The Josephine Apartments Are Being Torn Down Now

Demolition of Josephine Apartments, 1744-1748 Bolsover St. at Ashby St., Boulevard Oaks, Houston

The 75-year-old art moderne brick steel-windowed structure at 1744 and 1748 Bolsover St. known as the Josephine Apartments is coming apart in a cloud of (watered down) dust this morning. The 8-unit structure at the corner of Ashby St. 2 blocks north of Rice University was designed in the late 1930s by architect F. Perry Johnston, but demolished by contractors under hire by Tricon Homes, which purchased the property earlier this year.


Demolition of Josephine Apartments, 1744-1748 Bolsover St. at Ashby St., Boulevard Oaks, Houston

Demolition of Josephine Apartments, 1744-1748 Bolsover St. at Ashby St., Boulevard Oaks, Houston

Residents had been asked to leave by the end of July.

Josephine Apartments, 1744-1748 Bolsover St., Boulevard Oaks, Houston Josephine Apartments, 1744-1748 Bolsover St., Boulevard Oaks, Houston

Photos: Swamplot inbox (demolition); Chris Adams (Josephine)

Boulevard Oaks Rubble

28 Comment

  • CLASSIC! The erasure if any and all historically significant architecture in this town continues!

    Sad Houston, just SAD?!

  • …and the skies open with torrential rain, lightning and thunder. Another little treasure lost.

  • Unbeleivable that with a little vision and creativity that these could be refurbished into something very special.
    Sad day, indeed.

  • *sigh*
    Such is the way of the Developer in Houston. There are dozens if not hundreds of junk apartment complexes all over town that we Houstonians would love to see demolished. But do developers demolish them? No! They’d rather knock down nice, well built, old complexes that have aged well….

  • I been in Colorado for a couple weeks – Denver has block after block of these kind of cool old apartments, all over town. They don’t get torn down to be replaced with shitty stucco townhomes, they get rehabbed and the neighborhoods maintain their integrity.

    And another thing I’ve noticed – Houston has had a hard-on for the kind of walk-ability Denver has. Downtown Denver is full of decent restaurants and other activities, and the town is super easy to get around without a motorised vehicle… never gonna happen in Houston, don’t know why people can’t accept the fact that Houston is not and never will be a walkable city.

  • I drove by this and actually got a lump in my throat, then I got mad. Developers in Houston don’t even bother saving any part of historic structures, unless on that rare occasion, they have too. It’s pathetic that Houston is infested with such greedy developers. Even in LA, developers show more respect. This building was a real gem, it had great style and scale. What a fucking waste.

  • Let’s be very clear: the owner of this property decided it was in their best interest to sell.

  • “Any city gets what it admires, will pay for, and, ultimately deserves.” – Ada Louise Huxtable

  • Whats so historic or special about these apartments? They look like the cheapest construction of the time and looks very depressing. It actually looks like it’s only occupied by out of work porn producers and sex offenders.

  • And to think I thought these people would like the decreased density this is creating, this developer is just trying to make up for the additional traffic the nasty Ashby Highrise is causing clearly. Oh well just another thing for people to complain about on the internet.

  • Commonsense: no, my bet is on teachers, intern architects, grad students, graphic designers having lived there. I’m fairly certain I went to a party there once back in grad school, maybe 1999.
    Even if it were occupied by social rejects, which it wasn’t, the building was still in way better shape than most of the crappy apartments the last generation of developers threw up in the 1970s and ’80s. That’s really the sin here. Just ask anyone who’s been to a Buildings and Standards Commission hearing. I didn’t see any toddlers tricycles parked next to a rusted, rotting, obviously unsound exterior staircase at the Josephine Apartments.

  • This is a net loss for the neighborhood. It’s also a net loss for Rice as yet another somewhat affordable and somewhat quirky place to live gets replaced by yet another soul-sucking stucco monster by Tricon/Mirador/Urban Living/Insert Fly-by-Night developer name here. The only thing that makes me happy is there are 8 or 9 posts lamenting the loss (which is a loss of a sense of place and belonging) before the first “property rights trumps all” poster showed up to remind us all about who is the deciderer.

  • ZAW, you kind of just hit the nail on the head there. teachers, intern architects, grad students, graphic designers and any other similar like minded folks could no longer afford to live here. you’re now talking about doctors, lawyers, contractors, business owners and dual income engineers that are left living in this area and I know none of the above that have much, if any, interest in paying absurd rents and downsizing their lifestyles just to live in an old cramped apartment because it’s cool and has character. yes, it’s a cool complex, but it’s obviously entirely out of place in this neighborhood and the surrounding areas.
    could this issue be solved with different development codes, perhaps. but houstonians have voted time and time again that they prefer living in a dynamic and reflexive real estate market that can match their living styles, desires and conveniences. in a battle against preserving superficial aesthetic appeal to one group versus adding/protecting the value of hard work and money spent others have put into an area I’ll clearly side with those looking to add value to the area.

  • You can count on Tricon to build something very plain and boring and it will sell because of the
    extreme demand for homes in this area.
    I offered Tricon 20,000 sq ft of vacant land in this area recently and they had no interest because it
    was trapazoidal shaped and their existing house plans would not fit the site. No imagination.
    Builders cannot make a dime without dirt.

