A Londoners’ Guide to the Westbury Land Rush

“The key to buying a home in Houston is to figure out the next up-and-coming neighbourhood before it arrives,” declares Sheila McNulty, the Houston and energy-business correspondent for London’s Financial Times. Then you can knock down a home there — or fix it up! And that next hot new neighborhood would be . . . ?

Momentum is building in Westbury, a 20-minute drive from downtown. Here the tree-lined streets sell suburbia: they are quiet, close to good schools (both public and private), the Medical Center – a key employer in Houston – and the Galleria shopping mall that anchors Houston. Yet they are set back from the highways and urban sprawl that characterise any big US city.

Before Westbury hit the radar of local estate agents it was Meyerland, which followed Bellaire, which followed West University, as the circle of sought-after areas around downtown Houston steadily widened.

McNulty tours a few listings in the neighborhood with Keller Williams agent Peggie Kohnert — including this “needs TLC” special at 5842 Dryad Dr., just 6 houses in from Hillcroft:

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This home

is listed at $105,900 and is in dire need of fixing up. But for someone with the right eye, the possibilities of making this into a stylish home are very real.

As we walk in the back door, which has been left open because, truly, there is nothing here anyone would want, Kohnert talks about ripping out a wall and adding a sink to the bar that is now at the centre of the house for entertaining in the living room, which is marked by a fireplace in the corner. It is just 1,460 sq ft but, with a lot at 8,280 sq ft, there is room to build on to the home with any upgrading and convert a small closet opening to the backyard into a utility room, and so on.

But we’re probably too late to cash in here: That special someone with the “right eye” has been found! The home is now listed as “sale pending.”

Does the FT have any other “up and coming” neighborhoods to clue us in on? How about . . . along Almeda?

There are still pockets of empty lots and broken-down buildings but the 1.5-mile stretch that has been renovated, with new pavement dotted with street lamps as well as new storm and sewage drains, is already attracting attention.

Photos of 5010 Redstart St. (top) and 5842 Dryad Dr. in Westbury, both mentioned in the article: HAR

16 Comment

  • Most expected Westbury to become the next Maplewood which it has but time will tell what the price ceiling will be. Realtors love to add a couple of thousand to every new listing when it’s a tight market and Westbury is becoming a tight market.

  • “and the Galleria shopping mall that anchors Houston.”? WTF?

  • Markd, countless women think the Galleria anchors Houston, including a few in my house, you must be single.

  • You know the time-worn saying about Westbury:
    “Westbury is the next big thing–and Always Will Be”.
    Westbury has some good housing stock, but has a school problem. Follow the school zones and the patterns in the close-in Southwest reveal themselves.

  • On the school zones: luckily the up and comer people (myself included) purchasing in the neighborhood have private schools on the brain, which are available and are a must for anyone living in Houston. The reason for purchasing in Westbury? Bellaire homes are sky high and the schools are good for Houston, but aren’t enough, and the better parts of town have bad schools too. What I can’t afford? Rice Military and private school. What I can afford? Westbury and private school. And no, revolutionary road (a.k.a. Sugarland is NOT an option for me).

  • Picture a diverse ‘hood where the dwellers care about their homes — and their neighbors. That’s Westbury and environs.

    We LOVE it here…may I respectfully suggest that those who whine about quality in the public schools focus on growin’ ‘em some smart kids, which affords them excellent choices in HISD’s magnet system.

  • Oh enough of the public school bashing – there are actually some very good public schools in Houston. My kids attend an excellent HISD elementary school – and it beats our private school experience hands down. There are some lousy HISD schools, but there are also some great ones.

  • Count me in as another happy Westbury resident — whose children attend a wonderful close-by public magnet school. Westbury allows us, with a middle-class income, to have a good-sized, updated home with a huge yard; good, diverse neighbors; plenty of other kids in the area; quiet environs; and we’re close to all the best parts of Houston with no freeway driving. What’s not to like?

  • The Almeda reference is not an apples-to-apples comparison considering Almeda’s much more urban and older setting, while Westbury is just first-ring suburbia.

    Almeda is an amalgamation of the boundaries between black and white, rich and poor, museums, universities and ghetto public schools. I personally love it, and that’s why I snatched up one of the huge houses there and am fixing it up as we speak.

    While neighborhoods like Westbury are riding on the coattails of the nearby upper-crust West U and Bellaire areas, there will need to be some extreme improvement in southwest-side violent crime before I dig in over there.

  • I once had a housekeeper that lived in Westbury. While it is not in a distinguished class, it does provide quality housing to our middle classes with only a short bus ride to their day jobs in more affluent areas.

  • Superdave, I’m thrilled to hear that somebody is paying attention to the Almeda area. I wish you the very best.

  • Superdave,

    Welcome to the neighborhood. I hope your renovations are going well. We moved our residential realty company into the Almeda/Museum District area earlier this year. I think you have made a great investment.

  • what I find of interest of the responses to this article is that the people who do not live here are the ones offering negative criticism. The people who do live here in Westbury are offering positive views.

    In a restaurant sense, “I’ve never eaten there but I heard the food was bad” compared to ” I eat there all the time and the food is great” Who’s advise would you take?

  • Looks like a nice place to live! Perhaps if I ever leave Australia.

  • So I have a home in Westbury that I purchased in the $190 range. It’s ok shape but I am living in another home inside the loop. As I am interested in a larger home and can’t find an affordable lot inside the loop, I am considering demoing my Westbury home and rebuilding on that lot. Does anyone have an opinion on this? I am only aware of one other Westbury new build from 2006. I love the neighborhood, I just need more space. Another option I am considering is building a second story to the exisiting home. Thoughts?

  • @Westbury Owner: The decision to remodel or start new will depend on many things – what your specific space requirements are (sometimes just rearranging the interior rooms and walls can create the feeling of more space without actually adding more), how sound your existing foundation is (can it carry the load of an additional floor?), the restrictions for your neighborhood (are there deed restrictions, HOA requirements?), your budget/time constraints and your willingness to participate in the design process. I’d be happy to discuss your project in more depth. Feel free to get in touch via email brinn@architangent.com or via my website architangent.com