Methodist Hospital Planned Development: No Longer Headed to City Council At This Time!

2/8/2024 UPDATE:  At this time Houston Methodist has withdrawn their application for a planned development at 5130 Bellaire Blvd.

1/12/2024 UPDATE:  Last night, by a vote of 5 to1, the Bellaire Planning and Zoning Commission approved a recommendation to send the Methodist application on to City Council.  It’s uncertain at this point, but this may end up on a Council agenda sometime in February, 2024.

Phrase of the night from one commission member,  “This sounds like gossip”, after another commission member stated that Methodist was “talking to other developers” but would provide no further information.  A Methodist representative flatly denied that statement and instead suggested that P&Z consider the current application.  View the agenda and video here.    

One bit of information: based on the current appraised value of $6,638,600, for land and improvements, Bellaire’s portion of the current tax payments for that site is $29,010.68.  Most of the Mehodist structure would be tax-exempt, but unless Methodist purchased the land there would still be an appraised value and property tax would be collected on that.

BTW, a petition regarding the old Randalls site has been distributed, but no one seems to take credit for it.  No names of the people or companies who designed and wrote it are included.  That bothers me.  

Find the site layout and designs from the original proposal to City Council here (7-17-2023).

Find the most recent site layout here (12/14/2023).

Find my letter to P&Z here


 

1/7/2024 UPDATE: Discussion, consideration of and possible action is scheduled by P&Z on January 11, 2024, on an application filed by Page Southerland Page, Inc. on behalf of The Methodist Hospital.  The period for public comment has ended.  Whatever the outcome of this meeting, the application could move to City Council.  The meeting starts at 6 PM.  

Find the full agenda here: https://bellairetx.civicweb.net/document/227815/.   (Click on the 3 lines a the upper left of the pdf document to reset the pages for viewing).


2/22/2023 UPDATE: Per the Director of Development Services, “the proposed uses of medical office, retail, and restaurants are already permitted uses that are approved at the staff level provided they meet all other district requirements.  They (Methodist) would not require the approval of the Planning and Zoning Commission and City Council.

However, there are other district requirements in addition to just the permitted uses. For example, the current proposal doesn’t meet all the height and setback requirements. That is why it’s going through a Planned Development (PD) application and requires Planning and Zoning Commission and City Council approval, not because of the use.

If it complied with all the requirements—permitted uses, height, setbacks, etc.—it would not be going through this under the current code. So, to answer your other question/s, if it met all the code requirements, while it currently does not, yes, the City would have to approve it per the code just like anything else that is already allowed and doesn’t require a zoning process.

The applicant has mentioned to us that they are considering submitting a fully code-compliant submittal in case the current iteration of the PD is not approved. However, they have not yet submitted that.

To me that means that if Methodist Hospital System chooses to meet all code-compliant requirements the acceptable design could be much less attractive.  Right now the current design does away with an unsightly parking garage in exchange for surface parking and trees, which feels like less building and more open space.  I would prefer that view to a 2-story garage.

Due to a years-long delay in the revision of the Comprehensive Plan and any amendment to the UV-D ordinance, this seems the most likely outcome. What do you think?

Find the site layout and designs from the original proposal to City Council here (7-17-2023).

Find the most recent site layout here (12/14/2023).

Find my letter to P&Z here

Comments can be sent to the Bellaire Planning and Zoning Commission at zoning@bellairetx.gov through January 4, 2024.

12/15/2023 UPDATE: Methodist has redesigned the project to address earlier objections by P&Z and City Council.  No more garage, more retail and open space with surface parking, but not quite compliant to the UV-D ordinance.  You can watch the meeting here.

One point made by the the City’s representative is that Methodist may exercise its option to submit a plan that would comply with the Permitted uses in the UV-D ordinance.  If a proposed development is consistent with what is listed as permissible, a permitted use or use by right, must it be reviewed and approved by City of Bellaire P&Z or City Council?  I couldn’t find Permitted use in the list of definitions interpretations.

The UV-D ordinance specifies that at least 75% of the front of a structure must be on the property line; the structure may cover up to 90% of the site; minimum building height is 30′ and 2-stories.  If you wonder what that might look like, take a look at the recent development at the corner of Spruce and Ferris Sts, or H-E-B. Wall to wall buildings, minimal or no green space. 

The problems with the redevelopment for the old Randalls site goes back to the rezoning of commercial areas in Bellaire in 2014.  Opposed by many, passed by a few (the Mayor and 4 members of City Council).  Then came that dreadful streetscape plan along Spruce and Fifth.

Isn’t it time for a revised Comprehensive Plan and an amendment of the UV-D? What else will make a difference in the development of the land at 5130 Bellaire Blvd? Same for the UV-T and CMU ordinances.  The UV-D gives lip service to “small town” downtown feel, but where do we stand legally if a code compliant plan is submitted to the City?

I encourage everyone to review the ordinance as it stands now: SEC. 24-537 Urban village-downtown District (UV-D).  Be aware of the meaning of the term Permitted Uses.  Here’s an earlier article with background on the UV-D

Written comments on the current proposal can be sent to Planning and Zoning until Thursday, January 4, 2024 to zoning@bellairetx.gov.

If you want to view the new Methodist plans and site designs, continue reading.   

12/10/2023: Methodist Hospital has submitted an updated application to the Bellaire Planning and Zoning Commission for a development at 5130 Bellaire Blvd, the old Randalls location.  The presentation will be held at at Public Hearing on Thursday, December 14, 2023. 

Click to view changes.

Much of the presentation is similar to earlier applications to P&Z and City Council, with some changes in retail locations and parking.  Vehicles will still enter and exit the development with right turns only. The median cut-through on South Rice Avenue for southbound traffic access to Walgreens and Chevron would still be closed.  However, no parking garage is included in the graphics for the site plan.

Click image to view new site plan. No parking garage is shown, only underground and surface parking.

Find the entire proposal here.  Click on the 3 bars at the left corner after you open the pdf if you run into problems with the format.

From the Project Summary in the Application: The site will be redeveloped with a three-story medical office and retail building on the eastern portion of the property, with surface level and underground parking containing a total of 454 stalls. The building will be approximately 100,000 square feet, with a maximum height of 55 feet, and will house two levels of doctor offices above a ground floor drop-off lobby and retail space. The main facade of the building will face west to the interior of the lot, but will have some visibility from Bellaire Blvd. and Bissonnet. The west side of the property will contain a surface parking lot, along with some green space in the central portion of the site. 

About Jane McNeel

Bellaire resident since 1956. Email: bellairebcc@gmail.com. Find more information on 'About This Site' in the main menu.
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