Post Oak apartments begin to rise over neighbor objections

1of5The Aspire Post Oak under construction April 9, 2019. The 39-story tower will have 383 units.Photo: Nancy Sarnoff / Houston Chronicle

Construction has started on the newest luxury high-rise to go up on Post Oak Boulevard, a project that had been embroiled in litigation after its developer sued an adjacent building’s homeowners association that was opposing the size and scale of the project.

The building was proposed several years ago, but hit a snag when condo owners in the neighboring Cosmopolitan, a 22-story development at 1600 Post Oak, expressed concern over the height and location of the new tower. They wanted the developer to reduce the size of the building by half and make other changes.

Houston-based Dinerstein purchased the site in 2015, and in early 2016 the company filed suit in district court asking a judge to declare its rights to build the tower and prohibit the neighbors from asserting a so-called nuisance claim. The developer claimed that it addressed the neighbors’ concerns by lowering the height of the parking garage, moving the building’s cooling systems to the roof and designing the structure so views from the Cosmopolitan would be less obstructed.

Dinerstein’s claim harked back to a lawsuit over the so-called Ashby high-rise in which homeowners opposed a developer’s plans to build a residential tower in their upscale neighborhood near Rice University. In 2013, a Harris County jury found that the proposed tower would constitute a permanent nuisance and awarded the homeowners damages should it be built. An appeals court later reversed the damages claim, but the tower has yet to be built.

In the Dinerstein case, an attempt by the defendant — the Cosmopolitan Condominium Association — to have the suit dismissed was denied. After an appeals court affirmed the district’s court denial to dismiss, the association filed a petition for review in the Texas Supreme Court. That petition also was denied, according to court records. The case remains pending.

The association’s lawyer, J. Cary Gray, managing partner of Gray Reed & McGraw, said the association was not seeking to stop the project.

"Before the suit was ever filed, the Association’s Board met and affirmatively decided not to try to halt construction of the building the developer claimed it is going to build,” he wrote in an email. “Nothing has changed about that. The lawsuit, however, seeks a determination that any high-rise building, regardless of what is built, will not be a nuisance. We think that is an overly broad request and it is premature. Again, it’s not the Association’s lawsuit. It’s the developer’s lawsuit."

Brian Dinerstein, president of the development firm, declined to comment on the litigation, but said the company is excited about its new development, which is expected to open in summer 2021. The company plans to own the building “for the long-term,” he said.

“We wanted to build something permanent and iconic and contribute to the Post Oak skyline,” Dinerstein said.

Designed by the Gensler architecture firm, the building will have an amenity deck with a swimming pool, a “skylounge” on the top floor and include some 15,000 square feet of first-floor retail with a “best-in-class restaurant,” Dinerstein said. He declined to disclose the development cost.

The units will include one-, two- and three-bedroom models, averaging around 1,200 square feet.

nancy.sarnoff@chron.com

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