Two Small Apartment Complexes in the Shadow of the Huntingdon Will Be Torn Down for Townhomes

Mimosa Lane Apartments, 2415 Mimosa Ln.,  Avalon Place, Houston

Argonne Forest Apartments, 2115 Argonne St.,  Avalon Place, Houston

Residents of the Mimosa Lane Apartments at 2415 Mimosa Dr. (at top) and the Argonne Forest Apartments at 2115 Argonne St. (pictured above) will need to find new places to live before the end of November. An eviction notice reports that the buildings will be demolished and the property redeveloped after that date. Though the notice doesn’t describe any new development, a source tells Swamplot that townhomes are planned.

The two 2-story apartment complexes sit next to each other on a little more than an acre of land on a corner directly east of the Huntingdon condo tower, just past the eastern border of River Oaks. The Mimosa Lane apartments have 32 units and the Argonne Forest 14, according to county tax records. They were built between 1954 and 1960.



“To the credit of the owners, they were upfront with the tenants, allowed plenty of time to find new housing, and the management has remained active and kept up with maintenance on the property,” one resident tells Swamplot.

Mimosa Lane Apartments, 2415 Mimosa Ln.,  Avalon Place, Houston

Photos: Swamplot inbox

Mimosa Lane and Argonne Forest

37 Comment

  • Those were cool little places…

  • Sad to see these two apt buildings go. Had memorable experiences in both.

  • What a shame. Those look like nice, well kept little mid-century complexes. That’s really what affordable housing in Houston should be: older complexes, but well kept, and in good parts of town. I don’t think people would disagree with me on that.
    But instead of trying to preserve affordable complexes like these, we spin our wheels. We demolish perfectly good, comparatively affordable housing in rich neighborhoods. We force unwanted new affordable housing on middle class neighbirhoods. And we neglect substandard housing in poor neighborhoods. It’s enough to make me want to throw up my arms in despair!

  • Wow, those were some cool little apartments…

  • I’m glad to see others appreciate these mid-century properties. It’s a shame to see such well-maintained buildings disappear. They’re better-constructed than the firetraps they’re throwing up nowadays. I’ll bet many of the tenants have lived there for years.

  • Net loss.

    Yeah, yeah, property rights, maximize profits, capitalism at call costs, yada, yada, yada.

    Too bad CVS couldn’t build another pharmacy here!

  • I always loved the look of those apartments, so much fun, with the cute little pool. I would agree in crediting the owners with taking pride in their property and keeping it nice until the end, it says a lot about them as owners. Many of the older property owners don’t have that sense of pride or care of tenants. As someone who has always lived in older places, I have to say I prefer the design and details of the old places. The layout and design seem to create a better sense of community and safety, which is sadly missing from the new luxury apartments.

    It is a shame that so many places are being torn down so quickly, especially considering I have seen sign spinners out every day at West Ave, started to see them on occasion at Westheimer for La Maison and small signs professing ‘love of tenants’ and ‘move in specials’ at the Luxury Apartments on Westheimer just past Shepherd. It might be a sign they have already over built. But many say ‘no’, and keep building Class A Resort Luxury Apartments.

  • The thing that made Houston unique was its cool garden apartments on the edges of the cities most affluent neighborhoods, these were a textbook example. It really tears at the fabric of one of Houston’s most unique characteristics. There are so many of these that have been torn down in the last 10 years, more than in all the prior years combined. Every time I drive or run by one of the few left I take a picture with my minds eye because I know the next time in by they’ll probably be gone. It’s infuriating that zero is done to even try to preserve these buildings or work to keep at least some semi affordable housing on the edges of desirable areas. This is exactly why so many cities inact reent controls and preserve these type of buildings thru incentives and tough preservation ordinances. Houston does zero to help save these buildings or keep affordable pickets in certain parts of the city. I really feel for these people who will have to vacate, where will they go? From RO to Alief, how wonderful,

  • I’ve got to say, there are a lot of things that baffle me about HUD and the housing “advocates” and this is one of them. They’re quick to sue when middle class neighborhoods fight low-income housing projects – but they say nothing when existing affordable housing is bulldozed. It’s not just in Houston – in fact, Houston isn’t nearly the worst about it. HUD went after New York’s Westchester County when authorities there tried to limit low income housing to a few undesirable neighborhoods. But they’ve said and done nothing about the thousands of affordable units that have been demolished to make way for luxury condos in New York City.
    It just doesn’t make sense.

