Is This the End for the Josephine? Classic Boulevard Oaks Apartment Building Sold to Homebuilder

Josephine Apartments, 1744-1748 Bolsover St., Boulevard Oaks, Houston

Josephine Apartments, 1744-1748 Bolsover St., Boulevard Oaks, HoustonThe 75-year-old Josephine Apartments just north of Rice University have been sold — to homebuilder Tricon Homes. The distinctive two-tone-brick Art Deco structure was built in 1939 from a design by architect F. Perry Johnston. It sits at the corner of Bolsover and Ashby St., a block north of Rice University, just east of Southampton Place, and 3 blocks south of the site of the planned Ashby Highrise. The U-shaped 2-story building with glass block and steel windows consists of 8 single-bedroom units, some of them with sunrooms.


Josephine Apartments, 1744-1748 Bolsover St., Boulevard Oaks, Houston

The sale was effective April 30th; all existing leases at 1744 and 1748 Bolsover St. have been taken over by Tricon. The company has extensive experience building new homes on redeveloped lots in the Heights and other areas of the Inner Loop; it has not announced its plans for this site.

Josephine Apartments, 1744-1748 Bolsover St., Boulevard Oaks, Houston

Photos: Chris Adams

Good Night, Josephine

42 Comment

  • Nooooooooooooooooo!

    Tricon builds tacky turds. Can’t wait to see the “soft modern, Spanish Colonial with Georgian and English accents and a turret…”

  • That’s a great building, but I think it’s more international modern than deco.

  • It’s a shame to see the loss of one of the last vestiges of affordable housing in the Rice University area.
    If you are one who says we need higher densities Inside the Loop, no matter where and how we get them – , I would hope you oppose this project. In this case, the new construction will probably have a LOWER density than the old. They will replace 8 or so apartments with what, four luxury cramalot townhomes? Surely you see that as a step backwards, right?

  • It will be sad to see this demo’ed, but this area has transformed in recent years into a cluster of oversized architectural horrors. The scale of the neighborhood was much nicer in the 1990’s before they built crap like the Medical Clinic of Houston pile at the end of Bolsover.

  • I love this place. When we walk past it I always find myself day dreaming about owning it and rehabing it as trendy off-campus housing. It will be sad to see it go. The rest of the stuff down that block is pretty bad, so not expecting much from a replacement.

  • What a shame. I had so many friends who lived there during college. The only places left for students to live are the sea of bland complexes off Holly Hall.

  • These remind me of the apartments that used to be in the woods on OST near the VA Medical Center. They were cleared to build Traber’s Folly, the white elephant that Baylor is now trying to resuscitate.


  • Cody, where are you when we need you???

  • Now that is a damned shame.

  • Sigh. Another perfectly fine property being mowed down for some expensive pile of crap built all the way to the lot line. I’m pretty sure the neighbors won’t like whatever will be replacing this little jewel.

  • Who is the stud that got this deal done ?

  • Tricon Homes eats beautifully built old homes and regurgitates uninspired turds wrapped in stucco….

  • Always loved the Art Deco style of this place. Yeah, it’s Houston, no one cares, it will be ripped down–sic transit gloria

  • Will the arrogant hippies please accumulate some capital (no, a bachelor’s degree in anthropology doesn’t count) and build something that meets their standards?

    Oops, do you like with mom and dad still? Do you live in your dream house already and want everyone else to think like you do about architecture because you are special? Are you a slovenly peasant that likes to complain while companies are building the future?

    I like diverse buildings and Art Deco, etc, but this is a problem you can solve. Persuade your domestic partner to re-build it on your acreage on Westheimer.

  • This is terrible news. Soon, there will nothing remotely interesting to look at inside the loop.

  • In-town is becoming an expensive suburb. All new faux construction, new chain outposts opening every day.

  • I used to live a few blocks away on Albansand admired it’s international modern/art deco aesthetic when I walked by with the dog.

    Scratch another one off the list:

  • William Walker- were Swamplot a Gawker Media enterprise you, sir, would very much deserve a +1. Thanks for the belly laugh!

