Neighbors Protest Bar Plans
Ramadan ruined? Mosque and neighbors protest plans for new location of popular Houston bar
A proposed new Little Woodrow’s location — the seventh Houston patio bar in the growing chain — is drawing opposition from neighborhood residents on an eclectic Upper Kirby street that includes a mosque, farmers market, office buildings and expensive townhomes.
Over the weekend, customers at the Urban Harvest Farmers Market noticed a sign stating that the chain has made a request to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission for a permit for a Little Woodrow's Kirby Ice House. The sign is posted on a vacant lot on Eastside Street between the farmers market and the Bammel Park townhome subdivision and across the street from the headquarters of Dress for Success and the Islamic Society of Greater Houston.
"I am sure there are going to be people who wish that this bar wasn't going to be there but their options are either us or a high rise office building," Evans said.
Plans include a rustic 5,000 square-foot-building with a 2,000 square-foot outdoor patio centered around a large oak tree on the property, Little Woodrow's owner Danny Evans revealed to CultureMap. "We are a well-known neighborhood style bar. I've always put the locations in the upscale, prime areas of Houston that have the need for a neighborhood gathering place," Evans said.
Evans argues there is a need for a "really nice" neighborhood bar in the densely populated area with lots of professionals within a radius of a few blocks. "I am sure there are going to be people who wish that this bar wasn't going to be there but their options are either us or a high rise office building. It's a great piece of property, and it is what it is," he said.
But officials for Dress for Success, located almost directly across the street from the proposed bar, say they are concerned with security problems. Leaders of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston, located just a little over 300 feet from the proposed bar, are worried that the rowdy atmosphere will upset the spiritual nature of the mosque where hundreds pray. And the head of the Bammel Park Homeowners Association, located next door to the lot where the bar may be built, is troubled about the possibility of excessive noise in the quiet neighborhood.
Dress for Success, a non-profit organization that has served more than 50,000 disadvantaged women in Houston since 1998 by providing them with professional attire and career development tools, holds weekly meetings on Thursday evenings and Saturdays where some clients bring their children. Having a bar right across the street with little kids around is not the safest or smartest decision, says the organization's vice president Lauren Levicki Courville.
"We are protesting due to the location and for the safety and security of our clients, staff members and volunteers,” she said.
Leaders of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston, located just a little over 300 feet from the proposed bar, are worried that the rowdy atmosphere will upset the spiritual nature of the mosque where hundreds pray.
The organization delivered an official protest to TABC officials on Tuesday.
“The security of our women and our mission to help them will be destroyed if Little Woodrow’s were to open,” Courville said. “We have women who are in recovery and the bottom line is that this is not the best location for Little Woodrow’s to open."
The Islamic Society of Greater Houston, which has been located on Eastside Street for over 30 years, is concerned that the bar will endanger the spiritual nature of the oldest and most centrally-located mosque in Houston. "Having a bar across the street would threaten the sacredness of our services,” said a mosque spokesman who asked not to be identified.
Officials are also concerned about parking and security issues as worshippers come to the mosque at night for meals (the mosque serves over 200 meals a night to families this month during Ramadan) and other social services. They are worried that worshippers could potentially be verbally harassed as they walk past the bar from the bus stop on Richmond Avenue to the mosque.
Mosque officials believe the new bar is violating the spirit if not the letter of the law as TABC regulations prohibit the sale of alcoholic beverages "within 300 feet of a public or private school, church and/or public hospital." They believe that Little Woodrow's moved their front door around to the side to meet the requirement. Little Woodrow's owner Evans said no such changes were made. "This was never an issue and the entrance was always more than 300 feet away," he said.
The mosque did not hear about the plans of the bar to open until Steve Bolton, president of the Bammel Park Homeowners Association, sent out an email to the entire neighborhood. Bolton believes the bar will drive down property values and increase the noise level. The upscale townhome complex is only a few feet away from the proposed Little Woodrow's property line.
Parking is also a major issue, Bolton said. "If the bar were to open, students from Lamar High School (who park in the area) will be parking right across the street from a bar," he said.
Evans said the bar will have more than 300 parking spaces and the big live oak tree in the backyard will remain, creating a park-like feel with a lot of outdoor space. He said that a fence will be raised to eight feet at neighbors' suggestions and other landscaping accommodations will be made.
"We are aware of our surroundings and we are taking that into consideration with our design. Little Woodrow's is not a loud place," he said.
TABC spokesperson said the 60-day comment period will commence once Little Woodrow's submits a formal application.