Construction commenced earlier this week on Tema Development’s Hermann Park Residences you see rendered above. The 7-story building is going up at 1699 Hermann Dr. overlooking the park and a heartbeat or two east of the Health Museum, a little to the west of Tema’s 35-story Parklane tower, and possibly within earshot of the lions roaring at the zoo.
The Residences are intended to be the first of Tema’s three-phase plan for their 6.8 acre plot. That twisty 42-story tower Tema has proposed is still 4-6 years away, according to a company spokesperson.
Expansive vistas pan north, west, and south through barely-there walls of floor-to-ceiling windows in this swish penthouse atop the Mosaic at Hermann Park, one of the twin-ish 30-story condo towers across from the park’s eastern edge. Do the panoramas and high-end custom finishes from a 2012 update to the 2008 space merit the listing’s asking price of $2.05 million? It last sold in 2009 for $930K, but back then the FDIC and a group of investors had control of the property following sequential foreclosures on the condo tower and its neighboring rental twin (once named The Montage).
Hark! Ye down there, amidst the freewayishness and — what? Some sort of dirt hill? A bit of earthwork and foundation pouring appears to have begun on the new 193-unit apartment complex M-M Properties is developing along the southbound 288 feeder road between the misaligned block-long stretches of Hermann Dr. and MacGregor Way. The 2.1-acre site was forged by merging a drainage-friendly never-been-built-on swath that cuts diagonally through the site with a bit of extra feeder-road frontage to the north. The view, sent in by a Swamplot reader, is taken from high above in the northern Mosaic condo tower. Almeda Dr. extends along the left side of the photo; the new complex will have a 5745 Almeda address. The Amalfi at Hermann Park apartments are at the far left.
Tema Development is planning to build a 42-story residential tower on that recently surveyed fenced-in lot right beside its Parklane condos on Hermann Dr., according to a couple of Swamplot readers who saw the Corgan-designed building presented at a Museum Park neighborhood association meeting this week. One reader describes the highrise:
The building has a unique design that will twist as [i]t goes up, changing the viewpoint of the higher levels (towards downtown, I believe). They’re planning a 5-story parking garage with one level below grade. On top of the garage will be an amenities level, including a pool and clubhouse among other things. It’ll be connected to the tower via a skybridge. The tower will be bordered by Jackson St. (west), Hermann Dr. (south), and Ewing St. (north). A private drive will be built on the east side as the grand entrance of the building, which will include valet parking. Entrances to the parking garage will be off this private street with a secondary entrance off Jackson St. . . . I believe they’re working with the same landscape architects who worked on the Asia Society building. . . . Lastly, the units will be for lease and not for sale. They expect it to hold 550 residents. I don’t remember the exacty breakdown of units, but it’s something like this: 20-30 studios, 140 one-bedroom, 30 two-bedroom, and 10 three-bedroom.”
This is what Hermann Park says it would like to look like when it turns 100 next year: This drawing of Centennial Gardens from Chicago landscape architecture firm Hoerr Schaudt shows the blossoming of the current 15-acre Garden Center that’s between the museums and golf course along Hermann Dr. Looking forward to its centennial in 2014, the park conservancy has also recruited Peter Bohlin, the architect behind the Highland Village Apple Store, to design a new entrance:
All winter this Hermann Park high point has been fenced off while crews have worked on Miller Outdoor Theatre’s heavily used seating (and rolling-down) area to update drainage and irrigation systems, among other hill-improvement-type activities. The project, funded by the city, has a budget of almost $261,000. This photo shows a little patch of progress; though performances start back up in April, the theater warns you not to get your hopes up: the hill could remain closed through May.
Outside along San Jacinto St., the scaffolding is down. And inside the new Duncan Family Wing of the Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Hall of Paleontology is looking close to ready for some big-toothed residents to move in:
The easily queased may want to stay away from this video of the Houston Museum of Natural Science’s new Duncan Family Wing — maybe wait until this time next year when all the giant carnivores are installed and snarling at each other and things are a little more settled down. For the rest of you, this time-lapse project shows Linbeck’s construction work since last April on the just-under 200,000-sq.-ft. dinosaur-sized expansion. Enjoy this kind of action? The museum promises the $34 million building, designed by Gensler, will include the most mounted Tyrannosaurus Rex ever assembled in one place, as well 3 more carefully animated scenes showing the ancient sea floor, where “fossils will come to life” — though likely at a less frenetic, more dinosaur-friendly pace.
How does the city look after a long, heavy shower? If you’re stepping out to grab a towel in the north-facing master bath of a 26th-floor unit in the Warwick Towers on Hermann Dr., maybe something like this. Which will lead you to the little perch below, one of the nicest we’ve seen set up for someone who’s naked, dripping wet, and maybe trying to get a little work done:
And now we return once again to Swamplot’s continuing series on love, lust, and Houston’s public spaces. The obelisk of her affection: Hermann Park’s Pioneer Memorial. Next up: A Miniature Choo-Choo Train Named Desire.
Real estate agent Sandra Gunn informs us that the Montage, the second glass Almeda St. tower across from Hermann Park, was foreclosed on yesterday. Originally named Mosaic to match its adjacent twin directly to the north, the Montage has been a rental property since it was completed.
Almost exactly a year ago, the developer of both buildings — a limited partnership between Phillips Development & Realty and Florida Capital Real Estate Group — declared bankruptcy in order to avoid foreclosure on the Mosaic, which at the time was officially a condominium tower. And Florida Capital’s chief operating officer expressed hope that the Montage’s separate $71 million loan with Corus Bankshares could be renegotiated.
COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE VALUE OF FAILED DEVELOPMENTS “The financial failure of Mosaic is not related to zoning or neighborhood protection. Mosaic represents a massive mixed-use project that will (eventually) fill up and further the civic goals of increasing population density and adding positively to the streetscape. In the mean time, the FDIC and out-of-state investors are paying the property tax bill on units that aren’t occupied by people that would stress our infrastructure. Where’s the downside in that? If the alternative were a vacant lot, Mosaic is far preferable from a civic perspective. . . .” [TheNiche, commenting on Only the Towers Remain Standing: Mosaic and Friends Break the Bank]
With its most recent achievements, the Mosaic earns its place in Houston’s spec-development record books: Last month the 29-story condo tower near Hermann Park — wedged between Almeda and 288 — scored the loan-default trifecta, having notched a bankruptcy, mass foreclosures, and an attendant bank failure to its credit all within a single calendar year.
Chicago’s Corus Bankshares, which held a $71 million loan for the Mosaic, foreclosed on all 271 unsold units (out of 394 total in the building) in September, just days before the bank itself was seized by the FDIC. A few weeks later, the federal agency sold 40 percent of the bank’s real estate loans to a team of private-equity firms calling itself Northwest Investments and led by Starwood Capital Group — for 60 cents on the dollar.
Any further fun at the Mosaic will be courtesy of the FDIC, reports Nancy Sarnoff: