Menil Townhome Sales Looking for a Lift

Patio at 608 Stanford St., HoustonCarol Isaak Barden, developer of the towering white now-a-lot-less-than- a-million-dollar townhouses near Allen Parkway, explains to Swamplot why she thinks the second unit hasn’t sold yet:

We always expected that it might take longer to sell the homes. They are bachelor pads. They are not for people with children, they are not for residents with bad knees, they are vertical structures for people who don’t mind using the stairs. Since both Francois [de Menil, the architect] and I have lived in Manhattan in buildings without elevators, we didn’t think it would be such a big deal. We were wrong.

Hey, nothing a little retrofitting can’t solve! Barden says a 4-story lift could be put in “easily” — but she hasn’t, because some potential buyers preferred it as the architect designed it, and “didn’t want to give up the extra storage.”

Francois lives in a 4-story townhouse in NYC, my first apt. in NYC was in the Apthorp, an old pre-war building on the upper east side without an elevator. I schlepped luggage and groceries up the stairs, and stayed thin and fit. Francois and I were dead wrong about the elevator issue. Houstonians valet park at restaurants, stores, hospitals, and even some churches. (New Yorkers don’t). And therein lies the problem.

608 Stanford Unit B sold three months after completion, last May. Unit A? Not so lucky:

The second unit has had contracts, unfortunately, none of them have closed. . . . we’re hoping to close on a contract with a buyer who happens to be an architect. It seems that the people who most appreciate these homes can’t afford them. (Architects, engineers, designers)

After the jump: what a bargain! Plus, a bit of news . . .


Barden continues:

The remaining unit at 608 Stanford is one hell of a buy, and I am hearing this from realtors all the time! . . . I am sure it is obvious to anyone who sees the homes that they are not conventional boxes, they are full of steel, are built like bank vaults, and cost a fortune to build. . . . Someone is going to buy a property thousands and thousands of dollars below building cost.

And now maybe another $30K less; since our last report, the asking price has been cut again — to $749,000.

Photo: Carol Isaak Barden

2 Comment

  • An agent from Martha Turner is holding an open house at 608 Stanford, (the Francois deMenil home,) on Sunday, March 16, 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. Visitors will be asked to leave their shoes at the door.

  • I am taken aback that the developer thought only about what they wanted in a home and not about what prospective buyers might have wanted. I realize I’m just a member of the peanut gallery, but it’s seems like common sense to me.

    The comment about New Yorkers being in shape compared to Houstonians comes off to me as arrogant and snarky, as if Houston is doing something wrong for not being so image conscious. New York is not Houston, and Houston is not New York, why is that a problem for anybody?

    This is just a reminder that developers should think before they build.