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Surge In Inner Houston Townhouse Development And Its Potential Impact

December 3rd, 2014 4:46 PM by AllenBrothers Realtors

Surge In Inner Houston Townhouse Development And Its Potential Impact

by Josh Foster, inner loop sales

The 1930s was the decade of the bungalow in Houston. To many buyers in the present Houston market, it is still an attractive vintage option in the oak-lined streets of Montrose and the Heights. Sturdy, dependable, and if properly maintained over the many passing years with good updates, just as handsome a structure now as the day it was built. But no builder today would touch the plans for one. This is the decade of the townhouse, and it stands lean and four stories tall over all would-be competitors.

The townhouse has also begun to make its indelible mark on inner city Houston just as the bungalow did in the mid twentieth century, sweeping away the past along with it. In January of this year the far north Heights saw a townhouse boom. In the area surrounded by Yale, Shepherd, 610 and 23rd there was massive construction. The Sullivan Brothers builders did a project on 23rd. Twelve new townhouses on 26th and Ashland appeared. Eight more at the same corner, and twenty more came soon thereafter between 26th and 27th streets. Eight single family townhomes in a project at 26th and Rutland were built. Twenty units at 24th and Lawrence. In addition to this there were twelve or so 2-to-6 house projects in the area. On 27th street and Rutland at least another dozen townhomes went up. This kind of development is going on all over the Heights, and into Montrose as well.

Areas in Montrose that have had the same feel and flavor for decades are changing now, due not only to townhomes rapidly replacing the former infrastructure but also a sudden development of multi-family high rise apartment projects in numerous locations throughout coveted inner city areas that have remained unblemished by this level of investment for the better part of a generation or longer.

Midtown is also a hot area for townhome sales and construction, a former warehouse district transformed into the SoHo of Houston over the past fifteen years or so. There are also concentrations of townhomes in the Timbergrove and Shady Acres neighborhoods, near I-10 and along the Washington Avenue Corridor. EaDo, the area directly east of downtown, has been revitalized in recent years and townhome construction is a part of it. It would appear in preliminary analysis that even lots in the Greater Third Ward area to the south of this are being platted into areas under 3,200 square feet.

According to the Houston Chronicle, Linda Jamail Marshall of Linda Marshall Realtors Inc. says “Townhomes are popular because they occupy less of a footprint. They require less maintenance, but they offer the amenities of a single-family home.”

There have even been legal battles over development in areas such as Boulevard Oaks, the most notable of which is the Ashby High Rise. While this project is not a townhouse, it should be mentioned here because it represents the same root cause of development in the region. Houston is in the midst of its greatest economic expansion in generations, and soon there will be inevitable changes to the inner city; the existing suburban landscape is not protected by deed restrictions.

As this new phase in inner city construction began to manifest itself, many existing residents in Montrose and the Heights were understandably disquieted. Townhouses totally change the urban landscape. They are everywhere now, surrounding the single family homes on all sides in most neighborhoods without deed restrictions.

Since then, many have begun to see benefits. Their presence raises property values considerably. Not all people who wish to live in the vicinity of downtown wish to do so in a condo, apartment or townhome. The existing freestanding single family units are all in lower inventory and thus more valuable now. Townhouses add variety to the inner city landscape and more square footage to the structures they replace.

Townhouses are a facet of the inevitable process of inner city urbanization, as a greater number occupy the area within the loop. Streets will become more congested, infrastructure will grow inadequate by degrees and gradually be replaced fragmentally, and at some point the inner loop will resemble Manhattan or Chicago. Houston is a young city and such density is inevitable with a world-renowned medical center, Rice University and Fortune 500 headquarters all situated within a few square miles of each other.

The question people must ask is: Do I find Greenwich Village or Chelsea Garment District unappealing? Are certain residential areas of Chicago in the vicinity of downtown unpleasant? It’s not that inner loop Houston has to become degenerate, devoid of nature or chaotic with the arrival of massive amounts of new development. It’s simply a transitional phase on the path to urban maturity.

Posted by AllenBrothers Realtors on December 3rd, 2014 4:46 PM

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