Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Ainbinder and the Magic Engineering Firm That Makes Flooding in My Neighborhood Go Away

My wife happened upon a gentleman in the neighborhood this morning who was measuring our street.  She asked what he was doing, and who had hired him.  He explained that he worked for an engineering firm that had been hired by Ainbinder, and was measuring the streets for watershed effects, etc.

The good news is that someone out there has realized that the development will effect more than just the bordering streets, and that this will be an issue brought up by the community moving forward. The bad news is what they intend to do with the information.

My wife asked the gentleman what the intentions were for the information, and whether or not the developer would be putting anything into the surrounding infrastructure; IE - our streets in the West End Neighborhood not bordering the development, but still within range to be effected ... like my street.  His response inferred that they were measuring, etc, but intended to keep the existing infrastructure for drainage, IE - the ditches that already regularly overflow.

Now, if you remember from two posts ago, the designs showed an expansion of Koehler street on the North side of the development to 60 Feet.    So, they intend to pave more, without changing the drainage, or the existing infrastructure.


They will also factually have the numbers to back all of that up, since they're clearly hiring folks to do this research.


My wife was doing her own research this morning, and measuring the width of our street less than one block away from the development.  Our street is 18 feet wide there.

So, lets put this all together now:

-Developer's requests a Variance/Replat, and submits a plan expanding Koehler to 60' wide.
-Less than a block away, Koehler is 18' wide
-Engineer today says that they intend to keep the existing drainage
-Developer has chosen a retail anchor that thousands are in opposition to


If anyone can tell me how this is good for my neighborhood or the city, please fire away.


The firm intends to pay lip service to the community to say that they have done their studies.  The firm will do nothing to encourage any infrastructure upgrades outside of the streets aesthetically effected, because it will tear into their profits.  The neighborhood will suffer a long term infrastructure decline because the developer chooses to save more money than finish this project correctly.

Listen Mike and Bart (Ainbinder guys), development is good (Retailer choice = Not Good).  Its great for that piece of land.  But I know that if I had thousands of people watching my every move, I would make sure not to make any mistakes, and I'd probably have a meeting just about every day thinking up questions that I would ask if I were opposed to it so that I could have those answers ready, if and when any of the the thousands that are already breathing down your necks come up with those questions.  So yeah, its good that you're hiring folks to measure a street, but its not good if you don't intend to address it beyond 'We've surveyed it, and its fine, or its under consideration.'  I might be putting words into your mouth, but if history is any indication of how this is going to be handled, I'm not going to be far off when you do decide to address this.

Its no surprise that a company wants to get something done as fast, and as cheaply as possible.  Sort of fits with Walmart's nature, so maybe y'all are good buddies, I don't know.  Unfortunately for you, if you do the studies just to be able to say you did them, and its been considered, then you're either ignorant, or not very smart.


  1. Whose responsibility would it be to ensure adequate drainage? Walmart or Ainbinder? Is there a legal obligation for either one of them?

    Also, isn't the Walmart deal sealed now unless Walmart backs out on their own?

  2. Ainbinder has said they are exempt from detention requirements--as they relate to flooding and stormwater management--because the site was previously developed and they are grandfathered from stormwater regs. This is in a watershed with "Expected Annual Damages" of $33 million.

    The City of Houston needs to be held accountable for ensuring that a development of this scale is NOT grandfathered in and they need to establish a set of guidelines that will ensure that the surrounding neighborhood is protected from flooding and the bayou is protected from toxic run-off.