February 05, 2007
The Allen House effect

Nancy Sarnoff wonders if the imminent demolition and redevelopment of the Allen House apartments will cause a spike in rents around town.

The day after the owner announced that the 896-unit complex would be torn down and replaced with an urban mixed-use development, one nearby apartment complex raised its rents for one-bedroom units by about $60 a month, said Drew Pursell of In the Loop Properties, a residential leasing firm.

Pursell wouldn't name the complex -- and he said the rent increase could have been the result of other factors -- but he expects more rents to rise in the area as the displaced Allen House tenants create more demand.

"Places are getting five and six leases a day from Allen House, and they're running out of apartments," Pursell said.

Tenants may have a tough time finding similar properties.

Because of its age, rents at Allen House have been lower than other area complexes, but its units are nice and well-maintained.

Many residents pay less than $800 a month in rent for a one-bedroom. And its unique location and amenities, like free daily shuttles into downtown, have long made it popular with students, professionals and seniors.


Not everyone agrees that the Allen House situation will affect the market.

Ric Campo, chairman and CEO of Houston-based Camden Property Trust, which owns apartments nationwide, said the market here is already so strong and big that 900 units shouldn't create any serious changes.

"We had one of the best years we've had in Houston, Texas, last year," said Campo, whose company is now building more inner-city projects.

I don't know enough about the Houston real estate market to predict what effect if any the Allen House demolition will have on rents, but I do know this: There ain't a whole lot of places like Allen House, where you could live close to downtown for a modest price in a non-skanky building, left in Houston. There will be plenty of places to live well, and I suspect there will always be plenty of places to live poorly, but the places in between are getting a lot harder to find.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on February 05, 2007 to Elsewhere in Houston

I live in a complex near Allen House (in fact when I moved to Houston in February 2004, Allen House was on the short list of potential places to lease).

My rent has increased 25% over the last two years, and I've watched as many of my neighbors have started moving out as their leases expire due to it.

The most recent (and steepest) rent increase was announced in September, taking effect January 1, so it's unlikely that it can be attributed to Allen House. I know when my lease is up, I'll be leaving as well - being forced to move farther away from my work because the area is getting too expensive.

Posted by: Michael W. Jones on February 5, 2007 6:50 AM

Harder to find? Try impossible. One of the great garden apartments in the River Oaks area, Oak Lane, starting going condo a year and a half ago. They didn't sell and now the rent side (on Revere St.) has been vacated and is being torn down. I am sure that whatever replaces it will be at least twice as expensive to rent.

Posted by: Marene Gustin on February 5, 2007 9:30 AM