The muffled whir of power tools could be heard last week through the razorwire-topped fence and metal siding of the former Leeland Wholesale Grocery, south of Leeland St. between Live Oak and Nagle. The 10,000-sq.-ft. warehouse is being converted into a sales center and showroom for the Ivy Lofts micro-unit condominium highrise, which will eventually spring up on the same city block. The warehouse will be outfitted with several full-scale models of the project’s adorably tiny floorplans, which start at a dorm-room-reminiscent 300 sq.ft. An Ivy Lofts marketing representative for the project assured Paul Takahashi of the HBJ that the lack of wasted space in the units “will change the way Houstonians live.”
Developer Novel Creative Development anticipates opening the sales center in April and selling all of the planned tower’s units before demolishing the warehouse as contractors break ground on the highrise itself in June. Plans for the tower (shown below from the south) include 7 floors of parking, ground-level retail space, and various recreational nooks:
- Exclusive new details revealed for first micro-condo project in Houston [HBJ]
- The Ivy Lofts [Novel Creative Development LLC]
Images: Swamplot inbox (photo), Novel Creative Development (rendering)
Nice to see something like this about to pop up over there. It’s like the housing version of a call center in India. The idea might work though if the prices are low enough. Living in a tiny space requires one to become very minimalist and conscious of what they buy and keep. The nearest Metrorail station is 6/10th of a mile away so there will be lots of cars coming and going from there.
What makes them think Houstonians want to “change the way they live” by cramming them into a stack of shoeboxes? I can’t imagine someone would own such a small unit for very long. Once they get a significant other or spouse, that space becomes unlivable. You’re looking at a very narrow target demographic of mostly young people with an extremely minimalist lifestyle. Houston isn’t there yet by a long shot.
Dana,you definitely haven’t seen the pricing for these yet then. They’ll get it done and filled up with UH kids, but definitely not at the prices they were hoping for. Expect the June date to slip if they’re trying to get sufficient sells prior building.
Consonant with the tiny condo concept I would hope each dweller is only permitted a sliver of a parking space.
Nightmarish anthill. Retain the razor wire to keep people IN.
From the Biz Journal:
“Prices start from $119,000 for a 300-square-foot loft. The larger units — 700-square-foot units and above — will start at $375,000.”
Site is three blocks away from Polk Street and the 40/41 bus lines. Residents may still want their cars, but availability to transit shouldn’t be the reason. It should be fun to see how/if the small units sell. I’m glad it’s not my money on this bet.
I get the appeal of simple living, and applaud the developers for bringing more affordable housing options to the market. But Houston seems like the wrong city for this. It’s difficult to go car-free here. And housing is relatively cheap, you can buy a 1000 sq ft condo for under 100 in many parts of town. Wonder how much these will cost…
I must be stupid but I can’t figure out how there can be a market for 700 ft2 /375k (plus monthly fee) units when you can buy 3-4 times the space in the same area for the same money.
HCAD appears to show that the smallest units in the Mosaic condos are 672 square feet.
I think smaller space idea good; however, a bit too extreme. 300 feet is like a large coffin (or a dorm room).
I wouldn’t go smaller than 450.
For each 300 s.f. apartment, the developer will also have to dedicate about 300 s.f. to parking, since CoH requires that each efficiency apartment be accompanied by 1.25 parking spaces.
The low square footage keeps the tax bill very low. Cramming lots of folks into a tower also keeps association fees reasonable by spreading them out. Builder list prices are never to be taken seriously. Depending on the association fees, you could end up paying $700-800 a month for a smaller unit and have the opportunity to get some equity back when you sell to buy a house in the burbs. Houston’s spreadsheet loving, Dave Ramsey listening, young engineers and geos can be easily sold on the economics of living small when you are young and putting an extra $700-800 in your 401k versus renting a larger unit for $1,500.
I’ve lived in Montrose for more than 30 years of my adult life. Condos have *never* been a good deal in this city. For some really strange reason, most people buying fancy in Houston want something new, so when it comes time to sell your condo, you’re stuck trying to foist what is basically a used apartment on someone. Add to that that it’s the DIRT that appreciates here, and what it boils down to is that a condo in Houston is a bad investment.
Look, the only people who would consider buying these things are people from coastal cities (SF, NYC) who are used to small apartments. But those people are driven to Houston in large part by its promise of high QOL for low COL. Low QOL for low COL doesn’t sound so hot.
On a more basic level, why on earth would someone buy a $375K/700 sq ft condo in the East End when they could use that same money and buy a pretty 1300 sq ft bungalow in the Heights, a 2,000 sq ft townhome slightly outside the Heights, or a damn-near mansion in Riverside Terrace (if you’re fine with homeless all around you, I hope you’re fine with more well-to-do minorities)? If you drop the price to $250K-$300K, maybe I could see it, but something tells me the builder is a bit too focused on what they think urban living should be, instead of what the Houston market actually is.