  • in terms of affordability, were these apartments really that much cheaper than any of the new complexes though? I remember seeing that exact same photo countless times about 9 years ago when i was aparment hunting, but these places were always too expensive for what you get in comparison to the mutlifamily homes in the general area. anyone know what the rent on these places was now? those aren’t your typical middle-class cars parked in the parking lots.
    it seems to me the primary reason all these garden apartments are being demolished is because they’re just simply not dense enough to provide an equitable return in comparison to rebuilding. otherwise, the current owners would have held on longer against the high bids or else the new owners wouldn’t find the investment to be worth the return in comparison to the existing revenue stream.
    the only way you can save these garden complexes is to make them more profitable and rent controls and developmental restrictions will solve niether while only favoring wealthier and/or pre-existing residents at everyone’s else’s expense. what you guys are talking about is beneficial tax treatment, because this is the only way i can see to increase profitability, for multifamily building owners which in turn would lead to market distortions against individual homeowners. there is a limit on how high these places can raise their rents due to all the new inventory flooding the market, which i’d think we can all agree is certainly a good thing, and I’m not sure you can effectively have older construction with higher rents competing against new builds with lower rents. we’ll never be able to solve everything so it’s really just finding the most comfortable compromise for all parties involved. i think rather than complaining as much, we should all try to use swamplot more effectively as a place for proposing alternative policies and considering the ramifications they may have on our market.

  • As a former three time resident of these complexes between 1991-2003, I loved the vibe, the style, the crazy mix of residents, the totally off the wall apartment managers (Mimosa had a husband/wife team who grew orchids in an offsite greenhouse and used one apartment as an artist’s studio). It was a total fishbowl with the floor to ceiling glass and we had vintage stainless appliances and coral formica counters. Outdoor happy hours were the norm at both places. Tillman Fertitta’s wife Paige lived at Mimosa prior to her marriage and a sarong wearing former mayor of West U lived at Argonne. The owner of Argonne, crazy June, sold the building in 2004 for $650k. Even then we knew the hand writing was on the wall for this neighborhood–Stanford Oaks Townhomes replaced two other small complexes (in ’92 they were going for $650k) and The Urban Retreat gobbled up some older homes for a parking lot. It is sad to see them go but that’s just the Houston way. ……

  • Cool complexes. More crappy NC Th’s… Which will start falling apart within 2-3 years.

  • The irony of all of the current demo/redevelopment is that this is not a new pattern. These complexes were built after clearing a few single family homes thst were determined at the time to not be serving the highest and best value for the site. Time is a vicous thing and now you have just one more layer of Houston plowed under. Remember some of the grand homes of Westmoreland, Heights and Montrose that were plowed under in the 50’s & 60’s to make way for cool, mid-century modern complexes with 10-20 units on a single lot. The vibe was probably pretty cool in the neighborhood when the original houses were there…? In fact in this particular case, the density is probably going backwards a bit. Savor the memories of the past and embrace the future.

  • Houston is no stranger to housing market distortions, Joel. What is HUD’s 50th percentile FMR designation, but an effort to distort markets and make it seem like we have a shortage of affordable housing when we don’t?
    The point is that everyone agrees that mixed-income, mixed-use, diverse neighborhoods are best. And using tax credits to encourage the construction or rehabilitation of affordable housing is not a new thing. I don’t see why there shouldn’t be incentives for the purchase of apartment complexes like Mimosa Lane and Argonne Forest, and the implementation of rent controls on those complexes. It would be far less traumatic to neighborhoods than trying to force unwanted new subsidized projects on them.

  • beautiful properties, sad to see them go.
    what are other comparable mcm properties inside the loop? i’m interested in owning a small complex like this and enhancing the architectural details and upgrading the property to maximize return.


