Comment of the Day: Pumping the Heights

COMMENT OF THE DAY: PUMPING THE HEIGHTS “I grew up in West University in the 1980s and watched it change from a shabby lower middle class neighborhood to what it is today. I now live in the Heights, and the area is remarkably similar to the way West University was during my childhood. The similarities include everything from housing stock, neighborhood amenities, and eclectic mixture of residents. The location is also similar to West University, in that it is convenient to all of Houston’s major destinations. Mr Kelley’s prediction that the Heights will follow the same upward trend as West University is probably correct, and I think investing in the Heights is a wise move. As the Heights continues to improve, the demand to live in the area will continue to increase and real estate prices will reflect that. If I had more cash right now, I’d buy another house in the area and hold on to it.” [Obsolete, commenting on Comment of the Day: Priced Out of the Conversation]

26 Comment

  • West U is nice. The heights is a dump (except for a few nice streets). West U has little to no hastily thrown up spec housing. Heights has mostly hastily thrown up spec housing.

  • dirtyd,

    Have you been to either of these neighborhoods? What you are saying just isn’t true.

  • West U has good schools (elementary at least), the Heights, not so much.

    And sidewalks. Seriously, Heights-people, what is up with the open ditches along the road?

  • zippy,

    You better be careful about those ditches. A lot of the residents in the Heights like them.

  • pretty sure that ditches vs. culverts is the City’s call

  • West U has several things going for it that Heights never will:

    Own city government
    Near Med Center (did you know many specialist in the medical field are required to live within 20 minutes of their hospital?) so many, many MD live in West U.

    The Heights will neve be more than another Montrose

  • When was West University Place ever a dumpy lower middle class neighborhood? Sure, lots of the smaller bungalows have been demolished for garage mahals but I don’t think West U ever fell to the level the Heights once did.

  • The heights is largely full of junk. Way way way over-rated.

  • Losers. Y’all are all 10 years behind the curve. Look to Oak Forest to be the next West U/Heights/Bellaire in a decade.

  • West U has good schools (elementary at least), the Heights, not so much.

    And sidewalks. Seriously, Heights-people, what is up with the open ditches along the road?

  • Heights area elementary schools are better than you think. We had the choice of private or HISD and went with HISD and are very happy with the results.

  • The Heights will never be anything other than what it is. A small town within a big city. In small towns, the garage is two doors down. The beauty salon is across the street. The big houses are on certain blocks on certain streets. Where the rich live. The rich kids play with the poor kids. Sometimes the rich kids bring the poor kids home for dinner. The parents are okay with it. Some of the parents were poor once. And remember. It works.

    But West U it ain’t. And West U it ain’t gonna be.

  • The beauty of the heights is that it has “naturally” turned out to be a diverse neighborhood in the world of socio-economics. No planner has made it that way or ever could have.

    The Heights started by by clear cutting a pine forest and throwing up spec homes that came out of a catalog. Since then it had ups and downs and now it turned into a wonderful place.

    If the wide variety of the Heights is what you want, then it’s there to enjoy. If you can’t afford to buy, there are many places to rent. There are also plenty of places on the immediate edge of the Heights that have lower priced homes that give you the proximity of enjoying the Heights (which is what I’ve done).

    West U’s drawback in my opinion is that it is planned to always be exclusive group (it’s not bad if that’s what you want). It is protected from the ups and downs that make a neighborhood real. It’s almost a false place that is taken out of reality.

  • re: Schools – What makes you think people send their kids to Heights schools? Nearly all non-minority kids leave the ‘hood after 5th grade.
    re: Economic Diversity – not for long. Most of the artists have been priced out and the rental property is either being bull-dozed or upscaled.
    re: ditches – We petitioned the city and got curbs and gutters, but there was an 8 year wait-list.
    re: investment -JC- I half agree. Problem with Oak Forest et al is that it will become a tear down neighborhood, so you have to hope that lot value is more than you paid for a house when the time comes YOU want to sell.

  • As a Heights resident, I am aware that we will never be another West U. And I thank God for that.

  • As for the heights – love it. The ditches, not so much. It’s part of the reason we have such a bad, bad misquito problem. Love the diversity and culture BUT like finess said, my kids will not be going to public school after elementary, unless things drastically change. It’s unfortunate but a fact. As for location, can’t beat it. Short of working from home, I have one of the shortest commutes to downtown and never miss my kids activities due to “sitting in commuter hell.”

    West U – It seems from my recon that all women who move here must have a boob job. Everything looks alike and comes from a catalog. Not for me. . .

  • For the people who don’t like open ditches, the best chance of them eventually becoming curb and gutter streets in the future will only likely happen if the Renew Houston campaign is successful. Check the link below.the proposed City Charter amendment language is on the petition. They need about 22,000 by June 30th to get it on the ballot for November.

    The general concept is that the city has been relying on federal emergency funds and stealing from the wastewater and water treatment funds to pay for drainage and roadwork. The charter amendment will allow the city to have a dedicated road and drainage fund that can’t used for other projects. The petition only gets it on the ballot. You can still vote against it if you decide you don’t like the concept.

  • Heights is surrounded on several sides by entrentched barrios. It is vulnerable to crime because of this, and this will always be so, regardless of Heights improvements internally.

    West U. is surrounded mostly by 500k+ homes in Houston and Bellaire. Apartments aren’t cheap either.

