Restocking a Converted Grocery Store in the Houston Heights

There has been a clean up on Aisle 9 in an ivy-covered Houston Heights landmark. Previously converted into a home, the former Morton Brothers Grocery Store appeared on the market Wednesday with a $564,900 asking price. The ribs inside (above) aren’t for eating, though. They’re holding up the roof above the all-in-one living area at the front of the 1928 property, which has held a spot in the National Register of Historic Places — as a domicile — since 1988.


The freezers of yesteryear have been gone a while, but there’s still a bit of frost in front. the glass in the original doors and storefront windows (above) have been blurred up a bit to sidewalker-stalker height. The transom level still lets the light in unimpeded, to shine and bounce off the polished concrete floors found in most of the 1,728-sq.-ft. residence. A side door’s clear-glass panel, meanwhile, offers a clear shot into the side patio on the 2,904-sq.-ft. corner lot’s western exposure:

The support column holding up all those trusses in the 27-ft.-by-29-ft. central room been fitted with a decorative cap. But it’s kept its double role as the interior’s nerve center (below). Some of the original bells and whistles remain — though tidied up a bit — and share the panel with the controls for the current lighting.

A pedimented set of glass pocket doors add some dash to the dining room’s entry:

The kitchen is beyond the bar-height counter and up a step:

Lighting amid the ceiling supports and mirrors compensate for what appears to be an absence of windows in this part of the building:

Access to the 2 bedrooms is at the back of the dining room, off a shared hallway that’s behind a set of weathered antique doors on a barn-door track:

Both bedrooms have wooden floors. The window count varies, however. This one has 1:

This one has 3, plus a glass-panel door and . . .

a little sink of its own:

The main bathroom — in fact the only bathroom — imports some Carrara marble to fancify the space, with walk-in shower:

The side lot is where the brick meets the brick, softened a bit by the leaf-me-alone hedge.

The back of the lot (not pictured) has a tandem-style single-lane driveway accessed off the corner lot’s Rutland St. cross-street. At the front of the property on 9th St., vestiges remain of a pebbled parking area out front — which may come in handy for the open house planned for Sunday afternoon. The property last sold in June 2011, for $362,000.

42 Comment

  • I love this place! However, I’m a little shocked that it’s listed for $200k more than it sold for in 2011, in similar condition. I still love it though!

  • I remember seeing this one featured on an HGTV show a few years back, and then driving around the Heights trying to find this little gem. Not only is a beautifully done(except the kitchen, though I am sure there is a reason they raised the floor (for plumbing?), but I hope there are enough offers to get them over asking.

  • This place is dreamy, but 55% appreciation in two years? Not so sure.

  • I guess some people would enter this home thinking it is a stylish furniture/interior design store. Nicely done.

  • I don’t think there’s enough hipsters that could afford that price tag.

  • The grocery building is attached to a
    bungalow raised off the ground.
    This property was once the home and studio
    of the late, great artist Tacey Tajan.

  • Very cool–appreciation not really believable –but who knows

  • I’ve walked by this place many, many times & at least for me the outside doesn’t really hint at a half-million plus place. Looks great inside but the burglar bar facade on this place has always creeped me out. Best of luck, sellers, very nice inside!!!

  • The realtors in the Heights are starting to get ahead of the pricing curve after so many listings resulted in bidding wars. 560k for 1700 sq ft in the Heigts is not that far off the market. However, this is a very unique property that is not for everyone.

  • The appreciation is completely believable. Come on, do you people live in Houston? Certain neighborhoods are hot and well renovated older homes carry a premium. $315 per sf is now the going rate for renovated bungalows in Montrose. Two years ago it was $235 per sf. Is it a bubble? Maybe, but when 1,800 sf houses are selling for almost $600,000 and there are multiple offers and “please sell me your house” letters being sent, this price is not unrealistic. And beside it is a pretty balling looking abode.

  • Pretty clear that CommonSense doesn’t know the difference between a hipster and a yuppie. This place is FAR from being a hipster hangout.

  • Love this place! As an agent in the area I can say that this place is priced right and will have no problem selling. Very unique property when compared to everything around it. There’s another old store over near 26 or 27th and main that I would love to see renovated as well.

