What’s Happening to the Ella Creek Apartments, Now Drained of Residents

Ella Creek Apartments, 2121 Ella Blvd., Shady Acres, Houston

The Ella Creek Apartments at the corner of Ella and 22nd St. (and just a block of away from a jog in that creek called White Oak Bayou) have been completely vacated, a reader tells Swamplot: “On a recent drive by I noticed there were no cars in the parking lots and the complex looked even worse than usual. It is a very large tract, and I’m wondering what the future land use will be.”

Guesses, anyone?


The 10-building complex on 3 acres, which dates from 1965, was purchased last October by Light Hill Partners, an investment group that’s renovated a series of smaller apartment complexes in and around the Houston Heights. But Light Hill doesn’t plan to renovate these buildings. Instead, the company is planning to replace them with a 120-unit 3-story courtyard building with open-air corridors. A surface parking lot for the complex will front Ella. Here are a couple sample elevations for the 2121 Ella Apartments from architects Mucasey and Associates, along with a site plan:

Proposed Apartments at 2121 Ella Blvd., Shady Acres, Houston

Proposed Apartments at 2121 Ella Blvd., Shady Acres, Houston

Photo: Swamplot inbox. Drawings: Mucasey and Associates

Shady Acres

15 Comment

  • I’m really, really happy to see this place go. That is a sad complex to drive by everyday. I know a decent grocery store (or any kind of retail) is too much to expect for this property, but this project looks like the type of apartments built 10+ years ago that are getting torn down today. Its the same design as Mucasey’s projects in the burbs, but right in the middle of a pretty dense, inner loop neighborhood. Oh well.

  • I have seen Light Hill’s work on other properties in the area and it is the same if not better than any new Class A+ construction. Really detailed great work. Thanks to these guys, there may not be any Class C apartments left in Timbergrove or the Heights in a few years. I look forward to seeing Ella Creek go.

  • That site plan looks god awful. Does the dashed line indicate the flood plain where nothing can be built?

  • Awww, i lived across the street from these. This is where a lot of the Hispanics that built the Townhomes stayed with their families. They never caused much late night noise. Just drank a few brewskies outside on the truck bed after work each day. Like a bunch of Hispanic Hank Hills.

  • Really 120 units, possible 240 more cars in the area; how will this increased parking lot surface impact area flooding issues….more green space taken up. Traffic flow will be impacted negatively for a short finanical gain……why not keep these densely populated units to the downtown corridor and leave the last of the inner loop neighborhoods alone and maintain the precious greenspace developed in this area so l ong ago. We need to fight to keep from being overtaken by greedy real estate investors not intetested in maintaining the simple single family home with a more than a patch of grass and a tree or two to call ur own.

  • I believe in Light Hill Partners…local area pioneers who understand what Houston needs, and trust me Ella Creek aka former “Skylane North Loop” at 2121 Ella had nothing going for it. Tired roofs, foundation problems with leaning walls, inadequate chiller and not to mention, a city habitability inspectors’ dream property to get those inspection and permit fees for the City. Actually, one of the most underutilized parcels in Houston. You want a RE tip…start buying up those SFHs along 22nd and send me a referral check saying thank you because this project is going to lift both restaurants and retail up around it.

  • Concerned – I While I’m normally in favor of saving these old places, this one should go. They’re not knocking down a bunch of cute historic bungalows. They’re knocking down the type of apartment building that people are most likely to complain about and replacing it with something much nicer.

    Remember running and operating these things is an uphill battle. As Janak said, this property was a city inspectors dream-come-true. You may like these old stocks of older affordable apartment housing, but try running one. It’s a gold mine of registration fines, habitability permits, occupancy permits, etc. And now, the city actively encourages the tenants to contact THEM with issues in their apartment. Plus, as most neighbors don’t like “old and ugly” — they want “new and pretty” — so they call 311 constantly… And to be honest, despite the best efforts of the previous owner, keeping this one running while on the city radar, would be a money losing proposition.

    Look, I’ve been doing this for 20 years and can provide some insight… I’ve NEVER seen it this bad. I run some nice properties but they’re still older and in high-demand areas and I’m constantly harassed by the city. It’s insane. After the 100th ticket from the city, requiring you to personally go to court, because someone dropped off a mattress and a neighbor called the city — or the tenants decide to use 311 as their maintenance request hotline — or (I had 100 others, but removed them to save the dear swamplot readers time. But you can view any number of stories here where people cheer a building being taken down [“Slum!”]. ) — you can understand if an owner might say “F this” and sell.

    But look at the upside: The city gets an increase in tax revenue due to higher valuations of the property. The neighbors get increased property values by living next to a more desirable place. You have new investment that comes into the area to ‘piggy back’ onto the new development.

    It’s a win for everyone (except the tenants who lived there).

    If you want these things to stick around, you’re directing your ire to the wrong person. The developer isn’t the bad guy here. They’re risking their capital to build what they see as a demand from the local area. They wouldn’t build it unless they were able to GET the land (meaning, something caused a new development to be the highest and best use — vs. the previous building that was there). They wouldn’t build it unless they thought people wanted it as no one would build a building without demand being there. You’ll just have to trust me that I’m not a developer (wish I was), but I respect what they do. If they were not providing a product that people wanted, they’d go out of business and the problem you have with them would solve itself.