  • YUck…Tricon along with all of the other zero lot builders ( and y’all all KNOW who they are ) just keep spewing out shitty stucco clad boxes with uninspired design, shoddy construction , et al. The COH a and our lame ass mayor NEED to impose city wide minimum building restrictions ( aka light /soft zoning-it’s way overdue ). And for the love of God, SAVE OLD GROWTH TREES !!! No exceptions. All of the charm,character,integrity & history are being bulldozed for what: lame ass ,soul less housing- SFR’s , beehive multi-units,etc. It’s all so very bland and uninspiring…

  • Bottom line: Tricon is very shortsighted in the usual demo/build crappy stucco townhouses designed by
    an engineer. This land parcel, within walking distance of the world’s largest medical center and Rice University will be gone forever once divided into separate fee-simple townhouse lots. Tricon boobs: what do yall think this land parcel will be worth in 10 or 15 years? Tricon does not care. They make their
    fast money now, no concern for anything but. Sad really. I doubt Tricon will even hire an architect, they’ll just plug in some existing house plans to fit the dimensions of this very special location.

  • I know William Walker and he’d like to be a friend of Dan Quayle.

  • I enjoy you William Walker.
    Go Jose, Go!
    Oh, hey Nimbys I’ll let you borrow my McAlester guide to architecture.

  • It is a toss-up between Tricon and Urban Living for biggest Douche-bag on the block.

  • I live in these apartments and received my May rent check back from the previous owner along with a letter saying the property has been sold. Since it’s the first of the month, I immediately called and e-mailed Tricon and have continued doing so for three days straight just to try to figure out where I send in my month’s rent check and what their plans are for the property so that I can plan accordingly. So far not one returned call or e-mail. You would think that this company would be professional enough to send out a letter of intent or simply return calls from the tenants but apparently that is not happening.

    Thanks Swamplot for at least confirming what I already fear.

  • The lack of a response to my comment indicates to me that, for all the talk of how Houston needs more density Inside the Loop, that’s really not what’s driving these projects in single family neighborhoods. Here you have a situation where the new construction will actually be at a LOWER DENSITY than the old, and yet none of the people who talk about how we need more density are complaining about it.
    Could it be that they really don’t care about density or transit or walkable environments or any of that? They just hate the thought that someone might object to how a developer gets his short term profits?

  • “Persuade your domestic partner to re-build it on your acreage on Westheimer.” Lols. William Walker, you are going to make commonsense and local planner jealous… .

  • OK minutes after I posted my above comment I did finally hear back from Tricon who apologized for the delay in responding. While the woman told me that at this time they do not know of any specific plans for the property, I can at least happily to report that, that initial slow response aside, they are working with the current residents in a very professional and understanding manner.

  • ZAW, no developer is going to even try and touch this part of town with a truly diverse project due to all the knee-jerk money reactions of the surrounding community. 7 years out and still not breaking ground on the ashby high rise means the neighborhood has had some success in ensuring no further dense development in the area until after the ashby high rise is well completed and litigation finally over. not sure how many years out that will be.

    as a density person myself, i really have no qualms whatsoever with this development and it’s just like I can ignore all the doctors moving north into the Montrose that are choosing to buy up two lots for just one residence. at the end of the day as long as the property rights are retained and the ability to densify is there, then any new development will help drive us closer to the goal by making the land more expensive and pushing up the increase in demand by displacing residents. definitely not fun for the residents that get displaced in between all that and when the more expensive and denser complexes come online, but that’s just the nature of the beast.

  • Another one bites the dust.

  • I have a friend who lives in one of these units. Never knew about them until then. They are cute, very unusual for Houston. That said, if you thought they should have been preserved, you should have bought the building and kept renting it out. If you want to stop redevelopment, be prepared to pony up!

