Economic uncertainty eroded previous plans for high-rise apartments next to Minute Maid Park in downtown Houston, but new developments are now in the works, according to The Houston Chronicle:
Real estate developer Marvy Finger is buying two prime downtown blocks for a seven-story apartment project to be built across from Minute Maid Park.
Three years ago, his firm, the Finger Cos., opened One Park Place, a luxury residential tower about five blocks to the south. That project was spurred in part by its neighbor, Discovery Green park.
This time around, Finger is encouraged by proposed new development associated with the George R. Brown Convention Center that could draw residents. There’s also the light-rail line being built a couple of blocks away, and, of course, the home of the Astros.
Finger wasn’t the first one to dream of building a place for people who wanted a view of the ballpark.
In 1999, Trammell Crow Co. said it was going to build a development called Ballpark Place. The building was set to have retail and office space as well as residential units that would have risen over the left-field fence.
The project was shelved in the economic uncertainty that followed the collapse of Enron in 2001 and never resurfaced.
“I think it was just too early,” Finger said.
Other plans in works
Over the past decade, new projects have been added to the east side of downtown, and there are plans in the works to bring a second convention center hotel and a cluster of other projects to the area.
Finger is planning 380 apartments on adjacent blocks bounded by Preston, Crawford, Texas and La Branch. His contract to buy the property is expected to close next month. Trammell Crow and Texas Avenue Properties LP each own one block.
Finger and the sellers have requested that the city of Houston abandon and sell the portion of Prairie that runs between the blocks from La Branch to Crawford.
The city is waiting for an appraisal and survey to be completed, at which time a price will be set, said Alvin Wright, a spokesman for the public works and engineering department.
Eyeing a broader mix
Most of the land is used as parking, but the long-vacant Ben Milam hotel sits on the southern portion. It would be demolished as part of the development, Finger said.
Construction on the apartments is expected to start next spring.
Finger said he has been working with several architects and plans to choose one this week.
The apartments would have hardwood floors, gas ranges and other high-end finishes like the ones at One Park Place.
“Most people are using vinyl that looks like wood and a lot of faux materials,” he said. “I’m still old fashioned and we’re staying with condominium-quality finishes.”
One Park Place, where rents start at around $2,000 per unit, is 94 percent occupied, Finger said.
He thinks a shorter building - with lower construction costs and rents that start around $1,250 - will attract a broader mix of residents.
“I think there’s a limited demand for luxury high-rise,” he said.