December 06, 2004
Light rail spurs South Loop development

More development in an overlooked part of town, thanks to the light rail line.

"The area's been slow to develop," said Bob Parsley of realty firm Colliers International. "But we're beginning to see an overall acceptance in the marketplace for being south of 610."

Indeed, home builders, industrial developers and land speculators are jockeying for still-vacant parcels just beyond the Metro terminus, fueling a land rush in this long-neglected area.

Houston developer Frank Liu, who's building new homes nearby, owns about 60 acres surrounding Metro's Fannin South station, the last stop on the city's 7.5-mile light rail line connecting downtown with this area just south of Reliant Stadium.

While he's not yet ready to tip his hand, Liu controls enough land in the area to create a sizable community where folks could live, work and shop.

"The great thing about that piece of property is that it's so close to the rail stop and so close to the Medical Center," Liu, president of InTown Homes, said. "You just can't go wrong."


"Land costs are just a fraction of what they are in the Medical Center," said David R. David of Warehouse Associates, a real estate firm building warehouses in the area and attracting more medical users than ever before.

The company has leased space to a DNA lab, surgical center and a dialysis facility.

In 2001, when the company built its first project there, medical firms didn't want to move south of the Loop, which was then seen as too far from the Medical Center.

"We're seeing more demand for our sites," David said. "Today, I think we're a politically acceptable location for medical support."


"We were attracted to the area primarily because of its proximity to the Medical Center and Reliant Center," said Joel Scott, who manages the partnership and is a principal in Terramark Communities, a Houston-based real estate development firm.


Dozens of $200,000 townhomes line the streets near Link Valley, a neighborhood off Stella Link that used to be known by the nickname Death Valley.

And Chancellor Properties recently completed Villas at Coronado, a 344-unit apartment complex on the Lakes at 610 just south of West Bellfort.

The new project is around 80 percent occupied, according to O'Connor & Associates, a research firm.

You get the idea. I've mentioned before that I work near this area, which is just south of Loop 610 and the Astrodome. There's never been much here other than scary apartments - I remember well circa 1990 some friends of mine breaking their lease after getting robbed at gunpoint in the parking lot of their complex near Main and Westridge (on the other side of the Loop but a stone's throw away). Slowly but surely, things are improving. I still wouldn't want to live there now because there still aren't many amenities, but the pioneers who are buying in have a decent chance of being rewarded for their foresight. Being able to ride to work in the Medical Center or downtown will be a plus.

Even more interesting is the apparent trend of Med Center support businesses being willing to move out as long as they're near a rail stop. Driving in that vicinity is so awful that any viable alternative will look mighty attractive. This certainly counts as viable.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on December 06, 2004 to Elsewhere in Houston | TrackBack

Anything near the loop is golden right now.

Rail advocates may be a little quick to bestow too much credit on rail.

Inner and near loop development is through the roof, as anyone who's driven around or scoured HAR knows well (I've done quite a bit of both lately). Heck, drive around Bellaire and look at all the quaint older homes that are being thrown down for mansions. The property is worth more than those old homes at this point. Anything near the loop is HOT right now, even places that were previously scary. The area you describe isn't a lot different than "scary" Freedmen's district, which is being totally remade. Last I looked, there wasn't a rail stop there. Maybe Metro's fine bus service has driven growth there? :)

It's going to get really interesting when developers discover the Third Ward, one of the great undeveloped inner loop areas.... that might be good for some real fireworks.

Posted by: kevin whited on December 6, 2004 8:11 AM

True enough, though having lived within walking distance of the Freedmen's District, I can tell you that it's an easy walk from there to downtown (and for that matter, all the way to a rail stop). As such, it ought to be at least as hot as Neartown has been.

(I lived near Montrose and Dallas, just west of the Freedmen's area, for four years in the 90s. I worked on Smith Street downtown for part of that time. On the day of the Rockets' victory parade following their 1994 NBA Championship, I walked to and from work - it was about a mile and a half each eay. Avoiding the traffic, and not getting gouged to park downtown that day, was more than worth it.)

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on December 6, 2004 8:21 AM