New Ruling on Short-Term Rentals

BY: TRAVIS HUEHLEFELD, ATTORNEY, WILSON CRIBBS+GOREN

The Supreme Court of Texas recently issued an opinion that has a major impact on short-term rentals in Texas and the interpretation of deed restrictions.

In Tarr v. Timberwood Park Owners Association, Inc., the Supreme Court of Texas held that phrases in deed restrictions such as “used solely for residential purposes” are not broad enough to prohibit short-term rentals. The case resolved a split among Texas courts relating to the interpretation of deed restrictions containing such language. Prior to Tarr, lower courts reached opposite results despite being faced with similar language.

Tarr concerned language in deed restrictions affecting San Antonio’s Timberwood Park subdivision. The language is very similar to language found in many residential deed restrictions. The restrictions stated that:

  • All tracts shall be used solely for residential purposes, except tracts designated … for business purposes, provided, however, no business shall be conducted on any of these tracts
    which is noxious or harmful by reason of odor, dust, smoke, gas, fumes, noise or vibration ….

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Reflecting on RECon: Reflecting on RECon: Texas CRE professionals weigh in on retail’s biggest week

BY BRANDI SMITH

Beyond the extravagant booths and limitless networking opportunities, this year’s ICSC RECon offered something even more valuable: excitement and optimism about the industry that has garnered so many pessimistic headlines.

“The attendees, from retailers to brokers to developers and other market players, were all upbeat and positive,” says Marshall Mills, President and CEO of Weitzman, which has offices in Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio. “These are people on the front lines of our business, and that positive outlook reflects our own assessment that we’re in the middle of a strong
market for retail real estate.”

JLL Houston Retail Land Brokerage Associate, Chris Bergmann, pointed to the attendance and attitude of ICSC as a clear indication that “retail is alive and well,” while Simmi Jaggi, a Senior Vice President and Houston Retail Land Brokerage Lead for JLL, highlighted the “sheer energy and positivity of the entire conference.”

“It seemed as though all 37,000 people in attendance were busy and actively pursuing a variety of opportunities,” she says.

For Jennifer Pierson, Managing Partner of Dallas’s STRIVE, the gathering was affirmation that “everything is happening exactly as it should.

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CCIM Luncheon – Chris Brown, City Of Houston Controller

BY RAY HANKAMER
rhankamer@gmail.com

Chris Brown was quick to explain that he came from a real estate oriented family, and that an MBA, a stint with an investment banking firm, and six years as Deputy City Controller gave him not only experience for his job as Chief Financial Officer  for the City, but experience to speak to a large room full of commercial real estate people. Brown focused on several topics:

Taxes:

  • The revenue cap passed by voters a few years ago leaves the City ‘handcuffed’ when it comes to funding the services needed by our burgeoning growth
  • Additional / alternative taxes under consideration include CBD congestion tax; tax on short term residential rentals, aka VRBO and AirBNB; encouraging greater density of development, concentrating more taxable assets on smaller tracts; commuter tax on those who live outside Houston but who commute in and use City services; and others
  • Taxes for still unfunded City personnel obligations going forward, now that pension reform has been accomplished
  • City policies encourage developers to build ‘up’ and not ‘out’ -high rise instead of low rise – further intensifying taxable base on finite land inside City limits

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Sights Set on Seabrook

SH 146 construction promises more lanes, more opportunities

BY BRANDI SMITH

For about 20 years, an air of uncertainty hung over the future of Seabrook. Everyone knew TxDOT was bound to make changes to State Highway 146, but no one could say what it
would look like when all was said and done.

“The idea was to alleviate traffic congestion and ultimately link it to the Grand Parkway. That was its ultimate goal,” explains Paul Chavez, the city’s director of economic development.
“But that uncertainty stifled a lot of new developments in our community.”

He says investors were hesitant to pour money into a project without knowing when construction would begin and what it would look like.

“They need to know with confidence that what they’re buying and putting into place will still be there and will grow,” Chavez says.

Any proposed changes to SH 146 were usurped by other construction for a couple of decades, but when Hurricane Ike hit, the devastating storm and the evacuation it
prompted highlighted that an expansion was overdue.

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Using a Natural Drainage Approach to Enhance Real Estate Development Projects

BY MICHAEL F. BLOOM, P.E.
R.G. MILLER ENGINEERS, INC.

Houston area real estate developers have traditionally used concrete parking areas, concrete streets, and pre-cast concrete storm sewer systems to convey rain water quickly and efficiently to “end-of-pipe” detention basins or underground cisterns. From there, the collected rainwater is discharged into nearby streams or bayous or the public storm sewer system at a restricted rate to avoid downstream flooding from storms smaller than the design storm.

Suburban developments are typically disconnected from their nearby streams in favor of locating homes and businesses around the detention basins, which are often designed with permanent pools water and are viewed as manicured “lakes” by future residents. Urban developments typically place stormwater systems underground– out of sight and out of mind.

There is an alternative, however: natural drainage systems – also known as “low impact development (LID)” or “green stormwaterinfrastructure (GSI).”

Click here to read more about Natural Drainage Approach.

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Dealing with Deed Restrictions

BY: Omar Izfar, Attorney, WILSON CRIBBS+GOREN

 

 

 

 

 

Private covenants and restrictions, often simply called “deed restrictions,” run with the land, bind future owners, and usually affect what you can do with your property. Deed restrictions for residential neighborhoods contain a variety of rules that impact development, such as land use controls, setback, lot size, and frontage rules.

I often see extremely old deed restrictions that don’t adequately address the needs of the current property owners, yet they are still in effect and enforceable. As cities continue to urbanize and developers find infill opportunities, outdated restrictions clash with modern development goals. Modifying these deed restrictions can be challenging and often requires professional assistance.

Restrictions on commercial property, unlike restrictions for residential neighborhoods, are typicallymore recently drafted and often easier to amend, but may still contain land use restrictions and other provisions that interfere with new development plans.

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