Goodbye, The Monroe Luxury Condo Project; Hello, Belfiore Luxury Condo Tower

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Photo of Marathon Oil Tower: elnina via Swamplot Flickr Pool

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  • Anyone know what “Folk Victorian” means?

  • I personally don’t think The Monroe will be greatly missed by anyone … the builder’s profits perhaps, but the blas√© structure, no.

  • @Sally: Folk is a term that often refers to farmhouses, shacks, country houses, purpose-built buildings, and things that don’t really fit into a major movement of design, style, or architecture. By calling it folk Victorian, I think you are saying it’s a small traditional house with Victorian elements, or something to that accord.

  • I want to know who these empty-nesters are that consider a 4,650SF condo ‘downsizing’. That is mind-blowing to me.

  • Folk victorian implies the use of more ornate victorian trim on simple cottages. Most of the gables front design cottages you see in 1st ward, 6th ward, near northside, in parts of the heights, on the east end, and a spattering through the rice military/center street corridor are “folk victorian”. Their appearance is somewhat later in Houston than when they appeared on the east coast so many date between 1890 and as late as 1915. Its too bad more aren’t being utilized. They typically have have high 10-11ft ceilings throughout and high pitched roofs which many people have built out the attics to increase square footage when renovated (giving you more of a 1600-1800 sq ft amount of living space). The FW group is doing very nice work in first ward. Would like to see someone make a similar effort in near northside where approximately 30% of the structures are pre-1915. Just saw this renovation pop up the other day. http://www.har.com/1815-chapman-st/sale_16399014

  • @turning_basin: apparently the FW folks are on the same wavelength as you. they’re currently working their first project on the near northside. you can see their progress here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1521284031465481.1073741843.1377394535854432&type=3

  • 1815 Chapman is interesting, though the siding is a bit suspicious. And as I have ranted before, ‘open concept’ simply does not work in these older homes. That lonely kitchen area is screaming for its own enclosure.

  • So, reading the attached article from the HBJ, Al Ross says he cancelled the project because the COH was goin gto require him to pay for upgrades to the sewer lines on the block. Given that that was on a residential block that was developed about 100 years ago for cottages, I can see the lines there not able to support multi-family. But it also looks like another way in which the City with no -zoning restricts what can be built where.

  • @Shady: It looks like the Ross project got to the City’s goody table for developers after the big feast during the oil boom. Five years ago, they would have gotten whatever they wanted via 380 agreement or other city/TIRZ handout. But the City is now having a big hangover realizing that the tax rolls are thinning out after all the millions in breaks dolled out over the last few years.

  • Good point Old School. Hopefully less 360 agreements now that we acknowledge the looming budget deficit staring us in the face.

  • Something does not add up with the canceled condo project and extra costs due to COH stuff. If this project was really selling, the developer would have found the, what, $25k or so, to fix the problem. The extra cost was maybe a few thousand per unit? Bet ya some buyers started balking and some lenders starting thinking about things. COH is always a good scapegoat.

  • Jdogg, you might be right that they pulled the plug for other reasons but your 25k won’t even properly fill the huge trench, compact it and fix the street. A bypass has to be set up for the sewer, God knows what utilities bisect the work area. Traffic management and signage have to be set up. All that and the pipe hasn’t gone in yet. 250k wouldn’t surprise me. The fact that sales prices were already set means it all gets eaten. I think rather than being THE reason it was the straw that broke the budget camel’s back.

  • Does anyone know if the Flats on Fairview @ 2312 Commonwealth St. met the same fate? Haven’t seen much about this project since announced and the website lists 50% sold. It’s been several months since I have driven by Commonwealth/Fairview but I don’t recall seeing anything rising at that location.

  • @ ShadyHeightster: Yes, poor infrastructure can result effectively in capped densities. I recall a chapter in ‘Houston: Ephemeral City’ that described how Fmr. Mayor Bob Lanier went about kicking off the inner-city redevelopment by investing in a major capacity upgrade in sewage treatment capacity, which had been maxed-out for years, crimping development which could be permitted. Whatever hopes that landed utility-connected constituents may have had at the time of establishing barriers to entry in the Houston market and achieving economic rents under the PC guise of preserving the inner city functionally as a suburb would surely have been dashed — if they were paying any attention.

    @ jdogg & J: The first thing that normally happens when an issue like that is discovered (from due diligence, one hopes) is that the developer tries to renegotiate their contract to purchase the land. The seller eats it knowing that a different prospective buyer will face the same hurdle. But sometimes that doesn’t happen. Sometimes there’s a clash of personalities and a brief game of chicken occurs. Sometimes it just becomes apparent that the highest and best use for the site isn’t what anybody thought it would be, going-in, and the residential developer won’t do self storage or whatever.

  • Still though, 250k is a fairly insignificant amount of money to justify stopping a project of this size. That would represent a cost over-run of only 0.1%. Their sunk costs would have been much higher than that already. I agree this sounds like scapegoating.

  • Whoops, I misread, it’s a 20 million dollar project, so 250k is a bit more significant at 1.3% or so.

  • lol at @25k estimate :)
    .
    We had a permit for ‘waste impact fee’ (or whatever it was, they all run together now) cost more than that. And this was for an existing (small) commercial building. Again, just a fee. No work. And for an existing 75 year old building that we bought to bring back to life. No pay / no open = no choice but to pay. I just tell me guys “sigh, whatever, just write the check”