Those Not Sold on the Ivy Lofts Tiny Condo Concept Can Buy 2 Tokyos and Stick Them Together

Ivy Lofts Rendering, Leeland at Live Oak, East Downtown, Houston

“Some buzz” has made its way back to the Ivy Lofts developers since news of the plans for Houston’s tiniest condos began to spread — so much buzz, in fact, that Novel Creative Development is responding to the pushback with a change in sales tactics. The group announced in an email that Ivy Lofts buyers will have the option to lump 2 adjacent units together and customize the floorplan, giving residents more space if needed.

The promotion team is also working hard to rebrand the proposed floorplans with the names of famously dense cities, instead of describing the units by their size.  “It’s not fair to label these spaces by square footages,” says marketing director Brandon Vos in a RE/MAX press release. “We had to come up with new names since so many rooms double in usage.”

The newly internationalized units include The Tokyo, the project’s itsy-bitsiest floor plan, which measures in at 300 sq. ft. and will be priced starting at $119,000.


Next smallest is the 450-sq.-ft. New York, wherein movable glass walls will enable bedrooms to double as extra living room space on command. Moving on up from teensy Tokyo and snug New York, there’s the relatively capacious 600-sq.-ft. Barcelona and the still larger Paris. The largest units — those 700-sq.-ft. and above — will start at $375,000.

The mutability of the tiny spaces renders the whole concept of square-footage moot, the Ivy team claims. “We can’t price these units with the same price per square foot as their neighboring townhomes,” RE/MAX director Jason Franklin said. “First of all, the rooms double in functionality, so how would you even price that?”

Freddy Rodriguez, an owner of RE/MAX Inner Loop, admits that the Lofts “are not for everyone”, but rather are “a concept for the open minded and for those who can think outside the box of ‘price per square foot.’”

Images: Powers Brown Architecture

Doubling Up at Ivy Lofts

30 Comment

  • Sticking several units together aside, the whole tiny apartment concept is laughable for Houston. I’m sure it evolved naturally in places like New York and San Francisco where land is at a huge premium and prices are through the roof and where there’s clear advantage to a single area than the rest of the city, but this is Houston …. Land is cheap, square footage is cheap, there are dozens of “desirable” areas to live and despite lots of whining transportation is cheap and easy (car).

  • Too small, too expensive. I see it renamed as the flop tower.

  • Why is describing by SF not “fair”?
    You’re marketing a tiny space. Own it.
    Most of our Montrose area studios are about 400 SF. We say they’re 400SF. Not “Tokyo sized”

  • Way overpriced for what you get. Let me bundle two other units at a discount.

  • Freddy Rodriguez, an owner of RE/MAX Inner Loop, admits that the Lofts “are not for everyone”, but rather are “a concept for the open minded and for those who can think outside the box of ‘price per square foot.’”
    This reads as “a concept for the empty minded and for those who can think outside of the box of ‘making smart financial decisions.'”

  • I can’t seem to find floorplans anywhere. Does anyone have a link?

  • “We can’t price these units with the same price per square foot as their neighboring townhomes,” RE/MAX director Jason Franklin said. “First of all, the rooms double in functionality, so how would you even price that?” WHY NOT!? Your trying to sell a 300 sf unit for $400/sf in an undesirable part of town. Stop traffic, your developing in a market that prides itself on “more bang for the buck,” of course people are going to scrutinize the value of the square foot. Unlike these other land constrained markets that you try so hard and compare yourselves to, there is nothing to do in this part of town. There are no near restaurants, no near nightlife, no bodegas, no jobs, and there certainly isn’t any comfort of safety. in other words, there is no demand to live over there in that lifestyle. These guys need to take the whole thing back to the drawing board, they’ve been drunk at the wheel over this last oil boom. Instead of trying to fit as much as you can, consider if there is an actual demand for it.

    Lets just assume someone buys one of these shoebox of a unit. Who is the next fool out there to buy it from them?

  • I can’t wait to see if people will actually pay extra for less space. I mean, it sounds insane, but humans are a perverse lot. They’ve seen it on TV. All the cool kids are doing it. Let’s all move into the closet!

  • “a concept for the open minded and for those who can think outside the box of ‘price per square foot.’” meaning people who don’t mind getting ripped off? $375,000/700sq ft = 535$/sq ft in EADO are you kidding me?

  • To commonsense’s point, the area surrounding this lot is barren of development. Why pay a premium for a tiny space in the middle of a wasteland?

  • Cool project. Bad location. Typical for an out of developer.

  • And hefty maintenance fees that’ll surely be attached to these– lol. And ‘special assessments’ too…eg. buddy bought condo near Central Market. They found out foundation was cracked or some nonsense, and everyone in the building had to cough up $75K.

    I don’t know why anyone would buy these. I rent 1,100 sq. ft. A-class apt in Galleria(an area with lots of stuff) for $1,495. No down payment, no mortgage, no maintenance. Easy.

  • I just looked it up on a map to see what is nearby. It’s pretty close to the Columbia Tap Trail. I haven’t heard about any bicyclists being attacked over there for two years now. And there’s Frankel’s costume warehouse not too far away. So … maybe there are many brave, costumed cyclists that will pay a premium to live there.

  • “Dude, let’s fool the hipsters with names of cities that they think are cool, square feet is too real.”

