La Maison in Midtown: The Power of a Good Night’s Sleep

There’s a new $2 million bed and breakfast going up in Midtown? The Chronicle‘s Nancy Sarnoff reports that the project’s developers were “able to persuade a lender” to finance construction of their 3-story “New Orleans-style” B&B, which has already broken ground at 2800 Brazos, at the corner of Drew St.:

“It was a little challenging early on in the process,” [developer Genora] Boykins said. “The thing that made the difference is we really didn’t give up on the vision we have.” . . .

That sort of positive thinking is apparently nothing new for Boykins, an attorney for Reliant Energy who serves on the Downtown Management District board of directors — along with her La Maison partner, Centerpoint Energy community relations VP Sharon Owens.

Kirbyjon Caldwell, the pastor of 14,000-member Windsor Village United Methodist Church, provides more insight into Boykins’s real-estate techniques in Chapter 3 of his now-decade-old bestseller, The Gospel of Good Success: A Road Map to Spiritual, Emotional and Financial Wholeness:


Ever since she was a child, Genora Boykins believed…believed hard enough to act upon her beliefs. Her Faith took her to pinnacles she couldn’t have achieved by prayer alone. . . . Even when she and her husband began building their new house before their old one had been sold — she employed Faith against the prevailing wisdom of a then recession-plagued Houston real estate market, never doubting. “I just knew the Lord would provide a way,” she says.

And the Lord did. Her old house sold before her new house was completed. Once again, her Faith saw her through.

Boykins’s real-estate adventures grew from there. Caldwell appreciated Boykins’s commitment and involvement in his church. And so he asked the attorney if she would meet him for breakfast:

After all, if Holistic Salvation involves enlisting the power of God in every aspect of our existence, what truly sanctified soul, or congregation, can exist today without a lawyer?

What was the meeting about?

We discussed a few potential projects and came to the same decision: Our first step would be to create a community development corporation (a CDC), a nonprofit corporation under which Churches and other nonprofit entities had developed housing and other projects. In our case, we weren’t thinking about subdivisions. Not yet. But a small amount of property had been donated to the Church, and a CDC could help us develop and eventually sell the property. I asked Genora if she would set up the CDC.

Genora said she’d “pray on it,” which you might think is a strange way for an attorney to make a decision. But for Genora Boykins, it’s a perfectly effective way of decision making.

“If I have a peaceful night’s sleep, if I don’t toss and turn, if I don’t feel any trouble in my spirit, then I know it’s right,” she says. “The way the Lord speaks to me is by giving me a sense of inner peace.”

Genora called the next morning. She’d slept well. She would set up the CDC.

The fruit of that restful night: Pyramid CDC, developer of The Power Center — a 24-acre commercial complex at the corner of South Main and South Post Oak. Boykins later ran Pyramid Residential Community Corp., developers of the 220-acre Corinthian Pointe subdivision.

Image: La Maison in Midtown

20 Comment

  • Awesome! God has the exact same vision as this builder!
    “The seven-room property will be in a three-story building designed to evoke New Orleans-style architecture,”
    but, no jazz, no drunken bar hops, no Santeria, no titties at Mardi Gras… HOWEVER if, at check-out, I don’t feel like paying for my room, I can claim Holistic Salvation and pass on my lawyer’s card, right?

  • Hope her job at reliant is secure. While I wish her well, the travel industry is getting killed, esp. the upper end as businesses and individuals cut back. Recently saw an article on Bloomberg predicting that as many as one in five hotels may default by the end of next year.

  • Memo From A 17-year Veteran In The Houston Commercial Real Estate Business: People in the energy buisness should stay in the energy business.

    A seven room hotel at $285,000 per room. Give me a break. This thing has bankruptcy written all over it.

    I hope you made a lot of money helping Reliant nearly go bankrupt. You’re going to need it to help dig yourself out of a very big hole.

  • A bed & breakfast could not be more worthless in Midtown.
    Please stop while you are ahead! Save your money! This is an example of terrible planning.
    Midtown could use more LEED facilities!

