New Hanover Apartment Complex Will Eat a Chunk of the Kirby Court Apartments Across from Whole Foods


Variance Sign at Kirby Court Apartments, 2700 Block of Steel St., Upper Kirby, HoustonApartment developer the Hanover Company appears to be the purchaser of the Kirby Court Apartments — or at least a portion of it. A chunk of the 1949 garden apartment complex, which faces Steel St. west of Kirby, directly across from Whole Foods Market, is outlined in a variance application submitted to the city by Hanover for what the company is calling the Hanover River Oaks. The property earmarked for the development extends halfway (or 350 ft.) into the block between Kipling St. and Steel St. from Kirby Dr., but leaves out the Beck’s Prime drive-thru on the northeast corner.



The Kirby Court apartments, which date from 1949, face Steel St. behind rows of large live oak trees, creating a street scene occasionally referred to as a lower-income version of North and South Blvds. A source tells Swamplot that residents of the apartments have not been given any notice about what appears to be the impending end of at least a portion of their complex, but that the landlord “is not renewing leases and is no longer renting out empty apartments.”

Photos: Jessie Wilson

Just South of West Ave

30 Comment

  • Shame to see those go, they were lovely.

  • I am a resident of Virginia Street on this section Virginia that will be affected by Hanover. Since my street is mainly residential I will vigorously fight any setback changes as this will change the nature of our street. I wonder if the developer actually thinks they will get away with getting rid of the beautiful, historic oak trees that completely cover the skyline of this street. I will be speaking with all of the affected residents to decide whether or not to file suit against Hanover. I am an attorney and so are many residents of this street that will not tolerate destruction of our neighborhood.

  • Too bad the city will probably also grant Hanover a variance to to chop down all those Live Oaks and then plant new trees with a 2″ caliper back along the street when they’re done construction. Just like Trammel Crow got to do on Yale at 6th.
    Hanover doesn’t seem very fond of street level retail, but that area could support it, as long as it’s not done like that muddled mess called West Avenue.

  • Really residentofvirgina? How many “historic” trees were taken out to build your home?

  • It’s good to know the residents of this area will fight this variance. Why remove the very things that make this area so attractive. It’s hot as hell in Houston and we have serious air pollution, tree like these are vital to the health and well being of the region. Not to mention the aesthetic beauty of the oaks crossing the road and entangling into each other. Why must these developers ruin almost everything they touch. They always want to overwhelm the lot, cut down the trees, all to make the maximum profit. I’m happy that these residents of the area will fight it; I really hope they win.

  • I’d like

  • I’d like to see River Oaks look into seceding from Houston. It could then have strict zoning, its own actual City Hall and Police Force. RO would no longer have to rely on the over whelmed COH park and street maintenance department. I look at how well Highland Park is run and the pristine nature the park and roads. HP has strict zoning and building codes. With all the power that resides in RO, surely if they wanted they could make it happen; it certainly wouldn’t be easy. RO should considering leaving Houston before they are completely covered in high rises.

  • @residentofviginia……..just what are you going to file suit over?? They’re trying to develop a property and go through the proper channels that are prescribed by the City of Houston which is the governing authority on development inside the City. So you don’t like it…..great, fight it. But just what are you going to “file suit against Hanover” for????

  • @residentofvirginia you need to get a grip the oaks are on Steel not Virginia so what does this have to do with you or your street. The portion of Virginia that this will affect is already barren of trees. Where the hell were you at when Gables built the apartments at corner of Kipling & Virginia.

  • @residentof virginia.
    Interesting since most every property on Virginia Street north of Alabama has very little setback–which I am sure required a variance from the original structures. Go check Google Earth and verify it. Why was it okay for your street but it isn’t okay for this property which is not even on your street to reduce it’s setback? Everyone knew those apartments were goners years ago (they’ve looked like hell for the last twenty years) so to cry foul now seems like a typical attorney’s bluster.

  • Shannon, why do you support this lawsuit, but oppose the lawsuit RO residents brought against Hines. I don’t understand the distinction in your mind.

    Good on you, residentofvirginia! I hope your neighbors are able to band together and protect your homes and quality of life form these vultures.

  • For what its worth – Hanover’s logo is a large oak tree. I am guessing they value the trees.

  • Xtxn, I guess you haven’t driven down Steel Street? The trees on this street are similar to North Blvd for example or many areas of Rice University. There are very few streets in our entire city that resemble this. For the record, no trees of any size were removed to build my property and I didn’t seek a variance for reduced setback that would affect the nature of our neighborhood. Oh, and the Hanover property is 5 acres. Compare apples to apples. Looking forward to seeing Hanover at the Variance Hearing. Not even a variance specialist that they hire will be able to keep the residents of this neighborhood from fighting to preserve the integrity of this neighborhood. Just as Hines is getting sued for it’s building on San Felipe and Ashby before that residents have the right to voice their opinions and be heard in a court of law. You probably live in the suburbs anyways or work for Hanover.

