November 12, 2007
New development on Yale

Almost two years after the last days of Kaplan's-Ben Hur, the site of the onetime historic department store is being turned into an apartment complex.

A $30 million apartment complex under construction on a century-old commercial site in the Heights is further proof of how this neighborhood is continuing its evolution from a quaint residential area to an urban enclave.

The 195-unit development at 2125 Yale is being built on the site of the old Kaplan's-Ben Hur department store that closed about two years ago.

Designed by Meeks + Partners for Allied Realty Services, the modern multifamily building, with four stories of apartments over two levels of parking, will sit on a 2-acre site between 21st and 22nd streets.

One- and two-bedroom apartments will range from 700 square feet to 1,378 square feet.

The sidewalks surrounding the building will be friendly to pedestrians, the developer said. The first occupants should be able to move in next August.

Just a few blocks away is 19th Street, a commercial area that's become lined with hip boutiques and restaurants.

But the developer isn't letting go of the past entirely.

The clubhouse and leasing center will include restored southern yellow pine flooring that was salvaged from the retail building.

The place is called "Retreat in the Heights", and it was blogged about by Swamplot and By the Bayou last month, with this HAIF post providing a lot of detail. I've since heard from some folks who live closer to that area that it's generated some controversy over - you guessed it - traffic concerns. Hamilton Middle School is nearby at 20th and Heights, and the Long John Silver parking lot across the street on Yale (which is being targeted for a separate townhome development) has been heavily used as a dropoff/pickup point. With that going away, the worry is that school hours will become a mess. I don't know enough about that to add anything cogent, I just wanted to pass it along.

Having said that, I think that Yale in general is a good location for this kind of development. It's in need of some revitalization, and unlike Heights Boulevard it's fairly conducive to more density. Concerns about the effect of this particular project on traffic aside, I agree with John when he says that not making this a mixed-use project is a missed opportunity. I hope we'll see some elsewhere on Yale.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on November 12, 2007 to Elsewhere in Houston

I live about two blocks from it. I'm glad to see it there; Yale is unfulfilled potential now, and I think even without retail, this will be good for the shopping strip on 19th Street, the existing businesses on Yale, and so on. Yeah, it's going to be messy when school is starting and letting out - but honestly, it already is, and that's just part of living near a school.

Townhouses at the Long John Silver, huh? Given the sluggish sales pace of other townhouses nearby I think they'd be better off with more apartments.

Posted by: John on November 12, 2007 7:26 AM

As I understand from what the developers told me, there are four townhomes slated for the Master Auto parking lot next to the Long John Silvers. Also, Weingarten is going to give the old Kroger and its abutting strip center an overhaul some time soon.

In general, it might be good for some revitalization, but the traffic is sure to be a problem. The developers did their traffic study under the assumption that all residents of the development who work in downtown will take 610/45 to and from work. Anyone who lives in the Heights can tell you they couldn't be more wrong about that.

We'll see.

Posted by: Noel Freeman on November 13, 2007 8:26 AM