Masonry to play big role in Bellaire’s new Urban Village
New zoning requirement aims to create long-term value
By Rudy Garza
With the aim of ensuring lasting value for the community, this Houston-area city has determined that masonry will be the predominant building material in the planned redevelopment of a newly designated Urban Village district, according to the Texas Masonry Council.
The district encompasses about 18 acres near the intersection of the Southwest Freeway and Loop 610, which currently is occupied mostly by under-utilized warehouses.
The plan envisions redevelopment of the area into a lively mix of retail, residential and office buildings that will leverage the impact of a new Houston Metro light-rail station planned for the urban location and create a destination for Bellaire residents to gather, shop, live, and work.
The zoning ordinance for the Urban Village district – approved by the City Council on Dec. 19, 2011 -- states: “The intent of this subsection is to ensure use of building materials in the UV-T district which convey an appearance of quality and durability.”
The ordinance requires that the predominant exterior building material for all the buildings in the redevelopment area be either some type of masonry, e.g. genuine brick, natural stone, marble, or glass. It limits other materials, such as stucco, tile, and concrete products, to no more than 15 percent of the exterior surface area.
“Other nearby multi-family properties (not subject to masonry requirements) have deteriorated after 20 years,” said Bellaire Community Development Director John McDonald. “With the design standards, such as the materials requirement, we wanted to ensure that the buildings in the urban village maintain their value. This, in turn, helps ensure that our tax base will remain strong.”
In adopting the zoning ordinance, which promotes the use of masonry, Bellaire joins a growing list of Texas cities that have incorporated masonry into their community planning and zoning. To date, more than 150 Texas cities have adopted some form of masonry planning, and the trend is continuing, according to Rudy Garza, executive vice president of the Texas Masonry Council.
“Texas has a rich history of building with long-lasting masonry products,” Garza said. “Masonry is part of the Texas heritage, and by embracing masonry planning, local officials, such as the city staff and council members in Bellaire, are helping to build a strong legacy for their communities. In Bellaire, the new masonry standards also will improve fire safety in this high-density district since masonry products do not burn.“
About the Author
Rudy Garza is the Executive Vice President of the Texas Masonry Council.