  • Why do all assume they are removing the trees on Steel? These are City of Houston ROW trees.

  • Every single property on Virginia St that is near Steel has a variance from the set back. The Kirby Court buildings are the only buildings left which abutt Virginia and follow the original setback. It is the Kirby Court Buildings which look out of place, setback wise.

  • The apartmets being replaces are horrendous. The trees will likely stay. Dont be such neg heads.. very off putting. I have lived in Houston for 2 years and i love it more and more each day. And a better rep of River Oaks in Dallas would be Preston Hollow, not HP, that would better compare with the Memorial Villages. :)

  • i like what Hanover has done in the rice village area, and it is right across the street from south hampton homes (note that Hanover is one of the only companies that has ever built a mixed use residential project in Houston, so I’m not sure about the comment that it doesn’t like ground floor retail). in any event, it sickens me that every time a new development is announced, the reaction of the locals is to run off and sue. folks who live here got their property for a bit cheaper b/c it was on the boundaries of where something like this (whatever “this” is) could go up (and hey, at least the adult book store that was a few blocks away is gone).

  • Remember how pretty the trees were, lining both sides of the, with similar looking apartments before the Kroger center at Buffalo and Westpark was built. I think they salvaged 6 or 7 trees. Remember the Wilshire Village before HEB at Dunlavy, they went out of their way to save trees. Look at what Hanover builds, unfortunately those trees are gonners. I’m sure to Hanover will replace some of the removed trees with scrappy little oak saplings. @residentofvirgina, it’s a good thing you are an attorney, presumebly with not much work so that you can channel all of your energy into a fruitless cause. I wish things were different but they are not. As I have said before, channel all of your energy into greater change instead of playing the NIMBY card, push for land use restrictions for the entire city or at least the inner loop.

    It is interesting for all of the piss and vinegar over Ashby, Hines and now Steel Street, nobody is mounting any real effort to effect change.

  • @residentofvirginia……again, what are you going to file suit for?????

  • I can’t imagine any developer would find value in chopping down those oak trees, but this is Houston and these are Houston developers so…
    I hope residents showing up with their attorney will put away any thoughts they may have of chop and drop.
    I guess this is about 25 people now looking for semi-affordable housing inside the Loop? Good luck1
    As people are so fond of saying here…Eastwood! Harrisburg!
    Harrisburg…you gotta be kidding.

  • Bummer. I love those apartments.

  • It looks like the only thing on Virginia that is original to the street would be the former Lucia’s Garden on the NW corner of Alabama and Virginia. So please don’t tell me that all of the townhomes and homes that replaced the low density original homes did not require a variance. Too bad someone did not sue you or your neighbors for destroying their original neighborhood. And by the way, those trees don’t even register on the aerial photos from 1953 so debating them a historic seems a bit histrionic. No one knows if they are going or staying and since when
    do you have anything in common with the low rent apartments that only abut your street for 250 feet?

  • I live close by and am all for this redevelopment. And there are many homes on Virginia and Ferndale that are built right up to the street or close. Those apartments haven’t had a penny spent on them in years. And the family that is selling the property likely had many offers and choose the one that would best redevelop the site, as they still own about 30-40 acres on Kirby. We need the density, and the increased tax base. And IMHO, Hanover does some pretty handsome projects. I am sure they will keep the trees.

  • I’m a native of Houston and have lived in the Highland Park area of Dallas. River Oaks is our Highland Park. RO and HP were both planned as one neighborhood and designed by famous landscape architects. Preston Hollow is just a group of several different neighborhoods with no real cohesive plan, much like parts of our Memorial. HP is nothing like the haphazard Memorial Villages, with all their roads going nowhere, their lack of pocket or real linear parks. They were designed by tons of different developers all with different ideas. HP is perfectly designed, like RO, with Olmstead in mind and a real maximization of the natural beauty of the area in which the reside. This idea is almost completely void in Preston Hollow, all you have is gate after gate on ugly straight roads (no curb, no sidewalk) and very little care for the vistas of the area. It’s doesn’t even remotely compare to the beauty of HP or RO. Memorial Villages at least kept the pines, but they are horribly laid out, an almost total fail, except for a beautiful part of Hunters Creek Village along the bayou. RO is to HP, what PH is to MV…period.