  • As an owner of a small, old complex, I think the rent control idea is crap. The market keeps the rent under control. What is needed is property tax control. I would bet the owners of these properties were just tired of working and risk-taking for the little left over after paying the property tax.

  • I always feel so bad for rent-paying residents of a functioning apartment complex that get evicted from their homes. Like it or not there is a real human element to these actions, but the market always wins. Never happened to me but sheesh if it had…

  • Joel rents were $950 for a 700 sf 1 Br and $1250 for a 2 Br 1000 sf and they were updated about 10-12 years ago

  • So ZAW, are you actually arguing that the owners of these properties ought to receive a reduced price for them in the name of “affordable housing” and “preservation”?

  • I could understand tearing these down if they were going to use the space for bigger apartment buildings like mid or high rise, but for townhomes? Such a shame, and it can’t be that big of a profit over just keeping them, either.

  • If I remember correctly, Darby Suiter told me that 2415 Mimosa Lane complex was the first apartment project he built…

  • What I’m suggesting, Ross & Erhed, is that owners of small, older complexes get tax credits in return for accepting rent controls on their units. I envision a system very similar to the low-income housing tax credits, but instead of requiring income limits and Section 8 vouchers, it’s more of a rent stabilization for tenants who already live there. They just accept to keep the property as is, peg rent increases to the rate of inflation, and in return they get tax breaks.

  • ZAW, I think it’d be much more effective and efficient to focus on exactly what makes all this new construction “traumatic” to the neighborhoods and resolve those issues rather than instituting tax credits and distorting the market with the potential for more negative than good. in this specific case, our development codes have fortunately allowed for a vast wealth of rental inventory to be built just a few blocks away from this very location. these two complexes sit in the middle of a very wealthy single-family home neighborhood and can’t even begin to compete with the density of neighboring areas. for the betterment of houstonians across the board, there’s simply no point in maintaining these from a developmental standpoint without increasing density on these lots or the taxable value of the lots themselves.
    i’m not a real estate person so odds are you’re probably much more familiar with this all than I am, but from my perspective what you’re proposing is using tax credits to prop up these apartments on the public dime and ensure they’re dependent on that by using rent controls preventing it from ever being a truly profitable endeavor on it’s own. understood that idealistically we’d have mixed neighborhoods (though i’m not familiar with this ever being accomplished in the US with our stark income differences), but at what expense. does it really make sense to prop up affordable housing in the wealthiest areas of town, or does it make more sense to raise sales taxes to provide a more effective and wider mass transit system to move people out to the periphery of these wealthy districts to affordable housing much better? this creates a system that benefits everyone and not just a few. would it also not be more effective to focus on ensuring the right balance between supply and demand to control rents by encouraging denser developments with these tax credits rather than propping up small complexes inefficiently? i’m not familiar with the details of who can qualify for rent controls, but it sounds like in NYC and other areas it’s usually whomever has the right family connection or can put down the largest lump-sum payment to win it at the start.
    i’m not at all familiar with this 50th percentile FMR designation, though the 2013 rates look right to me for the greater houston area, so does this play into credits provided to the new larger complexes that are being developed or something?

  • as that rambled around a bit, i’ll just make it clear. I believe rents should always be controlled through supply and demand and that if any tax credits are to be provided, they should only be used for encouraging increased supply. the movement of workers and supply of labor within a given city is not a real estate issue, it’s a transportation issue first and foremost to in my mind and that’s an area that houston has been failing at for a very long time now.

  • @Joel: The problem with letting the market dictate is that it tends to cause concentrated poverty, and deteriorated housing stock. And, ironically, the deterioration of affordable housing stock is precisely what makes it traumatic when it’s proposed for middle class neighborhoods.
    Now don’t get me wrong. Free markets do a great job at providing housing for people. Follow the free market, and everyone will have a roof over their head. But without controls, that roof might be made of tin over a mud floor in a Mumbai style slum. Put controls on it, and you necessarily distort the market – but most would agree that’s what should be done.

  • Very interesting. My post that “Shannon should leave Houston” has been removed. It appeared yesterday, and is gone today. Is Shannon the owner of this website or what?

