04/03/14 4:15pm



There’s a balcony off the dining-room prow in the corner penthouse for lease in the midrise Renoir building north of River Oaks Shopping Center. Up on the 8th floor of the Randall Davis project, the 2-story condo unit has views on 3 sides, sweeping from the Galleria area to downtown. The $7,500 per month rate appears to include the furnishings — but don’t assume pets are OK, the listing says.


Sky Season
08/29/13 12:00pm

Hold the phone! Rumored to be a goner, the 1957 Telephone Museum on the corner 18th and Ashland, which was sold about a year ago, will soon be cleaned up and converted into 24 luxury lofts, says Donna Sonne Wright of homebuilders Rohe & Wright. And Wright also tells Swamplot that 21 cottages will be built here too, replacing the fenced-in surface parking lot off 17th. Unfortunately, no renderings of the project are yet available. Rohe & Wright is the same firm responsible for the Saint Honoré gated community under construction off San Felipe.

Photo: Allyn West

04/01/13 3:00pm

Main Street and its rail line lie 6 floors below this lofty condo unit within a converted 1908 downtown office and retail property. The unit has a grilled-out balcony right across from the limestone frieze of the former-but-still-formidable Gulf Building, a 1929 skyscraper that’s now the J.P. Morgan Chase building. Architect Alfred C. Finn designed both buildings.


05/19/10 12:53pm

Converted from an office building to apartments in 2004 by NBC Holdings’ Tracy Suttles and The Randall Davis Company, the Kirby Lofts at 917 Main Downtown went condo a little later. How did that ball get rolling? The federal government’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force suggests one answer: a few “sham sales” from January to October 2006. Indictments charging Veronica Frazier, Robert Veazie, and Felton Greer with several counts of conspiracy and wire fraud were unsealed Friday.

Frazier, 42, of Pearland, allegedly recruited buyers with good credit in 2006 to act as straw borrowers and use false information to apply for home loans, according to the U.S. attorney’s office. She and other unnamed co-conspirators then allegedly used the loan proceeds for themselves and to pay kickbacks to the fake borrowers.


02/18/10 12:16pm

How has that condo conversion of the former Commerce Building at the corner of Main St. and Walker Downtown been working out?

The building has 122 finished units and a two-story-tall penthouse that has not been built out yet.

A total of 69 units have been sold, and another 25 have been leased. [Commerce Towers sales and leasing agent Susan] Speck said some of the renters are interested in buying.

Prominent Houstonian Jesse Jones built the first part of the structure in 1928, and added onto it in the 1930s, Speck said.

An entity named Premier Towers bought the building in 1999. It was redeveloped by New York-based Whitney Jordan Group with Tarantino Properties Inc. of Houston.

The first condo units were finished and people starting moving in during 2002.

Photo of Commerce Towers, 914 Main St.: Sandra Gunn Properties

05/06/09 2:57pm

Okay, everybody out with your Regent Square renderings! HAIF’s lockmat digs up images of additional structures planned for the 15-acre North Montrose mixed-use complex, including two separate projects from the Venezuelan Miami architect Luis Pons.

What’ve we got here?

Pons’s “Regent Square Launch” looks more like a transit station than a boathouse. But who knows? Buffalo Bayou is just across Allen Parkway!

Many more pics:


02/05/08 8:09am

Living Room of Manhattan Lofts Unit 808, Houston

Here’s as dramatic a perch as any from which to enjoy a high-price-condo meltdown: the empty cupola atop the 8th-floor penthouse of the Manhattan Lofts building in Uptown. And hey, it looks like quite a fall to the floor below. Maybe stepping down slowly would make some sense?

Almost exactly a month after our original report on this over-the-top, oversized, and overpriced Manhattan penthouse, the price was cut a sixth time, to $1.65 million. How long before it breaks into six figures?

01/16/08 5:52pm

Live Oak Lofts, Houston

Residents of the Live Oak Lofts, you have been warned! Whoever among you has been smoking weed and stinking up the whole joint, you must cease immediately — the Live Oak Lofts Homeowners Association is on the case!