  • Vulture investors love the idealism! Can you say “bank owned property”!!

  • Better invest in some glass shards to place on top of that measly fence to keep out the homeless drug zombies. Add guard dogs to the parking lot past midnight and out-of-midtown guests can sleep snug in their New Orleans’ style beds that their precious gas-guzzling GPS-equipped imported SUVs are safe and sound.

  • Whoa, MidWhat, maybe you should go back to bed and get up again on the other side. Happy Fourth.

  • Better invest in some glass shards to place on top of that measly fence to keep out the homeless drug zombies…

    Not to mention all the gays and lesbians who I suspect will not be welcome at the bed and breakfast. Not in the same bed anyway.

  • I wish her all the luck in the world, but if it fails I hope she doesn’t say something like “God must have better plans for me.” Surely God has better things to do than to manipulate your finances.

  • Miz Brooke Smith,

    Make sure you don’t step out of your air-conditioned Lexus on your way downtown from your 6000-square foot McSmith McMansion in Katy.

    Last time I cycled downtown to partake of an event, a parade (not gay), it was all I could do to avoid getting rundown by the heavily caffeinated xurbanites striving to escape from the completed event to get back onto some highway out of down-/mid-town. Not a place for the unwary, nor for B&Bs.

    Welcome to Midtown, clown.

  • The rendering doesn’t look very “New Orleans” style to me.
    However, I do not think the Bed & Breakfast will survive in Midtown.
    This will become another building divided for office space.

  • MidWhat, indeed you might have passed me…on my non-air-conditioned bicycle, on my way home to Brooke Smith. Take a powder.

  • It is a shame that the developers did not choose a site a few miles down the road to the Med Center. That area is in desperate need of a nice B&B for patients’ families. Sure the Rotary & Ronald McDonald Houses take care of some, but there is still a need, particularly for those who travelled far for cancer treatments. They will pay, too.

  • I agree, justguessin. If it had been closer to Main and a rail stop, it might have served that purpose. But it would have been better located right next to the Medical Center. As it is, I just can’t see who this is built for. Who are the customers they hope to attract?

    I also agree with Bernard: “People in the energy buisness should stay in the energy business.”

    Indeed, I bet if you look at many of the biggest boondogles in Houston history, they will have the fingerprints of ambitious energy players attached. That said, the city would have been a more boring place if, say, Glenn McCarthy hadn’t built the late, lamented Shamrock Hotel.

  • This entire project and it’s participants sound as crooked as a barrel of snakes! How proud Reliant Energy must be to have an attorney that just goes to sleep to make important decisions. SPARE ME!

  • “Even when she and her husband began building their new house – before their old one had been sold — she employed Faith against the prevailing wisdom of a then recession-plagued Houston real estate market, never doubting.”

    “And the Lord did. Her old house sold before her new house was completed. Once again, her Faith saw her through.”

    Who does this Faith work for? Martha Turner? Greenwood King? I want her to oversee my next sale.

  • I agree completely with MDT. Project concept and location: a long-shot, at best. Participants and their gravitas: laughable.

    Some CDCs do good work and have strong product results. The majority are inefficient, if not completely corrupt. I wish we knew more of their CDC reputation.

  • i will be the only one to say that i don’t think this is that awful of an idea. there are multiple churches nearby (some a few blocks away and others in downtown and in river oaks), and it would be perfect for overnight wedding guests. they could eat and go to bars/clubs nearby. there really isn’t another place like this in the city (at least that i know of).

    will it work–i don’t know, but it’s not the god awful idea the rest of you think it is.

  • jay – When I got married and booked a block of about 30 hotel rooms in Houston, I called quite a few hotels all over town and was able to get some amazing deals. They all said the same thing – Houston is more of a business traveler city and less of a tourist city so there are already a lot of empty hotel rooms on weekends as it is. I had no problem getting hotel rooms in any part of the city I wanted. And I was trying to show out of town guests that despite our reputation, Houston is a decent place to live. So I would not have put them up in midtown.