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Nature Townhomes

New townhouse community centered around a 300-year-old oak tree: Houston's nature development?

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Carnegie Homes The Oaks at Westmoreland now Masterson Oaks at Westmoreland rendering May 2014
Rendering of Carnegie's Masterson Oaks at Westmoreland. The development is planned for an .83-acre lot between Marshall and Alabama streets and tucked up against Spur 527. Carnegie/Facebook
2 old live oak tree Masterson Oaks at Westmoreland May 2014
The estimated 300-year-old tree is to center a 5,000-square-foot promenade and park open to the public. Photo by Clifford Pugh
1 old live oak Masterson Oaks at Westmoreland May 2014
The spur's sound wall should provide a barrier, the builder says. Photo by Clifford Pugh
Carnegie Homes The Oaks at Westmoreland now Masterson Oaks at Westmoreland rendering May 2014 site plan
The proposed site plan. The reserve area denotes the site of the approved promenade and park. Carnegie Homes & Construction/Facebook
The Oak at Westmoreland townhouse and home development near Westmoreland Historic District
An aerial of the 36,1390-square-foot site. CitySites.Transwestern.net
Carnegie Homes The Oaks at Westmoreland now Masterson Oaks at Westmoreland rendering May 2014
2 old live oak tree Masterson Oaks at Westmoreland May 2014
1 old live oak Masterson Oaks at Westmoreland May 2014
Carnegie Homes The Oaks at Westmoreland now Masterson Oaks at Westmoreland rendering May 2014 site plan
The Oak at Westmoreland townhouse and home development near Westmoreland Historic District
Masterson Oaks at Westmoreland on Marshall Street
Get Directions - Marshall Street Houston

Construction of a proposed seven-house, eight-townhome residential community with lots starting in the $800,000s near the Westmoreland Historic District is set to begin late this summer, according to the builder. The ambitious plans include a public park centered around an estimated 300-year-old oak tree that stands at the site.

Recently renamed Masterson Oaks at Westmoreland in tribute of the former estate that once occupied the property and in honor of the enormous tree, the 36,139-square-foot property is located on the northwest corner of Alabama and Southwest Freeway or Spur 527. Frontage includes 244 feet on Spur 527, the largest border for the site. More frontage of 180 feet will be on Marshall Street and 104 feet on West Alabama Street.

The Masterson house was demolished around 1959 to make way for the spur.

 "The tree is one of the 10 oldest in Houston. It takes up about one-third of the lot. Our park will be open to everyone in the community and area." 

"People assumed when we bought the near-acre that we were some big developer moving in," says Dr. Arpan Gupta, president of Carnegie Homes & Construction and owner of the property. "We actually really want to do something special, something unique here and in keeping with the historic district.

"The tree is one of the 10 oldest in Houston. It takes up about one-third of the lot. Our park will be open to everyone in the community and area."

The company is now seeking approval for a reduced setback requirement from 20 to five feet from the Westmoreland Preservation Alliance, even though the area in question faces West Alabama and is not part of the historic district. The city's setback requirement is five feet. The extra room would allow for a "community entrance" to Masterson Oaks, Gupta says.

Carnegie is keeping the 20 feet deeded setback requirement on Marshall Street, which is part of Westmoreland Historic District.

While the largest frontage at the site is along the spur, Gupta says the sound wall along that stretches along that side will serve as a green barrier for Masterson Oaks.

"The entire wall, which is probably 20 feet high, is covered in greenery and evergreen trees stand in front of that," Gupta says. "We have plans to make this area a place for meditation, a Zen-like setting for residents to enjoy. It is fortuitous that the property has this asset."

Gupta acknowledges that the green light for construction is based on 75 percent of Westmoreland Historic District residents granting their approval. He says he is certain the community is behind Masterson Oaks.

"Mayor Annise Parker, who lives in that area, has given us her OK. And we're been asked to be involved with the historic district's Memorial Day celebration," Gupta says. "We wanted to go that extra step and secure our neighbors' approval."

According to the builders' website, the development will offer 2,650- to 3,650-square-foot residential "oversized" lots. While the website still refers to the property as The Oak at Westermoreland, the name change is a recent update.

The Westmoreland Historic District, located in the Neartown area between Midtown and Montrose, began in 1902 as home to many prominent Houston families. The historic district's boundaries were established in 1997. Many of the original houses are still standing.

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