  • My Aunt actually lived here for a couple of years when she got out of Rice. I went in them when I was a kid, they were really cool. The styling is cool Art Moderne or maybe Early International. I’ve ridden my bike by them a billon times and admired how the architect fused them into the lot in such a respectful way, taking into consideration scale and the fact they’re built in a neighborhood. What happened to respectful developement in Houston? It not surprising that a few comments don’t show respect for this building, but that doesn’t make it any the less sad.

  • I’m sure you all know how to preserve your favorite buildings. Just buy them and maintain them.

  • @Joel: I think you’re overthinking it. We could drastically change development in Houston with a few small changes to our codes. One that I’ve been wanting for a while: nix the $15k tax credit for new Inner Loop apartments, and replace it with a 2% bonus to LIHTC for rehabs and reconstruction projects. And we could also look at some sort of tax credit for preservation of older Inner Loop apartments. If it’s more than 30 years old, Inside the Loop, doesn’t have outstanding code violations, and has rents that are reasonable, the owners could get a tax credit on it.

  • I’m a lawyer, and if I had not recently married and moved into my husband’s house, I would love to live in a building like that. Actually, I lived for years in an old loft full of character. Even a few of us yuppies are sad to see these hidden jewels go. I shiver every time I see another poorly built fauxtalian monstrosity being built in this area. Surely these new town homes and apartments, built quickly in a feverish burst of construction, will never experience the longevity, diversity, and aesthetic of buildings like the Josephine.

  • And yet, Takara So remains standing.

  • Phil: the city of Houston would never allow that. New owner would be red tagged and buried to death in a pile of certification and permit requirements.

  • Ashby HighRise, Chateau Ten sunset at Ashby, and now Josephine apartments.There goes our quiet little neighborhood.

  • Somewhat sad to see a fairly cool building go away, but I am far more thankful to live in a city where I can maximize my return on my property without a bunch of people with nothing at stake telling me that I must minimize my returns so they can enjoy some nebulous aesthetic benefit.

  • I tire of all the people that simply complain about every new building going up…people aren’t be forced to sell their properties. If an owner wants to sell, it’s perfectly within their right to do so.

  • Not everything is valuable just because it’s old. These apartments were not all that special architecturally; they’re blocky, squat, and unadorned. Nor did they have any particular historical significance. Their U shape created a gap in the streetscape and gave them the impression of being set further back from the sidewalk than any other structure on the street. So many posters have such a knee-jerk reaction to the demolition of any pre-WW2 building. Sometimes they are correct, other times… like now… not so much.

  • ZAW: You’re also over thinking it. “Code violations” are what kill these places. COH can go drive by ANY building and find things to red tag you for. Many places use imminent domain (incorrectly) to try to get rid of old places in desirable areas so that new can be built. In Houston, the prius patrol can just red tag people in the name of ‘tenant protection’ till an owner gives up.
    Want these old places saved? Don’t blame developers. They’re just buying what someone else is willing to sell. Look into why owners are selling. Sure, some are cashing out but others are just sick of all the rules that try to go after ‘evil slumlords’. A small independent owner stands no chance at keeping something like the apartment building in the story going. I can only imagine it having it’s certification of occupancy inspection. They’d find 1000 things to fix. We’ve sold most of our small inner loop places (which have been or will be knocked down) because I just got sick of living at the permit office.
    The market has a way to deal with slum lords – vacancy (if you don’t meet market demand with your product) or price (lower income due to not being able to compete on quality).

  • I broker these old apartments inside the loop. I tried to get this old fart to sell to Paul, but the owner was such an ass about allowing my buyer to get a look at the deal in person that Paul had to pose as a renter and when I followed up with the Seller at the property 15 minutes after the tour, the fart head would not even take my card. He deserves every two bit dollar he got from Tricon. However, in my professional opinion, this would have been an outstanding repositioning property that could attract the same white collar/young professional tenant that the A Class stuff is seeking at 25% under A Class rents. It is a lost opportunity and though the density was not ideal for cash flow because it had an additional lot and larger foot print (thus HCAD Taxes were high), the property is just one less piece of saleable inventory left in a market where attrition rate used to be about 3% loss of stock each year on the older vintage Inner Loop Apartments, to what is now triple that over the past 2 years due to development of SFH and Apts. Sad. It is all timing though, and apparently 2 years ago, the old fart was not ready. Should have called him back, and in hindsight, that deal could have been brought to at least 3 investors I know and it would still be standing today with a bright future. Sorry to let you all down.

  • @Joel
    “…you’re now talking about doctors, lawyers, contractors, business owners and dual income engineers”.

    Hmmmmm…. which one of these professions is not like the other ones?

  • Cody: we’ve talked about this before. I know you have it tough in your Midtown and EADO properties, where neighbors are vocal and will often complain to 311 about cosmetic problems. But there is a huge, huge difference between what goes on in those areas, and what happens in places like Gulfton and Westwood.
    There was one building in particular that I dealt with that sat, as a pile of rubble, for ten months after a fire. Blame code enforcement for a landlord not even hauling away rubble? I don’t think so.
    There’s another building not far from the first that has sat vacant for years. It’s secured – but just barely. (Vacancy, by the way, isn’t a solution to anything: it’s a recipe for blight and crime). The neighbors have been begging for it to be demolished for years – but the owner has set an absurdly high price to sell it and won’t demolish it himself. The City won’t demolish it because it’s not an immediate and direct threat to anyone. So it just sits there – year after year – while developers take bulldozers to buildings that were occupied and in reasonably good shape: like the Josephine.
    It’s infuriating.