  • I completely agree with ZAW, in these cases it’s obvious what “Let the Market Rule” leads to. It’s like the “States Rights” arguments, yeah and Mississippi would still have Jim Crow. You have to inact something to not price people completely out of an area. These people paid fair rent for the area and the complex was clean and well kept and now they’re essentially evicted and will not be able to find anything comparable in the area. It’s not right.
    Uh, JT aren’t you forever on me about my persival stories;)–lol–actually I really liked you’re story on living in these apartments, your story illustrates perfectly my point and ZAW’s.

  • *personal
    No I don’t own Swamplot, if I did id be C of D everyday and force LuLu to do charcoal drawings.

  • WS: Your comment about Shannon leaving Houston is under CoD 10/1/14.

  • Wait a minute. I swear the Lords of Southhampton decreed that at a high rise residential tower would destroy property values for nearby neighbors. How is it possible that new development is happening right in the shadow of the Hunningdon???

    Good riddance to the old apartments. The townhouse built in the last two decades will be old soon enough and then we can all be nostalgic about them.

    I love how Swamplotters are so quick to steal money from other folks pockets. That’s the real effect of all these silly rules y’all dream up to try keep Houston just they you like it. Guess what? Other folks have dreams too. I predict the owners of all these new townhouses will LOVE them.

  • This is just another level of gentrification and I don’t believe intervention in that natural phenomenon is needed or desirable. How come we don’t have these discussions about tax credits etc when we applaud townhomes in the Wards? The renters in these apartments are much more likely to be able to move elsewhere seamlessly that poorer people. I say let em all eat cake.

  • Shannon I knew as soon as I hit send–here’s what I trashed you for awhile back :) So my apologies for that. Glad you enjoyed. I’m not going to weigh in on the affordable housing debate–that’s ZAW’s cause celebre. I will say that when I lived there, the rents were within 90% of what a new place would cost (like Gables Citywalk on Alabama or the massive complex on the old Abercrombie property behind Home Depot at 59/610).

  • I don’t think anyone is advocating “stealing” money from anyone. That kind of hyperbole really isn’t helpful. This is about fairness and not pricing middle income people (yeah the people who actually pay the taxes) out of large swaths of Houston. This is exactly what was happening in NYC, SF, and Boston, that’s why they exacted rent controls and preservation movements. This isn’t about gentrification because 900 for a 1 bedroom isn’t exactly cheap, this is about persevering a mix of housing in every part of the inner loop, but especially the west side. Do you really think these people will be able to afford one of these townhomes? Nobody is saying let these people pay 100 dollars a month to live in RO, but 900 for this is fair, then let inflation set the rise in rent. I’m sure this complex has some people on fixed income and I’m sure they’ve had trouble finding anything in that area like this at that price. I like money as much as anyone else, but with the 1 percent controlling 40 percent of the nations wealth, this kind of thing is becoming a huge issue. It just seems cold to cheer the eviction of these people and then blather about the love Adair people are going to have with these lame, rote townhomes.

  • There are some people, Shannon, who believe that any kind of limitations on private property, and any form of taxation, amounts to theft. Property taxes are theft, according to them. Building codes are theft. Zoning ordinances or planning requirements – theft.
    What really chaps their asses is when someone points out that the nuisances they put on their properties are also theft. Rooster pens, junk yards, concrete crushing machines, and that sort of thing pull down neighboring property values and make it more difficult to sell. If that’s not theft, I don’t know what is!

  • Sad to see these go. I lived at the Mimosa Apartments a few years ago and they were wonderfully maintained and in a great location. It made me sad to see all the development pop up around it because I knew their time was limited and now here is the notice.

  • @ ZAW (for earliest comments) Unfortunately it does makes sense. This is why I feel today’s capitalism is inherently evil. The system only serves wealth while destroying the poor as part of the process.

  • Zaw says: … What really chaps their asses is when someone points out that the nuisances they put on their properties are also theft. Rooster pens, junk yards, concrete crushing machines, and that sort of thing pull down neighboring property values and make it more difficult to sell. If that’s not theft, I don’t know what is!
    mel says: ZAW FOR MAYOR FOR LIFE!