A Plaza View for the Rice Village: Hanover Plans Smaller Development in Place of Sonoma Screwup

The Village News is reporting that the Hanover Company has purchased the 4.5-acre site in the Rice Village once slated for Randall Davis’s Sonoma development, and is ready with plans to build a large — though far less grandiose — retail-and-apartment project on the site. Davis and partner Lamesa Properties made a mess of the site 2 years ago, purchasing a stretch of Bolsover St. from the city and demolishing several buildings’ worth of retail and office space before facing the credit markets and figuring out they wouldn’t be able to get financing for the project.

Hanover’s project, called Plaza View Hanover at Rice Village, is scheduled to include 385 “high-end” apartments, 14,000 sq. ft. of retail or restaurant space, and a multi-level parking garage, all in what its designers label a pedestrian-friendly design. What’s that plaza we’ll be viewing? An almost-17,000-sq.-ft. public space along Morningside, with a “water feature, grass lawn, large trees, and restaurant dining spaces.” According to Hanover executive veep John Garibaldi, 55,000 sq. ft. of retail space, 34,000 sq. ft. of office space, and an 8,000-sq.-ft. grocery store were cut from the earlier Sonoma plans. Much of the towering nouveau pomposity of the Sonoma design has been cut too. Along Kelvin St., Hanover’s buildings will reach 6 stories tall; 5 stories along Morningside and Dunstan.


The Houston development firm says it plans to begin construction in July. Because of the agreements left by Lamesa and Davis, Hanover won’t need to renegotiate the terms of the Bolsover St. takeover:

The City of Houston has reviewed and confirmed that the Hanover proposed development conforms to the existing Development Agreement issued for the closing of Bolsover for the Sonoma Project. . . .

“It complies with the previously negotiated restrictions so no council action is needed,” [council member Anne Clutterbuck] says.

33 Comment

  • I like this develoment. I hope they will have good retail but i love the park they will put here happy there doing this

  • I like the new concept. Let’s get started

  • Maybe Hans can move his joint over here.

  • This is the future for urban Houston. 4-6 stories, residential built over retail. Sidewalk culture. The Post Oak apartments on Gray in midtown have demonstrated that this model can be a raging success. City Centre has shown that this model can also work outside of the urban core. There is no excuse for strip malling in Houston anymore. We deserve better.

  • Judging by the rendering, the architecture appears to be much better than the design proposed for the original development.

  • i’ll take it. excited to have something going up here, i hope they have free parking and put some thought into the public areas.


  • Before we all get lost in a hazy mixed use development glow can I just point out a couple of things … 14,000 sq ft of retail? … in a 4.5 acre parcel? Thats not residential over retail, thats 4 acres of residential with a convenience store at one corner. Talk about being seduced by the PR.

  • Can I also say that, based on the renderings, Hanover will be building exactly the same development they build everywhere else. Can someone please explain to me how this sort of cookie cutter apartment development, which is only mixed use if you count mixing one and two bedroom units, is something we want to encourage? They removed 55,000 sq.ft of retail and 35,000 sq.ft of office. In case you didn’t notice, that was the mixed use part of this development.

  • Jimbo,

    Who cares if only enough retail for a “convenience store” is built in this project. All you need to do is step outside of your luxary apartment door and walk to any of the many retail options within Rice Village.

    Seems pretty hard to lose when placing this sort of development in Rice Village.

  • Hanover builds a top quality product. I am quite pleased with this news. Would a bit more retail be nice? Sure. But I’ll take it.

  • They need a new name though.

  • From SevenFourteen:
    Maybe Hans can move his joint over here.

    Why should he?

  • Me love rice and puppies….. Me name is MAGIC

  • Hanover told neighborhood leadership the project does not have a name yet.

  • Old School– tell Ainbender!

  • Have they done a traffic study? I’m sure it will show waaay too many cars entering a street designed for local traffic.

    I’m organizing a protest march today at… wait, wrong thread. Never mind :)

  • don’t get too excited, i heard southampton is having their lawyer review anticipated changes in the curvature of the earth for the next 20yrs to ensure no shadows will haunt them during sunset.

    this may stil yet count as an ashby high rise.

  • Let’s see

    Promotes urban density with an eclectic mix of renters who can shop,eat,sleep and study within WALKING distance of a very beautiful inner city enviro. Let’s run with it.

  • Typical lame Houston development. 14K of retail on 4.5 acres in the ONLY true pedestrian-friendly urban part of of this 600 sq. mile city. LOSERS! Almost as bad as all the midtown developers who built giant 2-3 city block complexes with zero retail, turning midtown into a suburb. This is what you get in a city with no planning; just do whatever the hell you want, no matter how it affects the city as a whole. It’s why this city will always be second-tier.

  • Livable and walkable? Maybe, once. Now, only if residents only eat take-out and never get sick. Weingarten Realty kicked out the original Rice Food Market. Butera’s Grocery at Bissonnet and Hazard is long gone, too. And the Sonoma Boyz and Weingarten kicked out the both the Walgreens and the Jones Pharmacy.

  • Renters don’t pay property taxes, improve properties, nor help prevent crime. Enjoy.

  • From Crude Lube, Esq.:
    Renters don’t pay property taxes, improve properties, nor help prevent crime. Enjoy.

    Well, one might point out that in Rice Village some homeowners, aka condo owners, don’t do much to stop crime considering they are now part of the crime problem in Rice Village every time they decide to drop blocks of ice on the roof of Hans Bier Haus. And of course there’s Robert Durst. Who hopefully will decide it’s fun to eat what you dismember. And have his neighbors at 2520 Robinhood for dinner. Pun intended. Which will take care of that part of the problem of crime in Rice Village.

