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