  • @ ZAW – While in a way, from a planning-theory perspective, I can see that the potential reduction in density in the urban core might be disappointing, my position has been that land use evolution should take place as a result of prevailing economic forces – meaning whatever drives a developer’s ability to make a financial return on their investment. For the most part, obviously, this has meant the replacement of older residential and commercial structures, usually low-rise and almost always low-density, with taller buildings and denser development. There will be cases where dense single family can tap into demand for very high-priced homes – there are some projects in Upper Kirby / River Oaks that have already done this – and make a sufficient return to justify the purchase and demolition. If that’s the case, then they should go for it! Certainly in this case there’s no harm by removing “affordable” housing and replacing it with high-end for-sale product – who could claim direct harm from this (tenants certainly can’t, which is the correct legal policy). There is no such thing as the “right” to affordable housing. And any aesthetic preference nearby residents had for the existing apartment complex high-density single family should not count for squat as far as public policy goes.

  • By the way, it’s possible that the replacement housing might be essentially as dense as the existing complex, which is just two stories and probably not packed to the gills like a complex in say, Gulfton would be. You can cram a whole bunch of townhomes into a small area if you try. If people want to buy them, then that’s fine!

  • Are the layout and floorplans of this little complex available? I’d love to see what makes it “work”. Maybe a historical society has them onfile?

  • Pardon me for being a little perplexed. Those opposing this say new housing needs to be more dense so they must be thrilled with the Ashby Hi rise a few blocks to the north??The neighbors who fear the Ashby hi rise will lower their property values must be relieved that an old 8 unit apartment building is being replaced with expensive hi income housing ,right????

  • This is one of the most beautiful Deco/Moderne residential buildings in Houston but it has been doomed for awhile so rather than whine I’ll look ahead. Tricon’s stuff doesn’t seem tacky to me. The style is minimalist and “modern” and will probably be representative of this era decades from now. And hopefully the quality is good. As much as the townhouse quality is routinely called crap, it seems to me that the foundations at least are superior to old construction and current suburban house slabs and it might be additional advantage to build on previously built-on soil as I would think that a lot of settling will have already occured. I mention this because I’m hoping that the waves of multi-story townhouses that have and will continue to dominate the inner loop housingscape in this century will survive and age like fine wine.

  • Orlnu: thanks for the complement. I gave up, late last year, on buying this type of stuff in Montrose. Too many fights with the city. The city wants this stock gone so will bombard owners with rules and red tags until they finally give up and sell.
    I’ve has buyers wanting my fourplexes on w main but I like them and wanted to keep them. Then I got some new fine about railing this or window that and finally said “f it” and sold them.
    I buy in the loop but a bit east where the city doesn’t bug me as much. Though I found that while I was able to heavily upgrade buildings in 3rd ward (rather than knock them down) they city is tagging me there like crazy. So I’ve given up in 3rd ward too.
    Honestly, I have a few projects under contract to buy then I’m done. Let a new batch of suckers deal with the city on these old properties. Or just let someone else buy them and knock ’em down (which is what all these “habitability’ rules aimed at apt owners are all about anyway)

  • Build!!! haha Take that NIMBYS!!

  • Given my experience with COH rolling over and showing every developer in town its belly, I have a hard time believing COH is out to get anyone or that passive red tagging is putting anyone out of business.

  • I agree, Colleen: Another one bites the dust…
    Whether or not this is an excellent example of Moderne, it’s a shame to lose it.
    Glass block just looks right here. The single-pane glass in steel window casements – while so inefficient – are tres jolie.
    Those radiused front steps, the stylin screen doors, the neat walks up to the unit entries – all recall a safer and more social era.
    (Today, you might find these details in a gated, age-qualified, memory-care facility. )

    But this property requires higher density as well as updated security and fire safety. No more front stoops on grassy extensions of a public sidewalk.

  • This is disgusting!!!! I moved here to houston three yrs ago and it is SAD Houston does not have any unique character in neighborhoods etc because it is being torn down for these undisquinshed boring buildings. I just visited Vancouver and it is a tourists heaven for its clean vibe rant and old architectureal history!! Houston has lost so many beautiful homes to these very boring complexes that you know DAMN WELL they will be torn down because they were not built like the OLD homes of the 20&30s and even before. The structure and stucco will not withstand the years down the road. May look pretty now but will look tacky and outdated soon. TRENDY and $$$. That’s what is happening now!

  • Sadly, I have heard that Triston Tricon has a degree in architecture. But you can’t teach taste.