  • Pretty lame, but I guess it’s better than a parking lot.

  • Matt, LOL, nice. I lump condo “owners” with renters. Who can tell the difference anyways when all you have is some legal right to the interior of 4 walls – someone tell me to what depth of the cheap sheetrock you “own.” Plus devolving to dropping ice on Hans is an indication of character best left undefined. From what I see of Midtown properties in Houston and like Uptown properties in Dallas, it’s going to become a crime magnet and covered in dog poo.

  • John- What would you do with that property?

  • Crude Lube,

    First all, renters do pay property taxes, through their rent. They don’t pay it directly, but its not lost due to renters.

    Second of all, I could name alot of homeowners that do nothing to improve their property (not to mention landlords upon whom renters depend on).

    Lastly, renters are not to blame for crime, else all major inner cities would be unlivable cesspools. I don’t believe many wannabe urbanites think Manhattan is unlivable and there are plenty of renters there.

    Of course you may not have been this ignorant, but just being cynical about how a typical West U homeowner would respond. If that is the case, ignore the above.

  • Renters don’t pay taxes MY ASS. This project will be worth $50 million when it all said and done. At a tax rate of 0.0250 the annual tax bill should be around $1,250,000 and EVERY CENT will be paid by the tenants who lease apartments or retail space. Every cent.

  • Renters don’t need to take their valuable time to fight the city on assessments. Am sure renters are paying all kinds of fees and charges through their rent but they’ve handed over their rights to the landlord and aren’t expected to exercise any of these rights.

    And if you think renters don’t bring crime, either as victims or otherwise, you’ve never lived in those walled & guarded apartments on the corner of Kirby & (north) Braeswood, yes, the ones with the trickling fountains. I have, they’re cesspools. No comparison with Manhattan (was just there, yes, agree it’s safe) is intended plus Houston is located in a different zip code than NYC.

    Sure, not all property owners care for their property. That’s the wonderful thing about home ownership, right?

  • Those will be expensive apartments. So I don’t believe there’s any reason for concern about the quality of the area going down.

  • I’m no Southampton Ashby NIMBY, but this will make the already miserable traffic backup of heading north on Kirby from the village even worse. Whoever had the bright idea of getting rid of one of the northbound lanes from Sunset to Bissonnet should be downsized. That cut the # of northbound cars that could get through that light by 33%.

  • From longcat:
    I’m no Southampton Ashby NIMBY, but this will make the already miserable traffic backup of heading north on Kirby from the village even worse. Whoever had the bright idea of getting rid of one of the northbound lanes from Sunset to Bissonnet should be downsized. That cut the # of northbound cars that could get through that light by 33%.


    Traffic impact studies and driveway ordinances and other little “tricks of the trade” only apply if you have a powerful law firm to tell the city that they apply. The law firm doesn’t care about traffic, really, only about the hirise. This same law firm apparently used the same “traffic impact studies” tactic to stop another hirise planned for Shakespeare. One of the two “co-chairs” of “Stop Ashby” lived in Morningside Place at the time. Of course those developers decided to move on instead of suing. It is interesting that it was an issue when homeowners raised objections to the hirise on Shakespeare but not a couple of blocks north a couple of years later when homeowners, many of them the same homeowners, objected to Sonoma. Guess it depends on who is building and who is objecting?

  • As for Kirby Drive, well, it is destined to become a parking lot so to speak. But if you have the money to live in one of the “chi-chi” buildings it will not be a problem. If you don’t have the “chi-chi” grocery and retail stores and the restaurants in the building they will all be within walking distance. Thems that build for the people with the money to spend make the rules. And pad the pockets at City Hall. And even the powerful law firms know not to go there. Thems that build usually sue or get sued. And need the powerful law firms. And so you don’t bite the hands that feed you.

    Ain’t life in a democracy grand? Especially if you’re a vulture capitalist.

  • I hate to bust the fantasy that developers of new “luxury” apartment communities pay the same percentage per unit of property tax as a home owner, but guess what, they do not! My career in real estate started in luxury rental development and all the big names get huge tax breaks to build the same property over and over and over again. The person who mentioned it looks like all of the other Hanover buildings is correct. Successful developers will build the same basic plan because it is cost effective. The only thing that changes for the most part is the elevation. Hanover does not have the experience a developer needs to execute a true mixed use development, so they do not build them. I also find it amusing that people think more retail will cause a traffic problem, but they don’t seem to question how many total occupants this development will be housing. It looks like it will be at least 300 units. Let’s say half are one bedrooms (I bet at least 60% are 1 bedrooms) that’s two occupants per unit with two cars per person and in Houston you will find one and a half parking spaces per unit. The problem starts when you have 300 cars with only 225 parking spaces, plus the other units who could have four occupants in a two bedroom and guest parking. This development may sound nice, but people really need to ask more questions. I will get off my soapbox now…… One last thing….. The Robinhood issue is too funny. Ice blocks being thrown on the neighbors roof? Really? The person throwing ice blocks needs to move out of the Robinhood or move to a taller building. I understand that the bar may be noisy, but the Robinhood is a short, cheaply built building on a tiny lot, so you have to expect noise. If I were a condo owner I would be more concerned about the poorly funded HOA accounts that most of these newer buildings are setting on. Guess what happens when the roof needs repairs or the HVAC system has to be replaced? Some of the HOA payments in Houston are just enough to cover the enormous electric bills a high-rise generates and the insurance payments. Just a thought……..