The Kirby Court Apartments Have Been Emptied Out, but Hanover Says Purchase of Site for Tower Has Stalled

Kirby Court Apartments, 2612 Steel St., Upper Kirby, Houston

The end of the year marked the end of residency for all tenants of the Kirby Court Apartments. Renters of the 2-story 1949 townhouse-style units fronting oak-lined Steel St. across Kirby Dr. from the Whole Foods Market were required to move out no later than December 31st. Houston-based Hanover Co. had a portion of the complex under contract, and was planning to complete the transaction early this year.

But funding for the apartment tower Hanover had planned for that parcel (marked down to 30 stories and 300 units at last report) fell through sometime in December, a company rep tells the Houston Business Journal‘s Paul Takahashi; since then, the company has been “scrambling to find new investors.” Hanover has now postponed completion of the purchase until August. The architect, Solomon Cordwell Buenz, is still reportedly working on the design.


Kirby Court Apartments, 2612 Steel St., Upper Kirby, Houston

“The whole place is a boarded up ghost town,” a former resident of Kirby Court tells Swamplot. “All of my neighbors I spoke to were able to find some where else to live. No one was happy about the move, the stress, and-or the financial burden. It’s all just a sad sad story.

Hanover had planned only to purchase and build on a 1.65-acre parcel fronting Steel, Kirby Dr., and Kipling St. — minus the Beck’s Prime on the corner. Its development would eat up only the northeastern portion of Kirby Court, extending 350 ft. west from Kirby Dr. Plans for the tower included 2 restaurants in the ground floor and a separate standalone restaurant facing Kirby.

Photos: Rashed Haq

Funding Dries Up

13 Comment

  • The information in this article is wrong. The 30 story building is something different than this building. Hanover was essentially going to build 2 towers. The building you reference doesn’t match the location you reference.

  • I was just over there this weekend. The Burdette Keeland townhouse that was open is just around the corner. It was surreal to see all those apartments, and the street, so empty.

  • The building for the site has not “been marked down”. The 30 story building is another building they were planning.

  • Only one residential tower is planned for the Hanover site. Possibly there could be a small, free-standing retail building on Kirby in front of the tower and next to Beck’s Prime. An office building was planned by another developer for the corner of Kirby & W. Alabama, but that deal is now dead.

  • I guess this means we can expect AlterNet to publish another angry Anis Shivani screed…

  • Is it common to cancel leases before you have a sales contract in hand? This seems…kind of…well, stupid. This is going to cost the current owner quite a bit in opportunity cost.

  • What a waste.

  • Hanover will close of on their part of the property. Most of the remainder of the property was under contract until recently.

  • Hope this doesn’t become a windblown vacant lot like where they knocked down a portion of the the Allen House on West Dallas and never built the project they wanted. 5 years on, there’s still nothing there.
    In China there is a 20% property tax on land that is cleared but not built on. It’s to prevent people from holding empty land at the expense of building needed housing or office space. Would never happen here, but it’s an interesting idea.

  • I’m so sick of hearing how much better life is in China. You want to live in China? Start digging, mister.

  • It’s terrible that a company like Hanover would force longtime residents to leave thier homes before they owned the property. I hope this beautiful complex and it’s trees will thrive again.

  • @ ShadyHeightster: About China…and much of Asia. The economy there is a bit of a black box, but here’s my read on it.

    China’s motivations for taking back land that had been deeded to investors that ended up sitting on the land for a long time are numerous, but perhaps none of those motivations have anything to do with housing or office space that is actually “needed” by the Chinese economy or in general out of concern for their people. In fact, they’re going through a housing bust right now and they’ve got extreme vacancy issues (obscured to an extent by the accounting effects of money laundering activities) and numerous ghost cities that are yet to be filled.

    It is helpful to bear in mind that many localities had prospered in the past by taking prime land from their citizens in order to sell to it to investors. The families that got displaced would be sold land (ostensibly at a discount from the market price that was sufficient to reimburse them for the land that was taken away) in a new residential development nearby, and the families that got displaced to make the new residential development for displaced families would likewise get displaced even further on the same development model. Ideally, the big projects that would come about from all of this on the most desirable land would create many temporary and permanent jobs and a sustainable tax base, however the reality was that this process became something of a government-backed ponzi scheme. Many of the localities that had previously been the most aggressive about this are now insolvent, burdened by massive debts that the central government has been unable to force them to reign in. Those localities are looking for any sources of revenue that they can come by.

    (This is a contributing factor to low commodity prices and the strong dollar, so its doubly relevant for Houston.)

    Its true that there are things that America can learn from China and that China can learn from America; however, there are also a disconcerting number of parallels, obscured by careful rhetoric. Be careful what you wish for.

  • @ David D. – Hanover didn’t force the tenants to leave. The Dickey family did. Besides, Hanover is only buying a small part of the entire apartment project.