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Ashby Drama's New Twist

'The monster' fights back: Ashby high rise developers vow to build on — as soon as they can

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The controversy continues . . . Developers vow to fight for Ashby High Rise after jurors side with area residents opposed to the project. Photo by Karen Burd
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News_Ashby HighRise_Streetsign_Bissonnet_May 2012

Harris County jurors may have awarded $1.7 million in damages to residents near the so-called Ashby high rise, but developers of the proposed luxury tower vow to continue fighting for the controversial project.

A representative with Buckhead Investment Partners tells CultureMap that the Houston-based firm will challenge the damages ruling as well as a potential construction injunction to be decided by judge Randy Wilson in the coming weeks.

"Buckhead Investment Partners remains hopeful that the Court's final decision will allow them to resume work on the project as soon as possible," company rep Meredith Johnson wrote in an email, adding that the developers "see no evidence" to support an injunction.

 Harris County jurors awarded damages ranging from $29,000 to nearly $123,000. 

Located at 1717 Bissonnet, the massive 21-story residential building would stand between Boulevard Oaks and Southampton, neighborhoods marked by tree-lined streets and upscale single-family homes.

The Stop Ashby High Rise coalition, which has opposed to the tower since it was first planned in 2007, issued a statement saying it is "delighted and gratified" that a unanimous jury found the building so out of place "as to constitute a nuisance under Texas law."

But Matthew Festa — a South Texas College of Law professor and land use historian called as a witness for the defense — fears the damages ruling could have a "chilling effect" on future development as the city becomes more densely populated.

"If upheld, this decision sets a dangerous precedent by awarding damages to plaintiffs who object to something that was otherwise legal," he says. "It says you can be penalized for building something your next-door neighbors don't like."

On Tuesday, after a month-long trial, Harris County jurors awarded damages to 20 of 30 households involved in the suit against Buckhead. Court records show that amounts range from $29,000 to nearly $123,00.

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