For many, Montrose is the heart of Houston–the 106-year-old, four-square-mile pocket that kisses downtown has everything from James Beard Award-winning chefs to quaint B&Bs. Soon, it will also have its first luxury mid-rise condominium.
Before you begin to bemoan the woes of gentrification, consider this: Developers pride themselves on their sensitivity in conceiving, siting, and designing the project to pay homage to the neighborhood’s storied history. Call it mindful evolution, if you will.
As such, the forthcoming 24-unit building between Dunlavy and Commonwealth is called Mandell Montrose, named for the 1920s streetcar line that traveled between the neighborhood and downtown. Its planned façade, a brick exterior, is inspired by the coastal Scottish resort town for which Montrose is named.
Despite luxury branding—Mandell Montrose units start at $1 million—developers specifically forewent ultra-contemporary exterior design choices, like glass, in favor of a more conservative look meant to blend in the historic neighborhood rather than eclipse it. Lead architect Jerry Hooker of Mirador Group drew inspiration from pioneering masters of Modernism Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Walter Gropius.
Inside, luxe finishes are decidedly more of-the-moment, influenced by a cutting-edge European market. In fact, developers say, Mandell Montrose will be the first project in Houston to employ an “open-enclosed kitchen” concept, in which sleek paneling covers everything but the range—a design choice that would be at home in a chic Tribeca loft. Without an island and kitchen sink as cues, visitors might be hard pressed to identify the room’s intended use.
“Mandell is the first to feature that in Houston, and it will be a sought-after design trend we are anticipating that will be seen in a lot of buildings going forward,” said Betty Harbourt, senior vice president of marketing at Sudhoff Companies, another partner in the project along with Mirador and Midtown Uptown Development Partners. “Europe does a lot of things before us, but now we’re trying to do some things in Houston before others catch on to that.”
Future Mandell Montrose tenants will also enjoy “forward-thinking finish details” unique to condo living, like large, covered terraces with outdoor kitchens and double-sided fireplaces.
“The buyer that will be here is unique–we know that,” Harbourt said. “Montrose is known for that.”
Developers have worked for more than a year to nail down the specifics of every feature down to a material’s weight. Custom Italian cabinetry, natural stone countertops, and Thermador appliances grace every unit, as do balconies with views of the city developers hope new residents will flock to for its vibrancy and booming job market.
“Houston is a very sought-after city,” Harbourt said, and it’s also “very under-served from a condominium standpoint. There are a lot of apartments, but condominium ownership … that pipeline has got to continue to be fed.”
Mandell Montrose was designed with its “target market” in mind–working professionals drawn to the eclectic neighborhood, its unparalleled offerings and its proximity to downtown. Developers also anticipate current Montrose residents looking to downsize will be attracted to the convenience of condo life.
Estimated at 18-24 months, construction will begin once half the units are pre-sold, and developers hope to accomplish that by next summer.
The neighborhood has undergone a noticeable transition in the last five years, developer Bill Krewson said, and one that only stands to continue–thoughtfully, if he has his way. The quality of Mandell Montrose will “set the standard” for the next project, which will be along the same geographic corridor.
“To see how that evolution will continue … that’s one of the most exciting things, to be a part of that,” Harbourt added. “A positive part of that.”