David Kaplan of the Chronicle catches up with Houston-apartment legend Michael Pollack and fills in a few details of the Colonial House story:
According to media reports then, Pollack lived in a super-size Colonial House apartment called “the Dream Suite,” which had a colored water fountain inside and a king-size water bed.
The Dream Suite was real, but Pollack says he never lived there. His home was the Four Leaf Towers and later the Houstonian, he said.
His glamorous stud image was just an act, he maintains, designed to rent apartments.
“I was promoting day and night,” Pollack said. “To me, it was a job.” . . .
According to Houston City magazine, he’d show up at nightclubs in a chauffeured custom Cadillac limousine with a moon roof. He traveled with an entourage, including bodyguards in satin jackets adorned with Pollack’s silhouette.
There are more memorable Pollack TV spots to be dug up:
One commercial featured Pollack in a safari outfit and a tiger. He had a fear of cats, even little cats, and being next to the full-grown beast was terrifying, he recalled.
In 1986, Pollack left Houston because, he said, the local economy and apartment market looked increasingly grim.
Colonial House was foreclosed on in 1988. It was acquired by DRG Funding Corp., the lender that financed the complex’s redevelopment. Pollack moved back to California, working there a few years before settling in Mesa[, Arizona].
In Houston, the Colonial House era is no more. A year after the foreclosure, the mammoth complex changed its name to Lantern Village.
After the jump: Laundry tips from a longtime resident of today’s Lantern Village!
Sadly, Lantern Village has not been able to maintain the carefully crafted media image of Colonial House. It’s not for lack of effort, though. On the Apartment Ratings website, the huge complex at 5815 Gulfton manages a 56 percent positive rating. That’s an impressive achievement, but much credit must be given to a correspondent on the site who goes by the name of HappyLantern2005. HappyLantern2005 has posted extensively on the complex’s pros and cons for several years now but remains decidedly upbeat about Lantern Village.
One anonymous resident is suspicious of HappyLantern2005, writing in January:
My honest opinion is that since all of the dissatisfied messages found on this page get comments with RAVE reviews, I believe that “happylantern” is actually an employee.
If that’s true, it’s hard not to be impressed by HappyLantern2005’s techniques. Just as Michael Pollack mastered the 30-second TV spot and the nightclub scene in the service of Colonial House 35 years ago, HappyLantern2005 has thoroughly taken on the online apartment-ratings game in the service of Lantern Village, demonstrating a shrewd grasp of the peculiarities of online and viral apartment marketing in the internet age.
HappyLantern2005 has not been content merely to extol the 1,789-unit apartment‘s virtues online. A lengthy post from 2005 notes the longtime Lantern Village resident’s approval of the complex’s maintenance practices, air conditioning, and security policies (everyone gets an ID check at the gate) but also keeps it real by including a few complaints, such as this extended discourse on laundry hygiene:
NO hot water in half the washing machines: This one, has been a problem for about 2 1/2 years. . . . You say, no prob…I want to save energy and use cold water. And I reply, Think again! Not in a public laundromat you do not. While I support energy conservation efforts, this one is only good if you have your own washer and truly know the “cooties” that you are soaking your clothes in. In a public washer, you are sharing cooties, (eg.: e coli, and staph, to name a few) with anyone who used the washer before you. Just think, your neighbors “skid marks” in his shorts and your other neighbors baby poo clothes, and any skin infections help contribute. This can make for all sorts of health issues, and just simple nastiness. There have been a number of scientific studies on this subject that strongly recommend that if you must use a public washer, by all means use hot water. Would you soak your body in used bath water, or a used bathtub, without cleaning the bath tub’… maybe a week’s worth of body goo’
Ok, you got it. btw, this one MAY have recently been fixed, just maybe, when they installed new washers in January and increased the price from $.75 to $1.00 per load. This co-oincidence makes it suspect as to whether the lack of hot water was a management decision rather than an accident as they tried to pass it off. After this one, I will double check issues with management, as my trust in them to be honest and do the right thing has been damaged.
- Long gone from city, Michael Pollack still has his flair [Houston Chronicle]
- Lantern Village: just spend the extra money else where, trust me [Apartment Ratings]
- Lantern Village: Excellent practical choice, with a few notes for your info [Apartment Ratings]
- Beautiful Southwest Houston: The Golden Age of Apartment Living [Swamplot]
- Free Eighties Furniture at Colonial House! [Swamplot]
Photo: Lantern Village
I lived in the Colonial House in the mid 1980s, and was editor of their newsletter. Michael Pollack left, according to what we heard, because HUD was investigating his misuse of HUD monies. While I lived there, he boasted of security, and yet my eight-year-old daughter was kidnapped from my apartment by an unknown assailant, who took her to a nearby empty, unsecured apartment, and tried to rape her. Luckily, she screamed and fought and made such a fuss that he fled. But Michael Pollack and the “security” did little or nothing about the incident. His advertised security was little more than a guard house at the entrance where guards felt it necessary to stop and harass the residents, while apparently letting non-residents have free access. If you want to write a story about the former Colonial House, you should contact former residents about the actual conditions and Mr. Pollack’s incredible hubris and ego-centric behaviors. The man is a megalomaniac.