  • A yuppie wouldn’t get caught dead living in a place like that, he would buy a new shiny townhouse.

  • Loads of good taste. $325 per square foot seems a bit much. Lots of style though and the building has a unique history.

  • I’m sure as an “agent” Hector, you’d love to push this as indicative of the market, however, this price per square foot for The Heights! is ridiculous–realtors are always croaking out BS as they market their “Old World Charm” termite mounds–much like used car dealer convincing you that that 20 year old Bentley is really worth 100000, and will hold its value because it’s a “collector” and it’s a “hot” market –aka, it’s old and will cost a fortune to fix, will break down in an hour, and I’m broke, need to unload this money pit and need this commission so ill say anything

  • I also completely disagree with Hector that this renovation is a lock to sell in like a day–not everyone wants the “unique” experience of living in an old grocery store and this house is honed to fit this particular persons taste–personally, I like what they did overall, but I’d never buy this, I’m not crazy about it being right in the street and it looks like a boutique furniture store not a house, people must constantly look in the window thinking it’s a business–what I’m saying is that it’s hardly a slam dunk, Hector–

  • @ doofus – I believe you have been proven correct. The “y” doesn’t really apply so much anymore, though getting older is about the only thing that’s changed about that subdemographic (which never was really big on townhouses, then or now – that’s more of a brobot phenomenon).

  • Ahhh……… That’s a small tiny lot!

  • As a non-hipster, aging out yuppy- I’d move there in a heartbeat. It would be worth every penny if its located in a historic district, on a deed restricted and set-back, minimum lot size block.

  • I live VERY near this property. It is beautifully done, but the price tag is too high. There is a fully remodeled bungalow, approx. same square footage in a better block and location on Rutland, asking 100K less, and has just been sitting there.

    Perhaps sold fully furnished, and for $70K less….I’d think about it.

  • biggie wrote: “This property was once the home and studio of the late, great artist Tacey Tajan.”

    I thought this was her place too, BUT pretty sure she was in a similar place over north of Reagan High School. This one is west of Yale. Sorry to hear she is no longer with us.

    I had clients that considered buying it about ten years ago but opted out. It’s pretty cool but obviously for a special Heights type of person.

  • Went to the open house today, and the place is beautiful. It went on the market Thursday, and they already have an offer at listing price.

  • Tajan Tacey was at 1540 Oxford according to the property records, and left there in 1990. Looks like she died in 1995.

  • @Sunset Heights–we’ll see if this “offer” comes to fruition–it’s a unique property, granted, however as such it requires a unique buyer, with a large down payment since no bank will give a loan on a property priced so above the market

  • I expected it would sell. I doubt that the sale is above market. So to all of you who said no way, this isn’t Katy. In town unique and character properties command a premium.

  • The most unique thing about this property is the grand-fathered zero-foot setbacks on Rutland and 9th. This is a small lot, 44 x 67 feet. To build on this today, with prevailing setback requirements, you’d struggle to build a single-story structure much bigger than 1500 s.f., and that’s with no off-street parking.

  • Great house but WOW the price! I love that street but my biggest problem with paying that much for the place would be the junked out yard and house across the street on the other corner of 9th and Rutland. It is one big code violation and has been that way for years.

  • The listing agent told me that they had an offer before the open house, and I believe her. I’d guess it’s above asking and likely with no contingencies. A smart buyer would want an inspection, but on a property like that, you aren’t buying it because expecting that it’s in perfect condition. I toured it on Sunday and it’s every bit as cute in person.

  • I wouldn’t believe a word realtors say, they’re worse than used car salesmen… Today only!! I have a guy on the way to buy it now!! It’s in excellent condition, lived in by a little old lady who went to church on Sundays!!

  • Well, it’s under contract. Not all agents are liars, thankyouverymuch.

  • Pending Continuing to Show is a sure sign they don’t expect this to close.

  • @commonsense, that is a standard and required status during the 10 day option period. It would be nice if just for once you didn’t comment on something you know nothing about. Not that I am holding my breath or anything.

  • The sign out front says ‘SOLD’ as of this afternoon.

