The future of Bellaire’s downtown commercial corridor won’t include a Methodist Hospital office building and three other retail buildings in the foreseeable future after City Council voted unanimously to postpone making a decision on the developer’s application July 18. But city officials said that they don’t want to close the door on the proposal entirely.

Quote of note

“It’s saying no, but not because we necessarily want to say no, it’s just because what’s before us tonight is not the same thing that maybe we’re trying to communicate we would prefer to see,” Mayor Andrew Friedberg said. “There’s issues and concerns that would prevent us from saying yes tonight, but [Methodist], that’s not the same thing in this instance as saying no. We’re not trying to foreclose further discussion; in fact, we invite further discussion.”

The timeline

If City Council voted no for the application July 18, city attorney Alan Petrov said the applicant must wait two years before reapplying, according to state law. Methodist Hospital officials would have to resubmit their application and go through the entire process again.

  • Page Southerland Page Inc., on behalf of Methodist Hospital, first presented this project to the city's planning and zoning commission in September. The proposed project was three one-story retail buildings, and a three-story medical office building with an attached two-story parking garage on the approximately 3.19-acre site.
  • Bellaire Planning and Zoning Commission voted 3-2 in favor of the project in April.
  • A public hearing took place June 5.
  • The Methodist application was up for City Council vote on the July 18 agenda.

The big picture

Issues and concerns that the mayor mentioned and what Council Member Brian Witt and Mayor Pro Tem Winfred Frazier echoed during the meeting included comments that they weren’t sure the development fit with what Bellaire defines as its “Urban Village-Downtown” zoning district. Council Member Ross Gordon had a different perspective.

"We unfortunately can't tell the developer to build something they do not want to build," Gordon said. "That's not how it works. And we can't force a developer to build something they don't view as economically viable."

Terms to know

  • "Urban Village-Downtown" is defined in the city’s ordinances as a pedestrian-friendly, small-town district.
  • UVD standards require that more visible landscaping and green elements be incorporated on all sites, including within off-street parking areas and any higher-intensity residential or mixed-use developments that emerge within the district.

What they’re saying

Nearly 100 pages of public commentary from residents and business owners were sent to city officials regarding the Methodist application, including a petition that garnered 59 signatures from residents who were against it.

Those against

“It would be a shame for the city of Bellaire to lose this last opportunity to develop this site in a way that helps improve our community,” resident Philip Robbins wrote.

Those for

“I support this project since it seems to be a good use of the space while also leaving room for small business/retail shops on the backend next to the other small businesses already existing,” resident Mary Marx wrote.