Kendall Miller and his family businesses, Tanglewood Corp. and WMJK Ltd., have opened a swanky sales center in Uptown Park and listed condos for their 1661 Tanglewood project for sale, but lawyers for the Tanglewood Homes Association say their fight against the 33-story tower is far from over.
Defense attorney Rusty Hardin of Rusty Hardin and Associates, now representing Miller and his family, said that earlier this year, a District Court judge ruled that Miller and his family can use their property for the residential high-rise tower. Next, Hardin said, he’ll pursue reimbursement of legal fees of more than $2 million.
While no written judgment has been signed, Hardin feels confident the matter will soon be ruled in Miller’s favor.
“The judge ruled that Kendall and his family could use that property for commercial purposes and build their building. The only thing remaining to be resolved is our motion for attorney’s fees. … That is scheduled to be heard in November,” Hardin said. “They (the neighborhood association) don’t like the result. Like any losing side in a legal dispute, they are going to fight it as long as they can. Until a written judgment is signed, they feel like a written ruling hasn’t been made.”
But Fred Hagans of Hagans Montgomery Hagans — the attorney for the Tanglewood Homes Association — describes a different result from that hearing, and says he and his clients are prepared to appeal any adverse ruling all the way to the Texas Supreme Court.
“In June, we had a hearing on an (issue) filed by Rusty’s firm asking court to enter an order. We filed a response to that with a different order. We had a hearing on that, and the judge said she would take it under advisement. To date, no order has been entered by her, and clearly the two sides don’t agree on the effect of her comments in the January meeting,” Hagans said. “It does not seem likely that this is going to be resolved soon.”
His clients want to preserve Tanglewood as it is today, without a high-rise casting a shadow directly onto their homes.
Tanglewood Corp. offices have been located at 1661 Tanglewood for nearly 70 years, and have been the site where Miller, his parents and his grandfather have worked on real estate development and property management projects. His grandfather, William Farrington, founded Tanglewood in the late 1940s and early 1950s, when the area was a decidedly suburban location.
Hagans acknowledged that the 1661 Tanglewood site was originally zoned for commercial use, but said that the neighborhood association has passed amendments at least a few times, dating back to 1997. They now believe the lot to be zoned for residential use, but only for a single residence on the site.
The condo tower — whether it’s considered a commercial or residential project — has more than one residence on the lot, Hagans said.
Miller, though, responded with a rebuttal: “The exemption language that protects the 1661 Tanglewood site was written by my grandfather at the inception of the neighborhood and has never been amended. There was never any intent to change this language or any authority to do so.”
The neighborhood association sued to stop the Miller family from its original plan in 2019, when Houston-based Hines and Tucson-based Watermark Retirement Communities were planning a 20-story tower with 230 apartments for people 62 and older.
Eventually, both Hines and Watermark backed out of that deal, but Miller and his siblings decided to move forward with a completely different plan: a luxury tower that would be considerably taller but would have only 59 residences. They hoped that the promise of underground parking, less staff and fewer resident cars would make the plan more attractive to their critics.
The 1661 Tanglewood condo listings are currently on the Martha Turner Sotheby’s International Realty website, though prices are listed as “upon request.”