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Houston-based apartment developer Hanover Co. aims to deliver the initial phase of its most ambitious project yet on a 14-acre parcel along the western edge of Buffalo Bayou Park in fall 2021.

The company, which has developed more than 60,000 apartment units across the U.S. over the last four decades, and financial partner Houston-based Lionstone Investments today unveiled an urban village called Autry Park at the gateway to the River Oaks and Montrose neighborhoods. The project, which pulls from the natural landscape of Buffalo Bayou Park and will serve as an amenity for park goers, will bring apartment buildings, restaurants, shops and retail services to the site.

“We anticipate the desire to live across the street from one of Houston’s most treasured park spaces in the middle of a vibrant retail development adjacent to some of Houston’s best neighborhoods is going to be something greatly desired by renters and retailers,” said David Ott, development partner for Texas at Hanover Co.

Autry Park, named for the small city park it surrounds, will consist of five towers totalling 1,450 residential units, 350,000 square feet of office space and 100,000 square feet of retail space and a hospitality component. Phase 1, which broke ground at the end of 2019, will bring two multifamily and retail buildings totaling 750 units and 50,000 square feet of retail space amid a winding network of streets and sidewalks shaded by mature oaks.

“What we’re trying to create is really this unique retail experience right on the park that will seamlessly interact with Buffalo Bayou Park,” Ott said.

COVID-19 did not upend the design.

“Fortunately, our vision for Autry Park always contemplated ample patio space, a dynamic public park, indoor-outdoor breezeways, and small-footprint retailers and restaurants,” said Tristan Simon, managing partner of Rebees, the project’s retail development partner. “This village-like atmosphere will feel safe and rewarding in the post-pandemic world.”

Austin-based Michael Hsu Office of Architecture is designing the retail space and central park. Houston-based landscape architecture firm OJB is using inspiration of the natural landscape of Buffalo Bayou Parks along the streets and sidewalks of Autry Park.

The developers collaborated with Buffalo Bayou Partnership, the city of Houston and Memorial Heights TIRZ 5 reinvestment zone to improve the city’s infrastructure, including new roads, bike lanes and pedestrian-friendly intersections that will make accessing Buffalo Bayou Park, a linear park stretching from Shepherd Drive to the Port of Houston, safer, according to Ott.

The property, which was assembled in three purchases from Center for Pursuit, Lighthouse for the Blind and the city of Houston and Harris County, is east of Shepherd between Allen Parkway and West Dallas. New streets will create smaller scale blocks with granite paver streets lined with trees, landscaping and a new urban park at its core, Ott said.

Though near the bayou, the project is not in the floodway. The developers are building the code-required 2 feet above the 500 year flood plain, which is approximately 5 feet higher than Harvey water line.

A lighted intersection will go in at Allen Parkway and Buffalo Park Drive, a new street west of Tirrill Street at the primary entry to the development.

Improvements at Autry Park will do away with a turning lane and extend the park to the hard corner at Shepherd Drive and Allen Parkway to make it pedestrian friendly, Ott said. A signalized cross walk will be added to provide access to Buffalo Bayou Park across the street.

Ziegler Cooper Architects designed the 23-level Hanover Autry Park, while Design Collective and W Partnership designed the eight-story Hanover Parkview mid-rise also under construction.

Monthly rents are expected to range from $2,000 to more than $10,000 for a 3,000-square-foot penthouse, Ott said. Hanover and Lionstone aim to deliver the first apartment units and retail spaces in fall 2021, when they expect the economy is in better shape.

The project is in development at a time when urban neighborhoods such as Montrose, downtown, Washington Avenue and the Heights have been hard hit by the pandemic as renters have opted to buy houses and fled to the suburbs for more space, said Bruce McClenny, president of ApartmentData.com.

Demand is not as strong as supply as nearly 23,000 units were delivered across the Houston market in the last year, well above historic average of 17,000 units, according to ApartmentData.

Rents in Houston were down 1.1 percent in the last 6 months, while rents in Montrose/Museum/Midtown are down 6.1 percent during the period.

By the time it opens in 2021, Houston should be in better shape and adding jobs, McClenny said.

Publication: Houston Chronicle

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