From No Such Heights: Downtown’s Next Apartment Building To Rise Just 5 Stories

FROM NO SUCH HEIGHTS: DOWNTOWN’S NEXT APARTMENT BUILDING TO RISE JUST 5 STORIES Developer Alliance Residential has shared with the Houston Chronicle this rendering of the comparatively puny 5-story apartment complex it says it plans to build on the Downtown block bound by Bell, Leeland, Main, and Fannin. That block now is a surface parking lot. The 207 units planned for this complex, if built, might be rather overshadowed by the 30-story Houston House Apartments catty-corner from here and the 24-story SkyHouse that’s under construction just one block to the south. Alliance rep Bart Barrett tells Nancy Sarnoff that construction could begin as early as this fall, once the sale of the property is complete. [Houston Chronicle ($); previously on Swamplot] Rendering: Alliance Residential Company

16 Comment

  • I hate the nearly identical corner facade on the apartments west of the Midtown Superblock. These actually look quite a bit better, and I think it’s because they added even more useless crap in the middle of the roof. Who woulda’ thunk.

  • A few hundred new residents on the empty (south) side of downtown is still great news. Considering that there is nothing there now except $5/day surface parking, and that Exxon is evacuating to The Woodlands soon, this is a promising step forward. Hey, maybe even the decrepit Days Inn building will come down in a few years and we’ll get something new there.

  • Anything that gets rid of another useless parking lot makes Downtown better, IMO.

  • Doesn’t make sense.

  • Have all other designs for mid-rise apartment buildings been outlawed? Did I miss that?

  • Look, I’m a big fan of Houston’s “if it’s your land, build what you want” thing. So, by extension and for example, I support the Ashby builders. But this one is a great big, “what the hell are you thinking?” If there was ever a location SCREAMING for a high-rise residential, or mixed use, this is it. I still support the developers right to build it, but I would have hoped for a lot more for a location such as this.

  • So let’s get this straight–22 story high rise in the Museum District; 5 story building downtown. Does. Not. Compute.

  • It’s difficult to understand why so many people don’t understand why this is only 5 stories instead of 30 stories. It’s been nothing but a surface parking lot for 30 years and it’s never had anything there taller than a couple stories.

    If the demand didn’t exist to build anything there (along with the other 10 nearby blocks of surface parking), even after 10 years of rail, why is there suddenly going to be demand for multiple residential towers (including the planned one to the southwest of this block)?

  • I wonder how much they’ll have to charge for rent to make the math work on a five story building downtown. Unless they scored a sweet deal or got some of those tax credits that are marked for the east end of downtown (but are seemingly being handed out like candy outside the designated area), it seems like an odd move.

  • 207 Units. 5 floors – New Apartment proposal
    336 Units. 24 floors – Skyhouse Houston
    396 Units. 30 Floors Houston House

    All 3 take up the full block.
    207/5= 41.4 Units per floor
    336/24= 14 units per floor
    396/30= 13.2 units per floor

    I have no problem with this project. Puts more people in downtown, continues to merge the transition between midtown and downtown and all these people are within walking distance of employment center, transit system, and a gym. All thats needed downtown is more residents and a grocery store.

  • Walt, Sara,

    I would bet that this complex is much more speculative than Ashby. It is surrounded by parking lots in an underdeveloped part of downtown. Undershoot on the project and you are leaving money on the table, but you can claw some of that back by raising rents. Overshoot and you are just screwed. If this project succeeds it won’t take long for the development you are wishing for to come in. Also, as Grant states any development that is replacing a parking lot downtown is a good development if it succeeds.

  • Could be taller,but definately a step in the right direction.

  • I’m just glad they’re building something there.

  • Rents and occupancies are wayyyy up from a few years ago and apparently Alliance is confident they will remain at current levels, if not higher. Past pro forma modeling I’ve done shows that financial performance is strongly linked to rents (relative to other factors). The urban core’s rental rate increases are likely a huge factor in enabling the feasibility of downtown residential, given how land there is priced for office towers. By the way, Houston House is doing really well occupancy-wise since its (major) renovation and lease rate increases, which helps give a lot of confidence in the market in that local area.

    Not that other factors are irrelevant. Even if you can pile more units on vertically with a tower, your construction costs jump too. Who knows what type of deal at what price they’re making with the current landowner. Financing may be easier to obtain for this style. Plus, the incentive program for residential in this area will help close feasibility gaps.

    Apparently a combination of some or all of the above factors was sufficient for Alliance.

  • These better not be those micro-apartments. Living downtown isn’t worth that (yet).

  • “Doesn’t make sense.”

    Niche, Swamplot’s updated link today indicates government intervention as part of the Downtown Living Initiative Chap 380 scheme.

    “The city incentive will provide $15,000 in tax rebates to developers per qualifying unit.”

    “Community amenities will include a courtyard with a pool and an outdoor kitchen, a fitness center, SPIN ROOM, game room with demonstration kitchen and a business center.”

    Spin room? Is this where drunks go to lie down for awhile or is it a mainstream media think tank ?