Demolition Work Is Beginning Now on the Kirby Court Apartments

Demolition of Kirby Court Apartments, 2612 Steel St., Upper Kirby, Houston

Demolition of Kirby Court Apartments, 2612 Steel St., Upper Kirby, HoustonCrews are gutting the innards of the Kirby Court Apartments on Steel St. just west of Kirby, a reader tells Swamplot. Dumpsters are on the scene, chain-link fences are up, and trash is being thrown out of the backs of the 2-story townhouse-style garden apartment buildings; to our source it appears that asbestos abatement may be in progress.


Kirby Court Apartments, 2612 Steel St., Upper Kirby, Houston

All tenants of the 1949 complex were cleared out by the end of last year; in January, Hanover Company announced that its planned purchase of a portion of the property for a highrise and restaurant pavilion facing Kirby Dr. across from the Whole Foods Market had stalled because of funding problems.

Photos: Swamplot inbox (demolition); Rashed Haq (Steel St.)

Steel Waiting

16 Comment

  • Sad :(
    The reality is it’s just not profitable to keep these older apartments running. Property taxes and city actions makes selling the best bet — and not many people want to buy to operate and be next to be kicked in the face by the city.

  • The inner loop oligarchs will be picking up their plastic champagne glasses from HEB and partying it up as this place goes down.

  • So true, Cody. And what nobody seems to get is that THIS WAS AFFORDABLE HOUSING! Complexes like the Kirby Court Apartments were what housing advocates say they’re after: affordable, safe, decent housing in expensive neighborhoods. HUD’s policy is to seek this as well. But instead of trying to prevent the demolition of complexes like the Kirby Court, and incentivizing the rehabilitation and continued affordability of these older complexes – they go out to suburban communities and trying to force them to accept new housing on open land.
    Of course, if you question affordable housing policy in any way, the advocates (and developers) immediately accuse you of being a racist and a classist. But I’ll keep questioning it, because it needs to be questioned.

  • ZAW, the city cannot control what happens to these garden apartment complexes nor dictate who they rent to. What they can do is provide incentives for the development of mixed-income housing. If they can spark a renewed interest in building residential units in downtown with tax credits/incentives they can do the same for mixed-income housing. It always comes back to the city what priority they place on their next agenda to pursue.

  • Today I was pleasantly surprised to see that the complex at 1600 West T. C. Jester (née Timbergrove Apartments?) has a fresh coat of paint and all brand-new windows. Quite the breath of fresh air to see renos happening instead of demos.

  • @ ZAW: It kind of sucks to say this, but there was a time when the demolition of irredeemably ugly housing and the displacement of the poor out of the urban core probably did serve as a viable economic development program for the City. A lot of people, especially affluent people, were deathly afraid of various pockets of the Inner Loop in a way that they just aren’t anymore. You and I probably understand that people’s perceptions often do not mirror reality, but that doesn’t change the way that things were back then. The momentum was just that slow. It could be argued (and please note the phrase “it could be” has a specific meaning and that I’m not advancing that argument and do not wish to debate its merits) that if so much housing hadn’t already been demolished in the urban core that not nearly as much new housing would have gotten built there and that the City of Houston would be less dense, not as attractive for businesses, poorer, and less able to serve its constituents or satisfy its massive pension obligations.

  • HouCynic, you’re missing ZAW’s point. Nothing needs to be built, just not destroyed.

  • ZAW, wouldn’t you agree that if you’re trying to get the most bang for your buck with limited funding that going out to the suburbs will provide the most value and give more folks a roof over their heads though. I understand your point, but I can also understand why it’s not worth the effort. This was low density housing on some very expensive property and if you’re looking for maximum gains and return on value then this is clearly not the place to do it. I’d agree that there’s still many other strategic near-town locations with good access to mass transit that could be preserved at this time though. The blowback will be no different than it is in the suburbs though and that should never be a primary concern.

  • Working to prevent these small, older complexes specifically from being torn down would allow X amount of people to keep their inexpensive location some of Houston’s most expensive areas. Providing tax incentives (or just preventing city harassment) so housing can be built (or not torn down, or older stock renovated) for students and professionals of more modest means would address the problem for the most people affected, not just those who got there first. It is a problem when students and younger professionals can’t get rental housing inside the city. For older professionals, they need to set down roots and take ownership responsibilities, not hoard the few remaining affordable apartment units for themselves.

  • It’s a shame when trifling hipsters can’t find affordable housing in the upper Kirby district any more. But there is hope. May I suggest that there are still tens of thousands of affordable housing units, inside the loop, either north of the the ship channel and also south of UH/TSU. Both areas provide good proximity to all inner loop employment and cultural centers and mass transit.

  • @Jardinero1: Yeah, my mother in law was a total hipster, with her organic oxygen tanks and her hand crafted pension checks. She had no real business occupying space that could be devoted to foreign investments.

  • Spoonman, you’re missing HouCynic’s point: the city can’t control what it doesn’t own.

  • @Houcynic and Houstonreader: the City of Houston can incentivize affordable renovations Inside the Loop, the way HUD incentivizes low-income housing in the suburbs. Perhaps with tax ceilings for properties that meet certain criteria.
    Or, as Cody pointed out, they could make it a lot easier on good owners who take care of their properties. Or maybe both.

  • ZAW, like every entity with a budget, the city needs to consider where it will get the most for its money. The location of the Kirby apartments will make—would have made—it an expensive option for low-cost housing, no matter what tax ceiling or other unspecified “incentives” that you have in mind.

  • Spoonman I actually do get it and am glad there is more preservation and new life is given to many older architecturally distinctive buildings in Houston. It is just that people have voted against city dictating (zoning) what they can and cannot do on their own property. It will either take a widely recognized movement (grass roots already in action with blogs like this) or some other factor to make it economically unfeasible to tear down and rebuild. Houston has a very long way to go before on both parts. Until then developers and $$$ call the shots.
    ZAW if only the city cared about “good owners who take care of their properties”. They don’t. It is only tax revenue to support the city budget. There is a slight effort with Historic Districts but even that is has a long way to go as they can’t uniformly administer and enforce the guidelines. Just like in HOA communities, you have members of the board who have their own agenda regardless of their codes and charters.

  • @Memebag Like I said, there are still tens of thousands of affordable housing units, inside the loop, either north of the the ship channel and also south of UH/TSU. Both areas provide good proximity to all inner loop employment and cultural centers and mass transit. For your mother-in-law, I would suggest Southside or OST/South Union. It is an easier trip to the Med Center from there than from upper Kirby. You could buy a whole house for same as rent at Kirby Court.