37-story building to soar in Uptown Houston

May 16--A Houston apartment developer is planning a soaring glass tower near the corner of Post Oak Boulevard and San Felipe.

The high-rise will be part of BLVD Place, a 21-acre retail, office, hotel and residential development partially under construction at the high-profile Uptown intersection.

The 37-story building will have 236 apartments averaging 1,650 square feet, said Hanover Co., the developer.

Units are expected to rent for more than $2.46 per square foot.

"We will consider this our landmark project in Houston," said Cynthia Birdwell, the company's director of marketing. She would not disclose the cost of the development.

The tower will sit on a 1.5-acre parcel behind a Whole Foods Market and be adjacent to a series of buildings housing 500,000 square feet of shops and restaurants with 250,000 square feet of office space on the upper floors.

A hotel with condominiums is also planned for the project, said BLVD Place developer Ed Wulfe, president of Wulfe & Co.

The to-be-named residential building will be Hanover's third on the boulevard.

The company also built -- and later sold -- Lofts on Post Oak and 1200 Post Oak.

"We are really excited at their commitment and confidence in the market and the belief in the BLVD Place concept," said Wulfe, whose company sold Hanover the site.

Construction will start this fall, Hanover said, with the project set to open in 2011. MetLife is a joint equity partner.

Solomon Cordwell Buenz of Chicago is designing the building, which will have "boutique hotel style" amenities, including a concierge and bellman, as well as a lounge and catering kitchen.

A 19,000-square-foot rooftop pool terrace will be atop an attached parking garage.

Larger units

The units will be similar to those in 7 Riverway, another Hanover project in the area. They will include stainless steel appliances, granite slab countertops, crown molding, hardwood floors and travertine tile, but will be larger and have additional features and amenities.

Hanover chose to design the building with larger units because it said there was considerable demand at 7 Riverway for oversized kitchens and living spaces.

"It's sort of an unprecedented effort for us to build this type of product," Birdwell said.

Suitable for condos?

Apartment analyst Greg Willett said bigger units also make the building suitable for a condo conversion if that were ever considered.

The project is being announced at a time when developers are flooding the Houston market with new apartment complexes.

There are more than 5,400 units under construction alone in the "west Inner Loop market," between downtown and the Galleria area, said Willett, vice president of research and analysis for M/PF YieldStar of Carrollton.

But he said there's not a lot on the rental market for the group Hanover is targeting -- empty nesters from nearby high-end neighborhoods, Mexican nationals and high-earning young professionals.

These people also aren't as affected by trying economic times.

"The economy, to some degree, comes into play in any development, but you're hitting such a high-end segment of the marketplace," Willett said.

"Those people are not as affected as the general public is."

Copyright (c) 2008, Houston Chronicle Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.


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