverse neighborhoods they serve. Our Heights facility will bring a first-class storage experience to the Heights neighborhood. We look forward to working with Heights residents and organizations on this project.”

Structural analysis showed significant physical concerns to the Stude Revival Church preventing the building from being occupied or used for Church services. Further, the building was found to have asbestos, which prior to demolition was remediated properly with oversight from the appropriate authorities. The building had to be torn down. Prior to demolition, Grover Ventures worked with the church to donate the useable pews, A/V equipment, and fixtures, while salvaging the original church signage.

· Very light traffic footprint (7 cars per day on average)

· Adheres to COH Transit-Oriented Development: pedestrian-friendly plaza with 6′ wide sidewalks & a well landscape street façade.

· Designed to exceed existing City detention requirements to meet code.

· Architecturally designed to be complementary to the character of the Heights: honed brick, la Habra stucco and architectural metal panels

· Top Notch Security: door alarms on every unit, digital access control and cameras throughout the property

· All climate-controlled facility including wine storage vaults.

· 24-hour access will NOT be permitted.

Statement from Abbie Kamin, Houston City Council Member (District C):

As a City with no zoning, we need stronger neighborhood protections. While some areas in the Heights have protections through historical districts, historical landmarks, or lot and setback restrictions, the lack of zoning leads to situations like this. What’s worse, special interest groups continue to bring legal challenges to the few protections that we do have – it’s like cutting the legs out from under our residents.

Next month, my office is partnering with the Houston Heights Association to arrange a presentation on the planning and permitting process so neighbors can learn about what tools they have, and remain informed on these issues. I encourage anyone in the area who is interested to join us.