Don’t want to get all up in your business and all, but now that this has happened, the Association will not fail to contact the proper authorities if anything incriminating is further sniffed — or if you are caught doing anything illegal whatsoever!

After the jump, the scathing marijuana memo distributed to all residents of the Live Oak Lofts!


12/19/07 1:57pm

Living Room of Manhattan Lofts Unit 808, Houston

This delightful unit has lingered on the market for a mere 22 months. That’s a long wait for a condo bubble that never happened. And hey, it ‘s a fun ride down the price ladder!

The grossly oversized two-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath corner unit on the top floor of the misplaced Manhattan building in the Galleria was originally priced at $2.1 million, back in the swelled-heady days of February 2006. Five methodical price drops later, we’ve reached $1,695,000. That’s a lot of cuts, but we’re still not even down 20 percent: how low will the program-trading-style reductions go?

After the jump, more pics of the . . . uh, eclectic interior.


12/06/07 10:54am

Balcony of Stanford Lofts Unit 409

A resident of the Stanford Lofts just east of Downtown writes in to make sure everyone knows, after all, that the building’s view of Minute Maid Park is not going to be obstructed by . . . a view of a new soccer stadium for the Houston Dynamo directly across the street.

No, no official deal’s been announced. But this tidbit from a Chronicle story has allowed condo owners to breathe a sigh of relief:

The Dynamo first set sights on land owned by the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority just east of Minute Maid Park and U.S. 59, but have since decided against the property, which the Astros lease for stadium parking.

“We know for a fact (the property) is no longer being considered,” said Sports Authority head Kenny Friedman, who added that the Sports Authority is not actively involved in the negotiations.

The team might be looking to purchase private land near the same general area as the county-owned property, although Luck declined to confirm or deny it, saying only that a downtown venue is still planned.

So where will the Dynamo stadium go? Keep reading below the fold:


09/26/07 9:52am

Le Maison on Revere Apartments

Worried that there still aren’t going to be enough places to live near the corner of Westheimer and Kirby after all the construction is done? Relax. The Texas division of Orlando, Florida’s ZOM Development just got a slew of construction permits approved yesterday for their next fancy apartment complex just a few blocks to the east of that busy intersection, at the corner of Revere and Cameron, at 2701 Revere St. (Cleverly, the address on the permits is listed as 2727 Revere. Why would they give it that number?)

Going up: Le Maison on Revere, 431 rental units on a just-under-six-acre site, a five-story mix of “flats and high-end loft units.”

But it looks like there’s more to it. Not satisfied with the Beaux-Arts-meets-the-Alamo stylings of the Bel Air Apartments they recently developed and filled up not too far away on Allen Parkway, the sleek modern look of the 2727 Kirby tower now going up across the street from their new development, or the apparent Superman-in-Gotham City theme of West Ave on the other side of Kirby, ZOM has apparently decided that their new complex will, at last, point out the absurdities of the area’s stylistic hodgepodge.

How? By theming the building with a higher, more symbolic purpose in mind.

That’s right: The Le Maison on Revere apartments will be marketed and dressed up to look like “New Orleans garden style apartments,” and thereby perform the public service of reminding residents of the former glory of their neighboring city and the dangers of living at low elevations in a high-water town.

Expect the top floors to fill up first.

08/16/07 10:43pm

Rendering of Sonoma in the Rice Village, Showing Bolsover Street

Ignoring the objections of snooty inner-loopers who think they’re somehow entitled to a continuous grid of streets, City Council voted yesterday to let a block of Bolsover in the Rice Village become two private circular driveways and a restaurant patio. The deal nets the city a whopping $1.5 million—the price of a couple of small luxury condos, maybe.

That’s the last hurdle for Sonoma, which appears to have gained two stories since its last appearance here. Developer Randall Davis claims buyers have “reserved” all but four of the 225 condos. There’s also 125,000 sq. ft. of retail and office space in the complex.

