The team behind the controversial 1717 Bissonnet project — the infamous Ashby high rise — charge that the video circulated by neighborhood opponents of the 21-story residential building showing the toppling of a neighbor's fence does not tell the whole story.
Scott Reamer, whose home is adjacent to the property, captured demolition crews on camera as a brick wall from the Maryland Manor apartments being demolished to make room for the Ashby high rise leveled a section of his fence.
But developer Matthew Morgan of Buckhead Investments paints a picture of Reamer being at fault in the incident in many ways.
In a three-page he letter sent to CultureMap, Morgan describes Reamer's behavior toward workers with the Cherry Demolition group as "verbally abusive" following the incident, even after they offered to fix the damage.
Morgan also notes Reamer's fence actually encroaches onto the 1717 Bissonnet site (see the property survey Morgan provided above). Buckhead and Cherry are still offering to have the fence "rebuilt on Reamer's side of the property line" for free. Reamer has declined the offer. He could not be reached for comment by CultureMap.
Morgan defends Cherry Demolition's efforts to clear the site, writing that the fence was "unfortunately knocked loose" rather than destroyed. (Watch the video for yourself below this story). Morgan stresses that every step of the demo and construction process has been approved by the City of Houston.
"To boot," Morgan adds, "buildings of this sort — and in some cases much larger ones — are frequently built on far smaller sites than ours all over the world, including elsewhere in Houston and across the U.S."
Area resident Jamie Flatt tells CultureMap that "bricks came flying over my fence" during the demolition cited by Morgan as completely City approved.
No Monster Building?
"We don't feel like we've always been getting our story out there," Buckhead CEO Kevin Kirton tells CultureMap.
Contrary to the now-iconic Stop Ashby High Rise graphic — the one of the "monster" building with teeth — the developer insists that 1717 Bissonnet (the project's official name) is not a solid vertical monolith taking up the entire lot. Instead, the tall tower component is relatively narrow and sits atop a broader five-story parking garage set back from the street and adjacent homes.
"We don't feel like we've always been getting our story out there."
"Everything will be closer to the center of the property than the old Maryland Manor apartments," Kirton says. "For example, the new garage will be 10 feet from the edge of Reamer's lot to the south and up to 25 feet away from the eastern property line.
"Along Bissonnet, there will be a large open space for pedestrians."
Kirton said that the now-infamous fence in question is only a scant six inches into the 1717 lot.
"Scott (Reamer) and I actually go to church together," Kirton says, adding that he hopes the two can meet to resolve the issue.
"Matthew Morgan and I know this area well from our childhood. I can even remember when this property had a pharmacy and a strip center on it . . . I'm very sympathetic towards those concerned about the changes in the neighborhood.
"Right now, we're trying to make ourselves available as much as possible to mitigate any issues with the demolition and construction."