    No one points out a fundamental diff., which makes this an apples to pomegranates comparison. West U. is a stand-alone city, with its own mayor/council and tax mechanism. WU can and does act quickly (correctly?) to deal with perceived problems.

    Heights can stand in line with the rest of us Houstonians.

    This is an awful comparison.

    Heights residents should work to become a less-raggedy Heights (and they’re generally doing that very well). Their natural “rival” is in fact Montrose, and that (faux) battle is actually very close and interesting. I like the Heights a lot, and I like Montrose a lot.

    West U. predictions are just foolish.
    …and the notion that West U. was anything other than upper-middle class in the 1980s is dead wrong. Believe me, in my late 20s, I desperately tried to buy in
    (mid-late 80s),and unless you wanted a ditch-view 1200 sf bungalow, the affordability train had long since left the station (wound up in Bellaire, no regrets). Also, my grandpa bought a home in 1934 in WU – it was at least solidly middle-class+ 75 years ago.

    Stick w/Montrose comparisons – dynamic, multi-cultural, vulnerable Houston treasures, both dealing with significant gentrification issues. THAT’S an interesting “duel”!

  • zippy: “West U has good schools (elementary at least), the Heights, not so much”

    Did you have kids in school at either place? The only school I know of in West U is the elementary. My three kids attended Travis Elementary and Hamilton Middle School in Heights and got a very good education.

    They all attended excellent colleges(Colorado School of Mines, Roanoke College, LSU). The schools must be doing something right, and have only gotten better in the past 5-6 years since my kids have been gone.

  • Phil,

    Just curious, but did your kids go to Reagan High School as well?

    I have heard Reagan is not a very good school at all.

    I feel that in education, High School is the most important because that’s when your grades really “count” for college admissions.

  • The people who live in the Heights are a different type of people. That being said, I think most who live in the Heights if they were asked to choose between West U and Heights would definately pick the Heights. Its definately more laid back.
    I bought my house 5 years ago for 350K and was recently appraised by the bank for 510K…not bad for a 5 year investment….

  • Terry,
    No, we had moved out of the Heights. Two went to Lamar, which is possibly the most diverse HS in Houston, and one went to Carnegie Vanguard. True, Reagan was not well regarded back then, but I think it has improved a lot in the last few years.

  • Totally agree with Udunno about the Montrose/Heights comparisons. 10 years ago, we looked in the Heights and for various reasons, ended up Montrose. Given that I ended up selling my Montrose house for more than double what I paid for it (at the absolute lowest point in the Houston market for that period), I have no regrets, though I looked at the tripling of housing values in Heights and wistfully wish I had bought SOMETHING there as an investment if nothing else. The two things that Montrose has going for it over the Heights are: better walkability score and closer proximity to everything. While I suppose the Heights is closer to downtown than, say, Katy, you can’t beat the commute from Montrose to just about anything in the city.

    The two major points I see in favor of the Heights over Montrose are: the schools (while Wilson and Wharton have their supporters, I don’t think anyone would say they are as strong as Travis and perhaps Harvard) and the sense of neighborhood. The people I know who live in the Heights LOVE the Heights and appear to do many things to create that community feel. Montrose is cool, but it doesn’t feel nearly as tightknit as what I’ve seen from the Heights.

    I completely agree with Andrew that MOST people aren’t choosing between West U and the Heights – if you like one, you probably don’t like the other. West U families who can’t afford West U live in Bellaire or Braes Heights, not the Heights.

  • Some parts of Montrose (my area) are zoned to Poe – which from what I can tell is a decent school – and Lanier middle school actually looks good on many levels. I’m not sure the Heights has the edge (or a strong one) on schools on all parts of Montrose, but I certainly can see the closer neighborhood thing. I honestly kind of find it annoying, but maybe that’s because I’m not part of it.

    That said, I think if most people in the Heights had the money to live in West U, they would. Sure your child might get a good education at elementary schools in the Heights or even Montrose, but a quick look at the statistics makes it fairly obvious that your child is more likely to succeed at the schools in West U. That neighborhood pride thing means that Heights people will probably forever try to rationalize that Travis and Harvard are as good as West U schools, but they simply aren’t

  • OkieEric,

    Poe is a decent school, though it’s not as good as it used to be (based on a variety of measures). I do know people whose children attend Poe and they have been happy there. You’re right that some parts of Montrose are zoned to Poe, but most of Montrose is zoned to Wilson, Wharton, or MacGregor.

    As for your comment that most people who live in the Heights would live in West U it they had the money, I respectfully disagree with you. There are many reasons why people do not choose to live in West U and money isn’t the only one. I don’t want to get into another argument about the merits of West U (there are many, of course), but it’s not the pinnacle living experience for everyone. Like I’ve said in a previous post, personally, I would not choose to live in West U and money has nothing to do with it. It’s a lovely neighborhood, but it’s not the right fit for every family.

    As for West U Elementary, yes it’s a good school – but so are Twain (Braes Heights), River Oaks Elementary (River Oaks), and Roberts (Southgate) – all which are also inner loop elementary HISD schools. All are rated “Exemplary” by the state of Texas. You do not have to live in West U for your children to get a good public education.

  • I will go out on a limb and say I could live in West U. Many of my law partners do. Which is why I would never. My wife would probably divorce me for even suggesting it. She always says we will never leave the Heights, but s soon as it becomes West U she’ll be on the 1st bus to Shepherd Park Plaza.