  • You mean the “Option Pending” status which this is not. “Option Pending Continuing to Show” is specifically designed to be able to receive backup offers which infers the Seller is not confident that the Buyer will close 100%.

  • Sense isn’t common, y’all!

  • Option pending continue to show is the HAR status used for the option period if the seller is still willing to entertain backup offers. On its own it says nothing about the quality of the accepted offer.

    Face it, you tore down realtors (I am not one) and other of you said they wod never get their price and y’all are just plain wrong.

    I have read your posts all over chron til though and generally you are just ornery and like to piss on people’s parades. I would guess senior citizen tea partier living in Humble.

  • i would buy this house in a heartbeat!
    and i consider it a deal at asking price.

    btw- i am a young urban professional that many of you would probably call a hipster.
    i make a very good living and could afford the asking price.
    but we’re already committed to fully renovating our 19th C. house in the 1st ward, so i’ll stick to envying the new owner a great pad.

    does anyone *really* believe that a gorgeous historic home in one of the most sought-after neighborhoods in the 4th (and climbing) largest city in the US will do anything but continue to appreciate like mad??

  • @Charlie, I’ve never posted on Chron but whatever floats your leaky boat.
    Option Pending Continuing to Show LEGALLY says nothing about the quality of the offer but it’s part of the subtle communication language of the real estate community that screams at the top of it’s lungs, “please someone give me backup offer, this guy is not going to get approved for the loan!”
    Much like saying “Up and coming neighborhood” means sleep with one eye open and hope in 10 years you will get your money back, “Handyman special” means lots of hidden structural issues, “Close to amenities and entertainment” means you will never sleep again due to the noise.

  • @Commonsense: When I bought my house in the Heights, I agreed to expedite closing to just over two weeks in exchange for a few more bucks for repairs. The realtor kept the “pending continue to show” on HAR even after the earnest money went hard because the sellers were leaving the country and did not want to take any chances. The buyer on this is more than likely very serious about closing, especially given the amount of EMK that is needed on the purchase price.

    It is actually funny to see Houstonians get flustered about prices in the Heights. Whenever I have family come in from the East Coast or in-laws from the West Coast, we walk the neighborhood and point out houses that just sold. I ask them to guess the selling price, expecting them to come up short given that they know what I paid for my house. They always guess at least $100k too high. In a good neighborhood in San Fran, this would go for 1 mil+. In Boston or Seattle, 800-900k would be the right price if in a good area.

  • For those of you that think you know about real estate, but don’t, you will find a breakdown of HAR statuses at the bottom of this post. Pending Continue to Show (PS) means that the seller is still willing to have the house shown. It does not mean that there are necessarily any contingencies, it just means that they *might* still allow showings. They still have the right to decline a showing when an agent tries to schedule an appointment, and many sellers do chose to decline the showing, or at least don’t tend to be as flexible as they may have been before the home was under contract. The reality is that most agents don’t show homes that have a PS status anyway, unless the lisiting agent makes it a point to specify that the seller is willing to accept back-up offers. Many agents don’t use Pending (P)unless the seller absolutely insists on no further showings.

    OP – Option Pending
    Listings that are under contract and the seller and buyer have agreed to use the “Termination Option” in paragraph 23 of the standard TREC contract, effective 1/1/03.

    PS – Pending continue to Show
    Used for listings currently under contract but are still available to show. Listings having a contract with a contingency and taking back-up offers should be Pending Continue to Show.

    P – Pending
    Used for listings under contact and are no longer available to show.

    S – Sold
    Used when a property has funded and closed. All sales closed must be reported to MLS. Listings should not be changed to Sold status before the actual closing.

  • @HoustonRealtor – Thanks for the reality check. Unfortunately, it probably won’t have any effect on Those Really Opinionated, Loud, Lunkheaded Scalawags.

  • Sorry common sense to assume that the other person who posts on Chron as common_sense is also you. My bad.

    Point still stands though that those of you who thought this house wasn’t going to sell and now view it as an anomaly know nothing about in town Houston real estate.

    Real estate is part of my business but I am not an agent. I am an inner looper and I had no hesitation that this house would sell quickly at or over list.