Scott Ball / Rivard Report
New renderings for “The Bridge” apartments will be presented to the community Monday, Feb. 5, during a town hall meeting coordinated by District 2 Councilman Cruz Shaw’s office.
The controversial project near the historic Hays Street Bridge has highlighted deep divisions in community attitudes toward development, preservation, and design on the Eastside and beyond.
“Councilman Shaw will be there,” District 2 spokeswoman Celeste Brown said Wednesday, “but this is going to be a conversation led by the community with the developer.”
The discussion will take place in St. Philip’s College’s Heritage Room, 1801 Martin Luther King Dr., from 5:30-7 p.m. For a campus map, click here.
In December 2017, after hours of testimony from community members largely in protest of the original 148-unit project, the Historic Design and Review Commission rejected plans for 803 N. Cherry St. Commissioners cited concerns over the location of parking, the building’s interaction with pedestrian traffic, and – most notably – a plot of land between the building and the bridge that was previously unaccounted for.
That plot is now included in the new design, said James McKnight, a land use attorney representing property owner, Eugene Simor, and developer, Mitch Meyer. “It’s all one piece now.”
Simor had envisioned a restaurant on that lot that would connect to the modern stairway that leads to the bridge, but McKnight said the new proposal designates that lot as “open space.”
McKnight declined to provide renderings or details about changes to the site’s design prior to Monday’s meeting, but said, “generally, what we’re doing is addressing the HDRC’s main concerns.”
The team hired another local firm, GRG Architecture, for the redesign, McKnight said. A+B Architecture designed the previous version.
“I am looking forward to a productive conversation with a focus on design,” Brian Dillard, Dignowity Hill Neighborhood Association president, told the Rivard Report. “From what I understand the developer has gone back to the drawing board and [is] coming with a new project to show us. … I hope they comply with the City guidelines and hopefully they’ve listened to the community.”
Dillard was among the dozens of neighbors who previously criticized the development team for not reaching out for public input on the project sooner, especially given the ongoing legal battle to turn the lot into a public park. That case is pending review in the Texas Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, the debate about how the building would obstruct views of the historic bridge has sparked a citywide conversation, complete with public input meetings and a Viewshed Technical Advisory Committee tasked with formulating policy for City Council to review.