    So, if you want to see these older stock of apartments saved, call and write the city. Tell them they’re important to have. Stop supporting actions that are feel-good solutions to “help”, that really do harm. The reason these properties are made available is because of aggressive actions from the city to “encourage” owners to sell. If the city doesn’t want a building there, they don’t have to use imminent domain to take it and give it to a developer. All they need to do is send a few white prius (priui?) out there. The city has a million tools at their disposal to get rid of a property they don’t like (and the ‘important’ and vocal voters normally cheer these actions). Go into the managers office and ask “Papers please!”. “Wait, your property is ‘registered’ but not ‘certified’? Come with me please. Oh, sorry, it’s ‘certified’ but not ‘registered’, here is your court date. Oh, it’s certified and registered but you don’t have the certifications posted? GOTCHA! Oh, they are posted, but they’re not the originals? BUSTED! Go get a copy. Yeah, it’s a few hundred bucks for us to make a new original. Oh, and a tenant called and said they don’t have a screen on their window. Go get a permit to take care of that. We also noticed that one of your clean out pipes doesn’t have a cover on it. No no, don’t fix it yourself. Call a master plumber to go pull a permit. We’ll come back to inspect — everything. Oh, you fixed it but didn’t get a permit first? Here is your $3,000 fine”.

    Meanwhile, these actions are supported by people convinced its “getting rid of slumlords” or “making places safe” or “making sure everyone has a great place to live”. So “Sorry tenant, the apartment you chose to live in doesn’t fit our white progressive whole foods shopping organic food eating idea of what should be acceptable — I mean, that upstairs railing is 34″ high and not 36″ — so move out of this area please and find something else.”

    1 hour later, you see a “FOR SALE” sign.

  • @concerned neighbor……..THANK YOU!!!!!! I really would hate a swamplot thread about a piece of shit class D apartment complex being redeveloped, go by without at least one person bitching about it. KEEP HOUSTON SHITTY!!!!!!!!

  • Bernard,
    It looks like the dashed lines may be the floodWAY boundaries. The entire site is in the 100-yr floodPLAIN.
    Map here: http://www.harriscountyfemt.org/

  • SFP: “Keep Houston Shitty”. LOL, I love it! :)
    New buildings don’t replace old buildings *everywhere*. They only replace buildings where the economics of it makes sense. The current building is/was no longer the best use of that land. Where as outside the loop, those older places still thrive as building new doesn’t make sense (financial or otherwise). Also, as the city doesn’t target other areas for redevelopment, those older buildings are left alone.
    There are several reasons a new place would replace an old one. “Greedy Developers” isn’t one of them.

  • Wow…so craptacular…do they even need stupid architects for this? hmmmm lets see giant surface parking lot facing the street….stupid suburban katy style courtyard apartments? Great job Light Hill partners!! I think you could’ve asked an 8 yr old to design this crap building for you! instead you paid “architects” to do it….Commence Katyfication of the Heights!! Just like the Washington Ave…

  • elseed: Serious question, and don’t take this the wrong way, but what you would have liked to see here? On a scale of 1 to 10, if the current complex is a 1 (for the sake of discussion), what do you rank this new place? Can you concede it’s at least an improvement? And improvement that’s being funded and done by someone else?
    Remember, to make the most money possible from a new building, it has to fill the largest demand possible (relative to it’s cost) I’m sure this builder has done his homework and came up with their current plan. Anything different might have made other people happy but the people who are “customers” want something different. But seriously — and I’m not trying to defend the builder or start an argument — I’d be interested to know what you’d have done here (assuming you had the resources). Do you think what you’d have done would have done better? Remember, even if you don’t like it, financial performance is a pretty good way to measure success in terms of having supplied what people want. You can build something super-duper-awesome but if there are no customers for it, you’ve failed. Perhaps “better”, for whatever that might mean, wouldn’t have been supported in that market.

  • I see Elseed has branched out. He doesn’t only troll Reddit now.

  • Oh great, more new construction. As if looking out of the window of my bungalow I already don’t see 100, 3 story town houses within a 2 block radius. Yippie, the architecture looks like it’ll totally fit in with the heights…

  • What Light-Hill is doing to our neighborhood streets is criminal. Their property at 1548 Ashland St only has TWO surface parking spaces for 16 units with multiple residents in each unit. They have four garages, that they charge extra for and are never fully occupied. Where does the rest of the parking go you ask? Onto our streets! Drive up and down 16th Street between their properties and the eight condos they’ve squeezed in on one lot anytime in the evening or on a weekend and you’ll see cars stacked in all the way to stop signs on both sides of the streets. Whoa to the kid who rides his bike there or to the homeowner who wants to have a guest over or unload something in front of their house. This greedy property owner has forced their parking problem onto our community. Light-Hill is no friend of the Heights!