  • I grew up inside the loop near Rice Village and it has always been pedestrian friendly. It was a big deal when my parents allowed my sister and I to walk to Rice Village on our own, we lived on the other side of Buffalo, so it was a trek, but an adventure. There was a period of time after the Village Arcade on University Boulevard was first rebuilt in which that portion of the Rice Village suffered its pedestrian friendly atmosphere and reputation because of towing. Big Name retailers would have security watch shoppers and their cars and tow if a shopped walked on to another part of the Village, even the next plot of the Arcade. At that time I worked in an older part of the Village where more unique privately owned small businesses were, on Rice Boulevard. Our customers were happy that they could buy some specialty bath salts, get a haircut, pick up their kids soccer gear, have lunch or a cappuccino and walk around the block, across the street or to other shops close by without being towed or having to re-park their car each time. The other element that is still in place in the Rice Village is there are people of high, medium and medium low incomes living in new homes, older homes, dorms, new apartments like Hanover and older apartments and semi new apartments on Shakespeare like to walk to the Village; which helps alleviate some of the parking issues that the Village has always had. Hanover saw an opportunity to move into an area of a previously scrapped mixed use property, that ended up not being built during the housing crash. They are successful in Rice Village, because the pedestrian traffic and varied shopping options and neighborhood residents already existed and they were able to enhance the current successful model. At one time, there were smaller mid to lower rent apartments on Mid lane in Highland Village, that students, retail workers and young professionals in less high powered/salaried jobs lived alongside mid to higher end town homes, apartments, and single family homes. Though Highland Village is still quite busy and successful, it seems to be very congested with car traffic and less so with pedestrian traffic. I think in part because of crossing over Westheimer, and in general the traffic feeding into the Galleria is more aggressive. I also see minimal people walking over to Central Market to grab a bag of groceries and walking back to their luxury apartments. The new apartments in the Highland Village just past Midlane in Highland Village also do not seem to have a high occupancy yet, and they are building more, and though the sidewalks are nicer, than older ones, don’t seem to encourage pedestrian traffic with all of the landscaping required to block the view of the retail parking. I would also find the Valet parking cumbersome to pedestrian traffic too. I addition, you have Hanover on West Gray, which is easily walkable to the River Oaks Shopping Center, but perhaps a little precarious because of Waugh. And not all the retail spaces are occupied either, so it may be that people are not as apt to walk over to River Oaks Shopping Center. I do not think all the frustration from locals as to how the River Oaks, Montrose and Upper Kirby are changing, is only about being stubborn, or not “getting how other cities work”. I think it is the fact that the people who bike to work, walk to the grocery store, live close to the restaurants and retail business in which they work can’t live near where they work anymore. On the surface this may seem entitled until people of higher income realize it alleviates some of the car traffic, because those people walk or bike to work. From what I understand the approved Rail on Richmond is not going to happen, that is going to be a huge issue for dense growth. I personally like living in a neighborhood of income diversity, because I feel safer in the fact that people of different income levels work at different times in the day. Even though crime always happens everywhere, having steady presence of people during all times of the day seems to discourage crime. As an artist and designer with a middle income; I would rather spend my money on higher quality art materials and a studio than a luxury apartment with amenities. I also like the garden style apartments, because if creates a community among residents, but I can see where it doesn’t maximize the land value. I think if the developers created smaller, basic units, with limited or no high end amenities on lower floors with less view, or desirability it could alleviate a lot of the frustration of current residents being pushed out. I would rather see Houston built smart with the future in mind, put ourselves at less risk for a bubble burst and overbuild, so we can continue to grow and adapt.

  • Mr Virginia, call off the hammer! No need to sue. Check out the Chronicle or the HAIF website. The project will be stunning and has a lot of green space. They are saving trees galore. I challenge you to find something to complain about. Be happy!

  • I was just looking at the area on google street view… the Kirby Court apartments are by far the best looking thing in that area, the stuff on Virginia especially along the western edge is hideous.

  • I do not think that the numerous Hanover projects are assets. In a few years they will be like Gulfton area and ready to be torn down. This project and several others are choking Houston. The “build it to increase tax base and worry about the consequences later” is going to come back to bite Houston.

  • Dear Native Houstonian, you are kidding yourself to think this area will look like Gulfton. Would you rather them build more houses in suburbia, where they use our (City of Houston) resources and don’t contribute tax dollars? Or is it only ok for you to live in the city and not newcomers? The growth keeps our city alive and strong. Don’t believe it? Look at Detroit.

    I fail to understand this “native” mentality. Since really the natives were here hundreds of years before you.

  • THEY ARE NOT REMOVING THE TREES!! We got the notice of the plans today!