  • Thanks for injecting money into the Houston economy, but this project is beyond stupid; Houston isn’t a city hurting for real estate nor is anyone interested in compact living.


  • Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of living in a compact well-designed space, having less stuff that I don’t need in the first place, not having to maintain or clean that stuff, and having less housework. That all sounds wonderful. Its the sort of thing that I could achieve in the same area and for much less money by living in a garage apartment, renting out the main house, and having enough land that I stand a decent chance at witnessing some appreciation over the year.

    Ivy is a money pit. Furthermore, I wouldn’t cast my lot in with the HOA comprised of people that bought-in on such a project.

  • If they were located near the Medical Center I could see this working as temporary housing for people in their residencies, but where they put it it makes no sense. It’s a shame too because this is going up in my area and we really don’t need a giant failed residential project like this.

  • “Thinking outside the box of ‘price per square foot'” is the best euphemism for “rube” I’ve ever read.

  • Oh, calm down people. By the time this thing is built, OPEC will have given up on its Hari Kiri mission and Houston will be back on a healthy growth trajectory. That will set this project up to fill a very significant void in the inner loop market. There is very little out there in the condo or townhome market in the $100-250k range. Rents inside the loop will definitely at least be in the $1500 range for a basic one bed in a few years. So, you can either put about $18k a year into an apartment and kiss that money goodbye or you can put less each year into a micro condo unit and have a shot at getting some equity back if you sell in a few years and get a tax benefit from mortgage interest and property tax. The east side is the cool part of town now. You go to Montrose if you want to party with investment bankers and oil and gas project managers. The Heights is all packed up with kids and empty nesters. Midtown is where you go to get into a good knife fight. And, finally, the best part is that you will actually live in a building that is not another Houston wrap 5 story apartment with the obligatory hats on each corner. You will either have a view of downtown, Rice or the stink wafting up out of the ship channel. There is definitely some room for thinking outside of the very small real estate box in Houston.

  • Rather than get a starter home in the suburbs with empty unused bedrooms, this could make a lot of sense for people who effectively want to ‘lock in rent’ inside the loop.

    I bought a 900 sq ft place at the Rise Lofts in 2006 for just over $200k when little was there but the Front Porch, Farago’s and Little Woodrow’s. It was not possible to but a decent place in Midtown then where most newish housing stock was town homes that ran $350k and up. I paid $300/month in fees (which included building insurance). I sold it in 2014 for a ~2%/yr price appreciation, however I saved 8 years of Midtown rent (my last 1 bdrm at 2222 Smith was $1700/month for ~900 sq ft when I moved out). Even deducting my condo fees that is over $140k in savings from a ~200k unit.

    Yes, I lived in a 900 sq ft unit for 8 years, but I wanted to be in that area without roommates so that was a sensible way to do it given I didn’t want to pay 350k$ for town home with extra bedrooms I’d never use. Will 2016 to 2024 in EaDo be like the 8 years from 2006 in Midtown? Who knows. With all of the new apartments being built there could be significant pressure on rents that change that calculus even in desirable up and coming areas. But, even if I’d only have saved $50k in rent over that period ni my life, right out of college

  • welcome to Fuckville, USA!

  • I don’t think there is any market for this small type of condo unit in Houston. I’m surprised they got financing to build this project.

  • Rooms that do double duty are what people living in too-small apartments already have, not a great new concept that you’d pay extra for. Of course it’s fair to think in terms of square footage. I’m sure this developer was thinking that way when they came up with this.

  • Keep combining those floor plans, and name them “The Pearland” and “The Katy.”

  • I like the idea but wrong location. It only would work in a already dense, buildup neighborhood. Downtown, rice village, or a few specific areas in the galleria.

  • This is clearly a half-baked proposal. It seems as if they’re “figuring it out” along the way.

    I thought “living in the closet” was over years ago.

    There is no precedent for these tiny units in the US. The Developer built a few dozen units in NYC. Paying $150,000 for 300 SF may seem like a low price, but what do you get? A small, cleverly engineered living unit, Murphy-bed stuff, and a low mortgage payment (compared to renting a real apartment). It would seem this type of lifestyle might put more pressure on the community amenities, yet Ivy Lofts have very few amenities. It feels more like an extended stay hotel product.

    Maybe something like this would work in Midtown, but the “place” has to create the experience. Americans don’t live like this. The Designers should know that.

    IMHO, this is a non-starter.

  • As someone mentioned, if the “place has to create the experience” then it wouldn’t get built because the units would be too expensive. Over there, they can sell the idea that the place is becoming the experience but the nearby places are close enough that the building doesn’t have to be in the place, but can act rather as a mini bedroom community, with the hopes that the initial investment will grow fairly quickly.

    It’s a bold move but fortune favors the bold. And beehives are hip.

  • i live nearby and think the neighborhood needs more people and has plenty of space on which to build, but that tower is completely out of context in style, size and scope. plus, it’s not really walking distance to the light rail. i doubt the lenders or buyers will come through.

  • I went to the website and didn’t see any floor plan cheaper than $159.5K, or roughly $40k higher than the article reports.

  • “We can’t price these units with the same price per square foot as their neighboring townhomes,” RE/MAX director Jason Franklin said. “First of all, the rooms double in functionality, so how would you even price that?

    That’s ridiculous. I can hook a hot plat up on my living room and sleep in there too if I want, but I don’t because I have separate rooms for that. Like all things chic, you’re supposed to pay extra for less.