Mar 15

Archstone Memorial Heights: And the Start is Eminent

Editor’s Note: This is the final of three parts outlining the beginning of the redevelopment of the Archstone Memorial Heights Apartment Complex, the first two parts can be found here and here.

It all started simple enough, a rent increase.  After living in the complex 2 1/2 years (and reportedly longer for others) Archstone increased rents across the board in December, 2006. Not a typical rent increase, rents shot up 25%.

With the onslaught that followed, many tenants moved on as their leases expired, leaving huge vacancys.  Archstone was able to fill most of those units in the months after.  I renegotiated, and got a more reasonable increase, staying for "one more year".

In December 2007, I was greeted with another across the board 20% increase.  Again tenants moved out in droves.  I had hoped to be ready to move on, but other constraints made me stay for yet another year.  I again renegotiated the lease, reducing the increase slightly.

The complex is not the best I’ve seen, but it’s not the worst.  With single pane windows and poor insulation, noise is always a problem (Particularly if you’re on the "street" side of the complex).  The units, by comparison with other complexes in the area, are what you could consider "basic", and small by comparison as well.

They are fairly new buildings, being built in the 1990’s, but obviously in the eyes of Archstone-Smith, they have outlived their usefulness in this part of Houston (and there’s been no word if their identical Medical Center location across from Reliant Park on Fannin is going to face a similar "Extreme Makeover".)

Where will it begin

Recently, I took a walk around and through the complex, and was able to determine where the construction will begin. Below you can see a map of the area:

Click on the image to see it at full size.

The area outlined in red is the first phase project boundaries, as I know it.  Three buildings, Buildings 7, 8 and 9, will be razed to make room for the first of six new buildings.  Tenants were asked out by March 1, and either moved to other parts of the complex or out of the complex altogether.

My photo tour (All photos here were taken on Saturday, March 1st) begins with a look at the last tenants vacating building 8:

We continue with pictures of what appears to be a staging area, as well as the temporary home to the construction crew’s facilities:

Moving over to building 7, some windows appear to have been broken out or removed, possibly to provide means to remove demolition debris:

And finally, reminders were posted not to deposit trash at the old compactor location (at the South-East corner of the area, between buildings 7 and 9):

All of this leaves sure signs that work is soon to begin bringing the buildings down.

The Building 225 Question

On the above map, you will see a building labeled 225.  Officially known as 225 South Heights Blvd. (The Apartment Complex is 201 South Heights Blvd.) it does not show on any official tax rolls as a separate property.  Until last year, it was a law office, and has sit vacant for months.

At the beginning, there were signs that it was being renovated and that there was to be a new tennant, but a few months ago, all work stopped, and the building was left in a state that has left it not so weathertight:

The fact that the building is not on the tax roll leads me to believe that 225 is actually owned by Archstone-Smith, and will be brought down as part of the redevelopment. The current state does give sign that there may have been some interior demolition already done, and it’s waiting for the wrecking crew to come in to finish the job.

When will it come down

Now that the tenants have moved out of the space, some obvious activity is taking place inside the buildings by the maintenance personnel.  Interior doors, window blinds and other lightweight items are being moved from the buildings.  As far as I can tell, no major interior demolition has begun (no dumpsters for demolition debris is yet on site).

I suspect that we will see the activity ramp up in early April, and the buildings gone and the ground cleared by May.  I will continue to watch SwampLot’s daily demolition reports for clues as to when the heavy machines will be coming to take it down.

To date, other than the tennants in the buildings affected by the pending demolition, the rest of the complex has not been made aware of the pending changes.  It is only through research and infomation from other sources have I been able to piece the information you see here together.

While this concludes the current series, I will continue to monitor the news around the redevelopment, and will post updates from time to time.

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