Beautiful Southwest Houston: The Golden Age of Apartment Living

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This charming period piece from the abortive early-’80s Southwest Houston apartment renaissance surfaced on YouTube late last month, to the great acclaim of chief Michael Pollack fan Lou Minatti, who has hosted an online shrine to the iconic and once high-profile Houston developer on his website for several years. Why was Pollack such a big deal?

What Gallery Furniture’s “We really will save you moneyyyyyyy!” was to the north side of town, the VCR in the Pool was to the southwest.

And really, who can forget the charms of Colonial House, at the corner of Chimney Rock and Gulfton? Writes Minatti:

Built in the late 1960s, Colonial House was in terrible shape.

Gangs and prostitutes had moved in, while basic amenities such as air conditioning had quit working. Pollack moved in and the gangs moved out. Pollack’s crew gutted and rebuilt each of the 1,800 units in just three months. But after all that hard work, Pollack had an even bigger task ahead: How was our suave, sophisticated hero going to fill those apartments? That’s where his infamous TV ads came in.

Here’s a question: Doesn’t the bench-pressing dude on the Nautilus about five seconds in look a bit . . . familiar?

After the jump: Pollack claims it was all an act! Plus, what he’s up to these days — with pix!


First: in a 2004 interview with the Arizona Republic posted on his website, Pollack refuses to take credit for the swinging-hipster transformation of Southwest Houston:

. . . I was about 25 years old. I was hired to do a huge promotion on a huge, 1,838 unit apartment complex – Colonial House. I was indeed managing that for somebody else.

My job was to promote it. I did all the commercials for it. It looked like a used car dealer to be honest. And that was my job at that time. . . .

I was asked by the people I was working for to wear the most hip and, how would you call it, swinger type things. We were catering to a singles lifestyle. I was the Pied Piper at that time of the singles generation back in the ’83, ’84 time frame, and now here we are 20 years later and obviously not even close to that.

It was my job. It wasn’t what I necessarily wanted to be, it was the image the people I was working for wanted me to portray.

What a difference a quarter-century makes! The apartments are . . . uh, still there. And the mustache is still intact! But Pollack’s a “redeveloper” in Arizona now, where he owns a wide variety of real estate on his own, including a fair number of strip malls in the Phoenix suburb of Chandler. He also runs a movie theater in Tempe and plays drums in a band called Corporate Affair.

Arizona Real Estate Developer Michael Pollack Playing Drums in His Band, Corporate Affair

But Pollack has obviously not lost his ability to establish a swank, scene-making sense of style. His corporate headquarters building in Mesa features a 6,000-square-foot Pollack Museum of Advertising, where Pollack displays advertising figurines he’s been collecting for more than thirty years. What charms from Houston’s hipster heyday does it harbor? It’s hard to tell, but you can see for yourself: Pollack provides extensive virtual tours of all that knickknack bounty on his website.

Interior of the Pollack Advertising Museum, Mesa, Arizona

Interior of the Pollack Advertising Museum, Mesa, Arizona

Interior of the Pollack Advertising Museum, Mesa, Arizona

Pollack Investments Corporate Headquarters, Mesa, Arizona