After the jump, a revised aerial view of the new Bolsover dropoff.


08/01/07 6:00pm

Elder Street Artist Lofts in the Former Old Jefferson Davis HospitalSome residents of the new Elder St. Artist Lofts (formerly the Old Jefferson Davis Hospital) in the First Ward are upset with the building’s management:

“To me it’s not an artist loft anymore,” says one resident who’s been there since the beginning. “We receive the newsletters from ArtSpace in Minneapolis and we see the artist live-work spaces that are opening up in Buffalo, New York and in San Francisco and other parts of the country, and they’re active and they’re artist-run and they’ve got the support of the city, they’ve got the support of the community and they’re vibrant. And we’re not on that level, and I don’t know if we ever will be.”

Current and former tenants gripe to the Houston Press that the resident managers play favorites and will only rent month-to-month, and that there aren’t enough artists in the building.

Photo of Elder St. Artists Lofts: Greater Houston Preservation Alliance

07/31/07 12:03pm

Hines Parking Garage at Walker and Main downtown

Hines’s new parking garage at the corner of Walker and Main downtown features an innovative lighting design that delivers benefits to neighbors. The problem: drivers parking at night in the unscreened 14-story garage might shine their headlights across the street, directly into residences in the Commerce Towers building across the street. The solution: flood the garage with so much light that cars won’t need to use their headlights at all.

Unfortunately, Commerce Towers residents don’t seem to appreciate all that attention to detail:

it is an extravagant eyesore that expands from Travis to Main (ironically, grossly overshadowing the light rail) and right on Walker. There is no skin on it, and so sits a concrete skeletal nightmare.

Not only is this grotesque structure visually nauseating, it also is a seizure-inducing brightly-lit nightmare! The structure is fleshed out with intensely BRIGHT floodlights on each of its 14 floors, including the roof, that release their ungodly glow (24/7) without obstruction into the living and bedroom units of the Commerce Towers Condominiums!

Hines vice president Clark Davis told the Chronicle two years ago that the garage, which sits on land cleared by demolishing the San Jacinto building, would be “architecturally significant.” Hines developed the garage for the company they sold the property to, Sunbelt Management of Florida.

Photo: HAIF user sevfiv

06/21/07 10:36am

Sketch of Magnolia Lofts in Houston Heights by Tim Cisneros

Commenting on an article describing plans for a 40-unit condo building on the site of the former Ashland Tea House in the Heights, with another 40 townhouses and “garden villas” to be sprinkled around it later, Chronicle blogger Martin Hajovsky writes:

I remember when the Ashland Tea House, the McDonald Home, was demolished in 2005, the plan at the time was for a Victorian-themed restaurant to go there. The mere idea that someone would tear down a Victorian-themed restaurant to build a Victorian-themed restaurant struck me as the height of irony.

That memory came back reading the article because there’s a beautiful old magnolia on that site right now. It’s a perfect example of the species. Wonderful, fragrant, old and stately. If that tree survives the building of the “Magnolia Lofts,” it would be a miracle. Once again, irony triumphs.

Construction is expected to begin in August or September. The Magnolia Lofts will feature a tiny ground-floor commercial space—at 750 sf, even smaller than the average condo size of 900 sf—and two stories of parking, one of which the article describes as

“partially submerged” so the building would only appear to be five stories tall.

Maybe the developers should claim that the bottom level of parking is really at a normal level—although it’s underground, it is in the Heights.

Architect Tim Cisneros’s vague storybook sketch of the facade, though, has aroused the ire of Heights resident Mark White:

“While the description provided by the architect sounds like the building’s proposed style is in keeping with the Victorian-era architecture of the Heights, the initial drawings suggest a more ‘updated’ factory-turned-condo facade,” he said. “We would ask that the developer consider making a few changes to the style to make it more consistent with the architecture of the time period represented by the Heights neighborhood.”

By our estimate, that time period would be approximately 1891 to 2007, with the average construction date moving toward the present at a pretty steady clip.