Development company SLS West Loop LP, the owner of the property since 2018, is requesting the rezoning of the property from Technical Research Park to corridor mixed-use in order to build retail and office buildings, a parking garage and a multifamily apartment complex.
“If you don't do multifamily, could you do all retail on that side [of the property]? The answer was no,” developer Danny Sheena said. “I don’t want to set up a development that will be a failure. … Something has to support all of that development. If you don’t do a mixed-use that supports multifamily, you’re not setting it for the ... best use for that property.”
The company is also seeking a specific-use permit to construct a movie theater and athletic facility within about 9.6 acres on the western side of the property as well as a specific-use permit to allow for an increase in the height of construction from 53 feet to 85 feet for the apartment complex and garage.
During the public hearing, Bellaire residents expressed both approval and disapproval of the property changes, with those in favor saying the increased space for businesses and recreation as well as more affordable housing options would benefit Bellaire.
“We love living here, but we do miss having an area where in the evening you can go somewhere really close by and walk around,” resident Andrew Robinson said. “I like the way [the development] looks. I think it can add value to the city. Right now when people think of Bellaire, they think about it as a place that floods.”
Residents who spoke out against the development, many of whom live directly north of the property on Mayfair Street, raised concerns about the effects it would have on traffic, their home values, the environment, flooding and the integrity of Bellaire’s zoning.
“For over 100 years, Bellaire was known as a safe haven and a good investment as the 'City of Homes,' partly because of our strict zoning,” resident Jane McNeel said. “What I consider to be poor choices and bad decisions have led to this latest attempt to cause distress to Bellaire residents and damage to the city’s image.”
The planning and zoning commission will meet again at Bellaire City Hall on Aug. 8 to decide whether to recommend approval for the requests to City Council, at which point the council will hold its own public forum concerning the property before voting on whether to grant the requests. Written comments concerning the development can be sent to the commission until July 31.