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Ashby high-rise and the transformation hate club

Houston Downtown before and now
Houston Downtown before and now
File photo.

The government has a duty to identify and undo change impediments and those transformation hate club members completely visionless about modernity.

I took out time to look at what the Houston Downtown looked like more than a hundred years ago. When compared with the Houston Downtown of today, some images reminded me about those ruins of the ancient Hindu temple destroyed centuries ago by a tsunami. But these are the dividends of transformation – a paradigm often launched out of a sense of urgency to enhance the organization's capability for future adaptations to its changing environment. In the prevalent global economic trials, major cities like never before are faced with effective strategies to meeting with the speedily changing environments in virtually all areas of life including, Autos, information technology, real estate, and town-planning techniques. Thus, leaders are confronted with the tough responsibilities of responding and adjusting to such transformational demands.

With the current controversy over the proposed Ashby high-rise, it has become surprisingly obvious that in this era, the language of organizational development as a true instrument of the change process still sounds strange to some in Houston, the fourth largest city in the United States. For instance, for seven years now, some disgruntled residents have been battling to stop the construction of Ashby high-rise development - a proposed 21-story residential tower on Bissonnet.

Here is the background. A group of more than 20 residents in the neighborhood sued to stop this construction claiming that the project would create too much noise, traffic, and lower property values. Too much noise, how? Shockingly, these agitators prevailed in December, 2013 with a court victory. A jury agreed that the project would create a nuisance, and even went further to award monetary damages to some residents. Legal tussles however persisted when the developers defense crew asked the judge not honors the jury’s verdict, arguing in part that the evidence was not sufficient to discontinue the project. The controversy over the Ashby high-rise has since turned into a heated contentious scenario – attracting politically-motivated advocacy groups and stirring unprecedented tension in the city’s governance.

Just recently, the City attorney and development community sent a letter to the presiding Judge Wilson urging him rule in favor of Ashby high rise developers. Their argument was that such lawsuits would discourage developers from venturing into future development projects in the city. As of press time, a ruling is still awaited from the judge who had already acknowledged his predicament in sitting on a decision that could instigate dire implications for impending developments in Houston.

Without doubt, the residents have a point to express concerns about any proposed development in their neighborhood, but the city government also has a responsibility to pursue projects that benefit the town as a whole not just some twenty angry residents. It is sheer witch-hunting of the change process to buy into a frivolous argument that developing a neighborhood would “create too much noise, traffic and lower property values.” If this was the case, Houston would have remained a pre-historic hub for some transformation hate club members completely visionless about modernity. I recall exactly this same argument during Houston’s light rail program when some apologetic antagonists claimed that developers were taking away the property rights of others. Hence, it is the responsibility of the government to identify and undo those change impediments. Estimated change and development can only be effective when the city leaders understand those fundamental difficulties and other barriers and mitigate them squarely.

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