Chevron property in Bellaire slated for development
The Bellaire city council voted unanimously to allow the development of existing buildings at the former Chevron office complex for multi-tenant office use as well as the construction of a parking garage.
Real estate investor SLS Properties purchased the 30.5-acre property at 4800 Fournace from Chevron Sept. 26. Bellaire officials and committees studied the merits of developing the property for more than a year before council approved the two special-use permits at its meeting Monday, Nov. 5.
Danny Sheena with SLS is a Bellaire resident. He said he has been working with homeowners in the area to get feedback and hear their opinions about matters like putting in trees to serve as a buffer between their yards and the new parking garage and how to build the fence in between them.
Bellaire resident Neil Kaminsky encouraged the council to approve the permits.
“I fully support SLS’ development of this property,” Kaminsky said. “It’s a gem asset that will benefit the city and its retention and attraction of residents and visitors to our community.”
While a couple of Bellaire residents voiced environmental concerns, Mayor Andrew Friedberg said he felt good about the research that was done and appreciated the diligence shown by all parties involved.
In years past, Chevron used the property for technical research. Studies showed some pockets of the land had evidence of some surface environmental contamination, but Sheena said Chevron worked to clean it up before they sold the property. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality did its own studies and said the land and its buildings were fit for development.
When Chevron sold the property, it put in the deed that no single-unit homes could be developed and that any other housing units like condos would need to be built on the second floor with garages on the ground level built open. Friedberg said he thought Chevron was just protecting itself rather than pointing out any real danger.
“The mere fact of Chevron having self-imposed these restrictions in the deed to SLS, I don’t draw conclusions beyond what TCEQ has drawn as the regulatory authority,” Friedberg said. “I perceive Chevron’s approach to be one of risk management. I’m speculating here, but look, if you’re the deepest pocket in the chain of title, those of us with any experience in environmental law know that eventually it’s going to come back to someone in the chain of title who’s got the deepest pockets.”
Before the vote, Council Member David Montague voiced his support for the development.
“I think it’s fairly straight forward. I think it’s been worked pretty hard,” he said “It makes sense for the development of the offsetting tracks, and it reduces the impermeable cover. I think it sounds like a good as far as the trees, the walkway, the setback, so well done.”
Sheena said the permit for the parking garage was critical to developing the rest of the property and that he can now make further plans.